Students deal with a temporary handicap


“I was so dizzy, and my legs were so incredibly weak, but I was just so excited to be walking again,” Stubbs said.

For senior Maddy Howland and sophomore Sarah Stubbs getting strange looks in the hallway quickly became an unwanted normality for them. Major surgeries flipped their world completely as both girls were confined to wheelchairs.

Stubbs received double knee surgery for a condition that she has struggled with for a while. She was in a wheel chair for about seven weeks and crutches for another week. Howland had foot surgery done and still has her second operation to come in the future. Each surgery requires three weeks in a wheelchair plus sometime on crutches, so Howland is about halfway done. Both girls continue to do physical therapy in hopes of returning to something they love — soccer.

Both girls sit on the sidelines of the varsity soccer games wishing and hoping they could play. “It was really hard to watch soccer practice go on and know i couldn’t participate any time soon,” Howland said.

This experience for both girls was an eye opener. “I definitely noticed other disabled people a lot more, and it made me extremely thankful that I wasn’t permanently disabled,” Howland said. Stubbs now understands what disabled people have to deal with from day to day life. “I no longer see people in wheel chairs and think ‘oh, poor you.’ I now think more along the lines of, ‘you are so strong,’” Stubbs said.

The simplest task even seemed to become a hassle. Things such a going to the bathroom, showering, and grabbing something to eat proved to be very difficult. Howland coped with being temporarily disabled with all of the support she received. “Everyone was really eager to help,” she said. Stubbs especially found comfort in her friends. “My friends were absolutely amazing. They were there for me every step of the way,” she said.

A challenge such as this also impacted their families as well. “[My mom and I] live on a second floor apartment with no elevator,” said Howland. Stubbs is able to relate to this problem. “I had to be driven around by my mom,” she said. Both girls had to have ramps built into their houses for easy access into their homes.

Both girls are back on their feet an loving it. Their patients all seemed to pay off when their first steps were taken. “I loved being able to walk for the first time, I wanted to run and jump all over the place,” said Howland.

Stubbs describes walking again after her surgery as dreamlike. “It kind of felt like going from age five to 16 in one night. I went from not being able to see over the counter to being taller than my mom,” she said.

As they each look back on their experiences they both feel as if it made them stronger individuals. “The phrase, ‘There are bumps in the road’ became so literal,” Stubbs said.