Build one another up instead of tearing them down

The disability community over the last few days has been “attacked” by one of their own. This person decided that it was perfectly okay to call another person a disgusting human being because their wheelchair was dirty.

First of all, the cleanliness of one persons wheelchair or room or car, is no one’s business. Second, as a fellow disabled person, you should recognize how difficult it is to take care yourself and have others take care of you. The cleanliness of ones wheelchair does not have any effect on the value of the person. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone to take the best possible care of them.

As the able bodied person in our relationship, I make sure to give the best care that I can give. I give Charlie nothing less than 100%. Keeping his wheelchair sparkling clean is the least of my concerns but when it is dirty, mostly from crumbs from eating out, I’ll wipe the crumbs off before folding the chair before putting it in the car. But if anyone saw what the Velcro on his AFO’s, they would cringe (I know I do) but they are almost impossible to keep clean. But I do my best. As do others that are taking care of people.

Bring us Back to Boston

As we are sitting here during quarantine, we are both sitting here thinking about the days when we were able to leave the house and go places, not unlike everyone else. But Charlie had written a few thoughts about our trip to Boston back in September 2019.

How Boston came to be:

Margaret and I started planning the trip in the middle of July. I just threw out the idea and she loved it. We used TripAdvisor to find the activities to do and Facebook recommendations for the places to eat. We then wrote an outline of each day as a guide, (we kind of used it.)

First trip without parents:

It’s something I thought would never happen, but when we got the okay it was a surreal feeling. Margaret texted me “STOP, NO WAY?! The day of the trip time stood still, but when we were finally off I felt a great sense of freedom and independence. It didn’t really set in until we got into the room, I couldn’t stop smiling.

Our first trip together:

Boston was my first trip without my parents ever, but I wasn’t nervous at all. I trust Margaret with my life and our comfort level with each other is very high. We didn’t get to Boston until 10:30 and we were exhausted. That night was the first time we slept together and it was arguably the best nights sleep I’ve ever had. The next three days were pure happiness from the activities to dinners and everything in between. We can’t wait to do another trip one day soon.

 

An Open Letter to Cerebral Palsy

Dear Cerebral Palsy,

For 26 years you have given me a rollercoaster ride on this journey we call life, from being three months premature, to graduating college to finding the girl of my dreams. Believe or not I think having CP has made me the person I am today. 

I don’t remember when I was diagnosed with CP but it changed my life and effects me everyday, from needing help getting dressed, to showering, each day has its challenges. When you have a disability, always try and have a positive attitude and believe that nothing can stop you. Overtime I’ve become more independent from doing most of my dressing with little assistance to learning how to put on jackets mostly by myself. Another piece of advice I would give is always push for independence and do what you know you can do. 

There are days when I feel like giving up, but I know there are always brighter days ahead. CP may slow me down but it can’t take away my love for life. It wasn’t until college that I opened up and got out of my comfort zone. College was the first time I didn’t have an aide with me so I had to ask people for help. It ended up being the best four years of my life, CP and all. I went to football games, went on trips, anchored countless hours of radio broadcasts for my college’s sports teams. A disability will only stop you if you let them, you are in control. 

Now to my favorite part, talking about my favorite person. As I said before people always asked me: how do you put yourself out there? In college everyone I liked was taken or they just wanted to be friends. I ended up on being on way too many dating apps and was convinced my CP made me undateable. That was until Hinge and coming across a beautiful girl who I knew I would do everything to keep. My CP was never a big deal to Margaret and she recently told me “you are so much more then your diagnosis.” Each day we take on everything together and often forget I have CP. I’m blessed to say at 26 I’ve found what people look for their whole lives. To anyone who feels like their disability has made them undateable, don’t give up, there is someone out there for everyone.

Cerebral Palsy will be with me for the rest of my life, and it is up to me to decide how much I will let it effect me. I am blessed with an amazing support system, who are always there through minor and major things. 

