Stories and True Experiences

Sandy Sea World
Parking lot helper Kids
If you believe in God you'd be walking Religious drunk
Can you guys still f***? My personal thoughts on Sex and Dating
Best intentions Grace
The best move of my life Commercial Flying
Trying to get a date Just cut em' off
A kiss to remember Questions & Comments shared new_spin.gif (26624 bytes)

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. The nurse pulled the wrong pin and the foot of the bed dropped out throwing my lower body to the floor. At the time, I was so drugged up that the pain didn’t even seem real. According to the doctors, there was no way of telling if the fall had caused any further damage. I was pretty certain it didn’t help. With this incident and the hospital’s lack of experience with spinal injuries, I was transferred via life flight helicopter to Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Late one evening I could hear the nurses in the next room talking to a new patient. They would repeatedly ask her to open her eyes. “Sandy, your Mom is here. Open your eyes.” This had gone on throughout the night. “Sandy, your Dad has some flowers for you. Open your eyes and look at them.” I asked the nurse as she checked in on me what had happened to Sandy. The nurse said she was about 17 or 18 and had been out on an errand with her boyfriend when they were involved in and car wreck. Sandy had received the blunt of the hit and was in a deep coma. Part of her skull had become dislodged and she was not in good shape. Over the next few nights when the noise levels would drop and the activity in the halls seemed nonexistent, I started talking to Sandy. Although, it was said silently, I started to urge her to open her eyes, say something, anything night after night. Her parents visited with me one evening and they seemed to be from an upscale, responsible and important family but in much grief. And there I was speechless, immobile and had no real way of easing their pain. Much like the faces of those that had visited me over the last few weeks. It had become very important to me to think and pray for her recovery and not my own. In some strange way, I believed that if she would just open her eyes that my own situation would get better.

Sandy never did come out of the coma as far as I know and I still think of her quite often. I remember the long nights in the hospital like it was a recorded movie, the smell of the sanitized environment and the desperation and helplessness we all felt. Since my injury, there have been many times I felt like I was in an emotional coma. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in all of the things going on around us with people pulling in different directions, overwhelming tasks to be done, loneliness and not enough time to deal with our own problems. I still hear, “just open your eyes.” Even though Sandy’s situation was grim, I am thankful for having had the room next to hers and learning what it means to let go of your own problems and concentrate on others. I do not in anyway believe we should ever feel lucky or fortunate because someone else has it worse than us. I do believe that we can learn so much from even the worst of situations.
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Sea World...
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.

At one point, he took a real interest in the chair and studied the spokes, the frame and you could just see him thinking about how he would ride if he were in one. It made the time fly and before long the line had started to move. His father smiled and moved forward with the crowd not saying a word but the boy lingered. He changed his expression from a playful little smile to a very serious concerned stare. He reached out his hand and touched my knee saying anything for the first time. “I hope your legs get better,” he said and walked on with his father.

Thank you to all of the parents who let their children explore, ask questions and show just how innocence can really touch the heart.
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Parking lot helper
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. I struggled to get my chair out of the back and set it down just to the driver’s side of the car and began to swing my legs out when an older gentleman practically ran up and committed to helping. He said, “I’ve got it.” And he was right. He pushed the chair perfectly back into the car and leaned down grabbing under my legs and swung them back into the car. I muttered, “Thanks, I’ll get it” a couple of times before he finished, wished me well and walked on.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was trying to get out, not in! But it’s a great example of how good hearted people can be even if they leave their brains elsewhere. If you think you know someone needs help, it’s a bigger help if you get him or her going in the right direction. Just ask!
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Bill Cosby has been able to have a successful television show based on the silly things kids say. Their imagination, lack of restraint and curiosity have brightened my day more than once...

As I was leaving a restaurant, I could see a young boy sandwiched in a booth with his parents staring me down. He stood up in the booth and pointed at me as he said, "Look Mom! A bicycle. How come he can ride inside?"

I stopped in the Adams Farm shopping center in Greensboro for some grocery items. While looking at the vegetables, I could feel something grab me from behind. It was a little oriental girl who had just gave me a hug and ran back to her mother.

