Four Traits of a Great Rehab Therapist

Reading time: 4 minutes

Note: the type of therapists I’m referring to are physical and occupational, the main type that I worked with when I was in rehab. I’ll just say therapist for the rest of this article.

Disclaimer: I’m not a physical or occupational therapist, these are my views through my experience and preference. This will say more about me and what I value, and may not be universal, but I do believe that I’ve learned enough in a multidisciplinary way that these traits will be common among great therapists that create a great experience (which I’ve had)

Trait 1: The Unaffected State

“State,” meaning the emotional state. The state you’re in.
Basically, this comes down to being in a good mood and having come from within and not letting it be affected from without. When in rehab I had already had good state control, and because of this people enjoyed being around me because I was an anchor for good emotions.
For a therapist to be in a good mood is very important. There will undoubtedly be people in rehab who take the pessimistic view of their circumstance and drag down anyone around them. A therapist who doesn’t get dragged down will eventually bring up the person who is unhappy.
A therapist will be more helpful to whoever they work with because if that person has a bad day or moment, they will need that anchor or a hand to pull them back to.
You can imagine going into a room full of therapists and all of them being cheerful, even if a few of the patients aren’t. This is obviously the type of environment you would want.

Trait 2: Lighthearted

Lighthearted, also known as being playful and not taking things so seriously. Being able to make a few jokes and have some fun is essential.
When I was in rehab, there was a point I got to where I would go out into the city with a therapist and we would just do whatever. We went around to random stores, got some Starbucks, got a doughnut, and had a fun little excursion.
There are times to be serious in rehab, but I can’t think of any. Why not have some fun in everything you’re doing. Banter and joke.

Trait 3: Tough Love

This one I think is most important, especially for making progress.
I had and always have expectations of myself higher than anyone else will, so I pushed myself beyond what the therapists were pushing me, but they soon picked up on it. When I did boxing, I would intentionally push my trainer’s buttons so that he would make me do extra pushups.
When putting tough love into action, it looks like setting big goals, trying things almost certain to fail, and really pushing. I seldom wanted help, I wanted to either succeed or fall on the ground and then learn how to get back up (maybe with some help).
I remember once in rehab I had gotten too much help and went away feeling like I could’ve done more if I didn’t get so much help.
So, I think it’s crucial to always push, especially in rehab. People don’t want pity, they want someone who pushes them higher.
Not everyone will progress as rapidly as I had in 4 weeks of rehab, but I’m willing to bet everyone can do more than they initially think.

At Shirley Ryan, where I went for rehab in Chicago, the main goal is called Mod-I, for modified independence. Mod-I means that by the end of rehab, the person will, at least, be able to live alone. In the first session I had with a therapist, I told them I wanted to be at Mod-I in 3 days.
That is the philosophy I think is important to adopt in rehab or anything. I wanted to set big goals, and if I failed, then I would still be further along than if I set a smaller goal and achieved it.
In rehab, it was set up such that there would be 1-hour blocks of therapy where I work on a new skill. There were only two things that took me more than 1 session to get to a 90% mastery (being able to do it on my own). Being pushed and given the proper tough love from all the nurses and therapists who always expected more of me is what helped me to achieve so much.

Trait 4: Adventure

Along with having some fun, how about trying something a little crazy?
I tried out a mountain bike while at rehab and took it up a set of stairs. When I was practicing walking and connected to a harness that was then attached to a rail system on the ceiling, I had them elevate me off the ground and I did some gliding around.
For therapists, encouraging people to do something outside of their comfort zone or trying something a little whacky will always make for a good story and experience. Safety first because of legal restrictions, but the truth is I wish I fell over once or twice because in the real world people fall over and get hurt. I’d rather take a risk when I’m with a therapist and already in rehab rather than leave and have to come back just as I was adjusting.

The final line of this article is to remind you that my Instagram documents my entire rehab progress, you can see and read everything I did to get an idea of what a great rehab experience is. My therapists, doctors, and nurses were the best. I’ve tried to categorize what I think made them amazing and in turn, made me amazing.

