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When My Cerebral Palsy Is Like an Angry Toddler

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We’ve all heard of “the terrible twos.” You know that age when your adorable child suddenly becomes unruly and super defiant? They throw tantrums, bite, hit, kick and even scream in your face. If I had to equate cerebral palsy with anything, this would be it.

When I get my quarterly Botox injections to tame the “wild beasts” (my legs), my doctor will say “try to relax,” “keep your legs as straight as possible,” or “try to hold your leg like this” while he pokes me. I can assure you, if I could do these things, I would. However, my body has a mind of its own. I try to concentrate on keeping my body calm, imagining I am at the beach or taking a nap — anything to make my legs do what they’re told. This of course doesn’t work, and my muscles tense up to the point of causing them to tremor; I’m sure that makes this an extra-fun appointment for my doctor. It’s as if my legs are screaming at me willfully, “Nooo! I will not stay still. I won’t. And you can’t make me!”

They don’t listen. My legs do not listen to me. Sometimes I will be standing or walking around, just minding my own business, when suddenly my legs give out and down I go. Kind of like when you’re at the grocery store and you see that child in the next aisle that has just thrown themselves on the ground and started wailing. That is what happens when my legs just decide they don’t want to do their very important job of holding me up anymore. It is equally as hilarious as it is embarrassing.

Toddlers sometimes kick when they’re angry, right? I also kick — not on purpose, mind you. Whenever I am in a position where I know I can’t have a spasm because I run risk of injuring another human being, or breaking something valuable, my cerebral palsy does everything in its power to make sure it does happen. I’ve kicked quite a few inanimate objects, a few heads, and played footsies with more people than I’d care to admit. It’s like as soon as I tell my body to do or not to do something, it just goes ahead and does it anyway.

And that is why I sometimes feel like having cerebral palsy is like having two or three toddlers attached to me at all times. It can be exhausting, it can be really frustrating, and sometimes I imagine what it would be like if I actually had complete control over my body. But I love my body the way it is, and when the figurative tantrum is over, it doesn’t seem so bad after all.

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Photo by Seb Ra.

Originally published: September 18, 2017
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