One day I was wheeling out of the airport, and I passed a little kid and his mom. He has his arm in a cast. My girlfriend was behind me, and as they passed me the little kid says: "See Mom, that guy must have fallen out of a tree too!"
Sent by JP Nicholas

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If you believed in God, you'd be walking
This has actually happened to me twice in the past ten years. The first time was in the North so we can’t blame it on the tenacity of the Bible belt. However, the second time was in North Carolina and it sounded strikingly the same but with a drawl.

Within the first couple of years of getting adjusted to all of the different approaches people take to a wheelchair, none had quite as much impact as this comment. If you believed in God, you’d be walking. When I was younger, I had my doubts, concerns and questions as to what God meant to me. But by the time of my injury, I was very comfortable with my beliefs and that the Bible was the true story of Jesus without doubt. But I had no reply to this statement because all I could hear was, that since I’m in a wheelchair, it’s apparent that I didn’t believe in God. For years, I stayed away from the church and places where openly religious people would be but it never changed how I felt about God.

Over the years, I became much more comfortable with my faith and these people had far less impact. A few years ago in a Greensboro, NC Kmart, a stock lady had been working the shelves of an isle I was in. She was relatively short and rounded woman with thin-rimmed glasses that sat halfway down her nose. She asked me if I needed help. So being a guy and displaying my real handicap, which is shopping. I said that I had no idea where the stuff I needed was. She gave me some direction and paused for a moment staring right at me. Then it came out and I could have finished her sentence before she did. “You know, If you believed in God, you could walk.” I could feel my blood boil and my face turn red. You see in her world, she was the perfect picture of health and God didn’t discriminate against those with glasses as he does those with mobility needs. I questioned whether she had reached that part in the Bible about Job and all he went through without faltering his faith. But as quickly as I wanted to rip her red apron around her neck, it made sense that she needed me to help her feel good about her faith. I just said, “Thank you. I appreciate your help.” This way I could find what I needed and I pray she found what she needed.
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Religious Drunk
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. Only after a few minutes of being in the place, some guy walks up to me with a cigarette spitting smoke in his eye, while he holds his hands out with a beer in one of them and says take my hands. I thought he said, shake my hand. So I reached out. He stumbled while putting his beer on the bar and leaned in grabbing both of my hands. “If you believe you can walk you will.” So stand up he said. “I’ll help you.”

At this point I realize, he’s no neurosurgeon nor does he look much like a faith healer but don’t tell him that! It does you no good to argue with some people so committed to your health. And you can’t afford to risk it by letting them have their way. So I just gave him a nod and a pat on the side and said, “Hey I think the bartender is trying to take your beer.” And just kept moving.
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Can you guys still f***?
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. We had been sitting at a large round table near the middle of the bar exchanging stories, jokes and just daily college grunge when this attractive girl walks up between Dave and I from behind and places her hands on our shoulders. I didn’t recognize her and I doubt Dave did either. She leans in and asks, “can you guys still fuck?” As I was cleaning the beer from my nose, Dave simply said, “I’m paralyzed, I’m not dead.” So I invited her to sit down and join us for a while. The conversation had just taken on a whole new direction.

This has actually happened a couple of times over the years with variations on the diplomacy and tact of the question. A good way of testing the persons knowledge of spinal injuries is to say, didn’t you know when a guy is paralyzed, his penis is erect at all times unless we take medication? And just see where it goes from there…. The Department of Rehabilitative Medicine from the University of Washington School of Medicine posts a page on Sexual Function and Fertility after SCI. (spinal cord injury) Another link to consider reading Sexuality and Disability. Or you can read My Personal Thoughts on the subject.
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Best Intentions
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 had my Gall Bladder removed and I had to be in one of those things until I got out of the hospital.” She just shook her head and made a face as if she just bit into a lemon.

---While eating lunch with a friend at a local restaurant, I noticed someone staring from across the room. She stood up and began walking my way. As she approached me, she stopped just short and placed her hands flat on her thighs, then on the table. I sensed that she was really nervous. She simply said, “I’m so sorry.” I knew what she was getting at but I couldn’t help but to ask why she was sorry. Hey, she could have had the same meatloaf and knew something I didn’t! She reached for my hand and just continued by saying that she was so very sorry. Her emotion and openness were very touching, at first. I thanked her for her sincerity and after 10 more minutes of, “I’m so sorry.” She decided to move on. If she had a foreign accent, I would have guessed that these were the only American words she knew and what she really needed were directions to the bathroom.

