10 Lessons Everyone w/O.I. Learns

*It's bad to make generalizations, I know. So maybe if you think my title for this post is inaccurate or just wrong, feel free to hit me over the head with your reasons in the comments!*

1. Don't judge by the picture.
Raise your hand if you've been told "well the x-ray doesn't show a break..." or something similar? Exactly. We know there's more than meets the eye whether in the diagnosis of a fracture, or in meeting someone else, or when we pick up a book. There's always something more and while we might not always be patient about it, we're willing to bet that there's something else waiting if we give it a chance.

2. Time is the surest medicine.
Sure drinking milk can't hurt (unless you really can't digest milk), loading up on calcium pills, and doing everything your physical therapist tells you will help.. but many things somehow right themselves on their own schedules and routines. My body healed when I was downing another glass of milk and while I was doing homework in bed; it was doing its magical thing while I was going about my day; it didn't really need my nagging for it to pick up its mess while I was cleaning my room. Funny isn't it? How the most reliable thing our body needs isn't really something anyone has anyone control over? Time.

3. Don't pat me on the head.
Because just don't. (Unless you are 80+ years old, somehow related to me, and don't speak English or any other language I also speak... maybe I will allow it. Maybe.) It's like this: Some people have ceremonies like a quinceaƱera, or maybe a bar- or bat-mitzvah, or others might be given car keys as some kind of ritual acknowledging they are young adults. Many people with O.I. go through a ritual where the moment it is like so not okay to be patted on the head is a coming-of-age too. Most of the time there is no party or big hoopla, or even presents! It's just a look, a tightening of the gut, an eery clench of the jaw, the horrified thought: what the hell was that? And that is just one of the ways we know the kid-stuff is like so, totally, absolutely, positively over. 

4. "Yeah, I get that a lot."
Maybe it's the gazillionth time we are asked that question but most of us figure out some type of 'fall-back' answer. The question could be: "why are you so short?" "Why are you in a wheelchair?" "What happened to your leg?" "Why is your head like that?" "Why do you sound so young?" But we all eventually figure something out, something to say - an answer we use and reuse. It's not because we are necessarily bored by the questions, but it's because we become so confident and proud of the way we live our lives that explaining that small part of it isn't really an issue.

5. I'm not stubborn, I'm just right.
Don't try to tell me that tractions are the way to go when I have a fracture. It might be for you, and that's all well and dandy for you, but not for me. Don't try to tell me that I should just get the anesthesia through an IV and not the mask, because that's just not how I roll. And definitely don't try to tell me that weather isn't a factor in my bone pain because I can be more accurate than the weatherman! We just grow up knowing things about ourselves that others just don't. And maybe it is a fear of the potential pain that might be involved, but by golly we are going to stick to our guns when we figure out the answer.

6. Little kids just 'get it.'
I have yet to have a young child come up to me and talk to me in that honey-gushing-squishy-wittle-crouch-down-to-me voice. Sure, maybe it's because many of them are around the same height I am. That's not the point. The point is, there hasn't been a kid who has been condescending to me in the way (well-educated) adults have. I might look small but there is something in their stares that has told me they get it. It's like oh, you're small too but you know things that I don't. It is a look that confirms my size has no bearing on whether or not I can say the alphabet forwards and backwards, or whether or not I can help them tie their shoes, or get them out of a stuck zipper. Sometimes I wish adults could grow down a bit, y'know?

7. Breaks don't brake us.
While I don't wish it on anyone, many of us will have those fractures that leave us horizontal for days. The kind of fractures that have our stomachs in knots from the pain medications. The kind of casts that leave us so stranded that we need assistance just rolling over. But what I do wish on everyone that such breaks don't put the brakes on our lives.

8. Staring at me is not staring in me.
There's the side glance, the not so subtle corner-eye-ball, and the deer-in-headlights gawk. They are all varying levels of awkward and depending on our mood that moment exhausting, or just totally whatever. No matter how hard the other person might be scrutinizing though, whether through some x-rays or just passing by us on the street they can't ever get inside of our heads. And maybe that's a good thing, for them!

9. Trying again has more to do with the trying.
My first fall off of my tricycle resulted in a broken arm. And I was indoors, racing around my house! Yes my parents bought me a new one, the kind with a seat that had a back to lean against, and handle bars with better grips to it. But still I was terrified of riding it, the memory of breaking my arm was still fresh and I was not convinced this bright new pink bike would prove fracture-less. The thing was that it wasn't. I did break my leg (or maybe it was my arm?) from riding it. That time I was outside! The thing is that yeah, we get it, there will always be other opportunities. But it's the trying that's tough, the trying that allows opportunities come again and again.

10. It is easier to be different than be uncomfortable.
I don't know what there is to say about this one because maybe it's this one that is newest for me. But I will grudgingly admit that all through high school I spent so much time and energy trying to be less uncomfortable with myself. Because the thing is, difference is something someone can accept but discomfort leaves a person in limbo - always working to resolve the problem. We can also look at it from the perspective of someone else who might be uncomfortable with our differences: they are the ones left with the confusion and questions as we just continue with our lives.

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