Driven: When I Fall, I Get Back Up
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." Yes, one may face more adversity and triumph than another in a thousand different ways; but who am I to judge? My battles in life are no different than any other. Besides, what is it really that defines me as "defying the odds?" From my prospective of being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at eighteen months, I know no different. My walk is my walk; my drive is my drive. When I fall, I get back up, wash the blood off, and carry on.
I grew up bunny hopping the hallways of Shriners Hospital-Chicago. At the tender age of Three, I thought Dr. Miller, who was the mirror image of my Grandfather, was indeed my Grandfather. I would bunny hop down the hallways after him, asking, "Where are you going, Grandpa?" Fast forward to the age of four, I had my first surgery. That won me a couple of state pegs in both ankles and two casts from hip to toe for the summer. In a time that my mom was accused of breaking my legs, I adapted to the world--the world did not adapt to me. One might find me scooting up and down staircases, getting in and out of bed, on and off the couch and getting prepackaged snacks for myself. You name it, I did it. I was determined and waited on no one.
At age eight, I again spent my summer in the hallways of Shriners hospital only this time, I had three surgeries in one; a Rotational Osteotomy of the left hip, Heal Cord lengthening and a hip plate. To this day, the scar on my left hip reminds me of the pain like it was yesterday. It was when the morphine drip couldn't drip fast enough, the morphine pills didn't have time to kick in. I spasmed off the bed.
At age ten, the hip plate was removed and I was DONE with surgeries...or so I thought. At nineteen, I had emergency removal of the state pegs in the left ankle due to internal bleeding and hardware breakage. Throughout my youth, I sported a total of six different AFO styles, walked with a walker, rode in a collapsable stroller and wheelchair, but ditched them all. I spent countless hours in Physical and Occupational Therapy of which I hated. Fast forward to adulthood and I can't get enough of these types of therapy, often running at least five miles daily. I missed out on much of my childhood, but it had made me a real responsible individual.
I was that girl who moved to Florida and was told I could not handle mainstream education. Another time in middle school, the Assistant Principal told me, I would never graduate High School, let-alone College. I was that girl that was told I would never amount to anything.
Today, I stand strong. I allow my voice to be heard and my walk to be seen. I am who I am because Cerebral Palsy shaped me into the person I am today. I am also the person I am because I never let Cerebral Palsy hinder my life. I am that driven girl who moved back to Chicago on my own. I am the one who walked a mile to the train at 5:00 A.M., took a 45-minute train ride, got off and walked another half mile to work. I worked eight hours, reverse commuted often adding in shopping, numerous bags and multiple flights of stairs at the end of the day. I did it-- for five months.
I AM a college graduate with honors with three college degrees from Florida State University and St. Petersburg College. I AM a homeowner. I AM a Sign Language Interpreter. I AM a professional in the Corporate Buying Office and have been for eight years. I AM a liaison-- working on an initiative that includes product lines with a focus on disabilities and giving back to nonprofit organizations.
I AM CP Strong!