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Jan Potter-Black – Gisborne

“I like to keep my unit nice – the kitchen clean, the carpet vacuumed, the lawns done and the pots and garden nice and tidy.

During Lockdown I did it all by myself, I did everything, it pushed me into going that little bit further and achieving a little bit more every day.

When it was over, I thought ‘that’s it, I’ve done it, and that’s good’. I feel immensely, spectacularly proud of how far I have come.

The hardest thing about having a stroke is that one day you could do everything you needed, and the next day you just couldn’t. Pffttt . . . gone.

In the early days after my stroke I was mainly in bed or a wheelchair. Back then I lived in residential care in Hawke’s Bay, where I had raised my children. But in 2014 I moved back to my hometown of Gisborne to be closer to my siblings.

After I arrived I started off in residential care but I got my own mobility scooter. Freedom!

But even then I always planned to get stronger and was determined to get even more independent.

And that’s what I did. In 2018 I moved into my own place and it was very peaceful and private, which I loved.

I was still getting help with personal and home care hours then, just before Lockdown, two things happened.

The first thing was that I finally got a wet area shower that made it much easier for me to take care of myself. It was wonderful!

The second thing was that the motor blew up on my scooter, which I needed to do everything from pottering in the garden to taking myself to the supermarket. That was devastating!

When I saw the Lockdown announcement on the television, I knew I would manage. Without my scooter I was already in a Lockdown of my own – I was going crazy without it.

During Lockdown my support team checked in on me regularly and made sure I got to go grocery shopping.

That was pretty much my only freedom, but I wasn’t worried about losing the rest of my support hours. I wanted to do things for myself and I really felt like I could.

The whole thing did make me weary but during Lockdown I kept really busy. I love being creative and things like growing plants and doing my artwork gives me a lot of pleasure and a big sense of achievement.

When Lockdown came to an end I phoned Life Unlimited (now known as Your Way | Kia Roha) to say I’d found there was lots more I could do for myself, though I still get a couple of hours of home care a week so I don’t get too fatigued.

Working hard to build on my independence means I didn’t just survive Lockdown . . . I absolutely thrived.” – 17 September 2020

  • This article appeared in Life in a Pandemic, a book about disabled and autistic people in Covid-19 Lockdown, 2020. © Life Unlimited Charitable Trust.

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