My name is Shawna Mattinson. I am 32 year old woman and I was born with Cerebral Palsy. I remember wondering at various times in my life, what my life would be like without CP. Would I be the same young lady that I am today ? Would I be still living in Calgary or somewhere else? Would I be married and have a my own family like my two sisters have? These are some of the questions that I pose to myself. Don't get me wrong. I love my life and I am so grateful for all I have. A voice inside me has presented the idea that somehow my life would be better if I did not have CP. Right now, I know who I am with CP but if I had a chance to change this part of me I would be afraid because I am a girl who has a great life. Do I want more? Sure I do! The next reality is, would I be willing to trade what I have now in exchange for a fantasy of what life could be like?.....that I'm not so sure about.
Their are a lot of people who have a disability who have written a book about their life and share all their accomplishments. CP is a big part of me and it has shaped many choices I have made, but I do not want it to shape everything in my life. This what I want to be able to pass on to others. I want to show people around me that I am more similar than I am different. Having a unique characteristic is not supposed to be a negative is it? When we teach our children to be welcoming and accepting of others, we would not say.....only if they are like everyone else....would we?
There are some medical options for people with CP. One consideration is current research studies that involve Deep Brain Stimulation. Thinking about the possibility of removing CP from my life makes me think about losing a part of myself. I consider how my life would be changed forever in a very big way. In some ways it could be like losing limbs that you have lived with all your life. No one would choose to have their body drastically altered, yet I am sure many people think that a life without CP is automatically better than a life with CP. This is more true I believe for a baby than it might be for an adult person. However, I know people with CP that would disagree with me. The key point in all of this is that my perspective is important and also the knowledge that I have a family that supports my views is very significant in my life.
I remember looking at my two sisters and sometimes I would feel like something is missing from my life because I would compare my life to theirs. Part of me would become resentful if I started thinking I have less because I have a disability and they are normal. If I would be a normal girl like my two sisters, I would tell myself we would be closer...... like normal sisters. Like my relationship with my twin sister Susan went we were growing up we did not get along so well. I convinced myself that she hated to have a twin sister who is handicapped. I also told myself my parents were in pain when they did not see us getting along. To make matters worse, I would often tell myself that my parent's lives would be absolutely much better without a child with a handicap. The reality is that my family loves me deeply and wants me to be all that I want to be in my life as an independent woman and I don't know where I would be without the love from my family. I do not believe I would be the same person without them. I am so lucky to have a wonderful family and they are a big part of me.