I Defied the Odds | Teen Ink

I Defied the Odds MAG

June 19, 2012
By Anonymous

I can't complain. I can't complain because I'm alive and walking, and that's more than was expected, honestly.

There's something strange about being a sixteen-year-old stroke survivor. I had the stroke when I was three weeks old, so people seem to think that it would have little bearing on my life now. And honestly, even the title “stroke survivor” feels weird to me. I don't remember being anything but the kid who had a stroke, so is there really a stroke-survivor title, or is that just a part of me?

At sixteen, I am partially-blind, and I had trouble walking even at eight. Being a kid it was almost impossible for me to actually understand; I didn't grasp the idea of not being able to run and play with other kids, and I didn't get why gravity seemed to constantly be pulling me to the ground and bruising my hands and tearing my clothes. Then I resigned myself to sitting on the steps while other kids played. Most of my time was spent reading a book or watching the sky.

The bright side to being somebody who spent every recess tearing through books and being as much of a philosopher as you can be even at six is that you learned things.

Both fortunately and unfortunately, the fact that I couldn't walk also meant physical therapy. The unfortunate part came from my parents' decision to put me in a full-body sport, in other words, dance. I can't even begin to explain how disastrous this decision was, but predictably a girl who can barely walk can't walk any more easily when her movements are choreographed and she is wearing a pair of steel-toed tap shoes.

The fortunate part came later. When I was nine, they opted out of dance for gymnastics, and that is when my life changed. Girls with streamlined figures pirouetted on their hands, flew and flipped and twirled with a blatant disregard for gravity, swung bar-to-bar like circus performers, and then took their beautiful flips and tumbles and twirls and put them on a four-foot-high, four-inch-wide beam. They ran at vaults with the intensity of creatures pursuing their prey, and then in an instant catapulted themselves into the air. They were superhuman.

Finally I felt determined. I felt ­determined just like I'd felt determined to run with the kids on the playground. But it was even more intense than that: I truly, genuinely, felt like I needed this. I needed to be superhuman. I worked harder than the other kids, and still got fewer results. You can't tumble until you can run, and you can't run until you can walk.

That's just the obvious progression of things. But somehow, I got through it. There were some advantages to my situation, I'd fallen so much that I was extremely pain-tolerant, and unlike the others I felt like I had something huge to gain. I got through conditioning workouts without complaining. I listened to every criticism. I shied away from sympathy. I learned to walk. Then to run. Then to tumble.

Last year I attained my peak. After all that time, I reached one of the highest levels of gymnastics. This meant that I'd earned the right to travel and compete, and even wore an expensive leotard, matching my teammates and was looked up to by the young kids.

Although it wasn't my first year competing, it was the most intense. I knew it might be my last, too; my body had learned the sport, but my heart was growing tired of it. You can only be so committed before your heart gives way, and I'd given up too much of mine at the start. My goal was met and surpassed: I was walking. Screw that, I was flying!

The final and greatest ­opportunities were to compete in Hawaii, and to compete one last time in a State Championship. I took third all-around in Hawaii, and took first on beam at State. The girl who couldn't walk took first on beam. Pigs can fly and the blind can see and I cannot only walk but also win beam.

After a summer of aggravation, I quit. I hardly felt like I'd won anything anymore. I was done flying. They'd given me the ability to leave. I was grateful and amazed, but I was ready to go.

I am sixteen years old. I am partially blind, and I had trouble walking when I was eight. I will never be like everyone else. My left side is weaker than my right, and I walk with a limp even after all of my training. I forget things constantly, and part of me wonders if this is from my stroke. I don't tell most of my friends I had a stroke; they might never look at me the same way again.

But here's the reality: I can't complain. I had a stroke, but I defied the odds. I proved every doctor wrong, and I did it with style.

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This article has 10 comments.

Kamana BRONZE said...
on Jun. 27 2013 at 6:49 pm
Kamana BRONZE, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everyone deserves to be loved, even if they can't find it in them to love themselves or anyone else for that matter.

This was really cool to read. I was a level 7 competative gymnast for 6 years so I know how hard reaching those goals are and how much you have to push yourself.  And doing it when you can barley walk is truly amazing. Gymnastics has taught me a lot and I'm glad it did the same for you:)

JaneB said...
on Jun. 24 2013 at 6:16 pm
If you told me that, I'd say - you. are. so. awesome. :) Plus, your writing really bring forth the determination you have. I have a friend who has the most severe kind of spina bifida and doctors told her she could never walk and always would travel in a wheelchair. Nope. She defyed the odds and now walks even if it's with a crutch. :) 

Dani said...
on Jun. 24 2013 at 3:23 pm
Such a beautiful story. I applaud you for your courage and your determination. Thank you very much for sharing such a personal, emotional account. I wish you all the best. God bless! 

on Jun. 16 2013 at 7:16 pm
KenzyJay SILVER, Goshen, New York
9 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do or Do Not, There is NO Try"


Awesome story

on Jun. 14 2013 at 6:28 pm
bellariptor PLATINUM, Lexington, Massachusetts
25 articles 70 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
Poetry is the soundtrack to my life, the lyrics are my thoughts accompanied by the melody of my emotions.

Thanks so much for sharing!

on Jun. 6 2013 at 1:41 pm
redeemed_love GOLD, Houghton, Michigan
10 articles 16 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood. We write to understand." C.S Lewis

Thank you.

JRaye PLATINUM said...
on Jun. 5 2013 at 6:41 pm
JRaye PLATINUM, Dorr, Michigan
43 articles 10 photos 523 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you."

"Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, 'I just don't care.'?"

Cutoz! Seriously, that's just awesome! Never forget that determination, and if you find something else you're as passionate about, keep pushing yourself, keep defying odds! :)

on Jun. 4 2013 at 3:54 pm
ramfthomas4 PLATINUM, South Bend, Indiana
26 articles 1 photo 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
“If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.”
― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

high five!!!

on Jun. 3 2013 at 9:52 pm
little-bird-girl GOLD, Flemington, New Jersey
13 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone."

Such a lovely piece, darling, never stop writing!!

on Jun. 1 2013 at 2:02 pm
marialove3 PLATINUM, Port Angeles, Washington
27 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm excited for tomorrow; no i don't know what is going to happen...anything can happen. I'm excited because I know I have what it takes to make it a great day for me, but even MORE excited because I will make it a great day for others as well."-me

Wow. All I can say is wow. You amazed me, and ispired me today. And I thank you for it. What you have accomplished is incredible, and again, inspiring. You deserve praise for not only the topic in which you are talking about, but the article as well.