"Cerebral palsy is a range of neuromuscular disorders caused by injury to an infant's brain sustained during late pregnancy, birth, or any time during the first two years of life. People with cerebral palsy have a wide range of difficulties, from a clumsy walk to an inability to speak or swallow, caused by faulty messages sent from the brain to the muscles...

"Spasticity occurs in about 60 percent of all individuals with cerebral palsy. Symptoms typically include reduced movement due to stiff or permanently contracted muscles. Spasticity is associated with damage to nerve fibers in the brain that carry messages for voluntary motor control...

"...other disorders may be present. Mental retardation is common...Other associated problems include epilepsy, visual disturbances, hearing impairment, language difficulty and slow growth...

"Injury to the brain in individuals with cerebral palsy is permanent, and full recovery is not possible..."

Thankyou, Encarta. I have swallowed hundreds of textbook pages looking for insight into what is wrong with me. Spent years wrestling with the vague. Steeled myself against the frustration that comes from how little is known. Made my eyes microscopes: clinical, tearless.

Sometimes I would talk to myself: "You are a statistic. Victim of circumstance. 1 in 500 born with a glitch in the system."

This is nothing personal.

Then I reconsidered.
I have swum oceans, gasping for breath, while most people I met softly splashed their feet in the surf.
I learned to walk painfully, muscle by muscle, while my stubborn tendons moaned and sulked, like children having temper tantrums.
Grew a thick skin. Laughed at insults. Swallowed the bile that rose when people talked to me like I was deaf.
Glared at the doctors who dissected me daily.
Climbed trees in my mind. Befriended books.
Proved to myself that I had nothing to prove to anyone else.

If you gave me the choice to be born "whole," I wouldn't take it. I wouldn't be myself without CP.

I don't have the time or energy for intolerance and I can't abide pity (especially when self-directed).

I couldn't agree more. Although I no longer look for definitions of my disease, as my moronic sixth-grade teacher put it.

One thing that severely bothers me now; being a recent graduate of a college program "Designed for Disabled people." I try not to look at myself as a minority, retard, lab rat or whatever an able-bodied person might see me as, so I was very annoyed at how the program had these seminars on "How to deal with your Disability in a workplace." I didn't need them. I don't have to deal with my disability. It has never kept me from doing the things I want to do. Some people play the Violin because their parents made them. I learned to play the Violin to spite mine.

Okay, I'm done.

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