I was first discovered to be dyslexic when I was in the first grade. Back then people were not as aware of "conditions" like being dyslexic and so when I would try to write out my work in school, my teacher would stand over me and tell me to quit playing around and just do my work. I spent many recesses inside with a teacher or teacher's aide who would make me do my letters over and over again. The bell would ring before I ever got it right.
Here's the thing, I also had a bit of a..ahem...paying attention problem. I would be trying so hard to pay attention in class that before I knew it, I had missed everything I was supposed to be learning because I was too busy telling myself to pay attention. So again, inside during recess I stayed. I mean, I got a bit chunky because I never go to go outside and run. Also, if you really think about it, probably letting me get out and run off some of the steam I had would have helped me more than making me sit in a chair and listen to someone go on and on about how the letter was supposed to go this way instead of how I was writing it.
I have some favorite letters to write backwards and they are A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z. Yep, those are the letters I do backwards. You see my problem.
I could have cried when computers came around. I mean...thank god. I still look at the letters that I have typed and think they are wrong. My nurse says to me all the time...don't change anything.
But, back in the dark ages before computers I took all my tests in pencil and by the time I was finished with a test, my paper would look like it had been buried in the back yard and then dug up again because there were so many smudges on it. I never got a good mark in neatness. Evidently, according to the nurses at work, I still fail. Mean.
Needless to say I did not get good grades in English, Spelling, Social Studies or Foreign Language. The only thing I could do well was science and, believe it or not, I could do math like a bitch. That makes no fucking sense at all and that is why I struggled to get a diagnosis of being dyslexic for years. I mean, it really didn't matter if I had a diagnosis or not, I had it.
When I was a kid the doctors wanted to try and put me on medication to calm my ass down. I mean, I would wiggle and nonstop talk and then in the middle of a sentence, just stop and walk away. I still do that to this day.
If you have ever seen a video of me, I twitch, look back and forth, stutter a bit, lose my train of thought and never ever stop talking. I hate seeing myself on videos, but I like to sing to people and so I video myself. Bethan says I need to do a YouTube video. Geezus, could you imagine that? Lordy.
My mom would tell the doctors that I was just fine (as I sat in the chair wiggling and twitching like I was going to have a seizure). She used to open the back door and tell me to run until I was tired. I would take off like a jetliner and run across the field with the dog barking and running beside me. I would run down the road and my mom said, after I had moved away to go to college, that the neighbors would, one by one, call her and say "your daughter just ran by our house, should we be worried?
Needless to say, nerd that I was, I never could do group sports. I couldn't follow any of the directions and so never even tried out, but gym class was a real fun time. I don't know how many times I was told...THE OTHER BASKET THE OTHER BASKET. Bitches.
I will say that I was good at track from all the running I did as a kid. I ran the mile and went to state. I lettered in track. I have the jacket in my closet from high school with the big letter on it. When I was called up on the stage to get it, I went the wrong way across the stage and the entire school thought I was joking and laughed. I pretended that I meant to do that and quickly found out that the way to get through the tortures of school with a few things not quite working right in my head was to make jokes about myself. Yeah, I was a crackup.
My parents made me take piano lessons. I went through a few teachers before I found one that realized that I wasn't dumb, I just "learned a different way" than the other kids. I still play piano today to calm down. I also play video games to help with my surgical skills and with my concentration. Look, I may not be able to write a grocery list, but I can play Call of Duty and shoot things down with the concentration of a border collie in a field of sheep.
Let me get to what you all are thinking right now. How the hell did I become a medical professional and, I mean, who would want to go to see a doctor like me?
Here's the thing, medicine is the only thing I can do. I cannot do anything else. I tried working as a waitress one time; never got an order right in the entire time I worked there. Yep, not in the 4 days they tolerated my ass.
I chose orthopedics as a career because I run and I want other people to be able to maintain motion in their limbs so they can have the quality of life they want. In school I had to write out all my notes over and over again until they clicked in my head. I am the same way now.
If I don't understand something I will start to panic. I will feel stupid and want to give up. But, if you are patient with me, let me get away and fiddlefuck with whatever I want to learn how to do, I will figure it out. I just don't want anyone watching me. It freaks me the fuck out to be watched...unless I'm dancing and you know...don't be jealous of my moves.
Here is the thing that I know about having a couple of mental illnesses...I won't go into my Tourette's where my favorite word to use is fuck...uh...that's another story. What I have discovered is, for me to thrive in this world I had to accept who I was. I had to accept that I have a few things that make me unique and special. Hating myself for something I was born with just won't do. I accepted that I was gay quite quickly because when I was with my first girl, everything clicked into place...uh, maybe that was the wrong choice of words, but you know what I mean.
When I was told at 15 that there was no way in hell that I would be able to go to college, I walked out of the guidance counsellor's office determined to show them that that was exactly what I would do. I would major in biology, go to medical school, and do orthopedics. Never did I tell anyone that I could spell, write a sentence correctly, or know my left from my right unless I held up my hand and ask if it was the right one. It scares the new residents sometimes, but now it is well known about my disorder and, god love the people I work with, they check my spelling, make sure I'm looking at the right limb, and help me more than anyone has ever helped me in my life.
Accept yourself. That is the first rule of true happiness. Have a sense of humor. That is the second rule.