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Learning to Love Myself After Life-Changing Cerebral Palsy Surgery


Sometimes I struggle to share writings and experiences that have strong emotions tied to them. But then I wake up to messages saying a post from months ago helped people understand or express their feelings about the journey they are currently on. So here’s a story about the most recent situation I found myself in.

I’ve had this tattoo for almost two years and with every situation I see myself in (or out of) it becomes more meaningful. This past weekend it became more meaningful in the aspect of understanding self-love.

Tattoo with text reading "I will walk with faith even when I cannot see."

It’s no surprise that in order to get through parts of life I’ve had to “count on” people in the medical field or disability community to help me understand and accomplish my goals, because let’s face it, they either (should) have knowledge I don’t or believe they have power over whether or not I can do something. These situations come up simply because I am younger and “different” than the majority of the population. Sometimes I still refer to some people I work with to accomplish these goals as a special set of family members, because our journey together may be long, they give me advice on what I can do, and I give out a stubborn attitude until I’m able to teach them about something they once thought was impossible for me to
accomplish.

I’ve learned that in life and the situations I’ve gone through (especially this past year) not everyone sticks around forever. Although this is normal, it is also normal to feel frustrated when you’ve put a lot of time and energy into a journey expecting to see it through with the person you began it with, and then finding out you have to start over.

I am a year post op from a tibia and fibula derotation surgery. Over the past year, I’ve been in my doctor’s office at least once every one to three months. I struggled physically and emotionally to stand on my own two feet for the first six months after surgery. For the first six months, my doctor held me up, taught me and encouraged me as I fought tirelessly with my body to get it to understand what a baby step was. During the time between my six and nine month checkup, I put smiles on faces of those around me because my hard work started to pay off. I was able to slowly walk a hallway alone and reassure my doctor that he made the right choice in doing the surgery.

I’ve been excited to go back and see my doctor for my year check up for a few weeks now because I’ve made many gains in three months, want to hear that my bones are 100 percent healed and take the walking test we had planned since the beginning. Unfortunately, when I called to make my year appointment, I was told I was going to be referred to a new doctor to finish out my recovery.

When I got this news, I was devastated and confused. I was wondering why I could never finish out a journey whether it be educational or medical with the select few doctors or teachers that support and understand me without explanation. I didn’t want to start all over with someone new, especially after all we’ve been through. Not many others could even come close to understanding what I’ve made it through, unless they were there. I was angry and questioning why I was given these scars in the first place if I couldn’t finish the journey with the person who gave them to me and taught me the strength behind them.

I was angry until I realized the importance of self-love. I didn’t go through this surgery to have another typical job from start to finish for my surgeon. I went through this surgery to give myself a better quality of life. Through this experience, I’ve learned that things don’t always go as planned and that can be very hurtful, but in the end, having faith and hope within yourself can give you strength to experience life just as you are meant to be, while leaving extraordinary marks on the lives you touch.

Love yourself enough to know that it’s OK to do something to please yourself before feeling as if you have to please others. Share your story. Help others out, but most importantly, set yourself free.

Getty image by Kharlamova.