Going on a night out with Cerebral Palsy

Unfortunately, we can't lose cerebral palsy when on a night out with friends, we can't even give it to someone else for an hour or two- it likes to tag along. This is itself can pose some extra challenges in a number of ways, and you thought picking what to wear was the biggest dilemma!

Like many teenagers I love going out with friends and having a good time. I enjoy picking something nice to wear (even if that can take forever) then doing my hair and makeup, probably spending far too long in front of the bathroom mirror in the process! So I am completely ready and now just need to decide what shoes to wear. I appreciate that for anyone going out this is an incredibly hard decision, even if it is choosing which variation of your many black heels go best. Due to having cerebral palsy, it means that my shoe collection can be limited to shoes that splints fit into and on a night out this is no exception. I am not embarrassed by wearing splints and spend the vast majority of the time in skirts and dresses, but when you get all dressed up it is nice to ditch them every so often. Do I wear splints, big shoes, be more steady, but then feel like it's ruining the outfit and feel slightly out of place? Alternatively, I could wear a normal pair of shoes that look better, but that will make me very unsteady and if there is quite a bit of walking this is out of the question. Thirdly I have the option of being in my chair and wearing any shoes I like- being an indecisive person to begin with, this is a very hard decision! Normally I tend to not wear my splints on a night out, either using my stick or wheelchair based on the distance that I would need to walk/ roll.

However, I know a lot of teenagers (not all) consider a night out to be clubbing until the early hours of the morning and getting wasted in the process, this has never really appealed to me. Saying that, I know that clubs can be really warm, crowded and with flashing lights- all which can trigger seizures, making others a little apprehensive to come with me (can you really blame them?!). On the other hand, it is really nice to celebrate a friend's 18th birthday by going round to their house for a few hours before they all go off into town at hit the clubs. Similarly, this can lead to me not being invited out due to the walking or nature of the night out. I completely appreciate that picking Chloe up off the floor is not the best idea when you've had a few drinks yourself, unless you just want to end up on the floor with me!

Also, actually going on a night out can be exhausting in itself, and probably requires a little more planning than other people. I know that I have limited energy as it is, so I can't see myself going on two nights out in a row anytime soon and just need to make sure I have a few quite days afterwards so I can catch up on energy levels. When I went to my friends 18th I got home at 10pm, got straight into pyjamas and finished watching the X- Factor while they carried on until 4/5am (I think I was the one winning in this situation!). When planning events it can be that things have to be turned down, this definitely doesn't mean that I don't want to be there (because I probably really do!) and is a hard thing for me to do. However, by pacing myself it does mean that I can go out more often and see friends more and this is a lot easier when in the school holidays and I don't have coursework that takes up a lot of energy to begin with.

Finally, when I am on a night out I have noticed that certain things happen. I am not saying that this occurs every time, but has happened. People think I'm drunk. I am aware that this is fairly common occurrence for people who have cerebral palsy due to the way that we walk. Once I had gone to a lovely 1920's restaurant with friends, worn normal shoes and used my chair- but had decided to kill two birds with one stone and walked to the toilet so I could stretch my legs at the same time. I was evidently unsteady on my feet and holding the arm of a friend for balance (well done Chloe for not bringing your stick), but was only slightly tipsy as most. One person thought it would be nice to make a comment about how it was disgusting to get that drunk in a restaurant and need support from a sober person. I decided to not make a comment, wasn't really worth it, but later on in the evening we went past her table to leave and this time I was in my chair- the shock on her face was well worth the comment. I may be wobbly, but that doesn't mean I am drunk, honest!

Just over two weeks until I move into university halls, I am sure this will be followed by many nights out. On the other hand, there is always the option of staying in and watching a Disney film- I don't think that is a bad compromise, do you?

~ Chloe x

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