Immediate actionable items: Send someone a thank you letter today or tomorrow for helping you in some way

Summary: When it comes to being a great therapist (as all mine were/are) the essential traits are to have good emotions, a mindset geared towards tough love and having fun(banter and adventure), and not taking any of it too seriously.

Overdeliver: To all those who have worked with me, I still remember everything, and you’re appreciated.

Gear/Tools of the Month: Warm Winter Pants for Paraplegics!

Reading time: 3 minutes

Anti-disclaimer: I don’t make any money from the links below. And now begin:

I don’t like pants, never have. They’re just too restricting of my manly freedom.

However, I own a lot of pants, because for the most part I’m a fashionable guy.

The problem we face here is that there aren’t many great options for warm pants. And to be clear, by warm pants I mean the pants keep you warm. Not to be confused with pants made for warm weather, which are easily found.

A lot of people, including myself, just wear normal pants in the winter, snow pants for snow-activities and sometimes thermals under the pants when going to a Christmas parade.

If you’re in a wheelchair, get cold easily, or have poor circulation to your legs, then having warm pants in the winter is as important as wool socks and good boots.

The problem is that warm pants aren’t a huge category, and the options are spread out across many sources, such as REI, Eddie Bauer, and other individual brands.

For credibility purposes: I’ve lived in the north country for a few years now and I’m still waiting for winter to end.

Here we go, a list of everyday pants that are cold weather ready!

Eddie Bauer lined pants – a variety of styles, all with an extra layer on the inside to keep you extra warm. I personally like Eddie Bauer and own a good bit of clothes from them.

Women’s –

Men’s –

Found within REI:

REI brand sweatpants – I have a pair of these, they’re very nice and I suspect any girlfriend of mine will be wearing them when I’m not.

Men’s –

Women’s –

Bjorn Daepheli – I don’t know much about this brand, but they seem to have good options.

Men’s –

Women’s –

Smartwool – making up 80% of my socks, I know these will be good, though keep in mind that if you’re caught in the snow, you might want to wear waterproof shell pants over any of these.

Men’s –

Women’s –

Columbia – my winter boots are the best that Columbia offers and they perform like it, so I trust Columbia to deliver.

Men’s –

Women’s – Unfortunately, Columbia only offers the men’s. Women could still wear them if they please.

Patagonia – after reading the book, let my people go surfing in a weekend, I’ve been more aware of sustainable and durable clothing. I’m partial to Patagonia for these reasons.

Men’s –

Women’s –

Under Armour – I have an outfit of coldgear and as in the name, it’s gear made for the cold. This kept me rather warm in the cutting cold wind of Chicago.

Men’s –

Women’s –

There are many other things you can do. You can buy base layers – – and wear them under any pair of pants, but then you have to put on two pairs of pants. You could also wear snow pants, there are some you can find that are pretty thin and look mostly like normal pants. Some snow pants can be found here – – further filter will be needed.

Immediate actionable items: If you live where the winters get cold, get some cozy pants.

Summary: Lots of sources to get warm pants

Overdeliver:  If this isn’t sufficient for you, you can go to places similar to REI and Cabela’s and search “lined pants,” “winter pants,” (though you’ll likely get more snow pants), “warm pants,” “heavyweight pants,” “fleece pants.”

Or any other keywords you can muster, but pants will be a constant.

You may have noticed that a lot of these pants were made for winter sports. When I’m looking for something warm or lightweight, I look to the most extreme sports and find the best performing gear.

Disability Leadership by Default

Reading time: 2 minutes

I’ve mentioned this before, but like many things, it takes repetition of many forms to understand something. Thinking about it from many angles and using different words or analogies.

When it comes to leadership, it can be found in many little ways. You may not be a leader, and that’s alright, not everyone is meant to be a leader. But, there will be times when people look to you.

Specifically, my experience is with using a wheelchair and going out to do something. When I go over to a house full of who I call my adopted family, they have to lift me up about 8-10 steps to get to the front door.

