I emphatically love dogs. Going on walks with mine is often the highlight of my day. Often times, though, walking dogs can be tiresome. Especially when you have energetic dogs! They tend to need more walks then I can give them in pushing strength through my manual wheelchair.
While down at my father’s over the long weekend I asked him if I could borrow the scooter. (He has kept one there for me to use around his property.). He was happy to lend it to me.
That was the best idea! Now Chancey and Grace get really good excercise. On top of that; each dog (walked separately) gets some quality time to bond with me.
If you have dogs, and have a disability, maybe you already have a scooter and walk your dogs often. If not, I want to recommend you try it. See if it revolutionizes your dog walks the way it has mine. Until next time…
For those of you who have followed my blog, you’ll notice I have a new dog. Yep, that’s my Doberman Pinscher, named Grace.
Some of you may be pondering the thought of a guy in a wheelchair owning a Doberman Pinscher. I get that. I mean…a small guy in a wheelchair walking a Doberman Pinscher on the square will attract some looks!
On top of that I used to be terrified of dogs!
So why a Doberman?
Dobermans are one of the smartest breeds in the world. On top of being watch dogs, they make excellent companions.
2 . Activity
For those of us with Spina Bifida, I believe being active is so important. I have fought kidney stones most of my adult life. I believe,in part, due to inactivity.
Dogs in general give me purpose. When I had to go on disability, I had lost my sense of purpose. For many years after, I remained in a depression. I was bitter at everyone around me, too. Then I met a dog trainer who taught me all about dogs.
Til this day I continue to learn about dog behavior. She helped me find my purpose. Now I can help others understand their dogs. love Chancey and Grace. Having dogs has been the best thing to ever happen. They gave me purpose. Whether you have a disability, or not, having a purpose makes the biggest difference. If you haven’t found yours; find someone who knows you well. Ask them to help you find it. It’ll make a difference.
Today Chancey and I hung out at the farm. She runs and I roll back and forth over this whole driveway approximately 5 times on any given day.
As a person in a wheelchair it isn’t easy to roll through gravel. There is definitely a resistance when rolling through it. Much like any other resistance I have faced due to my disability, whether dealing with accessibility or issues related to Spina Bifida, I have built up endurance to many trials I have faced.
The first reason is due to my unwavering faith in Jesus. Secondly, encouragement from friends and family who have walked the “gravel” with me.
After pushing hard almost daily, it has become easier to roll through the gravel. I never gave up nor will I ever give up.
The past few months someone has come over on a weekly basis and helped get confident in cooking. This is one of the most difficult things I have had to overcome. The confidence didn’t come easy. Thankfully someone invested their time in me and helped me learn. Today, I can make a very good meatloaf. I can’t also make baked chicken, stuffed chicken (I stuff with roasted red peppers) I have learned to make cobblers several other foods.
In the picture, I’m sitting on a stool which I bought today because the only thing I was missing in cooking was being able to use the stove. I tried using a mirror. It was helpful to some degree, but I really wanted to get up to it.
Since I am cooking more, I have a lot more energy. Although this past week I have not felt like cooking because I have a UTI. I started on antibiotics yesterday and today was already prepared to cook green beans.
I went from no confidence to great confidence in my cooking. I’m very glad I didn’t let fear of cooking hold me back. It truly has made a difference.
From the earliest moments in my childhood I was taught to never stare at other people because it was rude. Here’s the catch; I got stared at a lot! With the stares came uncomfortable questions: “Why are you so little?”
Of course that led to a sense of insecurity. Between my secondary issues I faced mostly as a kid, and all the stares, sometimes going to school was not so much fun.
Today, people still stare at me. Especially little kids. For me, it’s interesting to watch the parent’s response. The parent’s are often put in a very uncomfortable place.
How one mom changed my thinking.
I was shopping for groceries one day when a mom came up to me and asked if her child could approach me to ask a couple of questions.
Naturally, I wasn’t going to turn and roll away. The child wanted to know why I was in a wheelchair and why I was so small.
I could see that this child wasn’t staring at me just because I looked differently. This child was staring out of curiosity.
I don’t remember how I answered, but I do remember thanking the mom for allowing her child to learn something about me and from me.
While staring is viewed as rude to the general public, I have learned that staring can be valuable if it honors the person of whom is being stared.
To any parent who faces this awkward moment, I would encourage you to go up to the person in a wheelchair and simply ask if they can speak to your child.
If you’re the person in a wheelchair, I hope you will take the time speak to a curious child who wants to ask uncomfortable questions.
I believe the more we are educated about one another, no matter whether it involves a disability or not, the highest walls can be torn down and we’ll have the opportunity to see each other as people created in the image of God.
