Cerebral Palsy

A Step Forward: A Crutches Update

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

-Philippians 4:13

I have an update about my goal of using crutches at graduation! I’m so excited to be able to share this with you!

Last night, I did some major thinking and praying before I fell asleep. To be honest with you, with school starting back I haven’t had time to practice with my crutches the way I should be. So far, all I’d done was walk with someone holding my shoulders. I hadn’t done anything on my own. But last night, as I prayed, I decided that I needed to take the next step. I wanted to try to take a few steps on my own, without any assistance.

So today, as I practiced with them during my adaptive PE, I told the paraprofessional who’s helping me what I wanted to do. He was skeptical; he said he didn’t think I was ready for that yet. “No,” I told him. “I want to try.”

He moved in front of me, holding my shoulders while I put the crutches in a place where I felt comfortable standing on my own. Once I was sure I could balance, he let go of me. I waited for about ten seconds, making sure I had my balance, before I attempted to take a step. With determination flooding through my veins, I moved my crutch forward, and then took a step with the opposite foot. I nearly lost my balance, but the parapro caught me before I could begin to fall. The most incredible feelings of freedomand independenceovertook me, and instead of being overcome with fear, the flame of determination burned even more bright. I did it twice more, and eventually was able to take three steps before losing my balance.

It’s moments like that when I feel like I’ve overcome my disability, when I feel like I’ve won the battle and my cerebral palsy doesn’t control me. I still have a ways way to go to be able to walk across the graduation stage independently, but today showed me that perhaps that road isn’t as long as I thought.

Cerebral Palsy · My Writing

The Reality of Cerebral Palsy

I wrote this yesterday, and I've debated on whether or not to share this ever since. It's not quite as positive or uplifting as some of my other posts, but it's real. This is honesty and vulnerability in its purest form, and while my goal is to be positive and encouraging, I want to be honest and truly show what having a disability is like. I penned this after I had to do something in a different way than everyone else, and I was embarrassed because of it. The stares that came my way made me feel vulnerable in a painful way, and the gratitude I felt when a friend of mine unknowingly made that pain disappear. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Something changes in the moments when I feel defined by my disability.

Knots form in my stomach, and self consciousness tightens my muscles, making an already difficult task even harder. I become acutely aware of every single sound, every single movement, every single voice in the room as I struggle to breathe through the pain that has overtaken me: Please don't stare at me. Please don't think any differently of me. Please understand. Please. Please.

I'm cloaked in uncomfort and drowning in embarrassment. I'm sorry I can't do this on my own. I'm sorry this is so difficult. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

I'm crying out, but the pain is so intense I can't say a thing. I can't even make my lips form a prayer to call on the one person who could possibly ease my nerves. Look into my eyes. Don't you see how this affects me? Can't you tell that I don't want to do this?

I long to be normal. I long to be able to complete every day tasks with ease, to be able to live without being bound by ropes that were tied without my permission. In this moment, trapped by an ocean of pain, I can't even remember that I was dealt this deck of cards for a reason. I can't do anything, other than try to soothe the monster that won't be tamed.

But just as it becomes too much, just as the ocean overtakes me, you reach in and pull me out. Your smile is my raft; I float upon your kindness. Please keep talking. Please make this go away.

Your voice untangles my ropes, and I'm able to rub the redness from my wrists. As our words flow, the monster disappears and I become Robyn again. Your stories are the dam that stops the rushing adrenaline, your laughter is the salve that relaxes my clenched muscles. You comfort me, you calm me, you revive me. Without knowing it, you've put me back together, and all at once, I can breathe again.

Cerebral Palsy

Then Vs. Now

As I began my senior year of high school today, I found myself thinking back to the first day of freshman year, and how, while some things have changed, others have stayed the same.

Freshman year, I was terrified. I was so afraid I wouldn't know anyone in any of my classes,(most of my friends went to a different high school) but what I was more afraid of was that classmates would see my disability instead of seeing me as Robyn. I don't know how many times I listened to Taylor Swift's "Fifteen" in the week and hours leading up to my first day, but even she couldn't completely take away my nerves. To add to my nerves, my bus arrived at school late. I remember walking in to my first class with shaking hands, wondering how I was going to make it through the day.

I remember the slicing, drowning pain I felt when all eyes turned to me as I came into Advanced Biology. The pain that comes from feeling thirty pairs of eyes on you is unlike anything I've ever felt. It was only by the grace of God and His strength that I didn't burst into tears. I felt uncomfortable, I felt like I was strange, I wondered what was wrong with me.

Unlike that August day three years ago, I came to school today with no worries and feeling completely at peace. I knew the Lord was right beside me and would carry me through whatever happened, and that with His help, I'd get through the day.

And I did. When I was met with a classroom of stares in forensics, instead of letting it hurt me, I reminded myself that my identity is as a daughter of God, and He loves me no matter how I walk around. And I couldn't have been more touched in AP Lit when, after I shared my six word story, (Relax. Breathe. You are strong enough.) my teacher said, "Who thinks Robyn is one of the strongest people you know?" Half of the class raised their hands. I was so touched and grateful. It was a sweet gesture that meant the world to me.

Day one of senior year is in the books, and it reminded me again of what a big, loving, benevolent God we serve. If the rest of the year is anything like today, it will be one I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Cerebral Palsy · Faith

All Things Are Possible If You Believe- A Crutches Update

“If you can?” Jesus asked. “All things are possible for the one who believes.”
– Mark 9:23, NIV

I wrote in an earlier post about my dream to walk with crutches at graduation instead of my walker. This verse came to mind last night, after a practice session didn’t go as well as I wanted it to. I felt like I couldn’t get my balance; I couldn’t figure out the right rhythm, and would’ve eaten our hardwood floors several times had my father not been right behind me. But I also felt…. fire.

