My name is Katelyn Place, I’m 21 years old, and I do not have cerebral palsy. Katy and I have been best friends for 16 years now. I met her and her sister Sara in kindergarten at the age of 5 and they have been two of my best friends ever since. To me the way Katy walks has never seemed odd or out of place. I have never once questioned the way she is because at 5, I didn’t notice it. We grew up together and she has always just been Katy. She never really expressed how her CP made her feel until we were older and the nagging self doubt of getting into our awkward phases of growing up and dealing with high school came into play. When one of your friends has to go through something like what Katy has dealt with all you can really do is express sympathy and feel for them. I hurt for her, but I had never walked in her shoes so I couldn’t really relate to the things that she was telling me. Until a week and half ago that is.
I have been experiencing pain in my right knee for close to two years now. I am a ballet dancer in my free time, I have been doing it on and off since I was 4 years old. So as soon as the pain started I made an appointment to see a doctor because I wanted to make sure that I did not tear something or injure myself. After MRI’s and X-ray’s and many, many misdiagnoses my Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. B, came to the conclusion that I had Iliotibial Band Syndrome, something common in runners (I don’t run to save my life) and pregnant woman (this goes without saying, I was obviously not pregnant). So I mentally told myself that I was fine and got right back into dancing like I was before. This was all fine and dandy until I noticed an odd growth underneath my knee. It started out fairly small, but as time progressed it got bigger and the pain came back even worse than before. So, back to the doctor I went. At first glance he told me that it was most likely a cyst on my patella tendon but an MRI would be needed to make sure. And of course I had to go back into that loud, cold, and time consuming machine. When the MRI came back there was nothing there. How something that could clearly be seen and felt from the outside did not show up on an MRI blew my mind. I sat in the room fighting back tears because I was in pain everyday and the physician’s assistant was trying to tell me to stay off my leg. Something as a bartender, culinary student, and dancer that was impossible for me. After I told her to go get Dr. B and I looked him square in the face and told him to take it out, my surgery was scheduled for November 14th.
I was nervous for the surgery because I had never been put under before or cut open. We could not do arthroscopic surgery because Dr. B did not know where exactly this thing was. So they wheeled me into the O.R., Dr. B held my hand in both of his as they put me out and told me that he would take good care of me. Doctor Bret Bachelor is one of the best Orthopedic Surgeons in the southern California area so I went under believing nothing less. An hour later I was in the post-op area and waking up from my surgery that turned out to not be a cyst, but most likely an extra piece of bone that grew and was pushing on my patella tendon. I say “most likely” because I am still waiting for the pathology report results, which is a little terrifying in its own right. Long story short, it shocked Dr. B and his assistant because that was not what either of them was expecting.
The recovery process has been hard and painful. This is where I got my taste of something that Katy has told me about but I had never experienced. A few days later I was finally able to take the bulky bandages off and change it into something less drastic. While I was at it I decided to move my knee because some stretching and bending would help my muscles not be so tight, and as a dancer my flexibility is everything to me. But, my knee wouldn’t bend. I was shocked. My brain was telling it to bend, but it wouldn’t budge. And then every ounce of me was screaming at my brain to bend my knee, to do SOMETHING! It still wouldn’t move. It shook like I have never seen any part of my body shake, but it didn’t bend an inch. So I cried and texted Katy because now I was able to understand just slightly, what she has to go through. I am lucky, my knee will heal and I will go back to bending it like before when it is ready to completely bend. I am also blessed to be able to make art with my body in a way that some people will never be able to experience. I have always looked up to Katy for her unwavering strength and her beautiful gift with words, but now I look up to her, and all people dealing with CP everyday, even more. Because now I have experienced what it is like to tell your body to do something and have it not obey. I am so very lucky to have such an amazing and strong friend like Katy and this experience has been easier with her just a text away when I was scared.
Thank you for reading my (long) journey that Katy let me share with all of you — Katelyn