How Do You Think About Your Cerebral Palsy?

Over the past two months a certain word set appears reoccurring in my blogging and vlogging endeavors, “with cerebral palsy (CP).” Just take a look.

“Shoe Shopping with Cerebral Palsy”
“Concert Going with Cerebral Palsy”
“Going to the Ballpark with Cerebral Palsy”

How do you think about your cerebral palsy?

Image courtesy of Master isolated images /

This catches my attention because when going about these activities I’m not consciously thinking “Oh, I need to keep this in mind because of my CP.” Last year when I saw Tim McGraw at Blossom I didn’t say “I better bring my cane because I have cerebral palsy.”

Instead I think about my specific symptoms. So take the Tim McGraw example I already brought up. I grabbed my cane before heading out to the concert because I thought “I want to be as far down as possible on the lawn seats. I’ll need the cane so I don’t fall going down the hill that is the lawn area.” In said instance I’m focusing on neutralizing my balance issues rather than the label cerebral palsy.

How about another example? When shoe shopping I’m not thinking “Will these shoes work with my CP?” Nope. I’m thinking “Will my inserts fit into these shoes?” I consider my inserts something I need in the same way a cop needs a badge or a waitress needs to balance a tray filled with drinks or food.

Really internally I rarely use the words cerebral palsy. Only when I share my experiences, do I turn to my diagnosis. The term cerebral palsy maintains one valuable function I believe, to communicate. Us in the CP community can communicate with each other and express comparable life experiences. Similarly we can communicate to the able-bodied world and create better CP awareness.

Inside my own head though, I don’t need to communicate about CP because I already know. I recognize my poor balance and other special needs. However, I view those in context with who I am as a whole person. To me I’m Zachary, a talented writer, avid Cleveland Indians fan who happens to walk a little differently and needs a rail to ascend/descend stairs.

If you have cerebral palsy, let me pose a question to you. How often do you use the term cerebral palsy internally within your thoughts? Please answer by commenting below. Thanks!


Shoe Shopping with Cerebral Palsy

Shoe Store Aldo

Cerebral palsy adds difficulty to shoe shopping. Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

When going shoe shopping, what factors do you keep in mind? To the average person I’m guessing common answers might include price and style/design. Now I can only guess since my cerebral palsy (CP) adds factors most people probably don’t need to consider.

Early on in my memoir Off Balanced (available on the Kindle, Nook, and i-Pad via the free Kindle app) I mention wearing high top shoes as a kid. The high tops worked to hide the DAFOs (dynamic ankle foot orthoses) I wore, which aided my childhood agenda to hide my CP.

Years later I still limit my shoe shopping to high tops. These days the reasoning stems from practicality rather than embarrassment over my disability. High tops provide my ankles extra support, support lessening my wobbliness. This support proves essential given I no longer wear DAFOs.

However I still rely on foot orthotics, custom made shoe inserts specifically. Amongst their purposes, my shoe inserts neutralize a significant height discrepancy with my legs. So you might say my inserts play important roles in my ability to move the best I can. Thus I must buy shoes the inserts will fit well into.

My custom made shoe inserts

The shoe inserts I need to keep in mind when shoe shopping.

Finding that right fit can prove difficult. For instance this week I passed on certain shoes I really wanted. My inserts did not fit the 8.5 size. Depending on the shoe I can also wear nines. While the insert fit well into the nines, my foot did not. Too much space up by the toes! Ugh!

From the weekly cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow (Wednesdays 8pm EST/Use #CPChatNow) I know shoe shopping stands a frustrating task for many in the CP community. My own case only demonstrates a couple issues. Some with CP may experience trouble tying shoes. Others may baffle the shoe department staff with two different size feet. Bottom line, the frustrations vary person by person.

If you possess an interesting shoe shopping story whether due to cerebral palsy, a different disability, or another factor please feel free to share by commenting below. Thanks in advance for adding your insights!

Guest Post: Keeping Up with Medical Safety Alerts

After reading Kathleen Statham’s memoir Warrior Woman (my review here) and witnessing my aunt’s continual battle with leukemia I recognize the impact a patient makes in his or her medical case. With that said I want to introduce a special guest post from Mario Trucillo. Mario gives insights on one way you can stay informed about medical safety as a patient.

If you find it difficult to keep up with every aspect of your personal health, including information about medication and medical devices, you aren’t alone. Millions take prescription drugs on a regular basis. Others have found new opportunities to remain active through artificial joints and other prosthetics. With the large number of people now seeking medical attention and the great strides being taken in medical science today, many medical professionals don’t have the time to provide proper one-on-one consultation with individual patients.

prescription drugs

Become more knowledgeable about your prescriptions at Photo: Bmramon at en.wikipedia

If you’ve struggled to understand your medical options or have questions about drug interactions, dietary restrictions, and/or treatment options, you need a place where you can turn for accurate, personalized information. The American Recall Center is here to help. Their website provides up-to-the-minute information on a full range of medical treatments and medications from hip replacement to dangerous drugs. Patients can access this information before an appointment in order to prepare. You can also use the website to acquire supplemental information following appointments or between checkups.

The American Recall Center focuses on empowering patients. They provide easy-to-understand information about prescriptions, medical procedures, and other medical treatments. Their website steers clear of medical jargon and carefully defines terminology in order to help patients comprehend each concept and medical warning. With plain language explanations of medical procedures, you can be full armed with facts at all times.

In order to best arm patients with important medical facts, the American Recall Center provides exclusive Patient Safety Alerts. These personalized messages help keep registered patients informed whenever an FDA message affecting them is released.

To take advantage of Patient Safety Alerts, simply go to the online database listing drugs and medical devices. Select those that affect you. Once this is done, you will receive an email alert anytime the FDA issues a safety update concerning the products you have selected. As long as you keep your selections up-to-date, you’ll never have to worry about missing an important FDA update again.

Yahoo! Voices Closing

On Thursday, July 31st Yahoo! Voices ( will cease to exist and by mid-August the corresponding Yahoo! Contributor Network (Y! CN) will also become history. Yahoo! Voices and Y! CN succeeded Associated Content (AC) after Yahoo purchased AC a few years back. Now I’m mentioning the shutdowns because they will result in bonus posts here. Allow me to explain.

Between 2009 and 2011 I wrote various cerebral palsy (CP) related articles still currently published on Yahoo! Voices. These pieces arranged from book and music reviews to informative articles, interviews with individuals in the CP community, and more. Once Yahoo! Voices ceases existence, I’m free to re-publish said articles elsewhere.

After some thinking I decided to take the best 10 CP related articles and publish them here in a special series. Considering the seemingly increasing popularity in “Throwback Thursday,” Thursday feels like the right day to share the bonus posts.

Yes, I know Throwback Thursdays involves posting old photographs. Why let images enjoy all the fun though? Hopefully through my special Throwback Thursday series you will discover new people with CP or just new insights that you previously missed.

Stay tuned for a set start date to the series. In the meantime you can check out my thoughts on the Yahoo! Contributor Network closing.

*Blogger’s Note- From December 2012 to December 2013 through Y! CN I also wrote select cerebral palsy related articles published at Yahoo! Health. Those articles will remain up at Yahoo! Health thus making them ineligible for the Throwback Thursday series. However, you will find the links below. Enjoy the reads!