Saturday, October 8, 2011
Running with Cerebral Palsy
My daughter is a runner. I love the way those words roll off the tongue - I get excited every time I say it. My daughter is a runner. I just want to pinch myself. My daughter is a runner.
I remember when Caitlin took her first stumbling little steps after her 2nd birthday. She looked like a drunken sailor and fell about every third step. We had to buy special (read expensive) shoes because her feet were so stiff and inflexible. She cracked a bone in her eye socket about 6 weeks after she started walking and if you have never taken a 2 yr old to the emergency room with a broken eye socket you don't truly know the meaning of third degree interrogation.
We were so busy taking each day as it came and trying to provide everything she needed to be the best she could be that we really didn't think too much about the future. Watching that stumbling, black-eyed little girl, I would never have believed that she would run with such a strong, balanced gait.
Every time she finishes a race I find myself wanting to tell everyone around that she has cerebral palsy. I want them to understand what she has overcome to even be on that field much less crossing the finish line. The pain she has endured, the hours of therapy, the braces, the torn hamstrings, the broken elbow and thumb, and her own fear that she wouldn't be able to do it.
And none of those people know any of that. All they see is another girl crossing the finish line -not the fastest but not the slowest. They have no idea how hard she has worked to be considered one of many. That it is a personal achievement for her to blend in so seamlessly as to remain unnoticed.
My daughter is an athlete. She is a runner who runs for the sheer love of running, she runs to feel normal, she runs to prove she can.