In a situation like that, where people have to lift you up some stairs, who do you reckon they look to?

You have to be ready, with confidence, to tell people what needs to be done. There is no “maybe do this,” there is only a definitive.

If you’re truly unsure, then you have to tell them that you’re thinking out loud, have them try a few things as you think through what would work best, but after enough experience, you should be able to tell people exactly how to do it. They get their confidence through you.

Don’t make the people helping think hard about how to help. They’re likely nervous and possibly a bit uncomfortable with so much responsibility if you fall. Tell them what to do.

People around you will take their cues from you. This goes from helping to knowing if it’s appropriate to make a few jokes. When it comes to jokes, I’ve never been serious about using a wheelchair and I’ve never been offended.

Something I hear a lot is, “I’m okay with it if you’re okay with it.” That’s what inspired me to write this. The realization that people, when saying that, are really saying that they’re taking cues from me, my confidence will give them confidence to help and try something.

Immediate actionable items: If you’re in a wheelchair, create a mental database of things you commonly need help with (getting up stairs maybe) and have a few ways that work so you know how to get help.

Summary: Imagine you’re getting in your car, you’re in a wheelchair and a bloke comes up and asks if you need help. You say yes. That person won’t know what to do next, you need to also tell them how they can help. That’s a type of leadership.

Overdeliver: If you want to do adventurous things, be comfortable with getting help, have confidence in directing help, be willing to take on new challenges, and then remember to take a few pictures.

The Most Accessible Thing in the World

Reading time: 2 minutes

It’s not a ramp.

It’s people.

And right away, that makes sense even though that may not have been your first thought when reading the title.

Buttons to open doors are nice, ramps are helpful, technology that allow people like Stephen Hawking to change the world is really great.

But it all comes from people who care. Of course, there are people who don’t care, and why should they? There just isn’t a reason for everyone to care, but those that do care have a good reason. A good reason enough to dedicate their lives to making the world accessible to everyone for disabilities of the physical and mental kind.

This is something I hadn’t truly realized until lately. I was thinking about how it doesn’t matter where I go, as long as there are good people around or coming with me, then accessibility is the help I can get.

While applying for internships, places such as Microsoft come to mind and they’re phenomenal with accessibility, which is really nice. But I also think sometimes that, at least for me, it doesn’t matter as much as the culture and the people. If it’s an accessible culture, then they’ll carry me up the stairs, or as an engineering company, they would maybe create some jetpack thing.

When I go out on trails with my friend, I don’t feel like a burden (ever), but it’s impossible to feel a bit bad that it’s all about me. And not that I’m uncomfortable with having the spotlight, but I’m a host and when I go out to do something with my friends, I want to make sure we’re all having a memorable, danger zone experience. It’s hard to do that when everyone has to focus on me and helping my get around and then we all end up missing that serene feeling that comes with a slow walk through a beautiful trail.

For most people with disabilities (not me, so I could be wrong because I don’t have direct experience), there could be a feeling of not-belonging. An inferiority complex could arise, especially if the person is disabled throughout their developing years. That is why a community of accessible culture is more important than anything, with technology as a very close second.

There are doubtless some disabilities where a culture won’t completely suffice, such as ones that truly need help from technology and can’t be replaced by a human, but even then, it takes a team of dedicated engineers and wicked smart people who care to help create that technology.

It’s all about the people, it always has been.

Immediate actionable items: Are you a member of the accessible community? Someone who has a bias for action to help others? Probably.

Summary: the most accessible thing in the world is a caring community.

Overdeliver:  Something I’ve decided to try and do instead of going somewhere and buying a memento is to go and create a moment. At a store, or traveling, or anywhere possible – try to create a memorable time and leave a (good) mark on every part of the world you go to. But don’t try too hard, it’s unbecoming.

A Loud Descent – Selected Story

Reading time: 4 minutes

I had a feeling that they weren’t working, I was hungry and my brain hurt, and I really hate wasting time. I knew exactly what to do, and I was oddly happy to do it.

