My Disabilities Do Not Define My Life
By Robin J. Titterington
I was born with spina bifida (think Baby Noor!) When I was 19, I became deafened from an antibiotic given to save my life from severe kidney infections. When I was 33, my kidneys failed and I began dialysis. I had a transplant and have been on dialysis for nine years. I am not eligible for another transplant due to my worsening scoliosis. Yet I hesitate to submit my story.
Why? Because my disabilities do not define my life. Our culture is such that if you do not look like people in magazines and in movies, it is assumed you have a sad life. I am a Christian, a woman, a sister, an aunt, mom to my pets "the fabulous furries," a devout Braves fan, and a tree-hugger. I can think of many more adjectives before I would arrive at “person with a disability.”
My life is not so different from other single women: I graduated from college (with honors), I hold a Master’s degree from New York University, I am a certified public manager, and I have 20 years of full-time work experience in rehabilitation administration. I own my house (which I share with the fabulous furries), I drive my car. I have traveled to most of the 50 states, Mexico, Canada and Austria. In fact, during both trips to Austria I received dialysis treatments.
Why do I feel I have a happy, satisfied and peaceful life? No doubt most of it is due to my faith. I know I am never alone. That is not to say I never have a bad day, but knowing I am not alone and that I am loved by my Lord gets me through the rough times. I am a sister in the Daughter of the King lay order and my sisters are wonderful spiritual role models. I feel challenged by learning from them to continue to grow in faith.
Of course, none of this would be possible without my parents. Sadly, they both passed away when I was relatively young, my mom died when I was 14, my dad when I was 24. I am now 51 and grew up in a time when expectations were not high for someone with a severe disability. Yet there was never a question that I might not go to college, just like my older brothers did. I am sure they must have had to fight a lot to get treatments and education for me but their expectations of me were high. (And my family laughs a lot too!) We are now on the second generation of “Give me a ride, Aunt Robin!” I hate to brag but I have been told I am more fun than Six Flags!
Lastly, there are my friends. Some are close by in location, some are not, but all are close by in thought and prayer. I have a group on my email listing of “earth angels” and one email to that group and I know I am lifted in prayer by many.
My Miracle Son: A Gift From God
By Beliefnet member dorothysweeney
This story is not about me. It is about my 23 year old son, Matthew. Little did I know all those years ago when I named him, that it meant "Gift from God" -- and that he is.
I lost Matthew's twin in my third month and he was born a preemie with cerebral palsy. My world fell apart when he was diagnosed at the age of 10 months. We were told we could simply put him in a home. I don't think so -- he was the survivor -- and so he stayed with us.
We enrolled him in an early intervention school by the age of 13 months and within three weeks, the absolutely wonderful teachers there had him sipping from a cup and sitting up. By the age of 3, he was walking -- a miracle.
Matthew is always smiling and always friendly. He is truly the light of my life. When he was 11, he took a seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy but through it all, he always smiled. He was on meds for four years and is now free of epilepsy. But at the age of 16, he developed manic depression and we thought we would never get his "mind" back again. God surely does smile on my son -- he was put on very strong meds and he did come out of it.
My son was a commencement speaker at the Overbrook School for the Blind here in Philly (he is not blind, but visually impaired). To watch my son on that stage proves to me that God continues to smile down on him.
He works now at a WaWa store. No matter how bad I might look, he always tells me I'm beautiful. He is loving and caring and would be a friend to all, if he could. All those who know him, think he's the best and my husband has been calling him the "Rock" ever since he came out of that manic depression.
I have been living a shattering life with my oldest son but all I have to do is look at Matt and just the sight of him pulls me out of my own depression.
I also have a teenage daughter who is the light of my life but Matt (he's not disabled and he's not handicapped) is Heaven's Special Child.