an everyday occurrence for me in school. Back when I was unaware of my learning disability and knew nothing of dyslexia, all I felt was stupid and panic when centered out and forced to read.
This is my story. A brutal truth, unknowingly living with dyslexia in 1989.
Panic has got to be the worst sensation next to dying. Everything seems to happen at once. My throat goes dry but not before an impossibly thick lump forms. My vision begins to blur around the edges and my limbs go numb. Then, there is the internal turmoil. My lungs don’t stop working as much as I forget to breathe. I can feel my heartbeat thrashing against my ribs and my lunch squirms its way around my gut. All of this because my grade-eight teacher has just passed around the school’s code of conduct that we are expected to read aloud in turn.
Once the roar of my pulse lessons, I can hear and I realize that we will all be assigned a paragraph. Frantically, I blink to regain my vision and count the number of students that should be before me, as a way to find my paragraph. This routine is all too familiar but no less stressful. I read my part over and over in hopes to burn it into my memory. This is doable, I assure myself in hopes to calm my body’s commotion.
My breathing is almost back to normal when I hear my name.
Looking up, all eyes are on me. Panic rises again as I realize that the person next to me hadn’t been reading. I was to read after them, now all preparation time has been lost. The teacher has switched directions on me and it is now my turn. I haven’t a clue where we are or how to find this foreign paragraph that I have never laid eyes upon. Bile curdles in the hollow of my stomach and I feel my face grow cold.
Before I can think, I throw myself onto the floor seizing. The shaking is so violent that I whack my head on the leg of my chair. But that doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as what happens next.
All the students are on their feet. Desks and chairs screech out of the way. Girls are screaming, some are crying. I hear the teacher order someone to the office when I am picked up like a rag doll. Massive arms encircle me while a double fist slams into my chest. The first blow nearly breaks me in half and the fifth surely busts a rib. That’s when my lunch decides to make an entrance. At this point…
vomiting is more of less involuntary.
Faking a seizure seemed like a good idea at the time, although it failed to have an exit strategy. I did not foresee, Randy Caligan the captain of the basketball team and Boy Scout extraordinaire to jump to my rescue. He was so eager to perform his new found skill the Heimlich maneuver that it didn’t matter that I was not choking.
None the less, minutes later, there I was in the nurse’s room a complete and utter hot mess. With sore ribs, a bruised chest, and blood shot eyes I waited for the final. The puke scent that I called my own was inescapable. Still, this was a far better outcome than having to read out loud.
I am dyslexic and this is my brutal truth.