@miranda123 | contributor
Miranda has spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy on her right side, due to a stroke in infancy. At the age of 6, she had a blood clot to the brain and another stroke — they said she wouldn’t live. Now at the age of 16, she’s surpassed all expectations. She’s in mainstream classes, plus an AP English class, but receives help from her IEP. .
Community Voices

what could be wrong

about a month ago I got a sinus infection which lasted about 2 weeks and along with that came extreme fatigue which I think actually started before I got the cold. This fatigue is debilitating to the point where at times all I can do is lay there and stare into space . I went from 15 credit hour semesters taking 3 classes in one day and 3 taekwondo practices a week with other extracurriculars on the side to barely being able to sit through one class. I have spells where the fatigue is worse than other times and at one point I couldn’t even undress myself. There are also times i feel completely fine other than being slightly fatigued. This has been going on for about a month now and I’ve been to the Er and nothing where they did blood work and a head ct and everything came back fine. I also went to the pcp and they said go to my neurologist because they didn’t know what was wrong. I see my neurologist in a few days and have no clue what is going on, I have a history of stroke which they ruled out and seizures which I don’t think is very likely. Please help ! BTW I’m 21 years old and I also have mild hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

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@miranda123
contributor

Martial Arts as Physical Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

A year ago I would have never thought I would be here telling you this. I am kind of a medical mystery. By the time I was 18 I had been through more battles than most people go through in their lifetime. The only reason I am even alive is because I fought. I have had two strokes, a blood clot on the brain stem, countless shots and blood draws, and hours and hours of therapy. My whole childhood was basically dedicated to making sure I would be able to be independent, because I wasn’t even supposed to survive. I have spastic right hemiplegic cerebral palsy; basically, my brain doesn’t tell my right side to work so I have to adapt to live in a world that wasn’t made for me. When I went away to college I faced a dilemma. I knew I had to keep up with therapy, but I needed a motive and I knew I would not enjoy the traditional occupational and physical therapies. So I started looking into martial arts. I have always been interested in martial arts, but it wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing. I started researching it and saw there are a ton of therapeutic benefits for people with cerebral palsy. I had kind of put it on the back burner when I got an email that there was a para taekwondo team starting on my campus, so I inquired about the cost and I decided it was something I could at least try. I remember going into the first practice terrified. I knew they were accepting para-athletes, but I also knew this was their first year officially doing so. I didn’t know if they would know how to accommodate my specific needs, or if they even could. After my first practice, I knew that martial arts was for me, but there were definitely a lot of challenges. Not everything came as naturally or as easily for me as it does for most people. One of the lessons I’ve learned in life is to never give up, and it has definitely helped in my martial arts journey. A lot of the forms and movements in taekwondo don’t come naturally to me, and my memory isn’t as good as most 20-year-olds, so it can take a lot of practice. I can work twice as hard as anyone else and I still won’t be up to par with the able-bodied. That’s frustrating, but because I never gave up I have gotten better. Since I started taekwondo last August, I have gotten to compete in three competitions. I have a Bronze for local competition in Baltimore, a Gold for the collegiate national where I was the first para-athlete and a Gold in the national competition for everyone. I am so thankful for the opportunity to compete as a para-athlete because it has allowed me to see others like me competing too, and to understand it is OK that I’m not doing everything “normal” and I am not alone. Taekwondo has been extremely therapeutic for me. I greatly benefit from competing and practicing this sport. When I started a little less than a year ago I was unable to kick above the waist, and I had zero motivation to keep up with my exercises so my muscles wouldn’t tense up. Now I can kick to chest height and I feel like my muscles as loose as they’ve ever been. I am extremely grateful to be granted the opportunity to practice this sport, and can’t wait to see how far I get these next several years. I highly encourage martial arts as a form of therapy if you can afford it. I have already seen countless physical and emotional benefits. My only wish is that I would have been able to start sooner.

