Friday, April 1, 2011

And The Diagnosis Is.......

When I was six I was hospitalized with a brain infection. The virus spread quickly and wiped out a lot of my functioning cells. I was in a coma for two months. When I awoke I had to pretty much start my entire life over again. I had to re-learn everything from scratch. Speaking, crawling, walking and writing. I recall trying real hard to colour inside those damn lines. I went to therapy session after therapy session; but I did it. I recovered, not entirely fully, but more so than most thought.
When I returned to school, after my mom convinced them I was well enough to attend regular school, I was put back a year and made to attend a special education class. The class was really only just a smaller sized one, I didn't receive any special therapy or anything, but it ran at a pace I could keep up with, where I could get more help with understanding things, and at graduation I got a SESPA, (Scarborough Elementary School Principal' Association) award for outstanding effort. But when I entered high school things became much more difficult; there was no "smaller" special ed class, there were no awards, I had to keep up and try to cope on my own. I didn't know how to ask for help, or even that I needed to. Things were hard and confusing. But I got through.
College presented similar problems and I felt even more sheltered. My in-ability to keep up with two certain classes set me back and a three year program turned into four. But I did graduate, my degree even says with honours. Once in the real world I was faced with even tougher challenges. I couldn't land the job, or any job, in the field I had gone to school for. I did not give up and I volunteered my way into theatre work and I did various other gigs in between . I managed, I got through; and even though still confused and even a bit scared, I was happy.
Why would I be scared? Because out of everything I had been through, getting out of the hospital, the therapy sessions, school, special education, and everything in between, I was never told why. Why was it things were so difficult for me to understand? Why was I behind everyone else? Even though I had grown and managed to struggle though and gotten reassurances from my family, I still had not been given a conclusive answer to my questions.

With my mom having gotten sick and my dad having passed away in my early teens, my life came to dark moment. It was a time when anyone down on his luck, unemployed and spinning in circles could have easily folded the cards. but I didn't. I had never given up before and I wasn't going to now. With guidance and encouragement from my sister I took steps. I went to a service provider organization, obtained a job developer and I disclosed what had happened to me when I was a child. I suddenly found that the more open I was being the more help I was getting, and I was grateful to accept.
An appointment was made to see a Psychometrist and I was finally being given a proper diagnosis. I was thirty years old, I had been through a lot in my life, I had learned a lot, but I still needed this. The tests were long and difficult; for me at least. What normally took a day took me two. At times I felt drained from the exercises and a bit stupid. But I was given answers. Some I had figured out on my own, some new ones that gave me further insight and understanding.
A Neurophyschologist confirmed that when I was sick what I had was called Encephalitis, a viral brain infection. It was concluded that my speed and accuracy skills were on the lower end of average, able to perform fine if given the needed time and space. I learned that I have difficulty (to a mild degree) with short term memory and word finding ability. I can even be affected with mild cases of depression.I had.... I have, a learning disability. But after all of this I think the biggest, most important thing I learned was that it is never too late. It is never too late to ask for help and to grow and to learn things about yourself and to try and improve.
I had struggled through life and learned a lot of things all on my own, I finally got the answers I needed because I asked for them myself, but I also got a lot a help. From my mom fighting to get me into a "normal" school setting to my sister giving me good advice to my employment specialist. As much as I did things on my own and learned to rely on me, I've also learned to be thankful for and open to receiving a helping hand.

The diagnosis is...... just like life and learning..... still ongoing; and that is a good thing.

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