Ramblings on healthcare, medical education, and life with a spinal cord injury
Random header image... Refresh for more!

I’m inspirational? And my first wheelie off a four-inch curb.

Today in Transitions (a group composed of both in-patients and out-patients here at Mount Sinai that meets once weekly), we all shared feelings relating to getting back out in the world.  In-patients talked about how we felt when we got here, how we feel now and what our expectations are for the future; out-patients talked about what their expectations were before leaving, and whether those expectations have been met, exceeded or unmet.  Overwhelmingly, all of the out-patients said their expectations had been exceeded.  They also said they still have a lot they can learn from in-patients.  I never thought I would be complimented in the way I was before the discussion ended.

I was picked on to speak first by the psychologist running the group because “you’re such a smarty pants.”  I told the group that the first several weeks post-injury, I was still pretty much in shock.  The reality of it all certainly hadn’t set in (I still don’t think it all has – it will take a while for it to set in, and part of that will come with dealing with the real world) and even after a few weeks, although I started to realize how different things would be, I still wasn’t happy about things.

I shared that I look to people who come back as out-patients, those who have been in a wheelchair for a long time around here and those I know of elsewhere who’ve been in a chair for a long time.  They all say it took years before they fully came to terms with what happened.  Regardless of whether or not I walk again, I know it will take years for it to all sink in.  Apparently that’s something most people don’t realize after only six weeks.  A lot of that realization for me comes from the program here and the people it puts you in touch with.  Those who’ve lived with this for longer.

We bounced around the room going from out-patient to in-patient to out-patient and so forth.  Then one of the newer in-patients spoke.  His injury was eight weeks ago (mine six), but he’s only been here for two weeks or so.  He said to the entire group that his therapy is at the same time as mine, and so he always sees me in the gym.

“I watch Chris working and pushing himself, and I see the progress he’s making.  He’s my inspiration.  Watching him make such progress inspires me to work harder and push myself so that I too can get to where he’s gotten.”

Wow.  I was absolutely floored by the comments and honestly didn’t know how to react right away.  While I said thank you, it wasn’t enough.  Later in the gym during therapy, we saw each other working out and I waved hi at him and he told his therapist “there’s my inspiration!”  I thanked him again for his kind words and told him how much it meant to me to hear that and how touching it was.  We both encouraged each other to keep working as hard as we have been, and that’s how we can move forward.  Such a kind person, I will definitely be getting to know a new friend better before leaving.

Later in the day, in wheelchair mobility, I was giving the therapist a hard time about the setup and telling him it was too weak and non-challenging.  So he grabbed several ramps and curbs (to simulate how to get around on city streets) and setup a course that involved going up and down two inclines, going up a ramp to a four-inch curb drop to the ground, and then popping up a two-inch curb.  He told the others to stop before the four-inch drop, turn around and back down.  Then he told me to wheelie off it instead.

I rolled past the first up and down ramps with no problem and got up to the edge of the four-inch curb.  He had a strap attached to my chair to be sure I wouldn’t fall.  I popped up into a wheelie near the curb, slowly moved forward and then pushed right off the curb landing on my back two wheels and letting my front casters come down the ground.  It was definitely a LOT smoother than I thought it would be.  I didn’t have to worry about moving my weight forward or backward in the wheelie, I just maintained my existing balance and went right off the edge.  Then popped up over the two-inch curb and used momentum to roll right up onto it with no effort.

On the way back, I wheelied down off the two-inch curb without a problem, then popped my front wheels up the four-inch curb and had to work to push the back wheels up, popped down the ramp, then over the last incline/decline ramp.

All-in-all, it was a heck of a lot of fun.  Wheelies are incredibly fun, and they make some things much safer and easier – if one is careful and follows the right safety precautions.  Don’t try this stuff at home without a properly trained therapist to catch you before you crack your skull open.

Be Sociable, Share!