It seems so long ago when I first heard the words from the neurologist. “Your son has Cerebral Palsy”. Back then I really had no idea what that even meant. My idea of someone with Cerebral Palsy meant someone in a wheelchair, incapable of doing anything. I had no idea Cerebral Palsy could be mild or what challenges that came along with having a child born with CP.
What is Cerebral Palsy Really?
Cerebral Palsy literally means damage to the brain (cerebral) having to do with weakness of the muscles (palsy). It is mainly caused by a lack of oxygen being present around childbirth. Having CP means the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles of the body so they get all mixed up. There are four types of CP: spastic, ataxic, mixed and athetoid.
Our son Trace was born dead. He sat nested in my uterus without oxygen and in distress during a highly intense and quick labour. He came out grey and not breathing and had to be revived. This caused injury to his brain (brain damage) resulting in his diagnosis of CP. Trace has spastic Cerebral Palsy which is an increased tightness in his limbs, especially in his legs behind his knees and ankles.
Trace’s CP is very mild and hasn’t really messed him up much. When he gets tired his legs don’t always work, balance is uncoordinated, his muscle dexterity and tone is poor and his legs and ankles and feet hurt him badly. Sometimes he has trouble holding things, walking for long periods of time, running lots or doing things other kids his age are already doing, like jumping on two legs, roller skating, writing with a pen or tying his shoes. All this stuff is not so fun.
CP hasn’t stopped Trace from enjoying his life outside or his friends. It hasn’t stopped him from getting up each morning to put on his bike helmet to ride his bike (something he just learned to do) or learning to climb the monkey bars (another milestone this summer). Trace has a lovable nature, is very honest with other people and with himself. He’s happy playing with his hot wheels, bugging his older brother and sword fighting!
What is World Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day?
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is probably one of the most misunderstood conditions ever. Like I said, even my own perspective of it was wrong. So you can only imagine how others think when they hear a child has CP. Did you know that CP affects twice as many people as multiple sclerosis? People have a limited awareness and understanding of CP and it is by far the largest cause of physical disability in children (one in 400) births. World CP Day hopes to change all that!
It’s an exciting day, World CP Day to engage the CP community and create innovative ideas that could engage inventors, developers, companies, universities to create products and solutions – Marcus Blease, General Manger of Fundraising & Marketing from Cerebral Palsy Alliance Australia
Some people think when they hear that our son has Cerebral Palsy he should not look normal, but he is. Trace is a normal healthy boy. He is a boy who has CP but still a boy. Do I wish Trace didn’t have CP? Yes I do. It pains me sometimes to see him struggle as no mother wants their child to struggle. But I also wish my oldest son JJ would learn to listen. I wish I didn’t have bipolar disorder and that FD (forgetful dad) didn’t have a brain injury.
All of us have something about us we wish we could change or weaknesses. But we also have strengths and it’s our weaknesses and how we embrace them that makes us stronger. These weaknesses might be a part of us but they do not define who we are. Just as Trace’s CP doesn’t define him.
Never stop believing in yourself. Never give up. Love every little bit of who you are!