Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Black History Month; The Story of Jamila Gomez

Today, I am sharing the story of a lovely lady I met. A beautiful woman of colour who has an amazing story to share. Her name is Jamila Gomez and this is her story...
Born Beautiful


In Chicago, Ill., my father named me Beautiful. At least, that's how I was brought up to see myself. It didn't turn out that way, though. January 15th, 1982 was the date of my birth. I was told I was born prematurely, but hey, I'm here. The youngest of 3 girls. My mother had a son, but he was also born prematurely. At the time, resources to save him didn't exist. His name was Nathan. I didn't know him, but I love him.


Instant issues arose with my entrance into the world. My spinal cord protruded through my back and one of my eyes was crossed. I had a lot of fluid built up in my head. Turns out the spinal cord defect was Spina Bifida and the fluid build-up was Hydrocephalus. Surgeries to correct my spine, fluid build-up in my head, and my eyes immediately followed. My eyesight was fine after that. I wore glasses for a few years once I was old enough to until I was about 6. I never wore them again until my late 20’s.


Learning to walk was a challenge. When I finally learned to walk on my own, which was around 3 years of age, my right foot twisted inward. I had surgery to correct the twist. During the surgery, a pin was placed in my big toe to flatten it. To this day, I am unsure as to why the toe had to be flattened. Due to the surgery on my foot, I attended kindergarten in a wheelchair for the first half of the year and walker for the second half. I rode the “special bus” and everything. However, I did have one great friend. That was all I cared about. Walking without aid didn’t happen for me until I was around the age of 6. That is when the real problems arose.


Bullying was something my sisters and I were raised not to do. Therefore, we never did. But, oh, was it done to me! All people saw was this short girl who walked with a serious limp who had problems controlling certain things that normal people usually could. I won't go into detail, but I will say that the muscles below the waist were not strong at all. I dealt with laughs and jokes about that until high school. Yet and still, I was the nice one. Some people did like me. I had my close friends, some of whom I'm still friends with to this day. But I could not sit here and name each and every person who made me cry. There are just too many.


Remember I told you about the fluid in my head? To keep that fluid flowing, doctors placed what's called a shunt in my head. In the 4th grade, my shunt malfunctioned. I will never forget this as long as I live. My father was out of town, so it was just my mom, sisters, and myself. I had the most painful headache a person could ever have -- very migraine-like. I woke my mother up in the middle of the night crying. She gave me some medicine for it and let me lie in bed with her, but the pain didn't go away. It got worse, and so did my crying. Therefore, she decided to take me to the doctor. They did X-rays, and found that my shunt was blocked. I had emergency surgery to remove the part that was blocked and have it replaced with another part. The doctor said had I not gotten there when I did, the shunt could have burst and I wouldn't be here to talk about it. Thank you, Lord.


I didn't have another surgery until 6th grade when my right foot began to act up again. This time, though, instead of it twisting inward, it twisted outward. As a result, I had another surgery to correct it. A couple of years after that, the pin that was placed in my toe during the first surgery broke in half, and one half came out of my toe by itself, leaving a hole in my toe that got infected. That called for a third right foot surgery to get the other half of the pin out and clean the infection.


Since then, I've had other obstacles come my way that resulted in a total of 10 surgeries and a blood transfusion. You'd think being able to go through all of that would make a person stronger. I thank God everyday for life, but to be honest, my spirit was completely broken. I've never really been able to live the life I've wanted to live. Not to say that I can't, but fear has always been in my way. I may not be able to walk or run as fast as others, but I should be thankful that I can walk and run at all. So, why aren't I? I have to watch what I eat so certain issues don't flair up. One cannot imagine how abnormal I feel. It breaks my heart to watch other people enjoying things that I cannot. I try to get out of the whole ‘woe is me’ thing, and at times, it works. However, the older I’ve gotten, the more uncomfortable feeling sorry for myself has become.


Do I wish I were ‘normal’? Yes. But what good is being normal when I was born for a greater purpose? I am not supposed to be normal. I am supposed to be extraordinary. I am supposed to be awesome. I have realized that, through my story, I have the power and ability to uplift and encourage others who may have it much worse than I have could. When all is said and done, I want nothing more than to let people know that there is no limit to where they can go as long as they have air in the lungs and life and their bodies. For every day you live, you have the chance to do ANYTHING you want to do. It all starts with the belief that you can.


Jamila Gomez
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