MAINTENANCE. Dominique Farrugia confides in his handicap: “My only valid medicine is work”

the essential In a book entitled “She never left me”, Dominique Farrugia leaves his humorist clothes to tell about his thirty years of fight against multiple sclerosis which nails him in a wheelchair for three years.

You are 59 years old, isn’t it a bit early to write your memoirs?

I had long been offered to talk about my life. But I didn’t find it very interesting, and besides, I’m not used to people pages. Only, since I have a disease, multiple sclerosis, which I was diagnosed with at the age of 29 years, I thought to myself that a book would be there. opportunity to spread messages about disability. I have been living with the disease for thirty years now, so I have lived longer sick than healthy.

What kind of message did you want to convey in this book?

At first, I wanted a book that was all about illness. Then I agreed to talk about myself, my life, my career, because I wanted to testify, say that one can be sick and set up TV channels, produce and direct films. One day, a shrink told me: “There are two ways to treat your illness, like a friend or like an enemy. Like a friend, you stay in bed and you complain. Like an enemy, you get up and go to work. I chose the second option. My only valid medicine is work. And I want to tell the disabled that spending your days doing a job you love increases your strength tenfold and opens windows of well-being in life.

You who have been in a wheelchair for three years after a valid life, what difficulties do you discover as a disabled?

In thirty years, I went from a cane to a crutch, then to two crutches, and now I am in a wheelchair even at home. Since I’ve been in a wheelchair all day, I need someone all the time. The galley begins to get out of your home, if you have to go down a few steps. Second, very few cities are adapted for the disabled. Paris, where I live, is not. For example, only one metro line is accessible to people with reduced mobility. It doesn’t seem like the end of the world to install elevators there, though.

In a city like London, the metro, although much deeper than that of Paris, is everywhere accessible to the disabled, taxis are equipped. In France, the bus platform that allows you to get on is not always well established. Public places are not all up to standard. The toilets in bistros are often in the basement. And the museums are accessible, of course, but the paintings placed at the height of valid!

You also say that humiliation is permanent when you are disabled …

Yes, because this lack of suitable facilities forces us to constantly ask for help or permission. For example, to take the elevator in a public place, you generally have to go and ask that it be opened for you, because it is only given access on request, otherwise people would do anything. Another humiliation, when you take the plane, you will be the first to board … but always the last to leave the aircraft since you have to wait for assistance. This book is therefore also an opportunity to raise a rant. And then I tell myself that if Bigard was entitled to a phone call from Macron, maybe I too will be entitled to it (laughs) …

In your opinion, what are the priority projects in terms of taking the disabled person into account?

First, employment. Companies are afraid to hire people with disabilities. But just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you don’t have a brain! Of course, we will not become a material handler, but we can work. The other urgent task is that of mobility. When you’re in a wheelchair, you can’t go where you want, when you want.

What you are ultimately asking for is equality with the able-bodied?

Exactly. As a disabled person, I don’t ask for help: I ​​just want to be on par with non-disabled people. I am not asking for any privileges, I want to be judged on what I can do, not on what I cannot or no longer do. I just want the same luck as everyone else.

“She never left me”, Robert Laffont editions, 19 €.

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