My name is Bor Melansek. I’m 31 years old. I am a tetraplegic and I live on my own in Ljubljana. To be able to live on my own I use personal assistance and help from my friends.
- What is your personal experience of disability?
On the 4th of January 2004 while fooling around on freshly fallen snow a terrible accident happened. I had jumped; my head got stuck in snow my body rolled over. The force was so strong that crashed my C4 and dislocated C5 vertebrae. I instantly became paralyzed from my shoulders down. After an operation I had to stay in the hospital for two months. That was followed by 9 months of intensive rehabilitation at the National Rehabilitation Centre called Soca. There I had regained some movement in my upper body and my arms.
- How did you discover the Independent Living movement?
When the rehabilitation was coming to an end it was time to start organizing my life. Everybody suggested that my parents should take responsibility of taking care of me. I was aged 24 and that was not acceptable for me. Yes my life has changed but it wasn’t over. I couldn’t imagine being in burden to my parents.
Then social worker at Soca introduced me YHD. There they presented to me the concept of independent living with personal assistance. I really liked the idea. We organized my personal assistance. I got a personal assistant.
Now I live on my own. Personal assistant is with me during the day, afternoons and nights are covered by my friends or my brother.
- Who has influenced you the most, and how?
My grandparents on my mother’s side probably influenced me the most, with their passion for work. They find their pleasure little ordinary things life brings you.
- What personal achievement are you most proud of?
To have somebody by my side, I only use personal assistance 40 hours a week, takes a lot of organizing skills.
- Do you have a favorite saying or proverb?
There are many sayings I like…
This one is cute: “Life is a journey, enjoy the view.”
- What motivates you to get up in the morning?
In my 7 years as a tetraplegic, there was a period when I had decubitus ulcer and I couldn’t sit in a wheelchair. I had to lie in bed for three months. I really suffered. At that time I realized what gift it is to be able to sit in a wheelchair. I guess that experience was so unpleasant that in the morning I still can’t wait to get out.
- What do you like to do when you’re not working?
There are many things I like. I’m a very enthusiastic about aquariums. I really like to cook. I also enjoy reading books…
- Who would be your ideal dinner guests?
I believe dinner with our boxer Dejan Zavec would be interesting. In the ring he is so rough, yet when you see him with his daughters you could swear he couldn’t hurt a fly
- What advice would you give to young adults with a disability?
My advice would be to focus on things they can do. Because there are so many things we can do despite our disabilities. Sometimes it is hard to find them, but it is sure worth when we do.