I don’t often talk about Reagan’s Cerebral Palsy, because her Epilepsy has been the medical condition with the most amount of need. But that’s doesn’t mean it’s not there, it’s been there all along (even before Epilepsy) and in my mom gut I knew it even before she was officially diagnosed.
When Reagan was just seven months old I noticed she wasn’t meeting her gross motor milestones. As any concerned first time mom would do I took her straight to the pediatrician, who told me to wait to panic as it was still early but he would refer me to a pediatric physical therapist just to get a second opinion. She started physical therapy the next week and has been attending weekly sessions ever since.
Months later after getting MRI results, I again did what every first time mom does and took to the internet. Based on her results, Reagan had Cerebral Palsy. A week later when I asked the neurologist if she did infact have CP and the answer was no. So we forged on, continuing physical therapy weekly, with a developmental delay diagnosis.
It wasn’t until we moved and changed neurologists was my Mom gut-diagnosis confirmed on a piece of paper. Reading through the after visit summary report I saw it, diplegic Cerebral Palsy. Immediately I called the neurologist and asked what this meant for Reagan. “She mostly likely won’t be a ballerina but she’ll live a very full life”. All I heard was she won’t be a ballerina and my heart sunk. The thing I loved so much as a kid my own daughter wouldn’t be able to do. This diagnosis came about a month before Reagan turned two and weeks before she started waking independently.
In the years since that diagnosis I have watched Reagan dance around our living room, kick a ball, catch a ball, run, swim, trudge through snow and get into yoga poses that some may say are difficult. I have also watched her push through the fatigue and tight muscles and recognize when her body needs a break. She has never let her disability get in the way of her ability.
Yesterday I watched as she participated in her first ever cheerleading competition. I watched as she ran onto to the floor, got down on one knee and up again, as she slid into the front on her belly and then returned to her spot. These things are hard for her, they take a lot of motor planning that we as able bodied individuals take for granted. We often don’t recognize what a gift it is to just take a walk.
Today is World Cerebral Palsy, take a walk, move your body, appreciate the ability that you have. Focus on what you can do, not your perceived notion of what you can’t.
And that neurologist she was right, Reagan does lead a very full life, one step at a time.
** Who knew cheer shoes and AFOs work so well together! ***
Many thanks to the Wayne Wildcats Cheer organization for providing an inclusive program.