I am a 27-year-old man who has Cerebral Palsy. It affects my muscles throughout my body and it affects muscle growth. I am wheelchair bound. I have decent control over my body, but I have limitations on range of motion. I am considered to be quite independent, but I require assistance every day. I live with my mom and younger sister. I have two sisters. My older sister moved out in early 2017. I have a job in Old Bethpage. I have been at my job for six years. I feel very fortunate to have gotten a job a year after I finished school, and have been there ever since. It is not easy getting a job when you have developmental disabilities like myself. Having a physical disability is very challenging for me. I am the type of person who doesn’t give up. I will push myself to accomplish a goal and I am where I am now due to my drive for success. When I get a goal in my head, I will do everything in my power to succeed. Since I’m at a disadvantage physically, I get knocked down a lot. However, every single time I get stuck, it makes me want to succeed even more! I regroup, I learn and I go at it as many times as it takes. I can proudly say that I overcame every challenge I have faced so far. It just shows me that my will of determination and perseverance will always be a great tool in my life. Here is an example:
In early 2016, I realized that I needed to start taking better care of my health. I was 26 and I was having too much fun. I was eating junk food multiple times a week. I knew I had to change my ways. Becoming healthier was an important change, because with my type of disability my body can rapidly decline if not taken care of appropriately.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough where I had resources that kept my deterioration at a minimum. When I was younger, I used to rebel against those vital resources and I wasn’t mature enough to understand how important it was to do what’s necessary to minimize the deterioration as much as possible. I also didn’t realize that I had the best resources available at my disposal. Now I do understand the reality of the seriousness of “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” Even with putting my body as the top priority for the past 15 years, it can be all undone in months. Unfortunately, even though I have been taking advantage of all the resources I have to take care of my body, my body will always keep deteriorating at a certain rate. That is just the nature of my disability. With that being said, last year I took it upon myself to investigate into a body jacket. A body jacket is a brace for the torso. I have scoliosis of the spine, which became slightly more notable because of natural deterioration. That made me aware of the scary fact that my body has begun slowly deteriorating at a noticeable rate and that I need to get my act together. I have had my body jacket for two years now. While it was very challenging to consider that this can be for the rest of my life, the alternative was much worse for me. I had to relearn how to do so many things like eating, writing, moving and more. I had to deal with skin breakdowns and had to get the body jacket adjusted over five times. Every appointment was a month apart. During that time, I still wore the jacket even though I was in pain. I didn’t want to lose any progress I achieved. I pushed myself every single day. I made myself focus on the end result. The end result was eating better, having a better posture, better stability in and out of the wheelchair and a tons of other benefits.
While I was in the process of the body jacket, I started to drink water 60-80% of the time. I cut alcohol by 90%, and I cut out processed food by 70%. I bought an adaptive bike, which allowed me to go out and exercise every day. I achieved a goal of going three miles under my own leg power. In October 2016 I joined Retro Fitness, a gym near my house. I have been going every day since for two hours a day. I felt a difference within a half a year. Now I am unstoppable and feeling great! I have a sister who got into fitness and weight-lifting 5-7 years back and she dramatically changed herself for the better. Watching her also encouraged me to give fitness a shot. Between witnessing her success and my unwritten future with my body, I’m going to work harder, keep pushing myself and keep taking it to the next level so that I can be the best person I can be on the outside and the in!