Doors

Cerebral palsy can cause a feeling of the world around us being designed for others. It certainly seems true, most of the world we inhabit was structured for those without disabilities. The simple fact leaves us with challenges of finding ways to adjust. Sometimes attempting to make those adjustments can bring on feelings of loneliness. Other times we might experience fear from lacking knowledge of how to adapt to the world. Opening a door may appear as one of the routine things we do in life. If we are unable to get a door open, there will often be someone not far behind to help. There are some circumstances during our daily lives where this might not be a forgone conclusion. Growing up caused me fears that were often kept inside. Whether out of fear of embarrassment or an emotion holding me back from inconveniencing someone. Those emotions could bring upon daily feelings of isolation. One of the fears being felt each day as a child was the apprehension around using the bathroom. The anxiety focused not only around entering into the bathroom, but having the inability to reemerge after using the facilities. It would happen almost everywhere I went during my youth. The question entering my mind, “if I walk through this door, would the strength be there to open it again?” Those memories have been stuffed throughout the years.

One of the major limitations during my life has felt like strength. It seems to always run through my mind. Thinking about whether the strength will be there to perform a task. While younger these insecurities over physical ability felt more pronounced. The muscles in my body have always felt tight. But, while growing up it was challenging to fully understand my struggles. It didn’t make sense as to why my insecurities over opening a restroom door were pervasive. Kids from class seemed to walk in and out of the bathroom without too much worry. The situation caused me to feel weird as a boy who was struggling with a simple task. Because of the embarrassment my fear remained silent. Thinking maybe with age, doors would become easier to manage. Until then, it felt important to succeed at managing the fear. In going to use the restroom, there was a secret hope of someone else being inside. Even still, if they left the restroom before me, it would escalate my anxiety. So, sometime there would be a rush inside, attempting to exit around the same time. Once the door closed into its latch, the nervousness of wondering if I could escape began to build.

Opening any kind of door has been challenged by more than just its weight. Cerebral palsy hasn’t only impacted the strength in my body. The disability also has an impact on hand movements. It can be challenging to manipulate objects. So, when we think about objects, we can add door handles to the category. Any kind of door knob or handle can end up being tricky to operate. The manipulation of my hand to twist has often been a challenge. The knobs could end up being difficult to twist as well. Adding to the anxiety of being in any kind of confined space. The way any door might lock could cause some nervous energy. Unlike the door know or handle, the lock would often be smaller. Making the locking mechanism on the door more challenging to work with. Apprehension around operating a lock didn’t happen as often when attending school. It would end up as something entering my mind at the house of a friend or family member. Wondering if I would feel safe enough to use the bathroom. Sometimes even attempting to close the door without allowing it to latch, allowing me to feel the safety of knowing I wouldn’t get stuck inside.

The manipulation of any object can be challenging with the disability. Operating a door handle could be frustrating, but the lock on a door caused even more challenge. The easiest of the door locks to use were those that could be pushed. They sat in an easy place to reach on the handle and they simply had to be indented. The other great thing about those push button locks was releasing them. Each door with the lock was released by simply turning the handle for the door. One thing I would do as a kid would be to push in the lock after closing the door. Then get a little anxious, leading me to twist the door handle, making sure the lock would release. Once it was determined that getting out would be feasible, calm emotions filled my body, leaving me to go about my business. The difficult part of door locking was always the one requiring a twist. Some being pretty small and challenging to manipulate. My fingers would have a challenging time grasping the lock, while getting it to turn was a whole other battle. Some would be manageable and turned relatively easy. It still would feel risky, providing feeling of apprehension over unlocking when I was ready to leave. Most of the time those locks were left alone and I simply hoped to be left alone. The fear of having hands that don’t work well was stifling in some situations.

When we see, young children going to the restroom, often a parent goes with them. Having not been a parent there doesn’t seem a way to understand all the reasons. At some point during the life of a child, they gain the ability to go alone. It would seem a large milestone to achieve the use of a restroom without parental assistance. Similar to all of my peers, it was a milestone to be reached. The goal of using the restroom alone in school felt like an important skill. It would remove the possibility of inconveniencing someone for help. But, the gaining of that independence didn’t seem to solve challenges. The situation continued to cause fear into my early teenage years. So, maybe it would have been advantageous to open about the struggles facing me about using the restroom. How much would it have helped to adopt a buddy situation, making me feel less anxious. Someone who would be with me just in case getting the door open was a struggle. There might be many different items causing nervousness energy for school children. One of mine just happened to be using the restroom. If we can learn to be more honest about those items and find ways to ease emotional anxiety, maybe school can be a better place.

It was often the lack of communication hurting my ability. There were likely many people around me, ready to lend help. The problem became they didn’t possess the trait of mindreading, which of course no one does. It can be challenging to speak up when we feel embarrassment. The skills my peers seem to grasp easily were causing insecurity. With age, there became something to do about these challenges. Exercise would help build strength in the weakened muscles. Helping me develop the skills needed to open a door that might cause struggle. Working on hand dexterity helps manipulate objects like the locks on most doors. The chiropractic adjustments help square and ease muscle tension. Making my body easier to operate, relieving much of the daily pain. Today, there is no longer the encompassing fear throughout my body when a door closes. It still might bring about slight feelings of question, but nothing like during my youth. With cerebral palsy, we have options for improvement. Ways to get stronger, more stable, and more relaxed. We can’t take cerebral palsy away, but we can work to improve the challenges of the disability.

 

 


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