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A love letter to my Cerebral Palsy

Selfie of Jeffrey VanDykeBy Jeffrey Vandyke, Graphics Design Specialist

A love letter to my Cerebral Palsy

Dear Cerebral Palsy,

 You haven’t always made it easy for me. In fact, you’ve been a pain (quite literally, for as long as I can remember), so much so, that I hated you. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just be “Normal.” I wanted the chance to run alongside my sister, to play sports or just go for a walk. So many of things most typical people take for granted, I’ll never be able to do.

My body is caught in the middle of a tug of war in between what my mind wants to do and what my body will physically allow. However, as time has gone by and I’ve become more comfortable with my body and I’ve learned my abilities (not just my inabilities). I have grown more fond of you.

Don’t get me wrong, the struggles I’ve faced have been mighty and I won’t lie and say things are necessarily easier now, but it is because of the struggles that you have brought with you… the constant surgeries (I lost count at 25?) the bullies, the doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, the scars, and countless daily challenges that randomly seem to appear on a moment’s notice, that I am who I am today.

Yes, I do still have pain, my speech is still occasionally slurred, my movement isn’t as quick as it once was, and my body doesn’t cooperate as much as I’d like, which is frustrating, but I feel like I am also stronger than I ever could’ve been, had I been able to live life without your companionship. Due to the bullies, I am kinder to others because I know what it feels like to be made fun of, because of the constant, ever-changing adversity I am more resourceful, and because of the hardship I am driven to use my life and take advantage of every opportunity to make this world a better, more kinder place for all… disability or not.

I may never be medically healed of Cerebral Palsy as it’s not physically a possibility at this time, but I’ve learned that it’s also not necessary. Throughout my journey, I’ve learned that the only real healing I ever needed was to learn to accept myself as I am today, rather than judging by someone else’s definition of what was “Better”. It is through my greatest weakness, I found my strength. I choose to be happy and positive because life is beautiful and meant to be lived to the fullest regardless of diagnoses, societal expectation, or stigma. It may not be a straight path, but a crooked path is better than none at all. All in all, I hope my life helps someone else know that no matter what obstacles you might face; you can still not only follow your dreams but achieve them as well. So today, it is with much gratitude that I say I appreciate you, Cerebral Palsy… I wouldn’t be who I am today, without you.