To those reading this, if you take away one thing, let it be this: always continue going forward, never stay in one spot, otherwise your disability wins. Put yourself out there, otherwise your disability wins. Swipe right or match with that guy or girl you think is cute, it could be the best thing that ever happens to you, otherwise your disability wins. Never ever give up even when you feel like you have hit your lowest point, otherwise your disability wins. 

Love, 
Charlie


Loving Someone with Cerebral Palsy

So here I am sitting in my bed watching videos on my phone and texting Charlie(what else is new haha). He sent me a link to an article and said “THIS IS YOU.” The article was from the mighty.com and it was titled “What It Means to Love Someone with Cerebral Palsy” which was written by a girl named Ashley Burnside back in February of 2017. “The Mighty” is a website that has created a community of support for people who are facing health challenges as well as the people in their lives. They are partnered with companies such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Down Syndrome Society, The Ehlers Danlos Society, National Organization for Rare Disorders, National Alliance for Caregiving and of course the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Not going to lie, when I first opened the article I thought it was going to be some sappy article from a mom of a child with Cerebral Palsy and how their child is their little hero. But to my surprise, the article was not that at all. It was a young girl that wrote it like I mentioned before. She started with a childhood memory about knowing at the age of four that according to society, people with disabilities are not likely to get a fairytale ending. She was convinced that her disability would always hold her back.

She says “Loving someone with cerebral palsy does not mean you overlook their limitations. It does not mean you ignore the imperfections that make their body unique and different. Loving someone with a physical disability means you love them with their disability. It means you know every aspect of their disability, and it only makes you want to be that much closer to them.” This paragraph is exactly what I want people who question interabled relationships to understand. 

I love each and every part of Charlie, from helping him get dressed, cutting food, walking behind him on uneven surfaces, to waking up with him during spasms at the wee hours of the morning. His disability is a huge part of his life, it affects him everyday. How could I not love it? It would be like not loving someone because they can’t grow a beard.

I wouldn’t trade the nights that I haven’t slept because of was holding him during spasms for the world. I will always be his voice when people have a hard time understanding what he is saying. I have no problem telling strangers to move out of the way before I run them over with his wheelchair and they don’t hear the first time either of us say “excuse me” or “watch your back.”

Thank you Ashley for this incredibly insightful article. You said all the things that Charlie and I could not find the words to do so. I highly recommend that you all check out the article, here’s the link:

https://themighty.com/2017/02/cerebral-palsy-and-romantic-relationships/

The Importance of Reassurance

Reassurance/encouragement is important in any relationship, but I would go so far as to say that  it is more important in an interabled relationship. I know what to expect with my Cerebral Palsy every single day, despite that fact it doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days along the way. Some days are harder than others whether it be from stiffness or just wishing I could do more on my own; one smile or one kiss from Margaret instantly fixes everything. When Margaret just drops an “I love you” and says “I knew you needed it,” I’m reassured right then and there. 

Margaret is also amazing with encouragement. The first thing that comes to mind is when I put my seatbelt on by myself in her car. Her reaction was totally unexpected and made the moment even more sweeter. Another example is cutting my food on my own(with a little bit of help from Margaret). Like I said in the last blog everything takes trial and error. Margaret always cheers me on and never lets me struggle. Just remember how much your significant other is doing for you each day, a hug or an I love you can go a very long way. 

I never wanted to admit that I was a person that needed reassurance. I still don’t like to admit it, but I am getting better with it. Charlie is partly to thank for that. What I like to say is that I am very secure in our relationship, I don’t need reassurance about Charlies love for me(even though he reminds me every chance he gets), but I need to know that I am doing okay with everything. I need that little, gentle reminder that I am okay and that I am doing the right thing, and I am doing enough. I work full time and I am also going to school for my Masters(not to brag but I have a 4.0), I have a healthy and loving relationship, and I am an overall good person. I still feel that I need to do more, that I need to prove myself. Charlie is always there to remind me that I am doing great and that I do not need to prove myself. 

If there is anything that you take from reading this article let it be this: even if you think your significant other doesn’t need to here some reassuance, give it to them anyway.