Disease Girl

October 15, 2007 at 2:30 pm (blogging, myself & I, real life, reflecting, story telling)

I think that there has been a point in every person’s life when they have heard something very hurtful, a comment made by a person that didn’t really like them, or even by a friend. I know most of the population has been teased or bullied at least once. Kids are cruel, and they don’t really have a whole lot of acceptance for people who are different. At least, most kids don’t. Than there are the kids who are different and who are trying so hard to fit in that they are cruel to other kids just so they can be accepted by their peers.

I was lucky throughout school, I was never seriously bullied except for one time in about grade 4 or 5. A boy kept calling me disease girl and telling me to stay away because his mommy said I had a disease that he could catch. His mom was a Girl Guide leader at the time, and so was my mom. I suppose their might have been some talking on the subject of my disability, and I guess his mom told him that I had a disease (even though my mom has always described it as a disorder because she was afraid people would react that way). In any case, his comments made me literally cry. Those comments happened around the time that I was beginning to notice there was something different about me from my peers. I had had my first surgery in grade 3, and at that age we were all too young to make fun of me for it. My classmates didn’t necessarily understand, but they didn’t stand there and point at me when I was using crutches to get around.

However, the next year brought a lot of changes. Grade four meant you got to be outside in the portables with the big kids. That’s when I started to notice that there were some people in my tiny school who weren’t as nice and accepting as I thought.

The boy who called me disease girl practically every day for two years was overweight. I understand now that he was just trying to fit in and feel better about himself because most people made comments about him, calling him “butterball” and “lard boy”, but back then I wasn’t able to see the underlying reasons for things. I can remember staying home a lot, and I also remember my dad asking me what was wrong with me. He wanted to know if I was being bullied. I told him about the disease girl comments that made me feel like a freak. My parents either talked to the school or to his parents, because the boy stopped calling me disease girl.

Then there was middle school. I barely remember middle school; I think both years I had surgeries and a lot of difficulties with my bones. I remember comments being made about me when I wore jeans that fit snug on my legs, people wanted to know why my legs were all twisted and crocked. People wanted to know why I walked with a limp. They wanted to know why I used a cane and crutches, they wanted to know why I was forever missing school. Heck, there was even a rumor floating around that I had cancer! I have no idea where that got started.

If I look back on my middle school year books, classmates made comment like “It was good getting to know you….when you were here and “I hope your broken legs feel better soon!”. One person even thought they were being funny by saying “Haha gimp” (I guess they thought I would take it as an inside joke. I didn’t. Like I have said before, I am a very sensitive person and that comment just made me feel stupid and embarrassed. Imagine working so hard in middle school to be not labeled as the “diseased girl” or “gimpy girl”, then thought you did an OK job of it, and then got home and read your yearbook. Yah. Not so encouraging.

I accepted my grade 8 diploma in crutches. This, to me, was an achievement; in June of that year the doctor told me I would be accepting my diploma from a wheelchair.

I entered grade nine with a new outlook. I would not be that girl that was always away having surgeries. I wouldn’t be known as “gimpy girl”, and nobody would label me.

That so did not happen. For one thing, everybody in high school has a label, whether they know it or not. I was going through growth spurts and therefore needed to have the surgeries, they were simply unavoidable. I think I held off to the end of grade 10 – I really can’t remember actual dates and times. Perhaps I should start…and create a timeline or something. But until I get my hands on my medical records, I won’t know the exact dates. All I know is I had quite a few surgeries in high school.

My last one was in grade 11 – actually my last two were in grade eleven. I almost didn’t graduate because of it. By this time though, people (for the most part) had stopped making comments about me. I did occasionally get people asking me why I was having surgeries, but they had grown up a little and learned how to phrase questions so that they wouldn’t be insulting. For instance, instead of saying “Why do you walk like that?” in a slightly disgusted, judgmental tone, they would ask “If you don’t mind me asking, how come you walk with a limp?” in a polite, curious tone. I can deal with polite and curious better then I can deal with disgusted and judgmental.

Now that I’m in college, the comments have stopped – I think, or at least they aren’t made to my face. I guess the bullying and teasing comes with being a kid, and only continues if the people who are bullying and teasing haven’t grown up.

Well, as much as I would love to continue typing this super long post (I am at roughly 1060 words here according to the word count) I need to go. My wrists and fingers and arms are aching from all this typing. I need to get away from the computer.



  1. Bennie said,

    Kids are the cruelest of creatures. Unfortunately the scars are sometimes carried a long way into life before true healing takes place. You amaze me how you completed all of your school work with all of the surgeries!

  2. JC said,

    That is so true Bennie, and thank you! It took a lot of hard work, but it was definitely worth it! I’m happy with where I am in my life 🙂

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