Last night, while crossing the street, I was struck by a man on a bike. He crashed into my right side and knocked me forward onto my hands and knees. Thankfully, I came away with only bruising and a bit of shock. This morning, my physiotherapist graciously fit me into her schedule and gave me a massage to soothe the tension and to assess the damage. She said that, because he hit me from the right, it was my left side that was affected (tightened up) and that I still had some delayed-onset shock (some of which was to laugh when I relayed the story to her). I am very lucky to have come away from this experience relatively unharmed.
Many people have mistaken my disability for injury as a result of an accident. I feel like I can now tell people who ask that I was in a biking accident. This is, in some ways, a huge relief because they won’t see me as a disabled person, but merely an injured person (or a normal person who has been injured and is in recovery). I can now tell people that I do physiotherapy and yoga and have acupuncture to rehabilitate myself from injuries sustained from a bike accident.
Last week, I had physiotherapy with a therapist with whom I had never worked. We have both been at the same studio (her as a practitioner and me as a patient) for several years, but had never worked together until recently. She spent most of the session telling me that I was amazing and that my independence and freedom of movement were incredible. She said that she couldn’t believe that I could walk up and down a hill without falling, get on and off a bus unassisted, and do the amount of physical therapy that I can. I understand that she meant this in a positive and encouraging light, but I found it condescending and a bit hurtful.
Before I began working to cure myself, I was able to walk, run, climb fairly well, and be independent. Physical therapy, pilates, and yoga did not enable me to walk or run, but improved my ability to walk and run and move and carry myself. I later spoke with a different physiotherapist about the experience because, though I knew I shouldn’t be frustrated, I was sad and hurt. I cried. She explained to me that both she and the other physiotherapist with whom I worked had both previously worked in a hospital with children who had much more severe cerebral palsy and did not – and could not – have the physical ability, functional independence, and quality of life that I have. In comparison to those children whose same disability manifests in a much worse way, I am doing remarkably well (and I was even before I started the work that I do now).
She went on to say – in a matter of fact way rather than as a method of bucking me up – that she and the others at the studio don’t ever see people with cerebral palsy like me. She said that no one else she has ever worked with who has my disability works as hard or is as committed to rehabilitation as I am. I am an exceptional case, and I attribute that not only to my own willingness to work, but to the unfailing support of my doctor and my family.
I did not believe that I could change when I first found out that it was possible to overcome my disability. I didn’t fully believe in the possibility of transformation until I committed enough that it happened to me (about a year and a half into the process). I believed in change once I started to feel it myself. I have been fully committed to the therapy since then, and will remain dedicated to it for the rest of my life.
I plan to have some yoga therapy tonight and focus specifically on stretching out both sides and my right hip and leg. I will not use the therapy to rid myself of my injury or my disability, but to feel better. I am presently sore, very cold, and still a bit shocked. I think yoga therapy in a hot room with a continuous flow is just what the doctor ordered.