Proof that no one has an excuse not to join Ballet Classes!
Today on the EBA Blog we have a special guest writer – our very own Miss Hannah. You may see Miss Hannah’s smiling face in our Brilliant Ballet class each week, or working at the front desk of our Ellenbrook studio every Saturday morning, and you may even see her on stage at our upcoming Spring Showcase next month!
Wherever you know her from, you will know what an absolute ray of sunshine she is. I have never known someone to have the ability to brighten someone’s day so quickly. Whether it be a new student joining in their ballet classes for the first time, a parent needing some extra advice about which dance classes to book into, or for any of Team EBA needing a bit of a morale lift.
That is what makes me even more excited to share Miss Hannah’s story with you today, and with Red Nose Day coming up in August the timing seems even more fitting.
Hannah is proof you can do anything you put your mind to.
Here is Hannah’s story…
Miss Erin xx
My name is Hannah, I am 32 years old and I have Cerebral Palsy. I was not born with Cerebral
Palsy however. When I was roughly 6 weeks old, I suffered from SIDS and died. This is a “brief”
summary of my story which my parents retold to me many times throughout my childhood. I am
sharing my story with the intention to raise awareness of SIDS. With Red Nose Day just around
the corner, I feel like it is important to show how the impact of SIDS can be a lifelong experience
that can affect many individuals and their families, and with the hopes of showing that it does
not have to be a negative experience for their entire life.
I was born male in May 1990 to two amazing parents and was the youngest of four siblings. My
Mum has told me that I was a very happy baby that rarely cried. One night around the time I
was 6 weeks old, she decided to go visit my Aunty and left me and my three older siblings with
my Dad. My Dad told me that he put me to sleep on their bed and went to watch tv on the
couch. Several hours later, my Mum arrived home and saw him asleep on the couch.
As she entered her room, she said I looked very still and she just had this intense gut feeling that
something was wrong and that she had to check on me immediately. Upon picking me up, she
noticed that my eyes were rolling upwards towards the back of my head, I was extremely hot
and that my breathing was very shallow and drawn out. She called 000 and an ambulance came
and rushed me to the state children’s hospital. While in the ambulance, I completely stopped
breathing and the paramedics had to resuscitate me. Upon arriving at the hospital, I was
admitted to the ICU and the doctors told my parents that I was a victim of SIDS.
Over the next few days I suffered from three separate heart attacks, each one requiring me to be resuscitated.
During my stay in the ICU, a priest read me my last rights. My Mum tells me how during one
attempt of resuscitation, I remained medically dead for over 3 and a half minutes. The doctors
soon told my parents that due to the lack of oxygen to the brain, the scans showed that all my
brain cells and tissue had darkened and essentially died. They referred to this as “severe brain
scarring” and said due to this I would never develop further, and that I would be a nonverbal
“vegetable” constrained to a wheelchair, with no muscle control or awareness for the rest of my
life. Since I was still in the ICU on life support, they suggested that my Mum should consider
“pulling the plug”. My Mum says that it was a very hard time in her life and that she did consider
it for a moment but only because she had 3 other young children at home and she worried how
my lifelong care would affect their lives.
While she was sitting next to me in the ICU I opened my eyes and looked at her. She swears that when she looked back into my eyes she could see some intelligence and at that moment she knew she had to fight for me, she decided that she was not going to give up hope. She then says that there were no further complications or issues
for several days and that I was taken off of the life support machine and transferred out of the
ICU. Several days later some doctors approached her and said that they did not fully
understand it but a large amount of the brain scarring in the scans had receded and that they
believed I was out of the worst of it.
Over the next few years and into my young childhood I started developing and reaching milestones yet at a slower pace than average kids. I was officially diagnosed with cerebral palsy and throughout my childhood into my early teens I received physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy 4 times a week. I have an
amazing memory and I recall many hard times growing up due to my cerebral palsy. I feel very
lucky that my entire family was supportive and helped me grow into who I am today.
Of course, some days were much harder than others and the idea of pressing forward while facing
challenges that others my age did not have to face seemed almost impossible and kind of futile
at times. Although I was “lucky” enough that I could walk and that the cerebral palsy mainly
affected my left leg, I had a lot of anger, resentment and depression that I was not able to
participate in activities that other kids were doing, one of which was ballet. Despite these
negative thoughts from time to time, I was still somehow a really positive and happy person. I
just told myself to keep on fighting for the fun moments in life because they would be better than
the harder times.
As I aged, I underwent several surgeries on my leg to improve my walking
capabilities and limp appearance. I like to think that despite the darker moments in my story that it is a story of hope and inspiration! When I was 17, I was the first out of my friends to receive my drivers licence and
then later that year I graduated year 12 with my WACE. I then worked for several years as a
teacher assistant, helping children with special needs. When I was 21, I went to university to
study nursing. While studying, I travelled throughout Scandinavia and even lived in Norway for
several months. I completed my second year of nursing and although I then decided that the
career was not for me, I felt proud and accomplished that I was capable of attending university
and that the choice to leave was my own.
At 24, I travelled to China and attended a kung fu academy for an entire year. Due to my cerebral palsy and leg, I did struggle and found a lot of the training challenging. However, I just kept pushing forward and trying my best and over time the training got easier and I started to be able to do things I never thought I would be capable of
doing. Towards the end of my time in China, I decided that I had to follow my heart and transition from male to female. I returned to Australia a week before my 26th birthday and
started the transition process.
On my 27th birthday, I officially started living as “Hannah”. Now at
32, I have been learning ballet at EBA for a few weeks short of a year, and I am so proud that
similar to at the kung fu academy I am making progress, slowly seeing results and am about to
perform in my first Ballet solo performance.
As someone who has lived a life with a disability that was originally caused by SIDS, I am a very
strong supporter of Red Nose Day and other such events. Raising awareness and researching
ways to prevent more lives from being affected by SIDSs is so important. Despite being very
happy with my life and what I have accomplished so far, I strongly believe that no one should
have to face such challenges, especially during childhood. I hope everyone supports Red Nose
Day in any and whatever way they are capable of contributing!