With encouragement from Mitch my fear of regression began to fade. What I had to do
was settle into the wait when the research could resume. In the meantime I continued my
studies at MATC keeping my eye on the prize – transferring to UW-Madison for that
Back at MATC I painstakingly kept up with exhausting hours of studying, writing
papers, preparing for exams, all with the help of that trusty made up ruler I developed and
the support I received from the Disability Resource Center. For the first time since the
ototoxicity took over my life, I felt perhaps, just maybe, I might find a way to make my life
work. Still I struggled with convincing myself that I could really do that; I still felt the fear
disability would be the only thing I could do, research success or not.
Then the note appeared: I still believe it was a divine sprinkle of hope for me to catch. I
was sitting at my kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee, wallowing in self pity as I stared
out the window. There was a note pad on the table staring at me and out of nowhere I
began to write. I had no inclination for writing anything and certainly nothing positive, the
words simply appeared:
I often think, why did this happen to me? Why have I been
pushed into this condition? What did I do to deserve this?” I’ve
thought about this for a long time and you know what? There
are no answers to these questions. It is as it is and I have to
learn how to live with it. I must accept it. For if I don’t, I’ll miss
out on the many remaining beautiful things my life has yet to
Yes, I have to do things differently. I have to look at things
differently. I won’t be able to do some things as well as before,
but I have to try.
Losing something so precious, so secure, a life balanced with
the world, has forced me to observe things as they really are.
Many things look so different now – there is so much I hadn’t
noticed before. I am surrounded by awareness unexplained. I
feel more, appreciate more, and I love more. I’m discovering
things about myself I never knew existed. It feels good to
approach it as if living a new adventure each day. Many of these
adventures will lead to frustration, anger, sadness and fear. But
as I face each of these roadblocks I need to be open to learn
about them. How I do it will raise awareness about me, my
feelings, my spirit, my heart and my thoughts. Being faced with
frustration will teach me how to be inventive. Anger will teach
me relationships with myself, people, and society. Sadness will
teach me to feel, it will fill me with compassion. Fear has
already formed my impression of strength and endurance.
When I combine these, how can I not succeed in living like I
never have before? I’m still me, “just in a different skin”.
I need to learn to love my new self and stand proud to be me.
I need to continue to live as I am. “Disability” is just a word – the
only disability is in my mind and what I allow it tell me. I have
to present myself to others as I do to myself, whole in heart,
mind and spirit. For others will overlook my “flaw” and see a
person, a friend, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a co-worker, a
loving, happy and giving person. I want to be unique,
inspirational, motivational and respected.
I want the world to see that I can do anything I want to. I can
succeed, I can learn. Most of all I can live and love doing it. I
want to teach others that each of us has the will and ways to
beat adversity to turn life changing experiences into the most
incredible experience of their life. It all begins with acceptance.
From there on, there are absolutely no limitations to what I can
do. I will do things as I always have. If there are things I
struggle with because of my change, then it’s up to me to be
creative to meet the change in myself.
There will be things I just cannot find a way to change, they
just can’t be. Those are the ones I need to accept. I should rejoice
in that I once had the opportunity to experience them. Memories
are like photographs; I can bring them out any time and re-live
the joys they brought me. Most importantly, bring the strength
of my experiences into my life right now. Those experiences are
filled with skills that will serve as my foundation upon which my
creation of a new life will be set.
Each change I make will burst into meaningful satisfaction
and pride knowing I did it. This will build my strength and
endurance to keep going, keep learning, to keep trying and keep
Appreciation – you know, it makes me sad to think for many
people there lacks an appreciation for the abundance they are
blessed to have. Many are blind to gratefulness. I have learned
to never take anything for granted again. Appreciate all you
have and all that is yet to come.
Confidence is probably the hardest thing to learn. Confidence
is intimidating. I have to be out in the world, seen, heard and
watched. I need to love myself in order to be confident. This,
again, begins with acceptance.
Bad days, man do I hate the bad days. These are the days that
make me feel helpless and stop me dead in my tracks. These are
the days that squeeze me into feeling alone. I feel there is no one
anywhere on the face of this earth that can possibly understand
what I am going through. But that’s where I’m wrong. There are
others out there just like me who feel the same pain and sorrow.
I’ve learned that without bad days I can’t appreciate the good
days. Through appreciation maybe the bad days won’t be so
bad. Perhaps I can turn a bad day one into a good day by –
I read somewhere a quote “Laughter and tears are both
responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to
laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” I’ve
learned that where there are tears, there is sadness. Where there
is laughter, there is hope.
There are two ways to relate to adversity. One is to withdraw
and enclose yourself in constant pain and bitterness. The other
is to pick yourself up and continue your life journey with a new
direction, take detour. Change can be a wonderful thing if you
let it. I’m in a “new life” now. I must make the best of it. When I
am out, I must stand tall and proud. I must smile, laugh, and be
as I always have been. People will then overlook whatever is
“different” about me. I have to remember, it is true, God does not
give you anything you can’t handle. Look people right in the eye
and demonstrate how wonderful life is.
With this sprinkle of hope came a liberating change. It helped me realize I had put so
much attention and energy into what was wrong with me, of trying to make it through one
more day of transformational pain, that I couldn’t see a hopeful day was rising on the
horizon. It was here that I realized how meaningful it was to appreciate me. This is where I
began shoving self pity down the drain. I set out to kill that controlling beast that was
holding me in a dominion of believing I couldn’t do shit with my life. The more I shoved
the beast away, the harder I worked to push it down the drain, the more I pushed it down
the drain, the more I let the garbage disposal eat it away. I let go of how the beast was
controlling me. I blossomed into understanding that I was in control of the beast. Oh, how
liberating that was.