Like many mums, Tamina Bettess is looking forward to a break on Mother’s Day from juggling multiple roles and work.
Mum to 2 busy teens and a younger child, Tamina co-owns and runs a café in Red Cliffs near Mildura while also managing a local caravan park and doing admin work for another business.
Tamina is excited about the prospect of sleeping in and taking it easy for the day.
But more importantly, Tamina is thrilled she now has the strength and energy to enjoy Mother’s Day and spend meaningful time with her children and extended family.
'I’m looking forward to having a rest, but I also know I can be there for my kids and family now, and that’s pretty special,' Tamina said.
Tamina, 39, was born with spina bifida, a condition that affects the spine and spinal cord.
With reduced feeling and nerve function in her feet and legs, Tamina walks with a limp and has problems with balance.
Until she joined the NDIS with support from NDIS partner in the community Intereach, Tamina also lived with chronic and debilitating pain.
'There’d be days at a time where I would be stuck on the couch and in bed,' Tamina said.
Mother’s Days were not the special occasion Tamina hoped they might be.
'In previous years, I would get so cranky because the kids always wanted to celebrate and do stuff, which is fair enough, but I didn’t have the energy and I was in such consistent pain,' she said.
'I’d be this grumpy sook by half-way through the day and it would not make the day enjoyable for anybody.
'It affected everyone, so Mother’s Days really weren’t that great.'
Tamina says this year will be different because she made the crucial decision to reach out for help.
'For a lot of my adult life, I was quite complacent with my own care,' Tamina said.
'For me, it was a process of having to accept that yes, I have a disability, and that disability is not a bad word.
'I’m still a mother, I’m still who I am and having a disability doesn’t change that.'
While Tamina was planning her own wedding, her health took a turn for the worse.
Tamina’s neurosurgeon delivered devastating news – she needed high-risk spinal surgery.
'He said, if I waited too long, I would lose everything from the surgical point down, so the bladder, the bowel, walking function, everything.
'And if I had the surgery, if even the slightest thing went wrong, it would be the same outcome,' Tamina said.
'There was a high possibility that either way I wouldn’t be walking, and I would be in a wheelchair by my wedding.'
Tamina decided the time had come to look for more support.
She reached out to the NDIS, and with Intereach by her side, she hasn’t looked back.
'Because of the NDIS, and the supports I now have, I’ve been able to maintain a regular routine of appointments.
'I have a lot of exercise physio, physio and hydrotherapy, and I’ve been able to build up my strength to keep fit and healthy, so my body can hold itself up,' Tamina said.
'And last year, I got to walk down the aisle – I wore shoes and I walked, it was amazing!'
With her increased strength and fitness, Tamina’s pain has all but disappeared.
'Now I’m lucky if I have a pain day once a month.
'It’s incredible,” she said.
'Nowadays, when the kids want to do stuff, I can be there because I’m not dealing with that constant pain anymore.
'And with that fitness and physical strength has come a more enhanced mental strength – I’m more available emotionally now too and that makes me a better Mum.'
Tamina says she loves married life and co-parenting 14-year-old Zara, 13-year-old Cohen and 8-year-old Chase, while also juggling a busy career.
She and husband Peter employ several staff at Geo Origins Cafe and Roastery in Red Cliffs.
'I thought I was an empowered woman before, but I really am now.
'I feel like in the last 2 years, I’ve fully come into who I am as a person,' Tamina said.
'And all these extra things I wouldn’t have thought I would be able to do, I can do them now because of the NDIS.
'I can take my kids to their weekend sports, and I can be there for their games.
'I can be there for them because I have that energy and stamina and I’m taking care of myself.
'The NDIS has allowed me to be a better person for all the people in my life.”