I like to enjoy life. I like to travel, I like to shop, and I like sport. I used to swim competitively through wheelchair sports and travelled around Australia competing nationally. I made a lot of friends through swimming and when we weren’t competing we’d run amok and have a lot of fun. But unfortunately I had to give it up because it became too hard on my body.

That’s probably my greatest challenge in life; not just having cerebral palsy, but the complications that come with it. Having to undergo surgeries and managing the recoveries that come with them. You’ll recover from one surgery then have to go through another and it sometimes feels like you’re going round in circles. There’s also the challenge of losing people in your support team. A couple years ago I lost a physiotherapist who had been a constant in my life for about five and a half years. I saw him one week and the next week he was gone. I had counselling for a whole year, but to this day I still can’t believe he’s not around. Without his help I wouldn’t be where I am today. If something wasn’t working for me he would work tirelessly to find different solutions and keep trying until we found something that did work. People like that help people like me become more confident and thrive. But when you’ve lost someone like that it’s never easy to replace them.

You need to find someone you can relate to, who you can have off-topic chats with. Something to take your mind off the usual day-to-day issues of having a disability, which you don’t always want to talk about. The first time I met him, we just clicked. We’d always have a laugh and got along really well aside from our Eagles vs Dockers rivalry. I remember once I wore purple shoes and as a Dockers supporter he teased me saying ‘oh are you supporting the Dockers today?’ I was like ‘hell no!’ and to prove it I went home and stuck holes in those shoes.

Connie Cirillo
Administration Officer at Therapy Focus

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