In college, in an Electrical Engineer and a Computer Engineer, double major baby. On a rather chilly day in the evening I was walking on campus to go to the electrical engineering building (EERC) for one of my labs.

I head in and there’s a line for the elevators (lifts), only one of three are working, the other two are under maintenance. The one working is also the smallest, and has to bring people to a combination of 8 floors each trip, and stopping along the way down to pick people up.

I don’t like to wait in lines, and honestly, I could’ve easily jumped ahead in this one because for me, the elevator is arguably necessary, maybe not for getting to the second floor, but for getting to the 6th floor, not many people would argue. And besides, others can actually take the stairs.

I decided not to use my line pass and just went and talked with a friend for a while. I call it networking in motion, like when I have phone calls while cooking or driving.

Once I got to my lab, I did lab stuff that lasted the allotted time, then left.

This is when I went to the elevators, noticed that both the up and down buttons were lit up, and my intuition told me lifts aren’t working. I pushed the buttons a few times just in case and waited about 1 minute.

In some form of satire, in the EERC, the elevators are almost constantly breaking down and getting worked on. This wasn’t a surprise, and because I’ll be having a lot of my classes in that building, I reckoned there will be a few times I either can’t get up or can’t get down (with the elevators).

Luckily, I’m awesome and as soon as I knew the elevators weren’t working, I got a bit excited at the notion of my having to go down the stairs. Without hesitation, I went over to the door to get to the stairwell and immersed myself in the challenge.

I went up to the first of 12 sets of stairs, lined myself up, grabbed the rail, and plopped down. I actually went pretty fast, at some points I had lost a bit of control and hanging on to the rail was only keeping me upright, not controlling my speed.

With each stair, an echoing thump could be heard from my chair, I hoped no one would think someone was getting hurt. I did see a few people along the way, we talked for a bit and then parted (they went up as I went down). It must’ve been rather amusing, or eccentric to see someone in a wheelchair at coming down at the 4th floor.

I’m sure that bloke went back and told someone about me, which makes for two good stories to come of this. And makes me a bit more famous.

I later found out that my intuition was right, the elevators were shut off, but it wasn’t routine, so it wont happen at the same time again. Also, there’s a red phone to call for help somewhere around there, but honestly, It’s much easier to skip and hop down the stairs than wait for someone to fix the lift.

What will give you an idea of how little this upset me is that I was a bit more bothered that I was wearing an jacket too heavy for the weather and sweating a fair amount because of it. I actually love when I get some surprises and challenges, otherwise, for me, life is just to boring. I want things to happen, I want to overcome obstacles and struggle, I want to be challenged and always a good story to tell later on.

PS, you like that drop cap?

People in Wheelchairs Have Gotta Get Away

Reading time: 2 minutes

This is something on my mind and one of those rare occurrences where I will indict myself and say, “do as I say, not as I do.”

At the time of my writing this, there is a global pandemic. But I write for the future as well as the present, so viruses aside, here’s what I have to say this week.

Unconditionally, going outside – preferably in nature or with people around – is beneficial for your mental health.

Go outside. Go for a walk. Go downtown unless it’s closed for the virus.

Too often people aren’t going outside and unless they have a really good reason to do something, people will migrate towards the most convenient thing. It could be laying down, watch TV, social media, eat, or doing something not necessary or the best use of time.

Especially for those that are in a wheelchair or have a seeming obstacle to going outside, this is why you must do it.

When I was getting my car, I sent a message out to a group and asked for car advice. Someone in a wheelchair sent me a long message raving and praising minivans and telling me that I absolutely need to get one.

I am adamantly against minivans on the grounds that I don’t like them. I can’t be persuaded otherwise, however, the argument I was told by that person along with many others who don’t share my taste in vehicles was that it would be easy to get in and out, which does matter.

It wasn’t the minivan that people loved, but the value it can give to those in wheelchairs – reducing effort to go out.

It’s true – getting in and out of a van or some maddingly modified vehicle is about as easy as opening the front door and walking in.

