Written by: Francisco Torres
As an adult with cerebral palsy, I never gave much thought about my disability until now when I had a bad experience with somebody online. This has made me want to be more honest with myself and others. Now I’m on instagram sharing my life with cerebral palsy or CP for short. This new adventure online has helped me a lot because for the first time in my life I am able to talk about the most influential thing that impacts me everyday, from how people look at me, to my constant fight to show them that their image of me is wrong, and to have a life that is totally my own.
When I was born, I was five days late and the doctor kept sending my mother home with pain and all. When I was born I was delayed to breathe for just seconds, not knowing that those seconds of not getting oxygen to my brain would have an impact on me for the rest of my life.
At the age of six months old, my parents noticed that I didn’t move at all from the position they put me in, and it was then when the doctor told my parents that I have cerebral palsy. I was born in 1971 in Mexico City when there was not much research on CP. So, my young parents started their journey with doctors and hospitals with me. One of my early memories is going to speech and physical therapy at the children’s hospital. It was there that a physical therapist recommended my parents to go see a doctor who also was the director of the only school for disabled children in the whole city. That’s how I got into school.
The school that I got into was for kindergarten all the way up to middle school. That school was the best one that I was in for my CP because it was a rehabilitation center in addition to school. I was in class everyday until noon, and then the next three hours were divided between physical, occupational therapy, and time in the cafeteria. The director of that place was also my main doctor , and had me schedule a surgery every two to three years. In total I have had three surgeries done in my legs.
When I was in the 5th grade a new director came in, and changed the rules to stay in that school. It was then that my family decided to move to California for me to continue with my education. Once in California I enrolled in school, but my therapies slowly faded away until I stopped receiving any. As I was learning a new language I started to notice the difference between disabled and non-disabled people, and how people around me constantly remind me that I was different for having a disability.
As I was growing up and going through grade school, community college, and all the way to adulthood, I always had an identity crisis that I began to acknowledge now. I always had felt out of place in any group of people, that went from always wondering if they just felt pity for me, or if what they offered me wasn’t enough. I always have wanted more knowledge, in doing things that most people assumde I couldn’t do because of my disability.
I wonder if I had the attitude that I am having right now about myself and my cerebral palsy when I was younger, if my life would have been different? Without this new attitude I’d never have learned the lesson that I need to have to be able to have this drive inside of me that makes me want to improve myself everyday. Having a disability is not the problem for me, it’s that I spent too much time trying to fulfill other people’s expectations about me that I forgot to have a life of my own. Until now, I’m fighting to have one more than ever.