Hi! My name is Chloe Tear, I am 20 years old and I'm a university student studying Psychology and Child Development. I have mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of my body as a result of being born 8 weeks early and weighing 3lb 3oz, as well as epilepsy, chronic pain and impaired vision. During this blog, I will talk about what it’s like being a student who may face a few more hurdles than most. I hope you're able to follow my educational journey because anything can happen!
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How does cerebral palsy affect you?
I am so happy that I was able to write this post and publish it on national cerebral palsy day. A day where we can hope for more acceptance, also it's a day for me to remind myself how lucky I actually am. I have a great bunch of friends who are there supporting me all of the way and I have accomplished so much in my life, I love life and I have so many reasons for this. I may have bad day... But doesn't everyone! The good days will always outweigh the bad. Thanks again, hope you like it! Please check out CP Teens UK because it is a great blog which I would definitely recommend.
So here we go,
Most people will start off by saying their name, age and how cerebral affects them... Well I'm not. Yes I do have cerebral palsy, a name and an age. But it's not the most important thing right now. If you have cerebral palsy it can kind of become like an identity badge or a rehearsed speech about how it affects you, and normally a dumbed down way to get the point across before the person becomes bored and walks away. As you probably all know March is national cerebral palsy month! Where us CP"s push to be heard and spread awareness- why now? Why focus on March, why not push CEREBRAL PALSY AWARENESS ALL YEAR ROUND?
Yes this is a cerebral palsy blog, therefore I'm going to talk about cerebral palsy. However cerebral palsy doesn't control my life despite having a daily impact; it's kind of there in the background, you never forget about it. I do try to put cerebral palsy in the background, as one piece of my thousand piece puzzle, rather then my obstacle. Some days I'm successful and others I'm not but that's just life. You can just start again with good intentions. However I'm not the only one who is affected by my cerebral palsy- that's what I want to talk about.
The bigger picture. Oooohhh all dramatic, but it's not. I want to talk about how cerebral palsy can affect the people around us- are friends or family for example. I'm not saying it affects them in the same way but it's still there. Yes I do have friends and family who have been with me each step of the way and have seen both good and bad days. Watched me get better then get worse. Been there to help me up but also to create memorises.
These are responses from a few of my closest friends when I asked 'How does cerebral palsy affect you?'
"It is always going to be difficult. Having to stand by and watch your friend go through all of this. But I know that its easier for her if she has someone there. I love being that someone, because I know that she can trust me with anything, and I can do the same. I don't think I'll ever understand how much pain she's in, or how difficult daily life might be. But I am so honoured to be able to share a bit of the burden with her. None of this makes it difficult to be friends with her. If
you ask me, it makes us closer."
Having a condition that might not always be visible can be hard on everybody. People might not know how to approach things or they might not know whether it's a good or bad day. However if you are the person that it affects then it's no easy ride ether! Always having slight guilt that you are in the way, having to cancel plans because of pain and fatigue or that you are stopping them doing something that you enjoy. Perhaps it's that you always feel like you are always complaining or always asking them for help- like picking something up or pushing you up a hill if you are in a wheelchair. I'm not going to deny those feelings because they are there.
"It means that I get to leave the worst subject 5 minutes early (obviously maths) which is good because 5 minutes in Maths feels like 5 years.
It means that I get to stick stickers on your splint😃 except I didnt, Because you didnt pick me!!!!!😭
And It means that I get to feel important when people ask me why you need crutches/ a wheelchair and I know the answer :))xx"
"Cerebral Palsy means I get out of lessons five minutes early. It also means I do a bit of extra work to help my friend. Because she is the one with cerebral palsy, not me.
So I'm not directly affected by it no, but I am affected in a way. I get to deal with the worried girl when she's preparing for appointments, the emotional girl when she gets results of tests that she might not want to hear, and the exhausted, entirely drained but somehow usually still smiling girl at the end of the week.
I've known Chloe for 11 years now (I didn't even realise it was that long!) and I've seen the ups and downs she has been through with her life all this time. I remember when everyone got to put stickers on her first splint and being jealous when she got to bring blankets and use microwave heat bags in winter at primary school. I also remember recently persuading her that using a wheel-chair sometimes isn't giving up. Chloe is so determined to manage that she doesn't want to accept help when she gets it! But we now know how to deal with the wheelchair on buses (heads up don't leave it folded up with nobody sat with it or it falls over and the driver gets really angry - oops) and the wheelchair has hidden advantages, like skipping the queues in shops and at theme parks, then of course there's the allowing Chloe to get around places easily.
In school we are a team. I get the teachers chair and manoeuvre it around the maze of desks whilst Chloe searches for my stuff in my bag. I help her with her notes and we photocopy the things missing in her book. Then we leave the lesson early because we're just that cool. I do it all because she is my friend and that's what friends are for, but it turns out the teacher really does appreciate it, recently he said to me "Thank you Catherine, for helping Chloe in lessons, it makes my life easier knowing I don't have to worry about making sure she has all the work because I know you have been taking care of it all through the course." and although I do it voluntarily, it's nice to know it's appreciated.
Cerebral Palsy doesn't just affect those who have it. There is a much wider community of people whose lives are changed by it every day - family, friends, teachers, even strangers - and I suppose I am one of them."
While writing this blog post I have learnt so much. I've know that it must affect other people but never really taken the time to find out why and what people actually think. People's opinions matter, even if their opinions aren't heard. I'd like to thank everybody who has contributed to this post. Finally I'm Chloe, I'm 16 and I have mild left hemiplegic cerebral palsy as well as chronic fatigue, hyper mobility and musculoskeletal pain.
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Thanks for reading and please spread cerebral palsy awareness around because more awareness = more acceptance
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