The Lucky One.
Not to toot my own horn, but I definitely consider myself to be that.
See, back in 1979, when I was born, not a lot was known about CP, and what was known made the prognosis very grim.
And all while Mommy was “pregnant” with me, Her doctor refused to run a simple pregnancy test on her. Without any proper testing, he diagnosed her as having ulcers (the reason for her constant heartburn) and early menopause (the reason for her missed/lighter periods). Mommy was a big woman to begin with, so she never really showed with me either.
(The reason I put pregnant in quotation marks is Mommy told me many times that I wasn’t her daughter, but actually her granddaughter. I’m actually my sister’s child, but she didn’t want me, so instead of outright putting me up for adoption, HER mother and stepfather took me, put themselves as my birth parents, and raised me. This is her reasoning for why she didn’t show. I, however, have NO concrete evidence to support nor deny this claim)
There were other stories she liked to tell me about my birth. One story was during my birth, the ‘delivery doctor,’ who was more or less just some random doctor making late night rounds, was more concerned with the blood from the delivery on his lab coat than the actual delivery and getting the corn unwrapped from my neck. Another story I was told was after I was born, when Mommy returned to her PCP/GP, he told her, ‘Well, if I knew you were pregnant, I would have told you to get an abortion, based on your age alone.’ Mommy was 41 when I was born… Not out of the childbearing years, but not in the prime of them either.
These stories contradict the stories about being my sister’s daughter, so it’s easy to see why I’m confused.
Although I wasn’t officially diagnosed until 1981, it was in the era of being a relatively unknown condition. I wasn’t expected to walk or talk on my own. If I did ambulate, it’d be in a wheelchair. I was expected to need full-time 24/7 care. I’d basically be a vegetable my whole life. The best thing for me would be put in an institution.
It was bad enough by her own doctor to be ‘told’ she should have had an abortion, but then came the icing on the proverbial cake; The specialist that diagnosed me with CP looked at my parents and said, “I’ll be honest. Your daughter will be dead by age 16.”
Now, there’s a sobering thought.
So, why do I consider myself ‘The Lucky One?’
Because none of those things ever happened. My parents took me to a different doctor, who got me into physical, occupational, and speech therapies. I learned to walk, run, jump, climb stairs… even swim. I learned to talk slow and watch my words, making my speech as clear as it can be. I learned to tie laces, button buttons, type on a typewriter/keyboard and practiced my writing, so that it was legible.
When I got into my pre-teen/’Tween’ years, Mommy started teaching me how to take care of the house. I washed and dried clothes. I folded the underwear and ‘balled’ the socks. I hung the clothes when Mommy ironed them. I ran the vacuum. I swept the floors. When Mommy was working at the local nursing homes, I knew how to make myself something to eat that DIDN’T involve microwaving a can of something from Chef Boyardee or Dinty Moore. I wasn’t the best, but I could wash the dishes in a pinch. I cleaned the countertops and sinks. I even knew how to clean the toilet.
I also kept a ‘B’ average in school, graduated High School, and got a certificate/degree in Web Page Design. I’ve even published a book.
I KNOW I could be a lot worse off than I am. I could be in that wheelchair. I could be mute. I could need help with everything. Worse yet, I could be dead, as the specialist said I would be.
But, as I near 22 years of being ‘past my expiration date,’ I’m not… and that makes me the luckiest one of all.
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