Born With A Serious Medical Condition

I was born with barely enough thyroid to survive, however, this was not discovered until it was almost too late.  If it had not been for my brandmother, the outcome would have been very different in a not very good way.  Without a properly functioning thyroid gland, an infant will not develop normally: dwarfism and mental retardation will result if treatment is not given, the sooner the better.  My grandmother insisted I be checked as I wasn't behaving like babies of a similar age i.e. eyes following objects etc.  Medical tests showed my condition and treatment of daily doses of thyroid extract was administered.  This took place in the mid 1950s when medicine was not anywhere nearly as advanced as it is today so determining the correct dosage for a six month old baby was a 'guess'.  The medical community did not know to what degree (if any) I was adversely affected by a relatively late diagnosis: six months is the upper limit for 'successful' diagnosis.  Before going to school, I was sent for an IQ test which determined that I was indeed capable of learning, having achieved an IQ in the high average range.  Still my pediatrician advised my parents not to 'push' me as my prognosis for future academic success was uncertain.
   While my parents understood my condition at some level, it was evident they'd interpreted my mental capacity as 'not quite average'.  This was particularly true of my mother who regularly referred to me as a 'slow learner'.   Being told this over and over doesn't exactly build one's self confidence!   I recall consistently being talked down to as they (my mother in particular) undoubtedly believed I would not understand the gist of a conversation.  I was also often cut off when I attempted to add to a conversation.  Although I did understand all of what was going on around me and then some, at some level I knew I would be not be listened to or be taken seriously if I said I understood.  Eventually, I just stopped 'talking'...I wasn't listened to anyway.  It did not help that I am quiet by throughout the years, my quietness has been mistaken as 'slowness' and 'social awkwardness' by both family and people who met me: still happens all the time.  However, I am neither slow or social awkward but it's very hard to convince those whose mind is made up and refuses to see anything else.
   After a period of reflection recently, realized the lack of validation and respect by others is rooted in my very early years and diagnosis of the thyroid problem.  This has been detrimental on so many levels, particularly education.  I was streamed into a lower level business education program in high school which I hated with a passion and never worked at.  Have had a series of jobs which, with the exception of one, have been completely unsatisfying, boring and monotonous beyond comprehension.  What might I have been able to accomplish if I knew I'd be listened to? 
   One person did cross my path along the way who suggested university.  Me at university...someone with my background?  Despite some reservations, I took a couple of courses to begin with.  The results were astounding and I realized then the assessment of my mental capabilities and the predictions about future success....they were way far wrong.  Furthermore, those who judge me still, they are wrong and have no clues they are    wrong. 
   The lack of validation and the judgment by others concerning my 'so-called' social awkwardness still exists.   How does one begin to address such issues??

readerchick readerchick
56-60, F
2 Responses Apr 7, 2011

Thanks for your comment:) I bear no grudge against my mother though as her ideas about how children were to be raised, how those born with medical issues (etc) were common among those of her generation. She had no flexibility about those ideas however and that rankles. I have forgiven for what she put me through though the effects linger. I will check out your sister's comments:)

Parents underestimate how much their children understand. My mother pulled that crap on me. I grew up mentally and emotionally crippled by her short-sided thinking. Thankfully, she has died and I have started to live the life I have always wanted to live. You have to ask yourself, "If you knew in your heart that you would not fail, what would you attempt to do?"<br />
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Also read my sister's postings. She writes some very powerful stuff that helps people be inspired to be all they can be. Her EP group is called "I LOVE TO INSPIRE OTHERS." You will love her stories. You don't have to write anything. Just read them. If you like one of her stories, rate it up and leave her a comment.