What images came to your mind?
When I typed 'spastic' into google images, this was one of the pictures that came up-
Pretty gruesome yes?
I'm going to admit something, I haven't previously spoken openly about.
Max has spasticity.
If I was to be politically incorrect, I could say that Max is a spastic.
I've never spoken about this with anyone other than our physiotherapist. Not because I'm ashamed to admit it, but because I'm frightened of Max being ridiculed and labelled. Somehow, it feels like if I don't talk about it, it'll go away.
Tonight, I perused a few sites like Urban Dictionary and Yahoo! Answers. I typed into the search engine "what is a spastic?". These were some of the answers-
- It's when a person is mentally retarded
(voted the best answer)
- A complete retard who does not know what they are doing and make weird noises like "Muhhhrreerr"
And here's a joke-
- What do you call a spastic in a wheelchair?
Anything you want. They'll just smile and wanna hug you.
(Don't get me started about the 'r' word either)
The term spasticity, is defined 'related to or affected by muscle spasm'. Spasticity is a symptom of Neurological injury. My laymans explanation, is that the muscles in Max's arm/hand are pulling his arm into this kind of position-
Max's hand isn't as bad as the one in these pictures, but without therapy, it would be. The muscles in his affected arm, pull with incredible strength. A lot of the time, it's virtually impossible to uncurl his fingers. His wrist tends to turn inwards.
A strict regime of stretching and massage, is helping his arm maintain 'normal' movement. But, it's like pushing shit uphill. He adamantly protests when I do his stretches and if he resists, they are impossible to do because his muscles are even tighter. Lately, I've only been able to do it properly when he's in a deep sleep. Enter, the problem of deciding when he's in a 'deep sleep'. I've woken him so many times and then spent an extra hour resettling him back to sleep.
Do you know the arm action that people tend to use when they call someone a 'spastic'? When he cries, he flails his arms around and looks just like that.
Every parent fears that their child will be teased or bullied*. It completely f*cking sucks to know that my baby boy faces a life of cruel taunts, from stupid people. I know, he'll learn to deal with it, just like I will. But it still hurts every time I think about it.
*Although, I once knew a guy called Richard Pullar, I don't think his folks thought too hard about that.
The next time you consider using the word 'spastic' or 'spaz', please stop and think for a moment.
I am not a spastic.
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