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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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A Portrait of Me #7: Jodie, Aged 11 (Written by Mommy)
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

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A child with severe physical and mental handicaps shares us her story, with some help from her mother, who is acting as her "voice". (Jodie is mostly nonverbal; she can say very few words.)

Jodie Faith Kay Sandusky is my name, and I am 11 years old. I will be 12 in July.

I was born in Korea, and I was adopted when I was a girl of three. I have been with my family for almost ten years. I was adopted after my parents gave me up when they found out that I was born damaged. I had brain damage at birth, and when I was a little older, doctors told my family I had cerebral palsy. They said I would never walk or talk or learn on my own.

I still have brain damage and cerebral palsy even today, and because of it, I can't do very much for myself. I can't walk, talk, read, write, eat, or do anything a normal girl of 11 can do. I need help with everything I do (or just ABOUT), and I have always been in a special wheelchair that has been custom-made for me. I have to be dressed and undressed, and I have to wear diapers because I am unable to get up to go to the bathroom on my own. I can't eat except by a tube in my tummy because I can't chew or swallow; and I am prone to choking. Before I got the tube put into my tummy, I got choked up a few times when food got into my lungs instead of my tummy, and I got very sick and had trouble with my breathing. But now that I got the tube, I haven't had as many breathing problems, and I haven't been in the hospital as much. (That is fine with me! :) )

I have long black hair that I usually wear in two pigtails, and I have uptilted brown-gold eyes, a snub nose, and a roundish, yellow face; and I am tiny: even though I am 11 now, I look more like five or six, I am so small. I am also very thin; I have never been able to get any weight on me! I usually wear sweats (or comfy jeans or tee-shirts in the warmer months out of the year) and tennies, but I will wear pretty dresses if I go to church or to something like a wedding or a funeral or party, something special like that.

I can't talk but a few words ("mama", "dada", "'oh-ee" [how I say my name, Jodie!], "ow", "'i" ["hi"], and "ba'" ["bye"]), but I can make my wants and needs known by the sounds I make. My sounds are happy or sad, depending on my mood or what is going on; and I am very good at letting people know what I need, even though I don't talk much. I can let them know if I am wet or poopy, hot, cold, uncomfortable, or tired, and I can let them know just how I am feeling.

Just because I have cerebral palsy doesn't mean that I am stupid. I am very smart, according to my mommy and daddy! I also may be retarded, but I find a way to get around it, and I am very good at letting people know my wants or needs!

I have the "spastic quadriplegic" kind of cerebral palsy (C.P., for short), which simply means that my entire body is affected. I can't move without jerking like a puppet on strings because my brain is damaged, and even though my brain tells my muscles to move, they move, but not in the right way, and this is why I am the way I am. I also have seizures, where I jerk like a dog that's been hit by a car, and I have to have liquid medicine given to me to help control them. If I don't get the medicine, I would be seizing all the time, and that would NOT be good! (I get the medicine every day, several times a day.)

I like to do many things. I love to watch cartoons on tv, look at my reflection in the mirror (I have a mirror in my bed where I sleep), be with my family and with people in general, sing (although people say I don't sing good; when I sing, I sing like this: "AHHH!" :) ), go to country music shows (especially Alan Jackson; he is such a HOTTIE! I LOOOVE Alan Jackson! :) ), and go to church. I go to church every week with my family. I also love to go to school, where I can be with my friends.

I have a big family. I have my mom and dad, and I have my brothers and sisters, who all love me. I feel safe whenever I am with my family because I know they can always help me. I also have many cousins, and it is always fun when we get together. I also have my grandmy and grandpy; I almost forgot them! Oh! And we also have our pets. We have lots of those! So our family is really busy! :) There is NEVER a dull moment at MY house! :)

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Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 4/6/2003
Karen this is a wonderful story I'd love to use it in the book!
God Bless
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 4/1/2003
(((karen))) keep writing these...i enjoy reading about all your characters. very adorable write...jodie sounds like a charmer! (((HUGS))) and love, karla. :)

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