|This is from birth (4-82) to graduation (6-04)
I am Melissa Lynn Cheatwood, AKA "ICE PRINCESS." I have blonde hair, blue
eyes, and I am 5 ft. tall. I had a slow start at life; I was born
on Easter Sunday 4-11-82 at Hialeah Hospital in Miami, Fla. I was 2 1/2
months premature, and much to my mother's happiness of having a girl, she
was unaware of all the health problems I was born with. I was not
breathing when I was born, and the nurses rushed me to the Newborn ICU
where I lived for 2 months before I got to go home.
While in the NICU, I
was receiving 85% oxygen on a ventilator and a respirator. I had jaundice
and had to wear those eye pads when they would put the bilirubin lamp on
me which helped to get rid of the jaundice. I was unable to wear a diaper
or clothes at first because the extra weight put too much pressure on my
little 4 pound body. The doctors and specialist held very little hope for
me to survive this premature birth. However, with my mother, father, and
brother Kyle at my incubator side, I was a fighter and fought all the way.
Although they could not hold me until I was 1 month old, they could pat me
ever so gently, and they bought me a pink musical kitty cat which sat on
top of my incubator as only sterile items could go inside. They had to
change clothes and scrub before they were allowed into the NICU. Once I
got up to 5 pounds and was strong enough, I was able to go home. However,
after only being home for 1 month, I had to return to the ICU with double
pneumonia. I was in the ICU for 2 weeks and had an oxygen tent over my
crib. When I came home they had to keep the house sterile and at that
point, they had decided that I had so many problems with my little lungs
that they made our home and car smoke-free. My parents didn't smoke, but
they had friends that did, and they all understood that they had to keep
my environment smoke-free if I was to get better.
My milestones; I sat up at age 1 year old, crawled at 18 months,
and did not walk until I was 2 years old. As you can see, I had a rough
start. At age 1 year old, I got pneumonia once again. I had no speech at 2
years old, so the doctors had me evaluated at Miami Children's Hospital
where for the first time my parents heard that their beautiful baby girl
had mental retardation. The doctors' office put them in touch with the
school system in Miami so they could get me into special education
pre-school classes. At speech therapy in school the pathologist could not
get me to use my voice to produce speech. So she started teaching me to
use sign language. While using sign language, the pathologist still hung
onto the hope of me producing sounds for speech. After a year of using
sign language, I started making sounds. It was at that point that they
dropped the sign
language and encouraged the speech. This was while
attending Tropical Elementary in Miami under the teacher of Delores
Mendoza and speech pathologist Mrs. Kaplan. From age 18 months old to about 10 years old, I had breath holding spells where I would literally
hold my breath until I turned blue and eventually passed out. I had several
cat scans to check for seizure activity. There were some seizures, but it
was something that I outgrew.
At age 5 years old in 1987 me and my family moved to Virginia Beach, VA
as my father, Mike, was promoted in his business and that brought us
there. I continued in special education classes, and they only taught me
functional words (hot, cold, danger & etc.) It wasn't until I was in
Princess Anne Middle School with my teacher Andrea Gengler (Deidre Hall's
twin sister) that I learned more than functional speech. Andrea bought
'Hooked-on-Phonics' and taught me to read for enjoyment. Although I can
read, it is not at my age level of 20 years old. Rather, I read more at
the kindergarten level.
I was also born with an eating disorder which did not appear until I
was about 8 years old. I am doing great with my weight now, only have those
last 5 to 8 pounds to take off. It has been a long and hard road. Three
years ago I was at the top of my weight at 175 pounds-- now I am 139!!!! I
am working with a genetic dietician from Children's Hospital. My family is
very pleased with my progress. Considering that I was not expected to
live, I have come a long way.
School; I graduated from Ocean Lakes High School in Va. Bch, Va in 6-04. I received a special diploma with a recognition for my Honor Roll status for the last 2 years of High School!!!!!!!!!!!! After my graduation we moved to Texas as my grandfather was seriously ill. My parents and I lived on a sailboat and we sailed from the Chesapeake Bay in Va. to the Gulf Coast in Texas. Since moving to Texas my grandfather passed away and my mom has become "visually impaired". She can still watch me skate but has to use a special eye scope.
Sports; roller-blading, swimming, basketball, volleyball, billiards, bowling and of course ICE SKATING.
Hobbies; I love to fish and go dolphin watching. My parents call me
"Dolphin Girl". I also recently discovered ceramics with my grandfather in
Texas. I love to paint, and I have a pretty steady hand for it. I also
like to go bike riding at the State Park in town and see all the small
wild animals (such as squirrels, birds).
Jobs; my high school class has various job sites where the students
work to see where they would like to work upon graduation. I work at
Wal-Mart, the Virginia Marine Science Museum as a hostess, Food Lion, Geico and other sites. I
also volunteer in the youth room of the Princess Anne Recreation Center.
Goals; since mastering SS10 my goals are to continue working on all my new jumps, spins,
combinations, moves in the field and dance.