Dear Able-Bodied Person,
Hi! How are you? My name is Brittney and I am 21 years old. It’s nice to meet you! I see you’ve noticed the limp that I walk with as a result of my scissor gait. You may have noticed my walker or my wheelchair too, or maybe you noticed something small — like the way the fingers on my left hand flex a bit differently then my right hand or your own non-dominant hand.
I was born with cerebral palsy, weighing only 1 pound, 13 ounces, that’s why I walk with a limp and my left arm is just like an accessory to my body. I appreciate your curiosity about me and I am honored by your bravery in choosing to come up and talk to me; it’s much better than staring. However, I need to tell you something that may be a bit hard for you to grasp…
I think you think about disability too much.
Really. Some of the questions you ask me about my disability or my life prove to me you think much too hard about all of this. It may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t think about my disability every day. That’s why I’m sometimes taken aback when you pose the question of “What’s wrong with you?” out of the blue, or you ask me “What happened to you?” because whatever I’m doing at the time is the normal way of life to me. Unless my body is hurting as I’m walking through the mall, which at some point it will, I am genuinely confused by your long glances in my direction; and when you are brave enough, the questions you blurt out.
Honestly, unless something about my being is brought to my attention, I truly forget that I have a disability. I am just me, Brittney. I walk arm and arm with my able-bodied boyfriend (not my brother, nor aid, or nurse) and yes, our relationship is normal, happy, and healthy.
Sure, there may be some differences in our lives; my boyfriend may always have to do the cooking, for example. It will always be easier and faster if he vacuums. You as the able-bodied person might always arrive five minutes before me when we’re driving. You probably don’t get tired nearly as easy as I do, and I’m sure you can’t imagine a life with chronic pain. But none of these things make me truly unhappy or are things that consume my life.
I am just like you, and like you I have so much to be grateful for. I’m healthy in whatever way that means to me, (just like you) I have a great job, I go to a good school, I have friends and family who love me, and a great guy in my life.
I appreciate your questions and concerns for me and I enjoy talking to you. I’m also so grateful that you’ve offered to help me in some way. Sometimes I need help and am too prideful to ask (but I’ll always accept), and sometimes I don’t need help. I will let you know what I need.
I’m glad we could clear things up. Don’t think too much.
Lots of love,
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.