TEEN ESSAY: Back on my feet, and running cross country
Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 2:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 2:24 p.m.
I was born with a big head. Not gigantic, but big. In fact, the size of my skull has caused myriad issues, ranging from humorous to seriously limiting. I suppose I’ll start at the beginning.
And by beginning, I mean beginning.
My dad is a large man, with an equally large head. My mom, on the other hand, is a small woman, and while I may have inherited my dad’s head, it was ultimately my mother who gave birth to me. This is where things got tricky. To make a long story short, I got stuck. After hours of pushing, I was delivered undamaged via C-section.
Well mostly undamaged. Following my birth, I didn’t open my eyes. This was somewhat worrying to my parents, to say the least. After multiple weeks of making my parents feel anxious, I finally opened my eyes to see the world. My parents breathed a sigh of relief.
They soon realized that something wasn’t right, however. More precisely, they realized that my eyes weren’t entirely open. The doctors diagnosed it as ptosis (toe-sis), and said they didn’t know what the cause was.
My dad and I disagree with their uncertainty, confident my condition was a result of prolonged birth trauma (such as getting stuck), which is known to cause ptosis. So that’s what I choose to believe, because it’s much easier to blame my big head than it is to blame a more abstract concept like genetics.
Reasons aside, what matters is that I’ve lived my entire life with droopy eyelids. As a child, I did what most children in my situation do, tilting my head back and walking on my toes in a feeble attempt to improve my range of vision. As you can imagine, I looked kind of goofy.
When I was 4, I had surgery on my eyelids to allow them to open more. The results didn’t make me look fully normal, but they were an improvement. However, the damage to my legs was already done.
Years of walking on my toes had prevented my Achilles tendons from fully developing, keeping me from running well, which made it hard to participate in most athletic activities.
So, in third grade I had corrective surgery on my Achilles tendons, in the hopes of allowing me to walk and run normally.
Surgeons cut both of my tendons in several places. The pain was excruciating, and wasn’t helped by the fact that I had to wear two large purple casts on my legs over the coming weeks, but I tried to make the best of it. My dad painted silver and gold stars on my casts, and I soon learned to make use of the strap-on “shoes” that allowed me to roll from step to step.
When my plaster cocoons were finally removed, I discovered two pale, smelly legs underneath. They were still mine, but at the same time, they were different.
For the first time in my life, my legs were finally my allies, rather than my limitations. No one could possibly understand how incredible it is to walk normally until they’ve spent years struggling to do it for more than a few steps.
Now, I’m on the cross country team. I’d always loved to play chase. Now I do it as a sport. I can also see fairly normally, despite my still-droopy eyelids. So, before you ask, I’m not stoned all the time. Really. I just have a big head.
Republished from the Gaucho Gazette student newspaper.
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