During the summer of 1994, I began having episodes where my legs would give out and I would fall to the ground. There was one episode that happened after I started the sixth grade at Bruce Middle School that I’ll always remember.
My classmates and I were heading to the cafeteria in a single-file line when my legs gave out on the way down a flight of steps, sending me tumbling down to the bottom. My classmates only laughed and hurried to lunch while I tried to get up. Two eighth-graders who were sitting in the hallway, probably on punishment, noticed that I was having trouble. They got up, grabbed me by either arm, and carried me to the front office where I called home, and Maw Maw picked me up from school.
I finally got to the point where I became so weak that Mamaw Ruth had to almost carry me to Dr. Nazar’s office. Dr. Nazar removed another tumor from my spinal cord in January of 1995. After I recovered and went back to school, the other kids began to ask me, “What happened to your back?” I thought that it was swelling, but when I went back to Dr. Nazar for a check-up, he told me that I was starting to develop scoliosis, which is curvature of the spinal cord. I saw another doctor about my scoliosis a few years later, but I’m not sure why I didn’t see him sooner than I did.
I still tried to be do normal activities like any other kid, but I had low self-esteem since I began to develop scoliosis, and I struggled to keep my grades up in school, at times. Almost every day through the remainder of middle school, kids would call me “hunchback,” “Quasimodo,” etc., and the bullying never completely ended as long as I went to school, or even out to play in the neighborhood. It was even the main reason that I would transfer from Jeffersontown High School to Southern High School before my junior year. There was an occasional question, but things weren’t bad at all after I moved to Southern High School, because I had friends from church that went to that school that looked out for me.
But I wasn’t the Lone Ranger. When I was still in middle school, there was a kid, Jason, who was crippled and confined to a wheelchair. Jason had a little bit of an attitude problem at times, but it was understandable, because the other kids would constantly pick on him.
I would see some of those same kids who pushed me around through middle school at both high schools that I attended, and they didn’t seem to have much to laugh about. Perhaps they didn’t think about the changes that come with moving on to a bigger school. Or perhaps instead of hating someone because they were different, they should have been thankful that whatever happened to that person didn’t happen to them.