I was born with cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia. And yes, I walk with crutches.
But I do not let these things stop me from participating!
People stare. And they ask, “What’s wrong with you? What happened?” and then they’ll say, “I’m so sorry.” They worry that I will fall down, that I will fall behind or fall short of their expectations. Because my disability is so clearly visible, often people will assume that the challenges I face on a daily basis must be enormous and exhausting.
I am a disabled body in an able-bodied world. I will fall down. I am not as fast as some. But if you give me a chance, I can most definitely meet and even exceed expectations. I have learned to adapt. I know better than anyone what I can and cannot do. Just ask me. I know my limitations. And I am not afraid to ask for help.
To put it simply, I am comfortable with who I am .
For me, walking is hard.
It takes a conscious effort for me to put one foot in front of the other, to walk in a straight line. When I am tired, you will know, because the ‘walking like a normal person’ facade crumbles away. I crouch, my knees bent. My feet fall back into their natural rhythm, where my toes drag and my shoes cringe as their rubber is subjected once more to the pavement’s harsh abrading action that results.
I have to say that sometimes, it is so nice to forget about normal, turn my brain off and just do what comes naturally to me. My dad calls it the Sammy Shuffle. And I guarantee you’ll hear me coming!
My SideStix –custom built forearm crutches– are the best. I have used standard crutches for a long time, and there is simply no comparison (www.sidestix.com).
The constant stress on my hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and shoulders as I propel myself forward and brace for landing, the shock of impact reverberating the length of my arms during each and every stride has been eliminated through the use of ergonomic angles and a shock absorber; I no longer experience pain in any of my joints.
Invented by mountaineer and amputee Sarah Doherty and her partner Kerith Perreur-Lloyd, SideStix have several additional attachments for those who wish to venture farther afield than would be possible using a standard pair of crutches — and I own them all.
Hiking, a day at the beach, in the snow or just swinging along the sidewalk I can move better and with more confidence than ever before. I no longer have to worry about hitting that patch of ice or pile of wet leaves and falling on my face. I have complete freedom to go where I will.
And I fly. Fast.