Written by Parker Johnson. Photos courtesy of Parker Johnson
I have never had any cause to be afraid of walking out the front door. Growing up with cerebral palsy, I was no stranger to being different. However, with mild symptoms and a supporting family, I was able to enjoy a semi-normal childhood. Now, the only daily reminders I have of CP are a head twitch and an inability to pick up heavy objects. It is something I can easily laugh off when people make comments or wonder what I am doing. That all changed at the beginning of March. Several weeks ago, I had to come to grips with something I was not ready too. My affliction is a lot more than a head twitch. The COVID-19 pandemic taught me a sobering lesson. It taught me that it didn’t matter how much I did to achieve a level of normality; I was still vulnerable to the outside world.
As I am sitting here writing this article, I have been in quarantine for fifteen days. The only time I have left my apartment is to take my dog to the park across the street. The biggest struggle I am currently facing is my ability to retain a positive mindset during this time. As the infection rate and the death toll continues to climb, it only reminds me that I am only one interaction away from exposing myself to a virus that may very well cause me harm. I am feeling my cerebral palsy in a way that I have never done before. The feeling reminds of the sensation you get going to the beach without any sunscreen. You know everyone is being exposed to the same sun, but you feel overexposed to the damaging effects. I have limited my exposure to social media and news outlets to prevent my anxiety from going out of control. I am trying my best to remain productive during my days. I am learning new hobbies I never had time for and am watching every movie I can get my hands on. Deep down, I know I will get through this. It is the not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow that keeps me on edge.
With all that being said, it is hard to believe I have anything positive to hold on too during this troubled time. However, despite what you hear on the news about the divisions the world is facing, I think we have never been more together. It doesn’t matter where you live or who you are COVID-19 is directly impacting your life. We are all scared and anxious about what the future holds for us. I do not have an exclusive right to be afraid. I believe it is within this fear that we are finding the very best that the human race has to offer. We see acts of courage, kindness, and selflessness occurring all over the world. In a world where we boil down each other to who they voted in the last election, it gives me a sense of hope that some of us can set that aside and recognize our humanity.
Parker and his family are extremely grateful for the love and expertise they received through Scottish Rite Hospital. To learn more about Scottish Rite Hospital or make a donation, click here.
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