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I  DON’T Like The Word “ Handicap"

Handicap is a word I never really liked in the English Dictionary. The word is described as some type of restriction whether it be mental, physical or emotional. As someone born with Spina Bifada and Hydrocephalus, the word handicap is a word that I've been attached to for most of my life.

As I've gotten older and matured, I've come to the realization that the medical term that doctors diagnosed me with at birth or the wheelchair that I'm confined to at the moment has never been my handicap. My handicap was my way of thinking. Personally, I prefer the term ''physically challenged." It's inevitable that we all will experience challenge at some point. You who may be reading this may be experiencing challenge at the moment. Challenges define who we are in difficult times. Character is exposed and we're faced with a choice. We can stay the same or grow and mature as character is developed. In my case, my challenges began at birth. For those who don't know, Spina Bifada is when the spine is open at birth. The spine has a spinal chord filled with nerves. Each nerve allows the body to create movement or feel when something is hot or cold. The nerves in my back were jumbled up kind of like spaghetti. To this day, there is still no cure to re-route each nerve into its proper place. My first surgery at just a few hours old was for doctors to close the spine. I have what is called an L3- L4 degree which simply means I have feeling throughout my body except for anywhere below my knees with a minimal amount of movement in my legs. Hydrocephalus is completely different. Hydrocephalus is water to the brain. Can you imagine a doctor placing 6 inches of tubing into a baby? This was another procedure that my doctors had to perform on me at birth due to too much leakage in the brain. Hydrocephalus however doesn't end there. The tube that was placed in my abdomen is what's called a V.P shunt. Anyone with a V.P shunt will tell you that there will be times that the shunt will malfunction causing seizures or other issues. For anyone who may not know what a seizure feels like, just imagine someone doing jumping jacks on your head. Later in my adolescent years, I got tired. I was tired of surgery after surgery. It became annoying to be a ''regular" in the operating room. I was tired of the defecating on myself due to my challenges. Help was needed but it became difficult when I asked for help and was scorned. It was almost as if I felt I was a mistake.

I then was faced with a decision. I decided I wanted no more and it was time to check out. I focused on my pain not realizing that sometimes pain is the bridge that leads to purpose. I didn't realize that even pain has an expiration date. With a strong support system of people who took the time to understand, is what got me through. Suicide is one of the most selfish decisions a person can make. I admit I was selfish. This was part of my handicap. Instead of a masterpiece, I thought I was junk. You see, the only handicap one can ever have is themselves. It's all in the mind. You are as handicapped as your thoughts are. We must control them. As I close, I ask you what is your handicap? Were or are you handicap in the area of feeling like throwing in the towel? Perhaps you're handicapped in how you treat your finances or how you respond to your child or spouse.

Whatever your handicap may be, the good news is that you can break it. I believe first you have to confront it. Secondly, get the help needed. We all can add to each other. Extend a hand out to someone in need. Availability is always a great gift that the world can use.

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