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.


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

  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 ;)

  3. thanks K I needed to hear this today

  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.

  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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