My name is Paul and I'm currently 38 years old. I was born with both Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele (L4-L5, I'm told), and I also have Hydrocephalus. Thankfully, my uncle is a medical doctor (a cancer surgeon), so he was able to connect my parents with some of the best medical care then available and reassure them during the early stages of diagnosis and treatment. By the month after my thirteenth birthday, I'd lived in Boston, Atlanta, and rural East Tennessee.
I've lost count of how many surgeries I've had. I primarily have neurosurgical and orthopedic surgeries over the years. But it's somewhere around 40 surgeries I've had. I tried college four separate times (twice on-campus and twice via correspondence) but haven't been able to finish a degree. While I was more sociable growing up, and I still do okay in face-to-face settings.Especially with my 10 nieces and nephews ages 7-under. I spend most of my time these days online (Facebook, including games, and reading news and opinion columns) and occasionally reading books.
Even though she doesn't have Spina Bifida, one of the most inspirational people I've met is Joni Eareckson Tada. I had the privilege of being interviewed on her radio show as a teen. If you haven't read her life story, I highly recommend it. My life has certainly had disappointments and frustrations, but I am very grateful to be alive. I believe it is in large part an answer to the prayers of those who love me and have been there for me all these years.
There are many ways that my challenges have actually enriched my life. I have had the opportunity to meet people and inspire people to realize that life is more than our circumstances during our journey on earth. I often remind myself of what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."