Rita Parker grew up with classmates who did not share her diagnosis but had a disability of some kind. Read her story of how she is utilizing her life experiences to keep doing as much as she possibly can.
Here is my story. My name is Rita Parker I’m 60 years old and I’ve had Ataxia since birth. It all started when my mom was pregnant with me. I was in the birth canal for 3 days. Back then I guess the doctors didn’t know a lot. Anyway because I was in the birth canal for so long I got CP (Cerebral Palsy) with some brain damage. I had heard that I also had meningitis but my mom told me (I asked her again) I never had meningitis just the CP with brain damage. I was a very sick little girl back then. When I got high fevers I would have Gran Mal Seizures. The doctor told my mom that I would probably die or if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to do anything. Well, I didn’t know it then but I proved those doctors wrong.
When I got old enough to go to school, my parents put me in a handicapped school so I would get speech and physical therapy. There I met some life long friends with different kinds of disabilities. No one bullied because we all were special. I never rode a bike, skated, jumped rope, and a few other things. I never missed any of that because I didn’t know it anyway. All my friends were like me, they could never do that stuff either. I had a good childhood. But I was always determined (still am) to do things. If I can then I can, if I can’t then I can’t but I don’t say I can’t without giving it a shot first.
My family has always been supportive of me. As I got older, job interviews weren’t also easy. I’m sure they thought I was drunk. Anyway, I had jobs, lived on my own. Cooked, did all the household chores. Went to and had parties. Try to live my life like a normal person. Back then no one had heard of Ataxia. The doctors always called it nerve damage. But in reality, Ataxia is a mild form of CP. There a lot of forms of Ataxia, that is how I got mine. I got married in 95 and still going strong. He is a good supporter also. In Dec. of 2012, my Ataxia was getting worse and I could not keep up with my work, so I had to quit and go on disability. After that, I knew I had to keep busy so I started to volunteer at the hospital that I used to work at.
Once I started I found that in the gym there, there was a Parkinson’s group that exercise 3 times a week. So I joined. Great group of people. We all treat each other like family. And the instructors are amazing. I also do a lot of exercising on my own. The stuff we do in the group is cardio, light weights, yoga, tai chi, water exercises, circuits, boxing, treadmill, and other equipment. Stuff I do on my own are treadmill, pedaling, some yoga, planks, and stretching. I do something every day to keep my muscles limber. In fact, I’ve been known in class as Gumby. I also eat a healthy diet. drink plenty of water and try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night. I also like to keep busy by reading, make earrings for myself. Do puzzles and word games. I have blurred vision but that does not stop me from doing things. I wear two pairs of glasses sometimes. I am getting slower at doing things. I walk with a cane outside mostly. In the house, I don’t use it. In the summer my husband and I have a trike we like to ride around. Everyone knows us in town.
Thank you, Rita Parker for sharing your experiences with us. By showing how being prepared to adapt to any situation can help us to continually find ways to live fulfilling lives.
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