Surgery Goes Wrong At Age 12.


I have cerebral palsy. I have had many operations because of this. One of them was supposed to make it easier to walk and with less pain. It didn't work out that way. I went into surgery thinking I'd be able to read in the recovery room. (It was my first operation since age six.) I woke up back on the children's ward screaming. There were only two private rooms in that hospital. The kids slept in huge cribs in common wards of a dozen children or so. I remember waking up screaming in agony. I remember twisting around in my pain (in a waist to toes cast with spreader bar between my legs) and grabbing on to the crib railing for dear life. The poor recreation director was trying to get me to let go. They were asking me if I could feel my feet. All I said was "NO! NO! NO!"

The first words out of my mouth were similiar to Christ's on the cross. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!" I don't remember being taken back upstairs and put to sleep again. But when I next awoke, I found that they had cleared out a whole ward just for me. They isolated me from the other kids. I now had metal pins through my ankles which were attached to weights which hung off the edge of the bed. I found over the next three weeks that I had lost all normal sensation in my legs from the knees down. The slightest touch in that region resulted in agonizing pain. Cutting my toenails, rubbing my feet with a towel, even brushing slightly against a surface with bare skin meant agony. I thought it would go away when they took the pins out. I have remained nerve damaged to this day. I couldn't wear running shoes or crawl around any more. I lost my freedom and I was forced to grow up fast.

My mother came down to Montreal for the day to visit me. My parents were very emotionally abusive to me while I was growing up. But they backed off when I was in the hospital, the yelling would start up once more the minute I got home.

It was devastating to be isolated from the other kids, because at the special school I went to, they punished me by putting me in a storage room alone. Sometimes they taught my lessons in there, for punishment. So imagine feeling that you had somehow messed up and couldn't tell anyone. I didn't take well to nerve damage. I hated physio because it was painful and I was terrified of falling (Falling would break a leg. I had fragile bones). The doctors' solution to my "problem" was to regularly rub my feet with a towel, as this would supposedly "desensitize" me. But it was just too painful. I remembert that Halloween  in a hospital bed, dressed up as a hockey player with the pants just draped over my plaster-encased legs. I remember reading a selection from Macbeth aloud and crying out of homesickness.

That was my last Halloween ever. I haven't celebrated it since. I don't even sit up with candy for little trick or treaters. Because of what happened. I have been haunted by the memories playing back in my head for years, over and over.

I should have been there three weeks. I was there for two and a half months. I went home just before Christmas and remember trying to catch up with my school work. I felt like I had failed my parents and they continued to scream at me, my new condition providing new reasons to yell. I remember feeling so ashamed. I felt there was enormous pressure on me to participate in physio or just to obey my parents. I was confined in a psychiatric institute for the retarded when I was five. I stayed there for 18 months. My mother made sure I knew I had been sent there because I had messed up. It took 30 years to find the courage to pull my files for the truth. I had been sent there because I was isolating myself, but I isolated because of the yelling. My parents never told me the truth of the situation. They often treated me as if I was retarded. They could be good to the kids, including me, but a lot of the time, I was under enormous stress when my parents, especially my father, were around.


 I was terrified of  both my parents. They often threatened to put me in a nursing home and often humiliated me in front of the other kids. Sometimes, my siblings would make fun of me while the yelling was going on. I eventually withdrew from all people, not knowing who to trust. My parents spent much of my life treating me like dirt. Many of my friends knew this, but said nothing of it for years. For 22 years, I carried the blame and the shame and I still carry blame and shame. But at age 22, I moved out without my parents' consent because it looked like they were blaming me for another failed operation, this one removing a hip bone. They never forgave me for moving out, a miracle for someone in a wheelchair. Over a decade passed. I eventually got chronic pain, forcing me on morphine and worsening my depression as a result. I hospitalized myself when things got bad. Then my parents started pressuring me to sign myself into an institution, thinking I had been "commited" to the mental hospital. They had me sign power of attorney forms and went around telling friends how they couldn't be my parents any more, unless I was in a nursing home. Then a case manager phoned. It seems my parents told her: "It's much easier to get our daughter to do things when she's in pain." I told the case manager to stop co-operating with my parents. My father phoned me to pressure me into one of two choices : playing ball or refusing their help, period. He never explained that despicable remark to the case manager, but when I finally told my parents I didn't want their help, my mother sent me a nasty e-mail telling me I was disowned and they would no longer help me financially. (I live below the poverty line.) The next day, I was shocked to discover that my parents had written my psychiatrist, telling him they were burned out and they wanted him to declare me mentally incompetant so I could be moved into a nursing home closer to where they lived. (I had been on my own for many years. My parents only helped financially for a few months. For most of those fifteen years, my parents travelled five hundred miles by car to bring me lunch, put in the air-conditioner (which they INSISTED I needed) Then they went home.

