What It Was Like Growing Up With Cerebral Palsy

My name is Juliana Ruggiero. I'm 18 and also have spastic cerebral palsy. My story begins in 1999. I had been a fragile preemie who weighed only 3.10 pounds. My parents were not able to to carry me when I first arrived on the scene; I had been removed towards the NICU when I was born. I was on a breathing machine and observed at close range with a team of doctors until I had been stable enough and my lungs were developed enough to function by themselves.

Not even a couple of days into being in the world, I'd a stroke and my brain bled inside. Doctors think it is nothing, but the neurologist on call that night didn't believe it and wanted to do an ultrasound on my small head just to make sure. Just 4 days old, I got the ultrasound done, and also the outcome was not what my parents and family wanted to hear. “There's a black spot along with a bleed in your daughter's brain,” a doctor said. She paused and explained it had been brain damage, and I might have cerebral palsy, but only testing would confirm it.

The neurologist began with a basic test to see just how much damage the stroke had caused to my body system. She'd me move my fingers, hands, feet and toes. The stroke had caused me to get rid of movement in those important parts of the body.

I spent most of time within the hospital for viruses and sickness. When I was finally stable enough, they thought I had been likely to be able to go home and live a “normal” life. But I would be a tough baby, always crying, sick, fussy, as well as on a ton of medications. No one, not really my doctors threw in the towel on me. Without that amazing team of doctors, my loved ones and I would not be where we are today.

I started going to routine checkups with the neurologist once I was finally released from the hospital. With a little bit of effort and instruction, I had been able to regain feeling in every place– except for in my legs. The stroke tried probably the most damage to my legs plus they were motionless. Still it wasn't confirmed if I had cerebral palsy or otherwise. About a month or two later, I'd another ultrasound done to see if either the black spot or even the bleeding went away.

The results were still the same, and my legs were tighter than ever before.

On January 7, 1999, we've got the confirmed news from that same neurologist that would change all of our lives forever:

“It is confirmed that your daughter has cerebral palsy.”

What would that mean for us –for me?

An orthopedic doctor recommended a gait test be achieved to see what type of CP I had. Therefore we headed to Hartford Hospital, in which the gait test was to be performed. After i walked, a doctor noticed I had been dangling my legs underneath me like “scissor blades.” He said I'd a really mild type of the most common kind of cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia. The doctor also noticed after i sat on a table, my leg muscles wouldn't relax and dangle naturally. He said to give it some time and if nothing changed, I'd need surgery to correct the problem.

I started school around 2000. That year, my health started getting out of control. I was always sick, in and out of the hospital again and again for countless ear infections and lots of other activities. But, around 2001, my family was faced with a tough choice. There was no progress with my legs, so the doctor decided I needed to have surgery to release my muscles and also to walk effectively with my walker.

So on January 7, 2003, just a few days once i turned 4, I'd my leg operation. Per my doctor, I had been said to be out of school for two months because that's just how long it might require me to recuperate. However it didn't go this way. I had been back in school a week after having surgery and had no option but do my recovery plan while in school. After two months of stretching, frustration, and tears I was able to get my casts taken off and walk with the aid of leg braces. I really know without the branch of support in those days, I wouldn't make it through this difficult time.

Today at 18, I'm thriving, and I'm stronger and healthier than ever. I'll be graduating high school after this week. I'm now completed with high school and a student at Gateway College. CP doesn't define me or who I am. You shouldn't let it define you can either; no matter what people say or how “good,” “bad,” “mild” or “severe” it might be. I actually do have my “Why me?” days sometimes, but I never allow it to stop me from doing things i wish to accomplish!

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