If it’s such an endeavor to get in and out of your car, the likelihood of not going anywhere will increase. It’s how everyone is. Ask someone if they want to go somewhere but then tell them they need to do 50 pushups first and watch as they reason how staying home is better because they have dishes to wash anyway.

I’m giving you an order, even in the thickest snow, hardest rain, and repelling heat, go outside and remind yourself that you’re in the world.

Don’t be a hermit that stays inside all the time, too many people have told me stories of people in wheelchairs who become secluded and never leave.

Of course, there are some exceptions, such as myself with college where I do find myself inside much of the time studying, however, I’m not afraid to get out and have an adventure or fall over a few times. Even so, I should be going out for a walk by the water at least once every few days, and I’ll start doing so.

Immediate actionable items: Mark times to go outside on your calendar. The first thing in the morning is best because as the day progresses, more will come up and you’ll find an excuse to not go outside.  Write down, “I will do ____ every X days.” as a contract to your mental and physical health.

Summary: If you’re in a wheelchair or have any obstacle of any type, that is no excuse to not go outside at least once a day and go for a walk, see some people, see some trees. It’s easy to stay inside, which is why going outside is so necessary.

Overdeliver:  Marking things on your calendar make you more likely to commit to doing them. Have a friend go with you to make it more enjoyable or go alone and take time to think and be present in the world.

Having someone else makes both of you accountable for the other and it’ll become something you look forward to.  

Happy Birthday Stephen – Pictures from Life

October 2nd is my brother’s 18th birthday (2020). I think he’s pretty cool, not to be sentimental or anything.

Go give him the love he deserves. (view profile)

We have heaps of pictures from our childhood all the way through to now, but here are the ones I could find in 5 minutes since I’m going to bed soon.

Some are good, some are funny, some are explicit. And most will have context supplied below.

Press play then start scrolling:

This is from a long time ago, probably in Chicago.
He also takes after me for being a stud. (you can clearly see when this was taken).
This is in Canada right before a meeting. We kept the facial hair on.
This is him at a gymnastics meet a very long time ago.
We went to the Bahamas for a cruise and got burnt
In the Bahamas again, before we got burnt. (We’ve done 2 cruises)
We went on a trail and he literally moves a tree out of the way.
In Africa doing a mission trip (Ghana), we got tailor made shirts and look rather charming.
At EAA. Holes in the socks and a stick for defense.
The photographer
Pictured Rocks, my friend Matt took us out for a float.
This was a while ago. Obviously on a bridge.
Apple a day.
Charming and slightly rebellious. Not shown here, but we’ve done some dangerous and spontaneous things
HHAHAHHAHA, he once shaved his head. Lots of confidence, this guy
At some fort. We have matching necklaces from Africa.
It can’t be some pictures without some sleep.
At a Christmas lights garden trail, he was illogically cold and pushed me through a half mile of wet mulch.

Finally, here is what will probably be our greatest contribution to the world. Watch all of these, if you think you can handle it.

My brother is likely the best younger brother, making me the best older brother. Maybe some day I’ll let him be player 1 when we play Lego Star Wars. Until then, we’ll keep up our shenanigans and push the limits of what we can get away with.

Paraplegic Gears/Tools of the Month: Lumbar Baby

Reading time: 1 minutes

Short, simple. Gear of the month.

The Problem:

If you’re in a wheelchair, or sit down for any length of time, then you’re likely to have bad posture. It’s not your fault. Most seats aren’t designed for great posture.

My car, and most others, have bucket seats that really sink you in. As soon as I sit in my car, I can feel the poor posture, and for the many hours I’ve spent driving, it’s crazy to think I would ever tolerate such a seat.

The same goes for my wheelchair, I find that it sucks me in and I struggle to sit up straight. Not only do I look less cool, but I feel less awesome.

I don’t know of many backrests on wheelchairs that have lumbar support, same for most chairs, couches, and cars.

