FROM THE DESK OF TFG1MIKE!
TFG1Mike here, and welcome to my NEW personal type blog here on The GCRN. I struggled in whether or not to even do this. I’m still gonna keep it geeky, but I figured getting a bit more personal might be a nice touch. Today’s topic is ME…. ALL ABOUT ME! Normally I do not talk about this much in public, but it’s been weighing heavy on my mind and heart recently. Writing it down is therapy, so here goes! You are gonna get a very in-depth, well as in-depth as my flaky mind can remember into my life. I used to pride myself on having a photographic memory, or at least half of one, but in the last 10 years… My memory seems to be slippin’ and slidin’ down a very short slip and slide waterslide! Either way let’s do this! Today I present to you….
Living with a Disability
FIRST OFF I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN SO OPENLY ABOUT MY DISABILITY BEFORE. i FELT IT WAS TIME TO GET IT ALL OUT OF MY SYSTEM.
SECONDLY I CONSIDER MYSELF TO BE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING. REGARDLESS OF MY PHYSICAL DISABILITY. I VERY RARELY IF EVER PULL THE DISABILITY CARD, BECAUSE I WOULD LIKE TO THINK THAT I CAN DO ANYTHING ON MY OWN. HAVE AND WILL I ASK FOR HELP, YEAH SURE, BUT ONLY IN EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES OF WHERE I REALLY CAN’T DO WHATEVER THAT ACTIVITY IS MYSELF. I ALSO COUNT MYSELF TO BE VERY VERY LUCKY. MY CEREBRAL PALSY IS A EXTREMELY MILD CASE! IT ONLY REALLY AFFECTS MY RIGHT ARM AND LEG.
THE OTHER DISABILITIES I WAS BORN WITH BECAUSE OF THE BOTCHED BIRTH…. ARE OPTIC ATROPHY WITH NYSTIGMATISM BASICALLY WITHOUT GLASSES I A HAVE 20-200 VISION WHICH ESSENTIALLY CLASSIFIED ME AS LEGALLY BLIND. I AM NOT BLIND, I CAN SEE EVERYTHING, MY ISSUES ARE WITH DISTANCE VISION. I CAN SEE EVERYTHING UP CLOSE, BUT FAR AWAY… NOT SO MUCH.
THE EXAMPLE I OFTEN GIVE IS THAT IF I AM STANDING 20 FEET AWAY FROM A STOP SIGN AND I LOOK AT IT, I KNOW WHAT IT IS, I KNOW WHAT IT SAYS, AND THE SHAPE, AS WELL AS THE COLOR OF THE SIGN, BUT UNLESS I AM CLOSER I CANNOT READ S-T-O-P ON THE SIGN!
SOME OF THIS I MIGHT BE MISREMEMBERING, BUT PLEASE JUST GO WITH IT
^ Me Playing Video Games One Handed
Saturday February 9, 1980…. in Stoughton, Massachusetts. I was born with a mild case of CEREBRAL PALSY, thanks to a drunk doctor botching the birth. (Or that’s the story my Mom always told me). I’ll say this now I do and don’t remember some of the difficulties I had as a kid. I remember for the longest time… I’d guess between age 4-7 I was cross-eyed. And then one day that was no longer the case, I think they became uncrossed after I took a tumble-down the stairs of our apartment. Honestly as a kid I never really saw the CP I had as a hindrance. I could walk, just like everyone else….. The only difference was that my right foot was smaller than my left one. Apparently my brain didn’t send the right signals to the right side of my body to grow correctly. So the Cerebral Palsy affects me from the right side of my brain all the way to my right foot.
^Me at age 13 in 1993, yes I could play sports.
If you could see the look on my face, at the moment of this writing, you’d be laughing so hard. I just realizedÂ I AM TWO-FACE!!! Because one half of my body functions properly, and the other half not so much. As I said I can walk like everyone else, except I have balance issues at times, and my right foot turns in. I’ve seen other people in my lifetime with Cerebral Palsy, that have to either rely on crutches, braces, or even wheelchairs. So again I am very blessed that my case is mild. I said before that most of this disability is physical, but there is a mental part to it as well. There are times, although they are very rare…. where I get things mixed up, or something confuses me for a bit.. until I actually have to think about it. I’m not sure if doing MATH is a right or left brained job, but I’ll tell ya anything beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division… oh boy that really was tough for me growing up. So as a kid not only was I classified as legally blind, I also was classified by schools, as having learning disabilities. This all stems from the Cerebral Palsy… I believe. All I can remember of elementary school was that at times I wasn’t paying attention, and wasn’t intentional. Sadly because of my CP… this caused the other kids in my school to make fun of me…. You have no idea how many times I heard the phrase, “what’s your major malfunction?” There were even times on the playground at recess that while I was walking kids would trip me. I had a good childhood, I enjoyed school, but more so for the learning rather than interacting with other kids. I think because I was made fun of most of my childhood, is why I always wanted to be in the room with the adults. They were more interesting and didn’t care about my physical limitations.
^My Mom and I in 2004
From 1995-1999 I was a ward of the state of Kentucky (this is a long story, that I will not be sharing here), but the point is growing up through my teen years, being at group homes, three foster homes, a mental hospital, and a few other places…. Let’s just say my shell had to harden quickly. The funny thing is after I turned 17… the making fun of me stopped, and I would get the question of, “What happened to your arm?” or “were you born that way?” Depending on my mood, and the person asking, depended on the way I answered the questions. It’s been years now since I had heard anyone ask me those questions…. I was walking down the street the other day, and a stranger asked the what happened to your arm question. We didn’t stop we just walked by each other on the sidewalk. I answered with I was born this way, and just kept walking to my destination.
