The Impossible Only Takes A Little Longer

I have been defying the impossible since the day I was born.  You see I was not expected to live past the first few days of birth.  My parents were told I was not going to live.  The doctors told my parents to prepare for the worst and I was given my last rights within the first few days of my life.  On top of my visible differences, I was born with a hole in my heart and a condition called Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count -  your blood has a hard time clotting).  Despite all the overwhelming odds, I found a way to do the impossible.  

I was brought up with the motto that I could do anything I wanted for "the impossible only takes a little longer."  The reality for me was that most things did take longer to accomplish. I was nine months by the time I figured out a way to “crawl” and three years by the time I could really walk.  I have a physical disability called TAR Syndrome which has had both a physical and emotional impact on my life.

The physical impact can be seen but not all at once. Yes, I have hands but no arms, and legs that bow out unlike most legs. That does not mean that every task is difficult for me nor do I need help with most things. It just means that I do most things different then mainstream society.  I see daily life like a puzzle before I do something for the first time I must find all the pieces and figure out the correct order before going forward. This process has made me a creative problem solver; a trait that I have found to be true with many people with disabilities.   I did not let the world tell me how to do something, I simply found a way!  Below is a short video clip of what I'm tyring to express:

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It is a trait that I am thankful for because living independently in an able-bodied world with a disability is not easy.  Walking, running, climbing stairs, playing sports, dressing, and driving among other things are things that I have done because I wanted to and sometimes because I felt I had too.

The emotional impact is something that I am good at hiding. At a young age I was faced with people staring, whispering, laughing at me or pulling their hands into their shirts thinking it was funny. Then there were the people who pitied me and thought they needed to help me because I could never do it myself. I dealt with these two problems differently.  First I learned to laugh at the pain because I realized people stopped quicker when I laughed with them instead of crying.  I found that laughing helped with the pain despite laughing with the bully's.  I did have my bad days.  Days where someone would do something very small, but because I would hold onto to what people did yesterday I would break down.  I was good at putting a wall up!  Finding a way to cope, I then decided that I would do everything that people said I could not do just to prove them wrong.  Both of these strategies helped me overcome countless challenges but at a cost.

History would call it ‘super cripple syndrome’.  People with disabilities only had two options: be everything or nothing. This is the myth that I believed in until my last year of high school. Before high school, I had believed in myself but was always worried about what other people thought and felt this deep need to prove myself worthy. I am not sure what triggered my self acceptance but it happened.  Since then I have learned to accept that people will judge or not judge regardless of what I do. I love the person that I have become and have decided to pursue the dreams that are meaningful to me.  Everyday I live to inspire myself and others to live life to the fullest.  I have been recognized globally for earning a black belt in Tae kwon do but my close friends tell me it is the everyday things that amazes them.

·                     I drive -

·                     I have a Masters Degree

·                     I have roller skated

·                     I have ice skated

·                     I have been living on my own since I was 19

I have been able to accomplish man things in my life but I have to recognize my amazing family.  Without their support, I may have never conquered my challenges. My mother was instrumental in giving me sayings and strength to conquer the ignorant world.  One of her famous lines I started using at the tender age of six years old; "I’m sorry you have such a small mind." 

 The Shriners Hospital for Children was a true blessing to me and my family.  The amazing support they gave me and my family was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  Shriner's gave me free medical care from the age of 2 years old until 21.   Here are some the other wonderful gifts they provided me and my family: 

·         Surgery

·         Physical Therapy

·         Out patient/in patient care

·         Occupational therapy

·         Leg Braces

But the most precious gift the Shriners Hospital for Children gave me and my family was hope when all the other doctors doubted my progress.

I want all people who may or may not be a person with disability to understand that a person with a disability is absolutely beautiful!   The entire world tells you that you have to do things a certain way dating back to our great ancestors.  By necessity, a person with disabilities will find many ways to do daily tasks making us some of the most creative people on earth.  I ask the world to embrace a person with disability and I challenge the world not to stare at people with disabilities but to learn from them!  You might just find another way to put on your shoes :)

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kouros123's picture

Sheila, you are a true inspiration and a great role model for overcoming the adversities that you face. Carry on, young lady, you are truely amazing!!!!!