Fred Nisen

Fred Nisen, an attorney with a statewide nonprofit legal organization, lives in Berkeley, California. He has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair.

Transcripts for all Segments (PDF)


“I go for a CAT scan… the table is very narrow, so narrow that I don’t know how anybody would get on.” “My attendant somehow manages to get me on the table without dropping me, which was a feat.”

“I realized slowly that I couldn’t bend at my waist to do some of the things that I used to do…”

“I called my neurologist. He said, “Oh, it must be that you are taking too much Zanaflex.” “… I said, remember I told you how numb my feet are? He said, ‘Then you should take more Zanaflex.'”

“I went to a second neurologist. He said I needed an MRI… but I need to be under anesthesia for that.” “This must have been March of ’07… By the time I got it, it was June.”

“So I finally get the MRI, but by that time the numbness in my feet went all the way up to my waist.”

“He pulled out the MRI…”Oh my God, this is bad…”

“I asked him about his experience with cerebral palsy. He said, ‘Well not much but some.’ That scared me. I go to the hospital. I’m scared out of my mind already and the doctor sits down and says, ‘Oh by the way you might wake up paralyzed.'”

“I got lucky and got pneumonia so they still don’t get me up five days out.”

“The doctor read the report–severe stenosis in C4 and C5 so he said you’ll probably need surgery again.”

“I had to change all my doctors so I could have it done at their hospital.”

“…because of my accent, speech disability…They assume they won’t understand me so they don’t try and some people don’t think I’m intelligent enough to communicate with just because of the way I talk.”

“At the rehab hospital the neuropsychologist…said, “Oh, what do you do?” I said, I’m an attorney. He said, “Really?” He said, “Oh, I was just doing that to see how your pain would be when you got upset.”

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