---I was at a conference in Vancouver, BC with a coworker and his wife. One evening, we were meeting for dinner outside the hotel. I made it to the curb before they did so I leaned back against the marquee and enjoyed the beautiful view of the bay. I was lost somewhere in the moment and the events of the day when someone walked by me and put a dollar on my leg and began walking away. It startled me. I quickly said to the person, “I’m not what you think (trying to hold back a laugh). Please take your money.” Talk about a blow to the self-esteem. I thought I was worth twice that!
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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.

---Dealing with how different I was from before my injury, entering a college classroom was tough enough. Since I had a chair with me, sitting at the back of the room was rarely an option. I had positioned myself along the front row of the classroom and got set up to take notes. During the lecture, I felt my body getting tight. Suddenly, my legs jumped, my back arched and over I went into the chairs and student behind me. The professor walked up to me casually and humorously asked, “Was it something I said?” I responded, “I think it was your breath.”

---My housemate in college, Dave, was also in a wheelchair with a similar level of spinal injury. We kept little pizzas in the freezer because they were easy to cook. One evening after being out on the town, we decided to cook a couple of these for a late night snack. We both had lap trays with the cooked pizzas on them and sat in the living room talking. Dave lost his balance and fell over forward. When he sat back up, his food was missing. He looked at me pissed as if I’d taken it when he was down. The tears streamed from my eyes from laughing as I pointed to his shirt. The pizza had stuck to his chest. I ribbed him for a couple of weeks until I did the very same thing.

---When I first moved to North Carolina, I had only been in a chair a couple of years. I still had no idea what I was capable of and really hadn’t spent much time alone. One afternoon while typing my resume at the kitchen table, I lost my balance and fell over backward. I blame it on muscle spasms but it was just one of those character building experiences my father talked about. As I was going over backward, my legs hit the underside of the table and turned it over with my typewriter, papers and all being scattered across the room. I’m lying on my back with a splitting headache from hitting the hard floor thinking that its early in the day and no one is around the apartment complex for me to even call for help. After gathering my marbles, I crawled over to the edge of the couch pulling my chair behind. I sat up and spent a few minutes on the floor just looking at the room from a different view and checking out the disarray. My dog loved it because she could attack my ears at her level. This added additional challenge points for those keeping score. Sitting on a hard floor can cause real problems if done for very long. So I grabbed a cushion from couch and placed it beside me. I was able to lift up on it. The place where the cushion was suddenly didn’t seem much higher. With some effort, I was able to transfer up to that spot and then onto the remaining cushions. At that point and 45 minutes later, I was able to transfer back into my wheel chair. I would have made a sailor blush that day with my language but it was a defining moment in conquering helplessness.

---A close friend Charlie, his cousin Mike and I were in the Charlotte Airport on our way to Cancun for vacation. We were pretty keyed-up about the trip and had been really looking forward to getting away. I started down the people mover and scooted along pretty fast. Since I was way ahead of them, I stopped and turned around on the moving walkway. As I was looking back at them, I grabbed the side-walls and my wheelchair tires began spinning backwards while I sat still. It took about three seconds for Charlie to predict what was about to happen. Sure enough, the wheels caught and over I went. Charlie and Mike were laughing to the horror of the lady behind them. They were able to get me back up before we reached the end of the people mover so I didn’t jam the whole system. There’s nothing like starting out on the right foot.

