The Reality of Cerebral Palsy – Guest Post by Carrie-Ann

Carrie-Ann’s guest post is the 46th post in the segment on my blog, called “The Reality Of…” which gives others the ability to share their story and raise awareness of the disabilities, illnesses, impairments and invisible illnesses that they have.

Meet Carrie-Ann!

Carrie-Ann Lightley is an acclaimed accessible travel blogger, sharing reviews, guides and expert tips about travel as a wheelchair user in the UK and overseas. Her blog aims to encourage and inspire others to travel to, explore and discover new places.

In 2019, Carrie-Ann was named as one of the top 100 most influential disabled people in the UK, on the Shaw Trust #DisabilityPowerList100.

A close up of Carrie-Ann in her wheelchair, at the beach.

Common Symptoms

The NHS website defines Cerebral Palsy as the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination, caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth.

Symptoms can include:

  • Delays in reaching development milestones – for example, not sitting by eight months or not walking by 18 months.
  • Seeming too stiff or too floppy.
  • Weak arms or legs.
  • Fidgety, jerky, or clumsy movements.
  • Random, uncontrolled movements.
  • Walking on tip-toes.
  • A range of other problems – such as swallowing difficulties, speaking problems, vision problems, and learning disabilities.

How Cerebral Palsy Affects Me

I use a wheelchair, though I am able to stand and transfer, and in the house, I get around by ‘knee-walking’. I have to take medication to relax my muscles, and when I overdo physical activity, I can get nerve pain. I have a pronounced startle reflex, meaning that I find loud noises like fireworks very uncomfortable.

Carrie-Ann is sitting in her Boma 7 All-Terrain wheelchair, with her dog on her lap. They are surrounded by trees and the rolling country hills.

Learning To Adapt

I was brought up to always find a way – hence the knee walking – to look at a barrier and see how I could get around it. My wheelchair gives me the ultimate freedom, and I have an adapted home with level access, a wet room shower and lowered kitchen surfaces. I think ultimately, I’ve always made the best of any situation, so although I’d love for all venues to be accessible to me, if I have to be creative to access a restaurant for example, I’d rather be lifted up a step or two than be excluded.

Have I Changed As A Person?

I’ve always been disabled and I think that gives me some unique qualities. I’m resilient and determined, and very good at adapting to new situations. I spend a lot of my time sharing my experiences to try and help other disabled people. A few weeks ago, one of my blog readers booked their first holiday since having a spinal cord injury three years ago, after reading one of my travel reviews. To know that something I’ve created has given someone that confidence means the world to me.

Carrie-Ann is sitting in her wheelchair, with her back to the camera. She is sitting infront of a lake. Her dog is walking on the grass infront of the lake.

My Favourite Superhero

Oracle, formerly known as Batgirl. The queen of reinvention, adapting to her situation and continuing to be awesome! Proof that life doesn’t end when you start using a wheelchair.

Thank you Carrie-Ann for raising awareness and sharing your story with my readers and me!

If you would like to stay up to date with Carrie-Ann, then you can visit her blog, Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram!

*The symptoms of Cerebral Palsy are sourced from the NhS website.

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