Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My Story

I’ve always wanted to write about my life, but was never sure of who would want to read it. So, I guess, the only thing I can do is begin to share my story.

I am the 2nd born of Norma and Robert Silverstein. My mother had 2 boys from a previous marriage, so I would be her first girl! My Mom was excited to have me…the first girl born on her side of the family….the first Granddaughter, the first Niece…it was exciting!

I was 2 weeks late in coming. On December 20th, 1979, I entered the world. My parents were anticipating a good, healthy baby girl. Well, much to their surprise, when I did emerge, it was quickly obvious there was something drastically wrong. The Dr’s rushed me out of the room…with shouts of my Mom following them, ‘What’s wrong with my baby?’ Where are you taking her?’ Until that moment, when I was formally introduced to the world, there had been no signs that anything at all was wrong with me.

I had no strength in all of the extremities of my body. I couldn’t lift my little arm up off my bed. My feet were both extremely clubbed…my heals were facing the ceiling, in fact. My left hip was displaced and was missing a part of the ball and socket joint. You could see some malformation in my wrists and fingers. My tongue had not grown properly and was halfway down the back of my throat, making it nearly impossible to eat.

My parents were devastated, but had nothing in them, but Fight! They took me to Dr after Dr after Dr and they were always told the same story…’Just put her in a wheelchair, she’ll never be able to walk.’ My parents wouldn’t and couldn’t accept that as my fate….to be so helpless for the rest of my life.

They didn’t give up on looking for and finding me a Dr that was, at least, willing to give me a chance. Finally they found one…Dr. Ogden was his name. He had great hopes and dreams for me…he wanted to do everything he could to give me the best life possible. He agreed to do a major surgery on my left hip…he had to place the ball where it should have been and hoped that the socket would, naturally, grow around it.

When I was 5 years old, I took my first steps! I may have started a little late, but I was determined, now more than ever, that I was going to be ‘just like everyone else’.
I would have to say that the most difficulty was had when I started going to school. Back then, children could be so mean. They didn’t understand why I was different or why I walked the way I did…so they made fun of me every chance they got. I came home from school crying almost every day. I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve this kind of treatment, especially when, in my family, I was just as ‘normal’ as my brothers. I think the worst part was that, although I may be physically challenged in everything I do, my brain was and has never been affected. I thought just like everyone else, felt like everyone else…but it was hard to get that message across when people just gawked at my physical state. People were often scared or felt uncomfortable asking me about my disability. I was always more than willing to explain what I knew about my physical state and would try to help those around me understand what my life was like.

I was diagnosed as having Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. For reasons unknown, my movement, when I was in my Mother’s womb, was restricted, thus keeping my body from growing properly.

There are many forms of Arthrogryposis. Each person that has it is different in how they’re affected. Some are able to walk, as I am, but some will never be able to walk without the assistance of properly fitted canes and crutches. Some will never be able to walk.
The Dr’s tell me that I have an extreme case of Arthrgryposis. It affects me every day of my life. Simple things sometimes seem to be the most challenging. The whole left side of my body – arms, legs, fingers, etc – are weaker than my right side. I call my left hand my ‘helper hand’. I’m not able to grip anything with it and, if I want to move my left leg, I have to somehow swing it or move it with my right arm.

My life is extremely challenging and there are many things that I will never be able to do because my body just won’t allow me to. But I don’t let that stop me! I am determined to live my life to its fullest! Sure, I have my bad days every now and then, who doesn’t? But I get back up, brush myself off, and try, try again.

Currently I have my own apt that I rent in Burlington, Ontario. I own a little Honda Civic that gets me around everywhere and enables me to get my grocery shopping done, and gets me to wherever else I may need to go. I love meeting new people, I love sharing my achievements and my struggles to help others have a sense that they are more capable than, sometimes, they give themselves credit for.

