Tag: Personal Story
Asking someone out isn’t easy if you’re in a wheelchair or not. For most people, this can be a pretty awkward deal. I’ve wrestled with the thought that someone might just say “yes” to a date for “Pity’s Sake” or “no” because they fear they’d get too close. Neither answer is good if the truth is known. I’ve talked with several people who share a common theme in regard to the pursuit of companionship, well… it pretty much sucks. But then, so does lonlieness.
When I was working for NationsBank in Greensboro, NC, I had to travel between Columbia, SC and Dallas, TX quite often. OK. Three or four times a year. One time coming home, the airline people had no clue of what they were doing. I never liked those strait back chairs that carry you down the isle. You kinda feel like Hannibal Lector all strapped in. The guy picked up on the back of the chair leaving the front on the ground. I assumed this person never read the instructions for a wheelbarrow but you guessed it. They rolled me. Well, almost rolled me. One of the straps actually held. Needless to say composure was lost in front of the other 250 passengers. It all worked out. If this was the greatest of embarrassments I’ll ever face, then bring on Broadway.
I finished college in May of 1990 just three years after my injury. That summer was spent trying to figure out what I was going to do. I knew I had the skills to do well in school but I had no idea of what real value I could bring to an organization. I had studied Communications and Business so there wasn’t a trade or specific skill like architecture or law I could bring to interview. I had grown up in Meadville, PA and the community hosts a great number of manufacturing companies similar to our family business but at the time that never appealed to me.
Gracefulness or lack there of is not limited to the general population. There was a joke I heard long before I was in wheelchair that went, Hire the handicapped, they’re fun to watch. Cruel? Maybe. But if you can’t laugh at yourself, someone else will!
The best analogy I can think of that best describes the balancing act that higher-level spinal injured people go through daily, is similar to that of a swing-set. Imagine sitting on a swing with your feet off the ground and your hands off of the ropes. Any direction you move, you have to counter balance to stay upright. Now imagine going through the normal course of the day this way. Pouring that coffee suddenly gets challenging.
Most people have the best intentions when they tell you stories of their lives or make gestures in an attempt to relate to your situation. But sometimes it comes off a little different. I’m very comfortable sharing the basics of my injury to strangers and helping someone understand a little better about my situation if they ask.
—An older woman had approached me while in line at a shopping center and she was very kind. She introduced herself and asked me why I was in a wheelchair. I briefly shared the cause and condition of my spinal injury with as much emphasis on the positive things that have happened. She seemed perplexed and replied, “Honey, I know just how you feel.” She continued, “I wasn’t so lucky.
I went to college at Edinboro University after my injury to gain the benefits of a more accessible Environment transferring from Clarion University. I had already experienced a couple of years in college before the accident so I was fairly comfortable with the coed crowd. And I got a kick out of the openness of some students.
Dave was a buddy also in a wheelchair. We had found a comfortable place off campus to live and we spent some evenings in town to just hang out.
I really question the faith of some people who display their uncompromising belief that God can work miracles right here, right now, even if they’re holding a Budweiser in a crowded bar.
Conneaut Lake, PA is a small town and it brings a lot of summer visitors from the surrounding bigger cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Its not surprising to go out and run into people that have spent the day drinking on the lake and they’re finishing the day off at the local tavern. Listen. If you’re in a wheelchair, you’re a prime target in this Environment.
I personally think that I’m in a very unique position to see the kindness in so many people because of my situation. For twenty years, I walked around just like most other people. I interacted kindly for the most part and never did I see the open hearted effort to jump in and take over for those in need as I have since being in a wheelchair.
Parking can be tuff enough in some busy places even if you have disabled parking placard. I had found a spot wide enough pull the car in and get the chair out. You must realize that a C6 Quad isn’t going to be lightning quick at this and at times it may look awkward.
Once I was conscious of my accident and the doctors gave me the doom and gloom speech, you’re pretty much left alone to deal with all of the head games, medical terminology, round the clock poking and prodding and friends and family passing out at the sight of you. It was no picnic! But little gems have occurred at some of the darkest times that stand out in my mind like scenes of movie.
Four days into ICU, a relatively new nurse came in on her shift to rotate the Striker Frame bed I was strapped to. I had 50 pound weights attached to metal spikes forced into my skull to decompress the bones in my neck that later became the halo that stabilized my neck during rehab.
My injury occurred in late August and that following summer I learned how valuable the input and innocence of children could be that just stops you dead in your tracks.
The girl I had been seeing since long before my accident and I decided to take a trip to Sea World in Ohio. It was a damn hot day and after only a couple of hours I started getting way too hot and couldn’t cool down. I spent most of the afternoon in the penguin display just to chill out. My body hadn’t adjusted to the temperature changes and I didn’t know to prepare for the heat so it was an exhausting day. To avoid spending much time in the sun, we headed for another in-door exhibit. While waiting in line to get in, a little boy about 3 or 4 years old began to take notice of the chair and me. It was a great exchange. He would twirl in and out of his father’s legs and play the “I’m invisible game.” He would walk around me and quickly duck back in between his dad’s legs and peak out from side to side.