I said before that I can do almost all of the same things anyone else can. There are a few exceptions here. I can hold onto items with my right hand, but not for a very long time. I have zero capability to stop myself from falling if I fall on my right side. Because of all the disabilities the cerebral palsy and the visual impairments I cannot drive. It’s more because of the visual impairments on this one, versus the cerebral palsy. I’ve tried several times, when my Mom was alive… doing test runs in parking lots, but nope it just will not work. Mainly because of the vision, and the fact that in my right eye I have centered vision, and in my left eye I have nothing but peripheral vision. It’s all kinds of craziness. So driving really isn’t an option, and honestly with the way I drive in video games, real life would not be pretty either!
^Me from March or April 2016
The cool thing was that I learned to adapt to having this disability. As you saw the image above, I can play most video game console machines one-handed. That was a skill I learned on the N ES and Sega Master System… later the SNES and Genesis. I “learning” part of it didn’t take too long. All I had to do was find the correct way to balance holding the controller in my hand. NES, SNES, and Sega controllers were always the easiest. Later the PS1-PS2 controllers were good as well for me to play the video games. Where I ran into trouble was the N64 controller (shakes fist at that goddamn “Z” button), the old Atari joysticks, and anything from XBOX. Those controllers were just too damn big. I’ve been PC gaming for the last ten years or so, and to show that off.. on how I accomplish that, check out the video below:
In the video above I do not mention that I’ve been typing and using a keyboard one-handed since I was a kid.
It has been years since I have felt inadequate because of my disability. Yet with one angry misguided message from a complete stranger to me… Recently had me thinking about how the mental aspects of living with Cerebral Palsy affect me. This person basically tried to say that because of my Cerebral Palsy I had no control over my mental faculties at all, and they then went on to say that because of my CP… that I am prone to violent outbursts, and on and on. Sure these statements hurt me for a moment, and then I thought to myself… “This person has no idea what they are talking about” Honestly until you live with something your whole life, you can’t know what that person is going through unless you walk a mile in their shoes. Normally comments or messages like this would anger me beyond belief, but over the years I’ve learned to take anything said about my disability in stride, and essentially ignore any negativity. I KNOW WHO I AM, I KNOW WHAT I’M ABOUT, AND ANYONE THAT “THINKS” THEY KNOW ME, WHEN THEY DON’T… WELL THEY ARE JUST ASSUMING TOO DAMN MUCH. And you know what they say about making assumptions, it makes an ass out of you.
Still… these comments had me thinking, and pondering… what if any mental deficiencies did the Cerebral Palsy impart on my brain, and personality? I’ve always been the person who views violent acts as a very last resort, and as a defense mechanism, more so than acting out. SURE I’ll get ANGRY we all get angry, and yell, and shout, and curse… etc etcÂ But for me that’s where I draw the line. I know better than to hit anyone, I’m more apt to be self mutilating than hurting others. I’ve always had the greater good sense inside my head and heart. By this I mean I know the difference between right and wrong, and will act accordingly. However violence is never the answer. I seriously doubt any violent outburst I might have will be because of my physical disability. I feel that it’s more of a mental thing, and an emotional thing. Which has nothing to do with the fact that my right arm and leg are shorter than my left arm and leg.
Living with the Cerebral Palsy that I have has never been super easy, but it’s not the most difficult thing ever. Once again I count my blessings every day, because I know that there are people out there with worse off disabilities than mine. I do remember as a kid one way we tried to correct the CP was to have me sleep at night with my right arm and leg in casts. That was always difficult. Thankfully that only lasted a year, if I remember correctly. I remember my Mom going through hell with doctors to even figure out if anything could even be done to improve the Cerebral Palsy. I was in and out of the hospital numerous times, at the doctor’s offices so much… they might as well have set up cots for us. my Mom was a superhero doing everything she could to get me the help I needed and deserved. I even went through surgery to move the pronator around in my right arm to get me better range of motion in the 90s with my Dad and my then step mother. It worked for a while, but I’ve come to realize that with my right side being not fully grown it isn’t going to improve enough to where I can get full functionality out of it.
The good thing is with my case, it doesn’t seem to be getting any worse. Which I’m very thankful for. I don’t quite remember how bad or difficult it was as a very young child, but throughout my teens and even now as an adult my Cerebral Palsy never really stopped me from doing what I wanted to do most of the time. As a kid I played baseball with my Dad and my friends, I would use the garage door as the goal for kicking a soccer ball around. I participated in school Olympic type events in Elementary school. I believe that all the accomplishments I’ve had living with Cerebral Palsy outweigh any negatives. So there ya have it folks….. if you are someone with a disability, and can relate to my story, please sound off in the comments. Or if you are a parent who has special needs children… tell me your stories!
OK there’s huge insights into my life. Again this is the most open I’ve been with my personal life, whether through podcasting or a written item on the website. I wrote this because I felt the need to talk about how my life has been living with the disabilities that I have. Originally my next blog post was gonna beÂ FROM THE DESK OF TFG1MIKE: Has Being a Geek Become Less Special?Â This was to be published after the “I Live on Social Media” entry. However I decided against writing that. I may revisit it in the future, but just had other stuff I wanted to write about first.Â Â For now though I’m gonna transform and roll on outta here! Join me next time for my post entitled FROM THE DESK OF TFG1MIKE: Couples Activity #1 – Superhero IdentitiesÂ