Hi I am John, I am 21 and live in Northern California. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in March 2005. When I was diagnosed I was 13–year–old, in 7th grade, the school year was nearing its end. I was just starting to hit my stride with my youthful independence. Skipping forward to post surgery: right after, the effects from the surgery were severe. My whole body was weak, I was temporarily paralyzed on the left side of my of my body, I could hardly speak or see. My recovery has been hard, relearning how to do many things again.
Now eight years after, I have recovered very well (although it doesn’t always seem like that to me). My “disabilities” are physical and cognitive. My physical issues are that I have very poor balance. My coordination is also poor (especially on my left side). I get fatigued more easily, then that triggers the issues with my balance and coordination even more. Also when I’m fatigued my left arm, leg, and hand can get shaky (which is also know as ataxia). My cognitive issues are that I process information slower, have a bad memory, have trouble finding the right words to say, organizing thoughts, etc.
To me I am disabled, I have things that happened to me that effected my body and impaired me in different ways. I am disabled but that’s not all I am, I am still a young growing adult who does things that most people my age do.
There are times though were the term disability does not do me justice. The things that happened to me affect me everyday but I act and do things that most people my age do, I go to the gym, walk my dog, hang out with friend, watch sports, etc. . . . . On the surface I appear to be an average able bodied person, my “disabilities” aren’t always visible sometimes till someone gets to know me or see me interact for a while. So people will sometimes not treat me in the way I would like to be treated because of their unknowing. People sometimes expect me or want me to do things I’m not capable of and that can be awkward and upsetting.
Other times people see me as your average person my age and I’ll tell them I have a disability they don’t understand the complexity of it and that certain things are difficult for me and only in certain situations, not all the time. They don’t understand the disability is individual to me and one issue is not the same for everyone across the board. This can also be awkward and upsetting at times.
Saying all this I understand people will misjudge me and most often people are not being ignorant they are acting the best way they know how and that given the chance they can see the best of me and truly understand who I am and forget the label “disabled.” [End Page E8]