---Getting two people together for vacation can be a real challenge. We managed to get 12 people on a plane headed for Freeport Bahama. It was nuts to say the least. A story I can tell, happened late one night. Tommy and I were the last two survivors of the group for that day. We had about 10 or 15 bucks each and it would have been over if we spent any more time at the pool lounge. Being the intelligent people we thought we were, we rationalized that drinks are free at the casino if you're gambling. Heading over to the casino you had to go through the front lobby and up a flight of stairs. They had placed a sheet of painted plywood over the stairs to make a rather steep ramp but hey, who's to question their judgement. They didn't have to do anything. Well, Tom and I managed to successfully spend a few more hours in the casino pretending to play the machines since 15 bucks in a casino gets you to where the red carpet starts. On the way back to the resort, we slipped past the night watchman at the door and headed down the ramp. Well, Tom went head first down the ramp and I went down on my back. We came together at the bottom butting heads. It must have sounded like a couple of coconuts hitting together because the rather large native gentleman at the door just cracked up.

---When you move into a new home, there are a thousand and one things to do before its really like home. One of those things is to meet the neighbors and create a welcome environment. I'd been up to my eyeballs in dust and dirt from the new construction. I would gather up piles of things left behind by the contractor and so did most of the other people in the neighborhood since it was a brand new housing development. On a sunny afternoon, I had been sweeping off the back porch. (not a favorite job for someone in my situation but the dirt drove me nuts) A storage closet containing the hot water heater and electrical box was located on the back of the house. I had the door open and began to sweep out the inch thick sawdust when I lost my balance and fell out of my chair half-in and half-out of the storage area while my chair rolled down the patio, into the grass and further down the slope of the yard. I managed to get as comfortable as I could considering the door jam was jamming my side. Then Tony, a neighbor from two houses up, walked out into his back yard with a wheelbarrow full of dirt. I yelled out to him, "Hey Tony, I wiped out!" He responded, "Ya, me too" and walked back to his house out of my sight. I must of had this look on my face like What Tha....  A few minutes later he walked around the side of my home and asked if I needed help. In the mean time he was trying to explain how tired he was from cleaning and wasn't even thinking when he answered me earlier in the back yard. Every once in a while I'd yell out to him in the back yard, "Hey Tony, Still wiped out?"

---A few weeks ago, I was in our local Wal-mart with an old high school friend. We had just become reacquainted after several years. She was helping me get some things together for my new home back in Pennsylvania. I had a mop bucket full of stuff on my lap when I started for the brooms. I found the one I wanted fairly high up on the rack with the broom end up in the air. So being cool, I placed my palm under the butt of the broom and balanced the broom up off of the rack. I know now that Barnum Bailey Circus won’t be hiring me for their juggling act. The broom fell over my shoulder and in an attempt to save it I held on flipping over backwards right into the shelves. The bucket on my lap flew scattering everything everywhere. I think I took a couple of years off of the people in the isle that day. Luckily, an employee walked by just after it happened. He helped me back into the chair and we shared a good laugh. But the girl that was with me didn’t see the humor in it.

---I had been waiting on a new wheelchair for quite a while that I had ordered. So when it did finally come in, I couldn't wait to  try it out. Its one of the lightest, latest, greatest ones that equates to not much more than a few tubes of titanium and four wheels for about three grand. For that much it should be remote control! Getting into a new chair after 6 or 7 years of using the old one was like going from a pair of old warn sneakers to a new pair of dress shoes. So one afternoon shortly after getting the new chair, I had changed into a pair of sweats and kicked back into bed for a while to relax. Not having ever transferred into the new chair without shoes on, I had no clue to just how slippery the foot plate was. As you've guessed, I hit the floor. I had placed one foot on the footplate and the other just off the front as I've always done. As soon as I committed to swinging my tail over onto the chair, both legs kicked back and slid under the chair forcing me into a nose dive. Another good reason to cover those hardwood floors! But it felt like an air hockey puck sliding around so some fun was had. I knew I would need some help so I called my uncle for a little lift. While waiting for him to drive over to my home, I decided to head for the chair in the living room. Part way down the hallway the moral to this whole story became apparent. Never crawl on carpeting with a pair of sweats on and no underwear! I soon had a pair of anklets. I was far less embarrassed about falling than I was at the thought of someone seeing me crawl through the house with my pants around my feet. Although it reminded me of college.
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The best move of my life
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.

