Friday, November 16, 2012

May I Ask You a Personal Question?: Talking About CP (Part 2)

(Click here for part 1) 

My foot still hurts. That's life, I guess. I think I sprained my whole foot and not just my toe. I'm trying to stay off it as much as possible so I decided that while I'm lying in bed I might as well write part 2 of the post from two days ago!

Throughout high school, I volunteered as a tour guide at the Audubon Society. I wasn't aware of this at the time, but one of the dads I met while volunteering worked for the local newspaper. To my surprise, a few days later, my mom got a phone call from the newspaper. One of his colleagues wanted to interview me!

I was reluctant at first. I don't really like being in the spotlight. Even starting this blog was a challenge for me. But my mom urged me to do the interview, and when the interviewer found out that I was a triplet, she decided to interview my brothers as well. 

Before the interview, I ran through a bunch of the possible questions in my head and thought about my answers. I was prepared for questions like, "Why did you decide to volunteer at the Audubon Society?" and "What is your favorite part about volunteering there?" And I did get those questions. But I also got a question that I wasn't prepared for.

At one point towards the end of the interview, she said those dreaded words: "May I ask you a personal question?"

Oh. my. God. I don't know about you, but whenever somebody says that to me, my stomach drops and my heart rate quickens. I wanted to say "NO!" with every fiber of my being, but it's almost a rhetorical question, so I felt obligated to say "yes." I already knew what the question was going to be before she even asked it.

I don't remember her exact wording, but what she said was to the effect of, "I noticed you that you have trouble walking. Why is that?"

I stared at her in silence for a moment, saw her pen poised in the air ready to scribble down my answer. I didn't want her to share my personal life with everyone who reads the local paper, but what choice did I have? This was the question that I wasn't prepared for, and I don't know why it never crossed my mind. 

Quick, think fast! I told myself. And this is what I came up with after a moment of thought:
"I have cerebral palsy, but it doesn't really affect my life too much. I just won't be joining the cross-country team."

And she was satisfied. Some of my teachers at school who read the article came up to me later and said they were inspired by my words. But as I thought about it, I knew that what I had said to that reporter wasn't true. Just something I had told her spur-of-the-moment, given ten seconds to think of an answer to an awkward question.

CP does affect my life. Even though it is fairly mild, it impacts so many facets of my life. I have had surgeries and struggled to walk. I have been told by doctors and therapists that I "can't" do this, that I'll "never" be able to do that. I have been in physical therapy since I was a baby, and going up and down curbs is a triumph for me. I have been judged and stared at by people who don't know me. I have met so many incredible people, and I have learned so many incredible life lessons because of my CP. Whenever I can, I walk to my classes, simply because I CAN walk, and I never take that for granted.

So the next time somebody asked me that question, I said:
"I have CP, but it's been more of a positive force in my life than a negative one. I have learned so much from it, and the life lessons that it has taught me have helped me in all areas of my life."

And when I walked away, I knew that that was how I really felt about CP. Yes, my disability challenges me, and it can be frustrating, but the lessons that it has taught me and the amazing people that it has brought into my life make everything worth it.


  1. Thankyou xx written perfectly from the heart x thankyou for taking on the challenge of writing a blog xxxx

  2. Thank YOU for your comments!! :) They are so encouraging!

  3. Hi K -

    I love reading your blog because you give me so much hope for my son Alex. Your amazing outlook on life and your CP is the reason you are where you are today. Keep up the positive attitude and I hope your foot feels better soon!!


  4. Hey Keri,

    Your words mean so much to me! CP has definitely brought so much to my life, and I think Alex will feel the same someday.

    I love reading about your boys and check your blog often! My foot feels much better today :D and thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I created this blog with the hope that it might make a difference in someone's life, so your comments bring me so much fulfillment. Thank you. :)

  5. You are so mature! I love reading your words!

  6. Thank you!! I love reading your words as well! :)

  7. OMG for real???? I cannot believe the gall of this reporter. (Actually, I can.) I HATE being put on the spot with unexpected questions and I think you did well to think fast. I understand your impulse to downplay it, too, given that you did not know the person and you wanted (probably) NOT to focus on CP for this and be "The Girl Who Overcame CP by Working at the Audubon Society."


Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. Thanks! :-)