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Mom of one Nikita was born with spina bifida, and her parents were told that she'd be dead by the time she was two years old. Not only is this mom now living her healthiest life, she is proof that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that results in the incomplete formation of the spine and spinal cord. It occurs during the first month of a baby's development in the womb, and there is no known cure. When Nakita's mom was pregnant, neither she nor the doctors noticed Nakita's condition. Once doctors discovered her bone defect, they told Nakita's parents that she would have no quality of life.
"My parents were told I would be a paraplegic, I needed a brain shunt [a device that relieves excess cerebrospinal fluid collected in the brain], I would never walk, and that I would likely be dead by 2. My left leg [was] often blue with no response, no reflexes, and no sensation from the knee down. Some went as far to say that I would amount to nothing."
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Despite this heartache, Nikita's parents decided to choose quality over quantity of life, rejecting the need for brain shunt surgery. However, by the time she was 2, she'd had several major spinal surgeries. "My mum pushed hard and taught me to walk relatively normal on my numb leg. I walked periodically unaided but often found myself bound to a wheelchair."
For Nikita, her childhood and teen years consisted of numerous health obstacles and surgeries. "By 8, they began reconstructing my left leg and stopped anticipating my death. By 20, I had had five full left-leg reconstructions. Five times I had to learn to walk again. Five times I resembled a scrap pile of metal more than a human."
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At 21, Nikita was at her heaviest: 231 pounds. "I was faced with the tough reality that my weight was further crushing my spinal cord. I lost more sensation." After the premature birth of her son Darcy, who was born through fertility treatment, Nikita admits she never truly looked after him or herself until he was three months old. It was then that a friend introduced Nikita to The Healthy Mummy, a weight loss company designed for moms. Since then, she's lost 85 pounds.
"I haven't sat in my wheelchair since starting my weight loss journey. I've definitely faced battles completing exercises and pushing hard like a 'normal' person, but I've pushed and come out the other side stronger than ever. My doctors are blown away with what I have achieved with my many hurdles along the way."
And while the numbers on the scales, lost inches, looser clothes, and her more positive outlook are fabulous achievements, Nikita has learned to value her life and health so much more. "If you take anything from this, [it's that] you can do it. No matter your struggle, you can manipulate your life to work for you. To get the best out of every second. Don't take it for granted. Do it for your kids. Do it for your supporters. Do it for your health. Do it for your future!"
This article was written by Now to Love editors. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.