OVERCOMING ADVERSITY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

The good news is that my son, David, now 37, is an amazing, well-adjusted adult. The bad news is that he had to overcome severe and consistent adversity to get there.

He started life as a preemie. He was born eight and a half weeks early, at 4 pounds 2 ounces, with Hyalin Membrane disease – his lungs weren’t working. At 36 hours old, his lung collapsed and had to be surgically re-inflated. He spent one week on oxygen and six weeks in an incubator before he could come home at 4 pounds 15 ounces. I got to watch his eyebrows and eyelashes grow in!

David and me in the Preemie unit. David is 6 weeks old and out of the incubator.

He had an amazing disposition as a child. He was happy, outgoing and friendly. But he was also hyperactive. He had behavior problems at school from day one. Teachers didn’t know what to do with this delightful kid who couldn’t sit still or keep his mouth shut and was often a distraction to the other kids.

At nine and a half years old, David had a tonsillectomy. The anesthesia didn’t work properly and he woke up during surgery. He was totally paralyzed but he could see and hear everything going on around him! This was a traumatic enough event to trigger PTSD. He was never the same after he came out of that surgery. One child went in and a different child came out. It was that dramatic!

David started getting sick all the time and missed a lot of school. His behavior problems got worse. The private schools in New York City didn’t have the resources, or the interest in dealing with children with ‘issues’. We moved to Connecticut and put the kids into a public school. This school had a Special Ed Department, a school psychologist and a Guidance Counselor , all of whom tried to help David as best they could.

David was diagnosed with ADHD. The only medication of the day for ADHD, Ritalin, had terrible side effects for him so he had to stop taking it. We tried numerous other drugs and therapies and some helped a little but not much.

David was also diagnosed with learning disabilities. And he had mood swings. He could function adequately for a while but then he would crash and not want to get out of bed or go to school. Everything was a struggle for him. His school years were a nightmare for the whole family.He somehow made it through High School, with the highest absentee record his school had ever seen. He went to a wonderful two-year college called Landmark, which is specifically for kids with various learning and behavior problems. For the first time, David was taught how to manage his ADHD and his learning disabilities. He was given the tools to help him handle his work and regulate his behavior. Landmark was a wonderful and transformative experience for David.

At 23, while finishing the remaining two years of college, his kidneys began to fail. He took a year off from school to recuperate. During this time, David taught himself about the stock market and switched his major from education to business. He graduated college and became a financial analyst, and is now also a portfolio manager.

At one point he had to be rushed to the hospital in kidney failure. He was told that his condition was chronic and that his kidneys would continue to fail until he needed a kidney transplant. His kidneys didn’t hit bottom till he was 32. But it was pretty rough on the way down. On April 12, 2012, I donated a kidney to him.

David at 27

Unfortunately, David is still not symptom free. He has side effects from the immune suppressants which all transplant recipients must take to avoid organ rejection. In addition, his kidney is not functioning at full capacity, so he has days when all he can do is sleep.

Fortunately, his attitude is amazingly positive. He is grateful to be alive. He uses every day to fight his demons and make a happy and productive life for himself and his loved ones. He is one of the most self-aware people I know. He had to fight to get here, but the fight itself is part of what has made him into the person he is – caring and empathetic, upbeat and funny, loyal and giving. I could go on and on.

David three years ago, at 34, with me and his sister

He says that he wouldn’t change anything in his life, however awful much of it was. Because that was the path he had to take to get him to the wonderful place he’s in now. I would love to be able to change his past, but I wouldn’t change a thing about who he is now and where he is in life.

11 thoughts on “OVERCOMING ADVERSITY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

  1. I have read so many stories like this – and I LOVE reading one with a happy ending. Next time David is stuck in bed, send him over to my site. TONS of practical help there – all free (and no ads). I am a member of the club myself, btw.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • David is a happy ending story – except for his medical challenges due to his kidney transplant. He has just hit a bad patch and hasn’t felt well for a few weeks. Hopefully the doctors can figure out a way to get him back on a better track.

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    • Thank you! David says that overcoming his adversities is what has made him the person he is today. I guess that’s the silver lining to the very dark cloud that hung over David’s life. David has been working actively on his issues since he was ten years old. By now, he has a good handle on most of his demons and is up there with some of the most well adjusted people I know. What a way to get there though!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The thing about donating a kidney to a child – doing it is the only option. Not doing it would have been devastating to me. I needed to know that I had done something to make his situation better. I felt responsible for bringing him into the world, with all his problems, so I had to be part of the solution as well.

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    • It’s great to talk to people who have actually seen the transformation in David over the years. You are part of a select group who knew him before he got his “issues” under control and can see the difference in him now. For that reason, among many others, you are valued friends. David has really pulled himself up by his bootstraps and turned himself into a functioning, caring, giving person – to himself and to everyone around him. He deserves a lot of credit – and a lot of happiness.

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  2. So many struggles that David had to overcome and did so- such a strong young man. Reminds me of your mother and her strength to push forward and move forward. I hope his health can get on track, and his kidney problem resolves

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