Thursday, December 1, 2011

Disability and aging

Children have enough of a hard time when they realize that people grow older and nothing lasts forever. I grew up with a disability. With every year that passed I got bigger and heavier, while my parents who would carry me up the stairs turned older and weaker. Realizing this was different from finding out that one day, say, your grandparents were not going around forever because this was something I got to see and think about and sense every day. What will happen to me, what is the future going to be like became real, troubling questions for me always lingering in the back of mind. What will happen when I'm too heavy for my parents to deal with? I'm pretty sure not many eight, nine yearolds deal with the aging question quite like that. And for that reason I feared becoming older.

Today I'm 32 and I live in Gainesville, a college town in Florida. Being here makes you feel older because for most people the city is a temporary stop on their way to greater things. In a big metropolis I would be considered young and successful; being surrounded  by 19-year-olds    rendered me old when I turned 25. And I see that my body is changing as well. I've gained weight and often have less energy then when I was in 20's. I feel different and I realize that the benefits of Conductive Education weren't given for life. I should start a daily physical exercise routine to work on myself and get in shape. Cerebral Palsy is not a progressive disorder. But when you move less you feel heavier. When I first arrived in America I had to wheel myself to great distances every day. Now I live downtown where everything is closer and I mostly stay at home. I hear clicking in my joints and back and my tendons are stiffer. And I know, that while CP itself doesn't progress I'm at risk for arthritis and a number of internal organs problems in a couple years. But I keep those thoughts away because I have nothing to benefit from worrying.

 I've lost classmates in lawschool, seemingly healthy people. A young man died devastated  by leukemia, while on a bright sunshiny day a beautiful, smart woman in her first semester jogged into traffic without even knowing it and was fatally hit by a car.  Those stories shook me up greatly but also brought an important less,We never know what the future holds  and  there's no use in agonizing over things we cannot control. A measure of life's value for me is how you impact and help other people. I found my cause with the Klausner foundation and I feel I'm making a difference. I try to live in the moment, whenever possible and I deal with tomorrow when it comes I'm not ashamed of my age because every new year brought on some remarkable experience that changed me. I thought immigration for 4 years. I have two American law degrees I worked very hard to get and I passed the bar. Yes, a lot of it stress, pain and sweat, but it had shaped me. I'm not who I was seven years ago. I want these years, they're my life. And now I'm focused on helping others. My parents often are worried when they hear that I'm single and I live by myself because what will happen to me? But haven't we worried about the future enough? Time to worry about the present.

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