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Column Cerebral palsy is a part of me – but it’s not all of me

Cerebral palsy just one piece of the thousand-piece jigsaw that is me. I love my life, my independence, my strength and my determination to live the way I want to, writes Jane Fennessy.

THE WORLD CELEBRATES Cerebral Palsy Day today. I, on the other hand, celebrate it every day.

Cerebral palsy is a part of me but it is not all of me. It is one piece of a thousand-piece jigsaw. Each piece represents part of myself, my life, my independence, my strength and my determination to live my life the way I want to.

In my own dictionary my definition of the word “disabled ” means “DECIDED I’M STRONGLY ABLE”.

There are physical, and emotional, challenges

Don’t get me wrong, cerebral palsy (CP) affects my life from morning to night. It affects my decision on what I choose to do and the way I want to do it. I try not to let it hold me back in any way, shape or form. It may take a bit longer because of a different route I have to take, but I have accepted this and just get on with the goal in hand.

CP effects my mobility which, for me, means I am in a wheelchair all of the time. It also affects the left hand side of my body. I am very lucky that I can speak up for myself and am well capable of making my own choices in life.

The only thing that gets me down about having CP is unfortunately my muscles are not strong enough to do my own transfers and because of this I use a hoist and I depend on assistance from someone to do my everyday personal care needs. This for me is one thing I will never get use to, and believe me it doesn’t get easier with time.

There’s a lot more to me than just cerebral palsy

This year, I’m going to celebrate World Cerebral Palsy Day and do my best to show others that myself and others living with CP are as equal to those who do not live with it. My aim is to try and educate others by thinking positively about CP and not to be afraid of it. There is a lot more to me than my chair and my CP.

Living with CP has opened my mind in so many different ways. I may not do things as fast as others but I can do them as well as others and sometimes maybe even better. I have the ability to think outside the box and am not restricted to follow the pack.

If it wasn’t for my CP I wouldn’t have so many inspirational friends and wouldn’t be as ‘out there’ as I am today. I don’t think I would have the courage, or the strength in my voice, that I have now. I didn’t choose to have CP, this was chosen for me, but I was given the tools to carry me forward, to inspire, and to portray the positive side of my condition.

I am going to be loud and proud about my CP and I encourage everyone else to do so, and I hope that by reading this piece it will be the start of others doing the same.

Jane Fenessy lives in Navan, Co Meath.

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