The Voice of Ability Series

Rundle - Disabilities do not define a person, writer says, God does

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles by those with disabilities.
By David P. Rundle
I have two main disabilities, one visible and one invisible – if I receive my daily meds in the prescribed dosage, not less, at about the same time each day. The visible one is cerebral palsy; the invisible one is epilepsy. Both were caused by my birth, which went terribly wrong.
I was born breach with my cord around my throat, causing me to quit breathing and stopping my heart for three minutes till the doctor baptized me and it began beating again.
Those minutes shaped my physical life. Because my heart did not pump oxygen to my brain, it damaged my cerebellum, the part that controls motor functions like walking, talking, and fine hand functions.
My cerebral palsy, or C.P., was detected early by my mother after she noticed I wasn’t sucking the bottle right and was missing developmental milestones. Our doctor had never had a case like mine so he sent my folks and me to specialists, who diagnosed my C.P.
I began receiving therapies when I was six.
I can’t walk, feed, dress or do other things. To me that’s normal. The biggest difficult C.P. has given me is poor speech. I have to repeat myself and spell words daily but I’m used to all that. C.P. is not a tragedy.
Nor is epilepsy. I had my first seizure at five and have been on meds ever since. Epilepsy is very complex so I won’t say much about mine.
I will say epilepsy used to be connected with possession and not discussed by many Catholics, including my parents. It was only after mother’s death, when I was in my 30s, that my siblings learned about mine.
Disabilities won’t go away. But neither will Christ. Christ helps me more than my disabilities hurt me. Christ is who defines me, not my disabilities.

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