To The People Who Make Comments and Stare at My Scars, Thank You

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To all the people who stared, made comments and rolled their eyes when they saw me, thank you.

All of you had different reactions to a young teenage girl that had a half-shaved head due to having 10 brain surgeries within two years. Some of you gave looks of pity, some of you did a double take at the 30 something stitches and some of you just smiled.

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My favorite responses though were from the people who made nasty comments, saying “You don’t belong here, and don’t expect me to give up my seat for you,” (on a Downtown Disney bus — yes, really. Trust me I wasn’t expecting anyone to give up their seat for me.

One time, while being out in public I got this one: “You really need to wear something over that, nobody wants to see that.” I’m sorry if you don’t want to see a young girl’s life that was just saved because of a brain surgery?

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No matter where I went someone was staring. Workers, people I passed in parking lots, people I passed in the hospital, even nurses at my doctor’s office made comments about it. After the surgeries that was my exact fear — those reactions, and how I would deal with them.

Because of all of you, I was a bit surprised at myself. At first the comments did hurt a little bit because they reminded me that I do have to fight through a lot of things most people my age don’t. It made me feel different, like I wasn’t the same type of person and I most definitely “didn’t belong.”

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But then I learned I needed to quickly get over it because it was just taking space up in my mind and making me feel worse. I then realized these people had no idea who I was or what I was going through. They didn’t know my story and what my scars meant. It was just something I had to learn to brush off whenever I saw a pair of eyes staring at me, or a rude comment made to me. I had to remind myself that I’m still the same person despite having several scars on my head and half of my hair gone.

So thank you for all those comments and stares.

They’ve made me more confident and not afraid to show my head after a surgery anymore, because every scar has a story to tell. And I’ve got a lot of stories.

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The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

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When the Brother I Share a Disease With Made Me an Unforgettable Offer

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Almost a year ago while on a beach getaway, my family sat in a nice restaurant eating a delicious dinner. Well almost all of us… You see, my brother Tyler and I have a disease that makes our digestive tracts unable to move and digest food properly in our gastrointestinal tracts. Due to the severity of the disease, we’re both fed through a central line in our chest that gets the nutrients straight into the blood and bypasses the digestive tract. Everything the average person eats on a daily basis we can’t have.

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Sitting at that dinner table that night was particularly difficult for Tyler. He was only 9 at the time and was starting to realize he’s different than everyone else. Having to watch people do something we can’t do, like eat, feels like torture. Thankfully at home our parents don’t request us to sit at the table with them while they eat. We have an “open door” policy. If you want to sit down with the family you can. If you don’t want to sit down with them for dinner you’re able to do what you need.

This there wasn’t an option. There was no place to escape to that would allow us to get away from the aroma. As I saw Tyler struggling I offered to take him outside to the back patio because I knew it was hard for me to sit in there, much less a little boy to sit and watch everyone eat. We found some nice rocking chairs to sit in and started making silly little jokes — anything to get our mind off things. Soon we paused. Looking out into the ocean, he began to speak and said, “You know what?”

I replied, “What?”

He proceeded to tell me that if I didn’t need to have tubes, if he was the only one that was sick with tubes, he would do it. I don’t like my tubes at all, but I would do it!

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I broke down. That little boy didn’t know one reason why I was crying. He thought he’d made me upset, and I just took him into a big embrace. We stayed that way for what seemed like hours. My little man was so selfless, and he always worried about me and how I was feeling when he should be worried about himself. I’m supposed to be the one who worries about him. Mentally, the disease puts a big strain on his little mind, which can’t comprehend all of what’s happened. Yet, Tyler is the one telling everyone else to stay strong.

Tyler and I have always had the closest relationship. I believe we became best friends for that reason. We were close before we were both critically ill, but after, we both became each other’s biggest supporters. I understand many of the emotions he has and help him through them, and there are some procedures helps me through. It’s tough to see the fear and worry in his eyes because I know it all too well. If we lived a typical life I doubt I would have this bond with my brother.

It’s definitely bittersweet. While it sounds so amazing to have a partner to go through all this together, so neither of us has to be alone, I’d never want the situation to be like this. The two of us have had to be strong for each other, and that’s what’s made me remain positive — because I know I have to do it for him.

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That moment on the beach that summer night I knew we would be OK. I knew we would make it through the worst. We would survive and live life to the fullest all because we had each other as our source of strength. It was definitely a shock to hear this from my youngest brother, but it just further validated the reason why he is my best friend and my superhero.

A version of this story also appeared on It’s Not as Easy as You Think.

