The Other Kind Of D-Day

Here’s a thing about having Cerebral Palsy, most of us don’t remember our own personal “D-Day” (otherwise known as the day we received our diagnosis). CP is typically diagnosed in infancy or early childhood. Therefore, it’s rare anyone remembers their actual diagnosis.

Having CP (or a similar disability) it’s not D-Day that gets you, it’s the acceptance process, which has not clear beginning or end for most people. It can be a daily thing, or not.

Plus CP is unique to the individual so it’s pretty difficult, if not impossible, to predict what a person’s life will be like as they age with CP (plus there are very few studies that deal with people over the age of 18 with CP).

A few years ago, I was asked to write a letter to my younger self since the prompt for today was to write a letter to ourselves on “D-Day” I thought I’d look back on the first letter and see what still holds true to life with CP, even if it has more to do with acceptance & advice.

Dear Self,
You were not dreaming when you opened your report card first quarter of freshman year and realized that you FINALLY made the honor roll; just when you stopped trying and were going to a school that didn’t believe in the honor roll. Apparently, you’re going to take the “grades aren’t the end all and be all” approach right up to the line you promised yourself you’d never cross again. You should try harder, at least turn your assignments in (on time, or at all).

Pretty soon you’re going to have a conversation with your best friend that will make you laugh. What you really should’ve done is seized the opportunity for yourself. It’s not awesome when you know the administration is probably using you to help the school’s recruitment efforts without asking you first. But you shouldn’t have laughed it off so easily. Instead you should’ve looked for the potential opportunity in it. Who cares if you’ll only go to classes on average of 4 days a week your senior year?

You’ll carry the emotional scars from middle school with you forever, but you’ll continue to reconnect with grade school friends and realize you’re worth more than the girl piranhas gave you credit for. The good news is you’ll rarely ever see them again and when you do their lives look far from fantastic. Feel free to mentally gloat for a few minutes, you’ve earned it.

Also, you’re a little bit of a nerd. Own it. You’re with the free thinkers now, not the cookie cutter (alleged) “good Catholic girls.”

Having a gym locker once a year isn’t going to be as great as you think it’ll be. You’ll never get it open yourself. It’s not like you’ll have a lot of books to carry around anyway.

You’ve figured out by now that your mom went overboard requesting accommodations for you, and you’ve ditched them on your own. Luckily no one will press you on it since everyone (with the exception of the administration during open houses) sees you as typical and capable. Enjoy the feeling while you can, because it won’t last forever. In fact, your first year of college with feel like you’ve gone back to middle school.

Speaking of college, it won’t exactly turn out like you’re thinking but it will be even better. It’ll just have a rough start. You’ll just have to wait it out because you wouldn’t wish it to go any other way when you look back on it (speaking as your older self).

You’re already feeling the effects of “old age,” or so you think. It’s not normal to ice your knees every night when “all” you’ve done is go to school. I wish I could give you advice on how to change that sooner but I know you won’t listen either way. Luckily for you things turn around and you reap the benefits for years. So really things work out for the best in the end.

Finally, I’ll end with an old people line, “life is short, enjoy the ride.”

*A similar version of this post was written on April 28, 2014

I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. If you want to find out more about Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge visit their blog, Facebook, Twitter. You can find more posts by searching #HAWMC.

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