I honestly think that writing this blog has been one of the best decisions of my life. My friends and family can stay in the loop and I’ve received so much support from near and far.
I now have another reason why I’m happy to blog about our life. I often times “link up” with other special needs bloggers so we can get to know other each other and expand our reach. Through a link-up I was recently contacted by a young woman. She is a triplet and has mild spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. Her brothers are unaffected. We’ve emailed a few times back and forth and she is simply amazing. She’s answered my questions and spoke of her own experiences on growing up with CP. My new friend is currently a freshman in college and I tried to offer her a few bits of advice after being in her shoes exactly 10 years ago.
I wanted to share some parts of her emails because she has really changed my outlook on Caleb’s future. She’s brought up some amazing points and well… I’ll let you read for yourself.
On her experiences in school:
“There was one clear instance when my brother stood up for me, one of the first days of kindergarten…I was carefully climbing up the steps on the school bus, and the girl behind me screamed, “WHY ARE YOU SO SLOW?!” The words had barely sunk in when one of my brothers, who was standing nearby, yelled back at the girl to leave me alone, and because of that, I look at that moment as a positive experience. Throughout elementary school, funnily enough, I was friends with that girl…I went to her birthday parties and she went to mine, and she ended up doing her senior project on cerebral palsy and hippotherapy – life works in mysterious ways sometimes!”
Her stance on the opinions of doctors:
“I did walk unassisted throughout school, although I fell on cement in eighth grade, broke my femur, and had to walk with forearm crutches for a couple years after that…my doctor said I probably wouldn’t get rid of them after the accident, and he predicted that I would need a wheelchair for long distances…well, he was shocked when I strolled into his office without crutches! Caleb will probably find this to be true someday as well – one of the best parts about having CP is proving the doctors wrong…listen to what the doctors have to say, but remember that with all their medical training, they don’t factor in determination. Willpower is an incredible thing!”
On understanding CP as a child:
“CP can be so hard to deal with sometimes…when I was little, my mom gave me a prayer book, and there was one prayer that left me with questions…next to the prayer was a picture of a girl with rollerskates, and the prayer was something like, “God, thank you for giving me two legs that work well and allow me to run and jump.” I would stare at that picture and wonder why God didn’t give me legs that let me rollerskate, why He didn’t give me legs that allowed me to run and jump like the other kids…and then I realized – my challenges have taught me so much. Because of my CP, I have learned lessons and skills so much more valuable than running and jumping and rollerskating. Every time I step up or down a curb, I celebrate a little inside…I don’t take life for granted…I know the importance of suspending judgment of others because I understand how it feels to be unfairly judged…I know what it’s like to accomplish what doctors told you you would never be able to do, like riding a bicycle. The lessons that Caleb will learn from his CP are, in my opinion, well worth the heartache and pain and “why me” feelings that he will inevitably experience sometimes.”
The role cerebral palsy has played in her life:
“CP will definitely not define Caleb’s life!!! For me personally, even though I have to make little daily adjustments in my life to compensate for my CP, it’s not something that I think about often. I am a girl who loves to write, a girl who plays the piano and joins school clubs, who goes to college and reads books, a girl who snuggles her dogs and argues with her parents sometimes but loves them all the same. I am a girl who laughs with her friends and quotes her favorite lines from movies, a girl who eats too much candy for her own good sometimes, goes shopping at the mall, obsesses with her mom over sushi and does her homework. I am a girl who often forgets to make her bed, and a girl who doodles in the margins of her notebooks. I also have cerebral palsy, but it’s just one little piece of who I am. It’s the same with Caleb – as you know, he is so much more than CP!”
Isn’t she amazing? How lucky am I to have “met” her? So much insight & wisdom from a young lady and she’s so incredibly well-spoken. I’ve bookmarked her emails and plan to read them over before our next set of doctor’s appointments and on days where I’m feeling sorry for myself for the hand Caleb was dealt. She is truly an inspiration and such a great role model for Caleb. Thanks so much for reaching out to me!
I’ll leave you with my favorite part of her email. I hope Caleb feels like this someday too!
“And that reminds me of another benefit of CP: my friends are some of the most genuine and kindest people that I have ever met, because the judgmental people don’t even bother to get to know me!”