Monday, August 31, 2015

What happened to me and why you don't get to know.

        I have Cerebral Palsy, ( for those of you that don't know) and I recently had a Baclofen pump placed on July 22nd, 2015.  

        To begin this post, let me give you the background infromation. I am currently using crutches to walk and wearing an abdominal binder brace. The brace is due to my most recent surgery and is not something I will wear forever, just until I heal. I am currently walking slower due to the surgery as well. 

        So my brother and I are leaving our small town Dairy Queen. My brother goes through to hold the door as I slowly walk through and tells me to take my time as this middle age man approached. The man insisted that he hold both doors for me. That is fine and I am appreciative. Here's where things go wrong: 

Man: "What happened to her?" (Looks at my brother) 
Brother: looks at me.

Me: "I had surgery." ( easier than explaining the CP then the surgery) 

Man: (looks at my brother) "I'll pray for her." 

First, thanks sir, for your prayers. Second, does anyone else see the problem? No? Here, I'll help. 

1. Nothing has "happened" to me. 

Honestly, nothing has. I was born with CP, it didn't just happen. Second, you're assuming that something has happened because I am not walking or moving like society has dubbed "normal". Stop.  

2. It's really none of your business 

I'm not trying to be rude but, it's true. I do not feel like I should have to explain to a stranger what I deal with as far as my health. I don't ask people why they wear glasses, I assume they need them and move on. You don't get to know. My family and friends know. Just as I don't know about Your personal health you don't get to know mine. 

3. It's rude 

What if I went through a traumatic accident and didn't want to talk about that. Or, what if I only had a couple of weeks to live, I can assure you, I wouldn't want to answer the question then. 

4. My crutches don't make me deaf or non-verbal 

Come on society, why are we still assuming that people with disabilities can't do things? Direct your question at me if you have to know what "happened". Speak to me. Yes, I realize that there are people that cannot answer for themselves but, don't assume that right away. Give them a chance. Acknowledge me as a human being if you are going to question my ability status. 

Ok, I am aware that some people are curious or "not sure what to say" (my personal favorite excuse people make for the reason that this question is asked.) but that doesn't make it ok for you to ask. Also, if you do feel the need to ask please stick with "What happened?" And not "What's wrong?" Just please avoid this situation. When people ask the latter, it really stirs up a fire. 


I was walking across Walmart parking lot in the same day. This man had to wait for me to cross the lane slowly. We had motioned for him to go ahead, as we knew it would take me forever to cross. He insisted that I go ahead. After I crossed, I turned to thank him, he rolled down his window and said "You are doing great! Keep it up." 

Now, I am not saying it's not ok to ask people about their disability, because I do think it's important for people to be educated. I just think you should avoid asking complete strangers about their ability status. 

Oh, and by the way, I'm doing fine since surgery. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

5 Things Cerebral Palsy has taught me

5 things Cerebral Palsy has taught me

I bet if I were to tell you that my disability has taught me a lot about life you would think I was crazy. Living 22 years with cerebral palsy in a world that is meant for abled bodies has taught me a little.

1. Educate others

CP has allowed me to educate individuals in away that is different from the way that the media portrays individuals with disabilities.  CP has allowed me to make difference in the way in which abled bodied individuals may choose to interact with a person with a disability. I have been given an opportunity to see first hand what can make a difference and teach others how they can too. 

2. Perseverance 

CP has taught to keep trying over and over after each failure. The ability to fight through the pain and everyday obstacles to live a life that makes me happy. CP has made me stronger. Keep reaching for new goals even after failure. 

3. Something to fight for

CP has taught me to speak up. CP has given me a burning flame to fight for equal access and opportunity for people with disabilities. This isn't a personal battle I want to fight for me ( yes I know I would benefit) but, it's a battle that I don't want others to face in the future. 

4. Never doubt 

CP has taught me to never doubt myself. I feel like I can't doubt my ability because something great could be around the corner. For example, Before I started walking with out assistive devices I was on the swing set with my brothers. They encouraged me to jump off the swing  ( I have no clue why they thought I could do that). I jumped. After I jumped I landed on my feet and kept walking. This was insane. However, I'm glad I didn't doubt them. They knew I could jump off but I don't think the quite knew what was going to happen. 

5. Life is not easy

From a young age nothing was easy. From surgeries to going to school was hard. CP proved that from day one. No, I'm not asking for pity and I'm not saying my life is harder than yours but I will say that I've known that things are tough sometimes since I was a little girl. Those tough times though have taught me a lot. 

Although Cerebral Palsy has taught me more than 5 things, these are the 5 I am most grateful for. I'm still working on understanding how these pieces fit into my life as an adult. I am excited to see what CP will teach me in the next 22 years.