Six Things Google Doesn't Tell You About Cerebral Palsy
When you Google Cerebral Palsy, you’ll find tons of infographics, bad stock photos, and Web MD articles listing every possible symptom. We all know the basics, or at least pretend that we do. We know that somewhere along the line, a developing brain was damaged, leaving a person with impaired control of their muscles. But those things are basic and boring, and often, don’t cover the things I wish people really understood about my CP.
Here are 6 things Google doesn’t tell you about Cerebral Palsy:
1. Cerebral Palsy is a “snowflake condition”.
This means that while two people may have the exact same diagnosis on paper, it will never present itself in the exact same way. Just because your mom’s coworker’s sister has a son who has CP doesn’t mean that we share any of the same symptoms, struggles, or triumphs. The therapies and medications that have helped him might not do anything for me. No, I probably don’t know him. No, I don’t think we’d make a cute couple. Cerebral Palsy is as unique as the person who lives with it.
On that note, remember, this list is unique to me.
2. The symptoms of my CP aren’t always obvious.
I’ve jokingly called CP Clinical Clumsiness, and honestly, that's not that far from the truth. Sometimes, my movements are unpredictable and out of control. If I’ve broken a wine glass of yours, I’m sorry. I’m probably more sorry that I spilled the wine.
My sense of direction is that of a toddler. Don’t laugh at me or question me when I use Siri to map us to a place we’ve gone 1,000 times before. No, I don’t know how to get there.
I’m also beyond terrible at math. Seriously, I needed one-on-one help in Freshman Geometry. Thankfully, finding the radius of a circle is never something I have needed in my adult life. Who would have thought?
3. If I tell you I struggle with something- please believe me.
Among the seemingly invisible symptoms of my Cerebral Palsy are my impaired fine motor skills and coordination. I’ll never forget the day that I worked up the courage to tell my boss I was having a hard time hole punching and binding exhibits. “It’ll be a fun challenge!”, he said. An hour later, he was left with some seriously rough looking work, and I was still not having fun. Admitting that I have a hard time doing basic things can be embarrassing, especially in a professional setting, or if I don’t know you well. I would never make these things up for shits and giggles, so please take my word for it.
4. Living in my body feels different every day.
If you go back to those bad infographics and WebMD Articles I was talking about, you’ll learn that Cerebral Palsy isn’t progressive. It’s true. Once the damage is done to the brain, no additional areas will be affected. Every day I’m grateful for that. However, a number of factors, from the weather to my mood, can play a role in how I’m feeling and moving on any given day. Some days, I kill it in the gym and still feel up for a walk on the treadmill after work. Other days, the only work out I can manage is shimmying into skinny jeans. Don’t question it, roll with it.
5. I have my bad days, too.
A few weeks ago, I cried because I wanted to take the dog for a walk, which isn’t something I can do independently. I’ve teared up in frustration while trying unsuccessfully to put my hair up for for the 37th time. Sometimes, these small insignificant struggles creep up on me, and whisper a thought I always try to push away: I just wish things were easier. The few times I’ve expressed these frustrations I’ve been met with some less than helpful remarks:
“It could be worse”
“You’ve never felt this way before”
“Oh well, nothing you can do.”
Maybe you won’t know what to say, but I just need you to listen.
6. I don’t feel #Blessed by Cerebral Palsy, but I don’t feel cursed by it, either.
If you read my blog, Facebook or Twitter, you may get the impression that I eat, sleep, and breathe CP. It’s undoubtedly a huge part of my life, and it’s provided me with some social media gold, but most days, I feel pretty neutral about it. When I’m up to my eyeballs in work, when I’m at happy hour with my friends, or when I’m engrossed in the latest Lifetime movie, odds are I'm not giving a single thought to having Cerebral Palsy.
I’ve heard tons of people say they feel blessed to have their disabilities because of the way it has shaped their life for the better. In my opinion, that’s giving CP too much credit. Cerebral Palsy or not, I would still be the same sassy, overly emotional, and driven person I am now, because at the end of the day, there is so much more to me than Cerebral Palsy, and that's what Google doesn't tell you.
If you have Cerebral Palsy, what is something you wish people knew? Comment below!