“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.” —Theodore Roosevelt
I had selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery one year ago today! 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. I was bullied and teased. It wasn’t easy making friends. 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?”
Now that I’ve had SDR in St. Louis, the question that seems to be on the forefront of inquiring minds is, “What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?” I always say that the surgery wasn’t really about that for me, especially because I could do so much prior to it. But, what I could not 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 work the way I want, sometimes they don’t.
SDR gave me the gift of POSSIBILITY. Before SDR, 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 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! I still have challenges that are, and always will be a part of having CP. I am truly thankful that getting stared at in public isn’t one of them anymore.
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. Every person with CP should be made aware of this life-changing surgery. We all deserve the chance to have the best life possible. SDR CHANGES LIVES!
What’s next? I will learn how to ride a two-wheel bike at Baldwin iCan Bike on my 41st birthday in June.