Madonna made an appearance in Britney Spears’s documentary film For The Record and a lot of what she said resonated with me. When asked about choosing the song ‘Human Nature’ for Britney, she said, “I think that ‘what was I thinking’ is the first question a person who starts to examine themselves asks themselves. Because up until that point, life is a series of random events and life is just what happens to you. And then one day, you wake up and you go, ‘Actually, I have control over my destiny. Actually, things do happen for a reason. Actually, there is order in the universe, and when you start tuning into that frequency, you do have a tendency to look back and go, ‘My God, what was I thinking?’ And that’s a healthy response.”
When I was about three or four, my parents found a neonatologist named Karen Pape who specialized in helping children with cerebral palsy. They took me to see her and she gave us a machine for me to wear at night that sent electro stimulation into my muscles to help reduce the spasticity. She worked closely with my occupational therapist until I was discharged from physiotherapy when I was thirteen. I decided to find her again when I was twenty one, after not having seen her since I was very little. She had me undergo a physiotherapy assessment and then agreed to meet with me. Reconnecting with her changed my entire life.
Karen told me I could get better. She was the first person I had ever met who believed in the possibility of neurologic change for people who had suffered brain trauma. She gave me different forms of physical therapy to do and an athletic approach to the work rather than work that focused on managing my disability or coping with it.
The work I have done with Karen has shown me that I have more control over my body and my life than I’d previously believed. I’d allowed myself to be a victim of my disability and my life was dictated by what my disability prevented me from doing. I’d given into the limitations placed around me and identified as a person with an incurable and permanent problem. Things are different now because I have worked hard enough to prove to myself that I am capable of creating a better body and, by extension, a better life for myself.
I still don’t fully trust my body and I still feel – many times – that it betrays me, but I am certainly stronger than I used to be and I feel that I have more control over my body. I drive my therapy rather than letting myself be dragged around by my disability. Taking responsibility for my therapy has forced me to be more accountable for my own life.
I think I could have developed a stronger sense of my own destiny and life if I hadn’t started this therapy or didn’t know I could get better. I could have just accepted my disability and made the best possible life for myself in spite of it. I’m just so glad that I found a doctor who gave me correct information, therapy that works, and hope that I could have a better life. I no longer see myself as a victim or a helpless hopeless person. I see myself as a willful and resilient person. There is order in the universe and I have taken control of my destiny. Any person can do so if they so choose.