Living with Cerebral Palsy 🍋🍋

Sunday, 24 March 2019


We're going to be in a book!!
I'll start at the very beginning (it's a very good place to start). A couple of years ago I received an email from an Australian journalist, Melanie Dimmit.  She explained that she was writing a book, which would collate stories of SEND parents to help new parents of children with learning and/or developmental difficulties. After her son Arlo was diagnosed with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, she became acutely aware that there was no reading material out there around coping strategies and positive thinking for parents grappling with life-changing news. In a nutshell, Melanie said her book hoped to become something parents would turn to in order to feel better and access strategies (that have worked for other parents) to redirect negative thinking around their child's disability. She had, in googling the subject, come across my blog and was inviting me to contribute to the book with my own words of advice for new parents in my position. 
Wow. I was SO pleased! This has been a bugbear of mine for all time. When you are pregnant, there is a plethora of books you look at for after the baby is born. You buy a couple and excitedly put them on your bookshelf, maybe even in the baby's room. These will help you with ALL SORTS of things!! Things have moved on from the days of Dr Spock and they are even really trendy and funny now with advice about when you can start drinking red wine again and hilarious match stick pictures depicting frazzled life with a new born. These types of books are written by everything from well known celebrities to ordinary Mums with a way with words. They cover every topic from breast vs bottle to weaning, right up to potty training and everything in between.
These books, of course, were worse than useless to me when I got MY baby home. Not a word meant anything to me or our situation, they may as well have been written in Chinese. Social media groups were not a 'thing' then either. The internet was nowhere near, 11 years ago, what it is now in terms of the knowledge we have at our fingertips and the connections we can make. Neither could I turn to my other 'Mum friends' for advice. They weren't just in a different world to me they were orbiting a whole other universe.
So, I have often wondered why there couldn't be a book out there for parents like me. Not even necessarily new parents, as some children do not receive a diagnosis until they are older. Just any parent really who had the rug pulled from under them, who'd had their life turned upside down and with no idea what to do, how to feel or what to think. Melanie had obviously, after the birth of her son, thought the same. Being clearly much smarter and organised than me, she had actually managed to begin to put one together. I of course agreed to be interviewed by her, and then forgot about it completely. 
This weekend Melanie got back in touch. Her book which she has titled "Special: Antidotes to the obsessions that come with your child's disability" is going to be published by Venture Press in Australia and New Zealand in September, available on Amazon. She is hoping that following this, it will be published further afield. The blurb reads "Special is an uplifting, candid companion for parents in the early stages of navigating their child's disability. Combining more than 50 interviews with parents to children with wide-ranging disabilities and professional input from psychologists, researchers and specialists, it hopes to soothe and surprise very stressed and sad people"  So I am totally honoured to be included, albeit in a very small way :-) It represents a pleasing "full circle" moment for me. From those dark days when I had to angrily shove my 'baby books' into the shed because I could no longer look at them, (such was the way they seemed to almost mockingly represent a path I agonisingly never got to travel) right up to receiving Melanie's message this weekend and hoping that maybe my words could give some small comfort to another Mummy or Daddy throwing daggers at the bookshelf in the Nursery. What a circle we have followed, what a path we DID end up travelling. 
How special. 
Hope you've had a great weekend, folks.
Ruth xxx
For more information, follow @the_special_book on Instagram.


Friday, 1 March 2019

Angel of Anglesey

Well February half term brought two surprises, one extremely wonderful and unexpected break and one bone achingly sad piece of news. These two surprises provided a contrast of emotion so complete this week that I found it quite overwhelming. Deep sorrow flanked by deep joy, or was the joy so potent because it was so infused by a sense of gratitude, a feeling that once again we find ourselves in the amazing position of being able to enjoy such quality time with Elin in the face of the devastation of another family we know?!? Someone once said to me you can’t feel total happiness until you have faced total despair. I would say that is a true statement. Certainly our emotions this week were all the more heightened for knowing, always, just how blessed we were to be able to experience such a lovely half term with our girl. We will never stop taking this position for granted.
So we went to an utterly gorgeous holiday home in Anglesey (thanks to lovely friends of my Mums!!) where we were already lucky enough to stay last October. Crazily I hadn't been there since I was way too small to remember prior to this! Never in a million years did we dream when we booked to stay in the stunning, accessible beach front home that the weather would be more typical of Miami than Wales in February. I might tweet my photos to Donald Trump. If global warming  doesn’t exist perhaps he can offer me an alternative explanation for the unnervingly incredible weather!  Feeling horrendous about our poor dying planet doesn’t have to stop you enjoying the sun though, right? The two are not mutually exclusive (are they!?!!!) So we enjoyed it! I think it’s fair to say it was just what we needed. 
There is little in this world so calming and able to give perspective so brilliantly as gazing out at the sun- soaked sea. It just makes you think everything is going to be alright. 
Even better than the weather was Elin’s mood. Neither of us can remember such a successful break from start to finish including all sitting and all car journeys. She has been outstanding. We thought last time we visited that she loved Anglesey, now we know for sure. The beautiful open plan beach house which is full of light, the salty air, the sound of the sea, the sunshine- the combination- who knows? Something about this place agrees with Elin. Can’t say I blame her. We are already booked to return twice this year and hopefully in the future too. I think we found our home-away-from-home happy place. When Elin is happy, we are overjoyed.
So as you can see from the photos, Elin really did have the best time. We didn't do too much! We walked (rolled), we talked, we found some lovely little cafe's, we sat on the beach (even though we weren't dressed for it!), we gave her lots of cuddles. We even ate good tapas. In Anglesey! Who knew. Everything and anything delighted Elin this week. She was smiling and laughing from the moment she opened her eyes to the moment she closed them at bedtime. It was joyful, but as I've said, never not tinged with a certain sadness. I thank god that Elin knows nothing of this sadness, nor of any sadness and never will. It is the one part of her condition that I can honestly say I am glad of. Elin has the "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" and boy, does she deserve to.
When trying to process impossibly sad news all we can do once again is take our lead from Elin and face negatives with positives, keep strong in the face of adversity, remember all the good things and acknowledge that we will never forget a beautiful angel with a truly beautiful soul and what we have all learned from being touched by that soul, as beautifully as the sunrise touches the sea-stunningly, wholly, breathtakingly- but far, far too briefly.

Take care everyone
Ruth  x

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