To My Mom, Who Ignored My Doctor’s Prediction About My Future With Cerebral Palsy

Nobody can predict the future, that’s for sure. Yet, in my infancy, my doctor tried to predict my future based on a blank page, which is what I feel a newborn is.

Still, the doctor tried to predict my future. Based on his predictions, I would have a miserable life. No hope of improvement was given to my parents. They had to find hope and strength on their own.

Juana Ortiz, left, with her mother
Juana (left) with her mother.

I imagine my mother carrying me in her arms, thinking my future was uncertain. This was a time when there wasn’t much information about cerebral palsy, the type of treatment available or the life expectancy. Back then, people with disabilities could be strongly discriminated against, especially in undeveloped countries like my native country, the Dominican Republic.

Now as a grown-up, I ask myself many questions: How did my mother feel hearing the doctor say that her daughter had cerebral palsy and would never would be able to walk, talk or eat on her own? How did Mom feel when she was told her first child wouldn’t be able to have a good life? How did she feel knowing her newborn would have to rely on somebody else to complete the most “simple” tasks, such as eating, taking a shower or using the bathroom? What crossed through her mind as she was hearing this diagnosis?

Forty-three years later, the words “thank you” aren’t enough to express my gratitude for everything she has done for me. This is what I would like to say to my mother: Thank you, because you raised me with my disability like any other child without over-protecting me. Thank you for giving me freedom to make my own decisions. Thank you for your support and encouragement and for never giving up on me when my future didn’t seem bright. And, most of all, thank you for not listening to that well-meaning doctor all those years ago — for, together, we have proven him wrong.

Juana Ortiz’s latest book “I Made It” is available at and on Amazon.

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