The Gift of Misdiagnosis

Isn’t it funny how life can turn out? And isn’t it amazing how a challenge can turn into an amazing gift? ​

As I approach my 7th anniversary of my correct diagnosis, I can’t help but think about how much I have changed these past few years. I have forced myself to try so many new things that seemed down right scary to me. Many of these fears have forced me to go out of my comfort zone.

When I realized that my new medication of L-Dopa was working, I was more scared than excited. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of what I was actually physically capable of doing independently. Walking to the mailbox that first time had my head spinning with doubt, yet I had to give it my best shot. I couldn’t fail myself. And the only way I would see it as failure was to not try and simply continue living my life as though I still had Spastic Diplegia, CP. If I didn’t make it, I could try again later. All I knew was that I had to keep trying. But not all of my new adventures were trying to tackle physical obstacles.

About three years after receiving my Dopa Responsive Dystonia (DRD) diagnosis, I was asked to speak to a group of medical students. Because I was never one to say “no” and loved trying new things in my crazy new life, I eagerly said, “yes!” I actually surprised myself because I’ve always had a fear of public speaking! I was the girl in High School that would be physically ill with the thought of standing in front of the class talking to my peers. Here’s the thing, I LOVED it!

For the first time since receiving my DRD diagnosis, I realized that I could share my medical journey and help others in the process. Initially, I saw it as a way to educate medical professionals about DRD, since few doctors have ever heard about it. But, I quickly realized that it was much more than that! I was able to give others hope, when they had given up. I was able to encourage others to appreciate the little things in life, when they were feeling overwhelmed with all the stresses of a busy life. And, I was also able to motivate others to face their fears and work hard to achieve their lifelong dreams and goals.

I can’t help but thank God, for giving me the strength to really use my struggles to help others. I am grateful that I continue to face my fears because it helps me to see how strong of a person I really am. I may not be perfect and doubt myself at times, but I look to the heavens and realize that with God by my side anything is possible.

 

 

Jean Sharon Abbott was misdiagnosed as a young child with Spastic Dipligia, a form of Cerebral Palsy.  After 33 years of countless doctors visits, medical procedures, unnecessary medications and surgeries, she was correctly diagnosed with Dopa Responsive Dystonia (DRD). Jean enjoys all the adventures of her new life, but wouldn’t change the journey that brought her to where she is today.  Her positive attitude is highly contagious as she encourages others to appreciate the little things in life.
Jean lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children and is a supporter of Arc’s Value Village. Her book is available at Amazon and she is available for speaking engagements.

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