Monday, January 10, 2011

Lessons from the Short Bus

Grade 5- the year I had surgery and rode the short bus

Last night I laid awake for hours because my legs & feet just ached. This is nothing new, but they haven't ached like that in forever. Pretty sure its 'cause I wore high heals two days in a row (Grant's management party & Church)...I know I am such a slave to fashion, NOT! First time I've worn heels since the six hours of torture at High School grad....

I don't ever remember not dealing with muscle spasms in my legs and feet. Its the only annoying side affect of my mild cerebral palsy. At least the lazy eyes, bad coordination, and drooling when I'm tired don't hurt :) Anyways....

As I laid there last night I tried to think of all the good things I have learned from having to deal with physical challenges. (I think I was just trying to talk myself out of a pity party.)

When I was around 4, I started attending a rehabilitation centre, after school, three or more days a week. I spent countless hours there for physical and occupational therapy, which I didn't always enjoy. I was super jealous of my sister who got to go home and watch after school cartoons. But at RIO (can't remember what that stood for) I was surround by other kids who had many more challenges than I did and I learned early to focus on all that I could do, instead of what I struggled with.

At 10, I distinctively remember the appointment with my pediatric orthopedic surgeon as he told my mom that I had finally grown enough and it was time to do the reconstructive surgery on both feet. The inside muscle on both feet had pulled so tightly it had caused my feet to be severely pigeon-toed and both heel bones to curve. Making walking very difficult. It involved major surgery, several months in a wheel chair and then many more in walking casts. I was terrified. As part of my preparation for surgery I attended a class for kids, at the hospital (CHOC Children's Hospital of Orange County) that went through all the different procedures. There was a boy in my class the was having major heart surgery, his mom told my mom that his survival was in question (I never did know what happened to him) Even at ten I understood that my surgery although scary, was not life threatening and I felt sorrow for this boy and his family. I learned empathy early.

After surgery, the casts and wheelchair made it necessary for me to ride the special needs bus (aka the short bus) to and from school and yes sadly I was teased because of it. On that bus however, I met a boy named Bill. Bill was in a motorized wheelchair and only had limited control of his head and hands. He was the funnest kid I had ever met. Happy, always had a joke to tell, and showed me how to write dirty words upside down in a calculator :). From Bill I learned that attitude is everything. No matter what our lot in life is we can still choose to be happy.

My surgery was successful, the recovery was painful but the benefit of an empathic heart and straight feet has been awesome, I still fall easy but at least its not from tripping over my own two feet. I honestly wouldn't change a thing.

After a hot bath and good old Advil I was finally able to drift off into never-never land. I will always have to weigh the price vs benefit of wearing high heels, So "I told you so" is certainly in order if you ever hear me whining about this again :)


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