name is Angela. I just turned 20-years-old. I have Cerbral
Palsy, and I have used a wheelchair all my life. Until this year, I
viewed this as a problem nor did I suspect that anyone else might feel
like my chair was a problem. However, I recently started going to a
Christian college. The good thing is that no one here teases me.
In addition, I am enjoying the new found freedom of being away
home. I like being able to make decisions completely on my own.
The annoying part is that my friends are too nice. You heard me right--they are too nice! Everyone wants to see me "healed" or made "normal." They offer to pray over me a lot. At one point they made me stand until my legs felt like they were going to fall off. It was so embarrassing, because while someone was helping me stand, the rest of the people at the church I was visiting were praying for my healing. I wanted to disappear when they were done because I still needed my chair.
You may be wondering why I need a wheelchair if I can stand. Well when it comes to walking, and to some extent eating, my brain decided to stop learning these skills when I was about 9-months-old. This means I can only walk a very short distance, and then only if I have something to hold on to. It also means that eating, especially with a spoon, can get messy. I hate it when people in restaurants stare at me because my face is a mess.
I sometimes feel like no one understands all of who I am. On one side of the coin, many people tell me that they want to learn to see me and not my disability. However, being disabled is part of what makes me who I am. It is not the whole puzzle but it is a fairly large piece of it. On the other side of the coin, there are those (like the people in the restaurants) who can't see past my C.P. to discover the rest of who I am.
of the things that make up the rest of the puzzle are my love and
to God. Right now, I am planning to be a missionary. I also have a
for working with children and studying medicine (especially
virology and genetics.) I am very interested in helping kids with
Fibrosis. (so if you have CF and would like a pen-pal,
for reading my story, Angela
Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468
Last updated: November 14, 2004