I guess I could share with you a typical day in the ‘Life of Shawna’. I get up in the late morning…I’m so not a morning person! I’ll usually have a meal replacement shake to get me started. Then it’s time to take my painkillers so that I am able to get into the shower and get washed. Since my left side is so weak, I really only use my right hand to wash my hair and the rest of my body. I’ve come to figure out different ways of doing most anything and everything. When I get out of the shower, I towel dry, and then lay down on my bed to brush through my hair. I find that if I’m laying down, it doesn’t take as much strength to brush my hair and my arm doesn’t tire too quickly. Once my hair is brushed, there comes the task of actually getting dressed. I feel like it’s a battle every day just to get my undergarments on, but I do it! Once I’ve gotten dressed, I try to decide what to do with my hair. Thank goodness it’s curly, so it doesn’t take a whole lot of work! But, if I want it to look exceptionally nice, I’ll lay back down on my bed and put some gel or smoothing crème in it. Once that’s all done, I go on with my day. Whether it be to just relax, if I’m in a lot of pain, or go out on the town in what I call my ‘Wheelie’! I just got this ‘Wheelie’ recently, a power wheelchair completely covered for me by the government! Although I am only 33 years old, I have already developed severe arthritis in my feet and ankles…mostly due to surgeries and lack of muscle control. In other words, I walk very hard on my feet because I can’t control the muscles in my legs….I can only manage to try and direct my body as to where I want it to go, but often that doesn’t happen either because a lot of my muscles are involuntary…they do what they want.

If I felt like that was enough for me to handle in a lifetime, more was to come my way! In my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I was also told that I had been and currently do suffer from Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are many reasons for the cause of each and every one of these diagnoses. In my younger years, about 8 or 9 years of age, I found my own way of dealing with my rage and anger towards those that made fun of me and made my life harder. I had begun to self harm. To be honest, at the time I didn’t think that this was really such a bad way to handle my emotions. I didn’t know how to express how I was feeling, nor did I even understand it all. So, starting at that young age, I self harmed for most of my life. I think I knew that it was wrong, but, in my way of thinking, I wasn’t hurting anyone and it helped me feel better. It gave me a sense of control and a momentary escape from the pain I felt.

My self harm continued even after I moved out of my Parent’s house. I would hide in the bathroom or in my bedroom and do what I felt I needed to do to get by. Eventually, when living with a friend, she caught me self harming on a few occasions. She gave me an ultimatum…either I stop self harming and get the help I needed or I would have to move out. At this point, although I still didn’t understand the total effects of it all on those around me, I started to go for help. I learned quickly how my actions did affect those around me. It hurt them to see me do things to myself. I was able to look outside my little protective bubble and see things through another’s eyes.

I’m not at all proud of what I did, but, at that time in my life, I felt that it was my only way to cope. I have since been to a lot of Therapy, many groups, and have learned a great deal. I can’t say, if I’m being honest, that I don’t do this anymore, but I try my best not to. I have the coping skills now that I need to get through the hard times….I just have to remember to conscientiously use them. I do have set backs, but I fall, brush myself off, and try again.

I guess you might be wondering why I am writing about my life. My goal and dream in life is to help others! I want people to know that they can get through anything life throws at them. Yes, we all have our demons and difficulties, but there is always a way out that is positive and healthy! It has a lot to do with the way that we allow ourselves to see things….our outlook, our hopes, our dreams. We can accomplish anything we put our minds to! And with a positive support system, you can get through the hardest of times.

I lost my youngest brother to an accidental drug overdose when he was only 19 years of age. This absolutely devastated me! I felt that it was supposed to have been me that had gone in his place, as I was the one that, at the time, had wanted my life to be over. But, with the help of close family and friends, I came to realize that, yes, Aaron was gone, but I’m here. And I have a purpose!

I want to make a positive impact on the lives of those around me. Whether it be a close friend or a stranger that I meet on the street. I want to make a difference! I want people to know that life is always worth living for! That there is always something to look forward to!

Life is full of ups and downs, that’s for sure, but we can do this! We can make our own lives better and, by doing so, help others along our path! My hope is that, knowing the challenges I’ve faced, I can somehow help another through their own challenges.

Please let me know if you know of any way to get my story out there. I want to share my story with people. I want to help people! I want to have my own happiness, as well as, maybe add a little sunshine to those around me!

Shawna Rae Silverstein

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ok, here it is!!! My EPIC entry after many, many months of 'non-blogging'!!! Yes, that's right folks, I am re-entering the world of blogging! I always enjoyed doing it before, but I guess I kinda lost the knack for it after a while....well, no more! I'm BACK!!!

