Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Want to Learn More About YOU!

I sincerely enjoy reading all of my fellow interns blog posts, but I must admit, I am slightly addicted to Andrew’s posts the most. Learning more about Tourettes is really interesting and, on occasion, I wish that my condition, Spina Bifida, was as intriguing as Tourettes, but alas, it is not.

With every post from Andrew, I have a deeper understanding of Tourettes and how he deals with it. Each post describes a complex world that I have never known, and I am glad to be learning so that I can understand and appreciate Andrew and others with Tourettes even more.

As selfish as it is, I wish all of the interns would divulge their disability and how it affects their lives so that I can learn more and be more understanding of others. I know that not everyone is as open as Andrew and it is sometimes hard to be completely transparent, but even small insights can help. There are also people like me who just don’t think that their disability is that interesting, but just because you don’t think it is interesting, that doesn’t mean others feel the same way.

So, as not to be a hypocrite, I will give you a glimpse into my personal experience with Spina Bifida.

I'll admit I don’t know much about Spina Bifida, except for my own experience with it. I have been told that there are many people with SB who are not as functional as I am. Many people with SB have a shunt due to hydrocephalus (also called “water on the brain”), I do not. Also, many with SB cannot walk without crutches and some cannot walk at all. This is not the case with me.

So what is my case? Well, I’m allergic to latex for starters. Doctors suspect that my allergy to latex is due to my overexposure to latex as a baby having a lot of surgeries. Oh yes, I’ve had lots of surgeries too. I’ve had two surgeries on my spine, after which I was not allowed to sit up for three months. I’ve had two or three surgeries on my right foot and ankle. My left leg, hip and foot have had the most surgeries, totaling over 12. These are the major surgeries of course, if I counted the minor ones, we’d be here all day.

I spent a lot of my younger life living in hospitals for months at a time, and to this day I love going back. Every time I am in a hospital, it feels like home. I know that’s really weird for a lot of people, but not for me. I love hospital staff, food, sounds, and everything else. They just feel right to me.

I don’t fear hospitals and I don’t fear surgeries. Well, no, that’s a lie. I don’t fear surgeries on bones or limbs, but I do have a fear for surgeries on any inner organs. For example, I have horrible kidneys and they often get infected causing a lot of damage and pain. This could possibly be fixed, or at least helped, if I had kidney surgery, but I refuse. But if you want to operate on my leg, go ahead! It’s weird, I know. I can’t explain it.

A lot of things about me are weird, I guess.

Out of fear of boring you all, I think I’ll stop there. I hope this might encourage some of you, my fellow interns (or just some avid readers of this blog!) to divulge a little bit about how your disability affects you.

Have a great weekend!

(I know I will, I’m going to see Billy Joel!)

Stephanie Woodward

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