Fire to keep going, keep practicing, and keep trying. Fire to keep fighting for my dream. Because I know I can do it. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be able to walk across the stage next May with my arms in crutches. I found myself thinking about what an amazing feeling that would be; I thought about how great it would be to show everyone that obstacles don’t have to limit you. I remembered how incredible it felt to stand with them on my own for the first time. I felt strong, I felt confident, and I felt like I had overcome my disability. In that moment, as I stood on my own with my crutches, I felt like I could do anything.

And as I lay in bed last night, the words of Mark 9:23 came to mind, as if He were telling me He thinks I can do it, too. It was a reminder that He’s right beside me, giving me strength and carrying me through this entire journey.

I can live this dream. I just have to believe.

Cerebral Palsy

Ask, Don’t Stare.

It was the summer before freshman year, right before school started. My family and I had gone shopping for school clothes. That’s the first time I noticed how many people stare at me.

The stares were everywhere. From a woman looking at dresses, from a couple picking out shoes, from a little boy holding his mom’s hand. And then, when we were in Old Navy, a little girl said, “She’s weird.”

The best way I can think to describe that pain is it was akin to a knife slicing through cake. It hurt unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I felt vulnerable, like someone had ripped me open and seen every thought I’ve ever had.

That was only the beginning. From that day on, I noticed every stare, every glance, every hushed whisper someone said as they passed me. There were days when I woke up and felt consumed by that knife-slicing pain, and it took everything I had to make it through the day without breaking down and completely losing it. Maybe, I thought, maybe that little girl was right. Maybe I am weird. Maybe I am strange. Maybe something is wrong with me.

Now, three years later, I’ve learned how to handle the stares, and that pain is almost nonexistent. It took faith, it took reassurance that I was not, in fact, weird or strange, and there was nothing wrong with me. It also took love. Love from my family, love from my friends, and realizing that the Lord loves me because I’m me. God loves me, and maybe, He’s using me to open minds and teach others that it’s okay to be different.

That being said, I still see the stares. I still see them, and sometimes, I still feel that intense, stifling pain. Thankfully, that’s rare. Now, though, instead of wondering if others think something is wrong with me, I wonder something else: Why don’t people ask what’s going on, instead of staring?

I don’t mind explaining. Sometimes, when little kids see me in my walker, they ask, “Why do you have that?” Usually, their moms scold them and apologize to me. Please don’t apologize. I love that question. Why? Because it gives me a chance to explain my disability, and show them that while I use a walker, I’m just like them. And by doing that, maybe, the next time they see someone using a walker or a wheelchair or crutches, they won’t stare, because then, they’ll understand that that person just gets around differently than they do.

So, the next time you see someone in a walker or wheelchair and you want to ask why he or she uses it, ask. Maybe they won’t want to explain, but maybe they will. It’s okay to ask, and you never know what kind of doors you can open just by asking a question.

Cerebral Palsy · My Writing

To Be Different is to Be Beautiful

I was scrolling through a document I created of all of the poems and writing prompts I’ve written on, and came across this poem I wrote last summer about how being different is beautiful, and wanted to share it with all of you.

I haven’t shared this too much on here, but for a long time, I was convinced that my cerebral palsy made me different in the worst way. I thought it made me strange; I thought it made me weird. I thought it meant there was something wrong with me. It took lots of love and encouragement from loved ones and faith in the Lord for me to finally change the way I thought, and this poem chronicles my journey from being insecure about being different to owning it, and seeing myself through God’s eyes. I hope you like it, and please let me know what you think in the comments! 😊

To Be Different is to Be Beautiful

To be different is to be beautiful;

To be unique is a gift

Being special means you can treat others in a special way,

To stand out is to ensure others’ memories of you will never fade

So embrace it

Forget the stares that follow you,

Force away the voices that lurk in the back of your mind

They’re wrong

You’re not weird,

You’re extraordinary

There’s nothing wrong with you,

You give off a light that shines as brightly as a ray of sunshine
Dance in it

Let your hair down,

Throw your hands in the air,

And let go

Dance as if your life depended on it

You’re free,

You’re strong,

You’re beautiful

So beautiful

So incredibly, breathtakingly beautiful

Cerebral Palsy

When You Pass Through the Waters…

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.”– Isaiah 43:2

This scripture came to mind this morning when my family and I were out on the lake. When I was little, I loved to swim. My mom could never get me out of the pool. But the past few summers, the exact opposite has happened: she can’t get me in the pool or the lake. There are a couple of reasons for that, one of them being my feet. Because of the braces I have to wear and the way I walk, there are callouses on my big toes, and I’m embarrassed about them. So, for the last three years, I haven’t taken my shoes off when we go out on the boat, either.

I did today.

My parents convinced me that my feet looked fine, and that maybe, the cool water would feel good. They helped me sit on the edge of our boat, and for the first time in three summers, I put my feet in the lake.

It felt… wonderful.

I loved it. The water was cool and refreshing, and I found myself wondering why I let my insecurities stop me from doing something I love. I wondered why I had let my insecurities have that much control over me, and I made myself a promise not to let it happen again. I promised myself that for the rest of the summer, I’m going to stretch, work out, practice with my crutches, and make becoming more independent a priority. Because I want to be able to go to college, live my dreams, and shine for the Lord, and the only way I’ll be able to do that is if I work hard and fight for it. For once, that thought doesn’t scare me. I can-and I will- become stronger and more independent, because the Lord is right next to me, fighting with me.