I Have Cerebral Palsy But It Doesn’t Have Me

A question most people always ask me is, what disability do I have? I have Cerebral Palsy, CP for short. Since its World Cerebral Palsy Day, I decided to share some insight on my disability, Shari style if you don’t mind.

According to the dictionary, Cerebral Palsy is a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. I prefer using my own definition which is; the light bulbs in my brain that cause me to use my legs, arms and clear speech are turned off. I do think one day doctors or scientists will find a way to turn them back on, but until then, I have to roll my way through this CP thing.

During birth, my mother’s umbilical cord got wrapped around my neck.  To be exact, I was without oxygen for fifteen minutes. After being revived, my parents were given the news I may have a developmental disability due to the lack of oxygen; well as we all know now, it was CP.

There are different levels of CP, mild, moderate and severe. I would say mine is moderate. Although there are many daily activities that cause challenges, I can get them done my way. I’m able to restroom, dress, feed myself finger food and put on make-up. I’m actually very good at putting on my make-up thanks to years of practice. Of course, these daily activities take time and wear me out after a while and because of this reason, I have a personal caregiver.  She assists me daily, along with family and friends.

Cold weather isn’t so forgiving to those with CP. Because CP causes impaired muscles, they are often stiff. The cold weather makes my muscles stiffer than the Tin Man on the Wizard of Oz! CP also causes me to be spastic.  Being spastic causes me to have involuntary movements.  This was much worse when I was younger. I’ve accidently hit many people over the years but since growing older, my spasticity is not as bad. After 46 years of living with CP, I’ve found ways to control it.

Does CP progress with age? I’m going to say yes. Some of the daily activities I used to do when I was younger independently are harder for me to navigate now. But if you stop and think about it, some things you use to do when you were younger are probably harder now too. Growing older brings about stiffness in the body that we cannot control whether you have a disability or not. I’ve found the more I exercise and move; the more mobility I have in my body.  It also helps me with becoming too stiff, just like the Tin Man!  There’s much more to know about CP but I just gave you the quick version. I’d say, one of the most difficult things about having CP is not the disability itself, instead; its people’s negative attitudes toward it that can often cause barriers. Take time and learn about one’s disability including CP before you count them out. I’ve accomplished many things and conquered many challenges along the way. Although having CP can be hard, I’m still ok with it and myself. Remember, I have CP but it certainly doesn’t have me!

16 comments on “I Have Cerebral Palsy But It Doesn’t Have Me

  1. Brian Cracraft on

    I think you are awesome just the way you are. You are so full of life and energy. You also have the best sense of humor I have seen in a long time. It was an absolute pleasure going on the tour with you during new hire orientation. I wish people without disabilities embraced life the way you do. I know for a fact I am going to try. You really gave me a different perspective on the way I should enjoy every single day and I want to thank you for that. I also liked how upfront you were about the way you wanted to be treated. It is a subject that I don’t think I have ever talked about before. I have such a better understanding and will remember those words and video for the rest of my life. I think your an inspiration to ANYONE you come in contact with! Lord knows you have inspired me! I look forward to seeing and talking to you in the future.

    Reply
    • Shari Cooper on

      Brian,
      Thanks for the kind words. I’ve found the best way to approach life when it comes to my disability is to be upfront about it. I’m very happy to know you have a better understanding about people with disabilities. That mean I did my job! Thanks again and it was a pleasure meeting you too.

      Reply
  2. Suzanne Marvin on

    thanks for increasing my understanding about CP. good article. And I agree with a previous comment, your an inspiration.

    Reply
  3. Dave Burrows on

    Thank you for sharing this Shari. I have an Aunt and niece with CP. I have learned so much about CP and how it affects and has affected their lives. It is so wonderful that you give a voice for many many people. THANK YOU!

    Reply
    • Shari Cooper on

      Dave,
      Thanks for sharing about your aunt and niece. I now know why you’re so compassionate about assisting people with to have quality of life. You understand disabilities on a personal level. Thanks for being an advocate!

      Reply
  4. Larry Hinde on

    Thanks this was very informative and I appreciate you as a person and what you do. You are awesome Shari and God bless you

    Reply
  5. Kim on

    Shari,
    As always, you provide wisdom and insight that are so valuable. And in ways that we can all understand and smile about.
    Thank you for being YOU!!!!! You are perfect!! And I love having you in my life!

    Kim

    Reply
  6. Jermaine Brown on

    We are siblings in CP. I love this Shari especially the stif as a tin man part. I am going to make sure my wife reads this, it will support my arguement that we need to move down south!

    Reply
  7. Dillard on

    Thank You Shari,
    Thank you for letting me know you are a Warrior first, an Educator, Advocate, and Peer Supporter for people with life challenges. Your wisdom has inspired compassion and change in people behavior.
    THANK YOU.
    (AFTERTHOUGHT): A Pioneer, paving the way for those who come behind you.

    Reply

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