Cerebral Palsy and Me

I am returning to Blogging after a long break. March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, so this was the perfect opportunity for my reappearance! For first time readers, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Hunter Kelch and I will be the big 3-0 in April! I guess you can say I have 30 years experience with Cerebral Palsy, Disabilities and Wheelchair using.

I also have a visual perception deficit. This is similar to cerebral palsy in that my eyes are not the issue, it is my brain's signals to my eyes that causes the issues. In recent years, I have had issues with migraines, acid reflux, stomach/digestion, back and joint pain and exhaustion. These can all be related back to my CP to some degree.

However, I have never let my disability define me. It is a part of who I am, but not WHO I am. I am also not fond of hashtags or taglines like #cpsucks. Why? Because CP is a part of who I am and I embrace it as I do life in general. Why focus on deficits when you can put that energy into assets? However, I do not judge those who do have this view on their disability. Everyone is entitled to their own journey through this and any other disability.

I live in my own apartment in Wausau, WI. I have lived on my own since 2011. I love where I live and feel blessed to be able to have this arrangement. I am able to do this with a lot of support. I have caregivers who are paid through iLife. My mom is my full time caregiver. Randy, Kelly and Rachel are my part-time caregivers. I am also lucky to have a vehicle, which is possible with incredible friends who threw a fundraiser for me.

Man with cerebral palsy posing with male caregiver
Randy and I

Man with cerebral palsy posing with female caregiver
Kelly and I

One more important tidbit about me. I am the proud furdad of an evil cat named Sully. Sully's favorite past time is pretending to be nice to my caregivers and guests so they let their guard down...then he goes in for the kill. Sully is my constant companion and he pretty much rules the roost.

Man with cerebral palsy with a black and white cat sitting in his lap
Sully, the demon cat

Man with cerebral palsy petting black and white cat
Sully in "Buddy Mode"

“Disability is natural. We must stop believing that disabilities keep a person from doing something. Because that’s not true . . . Having a disability doesn’t stop me from doing anything.” — Benjamin Snow, Grade 8, “Attitudes About People with Disabilities”

What is Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy or CP is a movement disorder caused by abnormal brain development of damage to parts of the brain. It is the most common movement disorder in children. Cerebral Palsy can affect one limb or it can affect the entire body. Other disorders can accompany CP, like epilepsy, intellectual disabilities and autism.

In my case, I was born 3 months premature. I was 2lbs 13 oz. I had a grade 4 brain bleed. However, my brain damage was a result of a staff infection. I am fortunate to not have seizures and I did not have a learning or cognitive disability. However, I am considered severe because the CP affects my entire body. I have been a wheelchair user since the age of 3. I attended regular classes and graduated from high school. I did well in my first year of college. My family experienced a divorce and I ended up dropping out of college. I mention that to show, life as a disabled man, is no different than any other life...I am adversely affected by the same things others are...death, divorce, and loss in general.

I gave the most simplistic explanation of Cerebral Palsy. It is actually more complicated than that. I will let these charts do the work for me!

“I have had this desire my whole life to prove people wrong, to show them I could do things they didn’t think I could do.” — David A. Paterson

I was fortunate to have parents who never let me use my disability as an excuse. They took me everywhere as a child. We traveled and I saw several countries. I had to follow the same rules as any other kid. My mom found opportunities for me to do what wheelchair using kids are told they can't do. I took gymnastics and judo at the YMCA. I rode horses and even went roller skating! I had always wanted to ride on a motorcycle. Both my mom and dad made it happen! I was invited to go waterskiing. My mom really did not want me to go. She was afraid I would sink! However, she never holds me back and I went! I did not sink!

If you are a parent of a young child with CP, I guess that is my greatest advice. Never say "my child can't". Instead, figure out how they can! There is always a way with some creativity, lots of lifting and tons of learning experiences. There may be times it does not work out, but trying and the adventure of trying can be so life enriching!

Thank you for stopping by and thank you for reading to the end! I will be adding products to my store weekly, including my handmade button products! Until next time, Keep Rollin' and Keep Smilin'!