Feather of Hope

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Tammy's Story

Posted by Dieuw on April 5, 2015 at 4:25 AM

Tammy's Story

"Just because life throws us restrictions, never let restrictions stop you and never listen to someone telling you that you can't do something; that your dreams are unobtainable, because only you can be the judge of that, no one else can"

When I was a teenager, I was very active and enjoyed dance and ice skating among other things. I had the chance to join my dance school during the auditions for a pantomime at one of the local theatres and since I had done a few panto's before, jumped at the chance to possibly be in one that was more professional.

On the day of the auditions, the theatre was packed and, of course, I was nervous, but I fought through it and finally it was my groups turn to audition. We went in and soon realised that the group was too big to fit on the stage, so the group was halved and my half were asked to continue warming up. It was within just a few minutes after I got down from the stage that I started to feel really odd. I, at first, thought that it was the worst nerves I had ever felt, but soon realised that something was wrong! I lowered myself to the floor, leaning on a table near by, and sat there scared because I had no idea what was wrong with me. I kept hoping that it would pass and I could get on with the audition, but it didn't, it got worse and I started crying because I wanted help, but didn't want to interrupt anyone.

At some point one of the judges noticed me crying and asked what was wrong. After I told her she got the theatres first aider and I was helped to stand and intended to walk out but my right leg felt like it wasn't there.

After that things went down hill fast. I couldn't speak or move my right arm or leg. I was rushed to hospital by my parents and had to wait in A&E until I started to get very sick. Unfortunately for me, I ended up seeing a nurse and soon after a doctor that I had seen a few months previous, they were nasty people! They stated that I was faking it to get attention and should be taken home. They even tried to prove that I was faking it, by standing me up and letting go. I couldn't stand and just hit the floor. After they did that to me a few times my Mum let out her anger and demanded a second opinion. So with bloods that they had taken and a letter stating my "illness" was just to get attention, I was send on my way with my parents to another hospital in another city.

Once there I had to wait for 5 or more hours before the nurses started to believe that there really was something wrong with me. When my blood pressure and temperature confirmed it, I was rushed to a private room, where nurses and doctors were all over me. I was then told that they would be sending me for a brain scan in the morning, but just 2 hours later they were rushing me by ambulance to yet another hospital for an emergency scan, where I learnt that if I had been faking the illness, I deserved an acting award because I had had a brain haemorrhage! I was just 14 years old and my life would never be the same again.

From that point on everyone was nice to me, my new doctor had the doctor and nurse from the first hospital, removed from their posts and within hours I had so many doctors wanting to get a look at me, that I felt like an animal at the zoo!

The following morning I had to choose who would accompany me to another hospital and the rest would meet me there. I think I picked the 2 biggest kids going! You would never guess that they were brain surgeons! It was days after it all happened that I was told by me new doctor that there was a chance that I would never walk again! To a dancer, that is like a death sentence, it out weighed people asking "how are you alive"!

But I was never one to let someone tell me I couldn't do something! I taught myself to walk again, but didn't tell anyone until it finally worked. I was being helped into the bathroom by a nurse and I managed to put a small amount of weight through my right leg, enough to take ONE step. The nurse was so surprised that she let go of me and I nearly fell, but soon she was jumping up and down, excited that she had been there and was running around telling everyone that I was taking steps. I had to prove it to my Aunt and Uncle; who hadn't left my side since the day I had the haemorrhage. I did it! I took 6 steps round the bed on my own, with just the bed for balance.I kept thinking, "I showed them!" A month after the brain haemorrhage, I underwent an 8 hour brain surgery and had been warned that things could revert to the way they were when it first happened, I might not be able to walk again!

After the operation, as I was wheeled back to the ward, I got a surprise. The ward was lined with people! They were all clapping for me! I still do understand why, but it may have something to do with how scared I was about the operation, they made me feel alive!

I was taken to intensive care after that and let me just say, I HATED IT! I hated being in a room with people who were much sicker than me. Not because of what was wrong with those poor people, but because I didn't think I had any right to be there! They needed more attention that me, so I figured that they would be wasting time with me and should be looking after them. I wanted to go back to my room that I shared with my little knight in shining armour: Jack had been so sweet the night before. I was 14 and he was 4 years old and he was the one telling me that everything was going to be ok. I had the longest night ahead of me in the ICU. The staff were terrible! How they could call themselves professionals in the field of nursing is beyond me. I spent the entire night begging for something to stop the pain, but all I got was a nurse telling me to "Quit crying" "Act your age" "Stop making so much noise" "Quit making so much fuss" and "If I give you some paracetamol, will you be quiet?!" I never got those tablets! The morning after, I had to endure them taking off my bandages and take out 5 of the drips in my arms before I was allowed out of the bed. Oh yes, they got me out of bed and the only good thing about that was that I found I could still walk. Those nurses were so into their selves that they didn't even notice me trying to sneak out of the ICU! But I didn't count on my surgeon being on the other side of the door! I hit him with the door.

