“What’s wrong with you?” is a question I get asked a lot as a disabled person. There’re several answers to this, not all relating to my wheels, but seeing as the wheels are the most obvious problem, I generally answer according. The follow-up question to this is usually, “What happened?” To this I respond with a well-rehearsed one-liner stating that part of my brain died at birth, hence the Cerebral Palsy. That said, there have been some very interesting incorrect theories as to what caused my wonky-leg syndrome. Here are some of my favourites:
The One with the Chemicals
I 100% appreciate that when your kid is diagnosed with a disability, your instant reaction would be to blame yourself. It doesn’t matter how much I tell Mum that the following theory isn’t true and that even if it was, I wouldn’t hold it against her, she is still insistent that she caused both mine and my brother’s disabilities.
Mum was a nurse in the Gulf War and is of the belief that the chemicals she inhaled are the reason behind my Cerebral Palsy and my brother’s Autism. This was disproven years ago, but she beats herself up about it on a daily basis regardless. I’m in no way laughing at her turmoil, but when you really think about it, common sense dictates that chemicals aren’t culpable. I can’t walk, my brother can’t talk, Autism is a developmental condition, CP is neurological. We’re like chalk and cheese. If the chemicals were at the root of our problems, they must have been devious little buggers to mess things up that much.
The One from a Past Life
What you need to know in order to fully understand the hilarity of this one is that I studied Theology at University. My lectures were often filled with self-righteous people who thought they could bring about world peace. The conversations would invariably turn to their beliefs as ‘good Christian people’ as they would begin to explain the many different ways you could find yourself going to Hell. One of these was, of course, having a disability. This then begs the question of what on Earth I’ve done wrong. I go about my life minding my own business. I’m not an axe murderer, nor do I share the pastimes of Jimmy Savile…
All my questions were answered when the subject of reincarnation came up. I clearly did something utterly abhorrent in a previous life. Although, I did get a kick out of watching my lecturer awkwardly squirm when he attempted to tell the class disabilities are the result of being a hideous human being back in the 17th century.
I have nothing against people of religion or faith, but I have to stand my ground on this one. I will not burn for eternity because I’m a cripple. And if there’s anything I did in a past life, I apologise. Now, can we all move on and get along?
The One where it’s Catching
Just to make it clear to those of you who cross the road when you see me rolling, Cerebral Palsy isn’t an infectious condition. What do you think happens? If you spend more than 5 minutes in my company, you’ll get a spazzy arm – an hour and you’ll lose the use of your legs. God help the people that have the courage to walk through my front door because they get carried out in a matchbox! If you don’t believe me then wear a mask. I won’t be offended.