Several years ago I was being prepared for a surgery to remove staghorn stones in both kidneys and bladder.
Unfortunately, they apparently I began to bleed profusely. They stopped the bleeding temporarily. Overnight I kept bleeding and the next morning my blood pressure was so low I needed a blood transfusion.
The next evening the chaplain came into see me. I asked him how he was doing. He told me that he was having a bad day. Here I was, just having a blood transfusion, I have sores on my body, and he’s telling me he feels bad.
Maybe it was the voice of God, but I felt compelled to pray for him. Despite the fact that I looked worse than him lying on a hospital bed.
God showed me this night that even though I may have looked worse, I had gone through surgeries all of my life, while perhaps this chaplain may have been experiencing something he had never been through. Who was I to judge whether my day was worse? Common sense was not making sense that night.
Was this the Romans 8:28 Scripture coming to fruition? Well, it sure did me good and I believe God was glorified.
As a person with a disability whose life has been filled with trials, I’m grateful that I continue to learn how to see things from a heavenly perspective.
All of my life I have had some talent in music. The first time I knew I had an “ear” for music was when I was around 5 or so watching Sesame Street. I don’t know where it came from, but I sure was playing each note of Sesame Street on my guitar! From there I got some lessons and learned the basic chords which helped my ear as well. As time went on I was able to play anything that I listened to back then. From KISS to Led Zepplin, To Tom T. Hall, I had a wide range of ability to pick out the tunes and play them on my guitar.
Later in life I began playing the harmonica. This is when I really began seeing my potential. I picked it up so fast. The worship leader at my church gave me a chance to play with them. Today we play together along with other members of the church band at an assisted living place.
By no means am I a great guitar or harmonica player. I have a lot of growing to do. However, I recognize I have a lot of potential.
I believe that whether we are disabled or not, we all that spark of potential within us. With the help of friends, I was able to find mine.
Perhaps you have experienced this, too. One day I was with someone in a restaurant when the server took our order. It went something like this: “What will you have?” (speaking to the person I am with) Then, “What will he have?” The server mistakenly thought I could not speak for myself I guess because I had a clear disability. At first I was offended. Then instead of letting that fester, I answered the person and gave them my order.
I remember another time during a church event years ago when one of the people in the group who led the event would not even look at me as I was introducing myself. That person eventually spoke to me and shared why.
Yes, there are times when people cannot look past my wheelchair to see me. If this has happened to you, you know the feeling.
Lately I have started inviting the servers to have a seat beside me when taking the order. This helps them get to know me better, and it makes them feel more at ease if they aren’t use to someone with a disability.
Last night I was very impressed with my pastor when I went up to him and wanted to share something deeply important to me. He didn’t stand there and talk: he got on the floor and looked me in the eyes and listened. It’s not always necessary to do this. But it is a great way to communicate with someone in a wheelchair.
People will continue to make decisions based on what they see rather than who they see. I will continue to invite them to sit by me and have a conversation. That’s one of the reasons I started Roll Model Movement; to build bridges of understanding. In the words of the Christian music artist, Matthew West, “Grace Wins Every Time”.
In Elementary school I was rather popular for spelling bees. Especially in third grade. Our school had lots of spelling bees. There was one in particular that I will never forget. My class went up against another class. Unfortunately, my class as a whole wasn’t up to par that day as their spelling was incorrect to the point that I was eventually the only one left in my class competing against most of the kids in the other.
Not to fear. I was very confident in my ability to spell. That ability slowly but surely led me to win the spelling bee for my class that day. I remember after I won everybody in my class shouted with joy! That was a great feeling.
While spelling bees added to a lot of joy in Elementary School, my secondary issues related to Spina Bifida were not.
During those days, I had what was called an illio conduit. It was a small hole in my tummy that drained urine into a urostomy bag. When it leaked I was afraid that others might notice so I would quickly get my teacher’s permission to leave the class and go call my mom to come take me home to change. I was scared that the kids might notice (to which they did) that I had on different clothes when returning to school. I remember thinking to myself with each occurrence, “I wish had two pair of every piece of clothing I wear.”
Using the restroom at school was an everyday stress,too. When I went into the stall to drain my bag, there was always a kid climbing the stall to see if they could see how I used the restroom. Sometimes 2 or 3 at a time!
As time has gone on I’ve learned to be up front and open about my secondary issues. That has helped me live a better social life as well as helped me trust others. Sometimes I look back and wonder if things would have been different if I had just been more transparent about it.
When I turned around 20 I had an operation so that I would be able to remove the conduit so that I could use the bathroom like any other male; the only exception was that I used and still use disposable catheters. Believe it or not, that surgery lasted 14 and a half hours. But it was worth it if I could live a more normal life.