Rachael’s Journey Through Life




Hey everybody here’s an old assignment I worked on when I took a class through the U.C.L.A. extension program.  We had to write about our lives in third person.  I thought it would give you insight about more of my life.  Enjoy!

    Rachael came into the world not making a sound. She was supposed to be born on April 8th 1983, but something happened. Doctors had to get her out quickly. Instead of being born on April 8, 1983, Rachael was born on February 8, 1983- two month premature. Because of what happened with Rachael’s birth, her parents were not allowed to bring her home for five weeks until doctors were sure that she was stable. When Rachael came out she was three and a half pounds. Doctors would not let her go home until she was five pounds.

    After her parents brought her home, it wasn’t until three months later that they knew what they were really faced with.

    “Mrs. Benson, Your daughter has Cerebral Palsy,” said Dr. Lavin.

    “Cerebral Palsy?” Mrs. Benson asked, “What does that mean?”

    Dr. Lavin. replied, “Cerebral Palsy is a physical disability. It means that she has brain damage caused by lack of oxygen supply to the brain. Everyday tasks like walking, combing her hair, and getting dressed on her own, might be difficult. She’ll need some extra help. She still might be able to do those things, but she’ll probably be slower at it. It might take her longer then someone without a disability to reach a milestone. Unfortunately, Cerebral Palsy affects different people in different ways. You won’t be able to see how it affects her until she gets older”

    Mrs. Benson asked, “What am I supposed to do?”

    “Just treat her like a normal child. The help will be there when you need it.”

    “Thank you,” said Mrs. Benson

    “You’re welcome,” said Dr. Lavin. “Have a safe drive home.”

    “I will, said Mrs. Benson

    And on they went.

    Soon, Rachael and her mother were finally home. From then on, her family did just what the doctor said. They let her go swimming, skiing, etc. Anything the family did, she did it too. From the moment she got home, her father’s attitude was, “This is now the new normal.”

    When Rachael was a year old, her parents saw the first sign of Cerebral Palsy- she wasn’t walking. Instead, she was still crawling. At the time, the only way Rachael was able to walk was with a walker. Her parents didn’t know that it had anything to do with the Cerebral Palsy. They knew that something was unusual, but they couldn’t put their finger on it.

    “It’s probably just a phase,” said Mom.

    “Yeah, you’re probably right,” said Dad. “Let’s wait it out a little longer.”

    Finally, after two years of not walking, at the age of three, her parents decided to put her in physical therapy, hoping that one day she would be able to walk.

    From then on, once a week until she was ten years old, Rachael went to physical therapy. She did things like walking with parallel bars, working on being able to transfer from one place to the other as she switched hands, an exercise ball that helped strengthen her trunk muscles so that she could sit up better, side stepping, walking along the wall, and walking holding one of the therapists’ hands. The idea was to help her to become as physically independent as possible.

    At the age of six, doctors decided to give her a surgery that they hoped would help her learn to walk more independently. Although the surgery didn’t allow her to walk more independently, it did allow her to be able to hold her head up and have more upper body strength so that she could better focus on what was going on around her. Instead of being in Special Education classes, Rachael was able too be mainstreamed into regular classes with regular kids doing the regular work.

    She had a one on one aide with her mainly because she wasn’t able to write. She was a hard working student loved by all her teachers. Math was her hardest subject because of some learning difficulties, but as far as having a conversation, she was mentally there. The main reason Rachael ever needed anybody was to be her hands. Sometimes her answers to questions or thoughts in a discussion surprised people because people automatically assumed that a physical disability also meant a mental disability. Her grades were mostly A’s B’s, and from time to time, a few C’s. She was frequently on the principal’s honor roll. Teachers put comments on her report card like, “Outstanding in every respect.”

    Along with the physical therapy and school, Rachael also went to occupational therapy from age five to thirteen. There, she learned life skills like how to dress and undress herself, how to spread peanut butter and jelly on a sandwich, how to cut with scissors,  how to write letters and numbers. From time to time, they played board games. Finally, at the age of thirteen, both occupational and physical therapy stopped all together because Rachael had learned everything could learn at that point. Now it was up to her and her family to help her maintain what she learned.

   Soon Rachael grew up and became a teenager. She went to high school at Valencia High. She graduated in 2002. Her favorite part of high school was going to the football games. She would sit on the sidelines on the field with a friend next to her and shout, “Go Vikings!” The assistant principal was down there with them helping them get snacks and explaining certain parts of the game as needed. Rachael just loved going to the games to get out of the house. There weren’t a lot of activities that she was able to do because of her physical limitations, so when she could go to a football game, she really enjoyed it. There she could be a normal teenager and forget about her disability. She was with her peers. That was the important thing. She vent to almost every game. During her senior year at the end of the season, one of the football players came to her English classes and took her outside. He gave her a football that was signed by all the Varsity players with their name and number as their way of saying thank you for her faithful support for the last four years.

    On June 8, 2002, Rachael graduated from high school. Shortly after that, Rachael went to the local junior college in Santa Clartia. She was only going to take a few classes at College of the Canyons, but she did so well that she decided to get her A.A. in Social Science. She graduated from College of the Canyons with her A.A. degree on June 1, 2007. After many years of hard work she decided to take a little time off.

    She took a break for a while and is now actively pursing a career in writing for children. She is taking a writing class through the U.C.L.A. extension program. She has one story completed so far, and she eagerly waits for the day when it officially gets published.

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