This I Believe

Entered on March 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe my disabilities, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, are facts of life, not tragedies.

I was born breach nearly fifty years ago with the umbilical chord choking me. I stopped breathing for about three minutes and only started breathing again after a doctor baptized me, or so my mother always said.

During those minutes, my brain was deprived of oxygen. The part of my brain controlling my motor functions was severely damaged. To this day, I cannot walk, feed or dress myself.

I had my first epileptic seizure when I was five. This condition is always still with me but is controlled through medication. It too can be traced to my birth and those three minutes my brain had no oxygen.

My parents were farmers with no knowledge of the conditions caused by my birth until I came along. Yet, having seven other children (two after me) they felt I had normal intelligence and both could and should be educated. Of course, they wanted me to have a good life and be happy. But they wanted something more: they wanted me to give back and not feel sorry for myself.

They taught me this through actions more than words. They let me tease and be teased and be teased by my siblings. They allowed me to explore the farm, to fall in my wheelchair and bleed keep going.

They demanded I do my best in and out of school and to keep everything in perspective.

When I was in my twenties, I asked myself how my life would have been had I not had that birth experience.

I concluded I would have still problems, struggles and failings as well as happiness, successes and all the blessings everyone of us have and all too often take for granted.

In short, every life has a mixture of joys and sorrows. My disabilities are part of my life. Cursing God and angels, as someone recently put it, won’t make them go away.

My real problems, I believe, are caused b my flaws and mistakes, not my physical limitations. I can put construction energy into trying to correct them instead of being angry because of my imperfect body.

It has been said life is what you make it and it is. The facts of my birth remain. But those are minor facts. I can get past them, seize the present and be grateful and happy. What more could I want?