I’m definitely not a doctor. I don’t eat veggies, and that instantly disqualifies me, but at the end of this post, there will be an article to shock you with how unhealthy sitting is and if you don’t believe it still, try and find credible sources that say sitting IS healthy. You’ll probably find some because the internet has a knack for that, but then go to medical school and see if you still don’t believe sitting is bad. Or just sit for a while and see how you feel.

This issue is especially important with those in wheelchairs who sit quite literally all day. Having a straight back and good posture will go a very long way, as will adequate back exercises.

The solution:

Lumbar support for paraplegics.

Invest in your health and you’ll live longer to invest in whatever else you please.

Here are some options that I find agreeable:

For the wheelchair: The Original McKenzie Slimline Lumbar Support

Let me tell you, this is about the only suitable one I could find. In a wheelchair, you don’t need much, and a lot of them are overwhelming. This is slim enough, it shouldn’t push you so far forward and out of your chair.

For the car/office chair: Lumbar Support Pillow

For the anywhere: BraceUP Stabilizing Lumbar Lower Back Brace

Why sitting down is bad, and poor posture is worse.

If you can stand, whether in leg braces or because you’re not in a wheelchair, do it. Stand up.

Necessity and Creativity for the Paraplegic

Reading time: 2.5 minutes

Dying of thirst, an eagle was flying over a rather dry area looking for what it needed badly, water.
When the eagle passed over a hut that had left out a vase of water, it landed and tried to drink the crystal water. After struggling with no success – the water was low and out of reach for the eagle – and knowing that it needed this water, the eagle knew it had to get creative.
Tipping the vase over wouldn’t work. The eagle thought for a while, and then thinking “if only there were a way to make the vase shorter by raising the bottom.” Then, the eagle went around collecting rocks and dropped them in the vase until the water level came within reach.

You may have heard a similar story, but with a crow. I read this in my Aesop’s fables book, but I like eagles more than crows, and I added some detail.

Everyone is, in some way, unique.

Or at least we all think we are, and so I don’t expect anyone to disagree with that.

You can interpret that fable in any way you like but the intention is to show that necessity drives creativity. That isn’t the only place creativity is found, but necessity always leads to creativity if there is an obstacle. Food is necessary, but I don’t have to get creative because the market is nearby.
If I were hunting in the wilderness with Boone, I would likely have to get creative in finding the next meal for my family.

You can find that almost anywhere you see creativity, there is a necessity and an obstacle between what’s needed and what is currently being done.

If you think deeply about things you might’ve wondered what really is necessity? Not what we consider a necessity, but what makes us consider things a necessity. The answer is belief. Which may not seem much different.

If you don’t strongly believe that something is necessary, you won’t care to get creative and solve problems.

Here’s an observation on my life. I go to the gym every day, now that I use a wheelchair, I have to get creative if I want to have a good workout and do the exercises that I want. In the gym, when I’m doing some crazy workout, people would come up to me and tell me that it’s smart or creative and ask how I came up with it. Well, I believed that I had to do it, and that necessity inhibited my creativity.

If you don’t like going to the gym or you don’t believe it’s necessary for you to do, then you won’t go in and put in the effort to figure things out in an unconventional way.

Where our beliefs come from is a larger topic, but this is an observation you can make of yourself quite easily if you’re in a wheelchair.

People in wheelchairs, or anyone with a disability of any type will, by that nature, have obstacles in life.

Unconditionally, everyone faces obstacles, and we either turn the other way if we don’t believe that we have to overcome, or we get creative and persist.

The purpose of talking to you about this is to have you realize the strengths and development gained from things such as being in a wheelchair.

It isn’t all good using a wheelchair, but it has driven me to observe more, visualize more, get creative, figure things out, and learn about myself and where my true beliefs are.

These skills will help in every area of my life and now I have experience, maybe not professional, but the gym is still a good place.

Immediate actionable items: Think about a time that you had to get creative to solve a problem, and think about what that says about your beliefs of what’s necessary. Stories of creativity are good during interviews, parties, and for introspection.

