I recently read an article by Carla Kimbrough-Robinson called “Change Happens: Deal With It.” Ms. Kimbrough-Robinson writes about how change is inevitable.  She asks her readers to take a personal inventory, prepare for changes, and to seize opportunities. [1]

I recently celebrated a Birthday.  Birthdays are my time for reflection and taking stock.  In my mind, I do not feel any different and yet change has happened all around me.  In the last year alone, I have had close family move out of State.  I changed jobs.  Change of any kind is scary, unsettling, uncertain, and messy.  It takes time to find a new equilibrium.

A person reading this might think after living with Spastic Cerebral Palsy (CP) for over 40 years, I would be prepared for and used to change.  The stiffness and spasticity I experience from CP changes daily.   Spasticity is a condition where certain muscles, leg muscles in my case, are continuously contracted.  This contraction causes stiffness or tightness in the muscles and interferes with movement.

There are days when my legs refuse to bend because of the stiffness and other days when my legs are very loose and pliable.  Regardless of how stiff or spastic I am, I have had to learn to adapt and acclimate to changes in my mobility and environment.

My typical way of adapting is to push through any task or challenge.  The Nike slogan “Just Do It” could be my mantra.  Yet, sometimes that mantra has failed me.   Pushing through can be harder due to an injury.  In November of 2015, I broke bones in my right ankle.

When I broke the ankle bones, it was like I ran into a brick wall and life came to a screeching halt.  I discovered I could not “Just Do It”.  I was forced to stop.  I could not accelerate the healing process even though I searched for ways to get back on my feet faster.  I have written about this injury in other articles. I found that I just wanted to get back to my life as I knew it and what I was used to.  I wanted to return to my usual routines, complete mobility, and independence.

A line in Ms. Kimbrough-Robinson’s article is one that I wish I had written. “We get comfortable with routines or a certain lifestyle and get nervous when change knocks on our doors.” [2]  When change knocked on my door, I became very fearful and uncertain when rehabilitation and mobility strategies that worked before did not work in the same way.  I had to find a new way.

I had to be educated about how my recovery would be slower and longer than expected.  Professionals often have to remind me to slow down and to quiet my “Just Do It” mentality.  My mobility and function have changed.

I now look for and go to the flat curb cut to get onto sidewalks or into buildings versus trying to maneuver steps and curbs that remain too high. My approach to improve my mobility has become more incremental.  My walking program is currently focused on improving strength, flexibility, and re-developing movement patterns.

The mantra of “Just Do It” has been modified slightly to say “One step at a time”.

[1] Kimbrough-Robinson, C. (2008, March 1). Change Happens: Deal with It. The Quill, 96(2), 35.

[2] Kimbrough-Robinson, C. (2008, March 1). Change Happens: Deal with It. The Quill, 96(2), 35.

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