My Uncommon Day With a Common Cold and Cerebral Palsy


I got sick this past week. Just a cold, but it still wasn’t easy, due in part to my mild cerebral palsy. Over the years, I’ve developed enough to not need much by way of help, and I usually don’t need assistance walking. Just your patience, please! (And that’s more of a curse than a blessing, although that’s a story for another time.) I’m currently in university studying to be an actor. My story begins in acting class, the final class on my busiest days…

4:00 p.m.: At the halfway mark of our class, my stomach starts to churn. We’re in the middle of reading aloud our next project, so I’m seated in a chair. I ignore my discomfort and hope it goes away. It doesn’t. In fact, it gets worse. We’re given two minutes to stretch and I race to the bathroom, where my stomach rebels. Again, I figure I’m fine, and head back up the two flights of stairs to the classroom. I make it halfway before I realize I’m not. I take my seat in class and act like it isn’t a problem, because I have a habit of doing that.

5:00 p.m.: Class has ended. I’m not fine. All that time seated combined with my illness has made me incredibly weak, and my muscles have begun to ache. I use the chair in which I was seated to support me as I walk. Now my classmates take notice, and ask the question I’m all too familiar with: “Are you OK?” This time I’m honest with them. “No. Not really.” I blame it on a bad bit of food and pack up my things to leave.

7:00 p.m.: I cannot eat supper. All I have done since getting home was change my clothes and lie on the couch. Under a blanket, my tense muscles start to spasm, particularly my legs. My legs don’t usually spasm. It hurts more than I can describe. I attempt to distract myself by watching cartoons.

9:00 p.m.: I decide to go to bed if I want a hope of making it to my midterm the next day. As soon as I lie down it is evident: I cannot get comfortable at all. There is no position known to humankind that is in any way forgiving to my aching muscles.

3:00 a.m.: I wake up with a fever, and the pain I’m in is excruciating. My mom is also awake, and she advises me to take some Tylenol and puts a cold cloth on my head. I’ve returned to the living room at this point and watch a re-run of an old show before deciding to return to my bed an hour later to claim what little rest I can get.

7:00 a.m.: I make the decision not to go to my midterm. I email the professor and send my apologies. My fever has broken, but the pain and spasms have not subsided. My entire body aches. I fall asleep on the couch, although again, I can’t get comfortable at all.

12:00 p.m.: I’ve told my Movement group (another class we take is Expressive Movement) that I’ll FaceTime into the meeting we had scheduled today, and that’s what I do. It’s a preliminary discussion of the project we’re starting. While we discuss, I sit at my kitchen table and eat soup (the first meal I’ve had since feeling under the weather). It’s also the first time I’ve been upright for a while. We make jokes, tease each other, and make progress on our project. I actually feel normal.

1:00 p.m.: The meeting is over, and I’m going back to bed. I decide on my bed this time, and again I can’t get comfortable. After a series of adjustments, I fall asleep an hour later.

5:00 p.m.: I was able to sleep deeply and comfortably. I wake content. The pain in my body has relocated to my neck and head. I eat dinner, take a shower, and prepare to return to my regular schedule tomorrow. I’ll be taking it easy the next day, easing my muscles back into my routine!

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Thinkstock photo by Monkey Business Images.

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