I’ve been wanting to write a book ever since I took a trip to Alaska in 2005. There I met Stephen, a 17 year old C6-7 quadriplegic at a hospital in Homer. Stephen had wiped out while riding his 4-wheeler. His family had it tough, because a year earlier his older brother Carol was nearly cut in half while riding his 4-wheeler and became paralyzed as well. A land owner, who didn’t like 4-wheeler’s cutting across his property put up a steel cable without any markings or notice. I talked with Stephen all afternoon and then I took him for a ride in my 36′ Monaco La Palma motor home. As the day went on, I could see the hope and lost dreams being rekindle in his eyes.
I often meet people like Stephen or most often their family, because too many of the disabled don’t leave their houses enough. People sometimes have the look of amazement that I’m out doing normal things like pumping my own gas, grocery shopping or other daily chores. I’m just living life like you and everyone else on the planet. For the longest time it was hard for me to understand why some called me ”an inspiration.” The last few years I’ve had some health issues that opened my eyes as to how close I’m living at the edge of my abilities, everyday.”
I’ll never write the book. I’ve tried starting it many times and quit. But I can write a blog. My writing style is going to be to the person, family member or friend of the disabled, but I’m sure everyone can enjoy my stories. Some entries will, however, be about the ”tricks of the trade” if you will on how I adapted, the equipment I use, the way I learned how to do things ”differently” and of course some of the difficulties along the way. Oh, I too was a 17 boy when I broke my C6-7 vertebrates in my neck.
Sometimes I think I’ve made more mistakes and I’ve done more dumb things then anyone else on earth. But I’m the type of person who wakes up the next day and learns from them. I’m 50 years old, but I feel like I’m 28 and holding. So here’s my life, the good, the bad and the ugly.
When I was in my early 20s and a few days before the 4 of July weekend, I met a young college girl that was majoring in psychology or sociology or both. She was having fun at my expense by questioning everything I said with disbelief. She was enjoying herself with her new found book knowledge. I didn’t care, I was having fun too by studying her as well and she was cute. After a while of her questioning everything I said, I asked her what her plans for the 4th were? She said just hang out on campus with her best friend, probably nothing much. When she asked me, I did what I do best, start talking and become just as amazed as to what I say as the person listening. When I was 18 or so, a year after the accident, a friend I knew from high school asked me if I wanted to go canoeing with him and some others. When he said they were going to camp over night somewhere I became scared to go. Even though he assured me he and the others would help me with anything I needed, I chickened out. That summer ended and no one else asked me to go canoeing. The next summer ended with the same results. That’s when it dawned on me. Life’s opportunities aren’t going to keep slapping me in the face. Every opportunity I pass up is one I never get again. So when I told this young college girl my plains to go to Big Bay with friends and camp out in Perkins Park, watch some baseball, etc. she had her comment, ”aren’t you the social butterfly?” It was obvious 45 minutes earlier when we met she wasn’t going to bed with me, but i’m glad I held out until the end because I responded with this, ”I learned a while ago to ”never” pass up an opportunity to enjoy life. If some one asks me to do something, and it sound like it could be fun, then I do it! I don’t look for excuses not too! I think of it as if I’m writing a book, if when I’m 50 years old would it be fun to tell my grandchild sitting on my lap the story? ” if yes then I do it! Of course this psychology or sociology major or both tried to have the last word, ”What if I told you shooting up heroin is fun, would you do it”? Some people always look towards the negative in everything. She was that person.
I told her, ”That’s why I’m using the ”writing a book” analogy (to push me into getting out and enjoying life), I’m not going to do things that I wouldn’t want my grandchild sitting on my lap to know about.”
I was born in 1962. I was involved in a serious automobile was I was 17 which left me paralyzed from the chest down. I’ve now spent 2/3 of my life in a wheelchair. I live in an apartment, drive a car, van and motor home (to 46 U.S. states, which includes Alaska), graduate from college and earn a living. I’ve never looked for excuses, I find solutions. I tend to look inward first, but sometimes it’s requires the help from others. It’s taken me most of my life to realize it, but I’ve lived a life I’m proud of. Probably the two things I’m most proud of are living and often traveling alone. I don’t have family, a roommate or an attendant living with me. Unless you’re a quadriplegic, you’ll probably never understand how difficult and often scary it can be. I’m very lucky and thankful a few close friends have. Giving up is OK! But it’s an option, its not a right.
This site is to talk about my life. If my stories can help just one person smile and have a better life, then I’ll be happy!