Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cerebral Palsy

I just thought I'd explain it for some of you who don't know what Cerebral Palsy (CP) is I’ve met so many people with misconceptions. The first they think is POLIO. I

I'll start telling you what it is not: 

1. It is not terminal.
2. It is not progressive.
3. It is not hereditary.
4. It is not a disease.

CP is caused my injury or abnormalities to the brain due to lack of oxygen or other factors such as infection. When I was growing up, experts stated that was the cause. However, I’ve noticed they change slightly and now they say only a minority of child cases with CP are caused by lack of oxygen. Go figure. 

Some known causes of CP:
1. Infections during pregnancy. (That is why prenatal care is a necessity)
2. A lack of oxygen reaching the fetus (There’s that lack of oxygen LOL).
3. Premature birth (Lungs are not developed so oxygen is not going to brain as it should.)
4. Birth asphyxia (Lack of oxygen again! Is there a pattern here?)
5. Blood disease or severe jaundice.
6. Acquired

(In my case, I had pneumonia and quit breathing at age of 6 months at a hospital. When my mom pressed the button and no one came, she grabbed me from the oxygen tent and started running down the hall. Fortunately, my pediatrician was walking to the room and got me going again LOL)

It affects movement mostly but it also can affect hearing, seeing and thinking. (See! my excuses were legit as far as thinking goes LOL).

Common symptoms are spasticity, dysarthria and unsteady balance or movement. (My mom said after the incident with the hospital she started noticing little things like my feet turned in and I couldn’t walk when I should have been.). Mental retardation, seizures and paralysis may accompany CP.

There are 4 main types of CP. Ataxia, Athetoid, spastic and mixed.
Ataxia: Disturbed sense of balance and perception. (That’s where my weeble wobble don’t fall down, most of the time comes fromJ.)
Spastic: Stiffness and movement disorders. (Yep me again!).
Athetoid: Involuntary and uncontrolled movement.
Mixed: Combo of 2 or more.

Treatment: There is NO cure for CP. An average CP child goes through surgeries, physical therapy, speech therapy and many others I probably can write but I’m trying to write this from my standpointJ).

I went through Speech therapy all through elementary and I think before.  I had 5 surgeries. They were to rotate my femurs and lengthen tendons. At age 18, the Children’s Clinic was discharging me. The doc (I loved him so much. He had polio and came down from N.O.every month to see 100s of handicapped children. He called me Sunshine) said there was this one more surgery but it was elective as it was cosmetic. My mom gave the decision to me. She said they decided on the others but it was my choice. It was a greater risk as well. I had a 50/50 chance of walking like “normal” people or I could end up in the wheelchair.

I hated wheelchairs. I still do when I have to be in one like hospitals etc. It is too confining. Every time I see someone in a wheelchair my heart goes out for them.

So obviously after about 2 weeks of thinking it over I decided to not do it. I analyzed my life to that point and figured I can walk, talk and do what most of what I want to do. Why ask God for more?

People with CP, whether mild or severe are usually intelligent. (I know, questionable on my part HA!). Just because sometimes they may not be able to verbalize does not mean they are hearing everything you say and understand it.

Most can grow up and be productive citizens.  We can conceive, deliver and take care of children.  We are just like anyone else except for some limitations. The limitations are usually not deal breakers, you learn to accept and cope.

I was fortunate to have a mild case and have a family as I did. I know I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for mom and dad pushing through systems!

The few times I said, “I Can’t” Mom said, “There is no such thing as can’t!” I know that is false now because some things you just CAN’T do. But she taught me what she wanted me to learn.

I know there are many CP cases that are severe, time consuming, hard work but one must remember God put every one of us on this earth for a reason and loves each and every one of us.


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