My story begins on the first day of my life. I was born with an open spine, a form of Spina Bifida. One month later, I had to go through a very delicate neurosurgery to close my spine. After the surgery, the doctor told my parents that for one year, I had to be monitored closely for any water on the brain. Miracles were received and thankfully, I did not have any complications during the first year. However, just before I turned two, I became very ill with Spinal Meningitis and was hospitalized for 2 weeks. Even after being in the hospital, things were not quite normal and I had to go through months of testing to see what was wrong. Later, results showed that I had lost 95% of my hearing through the high fevers when I had the Spinal Meningitis.
By the age of two, I was fitted with two hearing aids and started going to the Utah School for the Deaf. Professors and educators at the Utah School for the Deaf told my parents that because my loss was so profound that I would never learn to speak and my only mode of communication would be sign language. They also told them that the average reading level would probably not go beyond 5th grade level. Turning to God with great faith my parents listened to those spiritual promptings rather than the educators and I was enrolled in the oral program with absolutely no sign language. The greatest advice they were ever given was by a wonderful principal at the Utah School for the Deaf. His advice to them was that they should “Never Suppose the Limitations” of their child. My mother thought that because I had lost my hearing that there was no way I could function like a normal hearing child. My parents listened to his council and from that moment forward I was treated as if I was a normal child. Through lots of Speech Therapy, and the many hours my mother worked with me on my speech, I was able to learn to speak and read lips. Today, I am able to communicate in a hearing society like a normal hearing person but with a deaf accent.
At a young age, my parents signed me up for dancing, gymnastics, and piano lessons. With dancing I was able to feel the beats of the music and would dance in the second or third row so I wouldn’t fall behind on the dance moves. Piano, I was able to learn to play by using my other senses more than my ear. Of course, when I didn’t hear the mistakes I made, my mother would come running to my side, let me know that it was not the right note and then I would fix it. After about 5 years of playing the piano, I got tired of practicing everyday and wanted to quit the piano. But my mother felt strongly that this was my life long talent to hold on to and to share with others because of the fact that I couldn’t hear and was able to play the piano. She sat me down one day and told me that before we were born, we were all given special talents and that God has given each of us a talent to develop while here on earth. Piano just happens to be my talent to develop and to share. After much thought, I decided to stick with it and to not throw it all away. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to perform for thousands of people at the Dijong Concert Hall, University of Utah, Capital Theatre for all government officials in the state, Utah Festival of the Arts for the Young, the United Way of Utah, Utah State University, guest artist for Young Women of the Year State Contest in Idaho, and throughout the state of Utah in high schools and elementary schools as a motivational speaker. At the age of 16, I received the title of Utah’s Miss T.E.E.N. (Teens Encouraging Excellence Nationally) and later a runner up to Miss Utah. Because of those experiences and never supposing my limitations, it has given me a whole new level of self confidence I needed for myself. I was shy and refused to speak in front of people because I was worried what others thought of my deaf accent. It has truly helped me overcome those challenges and something I was able to carry throughout my life.
The trial of not being able to hear has stuck with me at different chapters in my life. Going to school was by far my biggest challenge to overcome socially and academically and yet, I try to stand by my motto to Never Supposed My Limitations. At the age of 9, I was mainstreamed from the Deaf School into the public school. God has blessed me with many new hearing friends who have helped me in the classrooms and included me in their circle of friends socially. I also had a Special Ed class one on one with the teacher during the last hour of the day to help me overcome anything I didn’t understand in class. As I got into junior high and high school, I was given a note taker to help me take notes in the classrooms I needed help with most. Transitioning from elementary to junior high and to high school was not easy for me socially. I was always concerned what new students would think of me by the way I talked and that they would make fun of me. But yet, it was not the case and I was able to gain many more new friends. The help that I received through note takers, a special ed teacher who tutored me, friends who stuck with me in the classrooms and the many extra hours I had to study, I was able to graduate from high school with honors and was given the opportunity to go on to college.
Again, college gave me a whole new different ballgame of challenges. A couple of years before going to college, I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare system. I wanted to be a nurse and care for other people but after much research I found that I had to use a lot of my hearing to be one. My mother looked further into it and found two things I could do in the healthcare. It came down to Dental Hygienist or Physical Therapy. I wasn’t interested in doing dental work so I researched out Physical Therapy and did some volunteer work to see if that was something I wanted to do. I fell in love with the profession and decided that was what I wanted to be. There were many difficult classes I had to take such as chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and so on. On top of taking those classes I had to maintain a 3.5 GPA or above in order to get into the program. Those college years were VERY challenging for me! But somehow I was able to manage to pull through it. I had to have lots of one on one tutoring for my difficult classes, closed captioning on a laptop to use in the classrooms so that I could read what the professors were saying, extra years of college were added and not to forget the many prayers to help me get through it all. After 8 1/2 years of college, I was able to graduate with a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy in 2003. It’s hard to believe that was 12 years ago! Thankfully, my profession came in handy when my husband decided to go to Medical School for 4 years and then residency for another 4 years. I was able to work part time and still be a mother to 3 of our children until I had our 4th child.
Today, I continue the trials of not being able to hear as I raise my own family and being a wife to my husband. It’s not always easy, but I try to remember the many blessings that I DO have. Those blessings include being able to see the beauty all around me and my family, being able to function and move my body the way I want it to move, being able to do service for others, and to have a healthy body, and many more! We all have trials of our own and they come in many different shapes and sizes. I’ve learned that no matter what trials we go through in life, we are not alone! God will provide someone in your life to help you overcome it. “Never Suppose YOUR Limitations” when faced with challenges of your own. I know God won’t give us anything too hard to face and overcome. He gives them to us to help us become a stronger person! Through faith, believing in yourself, hard work, and trusting in the Lord that he will grant you the strength, anything is possible! Again, remember, to Never Suppose Your Limitations!
Story written by: Lisa
This story appeared first on Real Imprints.