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10 Small Victories in My Life With Cerebral Palsy

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Ah, victory — that wonderful feeling of winning a race, getting a promotion or finding the man (or woman) of your dreams. There’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment that comes from succeeding at big things. That sense of accomplishments can come from small things, too, especially for me. Living with cerebral palsy has caused me to think about a lot of everyday things as victories, and I wanted to share some of them with you. Here are my top 10 “small victories.”

1. Getting my feet under the blankets on the first try.

The way my body moves makes getting settled in bed at night more difficult than it should be, especially when it comes to blankets. My arms have a natural reflex to pull the blanket up instead of over my body. Usually this results in the blanket covering everything but my feet and a struggle to get it back where it should be. I love the nights when I manage to get the blanket set up just right and it slides over my feet with ease.

2. Plugging in my chair in the dark.

I use an electric wheelchair. Since I drive it around all day, I have to charge it in my bedroom at night. My light switch is across the room from my bed, which means I have to turn off the light, transfer to the edge of my bed and then plug in my chair. Finding the charging hole on the joystick is easy; putting the cord in the right way is not. It’s a lot like trying to plug in your phone when it’s dark, but worse. I often end up resorting to “let’s just put the end of the cord into the charging hole and twist the cord around until it slides in.” This can sometimes take a while, so I’m quite grateful when it happens quickly.

3. Turning 20-minute bathroom breaks into 10-minute bathroom breaks.

I don’t need to do this often. It happens most when I need to meet friends or squeeze in a bathroom break before an assembly or choir performance. It always feels good to know I can run to the bathroom and make it back before anything important happens.

4. Having a substitute aide I liked.

I’ve graduated now, but this was a huge thing when I was in school. I was never happy to hear that the aide who worked with me every day had to call in sick. I’d developed a nice routine with her and the routine was never quite the same with a sub. I also found it awkward “training” them, explaining what I did and did not need them to do. It was significantly less awkward when there was a substitute who had a similar personality and interests as me. Conversations flowed much easier when we actually had something to talk about.

5. Reading out loud and sounding good.

While I don’t have a speech impediment, talking out loud for long periods of time is hard for me. My tone kicks in and I often end up talking too fast or running out of air. For this reason I feel a real sense of pride when I read a presentation or passage from a book out loud more or less flawlessly.

6. Landing a transfer when I realize too late that I’ve positioned for it wrong.

I do this more often than I’d like to admit. I’ll be transferring from my chair to another surface and think I’ve positioned my chair close enough to said surface, then realize during the transfer that I didn’t. I transfer like a paraplegic. It’s a lot of sliding from one surface to another. If I make the mistake of positioning my chair too far away, I don’t always land on whatever I’m trying to transfer to. When I do manage to land it, I consider myself lucky.

7. Finding clothes that are both cute and comfy.

I’m very much a girly-girl. I love being cute and stylish. Comfort is also a huge priority since I’m sitting a majority of the time. Shopping, especially for pants, was a nightmare while skinny jeans were in style. Skinny jeans just don’t work for me. Not only do they usually dig into my stomach, but the bottoms don’t fit over my leg braces. It wasn’t my favorite style trend. You can imagine my happiness when comfy, stretchy, funky-patterned leggings came into style. I live in them now.

8. Going out and not having a single accessibility snag.

Going out — especially when it’s somewhere I’ve never been before — can be stressful. My brain plans for every single problem: stairs, inaccessible bathrooms and staff members who aren’t comfortable with disabilities. I have backup plans for everything, but I absolutely love it when I don’t have to use them.

9. Making food and not dropping it in the process.

This applies to anything from cereal to sandwiches. If I manage to make food for myself and don’t drop it, it’s a good day.

10. Recognizing little victories.

The fact that I can even make this list is a little victory in itself. I love that even on bad days, I’m able to feel good about one of these things.

A version of this post originally appeared on CPExperience.

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Originally published: August 19, 2015
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