Four people discuss living with disability and illness

2 June 2016

Buzzfeed recently spoke to some young disabled Americans, as well as some with long-term health conditions, about the misconceptions, the difficulties and the triumphs they've experienced!


Jenice stood showing her ostomy bag

EMT and medical assistant Jenice was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when she was 10. She wants to challenge people's perceptions about Crohn's and ostomy bags.

‘I am not just my Crohn’s, or my scars, or my bag, but they’re an important part of me.

‘My illness is why I went into the medical field. Eight years ago, I was on what I thought was my deathbed, in a medically induced coma with every imaginable complication from my disease and subsequent back-to-back surgeries.

‘Coming out of that relatively unscathed, I realised that patient care was my calling. Now, in addition to being an EMT, I’m a medical assistant and certified nurse assistant, and I’m hoping to one day work in gastroenterology as a wound care, ostomy, and incontinence nurse.’


Steve doing stand up comedy in a wheelchair

Steve is a 25-year-old stand up comdian and substitute teacher.

He has muscular dystrophy but says there is a general misconception about what he can and can't do.

‘I’m still a regular guy. I’m a substitute teacher, stand-up comedian, actor, and motivational speaker.

‘I can be just as funny or as big of a douchebag as everybody else, and I’m going to live my life how I want and not let my disability get in my way.’


Mary sat on a bench

Mary has a form of spina bifida called myelomeningocele, which has a big impact on her day-to-day life.

Mary has experienced discrimination from both disabled and non-disabled people because of her hidden disability.

‘I don’t fit into what people refer to as "normal" or "healthy" society or into the spina bifida community, so I’m left in limbo.

‘There have been times when people haven’t believed the battles I go through just to live my life — even people at conferences have shunned me because I don’t look like their kids with spina bifida.’


Jason sat by a piano in his wheelchair

Jason was diagnosed with primary progessive multiple sclerosis when he was 25.

He feels lucky to have experienced the world from two perspectives, both disabled and non-disabled.

Jason is also an Emmy Award winning filmmaker.

‘I’m a filmmaker and I run a nonprofit organisation.

‘Disability is my full-time work, and I have a mission to make it (my story included) something everyone knows about.

‘My life’s busier than it’s ever been. My most recent film, When I Walk, won a 2015 Emmy Award. So when people look at me with "sad eyes" or offer me their spare change, it feels a bit odd.’


Amazing, and brave individuals, I have a daughter who is 35 , with severe. Special needs, she lives at home with us. People still do not understand . She is blind , non verbal. Brain damage, with Microcephaly, and has seizures, also has behaviors at any given time, due to not being able to get her needs met , due to lack of communication needs. I can usually understand and have the patients to wait it out to try to watch her gestures until I "germ, what she is SAYING". And when I do. She is so pleased . And will show it.. Society is still back in the Stone Age , well, many people. Yet, every so often, we get a very understanding person . They will. Offer help, when they see it is needed , or just come up and say , Hello, my name is -------, what is yours, I love your dress, and. Beautiful hair.. Some people stare and keep staring , it is unbelievable.

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