Hello, My name is Kim! I don’t really remember when I first had trouble walking but my grandmother told me she noticed I wasn’t walking properly at two and my mother said my brothers used to take me around in a red wagon. I know I hated how painful it was to wear shoes on my feet! My mom said I would take them off as fast as she would put them on. No one, none of the many doctors mom and dad took me to see at the IWK Hospital for Sick Children (the name always bothered me because I wasn’t sick) ever mentioned spina bifida. I knew I had a tethered spinal cord and my left leg was shorter than my right, but no one told us anything more. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that my doctor called it Spina Bifida and in my forties before I was informed that my spinal cord was split. Looking back, I’m happy things worked out this way.
I always remember pretending my back didn’t hurt when I walked with friends or ran in the schoolyard. I think I honestly believed if I pretended hard enough it would disappear. I used to hate trying to find shoes that looked nice and I could find comfortable (nothing felt comfortable on my left foot). Every time I walked, my left baby toe went under my foot and I walked on it. It was painful all the time. I have tried every wrap, bandage, orthotics device etc and nothing has worked. If shoes fit my right foot, they were too big on the left. A couple of times I’d be playing and lose my left shoe to shouts of laughter from the other kids (so embarrassing!). But I did everything the other kids did! Some kids made fun of the way I walked but most didn’t, some made fun of me for wearing glasses, some made fun of me for making high grades. Bullies will always pick on you for something - you have to ignore it and move forward.
I went on from school to be a nurse. However, the amount of walking and lifting was not conducive to my particular ailments so I picked myself up and studied teaching. I don’t believe anyone owes me a living, I need to make things happen for me. Yes I loved nursing and was very sad to learn I wouldn’t be able to stay in the field but it wasn’t going to stop me from being a successful member of society. I became a teacher and teach science, biology, special education for high school and I have learned to love it.
My personal life has been great, I’m married now for 20 years with two daughters; Lauren 19 and Emily 13. However, the one thing I still have difficulty with is the prejudice I receive from educated people. One colleague yelled in a hall, "Are you ever lame today! What’s wrong with you?" A director of human resources offered to "put me in a wheelchair", I declined. Even comments like "Well you’re lucky, you’re smart" hurt because when I look at really nice shoes and know I will never be able to wear them, I don’t feel lucky. Some days I get tired of trying to feel lucky and I want to have a "pity party" but then I want to get up and go on with my life. Life is short, too short to waste it wallowing in self pity