David Thomson

David did not find it easy to navigate the maze of social services and community resources for people with disabilities; but he did it.

David did not find it easy to cope with his disabilities as a result of a hereditary illness; but he decided not to let his life slip away.

However a lot of people considered David’s life was slipping away; his symptoms, medication and their side effects were dulling his mind, eroding cherished memories and making him an 80 year old man in a 40 year old man’s body. Many thought that he was lucky to have disability pensions from his employer and Canada Pension Plan (CPP). They were ready to dismiss him onto the path of permanent disability and being placed on the back shelf and forgotten for good.

In fact his disorder presented a huge difficulty to his union and employer, which were totally unable to handle the unique challenges of a chronic illness. Since being accepted for CPP his employers pension commitments were reduced by half, and they were content to have that carry on till his mandatory retirement age. Yet, David was not content with that at all!

David is resilient and focused, he knows what he wants and he is going for it. He seeks different resources and will not take “no” for an answer. In 2005, he came to the RCD for the first time, and since then we have watched him grow, push his way through and finally he has succeeded to move on to the next phase.

Since the onset of Post Traumatic Hyper-Irritability Syndrome, a rare form of fibromyalgia in 2000, Dave embarked on a long hard journey. He was facing career setbacks, financial difficulty, strains on family, physical and emotional challenges and most significant of all, pressure from himself. Nonetheless, he made the transition from a macho job as a Correction Officer to pursue his new aspiration in life – Occupational Health and Safety; he learned to pace himself so that he could get the most out of his capability; he strives to be independent and resourceful; he spends more time with his family and watches his son growing up; he grasps every opportunity to upgrade skills and absorb new knowledge; he also wants to contribute to the community by sharing his story and experience.

In April 2010 he finally finished school and obtained a certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (with distinction). He is planning to achieve his next goal – imparting some of the information/resources/knowledge/experience of what he has acquired throughout his struggling years, including dealing with his medical issues, identifying new direction in life, searching for scholarships for educational purposes and funding for functional assessments and psycho-vocational testing.

The RCD has invited and arranged for Dave to come and present a “Peer Empowerment Presentation”, it is a good opportunity to hear Dave’s story, heartbreak and success; as well as share your perspectives. We hope to establish Peer Empowerment Groups which will be made up of small groups of interested members with different types of disabilities; the purpose is to share knowledge from life experience, develop leadership skills, and also reduce individual isolation and support rights and responsibilities.