Guest Post: Life as a Quadriplegic by Teodor Bogoevski

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(Teodor is a C4 quadriplegic and law university graduate from North Macedonia)

My name is Teodor. I’m from North Macedonia, a sweet little country in the Balkans. I was born in the 90s, so you can imagine my childhood on the streets all summer long. I guess that’s where I fell in love with all kinds of physical activities.

The fact is that until the age of 16, I trained in 11 different sports. No kidding. At the age of 4, I started attending chess classes, at 5 judo and fencing. I quit them at 7. At about 11 basketball, 12 soccer and tennis. At age 13, go kart racing, handball, ninjutsu, swimming and rock climbing. All in all I was the hyperactive kid in the neighborhood.

One summer night while on vacation with friends, I dived into the shallow waters of Ohrid lake. I felt spasms all over my body which at the moment I thought it was from the cold water. All of a sudden I felt the sand on my right cheek. Not being able to move, I realized I was at the bottom of the lake.

After what it felt like eternity my friends ran into the water and picked me up, like dead deer over the shoulder. My limbs were flopping around as they weren’t mine. At that moment I pictured myself in a red wheelchair sitting by the lake. The only thing that bothered me in those shocking moments was how I’m gonna tell my mom. She would kill me.

She did not. All my family already knew. They were contacted by the police and hospital. They were all very supportive and brave, which gave me comfort and strength. Since day one, my hospital bed was shaking from my laughter. The spirit never left me even on the worst days. After 2 months in intensive care, I went to a rehabilitation center.

I was only moving my right arm no hand no fingers movement at all, but my family wanted more. The thing is that I felt my right arm coming back but I didn’t feel that about my left arm. No matter how hard I tried it felt like trying to move an object with telepathy. Exhausting and frustrating. So the next few years I was dedicated to rehabilitation, different centers, cities, countries, physiotherapists.

In those years I felt my life slipping through my fingers. I never quit school but I was not in the classroom next to my friends. I was trying to keep pace. Thanks to my best friend I was socialized as much as I could but slowly new circles of friends were being made. So I ended up with one friend but a true one. So I reached a point where I sacrificed my independence for exercise. All of our focus was on me walking or moving again and we neglected buying or making adaptive stuff. Things that would help me be more independent.

After exactly 9 years since the accident I was stuck in one place at home. 4 years I was without batteries in my wheelchair. No ramp, no van, no desk at my high to study properly. I was living alone with my mom who was working 8 hours a day, which meant 8 hours without water, food or tv channels. Only me and my computer 8 hours a day for 4 years straight.

Rocky mode on. One morning I woke up and said that it’s time to invest myself in my independence. First was the van and the ramp. Next, I needed a power wheelchair suitable for my needs. It cost 20k so I began with humanitarian events. Published my book, planned charity parties, made stickers, went on radio, tv, blogs, edited videos.. And after two years I got it. In the meantime I got the right desk so I could study whenever I want.

Since then, I graduated from Law University with the highest degrees. Published few studies about rights for people with disabilities, and advocated on that matter at NGO forums. In 2018, I became the first ever Adviser to the Prime Minister for People with Disabilities. I am more than proud to see my projects put in action for the benefit of the people with disabilities. It’s a never ending battle but we have to keep on fighting.

At the moment I finished with the master exams in Constitutional Law. I’m just struggling to finish my master thesis while working at the same time. But my will is stronger than ever. The rocket is in the thermosphere and nothing can land it. Destination Phd.

To my fellow quads,

There are good days and bad days, but there’s nothing worse than days without a goal.

Find a goal that makes your stomach tickle, don’t let yourself end in the loop where you wake up just to finish another day.

Stay strong, we are chosen.

– Follow Teodor on Instagram at @teodor.bog

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