As my birthday was the beginning of this month I thought I’d share photos and stories of myself through the years. The timeline and placement of the photos isn’t perfect, but you’ll get the gist.
This post is definitely on the personal side, so if this isn’t your style then I won’t hold it against you 😉
On the 6th of January I was born, to two parents with questionable hairstyles. Try not to judge – the hair, the clothes, basically anything you see from this point on, it was all the fashion.. – apparently.
I had my first operation at 2 weeks old as I was born with Congenital Pseudarthrosis, back then there were very few surgeons who knew about the condition due to it’s rarity. Most of my surgeries and treatments as a baby/child were experimental and I was a guinea-pig to figuring out what worked best. On the plus side, I’m basically famous in Orthopedic circles.
Despite being disabled my Mum never wrapped me up in cotton wool, I did mostly everything any other toddler would do. I didn’t realise I was different to my Sister, for instance, so if she climbed onto furniture or up stairs, went down slides or stole biscuits (which is what I am being caught doing in two of the below pictures) then I did it too. And my Mum didn’t stop me, she didn’t ever make me feel like I was breakable so I was never afraid, and as much as possible, I was never stopped from having a normal childhood.
In the below pictures you can see the first family dog I ever had. I have no memory of him but apparently we were inseparable from the get go. My Mum believed that Max, the dog, thought I was his litter mate. If I fell asleep somewhere he would immediately curl up around me and join in the napping, and if I ever found him napping without me I’d do the same.
At two years old I had my first major surgery due to a failed attempt at placing a rod in my ankle. I ended up having my first Ilizarov frame putting on to save my ankle/foot. If any of you have seen an Ilizarov frame, and the older version as now they are usually more streamlined, you know that they look pretty brutal. Basically they are metal pins that pass through one side of the leg, through muscle and bone, and come out the other side. These pins are attached to stainless steel circular fixators – so yeah, brutal in appearance and pain.
I’m going to show a picture of it below, I was a teenager at the time of that frame but just to show what it looks like. You’ve been warned if you don’t want to look at it.
Fun Fact: (well it’s interesting to me anyways) the first Ilizarov frame was a made with bicycle wheel parts.
During 1996 we went to see the Gladiators, as myself and my Sister loved watching the show. The story goes that after a long journey and all the time spent in the arena watching everything being set up and the intro’s being recorded I promptly fell asleep and missed all the action. We did get to go backstage though.
This year I had my biggest surgery to date. I had a bone graft, the operation itself took 12 hours, which must of been lots of fun for the surgeon and staff. They removed a large section of the fibula from my left leg and placed it into my right leg. Afterwards I met the Mayor of Sheffield.
During this time I became obsessed with building a card tower, and I do mean obsessed. At one stage my Mum took the cards from me and hid them because I was becoming very agitated at my inability to build it. This sounds strange but remember there wasn’t much to do with an 4 pound frame piercing through my legs bones at the time, so I latched onto the card tower and god dang it I was going to build it.
My Primary School life was good as far as I can remember. I had a lovely group of friends who didn’t mind that I’d sometimes disappear for weeks whilst in and out of hospital. It was a small school and I was never picked on for being disabled. My teachers were all great people and I enjoyed Primary School as a whole.
In the below picture, the one where I have crazy hair, I feel like I need to explain. I look so chuffed because it was the first time I’d ever had my hair styled, I can’t remember who did it, one of my Sisters no doubt, styled it with curlers and I was very impressed.
In the grand scheme of things I had a pretty ordinary childhood. If I wasn’t actively undergoing surgical procedures I played out with my friends, I climbed trees, I rode bikes, had water fights and pretended I was a pirate whilst balancing on large rocks… the normal stuff
2003 – 2004
High School had it’s ups and downs. I was in and out of hospital and in and out of being of being a normal student. I had friendship groups and then lost them when I’d have to have my next set of treatment and that became the pattern of my high school years.
From what I can tell 2005 was the year of webcam selfies, that’s right kids, our selfies where taken on a webcam, no mobiles for us. Girly sleepovers would consist of squeezing onto a computer chair with your friends and pulling multiple weird faces, and then applying filters to them. By filters I mean black and white, or a red tint – real exciting, high tech stuff.
2006 – 2008
2009 – 2010 – 2011
After High School I went to College. For a while I enjoyed it, I’ve always loved to learn and I was done with my major surgeries so it felt like a fresh start. However, I’ve never been the best at interacting with people, especially girls. I don’t talk, think or act the way the majority of girls do and because of that I never had incredible relationships with girls. I’ve always had closer friendships with boys as they are just easier in my opinion and experience.
During my second year in college my Grandma passed away, I was suffering from severe depression at this time (a build up of everything that had happened so far). I quit college and took some time to figure out what I wanted to do, and who I actually was as a person.
In 2010 I applied to a one year intensive Dental Nursing course and got accepted, I also met and entered into my first serious relationship. At this time things were good. I was working towards something I wanted, I was in love, I had the hope of a future that didn’t involve me being in pain and obviously disabled.
During these years life was really good and exciting, I had successfully finished my Dental Nursing NVQ and had been offered a full time job working at the Dental Practice I had been training at with the owner and main boss man. I was in a long term relationship, I was travelling, both general holidays and a month long road trip across America. I even got my first dog.
2012 – 2013
During this next period of my life my physical health deteriorated again, as this is something I am still struggling with and trying (unsuccessfully) to manage, I am not going to go into this too much. As I’m still undergoing this it feels more personal.
2014 – 2015
And here we are, I am now a 26 year old woman. A lot of the time I get worked up about where I am in my life. I feel I haven’t achieved enough and I’m not where I want to be. But my life has been varied; coloured with the good and the bad.
I need to learn to acknowledge what I have achieved more often, rather than look at what I want but still don’t have.
“Life is short. Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile.”
“You’ll never be brave if you don’t get hurt. You’ll never learn if you don’t make mistakes. You’ll never be successful if you don’t encounter failure.”