In the previous post, I started my life story by describing the struggle I had to go through to survive past my infancy. After the open-heart surgery to save my life, my health improved and I began to grow. I was a little behind developmentally, but I caught up in time.
I will now jump ahead to the time when I started elementary school. The first few years seemed uneventful to me. But as I advanced in school, problems began to arise. When I entered school, I was placed in special education classes. This was fine until I was in around fourth grade. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to backtrack a few years to maybe my second grade year when my eyesight was getting progressively worse. At this time, my teachers started teaching me Braille to prepare me for the eventual loss of my sight. I will admit, I resisted the need to use Braille. I can still remember the times that I strained my eyes because I didn’t want to use the Braille. I guess that was my way of fighting against my increasing eye problems. But at age eight, this struggle came to a halt by the detachment of my retina in my right eye. A surgery was performed to fix this problem, but it was not successful. A second surgery was done that gave me some of my sight back, but it was not nearly what I had had before all of this occurred. I was then left to cope with my new reality of near blindness.
The best that I can remember, this is when all of my school problems started. A new teacher came into my classroom during my third grade year. That first year was not really a problem because she did not have much control over my education. However, this changed at the beginning of my fourth grade year. She had total control over my education then. It did not go well. At first, she was giving me assignments that were far above my academic level for that time. When I failed at these assignments, it seems as though she gave up on me. To her, I was a stupid kid who could not be taught. To this day, I am still haunted by the words, “you are unteachable.” At age ten, I believed her and gave up on myself.
These events set off a chain reaction of events that would forever change me. After a while, the class I was in was eliminated and I was placed in a classroom with students that were below my age level and my grade level of fifth grade. My fellow classmates were placed in a fifthgrade classroom. I was placed in the other class because the teachers didn’t think I was ready for a fifth grade classroom. The part I struggle with most about this is that I was not given a chance to prove that I could make it.
Because of all of these events, I fell into a deep depression. A few years before this I had been diagnosed with seizures. During all of this turmoil in my life, the seizures became uncontrollable. A lot of my fifth grade year is a vague blur to me because of of the depression and seizures. The combination of the two had a devastating effect on my emotional state. The one thing I remember most clearly is the feeling that everyone, except my parents, had given up on me. I felt as though I had just been shoved into a classroom because no one wanted to take the time to teach me. I wasn’t worth their time or energy. I was a problem that just needed to go away.
After many meetings and disagreements with the administration and teachers, I finished the fifth grade. The school wanted to hold me back another year, but my parents wouldn’t let them. All my parents wanted was to get me out of that situation and into middle school where I might be able to pull my life back together. I spent months trying to pull myself out of the deep depression that I was in. It took me years to catch up with my peers academically. The emotional damage has been harder to handle over the years than that of my academic difficulties. Even now, I’m dealing with the emotions from that dark time in my life.
In the next post, I will continue with what happened next. I will explain more how I recovered from what happened to me in elementary school and what I did with my life in the years that followed.