I must admit to being a bit of a soap addict. I was thrilled to see “Emmerdale” doing their bit for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, following the difficult birth of Megan and Jai’s baby girl.
The doctors have advised the new parents that due to complications during the birth, which meant the baby suffered a lack of oxygen, she may now have Cerebral Palsy. Though I remember that “it’s just a story,” I have much sympathy with the characters who have no clue about what Cerebral Palsy is or what the future might hold.
It’s scary. Hard to believe. You don’t know where to turn and at this stage, the doctors can’t make any promises or offer any kind of reassurances. The future now seems like an up hill battle, with the summit seeming unattainable. That’s how many parents feel when being told their child has Cerebral Palsy – a condition for which there is no cure. I have no doubt that is how my own parents felt, thirty something years ago, when they were told the same thing about me.
There was no internet back then, nowhere to seek reassurance and all they could do was take one day at a time. They could only hope and pray that the dim view that the doctors painted of my future was wrong. And indeed it was.
Despite my physical limitations, Cerebral Palsy didn’t rob me of either my intelligence or my desire to lead what some might call, a “normal life”. Despite many sceptics, I enjoyed a mainstream education which ended in me graduating with a 2:1 Honours Degree from Oxford Brookes University. I went on to secure full-time paid employment and became a successful manager in a small Disability Charity.
But I also had other dreams and ambitions that when I was born, 33 years ago (almost!), would have been deemed impossible, unthinkable even by those who knew of my fiery and determined personality. I daren’t even voice my dreams but I knew that I wanted two more special roles: A wife and a Mother.
Who would have thought, all those years ago, that those dreams would also be realised? On 3rd September 2011, I took some shaky steps down the aisle and became wife to Dean, with the most amazing wedding. Then on 28th June 2013, I became Mummy to the most beautiful little boy, Jack James.
If my parents could have looked into the future and known the life that lay ahead of me, that diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy wouldn’t have seemed half as bad. Yes, there were challenges and it wasn’t always easy but my parents and I maintained two things: hope and determination.
So what would I say to parents facing the same diagnosis? Firstly, don’t jump to conclusions. Cerebral Palsy affects everyone differently and it’s important not to make assumptions before you know the facts. Secondly, a disability isn’t the end of the world and if you don’t believe me, read “Why I love having Cerebral Palsy.” Finally, just don’t give up. It can seem hopeless, like your life or your child’s will never be the same. But with hope, determination and a good sense of humour, the future can and will be brighter than you imagine it to be!