Epiphany -Sudden realization: a sudden, intuitive leap of understanding or realization, usually initiated through an ordinary but striking occurrence.
The number 27 is interesting to me. This number represents a turning point in my life. I believe I’m not the only one that has felt this way. So you are probably asking what’s so significant about this number. Well, let me explain who I am and how this number has affected me.
My name is Kimberly Stallworth and I am my parent’s youngest child. I was born with a genetic disease called muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy, or MD, is a disorder that weakens a person’s muscles overtime. This is because there's no cure for it. Having consistently changing muscle strength is very hard to understand as a child. One moment you can perform a task and the next moment you can’t.
Looking back, my fourth grade and my eleventh grade years were something to remember. They were absolutely hard. On both occasions I lived in the hospital for a couple of months. I endured surgeries, using new medical equipment, and new medications. First, we found out I had an abnormal curvature in my spine called scoliosis. This caused me to have severe back pain because my spine was curving into a letter “C” shape. This caused another problem. I had a hard time breathing. After the x-rays and several doctor visits, the decision was made. I was going to have surgery. What was so ironic to me was my surgery was scheduled on my birthdate. As a result of this surgery, I lost the ability to control the movement of my neck in normal ways. It wasn’t supposed to happen. So, imagine how shocked I was to discover this after surgery. I couldn’t turn my head to see behind me or left to right. In fact, my head would fall back and my mom pushed it forward so I could finish my homework. I found my face full of tears because this had become my reality. Another mental trial for me to endure. Still, I pressed on by doing my school work for all the time I had missed.
Secondly, I had an unexpected tragedy on my way home from my family outing. Let me explain further. My family and I went to lunch. I started coughing at the table and it got more intense. We left the restaurant and started on our way home. Then, I remember struggling to breathe all of a sudden off and on. This was the scariest I’ve ever felt in my whole life. I was fighting to take in air many times yet I couldn’t get anything in. My heart started racing and I panicked out of fear. “I can’t breathe,” I screamed. After that, all I remember is seeing my brother standing over me. Then that moment was over. My next remembrance was being in MCV hospital days later and being so confused. Then I was wheeled to the operating room that was freezing cold. I was surrounded by people wearing mask and scrubs. And someone asked “Are you cold”? I said “yes.” I ended up having to get a tracheostomy tube and later a feeding tube because I struggled to maintain my weight for years. When things started to make sense in my mind because my memory started to improve, I learned that I had passed out. So my parents found the closest medical facility, John Randolph, and they stabilized me until I was sent to MCV. Can’t you imagine this scene in your mind? Sounds like a medical TV show, doesn’t it? That day my family was told that this was likely the end of my life. How grateful I am to still be here! But it was a challenge to conquer what seemed so normal. I had to learn how to breathe without a ventilation machine during the day. When I would sit up in my wheelchair, I would get so dizzy that I had to lie back in my bed. Despite the dizziness, I mustard up the courage to get up for a short period of time. The more I was up, the more my body got used to being in an upright position. The most emotionally difficult of all, I had to learn how to talk again at the age of 17. I would cry so often because I loved singing to my favorite songs and talking on the phone to my best friends. It took some time before I could speak. By the end that year, I was talking up a storm to my friends. I’m able to say that I’m proud of my accomplishments. I used my mind to accomplish my goals even though my body wasn’t working a long with my thoughts. This is difficult, but I didn’t allow sorrow and doubt to ruin the quality of life that I desired. But over the past two years, I’ve had these conflicting feelings and it weighed heavily on my mind. I was in turmoil emotionally and it was exhausting. What was happening to me?
Then, the year that I turned twenty-seven, things changed. I had an Epiphany. I realized my goals and progress had come to a complete halt. I was no longer enrolled in college at JTCC. I was at a standstill with my life. When I was younger, one of my goals was to live on my own. I was thinking, I don’t think it’s wise to move completely away from my parents. How could I successfully accomplish this goal? I have a reasonable solution. With some structural modifications, I could have my own lodging space from our garage. This could be a perfect fit for my dream home. I have my own family room and a small kitchen. My friends will come to visit and my house is full of laughter, especially from watching movies. I’ll have a side swing oven to prepare my meals with my nurse’s aide or with my mother’s aide. I also desire two bedrooms. One room would be mine and the other as a small guestroom along with a handicapped accessible bathroom. I can see it now. We all have some sort of dream.
To me, life is a collection of experiences, whether good or bad. I’ve had my share of difficult experiences with my health over the years. Yet, I’m determined to not allow my tragedies to define me as a person. My goal is to persevere through my disease and enjoy as much of life as I can. I got discourage for a time. I realized that some people fail to see me as a normal person. So, when my friends were dating, getting married, and moving on with their lives, my life stayed the same. I felt like I was left out. I really need this win. I want this place to symbolize my independence as an adult and it can help me to transition to the next stage in my life. That’s being a grownup woman. So, I ask of you to help me make my progressive wish of having my own space from my garage to come true. Help my epiphany become a reality. I really need this success.
Thank you for reading and listening to my wish. I appreciate if you could voluntarily give $5 or more to my dream. If monetary donations aren’t possible for you, it’s okay. You can still participate by passing this along to others. I hope you all have a wonderful day.
*P.S. I would like to thank John Randolph Hospital, MCV/ VCU Hospital and Children’s Hospital staff for all of their care at some point in time. They have been professional. If it wasn’t for their skilled training, I wouldn’t be here. Also, Pediatric Connection serviced me for over 10 years. I appreciated the care that their respiratory therapist provided and Lewis for bringing supplies to me in short notice. Thank you very much.*
- Angie C
- Michael Stallworth
- david carson
- Lisa Emerson
Organizer and beneficiary
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