The Mighty wants to read more stories about siblings, whether it’s your favorite memory or a tough moment that taught you something. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

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The Touching Way a Waitress Showed Grieving Parents Her Support

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Last May, Debbie and Shaun Riddle visited The West Side Cafe in Fort Worth, Texas, with their 2-month-old daughter, Glory. When the Riddles returned to the cafe alone on June 4, their server, Kayla Lane, asked about Glory, CBS News reported. The couple explained their daughter had recently died.

Lane wanted to do something for the family to show she cared, so she paid for both the Riddles’ meals out of pocket. Instead of receiving a bill at the end of their meal, they were given a note saying it had already been paid for.

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Photo from Debbie Davis Riddle’s Facebook page.

The note read, “Your ticket has been paid for. We are terribly sorry for your loss. God bless. — The West Side.”

Debbie Riddle posted a picture of the bill on Facebook along with the following paragraph. It has been shared more than 9,000 times since it was posted on June 4. It reads,

We eat at West Side Cafe on Camp Bowie in Fort Worth quite a lot, and last month sometime we took our new baby, Glory. Well, we just went there this afternoon and our waitress Kayla remembered us and asked where our baby was. Sadly, we had to tell her baby Glory passed away and is with God now. She felt so horrible for asking but she was so sweet. When it was time for us to pay our bill, Kayla brought over our receipt. She didn’t even want us to tip her because she said the company took care of her tip as well. We hear so much negativity on the news and that is why I [wanted] to share this story in hopes that Kayla and this restaurant will get some good recognition. Please share this with as many people as you can.

Lane responded to Riddle by posting her own note and the photo of her and the Riddles below on Facebook.

“I didn’t want any recognition, I just simply wanted the satisfaction of being a helping hand in a time of deep sorrow for this family,” she wrote. “What I didn’t expect is how much of a blessing their family would be to me.”

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Photo of the Riddles and Lane via Kayla Lane’s Facebook page.

Hear more about the Riddles’ story in the video below.

h/t Kveller.

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When I Realized My ‘Typical’ Child Has Special Needs

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The days were long and the nights were brutal. The first year of our youngest child’s life pushed my husband and me to the brink. We barely slept, and when we were awake, we could barely make decisions beyond those that were about the care of our child. We tried not to talk about the pain we felt, but it leaked out at the worst times. I’m certain we’ll physically feel the toll it took on us for years. And to make it worst, we could see no light at the end of the tunnel. I remember telling my husband that for every mountain we crossed, a new mountain grew bigger in front of us. It was overwhelming.

As we wallowed in this new life with a critically ill child, we began to slowly accept new realities. Our new child’s life may be short and certainly complex.  He will likely take years to do simple tasks, and the fear of congestive heart failure would always loom. We mourned. We mourned for the loss of a child who was still alive. We worried about the pain we know he’d have for most of his life.

Then we woke up.

I’m not entirely sure how the change occurred, but I know it happened late June in 2014. I remember looking at my oldest child, who was 3 and half years old at the time, playing with toys in his room. It was in that moment I realized he had “special needs,” too. His life was finite, too. He deserved as many resources as we could give him. And nothing that I envisioned for his life was guaranteed. I had accepted that I may not have one of my children forever, but forgot that my healthy, typical child’s future is not set in stone either.

I had traveled to the depths of despair so many parents of critically ill children had done before me, and I realized I had two children who were fragile. I knew my time with one of them would be precious. But the truth is, my time with both of them is precious. And my time with either child can never be promised.

That day, I stopped mourning the loss of my critically ill child’s future and started celebrating the lives of both of my children. I accepted that there are going to be challenges. And I accepted that one day in the near or distant future, I may experience the most painful day of my life. But right now, I’m celebrating the fact that I’ve been given two wonderful boys with no guarantees.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

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She Warned Her Blind Date About Her Wheelchair and Got the Perfect Response

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From the wild to the beautifully ordinary, the Humans of New York Facebook page, run by Brandon Stanton, is known for highlighting characters on the streets of New York City. But a recent post stood out to us for the right reasons.

The photo features a couple who met on a dating site. The woman on the left told Stanton she sent her partner a message before they met saying: “I want to let you know up front that I’m in a wheelchair, because I can’t hide it.”

The woman’s response?

“Why? Is it bright yellow?”

"We met on a dating site twelve years ago. I sent her a message saying: 'I want to let you know up front that I'm in a wheelchair, because I can't hide it.' And she wrote back: 'Why? Is it bright yellow?'"

Posted by Humans of New York on Sunday, 7 June 2015

We’re so happy they found each other.

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