I saw some posts about #NoShameDay and I was very touched. Your stories are inspiring, tumblr! Here’s mine.
Nine years old, I almost bled out after a misdiagnosis. Apparently, I had a tumor in my mouth, not a pus sore. About half a year and ten operations later, I had a stroke during one operation which paralysed the left part of my body. I don’t remember waking up, but I remember the hospital me and my mum lived in for a year as I went from operation to operation. I learned to walk again, defying every ‘you will never be able to … again’ the doctors predicted. I would never feel parts of my body, I would never walk, never move my hand… now I know that’s doctors’ talk for not giving promises they cannot keep.
About half a year later, I went into a surgery about which my mother cried for weeks. I didn’t understand why she was crying; this was my final treatment. Fear hit me when they started wheeling me to the OR with a wheeled bed. I asked to take my toy with me and cried before the anaesthesia hit.
I woke up thirsty, I remember that. That was the end of my disease, I now had a clean jaw bone and ¾ of my teeth left. I went to my second grade graduation and continued with my class in the third. I could hardly move my left arm and couldn’t eat for the cafeteria because my mum was afraid other kids would laugh at me when my face was full of food. I still can’t feel part of my face but I eat with others often now. (They usually smile and tell me that there’s something on my face.) I started walking more every day and got less tired with each time. I remember that part of my physiotherapy was to ride a stationary bike, so they had to tie my hand to the handle because it wouldn’t stay up otherwise.
I was very small, so for many years I thought the experience didn’t really affect me, especially when I got prosthetic teeth a few years ago. The more I talked to people and a therapist, the more I realised how much had been robbed from me. Since my hand moves now but has little motor skills, I can’t apply for any jobs for the summer with all my friends. As an exchange student, my host mother flat out admitted she wouldn’t have hosted me if she had known I had the disability. I can’t hold a ball or knit so I was always side-eyed in arts & crafts and gym class. I got the reputation of lazy and I tried to fit it because anything was better than the disabled girl. Boys in my class made grotesque faces to mock me when the teacher wasn’t watching. I did nothing but sit on the computer, lost in RPGs and books so I could pretend to be someone else. I didn’t have any confidence until I was 18 years old. You might have an idea how many times I’ve thought that no one would ever kiss a girl without teeth.
I’m nineteen now and I don’t talk about my disabilities. People notice, though, because I can’t hold two things at the same time and I type very fast with one hand. I tell them, ‘I once had a stroke and it left my left arm partly disabled.’ Nobody laughs at me anymore because I’m not ashamed. Fuck the fact I don’t have teeth, I can tie my shoes with one hand. Thank you so much for reading, and thank you for boosting my confidence, people of tumblr!