Believe it or not, I don’t actually remember being told I have Cerebral Palsy.
My parents were told when I was diagnosed at around the age of two, so I know that there was a time when they didn’t know that I had CP, but I don’t remember a time that I didn’t.
I’m sure there must have been an occasion when Mum and Dad sat me down and explained it all to me, but try as hard as I might, I can’t remember that conversation. Oddly enough, neither can they. It’s a strange feeling sometimes, knowing that you know something really important but not really understanding where that knowledge came from in the first place. I suppose it’s a bit like being aware that you know the answer to that crossword puzzle that you’ve been trying to do for days, but you just can’t bring the solution to the front of your mind so that you can fill in the little boxes.
The thing is, I never really remember feeling different either. At school, while all the other children sat on the carpet and story time, I was allowed to sit on a special chair, and for a long time at my primary school, I was the only person there with a walking frame. I knew that none of the other children needed these things, but I didn’t feel the odd one out at all. I needed them and everyone could see why so it didn’t matter. All these things felt normal to me in my head because I’d always used them, so when I sat in my wooden chair to listen to the teacher, it felt no different to me than sitting cross-legged on the floor did to anyone else. At home, I would run down the hill outside my house playing Tag with everyone else. If anyone never asked me what was wrong with my legs, the answer would just trip off my tongue the way that telling someone my name or age would.
Maybe that’s why none of my family remember having The Talk (The CP talk that is, not the other talk. I remember that one, believe me). Maybe we didn’t actually have one at all, maybe it was just talked about so naturally in our house that the information just sank in somewhere without me really having to be told. I don’t know if this is possible – I don’t understand psychology and the brain that way.
I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter how I bacame aware of my disability. In many ways, I personally think that I’m very lucky to have always known that I have Cerebral Palsy.