This is like that awkward first day of school where the teacher makes everyone go up to the front of the classroom and introduce themselves with their name, where they’re from, and a fun fact about themselves, as if it’s really all that fun.
In the spirit of awkward first days, let me give it a shot. My name is Bianca, I was born and raised in Florida, and I was born with Cerebral Palsy.
That’s usually the part where I’d let out a big breath as if I had unburdened myself of some big secret. Although if you met me, my cerebral palsy usually introduces itself before I can get a word in edgewise.
As simply as I can explain it, Cerebral Palsy is a condition that affects motor skills and posture. Like anything nowadays, the signs and symptoms of the disability lay on a spectrum. It can affect your speech, movement, and muscle tone.
The countless doctors and physical therapists I’ve seen throughout my life tell me I’m lucky. If we wanted to give it a number, it’s like I’m only 15% handicapped. My CP doesn’t affect my right side of my body at all, my speech and cognitive ability are all intact, my only physical tell is limp in my left leg.
Life with my CP is all I know. I can’t cure it, I can’t ignore it, so why the hell shouldn't I embrace it.
It’s not always easy, I tend to think I can do anything, that is until I come to a set of steps where there isn’t a handrail. Can you imagine, being thwarted by steps?
Every so often, I come across little tasks like these. Tasks that are for the overwhelming majority, the simplest things in the world, yet I can't quite master them the way someone else would. But that is okay because I always figure out a workaround.
I always say that I may not do a task the same way as someone else but what matters is that I accomplish the task.
Although all stairs should come with a handrail, I mean come on!
As for how I felt about my CP I was never bothered by it. I chose to love my body as it was, as imperfect as it may have been, it was still mine. It’s the only one I’ll ever have. What got me down was how others treated me because of it. I never wanted anyone’s pity because I was different. People are inherently suspicious of things they don’t understand. How was I supposed to explain Cerebral palsy to kids when I barely understood it myself, back then?
To constantly feel like the “other” was heartbreaking, I then felt like I had to overcompensate in all other aspects of my character, to get people to look past my handicap, so that they would like me.
I carried on like that for a long time, then I got in a car accident where I broke both ankles and my knee. I learned a lot in that recovery process. I learned that you can try as hard as you like but, there is no way you can hide a wheelchair, or a walker, or a quad-legged cane.
The recovery process was like starting over with the progress me and my CP made.
It was like my body forgot the first 25 years of life, which in a lot of ways was like the biggest betrayal.
One of the first things you learn as a baby, I was relearning at 25 and it is hard, let me tell you.
I wear an ankle-foot orthotic now and as much as I wish I didn’t, I need it. I’m not where I’d like to be in my recovery journey, and while I still love my body, now I don’t let other people’s reactions get the best of me. This time around I won’t overcompensate and pretend my handicap isn’t there just for their benefit.
People will have to like me, limped leg and all. I wake up now and put one foot in front of the other. So, while I am so proud of the progress I’ve made, I have so much more work to do.
I am fairly certain that I won’t be winning any Olympic gold medals in my lifetime and I am so okay with that. We rake in the medals just fine every 4 years anyway.
My goals and my finish lines are much more humble gains, but I will be just as proud of them.
I’ll be sharing my unique take on exercise and health, the pitfalls and the victories, so keep coming back I’d love to have you.
In the meantime, I’d love to get to know you, readers. It’s about time I passed the mic so leave a comment and tell me what are your names? Where are you from? I’d love to hear a fun fact about you.
- Bianca A