Woman reveals strangers mistake her for her disabled fiancé’s CARER – but says he’s given her the ‘confidence to live again’ after she battled depression
- Becky Henley insists relationship with Daniel Pettitt is ‘no different’ to any other
- The 24-year-old, from Birmingham, often gets mistaken for her fiancé’s carer
- Daniel uses a wheelchair as he has a condition which causes movement issues
A woman who gets mistaken for her fiancé’s carer has revealed how their relationship is ‘no different’ and that it was love at first sight – despite strangers’ assumptions due to his disability.
Becky Henley, 24, from Birmingham, insists her relationship with Daniel Pettitt, 29, is ‘no different’ to any other, and is sharing her story in a bid to break the stigma attached to inter-able relationships.
Daniel has to use a wheelchair because he has a rare inherited disease – known as Friedreich’s Ataxia – which causes progressive nervous system damage and issues with movement.
But the couple refuse to let Daniel’s disability hold them back and the relationship co-ordinator praises her fiancé for giving her the ‘confidence to live again’.
Becky Henley, 24, from Birmingham, insists her relationship with Daniel Pettitt (pictured together), 29, who suffers from a rare condition, is ‘no different’ to any other and is sharing her story in a bid to break the stigma attached to inter-able relationships
Daniel (pictured with Becky) has to use a wheelchair as he has a rare inherited disease – known as Friedreich’s Ataxia – which causes progressive nervous system damage and issues with movement
She said: ‘I began dating Dan in April 2018 and people were worried in case he was going to “hold me back”. But we immediately hit it off and I have never been happier.
‘People have asked me “Do you have to push him around?” or “Can you have sex?”. The answer is we have a normal relationship, Dan is very independent – he drives and works full-time as a data and systems developer.
‘And yes, we can have sex. We are all different, and having a disability definitely doesn’t automatically mean that someone doesn’t have a sex life.
The couple (above, at their home in Sutton Coldfield) refuse to let Daniel’s disability hold them back and the relationship co-ordinator praises her fiancé for giving her the ‘confidence to live again’
Despite the many positive aspects of her relationship, Becky (pictured with her fiance) admitted that when she’s out and about with Dan, strangers often stare at the pair of them
Becky added: ‘I don’t consider myself as his carer. We both help each other in different ways. I button his shirts up for him and cook as his hands shake a lot so it is quite scary to see him with a knife. It is easier and safer for me to do it.
‘Whereas he offers me emotional support and stabilises our relationship. Before I met Dan, I suffered with anxiety and depression, but he has given me the confidence to live my life again.
‘I never used to leave the house, but now we are always out whether that be in a bar, gig or having a stroll outdoors.’
Despite people’s assumptions, Becky (pictured with Dan) insists the only ‘stress’ of their relationship is accessibility
The couple, who are soon to be wed, enjoy a night out together at a local restaurant. Becky said that before their relationship, she struggled to leave the house because of depression
Yet despite the positive aspects of her relationship, Becky admitted that when she’s out and about with Dan, strangers often stare at the pair of them.
What is Friedreich’s Ataxia?
Friedreich’s ataxia is the most common type of hereditary ataxia (caused by genes you’ve inherited). It’s thought to affect at least 1 in every 50,000 people.
Symptoms usually first develop before the age of 25, although it can develop in people much older than this.
Signs and symptoms of Friedreich’s ataxia can include:
The symptoms of Friedreich’s ataxia usually get gradually worse over many years. People with the condition tend to have a shorter life expectancy than normal. Many people live until at least their 30s, and some can live into their 60s or beyond.
‘People stare a lot, but I think that is because it isn’t the “norm”, and they are being inquisitive,’ she explained.
‘Contrary to what people might think about someone with a disability, Dan has a busy, fun-filled life!’
Despite people’s assumptions, Becky insists the only ‘stress’ of their relationship is accessibility.
She said: ‘When you are with someone who is a wheelchair user, you definitely have to plan a lot more when it comes to going out to restaurants and stuff.
‘On the plus side, I always have a portable seat by sitting on Dan’s lap when I’m waiting in queues. And I mustn’t forget the other pros such as good parking spaces.
‘His mobility is an issue which worsens over time. He sometimes falls over in the bathroom because it isn’t big enough for his walking aids that he needs to get around our flat.
Daniel and Becky on holiday. The loved-up couple first got together in 2018 and say it was love at first sight
The pair (pictured) are currently fundraising for a more accessible home as Daniel’s condition means he may become completely incapacitated
‘It is stressful knowing that accessible bungalows are much more expensive than a two-bedroom house. We just want to live somewhere safe.’
The pair are currently fundraising for a more accessible home as Daniel’s condition means he may become completely incapacitated.
Becky added: ‘There isn’t a cure for his condition yet, but research shows someone with FA deteriorates over time.
‘Dan is wobbly now and walks as if he is drunk, but he is managing just fine. His future is unknown, and I try not to dwell on it.
‘We want to spend the rest of our lives together. I want others to understand people in wheelchairs are no different to those who are able-bodied so they shouldn’t jump to conclusions.’
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