That question that nobody dare ask!
Sometimes, disability can be treated as a bit of a 'taboo' subject, which if I'm being honest I've never quite understood. Personally, all I want in life is to be treated as 'just another human being' - the number of people that go all 'weird' because I have a disability can sometimes be a tad eye opening. I have always said that having Cerebral Palsy can often sort out life's true & genuine people from life's 'wasters' pretty quickly!
People often don't ask about my disability out of fear of 'offending' me, or out of fear of looking 'nosey'. However, I'd much rather people just ask! If I'm being honest, although this may sound a bit bizarre, when people do ask, I kind of enjoy telling them about it! And, it tells me a lot about them as a person - I have often found that the people who do ask are the most genuine people, who just want to get on with everyone & want to be everyone's friend!
Photo credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-just-ask-8/
So, there's always two questions that no one 'dare' to appear to ask! But, as ever, I am more than happy to answer them!
The first one is:
'How did you get Cerebral Palsy?!'
I can kind of see why people may feel a bit 'nosey' asking this one, but I'd rather they ask instead of some of the ridiculous assumptions I've had over my life! My personal favourites being 'she must've caught it when she was little' and 'she must've got drunk as a toddler & just stayed that way' - I couldn't breathe when I got given the drunken toddler one, what on earth?! Haha!
As a lot of you will know, the list can be endless for the causes of Cerebral Palsy. I must admit, I have friends who have some quite spectacular stories to tell - we've been known to have 'who's story is the most dramatic?!' competitions, haha! The reactions I get in relation to me vary - if I am the first person someone has met with CP, they're kind of on the edge of their seat! Whereas, if the person I'm telling knows a few people with Cerebral Palsy, they're kind of like "ahh, yeah, pretty standard!", haha!
So, my Cerebral Palsy was acquired at birth. To put it simply, I was the wrong way around & I got stuck, which I often make dodgy jokes about which I'll leave to the imagination of you older ones! By the time they eventually got me out, I wasn't breathing at all (literally blue & gone!) - oh so dramatic! I shouldn't laugh but I can't remember a thing about it, so I just see it as my funny, heart-stopping (literally!) entrance into the world! I've always lived by the motto 'make an entrance', so why should being born be an exception?! By the time I was breathing back in the intensive care baby place (don't know what the actual name is!) I had acquired a brain injury due to having no oxygen for a period of time, which presents itself as Cerebral Palsy.
We always joke that I was being my usual awkward self on the day of my birth! I have never been a morning person & my Mum was trying to give birth to me at like 6.30am - way too early for me!
As I said, not a lot of people often 'dare' to ask why and how. Just ask ... go on, dare you! (I might also put you off childbirth in the process, haha!)
Photo credit: http://www.eurodiaconia.org/2016/03/moving-from-what-to-how/
The second question that often people daren't ask is quite a deep & thought-provoking. It is a question that I actually quite like to give an answer to, partly because I don't give the answer that people are expecting. This question is:
'If you could be able-bodied tomorrow, would you be?"
People (who 'dare' to ask in the first place!) expect me to jump at them with the answer of 'YES!'. I've come to realise that most able-bodied people believe that being disabled is a 'bad' thing & it is a 'bad' place to be. Don't get me wrong, there are some days, although rare, where I'm like "oh, I can't be doing with Cerebral Palsy today", but a) tough, because it is a friend for life, b) there are a lot worst things to have in the world, and c) we all have days where we can't be doing with someone or something. So, when I answer this question straight back with a simple 'no' and with a smile, people can be a bit taken back.
I suppose this links back to the last blog post where I spoke about being lucky enough to receive some amazing opportunities purely because I have Cerebral Palsy. For starters, if I became able-bodied tomorrow, I wouldn't be 'me' - I am who I am because of the things I've done & the things I've experienced, my life has been taken down a path & shaped in a way it wouldn't have been if I didn't have Cerebral Palsy. Of course, some of the things I wish hadn't had happened along the way, but I think this is the same as anyone else's life, able-bodied & disabled. And, some of the unpleasant experiences along the way have lead to amazing, life-changing experiences, e.g. my so-called 'friends' isolating me at school, which lead to CP Teens UK!
Having Cerebral Palsy has meant that I don't do things at a fast speed, or even a normal speed. Sometimes, people are so busy that they forget to sit back and look at the bigger picture and look at what is going on around them. Cerebral Palsy has forced me to take life at a slower pace. My Mum says that when I was little, whilst all the other kids were running around at 100 miles per hour, I just used to sit, watch & listen and take everything in. Because of this, I've often been told I have been very in-tune to what's going on around me and very socially aware. I am also often nicknamed 'hawk eye' as I often spot things that other's don't spot! I enjoy having to take life at a slower pace - I see things that I probably wouldn't see if I was able-bodied and I see everything through a slightly different lens to everybody else.
Photo credit: http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Design-on-Style-Life-Dance-Rain-Vinyl-Wall-Art-Quote/5109864/product.html
I have met some truly wonderful people and made some amazing friends through having Cerebral Palsy, and CP Teens UK is a brilliant example of this. My involvement in disability sport has also given me incredible friendships. I would say that now, 95% of my friends have Cerebral Palsy or a similar disability, compared to 4 years ago when I was at school and 100% of my friends were able-bodied. I am now so, so much more happier than I ever was when all of my friends were able-bodied. I am not knocking the able-bodied friends who I have and who have stuck by me - of course, I would not be without them, they are my world & they're invaluable to me. However, through no fault of their own, I haven't got the same special bond with my able-bodied friends that I have with my friends who have Cerebral Palsy. There is just 'something' there that I can't really describe with my friends who have Cerebral Palsy. With the best will in the world, when I go out with my able-bodied friends, they're not going to want to listen to me talk about how the time I can spend standing up seems to be decreasing as my back pain is now coming on sooner! They're blooming 21, not 92!
I wouldn't have had the privilege of being able to call some of the wonderful people I can call my friends if I hadn't have had Cerebral Palsy, and the thought of that actually makes me feel quite sad!
I could go on all day answering the question about would I be able-bodied tomorrow if I could. In one simple answer - no, thank you!