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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spina Bifida Stories: Mary Jo


I often think about how I arrived at this moment in time. I am 37 yrs old. I am a social worker in a large hospital in Chicago. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. I have worked in Minneapolis, MN and Spokane, WA as part of a national volunteer program. I have twelve brothers and sisters, twenty-five nieces and nephews, and lots of cousins! I also have Spina Bifida. I think I’ve had about a dozen surgeries, thankfully I don’t remember the early ones! I have an amazing family who have always been a great source of encouragement for me.

I was teased as a child, as I’m sure many others can relate to. But very early on in life I learned that I had a choice. I could let bullies win and live my life in a 24/7 pity party (I tried it for a while-trust me, it’s NOT a party,) or I could look at the world in front of me and do the best I could. “Can’t” was never a part of my vocabulary. I never asked if I could do something; sometimes I just needed to ask how I could do something. I tried a lot of things. Some were more successful than others.  But you don’t know until you try. I learned to roller skate in the dark with a pillow strapped to my bum(daylight would reveal the unconventional & embarrassing teaching method to passersby.)

Life is hard at times. But it’s hard for everyone. I don’t think my life is harder than someone else’s because I have Spina Bifida. I think our lives our different, but I can’t judge someone else’s life unless I’ve experienced it myself. I know I’m a stronger person because of my challenges. I am not a boastful person, but I do feel proud when I can reflect on all that I have accomplished in my life and think about all that I have yet to do. I am a successful, hardworking, kind-hearted, child-at-heart, fun-loving, tax-paying woman. Spina Bifida, a shunt and a pair of afo’s are just my accessories!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We love our Mary Jo! Such an inspiration to us all. Such a kind heart and killer sense of humor. ;) SB or no SB, just an AMAZING person!!
Love, Heather and Gwendolyn