The darkness is overwhelming…

brown bagI received a text telling me of their imminent arrival in approximately thirty minutes. Following a long half hour wait, I heard car doors shutting and voices getting close to my entryway. I whipped my wheels around to answer that famous ding-dong that soon followed as they promptly pushed the doorbell. After their arduous and adventurous eighteen hour peregrination, they walked in carrying fast-casual eats. They brought a big brown bag brimming with bulky burrito bowls from the famous Chipotle down the street.

We all three sat at the kitchen table dining and discussing their challenging trip. The conversation soon turned into a detailed description of moms schedule for the eleven-day visit. I see them once per year and share the time with the seemingly millions of friends that they have here in Columbus. It is always essential for me to get in where I fit in.

darkI cannot see causing me to reach out for help, but there is no one. The light is being blocked by the magnificently majestic amounts of food that they have brought. Like when a cloud blocks the sun, I can only see a few things, and these items are the only ones that I can reach.

20190716_173808For the first few days, my mom continually cooked meals in the crockpot to freeze. For example, on day one, she made enough chili for a family of four with two growing boys. She prepared it and then put it into Ziploc hard containers for the deep freeze. Mom allowed them to cool on the counter and then placed them in the icebox. She then washed the crockpot by hand and prepared to cook something the next day. She is filling my freezer to the brim with plenty of bean soup, chili, chicken noodle soup, and spaghetti.

cpotThe meals that mom has been cooking leaves an amazingly awesome aroma in the air that no TV dinner or cold sandwich could. I wake up the next morning, and this fantastic aromatic breeze still lingers and covers the smell from my air freshener.

“This place looks like you just moved in a week ago,” my mom pointed out. I quickly said that I did move in a week ago plus two months and then add a full year. Here is the thing I am a guy and tend to put very little concern into how my environment looks. Do not misunderstand me because I keep my place very picked up and leave nothing on the floor. I mean I have four wheels on my wheelchair, but I cannot go four wheeling or off-road in my house. Most days, I am focusing all of my time and energy on one of two things, either water and land therapy or this blog.

indexMy mom and Phil helped me hang some pictures on the walls and a valence on my window. She gave me plenty of great design ideas to give my house that comfortable lived in look. I can continue to work on these creative concepts even when she goes home. However, since the internal image of my house sits so low on my priority list, those concepts will not likely come to fruition. Not to mention that at a thousand miles away from my mom’s enthusiastic encouragement it holds little sway over my follow through.

No road is long with good company.

DO NOT TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO!!!

paragraph oneMy buddy came over with a pizza so that we could have a conversation and mastication. We talked about many things, including how my wheelchair life had begun a few weeks earlier. I was deeply discouraged and disheartened at my new station in life, so this was the focus of our colloquy. I allowed my intensely irrational imagination to run wild on how my existence in a wheelchair would look. My profoundly creative brain showed me a purgatory on earth. This perdition would have roads made of gravel and friends and family on a sandy beach that I could not traverse.

3.6 million people in the world over the age of 15 use wheelchairs to assist in their mobility. However, the idea of being stuck in this seated contraption permanently unsettled me to the core. It made me more nervous than boot camp for the Marine Corps. I lived alone in a house that was built in the early 1950s, and it was not remotely wheelchair accessible. I did not have the mandatory moving money to make my residence better. I could see that this new wheelchair life would be a constant uphill battle deeply embedded with my blood, sweat, and tears.

wheelchairI still did not have a way to get in and out of my house using this new wheeled mechanism. My friend happened to know the right person at his church to ask for help with this radically ramping riddle. There were some minor back and forth conversations, trying to figure out exactly what was needed for the requirements of my house. More importantly, we had to wait for winter to end before they could begin construction on my new elevation inclination. Building this big beautiful bridge took four gentlemen an entire weekend to construct.

first aidMy friend, who had been in the Air Force, realized that the best thing that he could do for me was to challenge me. He told me that if I did a 5k race in my chair that he would walk with me, and together we would conquer this beast. This new goal of mine had me searching for a 5k race in Columbus that would fit my needs. This monster had to have a few things like a first aid lodge, bathrooms, and a place at the halfway point to stop and eat lunch. Apparently, for a 3.1-mile race, they do not include those amenities, so I settled for a first aid tent and banana at the end of the race.

Once my new elevated entry was complete, it was time to start training for this complex competition. I knew that I needed a way to track my distance without using a paper map and a ruler. Then I learned the true meaning behind “there is an app for that” as I found a plethora of distance tracking apps. Once the user presses the start button on their smartphone, several things happen. The phone uses GPS and tracks to within twenty-five feet of its fixed location. I found an app that I liked, then I downloaded and set up an account to tally my trip totals.

thOn the first distance trip, I planned on conquering the world or at least traversing a few miles. Sadly it did not take me long to realize that I did not yet have the muscles that a race like this demanded. On day one, I completed an excruciatingly exhausting 0.2 miles. I now understood that this training would take more time than I thought and there were now only four months until race day.

brhsEvery day I wheeled around my neighborhood and watched my distance grow regularly. I met some perfectly pleasant people, and I explained my 5k goal. While I trekked around the community, I celebrated every milestone that I achieved. I saw several people frequently as some walked dogs, and others walked part of my practice trip alongside me. My circuitous route took me around a school several times and all through my neighborhood. I watched as nearly every day and more quickly than I expected my distance crept higher and higher.

The night before the 5k, my friend again brought pizza to palaver and discuss the next day’s procedures. He reminded me to get plenty of sleep that night and to eat somethingin the morning not too heavy. We talked about when he would pick me up and what I would wear for this 3.1-mile marathon.

Four months after starting this dynamic distance drill was game day, it was time to put up or shut up. Now was when I needed to put my big boy pants on and show the world, or at least those that showed up, what I could do. My nerves were shaking more than a guitar string playing heavy metal music.

I spoke with the correct person and requested to start the race early. I was in a wheelchair and move slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, so I wanted to get an early launch. I was hoping for an hour head start but was allowed to leave just after the kids and ten minutes before the runners.

20190630_155227The race was excessively, excruciatingly, exhaustingly long at 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles to be exact. Of all of the wheelchair users that day I came in first place and got my picture in the newspaper. So after exactly four months and one day of training and starting with 0.2 miles, I completed 4.11 miles that day.

When you are told that you can’t, do it and prove that you can.