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Ali Tichow Professor Bacha English 101-2DA September 6, 2012 “Disabled” Malignant Malalignment, or as it is more casually known, Miserable Malalignment, is a leg condition that causes the bones to twist as they grow. When I was 12, I was diagnosed with this condition, and at the time my doctors recommended that I wait to see if I might outgrow this ailment. Sadly, it worsened and this summer I had reconstructive leg surgery to correct the problem.
Not only did the surgery immobilize me for what could have been an exciting and fun summer, it also posed challenges for the start of the school year.
I wasn’t sure how I would manage to get around campus while my bones were still healing. I contacted UAB’s Disability Support Services (DSS) and set up an Intake Interview and an Accommodations Conference. It seemed weird to be considered “disabled” after so many years of just being a normal kid. I also feel bad being categorized as disabled because it is only a temporary thing for me; once my bones heal I’ll be back to normal.
Getting to the point of surgery was quite a process. It took 5 years for my parents and I to find the right orthopedic surgeon for me. My condition is unusual and the doctors in Huntsville were not experienced with the surgery I needed. We travelled all over the state and even to Ohio and Michigan before finding the right surgeon. Finally in September of 2011 I got an appointment to see Dr.
Tietge, a world renowned orthopedic surgeon in Detroit, to be evaluated for surgery.
After he took X-rays and CT-scans he told us there was no doubt in his mind that I needed to have a femoral and tibial rotational osteotomy on both legs, which is a procedure where the surgeon breaks the patients leg in three places in order to turn the bones and straighten the leg out from its prior twisted position. Dr. Tietge said that mine was the worst case of Malignant Malaignment he had seen. He was booked solid for surgery for a year, and I couldn’t schedule my appointment until June 2012. This worried me because my first surgery would be less than wo months before I planned to start college and I had no idea what kind of condition I would be in when I left for school. My mom and I arrived in Detroit on June 18th, and I had my pre-surgery consultation appointment the next day. I was told my surgery would probably take 4-5 hours and that I would be in the hospital for 3-5 days afterwards, and then I’d be free to go home. I went into surgery on Thursday, June 21st at 7am and didn’t get out until a little after 3 pm. I don’t remember much from that day. The next thing I remembered after being prepped for surgery was waking up the next morning in the hospital.
I was in the hospital until it was time to leave to go to the airport the following Monday morning to fly home. Once we arrived back home I spent the rest of June and most of July laid up in bed or on the couch. I started physical therapy to regain my range of motion the last week of July. I spent a lot of time thinking about how it would be starting college and dealing with healing at the same time while I was laid up. I did some research on how I could get issued a handicapped (ADA) dorm room and what other things that the school might be able to provide for me.
I emailed UAB’s disability support services and they sent me forms that my doctor and I had to fill out describing my “disability” in detail and explaining what difficulties it presents me with. By the time the forms were all filled out and mailed to DSS it was already almost August, and I was worried that it might be too late to arrange for accommodations. I got a call from DSS to set up my intake interview to discuss my, and my doctors, requests for accommodations. I came down to Birmingham a little over a week before move in day and met with one of the people from DSS and got all my accommodations sorted out.
The only one they couldn’t do was my doctors request for me to have a single occupancy dorm room, this was because of how overcrowded things were along with how late I got my forms turned in. I wasn’t quite sure how that would work out since I knew it would be difficult maneuvering around another person. After my intake interview the only thing I had left to figure out was how I was going to get to all my classes. At home I’d been using crutches but only going very short distances and not really having to carry anything. At school I knew I’d have to go all over campus for my lasses and carry my class supplies with me. I couldn’t drive yet because my surgery had been on my right leg and I hadn’t been cleared for any weight bearing at all so I was really worried about it. My mom and I starting looking into what my options might be and we came to the conclusion that the best solution would be a power chair. We found a store near where we lived that sold them and finally got one two days before move in day. By the day before move in I had pretty much gotten all of my things packed into boxes and suitcases and had my power chair loaded up in the back of my parents van.
The morning of move in day I rode down to Birmingham with my boyfriend, we brought most of my stuff in his truck; and my parents came down later on in the afternoon to bring my chair and a few other things we couldn’t fit in the truck. Getting all moved in wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be; the only challenging part was learning how to control my chair well because its controls are very sensitive. Move in day was also the first day I’d seen how the ADA room was set up; I felt a little better about having a roommate after seeing it, because they are a lot more spacious the regular rooms.
Move in day was a Saturday, and I had until Thursday to get settled in before classes started which was nice. It gave me time to get adjusted to my power chair and figure out where everything I needed on campus was. After having 5 days to get adjusted to campus I wasn’t really too worried about how my classes would be. I had two classes scheduled for Mondays, three for Tuesdays and Thursdays, a lab scheduled Wednesday nights, and no classes on Fridays, so I had plenty of time to do my work in between classes and anything else I might have to do in order to stay ahead and do well.
I’m really lucky that UAB has a program like DSS to handle my accommodations, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the ability to have an ADA room and receive other services from them that allow me to have just as good of a college experience as those students who don’t have any disabilities. Hopefully by the end of this semester I will have progressed enough in physical therapy to not need my chair or any of my prearranged accommodations here at school. The experience I have had with physical therapy so far is part of the reason that I want to go to PT school and become a doctor of physical therapy myself.
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