04/07/2013 06:09 BST | Updated 02/09/2013 06:12 BST

Independence Day

It is clear what the 4th of July signifies to anyone in the United States; Independence Day, celebrated as families come together to share in a special meal, parties and fireworks, a nation remembers its past and looks forward to a bright future.

Independence day can mean a number of things to different people. As a child grows up and reaches a certain age, they become independent. Although this example of independence I find a little murky to say the least, for today's generation expect and want so much more than the youngsters from twenty or thirty years ago. Maybe I'm showing my age, but life wasn't like this when I was young. Today as parents we somehow find ourselves still doing our independent children's laundry, feeding them and any friends they choose to bring home, and take on the role of bank, giving loans that drain our savings for a rainy day. Despite all this, they maintain they are independent individuals, so perhaps they should look the word up, or do today's youth no longer use dictionaries?

The liberation and positive benefits of having one's own set of wheels are clear to everyone. A far better example is when having a car modified specifically for a disabled driver, the vehicle literally becomes the person's legs enabling not only independence but a sense of great freedom. Not having to rely or depend on anyone else to drive, the ability to go places where and whenever you please, is a huge plus.

For someone highly disabled and wheelchair bound, the difference between a regular wheelchair where someone is required to push, and receiving an electric wheelchair in its place, again the independence gained is enormous and increases the quality of life considerably. To be in your own home and at the push of a button with no effort, be able to go into another room, or outside to enjoy some fresh air and a change of scenery, can be life changing. From being immobile to mobile, the feeling of self-sufficiency is a wonderful improvement. This new found independence can also make the life of a caregiver that much easier. No matter how light weight and well designed a wheelchair is, pushing anyone is hard work, especially when pavement curbs have no slope or incline.

Recovering from surgery, each day henceforth, is a step towards going home. Firstly having any tubes and i.v.'s removed, suddenly the small freedom to move or turn in bed is such a pleasure. When you've gone without food for a day or two, eating the first meal once over the effects of anesthetic, trust me, almost anything tastes good. After one of many surgeries, I remember only too well the sight of a nurse coming into my room with a simple plain yoghurt. I know it sounds kind of 'sad' getting excited over a yoghurt - but if you've been in similar circumstances, you more than likely can relate and understand. I've no problems with anesthetic, but hospitals have strict guidelines they adhere to, so despite not suffering any adverse effects, I have to wait like everyone else until the staff deem it safe for me to eat. Getting out of bed the first time after surgery is always a dreaded painful experience, but a necessary one if you want to be released from hospital. The quicker you are up and about, the sooner you'll be sent home. Having that first proper shower is a welcome refreshing step, but pathetically saps all one's energy. By the time I have been showered, returned to bed wearing a fresh nightgown, I am exhausted beyond comprehension from what sounds like a series of simple events. The day one is able to go to the bathroom by oneself may sound insignificant, but is a huge step forward on the road to recovery and giving one back the feeling of independence, not to mention dignity. There is nothing dignified about a bedpan; I think we can all agree on that!

Whatever independence day you are celebrating, whether it be a National Holiday or a more personal achievement, enjoy your freedom and treasure your health - a precious gift which is often taken for granted.

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