And Strength of Mind
By Trisha Taylor
Photos courtesy of Trisha Taylor
When I was around ten years old, I wanted to go see Terri Clark in concert at the Twin Falls County Fair, but I got pneumonia and was stuck at home. I was devastated. I also was angry that my lungs were so weak I got pneumonia. I was angry that I was disabled and couldn’t be “strong” like my friends. And I was angriest of all that my sister could go, because she didn’t face the same struggles I did. But a few hours after I found out I couldn’t attend the concert, I turned my anger into focusing on getting better—because I didn’t want to miss out on more events. This is how I get through hard times and not let them win: I focus on the next thing I want out of life. I’m now thirty-one years old, and have used an electric wheelchair since I was two-and-a-half. I have osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a brittle bone disorder. And as far back as I remember, I always have been very goal-focused.
I think being raised on a dairy helped in that regard. Dairy farmers are very hard-working people. I learned that if I wanted to do anything productive with my life, I would have to get my goals together and focus on completing them. It also was helpful to grow up in Wendell, population around twenty-eight hundred, because everyone knew me personally, or knew of me. If a new student came to our school, my classmates taught that person about me, and how I was just like them. I didn’t face stares and, unfortunately, the fear and hate, as much as I think would have been the case if I were not well-known. Growing up in a small school and town meant I was treated just like everyone else, which has transferred into my adult life.
I now live in Jerome, surrounded by people who support and treat me just the same as they would treat anyone else they love and care about. I don’t allow special treatment, although I do allow people to accommodate me, by choosing places that my wheelchair can go or carrying me inside a location. I allow people to ask if they can help me with tasks or ask questions about my disability and what my life is like.