He escorted me back to bed, already angry that the staff hadn't noticed me leaving, but hit the roof when he looked at my chart and found that no medication had been given. The nurses were all asked to leave the small ICU while I told him what had happened and within an hour, I was back with my buddy Jack.

I was happy on the ward, even when I was moved to my own room, Jack and I still called to each other and the staff were the best! I didn't exactly get to say goodbye to Jack, because he had had his operation the day before I left the hospital, but his dad gave me a message "We can do anything!" That was our joint saying from the day of my operation and at just 4, Jack remembered it. I never saw Jack again after that, but I know he is doing just great! Me, well, school was very hard to go back to as I may have been able to walk a little, but I still needed my wheelchair. The school was not wheelchair friendly at all and at breaks and lunch times I was locked in a class room on my own! My head teacher said it was for my own good, so I didn't get knocked over, but I wanted to be normal again and be with my friends! So I disobeyed with the help of my friends and one day never turned up at the start of lunch break and my friends helped me.There were downsides to being with my friends, I got bullied constantly, even from some of those that said they were my friends! Even with all that, I realised that I was better than those small minded people, I didn't need them. I had good friends around me and if those small minded people got their kicks out of being nasty to a disabled teenager, then so be it. One thing I did like about school was that I no longer had to do cross country running, or any P.E!

Within a year I no longer needed my wheelchair and I didn't need to hold on to someone when walking, but I was told that I wouldn't dance again and was even kicked out of my dance school because of it! Guess what, I didn't agree with that! It took me a few years but in my second year of college, I took A Level Dance, as well as ADVANCED Performing Arts. At the beginning of my 3rd year in college, I had the chance to audition for the Hampshire Youth Dance Company (HYDC)! I went and to be honest, I really started to think that I had made a mistake! Everyone else there were so good and me, I was passable in my own eyes. But I did have fun making friends and talking to those that wouldn't normally want anything to do with you. Those that started the audition looking down their noses at people like me, soon started being friendly. All in all it was an amazing fun day and although I hoped I was in for a chance, I knew it was impossible. They were only picking 15 dancers and they had auditioned 200 already and still had another 100 to go.The judges knew of my disability, but didn't care, as I found out when I thanked one of them for letting me try.

3 weeks later I got a letter from HYDC and was too scared to open it! But then I looked at the envelope and felt it and realised that it was THICK! Not thin, a rejection letter would be just ONE page wouldn't it?! So I ripped it open and I have no idea how, but I was 1 of those 15 dancers picked to be a member of Hampshire Youth Dance Company! I called everyone who would listen, including my college dance teacher, who cried!

It was the first time that I ever felt proud of myself! I couldn't believe that I did it! I had beaten the odds again. I spent 2 years with the company and they were the BEST years ever! My first day was scary, but I wanted everyone to know what was wrong with me and that they should feel free to ask any questions they had about my disability. It was the best thing I did, everyone asked questions and asked to touch my arm as it is still partially paralysed. They accepted me and helped me and even helped me get ready for a costume party! Only once was there a problem. During my second year there, 3 dancers from my college joined and I was stuck in the middle of it all. These 3 hadn't auditioned to be members, they just joined because our other college dance teacher made it happen! I made it clear that I knew nothing about them joining and that I was 100% with the company. We had all fought hard to be where we were and these 3 were handed it on a plate! It wouldn't have been such a big deal if they hadn't arrived with the idea that they were better than everyone else because they didn't need to audition. Our little dance family was broken up by their arrival. Eventually what I had told the company would happen, did happen. The three caused trouble and then just never turned up again. That was after they complained to the college teachers that I had sided with HYDC instead of them. How childish. I explained that they could complain to the college teachers all they liked, college dance class had nothing to do with HYDC and, yes, I was with the company because I was one of those that had auditioned, I was the same as the rest of the company and I would not have them come in, cause trouble and break up the company. If they didn't understand that, then they needed to grow up.

HYDC did some great things, we were choreographed by one of Kylie Minogue's backing dancers in the first year and in the second did a factual dance show about the human brain (I LOVED that!) we even added what happened to my brain into a dance sequence. We toured with it too! Southampton FC lent us their tour bus for one part of the tour! It was the best experience of my life. My story is long, it spans a length of nearly 16 years! In that time a lot of good and bad things have happened, but I am still here because I wanted to prove those who said I couldn't do things wrong. I don't know why I survived the brain haemorrhage, but I look at life so much more differently now. I doubt that I would be who I am today, if it hadn't happened. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it at all, I hate not being able to use both arms/hands and I hate that my right leg doesn't work as good as my left, but it is who I am now like it or not. I've been bullied throughout the years, but do you know what? They are just people that don't understand and I wouldn't wish my life on them as such, maybe just for a day so that they can know what it's like to be an able bodied person trapped in a disabled body. But we can't force people to understand.

I owe my life to my Mum. My family and real friends are all that matter.

Just because life throws us restrictions, never let restrictions stop you and never listen to someone telling you that you can't do something; that your dreams are unobtainable, because only you can be the judge of that, no one else can.


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