My parents married in 1998, and one year later, I was born.
My mom was given a private room in a private hospital, but shortly after that, she was transported to a public hospital. She felt me moving and told the nurse that something was wrong, but the nurse did not believe her. Eventually, the doctor said they needed to do an emergency cesarean section.
My mom was immediately put on multiple IVs. She later told me that she looked like Jesus on the cross with all of her IVs. I was born early in the morning and soon diagnosed with a brain injury called periventricular leukomalacia. Shortly after that, they diagnosed me with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and esotropia as well.
My dad always went with my mom to the doctor, but when I was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy, he had to go to a business meeting, so my mom was alone when she got the news. She later told me that she missed the train stop on the way home because she was in shock. When my dad heard the news, he was absolutely devastated, and ran to the hospital to speak with the doctor himself.
My parents always stayed positive around me and never made me feel disabled. Of course, I knew I was different, but they never made me feel that I was emotionally impaired. That holds true to this day.
I had so much fun growing up in Japan, but when I was 6, my parents decided my mom and I should move to the U.S. I still cannot believe that my mom was able to leave her husband, her family, her job, and her possessions behind, all to give me a better life. And what a life I’ve had!
There are some things I’m not proud of. I haven’t always been the person my parents wanted me to be, especially my mom, but I’ve tried to make them proud. They might not have agreed with every decision I’ve made, but I’m OK with that because I needed to leave the nest and develop my own identity. Despite everything I’ve put them through, they have always stayed committed to me. They showed their love by letting me explore the U.S. and allowing me to experience life as normally as I could.
I never believed I would get this far in life, but I know my parents support me. I am who I am today because of them.
My dad is the kindest person I have ever known. I spent most of my time in Japan with him because my mom was a banker and he worked from home. I definitely inherited his sense of humor. He is the best dad I ever could’ve asked for.
People always ask me, “Why do you work so hard? Why do you have such a crazy work ethic?” My friend Hawken Miller always tells me to take a break, but I keep going because I get my drive from my parents. My dad works in public relations, and my mom has a total of seven college degrees, two from Japan. Ultimately, however, one of the greatest things I’ve learned from my parents is to always give back to people and to always show gratitude.
I hope that everything I’ve done in my life has made them proud. I made it into the University of Southern California after experiencing several problems in school, and I think that is a testament not only to my parents’ courage but also to their love for me. My parents exemplify what it means to have love, not only for each other but for their children as well.
I will never stop being grateful for life and the experiences my parents gave me. It hasn’t been easy, but I love my parents dearly. They mean everything to me.
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