So, here's a little update on my life:

1. I'm living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Canada....yes, I'm still in Canada and loving it! I'm currently living at my parent's house, but, as you will see from the pics below, I have a pretty sweet set-up!

2. I found a good home for my 2 babies (cats)...I was so sad to see them go, but I hunted long and hard for a good home. The problem was that my parents have a cat...I call her the 'Devil' and I believe she may have a serious psychological disorder!!! Anyway, her domain was the whole house, so my poor, little kitties had to live in the garage. Mind you, it was a heated garage and I did pretty well to make it nice and homy for them....I bought a gate that ran the length of the garage so I could open the door and let them have some fresh air and a good look outdoors. But, as the winter months kept creeping up on me, I really couldn't imagine letting them live in the garage for a 2nd winter. So, I found them a good home, where I can even go and visit! I've called several times since giving them away and it sounds as though they've made themselves at home and are happy and content. What more could I ask for??

3. I'm working!!! I'm a Part Time Telemarketer for my Dad's new company: JAN-PRO Cleaning Systems of the Maritimes. My Dad bought the Master Franchise for the East Coast of Canada, so it's basically my job to get the word out that we have arrived! It's a very established cleaning company; people buy into the Franchise, do the cleaning themselves or hire someone to do it with or for them. It's worldwide, so it's pretty neat that we've opened it up on the East Coast! My main job is to get my Dad appointments where he does some measurements, 'sweet-talking', and gives them a quote for cleaning. So far the Company is moving right along! We're growing fast!

4. I have my Driver's License had been yrs since I'd driven! But, once I moved in with my parents, and they decided that I could drive their car, I got my license renewed!!! Hip Hip Hooray for driving! I absolutely Love driving!!! I probably should have been a 'Trucker'! And, to top things off, we're getting a 2nd car within the next few weeks - leasing a 2012 Honda Civic - so, perhaps, I'll have even more of an opportunity to drive! BONUS!!!

5. I finally got a laptop!!!!!!! About time, eh?!?!??! It's a Samsung Netbook and Definitely one of the BEST purchases I have ever made! I honestly don't know how I survived in life without it!!!

6. I'm so cool that I have an 'Android' phone...also Samsung...are you seeing a pattern here?? The Android was definitely a step up from my old 'slider' phone. It's pretty sweet, I must say!!!

7. I finally purchased a TV for my bedroom!!! A Samsung (I know, again!!!) 32 Inch LCD...mounted on my wall at the end of my bed! Heaven! Pics below!!!

The New Set Up!!!

'Live', 'Laugh', 'Love'...early Birthday Present!

My Bedroom!

My Dresser and Mirror plastered with pictures...SURPRISE!!! Lol!

My Hero!!! Timmy MacDonald - Heaven has never known such a Precious Angel! Miss You!

My Nightstand! Before my Early Birthday Present...

Top of Other Dresser!


New Poster and Close-Ups below...

2nd Poster - Emily the Strange!

Hand-Made Dragonfly by Grace - Little Girl I used to Live With...

Another View of my AWESOME TV!!!

My Newly Decorated Nightstand!

Last pic of the TV...I Promise!!!

My 'Vanity'

My Shower/Tub!!!

Well, that does it for my update!!! Now you know where I'm at, what I'm up to, and other exciting details about my life! More to come in the near future!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's Been Way Too Long!!!

I can't believe that I haven't written in my blog since July of 2009!!! That is definitely too long!!!!! So, here I start again...blogging every day...keeping you up to date on my wonderful and most exciting life!

Since my last entry, much has changed! I now live on the 1st floor, but in the same building! I'm soooooooooo happy about this!!! I had been living on the 3rd floor for about 1 1/2 yrs and, FINALLY, was able to move downstairs...a dream come true! I only have 5 steps to climb now! Miracle of all miracles!!!

My kitties are both doing great! Juno was spayed recently and, since then, has seemed to be filling out a bit. That's ok...I always thought she was too tiny anyway! Bella is growing like a tree! I'll put updated pics of them in another entry...probably the next one!

