One Woman, One Leg, No Job
What is social acceptance? Why is it so important? What can we do to overcome it? This inspirational story may change your attitude toward society and its evil un-acceptance and discriminations. Follow along as I give a detailed account of my experience with a life changing disability and the battle I continue to fight to gain acceptance and employment"
I guess you can call me an average Jane. I grew up in a small rural town in Florida better known 'round' here as "Shady Hills". I went to a small Baptist school that I am pleased to say I loved. My parents, although now retired, were hard working and devoted to me and my siblings. I guess you could say that I had it all. What more could a kid want. I was a cheerleader for my small little school and I guess somewhat popular in my 'click" of friends. I had a knack for being involved in every social, academic, and sport I could get involved with. Yep, that was me socially accepted and life was good. My active lifestyle and my popularity gave way to a very happy child's life.
As a fairy tale and happy life story would render, I must tell you that I married my high school sweetheart. We had 3 beautiful children. We struggled but, were very happy with our little lives in our little community.
They say that every good thing must come to end. Boy, was that an understatement. My life, starting with a separation with my husband, started to un- ravel in ways I could never imagine. At this point, I was in my mid- twenties and my now happy life a mess. My happy home was broken, my children were confused and I was left holding the bag so to speak.
Looking for a way to reclaim my life and to support my children on my own, I found work at a local collection agency. Yes, I was one of those,you know the people that call you all hours of the day and night to get your money that you just don't seem have. Quaint little job. I didn't get paid much but it paid the bills.
One weekend when I was picking my daughter up from her father's house, my life seemed to undergo yet another set-back. I remember as I was driving down this curvy road at about dusk thinking to myself "what happened to my life", "will I ever be happy again?' "GOD, please show me the way to a better, happy life". All of a sudden, much to my chagrin, I hit a curve (not speeding mind you) and my car did a 380 degree turn into a ditch. I remember as I laid there thrown into the back seat (no my seat belt was not on) in shock," GOD, this is not my idea of a better, happier life could you please work with me here." As I lay there, I can't even imagine what had happened to me so all of a sudden. I couldn't move, I couldn't speak, I couldn't see if my little girl in the back seat was injured. "What did I do to anyone to deserve this penance" I thought to myself. The next thing I knew I was being removed from my car that, by the way, held up to this accident better than I did. And, off I went in a Life flight helicopter to the nearest trauma center in St. Petersburg, Florida. I remember when I was in the ER the immense pain I was having and begging someone to please knock me out. "Knock me out and put a cast on this leg. I have to get to work tomorrow," I grumbled to the ER doctor and his staff. The ER doctor firmly replies to me "young lady, I would be more concerned about saving that right leg of yours than going back to work!" What? How could this be? My leg? My right leg? Ok, I thought to myself gather your sanity and find out what's going on here. "Doctor" I said with all do respect, what is wrong that I may lose my right leg? He replied in an educated and very matter of fact tone that I had indeed damaged a main artery in my right leg namely, the popliteal artery". You see my leg was neither broken nor fractured. I didn't even have a cut or bruise on me anywhere to speak of. My knee was dislocated severely and crushed the main artery cutting off the blood supply to the rest of my leg and foot. WOW, imagine that I'm facing losing my leg. Here we go again. "GOD, where are you? Help me!" I can't lose my leg. I have three kids and a job. I have to get back to work.' Ok, Doc, lets get this show on the road', I say without a worry on my mind.
Following that very thought I was on my way to a vascular surgery. Half knocked out and half awake I can see the bright lights of the Emergency Room and all the movements of the ER staff scuttling around me. NO! It was not St. Peter and the angels. It was real. It was happening. It was an OPERATION. Yes, before I knew it I was undergoing vascular surgery to repair my damaged artery. The next morning I was awaken by the sounds of beeping noises and people talking at a low whisper and most of all too unbearable pain. "What did they do to me last night?" "My GOD above PLEASE this time hear my cry" and "take this pain from me!" That smell I will never forget that smell. The smell of the hospital and I can't even describe it. The smell of blood, fear, pain, and death is my best analogy. Spooky, scarred for life I am. I had awakened enough for a nurse to tell me that I had been repaired and that as long as I kept a pulse in my foot that the vascular surgery was a success. My right leg was gutted like a fish. I was filleted on each side of my leg and the wound stuffed with gauze. The bandage changes were horrible. There is not enough morphine in Gods green earth to suffice the pain of those bandage changes especially at a rate of four times a day. Well, as a day turned into a week and weeks into months I wondered if I was ever going to get out of that ICU. When will I get out of here? I wanted so badly for this to just go away and" GOD, I'm sorry for complaining. I will gladly go back to my life being a single mother and working for the collection agency." and "No more complaining- pinky swears!" My never ending bargaining with my maker did not stop my suffering.
