Into The World : A MMA Fan’s Memoir – The Autobiography of Myles Painter
I was born on May 18, 1990 at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio at 11:16 am weighing in at a whopping 3 lbs. and coming at 29 weeks gestation. During birth or sometime before, my brain did not receive the necessary oxygen it needed and at 6 months the doctors told my parents that I had spastic quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy (CP) and would never walk or talk. From that moment on, my family and I set out to defy everybody’s expectations that I would at the very least, amount to something other than what society said I would become. I spent the first four months of my life in the hospital and when I was finally released, I weighed 6 lbs. and needed a heart monitor.
My mother took me to participate in a therapeutic horseback riding program when I was just 8 months old and I continued to ride into my teens. The horse’s movement naturally mimics a person’s motion while walking. In this way, the horse aids in relaxing the rider’s muscles and increasing his or her balance and flexibility. There are so many physical and mental benefits in horseback riding.
I remember endless days and nights where my parents would read to me to help me develop language skills. We would also watch Wheel of Fortune episodes. I truly believe that is where my lifelong love of books and knowledge started. As I grew, a neurologist told my mom that through their constant communication with me I had retrained another part of my brain to speak. Who doesn’t love the brains’ neuroplasticity? I did learn to talk, but due to lack of gross motor control and balance I was never able to sit or walk independently. I received my first power wheelchair in 1st grade. The independence this brought was fantastic, but with my vision (I have no depth perception and poor vision) I need to be careful.
As with good times, there were also painful ones. Spastic CP causes muscles to be tight and I required some surgeries such as a heel cord and adductor release in 1993 at the Cleveland Clinic and a Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy a year later at UCLA Children’s Hospital. This intense surgery was performed by the pioneer of the modern SDR surgery, Dr. Peacock. Intensive physical therapy is required after these surgeries and I continued with physical, occupational and speech therapy thru my school years.
When I was 6, my father was transferred to California for his job. I participated in a summer camp for children with disabilities in Long Beach. It was there that I was able to jet ski, water ski, sail, and play hockey. My parents also took me to Bear Mountain and I went snow skiing! I have also skied a few times at Mt. Whiteface in NY where my aunt lives.
When I was ten years old, we moved to Eaton, Indiana and three years later, my dad’s job took us to Tulsa, Oklahoma where I attended and graduated from Sapulpa High School. During high school, I used the greatest asset I had, my mind, and joined the academic team. A teammate of mine adapted a buzzer for me so that I could participate in matches. In 2008, during my senior year, we made it all the way to National semi-finals in Dallas, Texas. I am extremely proud of the fact that we did this.
I have always loved sports even though I can’t physically participate in them. Back in the day my father used to box, so I decided to check out boxing which led me into MMA. I soon saw the similarities between living with a disability and fighting. Both take a tremendous amount of patience, mental toughness and control. I have found my voice through MMA journalism. In creating and writing Across the Pond online for MMA UK, people see me through my words and not my disability. If MMA has taught me one thing, it is that you fight the odds even if life deals you a bad hand. The MMA community has welcomed me and helped find a place to belong. I encourage people reading this to never lose hope on a dream. You never know when an opportunity might come knocking, so keep your eyes and mind open to new possibilities!