Overcoming Obstacles & Reaching Dreams with 'Handicapable' Parents

Written by: Melissa Arriola

Hello! My name is Melissa, and I am the proud mother of a beautiful eleven-month old boy named Aidan. I am also a forty year old woman who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for most of my life. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis at seven years old and have had to overcome many obstacles to get where I am today.  Not long after my diagnosis, I became bedridden for more than a year and, therefore, was unable to attend school. My parents decided to take me to Mayo Clinic and slowly, with the help of medications, treatments and physical therapy, I was able to go from being bedridden and confined to a wheelchair to walking with the aid of crutches. I started attending school half days and eventually began to walk on my own! Throughout my teens and twenties I went on to have many joint replacement surgeries.  During the course of my life, there have been many changes and many challenges, but one thing never changed; I never gave up on my dreams. One dream was to attend college and the other was to have a family. I accomplished both of those dreams. I attended Purdue University, graduated with a degree in nutrition and moved to Chicago. 

Becoming a parent has been an amazing experience. It has been incredibly rewarding but has also been incredibly hard. I look into my son’s eyes and I feel so much love for him. I want so much for him; I no doubt want him to have a better life than I have had. I often wonder “Am I doing this right?” or “Are my limitations affecting him?” There are so many questions when you are a first-time parent and then to factor in a chronic illness makes for even more questions. I have found being a parent with a disability takes incredible strength, patience, creativity and, most of all, support. One absolutely needs the support of family and friends. It is my wish to meet with other “handicapable” parents and share our stories, frustrations and techniques while also having a few laughs. Often times I feel alone and that no one else could possibly understand what I am going through.  Then, I realize there must be others out there who understand what I am going through-- I just need to meet those people!  I look forward to starting the new Handicapable Parents Group, meeting new families and forming new friendships!

Join the "Handicapable' Parents Group for an afternoon of sharing resources, getting support and making new friends. RSVP for their event on Friday March 9th at Bubbles Academy! This group will also meet on  Friday, March 9th. Thanks to Bubbles Academy for their support and to Melissa the group's amazing volunteer leader- Email her with questions or to get involved!

Posted on February 16, 2012 at 7:26 PM