Two weeks after the vascular repair surgery I was told that the surgery had failed and that I would need to get my right leg amputated just about four inches below the knee. The only thing that I can recall about that wretched information was the thoughts of "just get it over with". Needless to say I woke the next morning with this big white bandage wrapped around my leg. Whoa! Where did my leg go? Is this really happening? Someone wake me form this nightmare. I went through many more weeks of indescribable pain and agonizing bandage changes. But, most of all I went thru emotional torment. Will I ever walk again? How can I raise my children being maimed? Will any man ever want me again? I felt I was doomed for a lonely, depressing, unfulfilling life. I cried so much that I couldn't see straight. I wanted my "old" life back. I couldn't see past the ugliness of a woman with only one leg.
As the days went by, I had received all the bandage changes I could take and all the physical therapy one person could endure. It was time for m e to get off my pity party and start figuring out how to live life to the fullest. After all," many people with disabilities live full, happy and normal lives", so said the shrink. I fought my way out of that bed. I actually hopped to the sink on my one good leg to wash my hair, face and teeth that day. This was the day I was to be resurrected from my deathly depression and live again.
My determination was unstoppable and all I could think about was getting home to my family and my own bed. Hey, a little of moms home cooking would be great too. Oh yes, a job! I need a job! I was finally released and off and running I went. Well, off and hopping that is. I went home me, my wheelchair, crutches and walker. I learned to do everything as I did before but much more creatively this time around. I was stronger than I had ever been before. Its Funny how life's circumstances change people.
After all the healing the therapy both physical and mental, I was now back in the social loop again. Although in my wheelchair, I was out in the public limelight as I once was. So I thought. It was during this time that I had my first feeling of being an outcast, a freak, different, even a minority. Let me explain.
My first experience came one day when I was shopping in our local food market in my little home town. I was rolling right along in my chariot (wheelchair) and I noticed that no one would look at me. "Hello, down here" I would think to myself as the people just passed me by. Am I invisible, am I contagious? What a feeling of loneliness and hurt came over me. People in my very own town had trouble accepting me with only one leg. "I'm still the same person, I lost a leg not a brain" I would utter in my mind. My boyfriend "Frank" always made me hold my head up high no matter where we were. "Make them look at you he used to say". I often wondered if it was because they were uncomfortable, maybe they didn't know what to say to me now. So, if they ignored me. No one would have to deal with it. But, I dealt with it. The feeling of being a social outcast because of my missing limb was the single most awful feeling.
Now that all the doctor visits had slowed down and my leg was healed I learned how to walk on prosthesis. OUCH! That hurts. Every step I took was a reminder that I was indeed handicapped. But, oh how rewarding it was to be out of my chariot and walking again. Although with a severe limp, I started taking steps one foot in front of the other to rebuild my life. I managed to figure out how to use this mechanical leg and I used it. Every day I got up in the morning put on my leg just as most would put on socks and shoes and I went out into society to find employment. I spent many hours and days creating and compiling my resume'. I dressed for success as the professionals instructed me. I went business to business passing out my resume. I went online and found jobs that I was qualified for and probably killed many trees faxing my résumés' out. Eventually, the phone started ringing and job offers were pouring in. Was I finally getting back into the workforce? After all, I couldn't support three kids on Social Security Disability payments. And you know what? I didn't want to live off Social Security. I wanted to work. I didn't sustain brain damage in that car accident- I lost my leg. I still had my education my experience and my determination to be "normal". Now, with all the interview appointments I was getting surely there was a job out there for me. I started going to the interviews one by one. I would go into these offices and smile, introduce myself and offer a firm handshake. I spoke to these potential employers with confidence all the while shaking inside. I always left with a great feeling about the interview and went home to wait for the final invitational phone call. Unfortunately, these phone calls never came. I asked myself why I could not land these jobs. I am qualified, I am dressed professionally, I'm confident and I all but willing. My next step was to evaluate myself.
So, I retained a Job Consultant. She critiqued my resume', my attire, my interviewing skills. She even found job openings for me to apply for. She spent many hours and days taking me around our town and surrounding cities to look for employment. As I pounded the pavement, I continued to get interviews but, could never get the jobs. Talk about depressing. I was giving up. It must be me. I am surely doing something wrong or was I? Could it be that my intrusive limp made these employers feel I was a liability? Or that maybe I was contagious. I had some form of an airborne disease? Maybe they thought I would call in sick and take too many days off. What ever the reasons were I guess I will never know for sure. I do know that I was being turned down for jobs that I was perfectly capable of doing.