I'm also a working girl now! I nanny part time! I take care of a little girl named Meaghan...she's not quite 2 yet. She keeps me on my toes, to say the least! And she's sooooooo cute, adorable, fun, and just plain AWESOME! Pics of her will also come soon!

But first things's my new Digs!!!

Like I was telling you earlier...5 Steps!!! That's it! I have my own little entrance/deck area! I can actually see who's at my door!

Here's my front door! Nicely decorated with some Snowmen and a note telling people to knock on the side window...very exciting, eh?!?!

This is, classically, what I come home to! My 2 little girls greet me at the window! I LOVE it!!!

Bella is ALWAYS first to the window...Juno follows on rare occasion.

This would be my porch area/storage looks pretty cluttered, but I'm hoping that, by spring, most of that stuff will be out of there.

My Coat Rack that my fave neighbor, Gertie, put up for me after I moved in! That thing isn't going matter how many coats I may hang on it!

My inside/porch door...thank goodness for this! My indoor cats would, definitely, become outdoor cats (not by choice), if that door wasn't there!!! Winnie the Pooh and Friends greet you!

Here's a view from the inside of my apt. I actually have 2 separate rooms now! Well, technically, 4 - Porch, Bathroom, Kitchen, and Living Room! And, you'll notice, I have walls!!! In my last place, all my ceilings were slanted, due to being in the attic of the house. It's fun to have walls that I can actually decorate now!!!

Looking into my kitchen from the porch...look at all the cupboard and counter space I have now!!! I never knew what I was missing out on til I moved here!!!

I have a stove!!! I actually don't use it very much, as I prefer the smaller version...toaster oven! But, still, I'm really moving up in the world!

This is the CUTEST kitchen table I've EVER seen! I found it on Kijiji for $20!!!

I have a freezer now, too! This is definitely one of the biggest highlights! I had, basically, a small box for a freezer in my last didn't have room for very much. So, this freezer is like Heaven to me!

I think this would be my FAVE part of my new place...A SHOWER!!!!!!!!!!!
I only had a bathtub upstairs!

My 'Throne'!

Sink area...and a WINDOW in my bathroom! WOOHOO!!!

Here's a view of my main room...I've got a lot crammed in there, but I LOVE it!!!

My 'new' TV that I got from Diane and Carl!!! LOVE IT!!! It works with a remote! My last TV had been my Nana's and it only went up to channel 13...manually.
Oh, and my 'Churchy' Wall!

I have one closet...hidden in the corner...perfect!

Bella being! That's her "I'm being naughty' face!

My 'Office' area! Disregard the ripped poster...Bad Juno!!! It'll be replaced soon enough!

The last side of my Living Room!

The display on top of my bookcase. Part of it is kinda like a small Memorial for my friend, Elizabeth, that passed away about a year ago. The other little nick nacks are ones that I treasure!

My 'Inspirational' Wall!

My 'Party' Wall!!! WOOT WOOT!!!

My 'new' computer desk! I also found it on Kijiji - $20! I LOVE KIJIJI!!!

My 'Aaron' Wall. This is the first time, since Aaron passed away, that I can actually hang up pictures of him for me to look at. It's so nice!

It should be obvious, by the display, that I absolutely HATE pictures! LOL!!!

This is one corner of My "Card' Wall!
I have a lot of FAVORITE cards given to me by some FAVORITE I hung up each card, with a picture of the person that gave it to me, next to it! It makes me smile!

The display on top of my nightstand!

'Stuffy' Corner! Did you really think I could get rid of all my stuffed animals???

The other corner of My 'Card' Wall!!! It turned out so AWESOME!!!!!

The Hottest man alive - Johnny Depp!!!

The wall behind my bed! Two pics of me when I was little, a collage of lots of pics, and my AWESOME 'Friends' frame that Holly gave me for my Birthday!!!

My Bed!!! I will FOREVER Love this bed!!!

Juno in her new Fave Spot!
Wait, do you see that?!?! I have Digital Cable! WOOHOO!!!!!!!

Well, now you've seen my New Digs!!! Next on my list to blog about are my kitties and a Cute, Little, Sweet girl named Meaghan!!!

Stay tuned!!!