In Elementary school I was rather popular for spelling bees. Especially in third grade. Our school had lots of spelling bees. There was one in particular that I will never forget. My class went up against another class. Unfortunately, my class as a whole wasn’t up to par that day as their spelling was incorrect to the point that I was eventually the only one left in my class competing against most of the kids in the other.
Not to fear. I was very confident in my ability to spell. That ability slowly but surely led me to win the spelling bee for my class that day. I remember after I won everybody in my class shouted with joy! That was a great feeling.
While spelling bees added to a lot of joy in Elementary School, my secondary issues related to Spina Bifida were not.
During those days, I had what was called an illio conduit. It was a small hole in my tummy that drained urine into a urostomy bag. When it leaked I was afraid that others might notice so I would quickly get my teacher’s permission to leave the class and go call my mom to come take me home to change. I was scared that the kids might notice (to which they did) that I had on different clothes when returning to school. I remember thinking to myself with each occurrence, “I wish had two pair of every piece of clothing I wear.”
Using the restroom at school was an everyday stress,too. When I went into the stall to drain my bag, there was always a kid climbing the stall to see if they could see how I used the restroom. Sometimes 2 or 3 at a time!
As time has gone on I’ve learned to be up front and open about my secondary issues. That has helped me live a better social life as well as helped me trust others. Sometimes I look back and wonder if things would have been different if I had just been more transparent about it.
When I turned around 20 I had an operation so that I would be able to remove the conduit so that I could use the bathroom like any other male; the only exception was that I used and still use disposable catheters. Believe it or not, that surgery lasted 14 and a half hours. But it was worth it if I could live a more normal life.