Here it is in a nutshell. I am still looking for employment. And I must say that even though my bank account is empty my life is full. I am determined not to give up. Society and all its evil presumptions and discriminations can't take me down. I'm a fighter and with my spirit and will. I know that something will eventually come along. What is social acceptance? It's how you accept yourself. Trust me! If you love yourself and keep smiling, society has no other choice but to accept you too. Why is social acceptance so important to us? Well again, that is all up to you. It's only important if you make it important. Who cares what people think? Are you honest? Do you work hard? Do you care for others as you do yourself? That's all that matters. You may be saying" what's the point of this long story you still don't have a job" and your right I don't. However, I have dignity, pride, happiness, love and determination. How do we overcome society? Keep our sights on our own happiness and don't put much thought into what the world expects or don't. Keep smiling, never give up and let this world of bigots' judge someone who cares!
Lori A. Berube
Lori is a 37 year old single, disabled mother. She is currently working on her AA at her towns local community college.
Trusting Your Genius Within
Comments about New Theories in the Professions and Business!
Healing from Within
"We are responsible for everything in our lives, including how the chemistry in our bodies works or doesn't work." Wayne Dyer's words hit me like a bolt of lightening as I listened to his taped book, You'll See It When You Believe It.
Accept Every Invitation
How often do you decline an invitation because you have something else you would rather do? Or you're not crazy about the person asking you to join? Or you're not interested in that type of event? Or you feel like doing nothing? ...
The Final Frontier
When all that you have done has not brought you what you truly desire, isn't it about time to move out of the box ask questions and make changes?
Are You Tired of Being Stuck?
All you want is a little more.
No More Frustration: The Thorns of Opportunity - Part II
The quest for the ultimate victory.
Triumphing Over Tough Times
Right now many people are facing tough times. Life as we once knew it has changed and we may find ourselves confronting situations we have never dealt with before.
Direct Answers - Column for the week of November 25, 2002
My name is Smarty Jones -- Embracing Gods Glory
Our deepest fear us not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyondmeasure. It is our light, not our darkness, thatmost frightens us?..We are born to manifest theglory of God that is within us?.And as we let ourown light shine, we unconsciously give otherpeople permission to do the same.
Financial Freedom Blues
Steps to Financial Freedom, roadmap to financial freedom, achieve financial freedom?
The Serpents Genesis 1 and 2
Not long after the beginning a being fell from the heavens to the earth. Even as the Spirit of God hovered overhead, the Serpent swam the waters below. As light divided from darkness, the Serpent chose the darkness, preferring it to the light. And the Serpent stalked the darkness of that first night.
Reclaiming Our Resilient Spirit
Our spirits are taking a beating. The daily barrage of bad news, violence, shrinking resources, global warming, and economic slowdown can put us in a state of frustration and paralysis. Some days, getting out of bed can be a challenge.
Direct Answers - Column for the week of July 8, 2002
Flashh! I Thought I Saw A Puddy Cat!
Have you ever had one of those flashes of inspiration? Have you ever just had one of those "knowings" down in the pit of your stomach? No, I don't mean after a big bowl of beans. That's not what I'm talking about. Ever had something flash across your mind and looked like a puddy cat? Read on and discover what it was.
Everyday is a Gift, Open and Enjoy It
There is a bottle of perfume sitting on my dresser that I was given when I was ten years old! As you can tell I have pack rat tendencies! For me that pattern started as a young child. I could never bear to throw things away. There was more to it than not wanting to throw things away. I loved the feeling I had when I would receive something new, and would not want to spoil it by using it unless it was for something special. I would want to save it for a special occasion. A new dress would sit in the closet, until a special event to wear it. Perfume would sit on my dresser, not to be used for everyday, but for a special 'something'. This was a pattern in my life for many years.
As A Caterpillar
"Happiness can be as elusive as a fluttering butterlfy but as easily attainable as a crawling caterpillar. Put aside the net, and let it happen." Brain G. Jett
Nuthin but Blue Skies
"Welcome to Canada," Ken shouted to me over the roar of the rain and thunder. A constant downpour kept the photography workshop indoors. We slipped out during a break in the clouds, but as soon as we set up our tripods, a thunderstorm swept in out of nowhere and sent us scurrying back down the mountain trail to our cars. Since I signed on for this tour of the Canadian Rockies, everything had gone right.
It is hard to capture the synchronicity of this next post. I can only assure you that I was working on integrating these things for this book and this post from a healer came through in answer to my directed thought or intent-ional request. Intent is a vital element of magical operations. Here is my response to this post I believe helped me integrate these thoughts.
Put To The Sword
Direct Answers - Column for the week of December 23, 2002
Everybody is Somebody
I wrote about my life and all that I have had to go through. I also ended that story with a little bit about how my life has since changed, but I want to take it further.I want you to see me how I was then and how I am now.Am I changed much?Yes, I am no longer the person who went through all those things.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|