After my two strokes, doctors told my parents that I would never walk, talk or learn in a mainstream classroom. God had other plans.
From the time I was a few months old, I have faced many challenges. I suffered two CVAs (cerebral vascular accidents) better known as strokes. The strokes affected the right side of my brain.
The right side of the brain controls the ability to pay attention, recognize things you see, hear or touch, and be aware of your own body. In most people, the left side of the brain controls the ability to speak and understand language. Some people have spatial issues as well.
In my case, the strokes left me with left hemiparesis, meaning my entire left side was paralyzed and later on in life, my parents realized that I am completely deaf in my left ear. After my two strokes, doctors told my parents that I would never walk, talk or be able to learn in a mainstream classroom. My parents didn't listen. Instead they took me for OT and PT, leaving the room because I'd cry out in pain. But I gained movement and now have gross motor skills on my left side.
I started talking when I was about 12 months old and my cousins joke that ever since I've never shut up. Even though I should have difficulty with just one language, I am bilingual; I'm fluent in Hebrew. I took my first steps at the age of two and a half and was walking on my own at the age of three.
I believe in God because I am the recipient of His many miracles and blessings…
From the time I started school, I was in mainstream classrooms and was reading before I began school. At the age of ten, I was able to help my step-sister in high school understand Shakespearean English and by 12, I read Gone With the Wind and books by authors such as Agatha Christie and Jane Austen from the adult section of the library. At the end of 8th grade, I had academic testing and the doctors were shocked when the results showed that my knowledge was grade 12+ in every subject except for in math (I hate math!). I was told I could skip high school but instead went to 9th grade. I was bored and at that point I was home-schooled. Afterward, when I went to college, I obtained high marks and received accolades from my professors when it came to my work.
Having had these challenges in life, I have naturally had my moments of wavering when it comes to my trust in God. When my trust wavers, I remind myself of all the miracles I have personally experienced.
My ability to walk, talk and learn aren’t the only miracles I’ve experienced. At age four, I was sitting on the top of an L-shaped couch which was in front of a window in in my grandparents' second-floor apartment. My mother was on the far end on the other side of the couch when I fell backward and right through the window! I remember seeing the street below and the large pieces of glass that remained in the window…
My mother somehow managed to jump from one side to the other and grabbed my feet as my head was outside the window. She managed to pull me in and called Hatzalah. To this day, I remember them taking shards of glass out of my thick, wavy hair with tape, telling my mother that I had no lacerations to my head or face.
As a child, I was tormented by some of my peers for being different. They’d laugh at the way I walk or taunt me about my inability to play sports. Even in adulthood, I had an employer tell me that I walked funny. Last year, my former employer told me, “Ariel, you won’t get a job in this field or the other field you are interested in because you are different and people want normal.”
What he doesn't know is that different isn't a bad thing. It just means that I've had an interesting journey. I have done things in my life which doctors, the top in their fields, said I would never do. But God runs the world.
I hate being told that I'm handicapped; I’m not. I am handi-capable. So I can play piano with only one hand. Some people can't play with two. So I can't play sports, but I don’t even like sports so that doesn't cause me any issues. I might walk slower than some or have a heavy tread, but does that make me incapable? I don't think so. I can walk, talk, go to college, excel in school, drive, and do almost anything else that "normal" people do.
Trusting in God is not the easiest of things. While I have complete faith in His existence, I do not always have trust in Him. Some days, I want to scream, "Where are you? What is your plan for me?" Faith in God is believing He exists. Having complete trust in God means that living with the awareness that He is an intimate part of your life and that every single thing that happens is for your good. Living with that awareness is a struggle, even though I’ve experienced so many miracles in my life. .
I'm not where I wanted to be at this stage of my life. I believe that God has a plan for me and that I'll be where I'm meant to be, even if it takes me longer than I planned. If He didn't, He would not have given me the abilities that I have. My belief in God has given me the confidence to go to college, live on my own and support myself, and deny the many naysayers who said that I would never be able to achieve my goals. I thank God for blessing me with the strength to overcome adversity and thank Him for my life with all its challenges.