Jean Sharon Abbott was misdiagnosed as a young child with Spastic Dipligia, a form of Cerebral Palsy.
After 33 years of countless doctors visits, medical procedures, unnecessary medications and surgeries, she was correctly diagnosed with Dopa Responsive Dystonia (DRD). This real life Wonder Woman enjoys all the adventures of her new life, but wouldn’t change the journey that brought her to where she is today.
Her positive attitude is highly contagious as she encourages others to appreciate the little things in life though her work as a motivational speaker and author of Misdiagnosed: My Thirty-Year Struggle with a Debilitating Disorder I Never Had.
When she’s not working, she spends time as the connection leader for Christian Women in Media and thoroughly enjoys reading, traveling and playing board games with her 3 children (ages 16, 14 and 6).
It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to today’s #RealLifeWonderWoman, Jean Abbott!
KR: Tell me about what brings you joy and fulfillment.
JA: I love receiving e-mails telling me that I somehow helped improved someone’s life simply from sharing my journey of misdiagnosis. No matter how big or small the impact may seem, I always have to give the glory to God. He gave me this wonderful life and has given me the tools and connections to show others that even in difficult times, we can find the positive. Because of Him, I have helped 20+ people receive a correct diagnosis, just like me. In fact, one woman was looking to put herself into a nursing home because she was to the point of needing 24 hour care. Another favorite was when a mom contacted me to say that her daughter loves reading my blog because it gives her hope that she too can marry even though she uses a wheelchair.
The other thing that gives me joy is simply by being able to complete tasks that would seem mundane to most, for example: putting clean sheets on the bed, grocery shopping, walking around my neighborhood and driving my kids to all their activities. These are all things that I couldn’t do on my own before. I love that God reminds me everyday to appreciate the little things in life!
KR: Jean, you have a very powerful and inspirational story of overcoming challenges. Can you share it with us?
JA: I lived the majority of my life believing I had a form of Cerebral Palsy. I had limited use of my arms and legs, but I did whatever I could to not let it get me down. Why? Because I knew that God had made me this way for a reason and I was destined to show the world that one can be positive despite one’s differences. As luck would have it, at the age of 33 (on Good Friday), I discovered that I had been misdiagnosed my entire life. I began taking my new medication and on Easter Sunday I stood independently for the first time in nearly a decade. I knew that I had to begin sharing my Easter Miracle with the world.
KR: We all have inner superpowers . What are some of yours?
JA: I would say that my super power is that I can always find the good in every situation. Sometimes, I have to dig deep, but there is always something to be thankful for.
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
JA: To never doubt myself or God’s plan for me. There have been times when being a mom and trying to share my story with others becomes overwhelming and I wonder, should I keep doing this? And I’ll ask God to confirm His plan. He never fails me and I’ll receive confirmation.
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
JA: Stay strong! And you have no idea how good it’s going to get! I actually wrote a blog entry about this when I turned 40 a couple years back. Never in a million years would I think I would be able to walk with ease. Yes, I still need to keep the stress levels low, get lots of sleep and exercise to maintain my physical abilities, but it’s totally worth it!
Learn more about Jean on her website at jeanabbot.com.