I was born with cerebral palsy, though I refuse to use it as a crutch.
Brain surgery at eight months old, 12 or 13 years of physical, speech, and occupational therapy, with annual CT scans. All of it led to a difficult upbringing where sometimes the only bright spot was giving the 5-foot-tall, wooden Mickey Mouse statue a “high-five” on the way out of the hospital.
Fast forward to college, and I found a passion for taking care of people in the hospital bed, because I’ve been there too. I got in shape, became a firefighter, and later a paramedic. Long story short, becoming a paramedic was a long tough road, riddled with prejudice based on the perception of a disability, not the reality.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) helped me become a paramedic, and next a nurse, because it is legislation based on reality—it prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability. President George H.W. Bush spoke empowering words when he signed the ADA into law: “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” It is because of that empowerment and hard work that I am a successful paramedic, a graduate nursing student at one of the finest institutions in the world, and it is continuing motivation to pursue my dream of being a pediatric/neonatal flight nurse, with the hopes of being a bright spot for kids in need.
An Anonymous Johns Hopkins Graduate Nursing Student
FROM THE AUTHOR (in place of bio)
As Hemingway once said “Every man has two deaths, when he is buried in the ground, and the last time someone says his name. In some ways men can be immortal.”
I wrote this article with the intent of trying to be bigger than my skeptics. I wrote this article the way I did by not mentioning certain names or details, nor the pain they caused, because I want to move on from the feelings of shame and anger associated with my previous experiences. I am being bigger than my skeptics by not letting them have any more power over me as they felt they once did. I want to encourage people to think about others and their potential unseen struggles. That way, this article has the potential of encouraging people to exude more compassion and empathy towards others, as we all should strive to do.
- Little Taylor and the Prosthesis: 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act
- What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?