I guess I would say I have had a few surreal experiences in my life, given my precarious start, and the diagnosis which said thinks like I wouldn’t walk or talk, maybe be basically a adult-child in a chair. at eight months old, I was 6 months behind,. mentally, and it was anyone’s guess whether I’d catch up or not. Catch up I did, but only after 4 years of intensive medical care, operations, thousands of pounds worth of therapy, a few years in a ‘special’ (needs) nursery and more besides.
Ordinary things others achieve have been momentous for me, as they have been for other children with cerebral palsy, or experience of congenital disability in general. After that there’s the really ‘out there’ moments; snapshots in time where I’ve almost had an ‘outer-body experience’… I’m both in the moment, and watching the scene from above. These would include the rugby union lesson in P.E. in primary seven, I was good at it, me who wasn’t expected to walk; but the real subject of this post is the award I got when I was 17 for the highest marks in the Health and Food Technology exam in Scotland.
I got to go down to London to the Royal College of Physicians and meet Princess Anne, and be part of a celebratory lunch, banquet style. I remember very well the ‘Library’ where the presentation was. It was just beginning of the fur-ore surrounding the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise. I remember walking into the room and thinking it really did look like something out of Harry Potter, dark mahogany bookcases from floor to ceiling, wooden floor, and a cavernous room. We also got treated to a visit to the ‘London Eye’, and I remember a coffee at one point which was the size of a small bucket. I also remember the flight down to London from where I lived in Scotland, and not liking it much. BA staff also tried to tell me they’d lost my wheelchair. that would be because I didn’t own one at that point ! Snapshots in time, that I know happened, but still feels somewhat surreal, two University degrees later. Every-time I see her in the crowd at Murrayfield to watch Scotland play rugby, my mind wanders back to that day. Maybe I’ll get to meet her again one day, though it seems unlikely. Even if I do, it still will not top that day in the 18th year of my birth. If the doctors present in the first year of my life could have seen me then, it would have been surreal for them too!