Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I Take the Stairs


When I was two years old, I was given a walker. I was never supposed to be able to walk without one, according to my physical therapist.

Except I did.

I threw that walker down, outright refusing to use it. I couldn't stand still without collapsing, without my knees buckling, but I was determined. With a lot of persistence and a fair amount of M&M's, I learned how to manipulate my wobbly legs. And never again did I touch that walker.

"Can-Do Girl"...that's what my parents called me, because when I was asked if I needed help, I usually replied, "I can do it."

I am still that girl in college. Sometimes I wonder if I am independent to a fault; I struggle to find the balance between being as independent as possible and asking for help when I need it.

Several times already, some of the boys on campus whom I don't even know have offered to carry my backpack.

"I'm all set, thanks, but thank you for the offer; I really appreciate that," I say, and I am unaware of the words tumbling out of my mouth, the refusal that came before I fully processed the offer. I can't even remember the last time I accepted help.

And then there are the people who see me about to use a staircase, and their faces turn to panic as they try to direct me to an elevator.

"I am all set, but thank you," I say again, feeling like a broken record. "I always take the stairs."

And the panic turns to confusion, then surprise.

One of my professors wondered yesterday why I walk all the way across campus to my class.

Can't you just get a ride? she asked.

Yes. But cerebral palsy has taught me that the easy way out is very rarely the best way; we never know what we'll be able to accomplish when we push our abilities to the limit...I can walk. I can manage my backpack. I can climb three flights of stairs. If I can do it, I will.

Just because there's an elevator doesn't mean we have to use it. I am no longer a wispy-haired two-year-old throwing down a walker, but my spirit is every bit as fierce.

I've been told that I can't. I've had my knees collapse out from under me with no warning. I've experienced the frustration that comes from having a brain that can't always tell my body what I want it to do. I know what it is like to struggle with every step. I know what it is like to feel broken.

I know what it is like, so I don't take my abilities for granted.

That is why I take the stairs.

7 comments:

  1. Kerry, we love you!!!!! You are a strong spirit!

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  2. I take the stairs. Awesome!!! My friend, simply awesome. Although I wonder if any of those boys offering to carry your back pack might be trying to find a way to ask you out ;)

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  3. thanks K I needed to hear this today

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  4. I love this too. I actually read this from my phone the other day and forgot that I hadn't commented. You are AWESOME. What a great reminder again to not take my own abilities for granted. Thanks for that, friend.

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  5. Oh, break my heart, why don't you? Adaptive equipment, elevators, etc are so helpful and freeing. I totally understand why you don't (or didn't) feel this way. I get it. But being SO independent at your own expense makes me wish you were raised to love adaptive equipment and CP and elevators and EVERYTHING. (I understand. I do.) It's just hard to read about your literally running yourself into the ground. I want to look you in the eyes and tell you, "You have nothing to prove. You can relax. You are enough." <3

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