Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Sometimes Cerebral Palsy Simply Sucks

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 11:53 pm on Monday, June 18, 2007

(Photo credit: Sanja Sjenero)

I try to give my loyal readers something positive, inspiring, or hopeful in most posts I write, but there are days when having cerebral palsy simply sucks. And, today was one of those days!

As I shared in an earlier post, my left ankle needs to be braced again; a development I’m not thrilled with. I wore heavy long-legged braces as a child. The summer before Grade Six, I had a horrendous surgery done to stabilize both ankles (details are in my book), after which I graduated to short-legged braces below the knee. Then part way through Grade Eight, I did away with the braces all together, which marked improvement to me; one tiny step towards being less different. Going back to a brace is a step backward; digression.

Nowadays, the braces (or AFOs – ankle-foot orthotics) are no longer heavy metal and sweaty leather, but rather lightweight plastic molded to the foot. Today’s appointment involved casting my foot for the plastic mold. With athetoid cerebral palsy, this was not an easy task.

I must admit that the orthotists were very patient and even answered my questions this time. Not having the rehab specialist there this time helped. Or, perhaps it was the fact that I had included the link to the previous blog post when I emailed for the appointment, after receiving notification that funding for said AFO had been approved. Whatever it was, it was nice being treated as an intelligent individual.

Because of my cp and the muscle tightness, we had to go through the casting process three times in order to get my foot in a semi good position from which the plastic mold will be made. Three times I endured my foot being twisted and turned into a position my foot doesn’t go in. And, to be honest, it hurt!

The AFOs are made of a clear plastic. Children get to choose from an album a graphic or design to customize their plastic AFO (and to make it more bearable to wear). The orthotist gave me the album to see if I wanted anything on mine. Thumbing through the images of action heroes, cute animals, or flaming lightning bolts didn’t inspire me; there was nothing business- or professional-like, no dollar signs or “I’m a hot babe” sayings. I was learning towards a plain, least conspicuous, least wardrobe clashing AFO. Then I saw the butterflies, the symbol of new life, new hope, and thought, “If I have to wear this stupid thing, why not have brightly coloured butterflies all over it?” I never had choice with the metal braces and poop brown shoes I wore all through my childhood. Hopefully the butterflies will lighten up the sucky fact that I am now back to wearing braces.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by AnneShirley Manion

June 19, 2007 @ 5:01 am

I am sure you will make the best of this situation. I love the idea of the Butterflies for you.
Shirley Manion

Comment by Karen Putz

June 19, 2007 @ 6:22 am

The poop brown shoes are gone–now that sounds like something to celebrate! Sorry about the braces. Perhaps it’s a sign that you should work with an ortho company and design some jazzy themes for adults?

Comment by Glenda

June 19, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

Thanks Shirley! And glad to hear the poop brown shoes are now gone, Karen. I feel relieved for today’s kids! And love your idea. Imagine me modeling in my butterfly AFO and my underwear for Dove’s Beauty Campaign! 😉 Now that would be a dose of reality!

Comment by Mary, the hairdresser

June 19, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

I am sorry about the brace Glenda, but the butterflies will be a nice touch. I also like the idea of the AFO and Dove underwear picture. lol

Comment by Glenda

June 19, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

Thanks Mary! That mental image will give us something to laugh about during my next appointment.

But, seriously, how difficult would it be to create a takeoff of Dove’s Campaign for YouTube? That would surely generate sure attention, though perhaps not the kind I’m seeking!

Comment by Jacqui

June 19, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

I think the butterflies will be beautiful and when you get need a change you can get an artist to airbrush a picture/tattoo of your liking on them (like goalies do on their helmets). I love the idea of the AFO/Dove video.

Comment by Glenda

June 19, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

Thanks Jacqui! I’m seriously considering the AFO/Dove idea on YouTube. I’m imagining some black and white still photos, somewhat artsy, in a 30-second video, and where the company name would go at the end, have a challenge going out to beauty product companies and see if any one picks sponsorship of the piece. I need to see if an old friend from high school is still around and see if he is still into photography.

Comment by Mary McD

June 27, 2007 @ 12:03 pm


Sorry to hear that you are back to braces — the improvements are at least more stylish and less cumbersome, but it still sucks to have to go back to them.

Although I love reading your blog (and voting for you daily in hopes that you will be able to do so full time next year!) I don’t only read it for the positive, uplifting moments – I read it for your wit and humor, even after a sucky day.

When my brother was dying from skin cancer (AD: wear your sunscreen every day!), he and I would talk often on the phone, and I told him at the outset that I called to find out how he was, not to be greeted by Pollyanna every time. After that, he knew it was more than OK to have an “off” day or to be less than upbeat when I called [sometimes to the point of refusing the call if he was tired]. So, you are now formally granted permission to be honest in your feelings – I personally want to know about YOU in all your multi-hued, multi-feelings glory! Even if those hues are not all “rosy”!

Comment by Morgan

June 30, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

I just started looking over your site.
You Inspire me..
Thanks for being exactly who you are.

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