Waking up in pain and needing help to get out bed is all too typical for me. When you are born with a disability, you’re bound to face some sort of obstacles in life.
The best thing I learned over the years is to overcome all obstacles and always to be myself. Having this disability has affected my childhood, health, and even social life by dealing with prejudice. My disability has forced me to explore life in a different way.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t say it’s all bad and that I had a bad childhood.
Being born with a disability is not the end of the world. It’s not like when I was born I had a choice anyway — I couldn’t tell the doctor “no cerebral palsy please.” However, I did have to learn to do things differently.
For example, as a child in elementary school, every student in the class was learning how to write their ABC’s, while I was learning how to type them on the computer. Being older now has helped me understand that although my childhood may have been different, it did provide me with many advantages.
After childhood came my teenage years, which is when I began to notice the health concerns involved with my disability. My first surgery was at the age of 3, and I had my tendons released in my legs. When I turned 8, I had a hip surgery and was in a body cast for six weeks. I can remember this surgery because it happened two weeks before Halloween and I had the best costume in town. When trick-or-treaters came to the door, I just laid in my body cast in a special wheelchair with my face painted as a zombie thinking, “Wow this is so cool.”
Meanwhile, in the back of my head, I thought to myself “I hope these surgeries help me one day be able to walk.” My mother has taken me to many doctors and specialists over the years, and while some gave us hope, others told us it is not medically possible.
I believe I will always have health challenges in my life. However, I also believe in miracles and blessings. I try to stay positive and not think of all the judgment I have experienced throughout my life because I am in a wheelchair. Teens can be so mean when you appear to be different. I always feel like I have to prove myself, even though I can do most of the same things they do.
For example, I am part of an organization called “The Plantation Dynamites” where people with any type of disability get to play sports. Basketball and baseball are my favorites. My mom takes videos of me playing, and I like to put the videos up on my YouTube channel so I can show others that even though I am in a wheelchair, we are all the same. However, that doesn’t stop people from judging me when they see me out in public. Some people stare and even allow their kids to stare.
It makes me feel sad, but at the same time, I like to talk to those people. Most of the time they are shocked that I can talk, let alone have a conversation. It just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover.
Anyone with a disability will likely have to face obstacles and challenges, no matter what. The key is to learn from those challenges and keep pushing forward. Through my experiences in my childhood, health, and being prejudged, I learned to overcome it all.
I am older now and understand that my disability will have an impact on my life. However, it will not stop me from being myself. Life is what you make of it!