|Posted by SheWillNotFall on July 21, 2012 at 8:30 AM|
Nobody expects anything like this to ever happen to them. Something like this never crosses their mind. Most people wouldn't even think of something that they've done since they were a year and a half years old to be taken away in the blink of an eye. You can't prepare for something like that.
My name is Nichole Sheridan and I am 18 years old. When I was just 13 years old, my entire world changed. Over the course of a week, my body basically shut down. I lost almost all feeling and strength that I had. After multiple short and extended stays in the hospital, hundreds of tests, MRI’s CAT scans, lumbar punctures, and guess after guess, it was concluded that I had Transverse Myelitis/Myelopathy.
I have played soccer for as long as I can remember. As soon as I could walk and kick a ball at the same time, I was on a team. My dream was actually to play soccer for my future high school’s team. I didn't have a specific position that I played, I was very versatile. Each and every year right before school started, my parents would sign me up at the city hall. It was short lived, but I am thankful for every second of it. Playing soccer for that short amount of time taught me many great values. One example of the values was teamwork and allowing others to step in and help me when needed. Also another example would be when the game was becoming difficult to keep your perseverance and determination on the goal.
When I first started out in high school, it was my first real test of confidence and perseverance. I had a lot of friends, but not many of them were in any of my classes, so I just kept to myself. People knew me as “the girl in the wheelchair”, or as my mom would say “the pretty girl in the wheelchair.” Before all this, I was outgoing. But I guess after this happened I kind of closed in on myself. I didn't even know who I was anymore.
It was then that I knew I had to do something. I was passing the cafeteria and I noticed that tryouts for Trojan Men were approaching. What are Trojan Men you ask? They are the flag runners, the spirit keeper-uppers, the crowd pumpers, the skit performers. I had my doubts about making it, but I picked up an application anyway. I made it past the first two rounds of tryouts, and was waiting to see if my name was on the final list. It was. My first year as a Trojan man was the year that I broke out of my shell. I found myself again.
My senior year, I tried out again. I was elected president of Trojan Men. I was the only returner, so I had to teach the rookies the ropes. I taught them how to set up “Rambo” the football run through and salute it when it was up straight. I taught them how to set out the flags and run them when we scored. Before and after each game we sing the alma mater, and point to the Senior Flag. I got the honor to take the flag centerfield, in front of thousands to represent my school. It was the closest I got to “playing” on the field.
Everyone has that quality that sets them apart from everyone else. I think mine is my determination. Ever since I got sick, I've been to doctors that tell me that I would never walk again. I refuse to believe that. I know that one day I will stand up on my own two feet again and takes steps by myself. Whenever someone limits my ability to do something my determination shows them that their negativity does not have a place in my life.
People always ask me, “How do you do it, Nichole? How do you stay so positive and not give up?” My answer is just because I got handed a difficult situation does not mean that I'm going to give up on my dreams. It doesn't mean that I'm going to stay here and wish I could walk because it would make things so much easier. It just means that I'm going to have to work harder than everyone else, and I will have to take a few extra steps to conquer my goal. It means I have to be very aware of my surroundings, and plan ahead.
I may have not gotten to play soccer for my high school, but I have so much more ahead of me. My goal is to become a neurologist and help kids get through what I got through. I want to let them know that being in a wheelchair is not the end of the world. I want to let them know that they can still do whatever it is that they want to do, and to not give up on their dreams. Even after all this, and missing two years of school in the hospital, I’m graduating in the top 22% of my class, a member of Student Council, a member of The National Honor Society, and one of the top five nominees for my school’s prom queen. I may have an incurable disease, but that disease does not have me. My wheelchair does not define who I am.