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Life as a Scot in California

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Posts Tagged ‘cerebral palsy’

What I have in Common with Partans

Posted by berkeleyscot on October 10, 2010

My Facebook friend, Gordon , from Boddam in Aberdeen-shire, is an Inshore Fisherman. He documents his fishing activities with videos and photos, which he posts on Facebook.

Recently, Gordon posted a video of a fellow crab fisherman cutting the crabs’ tendons (you need a Facebook account to view this). At first, I didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t realize the crabs were alive. He made slicing movements with his deft knife and tossed the crab aside to work on another one. The pile of crabs grew and I thought were dead because they were not crawling over each other.

I mentioned this to Gordon and he responded, “They’re nae deid!  We hiv tae cut their tendons or they’d fecht ane anither!”

So the crabs were hamstrung and rendered ineffective and cripple, but the catch was intact. I don’t know if they felt pain, but I did not see them move again.

Watching this reminded me that the tendons of my right leg are also cut. This was done to me when I was four years old and it was done because it was done to children with Cerebral Palsy. The overall intention was to help me walk better. There are many websites, which give information on this procedure. Here’s one.

I don’t remember the surgery, but I was in stooga from ankle to knee for 6 weeks afterwards. I still went to school. Mam pushed me there in a hurly chair.

I remember being in great pain and when the stooga was cut off, the doctor declared there was gangrene in my right ankle. I remember there was a big black, smelly hole. The Doctor poured some kind  of liquid into the hole and I fainted when I smelled sizzling flesh.

The surgery was a disaster. My ankle healed after the gangrene, but I cannot bend it and rather than walking more easily, I drag my foot.

Like the partans, I canna rin awa, bit I dinna get intae fechts aither…


Posted in Disability, Scotland | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Primary School

Posted by berkeleyscot on July 16, 2009

I started school, in the Infant Class of Buckie Primary School in August 1954. My 5th birthday was in December of that year, but I was lucky to be admitted to school early. The usual age of school entry was at 5 years old.

This was the start, not only of my life outside of the Catbow, but the start of my independent life. I now could no longer rely on Mam to do things for me, or to make cerebral palsy easier for me.

At the start of each school year, Mam came to the school and talked to my teacher about my having cerebral palsy, but she was shy, intimidated by the teachers and was not my best advocate. Some teachers didn’t understand what she was trying to tell them

At first glance, it’s certainly not obvious that I have cerebral palsy. But then, when it comes to ‘doing,’ it is. In the 1950s, being left-handed was discouraged to the point of punishment, but what could my teachers do with a pupil who had no use of her right hand and they were not trained to ‘deal with’ students who had a disability. But I still learned to write, even though the inkwell was on the wrong side of the desk and I was messy with my pen and ink.

Cerebral Palsy is messy. Some people have no facial muscle control and drool and spastic, uncontrollable spasms are a nuisance.

But, the teachers realised I was one of their brightest pupils and we had to work together for me to get the quality of education I was supposed to get. I had supportive teachers and I had stupid teachers who refused to make allowances for me. I didn’t want special treatment. I simply wanted to be treated with respect and an awareness of what I was physically unable to do.

My classmates were often unkind. That was a long time ago and I cannot and don’t care now.

I had one special friend, Mary, whom I love dearly to this day. I felt normal in her company and I never had to explain anything to her.


Posted in Buckie, Disability | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

My Experience at the Orthopedic Surgeon’s and Did I Mention I have Cerebral Palsy?

Posted by berkeleyscot on March 22, 2009

My knee seized up, as I described in a recent blog.

I made an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon, someone I’d consulted a few years ago.

He wanted to have x-rays of my right knee.  He has an x-ray facility in his offices and that should have been a straightforward procedure.

The technician led me to the x-ray room and told me to get onto the table and lie down.  “I don’t think I can,” I said.  I’d had an x-ray in the same room and on the same table a few years ago, but now I wasn’t the same at all.

My broken arm has affected my balance and I’m unsteady. There were no handrails to hang on to as I tried to step on the stool to reach the table.

The table was a stainless steel tray. It reminded me of the tray that corpses lie on, in a morgue. The trays side in and out of drawers, with an identifying label attached to the deceased’s big toe.

There was a pillow on this stainless steel tray, but that didn’t help me feel comfortable.
The technician was aware I was not coping, physically, but she commanded me to lie on my right side.

