By Scott Thompson
MEET THE remarkable woman born with a condition that doctors usually advise to abort because of symptoms that can leave the child unable to do ANYTHING for themselves – but this woman is proving everyone wrong by living as independently as anyone else.
Bank adjudicator, Brittanie Wilson (32) from St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, survived a condition that kills a third of those affected before the age of two. She was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) which is caused by the unborn baby not moving correctly during development. The condition affects people in different ways, some are able to walk, and some aren’t, in Brittanie’s case it is characterised by having curved joints and limited mobility.
Unfortunately, pessimistic doctors’ expectations of her ability in life were incredibly low, having told her parents Toye and Philip that she would never be able to take care of herself.
Before even starting primary school at the age of five Brittanie had to have five surgeries on her feet and legs to have them angled correctly and help increase flexibility and mobility.
During her time at school she wore casts on her legs and leg braces on top of going to physical therapy several times a week so she was able to improve her range of motion.
“My condition is an umbrella diagnosis and it can include other medical conditions not experienced by me. AMC affects people differently, some can walk, while others, like myself, can’t,” Brittanie said.
“When I was born the doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself at all, in any way, shape or form. When I look back on this it makes me very upset that they set the expectations for my life so low.
“I know what doctors say carries some serious weight, and I can only imagine how that must’ve felt for my parents. It must have been terrifying and there were so many unknowns.
“When I was born, I guess very little was known about children and adults with AMC. I can’t say for certain, but perhaps they think they were trying to prepare my parents for a worst-case scenario.
“Before I was just five years old, I had to have five operations on my feet and legs so they would be angled correctly and give me much more flexibility and motion.
“As a child I also wore casts and braces on my legs. I also had physiotherapy on a regular basis so that I could maintain a range of motion.”
Defying the doctor’s orders, her parents had another life planned out for her and never gave up on their little girl. For every barrier put in her way they created a solution, they modified and changed things around and told Brittanie over and over again that there was nothing wrong with her. While she admits this didn’t always work, it certainly made her strong, independent, resilient and incredibly resourceful.
Brittanie’s fate was to never be independent, never live alone or even dress herself. Now she wakes up every morning in her own home, dresses herself and with the assistance of an electric wheelchair, she goes out to work every day as an adjudicator at a bank. She also came out of a seven-year relationship so that she could continue to grow as an independent person.
After work she enjoys swimming, which has dramatically helped with her range of movement. But that isn’t the only benefit she has reaped, as being open in public has improved her self-image and self-esteem and now, she doesn’t worry about showing the scars on her legs.
“I’m very lucky to have been born by my parents. I was raised to be independent and find a way to modify whatever I needed in order to figure things out. I distinctly remember my mum saying to me over and over through the years ‘there’s nothing wrong with you’,” she continued.
“Albeit this strategy didn’t work every single time, but it taught me that by being a little resourceful I could usually find a solution to most problems.
“I’ve learnt to adapt to the best of my ability. I live on my own, I have a full-time job and I love to go swimming. In the first half of 2019 I’ve swam over 50 miles and I have to say it’s had an incredible impact on my range of motion. Also, I’m not scared of the public seeing my scars anymore.
“I was in a relationship with a wonderful guy called Brye and he’s still one of my closest friends. We met when I Was only 22, and although we had a loving seven-year relationship it drew to a close so that we could both continue to grow. Also, I needed to regain my independence.
“I feel as though I’ve come into my own now and it’s amazing. Growing up I was given the wrong impression of what it meant to be beautiful, and because I didn’t see others like myself, it took time to learn to love who I am. Now as an adult, I know I’m beautiful, not just in how I look, but also because of my differences. We all come in different shapes and sizes.
“And since this year I am an open book, here are my scars and I refuse to hide them anymore.”
Brittanie is now using her experience to be a role model and advocate for others who have AMC through her Instagram @brittanie.wilson She wants to raise awareness to the public, especially expectant mothers who are told to abort their children because they have the same condition she has that hasn’t stopped her from living an amazing, happy and full life.
“I’m proving everyone wrong and I’m not the only case. Tragically, mothers are being told to abort their child when doctors find out they have AMC during pregnancy. Basically, this is robbing people of the rewarding life they could have had. This is not ok and needs to go public,” Brittanie said.
“No matter how hard life is or how difficult it can be sometimes in this world, we are worthy of life and we matter.”
You can follow Brittanie’s amazing journey on her Instagram.