Firsts

Our first ambitious trip was a year and a half after my husband’s C7-T1 accident. We took months to plan. In Alaska, we would have to reserve rooms in the posh touristy hotels. There weren’t a lot of options.

We had every detail nailed down, but learned quickly that “accessible room with roll-in shower” meant nothing to a desk clerk. We had already had it with botched reservations when we checked into the Wrangell-St Elias Princess and found yet again no ADA room, which had been promised to us even that morning when we called to triple check.

Such elegance and quiet decorum all around, and I tried to gracefully communicate. No, this other room would not work — the bathroom is too small. But frustrated that all had again gone awry, I heard myself announce firmly to the entire hotel lobby, “My husband will just have to take a crap in the bedroom!” The white-faced clerk disappeared, and when he returned, miraculously, our reserved room was once again available.
Porter and Ann-Toy Broughton
Tetonia, Idaho

* * *

When preparing to attend a disability event at the Arkansas state capitol, I thought I had enough time to fold some laundry before I left. The next thing I knew I was running late. I jumped in my van and drove as if my life depended on it. In the building I noticed all the seating at the back was taken, so I had no choice but to go right up the center of the room to the front row. As I got near the front, where Gov. Mike Huckabee was sitting with many other dignitaries, a squeaking noise got louder and louder. I saw people rocking back and forth with laughter, looked down, and there was a pair of my panties caught in the wheel of my chair. Every time my wheel went around, my giant pair of granny panties flopped in the air! To make matters worse, I was up next to give a speech about “Overcoming Adversity.” So I leaned over and asked the lady beside me if she could find someone with a pair of scissors. The capital maintenance supervisor couldn’t find scissors, but he brought hedge trimmers! Chop, Chop! The entire room broke out in laughter. To this day people laugh when they see me coming.
Sydney Case
Knoxville, Arkansas

* * *

I remember one of the first times falling out of my chair. It was a summer night, and I had had a couple of beers at the local pub. I was rolling up the driveway and must have gone off the side of it, because the next thing I remember, I was lying on my back, looking up at my wheelchair. My friends all came running over to help. I simply looked up at them and said, “Get my blanket and pillow, I’m crashing here tonight.”

They looked at me like I was crazy, but did what was requested. I lay on the ground all night, and really thought for the first time about my accident. That night I decided to stop making excuses and start making goals. Eleven years later, I am married, work full-time, have two sons and a mortgage. And to this day during the summer months, I still lie on the ground and just let my mind go.
Michael McCullough
Yuba City, California

* * *

I was diagnosed with MS in May 1986 and have been a wheelchair user ever since. I have virtually no feeling in my legs or hands. While out with a friend and her husband one evening, I reached under the table to grab my leg, pick it up and put it on top of my other leg. I noticed my friend’s husband shrink down in his seat. Much to everyone’s surprise, I had grabbed his leg instead of mine! We all had a good laugh over that one. Now we are best of friends.
Karen Finley
Erie, Pennsyvania

* * *

My sister and I had just gotten back from our first trip to Hawaii. On our last night there a screw from the armrest on my wheelchair came loose, so we taped it in, since the screw was stripped and we were leaving. As I was getting off the plane at LAX, transferring from the aisle chair to my wheelchair, I completely forgot about the loose screw. I leaned on the armrest, it gave way, and I did a face plant right in the seat of my chair. Of course the airport assistant and my sister were concerned, but I just burst out laughing. That was the first time I ever found having arthritis totally hysterical.
Vicki Smith
Lynwood, California

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