This guest post, including picture and video, comes to us from Spring Day. Spring Day is a world traveling American stand-up comedian, writer and actor based in Japan. She also happens to have cerebral palsy. You can follow her nonsense and silly bits @springdaycomedy, www.springdaycomedy.com, and on YouTube.
I am no stranger to surgery. When I was a small child in the Midwest, I had my adenoids (whatever they are) taken out, as well as minor ear surgery due to an infection. I was never scared of hospitals as a child, in fact, I was almost too comfortable in them. Weekly visits to the physical and occupational therapists for my mild cerebral palsy for as long as I can remember made me think of hospitals as playgrounds with unfortunately bland color palates and old people that smelled funny.
My childhood security blanket wasn’t a blanket as much as it was one of my mother’s nightgowns. (I couldn’t stand the softness of blankets, I much preferred the smooth silkiness of rayon.) Knowing that surgery involved “taking a nap” via nasty, no good, smelly ether, I brought “my nighty” with me into the operating room. I dragged my mother’s white slip behind me by the straps down the hospital halls, creating a decidedly tacky bridal train. I remember mom trying to keep enough distance between us as we walked so that people wouldn’t automatically assume I was her child or more importantly, that the lingerie I dragged behind me like Bam Bam did his bat, was hers. I had managed to persuade the nurses to let me bring it with me into the operating room but when I was put on the table the slip got dropped on the floor. I was too afraid to say anything. I just lied there staring at the ceiling hoping someone would notice it and a few minutes later, someone did. When the head doctor walked into the room surgical mask and cap in place, I heard him crouch down as he said, ” What the hell is this?” He picked up the lacy slip, walked up to the table, held it out by it’s straps and showed it to me as if I were a customer contemplating trying it on. “Is this yours?!” he asked. My “yes” came so fast and serious as I snatched it out of his hands that the doctor was visibly taken aback. The whole room laughed as the sexy lingerie was returned to it’s rightful owner. It was the first time I remember being laughed at in a hospital, it certainly wasn’t my last.
I have had 5 knee surgeries in Japan over 16 years all because of a stupid jump kick in karate class. I know. When I told my current doctor how my ACL knee ligament snapped, every medical expert within earshot, including my doctor, laughed at me. “What’s a girl with cerebral palsy doing in a karate class jump kicking? Were you trying to Kill Bill?” For the record, I was not trying to kill Bill. I merely followed my sensei’s instructions to “push yourself to the limit” and promptly found my limit when I landed the kick wrong.
My doctor at the time of the injury didn’t want to fix the ligament. He said, “You are not a professional athlete. You are just a woman. You will probably need a patch up surgery every three to five years and a bionic knee when you are sixty.” There are a lot of things in this life I want to do, for example, I really want to tap dance. I do not want to look like the terminator when I’m sixty. Plus, within five years of the initial injury, I needed two surgeries after my knee basically collapsed walking up a flight of stairs. I was sick and tired of being fearful when doing anything physical. Besides, I was disabled enough without the knee problems. I discussed this with a Kiwi friend of mine who had a similar knee problem and he said, ” Just go to another doctor and tell him you are a professional tap dancer.” I said, ” They are never going to believe that.” He said, “Sure they will.” “No, they won’t!” ” Yes, they will!” “No, they won’t!!” And he was right. They did. A team of doctors believed that I, some chubby American woman with cerebral palsy was a professional tap dancer in the middle of Tokyo, as one naturally would be. To their credit, they never ever doubted me, not even for a second. After the surgery, a group of doctors stood at the foot of my bed, lifted up the covers and instructed me to wiggle my toes. When I told them that I couldn’t, they freaked out until I explained to them that I never could. Even then they didn’t doubt my being a professional tap dancer. They just said, “Wow! We really really want to see your show now!” I said, ” I bet you do. I would and I do.” Three months later, I get a phone call from my insurance company wanting to know why my doctor sent them a letter telling them I wouldn’t be able to tap dance until July. I just told them, “Yeah…Well, doctor is very thorough.” Just between you and me, I can’t wait for my doctor to send them a letter telling them it’s ok for me to kill Bill.