LEARNING & EDUCATION

yoocan Community Member Moves Onwards Regardless of Depression

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Heather Hancock

The Beginning of my life: Born Premature

I was born very premature (25 weeks gestation) weighing 1 pound 6 oz. It was 1968 and there were no Neonatal Intensive Care Units. The doctors told my parents to name me because I would die within 24 hours. I had a 2% chance of survival. They placed me in a regular incubator and waited for me to die. The first miracle was that I breathed on my own. The lungs don't start producing surfactant (a substance that prevents the walls of the lungs from sticking together) until the 7th month of gestation. There was absolutely no reason why I should have been able to breathe at my gestational age, but I did and without a ventilator. Twelve weeks later, my parents took me home.

My Early Childhood: Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy

By age 2, I had finally begun walking. I was copying my younger brother. It was obvious to my parents that something was wrong, so they took me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. It was 1970, and the medical community believed, at that time, that all children born with Cerebral Palsy were mentally retarded (the terminology of the time). The doctor advised my parents to put me in an Institution as I "would never amount to anything." My parents refused. They sought out a specialist and found one at our city's Children's Hospital. The first thing that doctor did was send me to the University for an IQ test.  
At the age of 3, I had the IQ of a 5 year old, so clearly my disability was purely physical. I was still walking on my tiptoes with both my feet turned inwards and falling over my own feet.  After heel-cord lengthening surgery and tons of physio at age 3, I learned to walk with my heels on the ground. My parents fought to have me registered into the public school system for kindergarten at age 5. At that time all disabled children were put into special schools and segregated from society.  

My parents won and I was the first handicapped child mainstreamed into the public school system in my city. My peers did not accept me. Parents of young children phoned my parents and told them that their child was not allowed to play with me because "he/she might catch something." From Grades 1-6, I was bullied every single day: mocked, called names, told I should have died or that "I didn't deserve the air I breathed." I was pushed to the ground and physically beaten at least once a day.  School was great academically, but torture socially. I determined in Grade 4 that I would not fight back physically, so I would fight back the only way I could: by getting better grades than my tormentors.  

High School: Fighting Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

By the time I was 14, all of the abuse (physical, emotional & verbal) combined with sexual molestation at age 12 by an older family friend (whom I considered a surrogate Grandfather), pushed me into a deep depression and I planned to commit suicide. I believed that no one loved me and my parents only said they did because they had to.
God intervened through a singer who came to our High School, a former Commodore. At a church service the next weekend in 1982, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Immediately I was surrounded and infilled by the most amazing, pure, tangible LOVE! The God of the entire Universe loved me! I realized that I was not a freak or an accident!  At that moment I chose life. I graduated from High School with Honours in 1986.

My Adult Life in a Nutshell: Fighting Depression & Chronic Pain

After Graduation, I immediately went into a 3 year RN Nursing School Program. 1.5 years into it, I had to quit due to chronic pain setting into both knees. With my dream shattered, I spent a year in depression until I decided to go to college to get my Office Administration certificate. I graduated from college in 1990 with that certificate and was able to combine my administrative skills with my medical knowledge to find employment with our local Health Authority. By age 29, I could no longer walk independently and began using a cane. By 33, I was using a 4 wheeled walker full-time. By 40, I was using a manual wheelchair on really bad days due to back spasms that made it impossible for me to walk for hours at a time.

My chronic pain levels continued to climb. By age 44 (2 months before my wedding), I could no longer work. I had worked for 22+ years in community based health units providing home care & outpatient clinics within local hospitals.  Now I found myself on Disability. I was married on March 24, 2012 and I am so blessed to have a loving, God-fearing, compassionate and empathetic husband.   For the next 4 years I just focused on taking it one day at a time, doing dishes and laundry. My pain level is a consistent at 8-9 out of 10, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Just doing household chores was not fulfilling. I have an intense need to help others, so I began searching for a job I could do from home. In August of 2016, I completed a Certified Professional Coaching Course and obtained my credentials to be a Life Coach.  Since then I have been working hard to establish my business: Ocean Tide Coaching.

My Life Motto: Onwards...Regardless

My life motto is: ONWARDS...REGARDLESS! I would encourage anyone who is facing obstacles of any kind, to realize that there are ways through certain things and there are ways around certain things. Nothing is impossible. So dare to dream....DREAM BIG! Pursue your dreams regardless of what others say! You are amazing and have so much to contribute to the world.

EMPOWER OTHERS!

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