I'm adding a page break as it's a long one!
I have mild cerebral palsy to my left side. I was born three months early, weighing two pounds. I diagnosed with CP after having a brain scan shortly after my birth. My left side is considerably weaker and I have muscle spasticity, which causes them to tighten. My left leg is also shorter than my right leg, so I walk with a limp and on my tiptoe of my left leg. Winter months are the most difficult, my leg tightens and goes numb in the colder months, and it hurts. My balance isn't great either, and buses and stairs are a bit of a challenge (especially since you're supposed to walk on the left side of stairs when I have to walk on the right to hold the banister...it causes some issues in crowded stairways!) and I tire very easily. My co-ordination isn't great, and I have very slow reaction times (which is the reason why I struggle with driving). I also have a mild stammer, but I'm not one hundred percent sure if that is actually related to my CP or not.
In my younger years I used to have to wear a splint on my leg everyday and had to go to regular physio. I was very young when I had to do this (I moved onto a night splint as I got older), so it never really occurred to me that I was in any way different from the other children at school. Thinking back, it was probably the splint that made them realise that I was different, but I never thought about it. All I remember about my splint is thinking that it was irritating, it would rub on my ankles and make my leg hot in summer. My parents say that it used to amuse them because in the middle of the night they'd hear the sound of me undoing my velcro straps and then a big thud as I launched my splint onto the floor. Needless to say I was very relieved when I no longer had to wear one!
I have always taken a dislike (to say the least) to school situations. Other people seemed to think that because I was disabled I was also mentally handicapped. They'd say things that 'Are you alright?' and be hugely patronising about everything I said or did. I'd reply with 'Yes, why wouldn't I be?' it used to infuriate me that some of the same people who would stand there and patronise me weren't exactly the most intelligent people in the bunch, and if they'd actually taken the time to ask me about my disability instead of presuming they'd have known. It was only when I was around 15 years old and the time that we received our first lot of GCSE results that they realised that actually, I'm not that different. They would still say things like 'What does it feel like to have what you have?' and I'd reply with 'What does it feel like to not have this?' This is my normalcy. I don't know anything else, and I don't feel different in myself.
I had to go physio until I was 12, when I went for a full body x-ray to see if I was eligible for a leg lengthening operation. This was the point when I was told that I had stopped growing. I'm 4"11. At the time I was already considerably smaller than everybody else in my class, and since I have a habit of looking on the negative side of things more, I was initially very upset. I felt like I'd spent my life trying to reduce the impact that CP has my life, and it felt like all my efforts had been for nothing, because, essentially, in the end it had impacted my appearance and I felt like I would always have to be explaining to people why I was so tiny. It was silly and in many ways quite vain. Of course, now I know that there are lots of people smaller than I am and it doesn't really bother me any more, but at the time I think I cried for a week. On the plus side it meant that I didn't have to have the leg lengthening operation, and in the end I chose not to.
I don't feel that CP has negatively impacted my life. This is my normalcy, and while I do wish that I could wear heels or be a few inches taller or not have to struggle on buses, I'm fine with it. There's no point wondering about something that can never be. It hasn't affected my education (I left school with 6A*s, 3As and 2Bs and I am now at university studying English) and my real friends don't even think about it because they accept me for who I am. People who haven't been kind about it aren't worth my time. There are much worse things to have out there, and I absolutely do not feel at all sorry for myself. If anything, I am very grateful that my condition is what is and that I'm actually here to speak about it. As I've grown older I've been less inclined to avoid my disability and instead have accepted it for what it is. After all, I think it's made me who I am today, without it my life would have different, but I wouldn't be me.
I've never actually looked into the science of my disability, mainly because it has always been there, and I've never really felt the urge to look into it. The way that I see it is that I have this condition and I will always have it, and I'll deal with it the best that I can. Sure, some people don't quite understand but I'm always happy to clear things up, and it's nice when people ask me genuine questions about it instead of skirting around the issue or wondering. I'm not offended by people asking questions, I appreciate their honesty.
This post by no means covers my disability. I'd have to write several very long posts in order to go into detail, and there's some issues that I have that I'd rather not speak about on a public platform like this. But overall I'm not embarrassed and I'm entirely comfortable with who I am. I hope that this post cleared up some things about me!
If anybody has any questions about this or anything else, feel free to ask me! I'm always open to questions.