Just a brief update for those of you who are still interested in my progress.
I've continued to work full-time, and it's still going well. It's actually become more enjoyable than it was prior to my accident, strangely enough, but it's hard to put in words exactly why this is. I've talked about this in prior posts, but am not sure I want to dissect it further for fear of somehow detracting from - or jinxing - it. In any case, it's confirmed for me that retirement is not something I can see in my immediate future, and certainly not before I find something even close to as meaningful as I now find my work. I also see teaching or mentoring as something that I'd like to incorporate into my practice at some point.
I finally realized two months or so ago that it wasn't realistic to think that I'd be able to take my w/c apart and transfer it into my vehicle, and then do the reverse, every time I wanted to go somewhere. The lingering, gnawing shoulder pain that gradually forced me to face the surgeon's scalpel (or reciprocating shaver in my case) for what was found to be a torn biceps tendon, bursitis and bone spurs was the final straw that catapulted me into the BraunAbility wheelchair-accessible MVX Ford Explorer that now sits in our driveway. With three clicks of the remote, the side door slides out of the way and an LED-adorned ramp slides out. Up the ramp I roll, and then navigate my w/c into the docking system that fixes me at the wheel. Not effortless, but much, much easier and faster than the maneuver described at the beginning of this paragraph. Having this for just the past month has made me realize how far from independent I was before. Depending on someone (ie Nancy) to load my w/c when I left home and someone else where I disembarked had, without my realizing it, confined my world to home and work. Now I'm far more likely to go other places without worrying about there being someone to assist me, and it's reopened up my world to such exotic venues as the WalMart, Kroger pharmacy, gym, and farmer's market. The validation of this decision arrived one afternoon last weekend as i drove through Starbucks and chatted with the young barrista while my latte brewed. She saw my hand controls and started asking me about them, then nodded her head appreciatively as I explained their marvels. Finally she exclaimed that this was exactly what she's been trying to get her grandmother to start driving. I'm just glad she didn't try to set us up.
A reporter from our local newspaper interviewed me back in March about my accident and recovery, and then, several weeks later, her very nice story appeared in the on-line version of the paper. She had told me to expect it to appear in the print version the following Sunday, but when it failed to appear I assumed the editors had deemed it to be of insufficient interest to commit the paper and ink to. Then, one Monday morning, the inch-high headlines on the front page screamed, "HE KNEW HE WOULD NEVER WALK AGAIN". To make matters worse, the story was broken up into three parts, and the subscribers were treated to two more days of my saga, again splashed across the front page. I wasn't quite sure how I should feel, but mostly it was embarrassment, although I'm hopeful that my story may be helpful to someone else facing a difficult situation.
And with that, I am concluding this, my final entry on the site. At nearly 11 months since my accident, I feel, or at least hope, that this blog has served its purpose. I hope it's given you a better idea of what paraplegic and quadriplegic people learn to face and live with in the aftermath of what is usually a major trauma, and that you'll feel more comfortable around us. I feel like the same person I was prior to the accident, and those of you with whom I've had direct contact can vouch for this (for better or worse). But some things about us are very different, and so if there's anything you are curious about, just ask. And if you're ever tempted to park in a handicapped space, or in the painted lane next to one that's meant to leave space for a ramp, DON'T. And If it's a white Ford Explorer whose ramp you've just blocked, don't get too attached to your paint job or hood ornament.
Finally, I can't conclude this without once more thanking our many friends and family who've been so supportive and helpful during this challenging time. From the cards, emails, posts and calls of encouragement, to the visits, rides, meals, and countless other acts of kindness, it's been incredibly heartening to know how many people care.
And my absolutely final words here could only be for Nancy, without whom this journey would have been infinitely harder. I can't even begin to list all she's done along the way, but it's been a herculean effort, and one that a lesser human might have faltered under. I am so very lucky to have had her by my side throughout this long, strange, and wondrous trip. Words are insufficient to convey my appreciation and admiration. Thank you. I love you.