Posted by jennifer gibson on Monday, May 20, 2019 Under: May 2019

Recently, someone commented how much I’ve changed, that I seem to be more grounded. They are right. After an immensely difficult couple of months due to my severe chronic pain and physical illness, I finally emerged as a stronger person. 

Normally, I face a lot of obstacles every day from my profound hearing loss but having being diagnosed with five herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spondylolysis, inactive C6 radiculopathy and Trigeminal Neuralgia, it tested my faith to the extreme limits.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face was having to contact the paramedics so many times, especially as someone who is deaf. Fortunately, my neighbour was kind enough to call them for me and let them in when I couldn’t, and also look after my cats when I was still in the hospital. I’m very lucky to have someone like them to help me in this situation since my health was in jeopardy. 

I learned a major lesson when it came to dealing with the emergency staff which meant that I had to be very clear about my inability to hear them and inform them of my medical history. Every time I ended in the ER, I was asked if I wanted IV morphine which is mind boggling since I’m severely allergic to it. I’ve had to be direct with every single person I met on the medical team to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction while I was in so much pain and very out of it. I’ve since discovered that when I’m in a lot of pain and groggy, that my ability to concentrate drops dramatically. Because of this repeated experience, I’ve learned that I feel much safer with paramedics than the nurses and doctors, and this is primarily due to the fact that it’s one on one care. 

One of the most surprising aspects about the ER is that it’s always busy and noisy. It’s rarely quiet nor one on one. The IV monitors are LOUD, their alarms are always going off which make it nearly impossible for me to hear anyone.  I’ve always had to deal with a revolving door of staff from the nurses who check my vitals, the blood lab, doctors, ultrasound, X-ray and MRI staff. For someone like me who is in immense pain and super groggy from the drugs, trying to lip read them has been an incredible challenge. Due to these experiences, I’m now considering getting an interpreter for emergencies since it directly affects my health and well being. 

Growing up with a profound hearing loss enabled me to become an advocate, author and public speaker. I now understand why I went through so much in my life, it created a foundation for my personality and defined me. It gave me the strength to keep moving forward. 

Speaking of strength, ever since I moved to a new city, it showed me just how independent I could be as a person with multiple disabilities. The challenges that I’ve faced the last few months showed me what I was truly capable of. I’ve have many moments of darkness and struggled with the immense physical pain, I’ve had to find a way to fight through it. I’ve discovered that the more spinal pain I’m in, the worse my anxiety becomes which can turn into a panic attack. One of the methods that I’ve found that works is music. It’s a great form of distraction. My favourite artists are George Michael, Enrigue Iglesias and BTS (a very cool Korean group of supremely talented singers and dancers with fabulous outfits - I have so much respect for them especially since I adore their philosophy about loving ourselves and bringing hope to the world). 

One of the biggest motivators for me was going for my fourth Black Belt grading and that helped tremendously with my focus and determination. It gave me a chance to prove to myself that I could do it. I had to work hard to overcome my physical limitations and push my limits to the extreme. I had been working towards that goal for the past eight months and was stunned when I was asked to go for my Black Belt with only two hours warning. I had no time to be nervous. Leading up to this day, I was a mess, I had very little sleep since I was in so much pain. I was extremely exhausted and struggling to stay upright. During the grading, I came so close to passing out, my vision went black and I was actually seeing white stars. Fortunately, I had my Sensei standing by my side throughout the entire ordeal - I could not have done it without him. I pushed myself as far as I could go. It wasn’t perfect, I made a lot of mistakes but it was valuable lesson in so many aspects. 

It changed me. I was able to prove myself in terms of how far I could go and how strong I was mentally as well as emotionally. I had to quickly bypass the pain and exhaustion in order to focus. It also made me realize what I was truly capable of when I put my mind to it. I know that I’m a survivor and stronger because of what I’ve endured. 

The biggest change in me that I’ve noticed is that I now feel at home here and at the dojo, they are my family now. I’m definitely in the right place at the right time. It’s where I’m meant to be. 

BTS music links:

Idol -

Fake Love -

Not today - 

Mic drop -  

Danger - 

In : May 2019 

Tags: bts  music  anxiety  "spinal pain"  "hearing loss" 
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