Can I make it?

One of most common things I read in a new members post, is “will I make it”, “is there a chance for me”, or some other similar statement. Because of those, I will tell my full story. I was born in a poor southern state to an 18 year old, uneducated mother who gave birth to my sister only eleven months later. With a father in the military and stationed overseas, she acted like a typical 19 year old, which didn’t include a lot of time for babies. When we were picked up by my grandmother’s sister and husband, we had been left in an orphanage where I stole food for my sister, lived in and around seedy little bars, trailer parks, and other squalid environments. This middle-aged, childless couple took us into their home for a “better life”. For my adopted father, that better life also included teaching a four year old (me) about sex. This lasted several years until I started first grade. I loved school and I loved to learn. I think I also loved getting away from home. However, like many women who are abused, I closed off my feelings and sought solace in food. By the end of elementary school, I was one of the top students at my school, and I was also the fattest. Home was constant criticism, beatings with electrical extension cords, and a memorable episode of having my head beat up against the wall. Puberty brought other challenges as I remained larger than socially acceptable,and therefor a social marginal. I began to have problems with mathematics. Untrusting of adults and not sure that anyone cared about my situation, I did not seek help, and though I was in an accelerated mathematics scheme designed to have me finish Calculus I by my senior year, I took the required two credits for graduation by 9th grade and took no further math. I continued to do well in all of my other classes so much that by the end of my sophomore year, I was one of 20 students out of 350 chosen for a pilot “Talented and Gifted Program”. I was also mentored by my biology teacher whom I confided to my interest in medicine, though I never told her about my home life. My “parents” could have cared less. They refused to allow me to take the ACT or plan for college. I had also by that time hooked up with the guy who would become my husband, and we were married one month after I started my junior year. My last year of school was dismal with my grades hovering at the “D” range due to lack of attendance. My husband, just graduated an into the military, came to a realization that he did not want to be married. It wasn’t that easy however. We had been married a few years, and my parents, still directing my life, paid to enroll me into nursing school saying that was enough education for a married woman. I ended up in nursing school, pregnant, and with a husband having an affair. During nursing school he began planning divorce, which he taunted me with every day. He took my name off all of the joint accounts and the checking account. I went to clinicals many days without money and ate crackers and water at lunch, or the snacks on the various nursing stations. My husband went so far as to say if the child was a girl, he would name it after his girlfriend. You would have thought I would have left him, filed for divorce, SOMETHING. I didn’t. I went to the only place I knew, my parents, and they blamed me, said “all men are like this”, and said I could only stay with them if I was willing to come over so they could “lay down the rules”. I chose to stay in my own house, hell that it was. After my son was born, my husband began to be physically abusive. I had stayed at home with my son after birth but realized my life couldn’t go on like it had. I had worked for a short time in a nursing home, but took a chance and applied for a home health job in 1986. I got my first full time nursing job and the highest paycheck I had ever made, at $7.00 an hour. In March of that year, one month after I started and had gotton a couple paychecks, I went and filed for divorce. My husband, surprisingly, whined that he “didn’t mean it” about getting divorced, but he didn’t fight, and the divorce was final by May. I had also enrolled in college for the first time, on my own. However, I had a lot to learn. I had no real time management skills, and worked full time nights while my son slept at my sisters or a sitters, then took classes in the afternoon after short naps. This went on for FIVE years, while I continually failed college algebra (4 times), withdrew from classes, and experienced the death of my adopted mother and grandmother. I still had not developed the trust to ask for help, so I continued to plod along without making a lot of progress, in the sense that I accumulated over 130 hours with a 2.0 gpa. When I met Mohammed in 1989, I wasn’t thinking about getting remarried, but we were married within a year and within another year I was pregnant. I had no more financial aid, so I stopped going to school 9 hours short of graduating with a BS in Speech and Sociology. We moved to Ohio for my husband’s classes after that time and I continued to work extra hours while he studied. I started checking into going back to school at that time, and specifically began mentioning medical school to my family. I was 32 then. However, with another move and another baby, it would be another 7 years before I started back to college. Much had changed. I found myself motivated, able to ask for help, and got the help I needed for the math classes. I took math from Developmental Math through Calculus I with all Bs (which I count as my biggest accomplishment to date). Then, in 2000, I was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist at a sports club where I was a member. Subsequently, I endured police questioning, TV coverage (as one of several women who were assualted) and multiple court appearances. During this time, I continued in my classes, but did have a string of W’s after the assault. After 2 years, the assailant was let off by a hung jury, and I was left to get my life back together. I had already become a member of OPM by that time, and I promise you, if I hadn’t had the support of these great people, I would have not persevered. I had also had a favorite pediatric patient die after a long time battle with severe combined immunodificiency disease, those two factors devastated me. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and put on medication, which helped dramatically to get my butt in gear. The damage had been done however. The factor that most schools mentioned when I requested opinions as to my rejections for medical school during the application last year, was the string of W’s in 2000 (which had been explained, gingerly in my personal statement along with a VERY abbreviated version of my life story and how I came to study for medicine.) However, I thought it over carefully, did further research, and will still be a doctor. I deferred for financial reasons, but am scheduled to start medical school at St. Christopher’s College of Medicine in Luton, England in January 2005. My husband and children support me and I have the determination to make it through. My story isn’t finished, but stay tuned. I will make it.
very long I know

What an incredible life story. Thank you for posting. You have amazing strength, and are a great inspiration to all of us.

Thanks for Sharing Kathy. Your strength and perseverance is an example.

If I ever complain again about the obstacles in my path, would someone please hit me over the head with a 2X4 and tell me to wake up and smell the coffee?
What an amazing and inspiring life story. I pray that God continues to bless this wonderful journey you’ve set your feet on.

You are an inspiration to us all. You determination and courage is absolutely amasing. We will watch you career with great interest, cheering you on all the way.

Count me in as one of those cheerleaders in your corner! Thanks for the motivation and sharing such an intimate part of your life; for this you are an exemplar. Keep your chin up and perseverance strong.

Man, Oh Man. . . . . .
Thank You So Much for sharing Kathy.
I have to ‘ditto’ what drlisa0318 posted.
You WILL make it!!
All the Best Kathy.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing you with us.
Stay strong. You will do it.

I enjoyed your testimony of perserverance and strength - it brought tears to my eyes - thank you so much for sharing. And you should, indeed, be quite proud of yourself. God Bless You and your family. – LM

what a great story! Good luck to you…you’ll make it…with your motivation and with a support of your wonderful family you can’t fail!
Thank you for sharing your life with us,

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kathy! It’s inspiring and motivating to read. I know you are going to have a fabulous time in England.

Kathy, I’ve told you this before, but you’ve reminded me again… you are such an inspiration to me. I have a lot of the same kind of issues going on with me (sans kids), and it helps soooo much to hear about you getting into medical school. Good luck! And how cool, going to school in England.

I appreciate all of the positive responses to my story. My life could have been a real “whine-fest” if I had let it, but I’m looking at those events as things I have overcome and shaped who I am now. I hope any one who reads this realizes that nothing in your past sets you up for failing to have a wonderful future. Go OPMS!!!

WOW! It seems a long hard road for you! I can’t wait to meet you. My road has been hard but not as tough as yours. I realy do believe in " What doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger"
We are a sum of our experiences and I hope all of us learn from both our joys and pains, at least I hope I have.