How SDR Surgery Changed My Life

SDR Changes Lives! I had selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery on March 29, 2013, on the cusp of turning 40 years old. This vlog post (scroll down to see the videos) was written exactly one year later.

**UPDATE: A lot has happened over the past five years…watch the latest video here.**

SDR Changes Lives

Words cannot express how I feel about this life-changing operation. I believe in it so much that I am now an advocate for the procedure – and will continue to be – by submitting my story to as many publications as possible. It wasn’t easy growing up with a physical disability everyone can see. Being bullied and teased is not something I miss. Making friends was hard. There were tears, lots of tears. I also got stared at a lot. And, when I volunteered at an elementary school, children often asked, “Why do you walk like that?”

SDR in St. Louis

Now that I’ve had SDR in St. Louis, the question that seems to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind is, “What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?” I always tell them that that wasn’t what the surgery was really about for me, since I could do so much prior to it. But, what I couldn’t do was walk – without people looking or staring – even for a brief moment. SDR changed that for me. Even though my gait has changed so dramatically, I still think people are staring. Thankfully, it may not be for the reasons that I think.

Has SDR allowed me to do things I could not do before? YES! Sometimes, it’s the simple things, like being able to walk backward or bring my heels to my butt (post-workout stretch) without struggling. Or, being able to do something I never would attempt before the surgery – walking up and down stairs without holding on! This isn’t something I do all the time (only in controlled environments) because I still have CP. Sometimes my legs cooperate, sometimes they don’t.

The Gifts of SDR

The gifts of SDR are endless! SDR gave me the gift of POSSIBILITY. Before the surgery, I could not imagine what it would be like to walk normally. I accepted the fact that people (most often, children) would stare at me in public. It was one of the perks of having CP. Another perk was having tight muscles ALL the time. It didn’t matter how much I exercised, did physical therapy or didn’t feel tight (it was so normal to me, I didn’t not know the difference), spasticity followed me everywhere. SDR changed that for me, too. I don’t have spasticity. IT’S GONE as a result of SDR! I still have challenges that are, and always will be a part of having CP. Above all, I’m thankful that getting stared at in public isn’t one of them anymore. SDR Changes Lives!

An SDR Advocate is Born!

Thank you, Dr. Park! You made it possible for me to do the impossible. People with cerebral palsy want to be like everyone else. SDR has allowed me to be as much like other people as possible. This is why I am so passionate about SDR. Consequently, every person with CP should be made aware of this life-changing surgery. What they (or their parents) do with the information is up to them.

What’s next for me? I’ll learn how to ride a two-wheel bike at Baldwin iCan Bike (click to watch what happened over five days) on my 41st birthday.

**UPDATE: A lot has happened over the past five years…watch the latest video here.**

SDR Vlog

Finally, watch my progression one year after the surgery — you’ll see how SDR Changes Lives!

**UPDATE: A lot has happened over the past five years…watch my latest video here.**

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  • Congratulations Nicole on your first SDR Anniversary!!!
    Reading your blog has brought tears to my eyes.
    I couldn’t agree more, SDR brings the gift of Possibility!!!
    Enjoy this very special day my friend xx
    You are such inspiration for my Matthew, Thank You x

    • Hi Maria,

      It’s hard to believe a year has passed. Thanks for congratulating me on my first SDR Anniversary and telling me that I inspire your son, Matthew. Cheers to the gift of possibility!

  • I’m so proud of you cousin!! I’m not on Facebook that much , but I always checked to see how you were doing! Such an inspiration for others with cerebral palsy, like myself. Such a wonderful life changing journey!!!

  • Hi my son is just 7 year old and he cant walk……. He has spaticity on his left…… Now after reading this I feel how hard it would be for that little one……. Even though his friends dont bull him but support him he feels bad for that support………… How do I get him out of that……… Its so hard copping up………… Is this SDR available in India…….. SO where should this process start and how much I would cost……… we are from India and here No one can clear me with a proper treatment…….

    If it is kind of u to explain about the process………. I would see what can be done………

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