My psychiatrist thought my parents' letter to him was pretty funny. For me, it was my worst nightmare come to life. I haven't spoken to my parents for three or four years since the whole wretched incident. But I am sick of being their "black sheep", They never praised me for anything I did, not even when I won a scholarship. They were screamed at me on the night of my high school graduation. Reason? I had innocently told my parents two of my friends were gay. (I didn't know what homosexuality was at the time. I had never heard the words "gay" or "lesbian" But I knew my friends were not a threat to me.

 My siblings had a lot of laughter that night. When I got back to university, the first thing Dad said on the phone was always: "Get rid of your friends yet?"

Eventually, I stopped responding to their phone calls and after one more botched surgery, I made plans to move out. I had no other friends at university aside from my room-mate. I didn't try to make any more friends with one notable exception. I befriended a man who pointed out that what my parents were doing to me was wrong. I moved out with his morale support.


I miss my family, but I don't love them enough to live in a nursing home, which is where they think I belong. I've been made to feel like a "black sheep" for half my life. Given the pain I am now in, (I have chronic pain and an indwelling catheter and take morphine to kill the pain), I cannot take any more blame or abuse. My own parents said they couldn't be my parents any more unless I was in a nursing home. I am merely honouring what they said, to the letter.

The most ironic part is that while my parents were attempting behind my back to railroad me into an institution for the rest of my life (in my mid-30's), my mom went on and on about how family was the one thing you can count on. They went on about "family" while they were trying to imprison me in a nursing home. I never dreamed they would go that far. I had given the benefit of the doubt to them for once and they betrayed me. In essence, they can't be my parents unless my life is hell on Earth. And it makes me heartsick.

At the time of the attempted institutionalization. my "burned-out" mother was working as a nurse with terminal cancer patients. She loves her work and they love her. Which perplexes me. She is still working.

My parents and siblings are very capable of saying the cruelest things to me. Part of me misses them every day, but they see me as an incompetant disabled person. They've had a chip on their shoulder towards me for much of my life and I can't live like that.

I recently started counselling at a Rehab centre for the disabled and feel it may be far too late for that, given my ability to breathe is now seriously compromised.

I never wanted to hurt my family. I still love them, but being around people is a frightening experience for me, even being around them. If they ever saw what I wrote here, they just wouldn't understand. My psychologist said I need help to stop talking about the past. My memories of the hospital, home life, the institution where I spent 18 hellish months, they all play back, over and over. My cousellor at the Rehab Centre wants me to have some peace. I just wish my family and I could understand each other. I regret not being able to be there for them. But one of my uncles was a recluse too and my family knows it has a history of mental illness. Why can't they understand that I am not isolating from them to hurt them?! This tendancy to isolate was passed genetically to me, it's no one's fault! But the blame and the shame will go on, as will the enforced silence over all this.

"Oh no! We're a happy, normal family. Just take the yelling, be quiet and smile. Be quiet and stick your head in the sand."

Is it any wonder depression runs rampant in our family?






spartan2011 spartan2011
36-40, F
1 Response Mar 9, 2010

WOW, great story! I just can't believe a family could do that to their kid, i had no idea what i was in for when i clicked on this.i hope your life with your family gets better