I absolutely couldn’t do it. I tried. I was sliding all over the tray and believed if she’d tried to physically manipulate me, I’d actually fall off.  I had nothing to hold on to and was vocal in my distress.

She left the room and came back with the doctor. He tried to maneuver me around on the tray, but stopped when I grabbed his tie. It was the only thing near enough to hold on to. I was NOT trying to strangle him, but when I realised I might have, I grabbed his shirtsleeve and tried to sit up.

There is absolutely no traction on a stainless steel tray and there we were, sliding, strangling, shirt-ripping so I could sit up.

Don’t laugh!

It was frightening. The doctor was struggling. It would have made a great You Tube clip.
But it shouldn’t have been so difficult.

We seek medical help for that very reason. We need help.

When the doctor and I had recovered our breath, he looked at the one and only possible x-ray and decided to give me a cortisone shot in my knee.

I don’t think it was in revenge, but the needle was large and he made me promise I’d not kick him.

I didn’t and, for now, cortisone is now my friend.

Posted in Disability, Living | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

I knew that having cerebral palsy would complicate things…

Posted by berkeleyscot on February 6, 2009

I’ve spent today in my office, completely unable to stand up.

My right knee is swollen and very, very painful.

I knew that it was swollen when I got up in the morning, but managed to go downstairs.

Then I went back upstairs to my office to start my day with email, as usual. I wanted to have a productive day and I’d made a list of things that I might accomplish. But I couldn’t stand up. My right knee was double its size and I was in awful pain. I thought my kneecap was dislocated.

Richard said we’d have to call an ambulance and go to hospital.

I couldn’t bear the thought, so we’ve struggled through the day with heat, ice, massaging and a lot of bad language.

The swelling is subsiding and I might just be able to get wheeled to bed in my typing chair.

That’s the description of the complication.

I had physiotherapy on Tuesday and I did one exercise sitting on a balance ball. I rolled backwards, forwards and from side to side.

That put great stress on my right knee. I heard and felt it grinding and I should have stopped…

Now I am stopped! Completely!

I have cerebral palsy and I need to be vocal about it!

All I can say right now is a very loud “OUCH!!!!!!”

Posted in Disability, Living | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

The Progress of the Plan

Posted by berkeleyscot on January 17, 2009

No progress today on ‘the Plan.’ But I’m pleased to have people comment on the plan potential.

I did see a competent physiotherapist, Janet. She has assured me that all moving parts will move again and maybe even better.

I have to do exercises. I will do them.

I am glad they don’t involve squeezing a beanbag. In the 1950s that was supposed to be a cure for cerebral palsy.

But it didn’t work.

I wish Richard would not refer to the piece of metal in my arm as a ‘sizable chunk.’

Will he sell me scrap if we fall on hard times?

Posted in Disability, Living | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

“Do You Always Walk That Way…”

Posted by berkeleyscot on January 6, 2009

Asked the nurse who had just officially discharged me from the Surgery Center.  She was accompanying me to the waiting area where Richard was to collect me.

I’ve given lots of thought to this kind of question.

I’d like to say, “How do I walk? Show me!”

But, I was immediately post-surgery and anesthetized at that moment and just needed to go home, so I admitted that I do always ‘walk that way.’

Cerebral Palsy will complicate my physiotherapy. I will have to explain that I couldn’t make a fist with my right hand before and I won’t be able to now.

I never could write with my right hand so calligraphy is not going to happen.

A close friend said, “I’ve always thought you must be right-handed, because, although your hand-writing is legible, it’s as if you’re a right-handed person, writing with your left hand!”

It’s curious that I had planned to experiment with cerebral palsy in 2009. By that, I mean, attempting to do things that I haven’t done in a long time – getting on a bus, for example.

How much is the aging process affecting me? What is it like to age with cerebral palsy?

AND – how do people REALLY see me?

When I was in the operating theatre, and before I went under, the crew chatted to me, thusly… “How boring that you tripped on the sidewalk and did not fall on the ski slopes… You’ll be driving by the end of the month… You’ll be using your right hand again!”

I am in awe of my great surgeon and the work he did to fix my arm – but the Surgery Center isn’t Lourdes, and yes, I will always ‘walk this way…’

I’ll just be so happy to see my wee right hand again in its natural curled up cerebral palsy state.

Posted in Accidents, Disability, Living | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »