Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Did you know that March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month? No? Well, don't feel bad. Up until a few days ago I didn't, either.

For those of you that are not familiar with CP it's an incurable condition which, according to Wikipedia, is generally caused by "damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth or after birth up to about age three. Resulting limits in movement and posture cause activity limitation and are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, depth perception, and other sight-based perceptual problems, communication ability; impairments can also be found in cognition, and epilepsy is found in about one-third of cases. CP, no matter what the type, is often accompanied by secondary musculoskeletal problems that arise as a result of the underlying disorder."

In short, I have brain damage (hecklers insert snide remark here).

The truth is although this blog has made me more conscious of how my Cerebral Palsy comes across to others in the photos and videos on my posts I rarely give my condition a second thought otherwise. But that's because I've had 50+ years of practice to forget about it. I've lived a very "mainstreamed" life (and raised a lot of hell) but I am the exception and not the rule. There are many, many men and women with CP out there that are constantly underestimated, misunderstood, and overlooked.  They can't forget about it because every day presents new challenges to move, to speak, or to prosper. Please take a little time this month to do a little research on, read a book about, or ask a few questions regarding Cerebral Palsy from a professional or a "member of the club" like me.

Since the ribbon for Cerebral Palsy Awareness is green, and yesterday was St Patrick's Day, today's outfit is the one I wished I had photographed in time for Adrienne Shubin's "How I wear my green" challenge.

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It was finally warm enough for me to wear a lighter jacket to take these photos in a little park at Nashville West Center. This lined, embellished jacket is by Life Style petite and is perfect for a spring day. It's also the only new piece in the outfit. The flat-front, pull-on Westbound petite jeans are from the thrift store. I'm a huge Beatles fan so when I found this Abbey Road T-shirt at T J Maxx I had to have it. Wing-tipped, denim, Groove oxfords were a Marshall's find from last year. They somehow got put away and forgotten about so this is their debut. The Sophie watch is one of my favorites purchased four years ago. The battery died last year but I replaced it just in time for this year's hot color trend.

I realize the T-shirt is a bit askew. I'm afraid I can't always straighten out the minor details before my hubby starts snapping photos. Because it's nearly impossible for me to hold still or smile without grimacing I try to strike some semblance of a pose before he starts taking many, many pictures in hopes that some will be usable. This is a symptom of my particular form of Cerebral Palsy. Forgive me; I'm not going to sweat a lopsided shirt too terribly much.

Linking up again with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday and my first Monday Mingle.

The Palsy

This could take a while. It won't be pretty. It won't be politically correct, either.

Cerebral Palsy is one of the most difficult disabilities to explain, categorize, or physically overcome by just talking about it. There are several types of CP and each runs the gamut in terms of severity. In a nutshell, what you need to know is that we're talking about a neurological condition caused by brain damage that results in limitations and/or spasticity in motor skills. It can also affect sight, speech and intellect. Although it's a condition, not a disease, it can exacerbate other issues as you age. If you really want to know more the Mayo Clinic website has a good overview.

To be honest with you I only got a tap from the Palsy Faerie's Wand O' Spaz. My intellect is intact (yup, there's the setup. Insert joke here). and I only have a slight speech impediment. My vision is so poor without my glasses I would need a guide dog. Movement is where it gets interesting. I can walk but my gait is very unsteady. Think two year old with a drinking problem.

Wobble hobble

As a result of my superior sense of equilibrium I hobble around the house, use crutches when I'm out in my yard, and a wheelchair to maneuver the rest of the world. My feet also turn inward involuntarily - as opposed to with my consent.

Pigeon Toed

I have trouble with what they call "fine motor skills". Things like fastening buttons, writing, opening childproof packages. My left hand is much worse than my right. In fact, it's practically useless and it usually sits in "Cher" position when I'm stumbling through the house.

You get the idea

Then there are the facial ticks. I look like I'm lip-synching a kung-fu movie.

Looks about right

The cherry on this sundae is the choreoathetosis, which is the involuntary random twisting and muscle contractions that make me twitch. Put it all together and you get...moi.

Moi

This is the package I have to wrap in such a way that it distracts from the distraction that is my disability. Not an easy trick. But I am so lucky that I can put my best foot forward...er, best face forward...best cleavage forward? What I want to convey clearly to you, esteemed Spashionistas, is this. When I leave my house and interact with other people I am doing so in the name of all of those with CP who can't speak for themselves. Whether I like it or not I am a representation of my disability first and foremost. If I can get people to see past the Palsy with me then they are more likely to do so with the next disabled person they meet. I can also get them to admire my overwhelming fabulousness and join me on my quest to look as good on the outside as we know we are on the inside.

And to those that look away, that look past me, that see this as a joke? In the words of Jeannie Bueller, "Screw 'em".