Welcome back family and friends!
As always, I love the encouragement you all are giving me. I hope what I am sharing will touch others who are suffering with a disability in staying focused on whatever it is that’s maintaining their inner core. For me, it is God and family.
When I was first diagnosed in 1980, treatments for Lupus were not as robust as they are now. I was put on very strong corticosteroids such as prednisone and hydrocortisone that were successful in limiting the different symptoms, but also had side effects such as bloated facial features, “Development of round/moon-shaped face (sometimes called “Cushing’s syndrome” after the physician who first described it). It was during this time that I became very sensitive to the stares and questions about my condition. It was so obvious physically that I just wanted to be back to normal, but after my near death experience I learned to become accustomed to the residual effects. It was a part of me now, and my way of being blessed. I was surviving when many were not. I also suffered increased skin fragility, leading to easy bruising and hair growth on my face. Please read more at the John Hopkins Lupus Center website. Each of us, depending upon the type of Lupus we are diagnosed with will have something unique because it simply varies from one person to the other.
Still being a young woman, at eighteen, my lupus physician, Dr. Bonner, took me aside and said the words that fell like bricks into my heart, “Sherri, If You Want to Live a Long Life, Don’t Have Any Kids.” Here I was just trying to make sense of this mysterious disease and get past the everyday pains associated with it, and now comes this declaration over my life. Honestly, it felt like another handful of sand was being thrown into my eyes, blinding me of seeing my destiny. I had dreams of falling in love, getting married and raising a family…that is after my flight attendant career was fulfilled. Who knows what else? Shoot, me and girlfriend Martha Ann had plans.
But, I had to face the fact that my flight was not taking off. I had no plans for college, just a life of uncertainty, endless doctors’ appointments, and the revelation of being childless delaying my dreams…but only for a moment because as my pastor Rev. Bellamy says, “You can’t keep a good woman down.”
And it was there, in the sanctuary of my church, that I found one of God’s angels sitting on the left side. She had always been there, encouraging all the young people at St. Josephs’ through her professional work as a dedicated and wonderful teacher… Mrs. Mary Gore. At this time in my life I was seeking a new identity to go with the new me. Mrs. Gore’s invitation to volunteer in her classroom where she taught those impressionable and funny souls, aka 1st graders, made me laugh and forget about myself.
While the lupus was in remission I was able to go to work and I enjoyed it so much. For a time, I was “normal,” my symptoms did not flare up as I went about my day making sure Mrs. Gore’s classroom was in order and our students taken care of. When I look back, I did not ever notice any other teachers or aides with a visible disability working at the school. This impression of a “normal workplace environment” is one of the many reasons I can share my story with you now. Thank God for change! We are just differently abled.
For me having Mrs. Gore as a mentor, who still continues to be a blessing, was just another part of God’s plan in directing me towards the natural gift He placed inside of me…being a caregiver, along with my Mama, to the many extraordinary young lives who came through our doors. What began as Mama’s way of doing her duty as a good Christian turned into the most life changing and inspiring part of being me, Sherri Lynne from Sandridge Road.
Stay tuned and stay blessed!