Life Can Turn on a Dime – Part 5

This is part 5 of this series about my life change at age 18 when I lost control of my car and became paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.  See part 1 for background.

Puppy Contraband
My mom, dad, and youngest brother, Brian, were my steadfast visitors in the evenings and on weekends at the rehab center, along with many others. One night Mike, a pastor friend, smuggled a puppy into my room. He had read the book Joni which told of her diving accident and spinal cord injury as well as her rehab. She described a time when a friend brought puppies to visit her.

As Mike  prepared to leave work he prayed that he would be able to get a puppy to bring to me and planned to go by the local mall’s pet store to borrow one – when the unimaginable happened…

A lady at the church where he worked was looking for someone who could keep her ‘new‘ puppy for a few hours while she went to a class. He gave thanks to the Almighty and brought the puppy for a visit. What a fluff ball of cuteness and blessing to uplift all! That’s what I call an answered prayer! Today, I still love puppy comfort through my canine helper Twix and other pups.

I love June, my neighbors golden retriever puppy!

More Friends
Charlotte, one of my nurses at Shepherd, strummed the guitar for me and sang when she was off work, and she and her fiance took me to a bible study one Monday night. I don’t remember what was taught, but I remember the love, encouragement, and acceptance I felt from this wonderful, gentle couple as they managed the hassle of moving me in and out of their little car using a borrowed ‘hospital’ fold-able wheelchair.

Most of my friends were busy with their ‘normal’ lives off at a university. Some close friends couldn’t handle a visit, and others needed comfort themselves to deal with their changed friend. Holding tears back during one visit was often all they could take.

Contact was completely lost with some, and I better understand their difficulties now.  Others took the plunge and stood by and supported with energy and grace.  Gratefully, I was pretty much clueless about how disabled I appeared on the outside,  after all, I was still the same person on the inside.

Mary Hall, a friend comes to visit. I wish I had more photos of my precious visitors.

It was awkward for everyone at first!  ‘I used to be normal’,  was one of the first things I’d tell new people I’d encounter after my accident.  For a year or two after my injury, I was on a mission to ensure everyone was as comfortable as possible and knew I grew up walking around just like they did.

Then, at some point I remember having to remind myself that I might want to explain to a new acquaintance about my injury because usually if someone is over 13 or 14 they are too uncomfortable to ask.  Honestly, I would have been the same way had the tables been turned.

There are always the looming questions everyone has: ‘What happened?’ or ‘Were you born this way?’ or ‘What is wrong with you?’

Now, I try to remember to let people know at an appropriate time, but it is common for me to forget to explain because this IS my every day normal.  Really folks, if you have a question, it it ok to ask me!  Believe me, your children will ask!

I have a question for YOU today,  ‘How does it make you feel when you encounter someone with special needs?  What is your ‘go to’ reaction?’

I am not always prepared for others’ in tough situations or with special needs but have never been disappointed when I risked pushing though my discomfort and fear. Now I want my desire for connection to be greater than my desire for protection.  After all, anyone’s life can turn on a dime.

Read on to part 6.

 Blessings to you dear friends. -Madge