Jean Sharon Abbott, now 33, was diagnosed as a child with spastic diplegia, which is a type of cerebral palsy. She had consulted a neurologist who was considered one of the best. The odd thing was that MRIs and CAT scans didn’t show the typical neurological symptoms.
Abbott did the admirable thing: she learned to live with her disability. She didn’t let her disability come in the way of her friends or her hobbies. “I was a positive, optimistic, happy-go-lucky girl who just happened to be trapped in her own body due to cerebral palsy”, she once said.
When she was twelve, she had an extensive surgery done to help her gait; the problem being that her knees painfully hit each other when she tried to walk. The surgery detached muscle from her hips and reattached them on other parts of her thighs. She ended up having to sit in a full-body cast for a whole month, but the surgery helped her walk.
In her late 20’s, she had another operation that put a medicine pump in her body; however, the contraption malfunctioned, and Abbott ended up inundated with the medication. This cruel twist of fate, though, had a silver-lining. Abbott visited a doctor who was experienced with these pumps, who recommended Abbott see a different neurologist; but what this neurologist claimed shocked Abbott.
The claim? Abbott did not have cerebral palsy. “I think you have dopa-responsive dystonia”. Abbott was then told all her symptoms would disappear with a simple medication: L-Dopa. Abbott was in disbelief, but eventually her husband convinced her to take the pill.
Her strength returned. She gained her freedom after some 30 years of pain and immobility. You would think Abbott would be angered, enraged by the original misdiagnosis – but no, Abbott was nothing but thankful. “I’m not angry. Not in the least. When you live your whole life not able to do things, the day you start being able to do them, you can’t be anything but grateful”.