Cynthia Ann Brannan was 32 years old when she moved into a nursing home here in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I was the only young person there. To say that life was a challenge in the nursing home is the understatement of the century. Everyone else was much older than I.
There was nobody for me to talk to very much or socialize with. I was in a nursing home with no peers. After living there for a year, I realized that this was not the place for me. I was there for 7½ years. Finally I had a chance to join a governor’s task force to get young people out of nursing homes. The task force got so bogged down in details of how to write their mission that I stopped going to the meetings. So the next thing I know the task force had a meeting at the nursing home where I lived. They showed me how much they wanted me to be an active member of the task force. I began attending the meetings again. Finally, in the early 1990s, I was able to move out of the nursing home and into a group home. Most of the group homes were not very good. I cannot count the number of times I moved. But now I am in an almost perfect situation with a company that provides supported living accommodations.
I have my own wheelchair van, and most of the time I can go wherever I wish to go. The sense of freedom is precious to me. I never had this much freedom in the nursing home. I am able to live the kind of life I want to live and that is precious to me.
Getting out of the nursing home
I am overwhelmed by the fact that I was active in getting myself and other people like me out of nursing homes. Life has so much more promise than it did back in the nursing home! I attend a day program three days a week. I am happy there and my whole life is so much happier now than it was in the nursing home. Life can be whatever I want to make it. I am free to do whatever I choose to do. I never thought I would live in a very good situation, but I was wrong. My life is more my own than I ever thought it would be. I am so lucky to have gotten out of the nursing home and to finally be in a happy and productive lifestyle. My heart is full and happy. I look forward to getting up each morning and doing something constructive.
Writing is the thing I love to do the most. I spend a lot my time writing with Dragon Naturally Speaking, a speech recognition software. If I could finally get published, it would be a dream come true. I am filled with happiness I thought I would never have.
Cynthia Brannan, who has cerebral palsy, is in 24-hour total care.