My name is Sarah Vanden Top. I was born on August 1st, 1994, with Myelomeningocele Spina Bifida from my T11 to L5 vertebrae. Before I was born, the doctors told my parents that I most likely wouldn’t live for more than a few weeks, and that if I did, I would be severely brain damaged and would never be able to do things like talking, sitting up, or feeding myself. My mom says that if they had found out about my condition sooner, the doctors would have tried to convince my parents to abort me. Well, now it’s twenty-two years later, and I’ve proved those doctors so very wrong.
I had my first surgery to have the hole in my back repaired when I was only a few hours old. I was in the hospital for almost an entire month after that, and I had other surgeries during that time. I came home from the hospital in late August, alive and doing fairly well.
Growing up with Spina Bifida wasn’t always easy. There have been times in my life when I felt like giving up, but my family has always been a great support system for me. They’ve helped me through the countless surgeries that I’ve had over the years. They’ve helped me through my self-esteem and anxiety, though I still struggle with those sometimes. I don’t know what I would do or how I would’ve turned out if it weren’t for my family.
When I was little, I was able to walk with the assistance of a walker, but when I was nine, I had spinal fusion surgery for my scoliosis. I had to wear a back brace for a year, and that made it pretty much impossible to walk, so I’ve been using a wheelchair since then.
I went to public elementary school through fifth grade, but during fifth grade, I started to get bullied by other kids in my class, so my mom and I decided that it would be better if she pulled me out of school and homeschooled me. While I was homeschooled, I took part in a co-op at my church with other homeschooled kids in my area. We got together once a week and had science and history classes together. I made a lot of friends there. I also took part in a drama club for homeschooled kids in my area for five years, and was on a sled hockey team for disabled kids in my area for three years.
I graduated from high school in 2011, and started college in 2012. In 2015, I earned my Associate’s Degree in Forensic Science. I’m currently working on earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security/ Digital Forensics. I plan to graduate in May of 2017. My dream is to work for the FBI as a technical analyst. I’ve already applied, but I haven’t heard back yet.
In my spare time, I enjoy crocheting, reading, Netflix binge-watching, and spending time with my parents and my sister. I also love watching movies, especially fantasy movies. My favorite movies are the three Lord of the Rings movies. There isn’t really a lot that I dislike, but if I had to pick a couple of things, I would say that I hate green vegetables and when people stare at me in public.
If I were to give advice to another person who has Spina Bifida, I would tell them to never give up, and to go after their dreams. I would tell them that they can do anything they want to do, and that Spina Bifida doesn’t have to hold them back. I would tell them to lean on the people they love and who love them in return.
So, that’s me! I hope you all enjoy reading my story.