That summer I grew frustrated with the local opportunities and had decided to look South. The climate was great and the job market was explosive. At this time in my life, I still was very dependant on morning help to get out of bed let alone all of the bathroom stuff.  So putting it all together was like reengineering Humpty Dumpty. The cool thing was it gave me an opportunity to really want something. We all go through times of stagnation where we loose our dream or desires and simply take life day to day. It happens to me all too often. But the feeling you get from having something that makes you feel really a part of life, can be breathtaking. You don't have to be a great risk-taker. Just go where they sell Beanie Babies and you'll see what I mean. OK. Bad example. That can be pretty scary.

We had been to Myrtle Beach, SC for summer vacations and I loved the childhood memories of the area. I placed an ad in our local newspaper asking if anyone was interested in moving South with me. I had hoped that out of the blue, someone I could live with would call me and say, “I’m ready to go.” I received one call and I didn’t feel comfortable with person on the other end. It was just a gut instinct. So I was back to the drawing board. Mid summer, I ran into a girl who graduated a year behind me from high school and we talked about how great it would be to move. After some lengthy conversations, we decided take a mid-southern tour of Winston-Salem, NC to Greensboro, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Virginia Beach, VA and back home. We looked at apartments and general community information plus making tons of calls. It was exciting to chase down the right place. I had accessibility and barrier issues that were a real challenge in most all locations. Most apartment communities have accessible housing but they’re not restricted for people with disabilities. The ground floor open format appeals to a lot of people and waiting lists were years at a time. I grew discouraged when my moving partner decided not to go. We had no jobs lined up, didn’t really know anyone there and only enough money for a couple of months.

I finally had a break in Greensboro. An apartment community was newly constructing additional buildings. I spoke with the manager and she faxed me floor diagrams and layouts of the building so I would feel comfortable with accessibility. Things just started coming together. The lease was for three months then month to month after that. If it didn't work out, I could always pack up and head home. I found a home care agency that agreed to send someone over each morning to help and my parents offered to pay for the service. They were very concerned about me moving and being 600 miles from home. I made the decision to do it. I had learned that a couple of hometown people that I knew were living in Greensboro and it helped me feel more comfortable with the move. All arrangements were made over the phone and my father and brother drove down to Greensboro in November of 1990 to set me up in an apartment we’d never seen and a town we knew nothing about.

After a couple of days, I was moved in and it was time for them to go. The sidewalks didn’t have ramps so the apartment manager had some made to access the apartment, pool area and mail boxes. Fortunately, my mailbox was on the bottom row of the stack. Even though I was alone miles away, it was so liberating to be responsible for managing my own care, finances, personal affairs and success or failure. This was a clean sweep away from the looks of sympathy and sorrow of the people who knew me as someone much different back home. This was truly the most challenging and greatest move of my life. At the mailboxes one evening, I met Cami. She lived in the same apartments and was in between jobs. We hit it off as great friends. She introduced me to so many more people because she was from the area and she was someone that you felt like you had known all of your life. The apartments had become like a mini Melrose except we didn’t all sleep with each other.(or it was just never public knowledge) We played cards through the nights and visited a local pub on the weekends listening to great acoustic guitar music and singing along. I was able to get a job as a bankcard operator for NCNB. The time, the struggles and simplistic lifestyle was the beginning of some great friendships. We didn’t have a dollar between us but it was the most free, memorable and entertaining time of my life.
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Commercial Flying
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 have had the greatest experience with the flight attendants on the planes. Most have the ability to cater to you without making you feel like a "special" passenger. The last trip I made from Pittsburgh to Greensboro, I spent a few minutes talking with one attendant and we hit it off. She had a real kindness about her. Strange that doesn't seem to happen at home....hummm. Well, bragging rights aside, she kissed me when I left the plane. Right on the lips in front of God and everybody. Well, the others had already left but that mile high club was looking pretty promising. It ended that way. I'd fly again just for the thought that something like could ever happen again. I wish you much luck when flying and take breath mints!!!
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Trying to get a date
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.

I don't pretend to think that a mind is a good thing to waste. It just so happens to seem that way whenever the small talk starts. Whenever that teenage laden hormonal streak hits us men chair or not, we seem to throw caution into the wind. So when I'm 50 and this happens, I hope that I'll have the courage to finish my oatmeal and go back to bed. But until then, the emotional trials of second guessing what the other might be thinking can be brutal. We'd be better off pulling on the peddles of flowers, She loves me...  ...Not! All this thinking can drive you nuts. Sometimes a mind is waste.

