Gaynor's Story

Hi!  My name is Gaynor Baker I was born in Cardiff Wales, UK. I had meningitis when I was 18 months old. I often feel like the life I´m living now isn´t really mine, that I should have been someone else. It´s almost like being a twin and losing the other one, except that I never knew her, but always trying to find her.

I suffer from hemiplagia on my right side and concentration/follow through problems. I have always had self esteem problems, and as hard as I try I can´t be "normal". I have a terrible time making decisions. My mum tells me I could have worked harder to eliminate these problems, including the mental/emotional ones, and I´m still having the same arguments with her about it even now. I tell her that you couldn´t expect an 18 month old to understand enough to co operate with treatment to the same degree as an older child. But she won´t accept that.

I grew up in the late fifties early sixties when not as much was known about meningitis then as now. My mother didn´t recognize the effects of the disease that were not the physical signs she could see so a lot of my inner problems went unsolved or were diagnosed as "behavioural problems" and treated wrongly.

We moved to Canada in 1966 and I suffered terribly from being teased at school. Everything about me was different, and the physical disability didn´t help. I went to what was then Manpower Services when I was sixteen. No one helped me to figure out what I cold do and would like to make my career. The only thing the counsellor could think of after my persistent replies that I didn´t know what to do was to send me to Cosmopolitan Industries for the Disabled.

My mother put me on welfare because, as she let it slip later, she didn´t want to have to pay for me any more. I was not able to find a job without help--mainly secretarial which did not last long. No one told me how to act in an organizational setting, figuring I should know at 19 even though it was my first job. That is the problem with having intelligence that masks other ADD-like symptoms. People can´t understand how I can be so intelligent and not be able to follow through on anything.

All in all my experience has not been a good one with the agencies set up to help the disabled; for the most part I fall through the cracks.

Sincerely,
Gaynor W. Baker

 

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