Tagged birth defects

Some serious flip-flop envy

11282763_670484376415070_1811287135_n

Ok, so I’m sitting here being a total creep.

A few weeks back, upon getting some worrisome news about a back x-ray, I decided to check in with Children’s Hospital to see if they had any of my old medical records. We’re talking about stuff from nearly 30 years ago. I wasn’t super hopeful, but my mom pushed me to try. At best, I’d get something out of it that would help me (and eventually my docs) to understand the current sitch.

Guess what? After signing off on some paperwork and paying exactly 49¢, the mail came today with my records. I got a CD-ROM with a locked PDF containing scanned in doctors’ notes and pre-op notes and WOW. It’s a little creepy, actually. Some of it is like doctors talking to each other and eeeeee… Why is it so unnerving?

Out of pure Meghan-like impulse, I started writing an understandably skeeved out status message on Facebook. But soon I realized, as the note rounded off its third paragraph, that shit was a little heavier than I first thought, a little too much for a status message maybe. I seem to be operating under this odd cocktail of nostalgia, pride and grief. In fact, I might have just cried as I was typing it, which is both embarrassing to admit and kind of sad to think about—you know, thinking those mean kids from grade school apparently still have that much power over me. (And to be fair, it wasn’t just them. I was pretty mean to myself in those years. So I’ll lump myself into the mean kids category here.)

Originally, the Facebook message was explaining how I was born with a funky foot/leg. A deformity, to be a little more scientific and unsettling. Soon after I popped out, the docs told my mom I would be in a wheelchair my whole life. Can you imagine? But so they ended up doing all these wild surgeries and procedures—ones that were setting a sort of precedence for infants at the time. I had to wear a big honkin’ cast up to my hip (until I was two-ish), but that didn’t stop me. I learned to walk in that thing. I was pretty much a monkey as a child, funky foot or not. No wheelchair, though—not even once.

As an adult it’s so much easier to look at that and feel grateful. I could’ve been in a wheelchair, but now I walk, run, jog… who am I shitting? It’s still hard. It’s still hard not to get frustrated with my foot, even for silly superficial reasons like not being able to wear flip-flops. And I guess that’s the place we live in, you know? I never ever felt “normal.” Now I know that it’s ok, that I’m so “abnormal” in so many other ways that my foot is the least of my worries. Ha.

But when I was a kid, I had no solace for myself. No one did. I used to imagine all the things I wanted, namely being a star on Broadway, were now out of the question. Once I figured it out, of course, and asked the right questions. How could I perform on stage in cool costumes with high-heeled and elaborate shoes if I couldn’t wear 70% of the shoes at the store for “normal” kids? To top it off, I had myself convinced that no one would ever want to date me. Would I be able to date someone and get away with never exposing my foot? Impossible!

I wish that was it, that my self-critique was all I had to put up with. But it wasn’t. Kids caught wind of my foot issues, maybe a pool party or something (those which made me the saddest of all), and they did what kids do—they ran with it. I mean, they really created some cleverly cruel nicknames, though. Some even rhymed! And if that wasn’t enough mean-kid fodder, I was fat. Hah! I absolutely had no chance. All of these things made me the most sensitive, poke-able pint out there… so you better believe the kids ate that shit up.

But hey, this is a big step right now. I’m telling the world the very thing I’ve spent my life trying to hide under socks and Chucks and Doc Martens and water shoes at the beach—I’M NOT QUITE RIGHT AND THAT’S OK. I can’t wear high heels. I can’t wear most shoes, actually. I’ll probably never be on Broadway. And if they make a Barbie of me (like I so thought they might as a child), it would have to have a screwy foot too. And I’m ok with it.

And you know, I’m always pointing a finger indignantly into the air (ask A), saying things like “…and that’s why I don’t want to have kids,” as if I have to defend my decision to be childless constantly. But this is something that stays so real with me. Thinking about how those kids made me feel every day… ugh. And I know how dramatic this all sounds, but it was sort of dramatic. And looking at these scanned-in documents, it still seems kind of dramatic. I just hope these days, we can show kids how to be more tolerant and loving, that we can find a way to make their hearts big and their hurt small. Because it’s one thing if I were to have a kid who is teased or picked on—something that would probably hurt too much to bear—but it’s another thing entirely to have a kid who does the teasing and the picking on. So let’s be the example for them, you know?

 

Oh, and thanks for reading this slop. <3
mt

 

EDIT FOR AFTERTHOUGHT: The point of this blog post wasn’t so I could garner pity or be commended. First, it was an emotional response to so many feelings. I felt empowered, like I had overcome some shit and can now speak about it and not be afraid.

Too, I think I’m feeling a little sad about how mean kids could be and how much it has affected my being. So permanent, really. It’s hard for me to even believe kids could be that cruel… and I hadn’t thought about it for a while, so it sort of hit me like a punch in the mouth. I’m glad that I still believe in people and didn’t turn out all bitter and spiteful. And that’s just luck, in my opinion.

Lastly, I think the bigger message is to teach kids to be kind. Not just teach, but SHOW THEM. I don’t mean you have to shelter them and allow them to be ignorant, but what about empathy? I didn’t mention it above (because I didn’t want to get even more cliche and melodramatic), but I’m glad for all that garbage. It helped me to becoming understanding, considerate and sensitive to people and how I make them feel. I have a lot of very real flaws, but I know for a fact that my heart is full. I’m glad of it. Despite. (: