Living in the Now!

Learning to enjoy my life more!

Overcoming life’s hurdles

on 26/04/2011

When most people meet me and talk to me they accept me as an average person, may be a little socially awkward but on the whole average guy, few people know the truth. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and partially brain-dead, dyslexia has taken me years to get to terms with and I still struggle with it daily. When I was 14 I could hardly read or write and I could only do the most basic of maths problems, today at 29 pushing 30 I am studying for a HND in Information Systems and plan on going for a degree in the same subject once the HND is finished. I have to study advanced maths in order to complete this course and when I’m studying that and other unfamiliar subjects I have to put more effort than my class mates seem to, just to understand what is being said to me.

If someone had said to me 14 years ago that I would be working toward a degree in Information Technology I would have thought they were telling me lies. I would have thought it was a rouse to try to get me to work harder, but know I see where I came from and I see all the hardship’s that I’ve overcome. I remember those that had no faith in me, belittled me and thought I was stupid, their taunts still fresh in my mind but I am beyond pathetic attitudes from miss understanding individuals who will never understand what it is to live with these disorders. Any way I digress, the purpose of this post is not to point fingers or to air out a grudge, it is to talk about how much I’ve overcome what was holding me back.

I have never known a time where I could dance, and I’m not talking competently, I mean at all! I can’t even do something as basic a aerobics. Unlike my dyslexia, dispraxia is quite different and I’ve never had any support in dealing with this disorder, but according to the definition of what dispraxia is I have it relatively mildly. There are some elements of dispraxia I do not fit into, when I was younger I had excellent hand and eye coordination, so good in fact that I would regularly sketch in pencil and would always work from memory or observation(although I could never work in colour), I played video games and some believe that playing games helped me improve my hand eye coordination. I also compete in motor racing, although only virtually, I do exhibit some natural talent but I do struggle with my foot work and feel I might not be able to master the heel toe technique, but I’ll still give it a go.

But despite not entirely fitting the definition of a dispraxic I do have the disorder, as I said I cannot do coordinated rhythmic movement, the first time I even attempted to do anything that might resemble dancing in over 20 years was at my wedding. I couldn’t tie my shoe laces till I was 18 and a neck tie till I was 19, my hand writing is slow but well formed and legible but because of this I often need extra time in written tests. I can run and walk without tripping or falling (well no more than average) in fact my balance is better than most.

The biggest problem I have is my brain, being partially brain dead sounds quite severe but in my case not so much, but even this has a huge impact on my live and how I live from day to day. It is the one thing that scares and hurts me more than anything else. I often refer to it as my memory problem in conversation as to actually explain it to people takes a long time. I have problems with my sort term memory, I have been told that the part that deals with this isn’t actually dead but is misfiring and sending signals to the wrong areas of my brain. So when I make a new memory, most of the time it works the way it should and I am able to recall and use information I have absorbed, but every now and again it doesn’t work and what ever I was doing is sent somewhere else and I am never able to recall that information.

That’s basically what I was told by the doctors after a cat scan when I was 9, but I’ve noticed a slight addition to this problem over the years, I can sometimes absorb and remember information fine but my ability to access it can at times become impaired, even when I’ve used this information several times before. Typical example is the date of my wedding, I know the date of my wedding but my ability to recall it is very hit and miss, this is so much of a problem that I told my wife about it before we were married because I didn’t want her to be upset for missing anniversary’s or for not knowing when filling in forms.

Despite such a unpredictable and frustrating problem I have several coping mechanism’s to help me overcome it, although not completely. I have always used smart phones and for someone with the problems I suffer, it has become an invaluable piece of technology. Recently I have adopted the Android operating system on my smart phone because it is the most flexible OS for my particular needs, a calendar function that synchronizes between the phone and any other compatible devices and software and is also available on-line through a web page. Documents and notes that also are stored on-line and are accessible from compatible devices and software, multiple alarms with schedule functions so I can alert myself to many different things that are a part of my daily routine. Spell check with suggestions and full QWERTY keyboard, in fact so much of my phones information is backed up on-line that if I ever forget it and loose it I have not lost the information it contains and there’s also the possibility I can recover the phone using GPS tracking.

Without my phone or computer I would be very limited in a lot of ways, I live part of my life digitally because it allows me to function normally and because I can function normally no one can guess what I’ve had to do to get where I am today and tomorrow I will be father away than I am today. I have to keep advancing, I have to keep going forward. I don’t fear much but the thing I do fear the most is the thing I live with every day, I fear that I will forget to turn the cooker off, I fear that I will forget my name, I fear that I’ll forget how to communicate or read. I fear that I’ll lose my memory.

I’ve overcome a lot and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come but if I stay resolute in the face of life’s problems I can overcome them or compensate for them.

Here is a video I found very moving and inspirational

If you want to know more about Dick and Rick Hoyt then visit the website Team Hoyt

If you have had to overcome a problem big or small then feel free to comment, or if you just wish to share something.


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