Puberty is a tough time for all kids. Having Cerebral Palsy made puberty an extra challenging time for me. On top of all of the social difficulties, my body was changing just like anybody else’s. All of my life, I have been told that Cerebral Palsy won’t change. While I will never truly understand what it is like to have a progressive condition, CP does change as you grow older. I wish someone had informed me of this while I was growing up. My ability to function was not the same once I hit puberty. For example, I used to be able to walk short distances with a pair of forearm crutches. However, soon after puberty began, this became more and more difficult. It was physically painful for me to be able to do this. I grew frustrated with myself but realized that it might no longer be possible.
When I went through a growth spurt early in my teens, chronic pain was suddenly much more prevalent in my daily life. During my senior year of high school, I had finished growing, but chronic pain was still there. In particular, I had severe pain in my hips, which made it hard to sit in my power wheelchair. The pain turned out to be from an overuse injury, and with some rest and some adjustments to my posture, I was much more comfortable.
The most frustrating aspect of puberty for me was fatigue. Slowly, I began to tire more quickly than I had before. Even years later, fatigue is still present daily. I can no longer spend all day running errands without becoming tired. A trip to the mall or to the supermarket usually is followed by a couple of hours where I’m relaxing in my room with a movie. Cerebral Palsy also makes restful sleep more difficult for me. My spasticity is worse at night, and that can make getting comfortable challenging.
Puberty was a challenge for me. Cerebral Palsy is not progressive in the typical sense. However, it does change with age, and this became painfully obvious during puberty.