I was born two months premature. My mom remembers the doctor coming into the room and telling her that it didn’t look good. He would be surprised if I made it through the night. My mom has always had strong faith and spent the night praying to God to let me live.
As you can guess I made it through the night. This was a very scary time for my Mom. In the 60’s it was believed better to not let the mom’s see or hold their babies. After a few weeks the doctors let Mom see me from a window. She said all she could see were tubes and needles everywhere. Back in those day’s they didn’t have the technology that they have today. Chances of premature babies living were very slim.Five months later Mom was able to bring me home at five pounds. She said that I was so small people could hold me with my head in their palm and my feet went to their four arm. One of the birth defects that I had was that my toes had what the doctor’s called bands around them. The bands were cutting off the blood flow to my toes so gang green was setting in. As a result all my toes but two were amputated before I was a year.In the first year of life my Mom noticed that I was not developing like my two older sisters did. The first thing she noticed was when she would change me my legs didn’t bend well. They were very stiff. Another thing was I didn’t roll over and I couldn’t hold my head up. I also had a hard time swallowing.
My pediatrician thought I might have cerebral palsy, but was not sure. My mom went to many doctors who gave her the same line. They though I wouldn’t amount to much and she would be better off if she put me in an institution and forget she ever had me. Eventually, my mom did get in to see a doctor who did diagnose me with Cerebral Palsy but didn’t give her much hope.
We were told that my family earned too much money to qualify for medical assistance to help with my disability. Both Shriner’s Hospital and the Crippled Children’s Division (CCD) denied us help, but through persistence, a therapist at CCD agreed to see me. The therapist taught my mom exercises to do with me.
I went to Holladay Center in Portland when I was three years old. I had severe dyslexia when I was little due to the portion of my brain that was affected by my cerebral palsy. I saw everything upside down! Therapists at Holiday Center worked with me to train my eyes to see everything right side up.
My favorite part of Holiday Center is that the teachers and the therapists worked with each of us and helped pushed us to our full potential. We were allowed to be leaders. We were encouraged to help each other. When we went on field trips, students who could walk helped push wheelchairs. We played baseball by knocking a ball on the ground with a plastic bat, and moving around the bases whatever way we could.
My summers were spent having surgery and recovering. I had 16 surgeries as a child. My legs were really tight with spasticity, so many of my surgeries were to help loosen my legs to make it easier for me to walk.
In the fifth grade I was mainstreamed into public school. It was not a positive experience for me. In the mid-70’s, mainstreaming became law, but it was not smooth.
After high school, I went to Concordia University in Portland. I wanted to become a teacher. After two years, my money ran out.
I became involved with a disability awareness group called “Breakthrough” after college. I was able to travel around the United States, speaking to church groups, and promoting disability awareness.
Then, I went to Western Business College where I earned a two year degree in accounting.
I got a job as a teacher’s aide with the Portland Center for Hearing and Speech. My job was to play with speech delayed preschoolers and encourage them to talk. I then moved into the accounting office as an assistant.
Troy’s office manager at the Child Welfare office we worked at to have me apply as a receptionist. That was 14 years ago. After many different jobs and different offices, and some leadership training, I am now the office manager for the DHS Child Welfare office, Gresham branch.