I've given up on the one night stand scenario years ago. It helps to get to know someone and be bold enough to say that you'd like to take them out or invite them over for a movie. I've had my share of stammers and stutters then the ultimate, "Uh, sorry, I have to wash my poodle, how about in a month or so." Having the courage and asking someone out for a date is less than half the battle. Getting to know someone well enough to ask is another story. I've yet to find the line at the grocery store long enough to get a number. But who has time with all those great magazine covers to read?

Bottom line in life is we don't often get a second chance to make an ass of ourselves, it usually happens on the first go-around. So step up and put your best grin forward and come up with a simple question like, "dinner maybe?" And see if she agrees or if she trips all over herself trying to get away. The odds will be in your favor if you do the leg-work and get to know someone a little before popping the question. It always seems easier when it just happens. But then a blind squirrel is bound to find a nut sooner or later so just keep trying. I had a buddy who used to randomly ask girls to join him getting naked in the parking lot. Some laughed, some cringed but he also managed to find a taker and he was not a real handsome dude. You just have to choose a style that's right for you.
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Just cut em' off
People can be very friendly and offer great advice. More so than you’d ever imagine if you would only open yourself up a little to receive. For instance, a gentleman who had lost his legs in an accident years before was sitting at a table where a few older friends would hang out, swap stories and listen to the owner of the pub’s band. During one of the bands breaks, he rolled around the table, introduced himself and we shared the formalities of why we were in wheelchairs. He was curious how I managed with paralysis and tried to compare the benefits or drawbacks as if he were deciding which situation was better.

Clearly he had the upper hand. Lightning struck and bright ideas flowed forward as he suggested to simply “Cut em’ off!” Then  he confirmed all of the benefits of not having legs like “you’d loose all that dead weight, putting on pants would be so much easier and nothing would get in the way of your gas and break peddles in the car.” “Ya, just cut em’ off!” Convinced he really might be on to something, I didn’t want to put my new friends ideas down so I politely questioned, “What would I do with all of my shoes?” And the band began to play …
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A kiss to remember
If you’re the least bit modest, then a short hospital stay will send you over the edge unless of course you’ve crossed that line already. Draped in not much more than a smile and a few pieces of thin blue cloth that I couldn’t see, I laid exposed with a high-level spinal injury in the ICU for the world to see. While I awaited the standard pinpricks, doses of painkillers endless hours of looking up the nostrils of people passing over me, it occurred to me that the practice of mooning really was good practice.

At the time, core life functions were being maintained and monitored by the medical staff. Comfort, appearance and dignity were a thing of the past. Since my injury occurred in a river with a rough bottom, naturally I had a pretty nasty cut on my head that went from ear to ear and to the bone. A tube was in my throat removing stomach fluids to prevent the possibility of drowning in my own fluids and I had been swabbed in solutions, suave and anything else they could throw at me except money and women, sort of.

I had been very fortunate to have one young nurse who helped preserve what dignity there was to salvage. Laura Lyn seemed to be the one who looked beyond the chart and the procedure manual. I wasn’t able to speak or even gesture my needs so things were kept pretty basic. One morning she took a cloth and began washing down my face with warm water. She took the care that a new mother might do for her baby. Once the tubes were taken out of my throat, she was the first to suggest brushing or swabbing my teeth. And she spent the time needed to wash my hair. This was like finding a rose in the junkyard. I don’t remember much conversation or meaningful exchange except for the dignity she added back when all else was about survival. Five or six days into ICU and it became apparent that I needed transferred to Pittsburgh for further care. Laura Lyn was the one to stay at my side while I was being carted from the confinements of the hospital to the helipad being prepped for the flight. Just before takeoff, she leaned in and kissed me gently on the lips and gave me a warm sendoff. Nurses are pretty incredible people doing a job that most of us would wouldn't touch. Some nurses like Laura Lyn have the special gift of healing through the heart leaving the scars of injury to hide behind a handful of love.

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