@miranda123
contributor

To the Classmate Who Insults People With Disabilities

I sit across the table from you in class. You’re with your friends, and I just sit there quietly. To tell you the truth, I thought you were rude from the beginning. Now that we sit at the same group in class, your actions put light on that. I have seen you use disabilities as insults multiple times. The most recent one is still fresh in my mind. Today, when you looked at someone and said, “Do you have cerebral palsy because you’re acting weird?” what you may not have realized was that I have cerebral palsy. When you asked that question and then went on to imitate someone with cerebral palsy, it might have seemed silly to you, but it hurt me. I know you didn’t mean to insult anyone, or maybe you did, but the point is — it was wrong. When you said that, did you ever think that I have cerebral palsy? Did you know I had surgery just two weeks prior? Did you see I had been using a wheelchair? Had you ever seen me walk in a brace? Do you realize that I go to therapy multiple times a week? Did you know I’m on an IEP? Have you heard of special education? Do you know that I can barely climb stairs? Did you know I work hard to do things you find simple? Did you even know I was there? I know you don’t know the basics of what cerebral palsy is, so let me tell you my story. I was born around 37 weeks, so they say. Six months after that, they told my mom I’d had a stroke and diagnosed me with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition where your brain does not send the correct signal to your muscles and can makes your limbs “floppy” or stiff. There are many kinds of cerebral palsy; mine is mild right hemiplegic, which means it mildly affects my right side only. Some people with cerebral palsy can’t walk or talk. No one chooses to have cerebral palsy. It is caused by complications at birth that are beyond our control. To the rest of my classmates: if you hear comments that may offend someone or see someone use a disability as an insult, shut them down immediately. The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability, disease or mental illness (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

@miranda123
contributor

When I Realized 'Normal' Is Just a Dial on the Washing Machine

For the longest time, I remember wishing I could be just like everyone else. Wishing I could play sports and just to be able to conquer the rock climbing wall in elementary school. I didn’t realize I had cerebral palsy then… let me rephrase that, I didn’t accept that I had cerebral palsy then. I knew I was different, but I still had that hope that one day I would be able to be “normal.” It wasn’t until I was put back on my IEP in eighth grade that I realized that I needed some help. They put me on my IEP because it seemed has if my muscles were getting in the way off my education, so they put me in a school-based therapy program. The next year I started high school and was able to see that in life, nobody is “normal.” Everyone has their differences. Some people are short, while others are tall. Some are thin, while others are not. Normal is just a dial on a washing machine. The moral of this story is that it’s OK to me different. We shouldn’t have to hide who we are just to make other comfortable. And I have learned to embrace my differences. The Mighty is asking the following: Can you describe the moment someone changed the way you think about a disability or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themi ghty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook. And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

@miranda123
contributor

Feeling Thankful for Cerebral Palsy

Dear Cerebral Palsy, I both love and hate you. I hate you because you make my life difficult. Every day I’m faced with challenges because of you. I have to leave class five minutes early at school just to make sure other kids don’t knock me off balance. I have a hard time with stairs so I’ve been granted an elevator key (by the way, the elevator is broken.) I have what my IEP team refers to as poor self-advocacy skills, and I need help using everyday items such as a protractor in math class. I need extra help with labs in science sometimes, too. I can no longer receive timed tests and have accommodations such as technology for test and extra sets of notes. I will not be able to drive with my right foot because of you. I still have a hard time tying my shoes. I’m mild, which basically means I don’t really fit in to either the special education world or regular education world. I don’t have a learning disability so I don’t fit in with special needs kids at my school, but I have an IEP and go to therapy and need accommodations, so I don’t fit in with mainstream kids either. But here’s why I love you. If you hadn’t been a part of my life, I would have never been where I’ve been. I would have never gotten the one-on-one attention I get in therapy. Because of you, I’ve received help from some pretty awesome special education teachers/administrators. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I would not be as strong without you. Thank you for that. For all of March, The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .