Having cerebral palsy presents a unique experience during the upcoming holiday season. Like they do for anyone, holidays bring forth a certain stress level that is different from everyday life. There’s the decorating, shopping, eating, and gathering with family — most of which is not part of the normal routine. Even though I try to not let cerebral palsy conquer my life, I have to consider cerebral palsy in everything I do.
To get through this holiday season, I created a little survival guide to help plan and survive the holidays. I hope it will give you some tips to keep comfortable and have a little less stress.
One of the hardest decisions is to figure out where we will go to celebrate the holidays. When I was younger, it wasn’t as much of a concern as it is now. I could be carried, lifted, and put in various positions no matter whose house we visited. In more recent years, my body isn’t as easily motivated to be transferred, lifted, and carried. One visit can leave me in pain and out of whack for a week.
I used to go anyway and deal with the pain afterward, but now I have learned that my physical well-being needs to come first, because I’m not able to bounce back as quickly as before. Saying no to family isn’t easy, and it might take a few times and explanations for them to understand. We now have family functions at my house, or whichever relative has an accessible house. Or, we all pick a restaurant and meet up there. Unfortunately, family members might still have parties and such at places you cannot access. Please don’t let it get you down. Create your own happiness and be positive that you won’t be in pain. Remember to communicate your feelings as clearly as possible.
Change the subject if you don’t want to talk about CP
Some family members might not be used to your speech, movements, and mobility. I know it’s annoying when you’re at a family function and all someone wants to talk about is your disability. Try to be patient — but also you can change the subject if you’d rather not talk about it for the millionth time. Try using your sense of humor, or bring up something newsworthy to change the subject. People often have a difficult time understanding that you’re a person who happens to have cerebral palsy.
Ask for help
I don’t know about you, but I certainly love the food at Thanksgiving. However, Thanksgiving meals can be frustrating if you are unable to feed yourself or are a slow eater. Nothing is more aggravating than watching others eat like crazy while you stare at your plate trying to will the food into your mouth. I have learned to determine who is the best and most patient in feeding me. Then I politely ask them if they would feed me. Most of the time, they are more than happy to help and then I can eat in peace!
In many parts of the world, the weather is a bit colder during the holidays. Cerebral palsy and cold weather don’t mix, so be prepared. I started keeping a blanket in my van for my legs to be warmer. Have someone heat up your vehicle before you go out. Make sure that you’re dressed appropriately for the weather and wear layers. Although I don’t like cold weather, learning how to deal with it is important.
Shopping can be a pain, regardless of who you are during the holidays. Like many people, I prefer to do my shopping online because it’s usually cheaper and much easier. However, I also enjoy going to the stores for the festive spirit of giving. There is nothing wrong with doing both and saving yourself lots of hassle.
Whatever you do this holiday season, choose joy, communication, and love because that is what it is all about.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.