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David M. Rushton (autobiography)

Hmmmm, do you see any resemblance? My son Clark is on the left and I am on the right.
More Clark Pictures!

David M. Rushton

Vice Principal; Hay Branch Elementary Killeen I.S.D.

This is my family in 1977. I'm the kid in the bottom
left hand corner doing the Fonz impersonation. Jacquie
is next to me. Paul is in the middle and Grant is on the
right. Mom and dad are in the back.

I was born March 10, 1970 with spina bifida, the myelomeningocele variety with defects in the posterior arches of L4-5 and S1, 2. I have been very fortunate to have a great deal of mobility. My gait is incorrect, and I sway quite a bit as well. I used braces as a child but grew out of them. My right ankle is fused. I've had more than a dozen corrective surgeries.

Though I may not be as active as I use to be, I swim laps when I can and even ride a bike 10 to 20 miles a week. In fact, I've climbed a few hills in my day or should I say mountains. My legs may not make me a racer, but they have allowed me to climb Colorado's highest peaks, just above Leadville to be specific.

In truth however, I can't walk for too long a time without being uncomfortable. I'm not as much of a window shopper as I use to be. In fact, I only started using a cane since I tore my ACL in my left knee a few years ago. Despite it being graphed, it has never been the same.

Common to spina bifida, I have muscle spasms which have only begun in the last year, but the swimming has helped. They occur mostly in my left shoulder. I also feel pain in my left leg, almost a tightness like a cramp, and in the square of my back occationally. My left ankle is over-developed because of the fused right ankle, so it pains me sometimes also.

I have some feeling in my legs, but it lessens as it gets to my feet where it is non-existant. Consequently, because of my acceptional mobility, ulcers(open sores) were an extreme problem as a child. Poor circulation makes any small cut or scrape difficult to heal. Later in life I learned to wear shoes almost 24-7. Not so in my youth-a mistake.

Many people with spina bifida have limited continence. Quite often they require catheters. In contrast, I don't have to self-cath, but I do not have complete control and infections, and blockages occur occationally, so I am trained in the procedure just in case.

As a child, specialists at U.C. Davis attempted one of the first bladder pace-makers. I later learned they worked only in a couple of German Sheperds. Once in awhile, I still have leakages, but I'm careful to regulate my bathroom trips, and stay away from sneezing too much.

I am very much grateful that I do not have a shunt, which is useful in preventing excess fluid on the brain. Because I have no experience with shunts, my knowledge of them is quite limited, except to say I had a fifth grade student with spina bifida and a shunt as well.

At any rate, I'm in my early 30's and I watch my weight religiously. My upper body is quite muscular, which has been a proven compensation. I have been quite fortunate to live nearly a "normal life," if there is such a thing. Though I am aware that my body is slowing, I'll fight it every step of the way.

As the pictures may indicate(especially the above one), I'm happily married to a beautiful young lady. Jennifer is everything I've ever dreamed of finding in a soul mate. We look forward to having heaps of children!

I admit, there is a possibility that my own children will be born with spina bifida. I certainly wouldn't wish it on anyone, but if they are born with any limitations, then I hope they can look to their father for support and valid empathy.

I certainly don't wish to lessen spina bifida. It has been tough, but I still believe life is what you make of it. I definitely don't know all the answers, but I will say that we need to always help people with and without disabilities realize the greatest limits they have are those they place on themselves.

David M. Rushton

Hey, if you're still with me, then continue on with my autobiography or favorite hobby on the next pages!

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