Summary: Our beliefs determine what we consider to be necessary, and if obstacles arise, as they often do, we will get creative. This is especially relevant for those in wheelchairs in a world of mountains, but it only makes us better when we get creative.
And most of our beliefs are created by our behaviors, which is why you will never belief what you do to be bad, or “that bad.”

Overdeliver:  A quote I read every morning, I don’t recall where I got it from, but it says, “when the values are clear, the decisions are easy.” Being fully aware of your values and beliefs will help you easily make decisions and when you do something you believe is necessary, nothing will stop you.

Falling in Limbo – Selected Story

Reading time: 4 minutes

It’s not every morning I look in the mirror and wink at myself. I was feeling particularly great. I dressed up more than usual, great contrast to my average engineering outfit of pants and a t-shirt.

While I was living in Appleton, working at Kimberly-Clark, and a co-worker told me about an event going on at the local college. It was a book talk, the type of fireside chat an author might do when promoting a newly published book.

The author was Brad Smith, which sounds like the most average name ever, but he’s the president of Microsoft, which makes him someone that I want to listen to. I take any opportunity to be around people like him or the type of people that go to listen to him.

My colleague ended up not being able to go, so I had to go alone, which was fine because going alone places means that I can do more of my own thing.

I’m the type of person who always likes to have a plan, which can include winging-it and having no plan, but I plan for that. Now I have to plan a bit more because of being in a wheelchair. When I was signing up for this event – free for students – I emailed the event coordinator and mentioned that I’ll be in a wheelchair. She mailed back with instructions on where to park and where to go after.

Something worth highlighting is that this was an event free for students and that I am, but not of this school. I doubt they intended any student who was in the area to be able to attend for free, but while signing up online, it only asked about being a student and didn’t specify where.

I read through the instructions twice, washed behind my ears, and left early. If I’m not early, I’m late. Something can always go wrong, or an opportunity may arise, either way, I’d like to handle both without anxiety driven haste.

After I park, I head over to the building the talk will be at. It’s right next to a main road with a good bit of traffic. This is one of those campuses with building scattered around and mixed in with city streets and random buildings.

I go up to the main door, it opens, and I go in. But then there’s another set of doors right after, and right after that is a set of stairs. Nothing I can’t handle, just a few. I go to open the second door and it’s locked. Alright, so I go out and go around to the other side of the building and find another set of doors. Glass doors, so I can see through them and what I saw was just a bigger set of stairs just a meter after the doors. But I can see that at the top of the stairs and past another set of doors (double doors again) are people that look like helpers for the event.

I look to my right and see a ramp, I follow it with my eyes and discover that it leads to this building.

A benefit of living in America is the ADA, which means that every place has to be accessible. This is a public college, so it definitely has to be accessible, and I’m able to do a lot more than most people, so all I need is a sturdy handrail alongside some stairs and I can manage.

As soon as I make eye contact with the ramp, I see yellow caution tape blocking people from entering. I go over to inspect. The ramp goes up and then turns to the right, I can’t see past it, but from what I can see, the ramp looks fine. Smooth concrete all the way up.

I duck down and go into the danger zone. A lot of times people don’t clean up after themselves, and I reckoned that this was the same as when I drive down the road and see a “work zone ahead” sign, only to find a completed job and no construction.

I go up the ramp and turn right. The smooth concrete comes to an end, and the only thing left is a whales mouth ready to swallow me whole. I analyze it, hoping to think of a way that I could get around, after all, I can do anything.

Alas, I decide to turn around and figure out another way. As I’m coming down the ramp, I get to the caution tape and duck under it, but instead of bending forward, I get a rather silly and have some fun, I lean backward and limbo under the tape. It’s a bit lower than I can bend back because my backrest is too high. In my efforts, I tip myself back too far and then completely.

I made it under the tape, but I also found myself on the ground and out of the wheelchair. This was back when I didn’t wear the seatbelt.

I’m surprised no one from the road honked or even drove up onto the campus to help – a grandma would probably do something like that.

The chair didn’t fly out of reach, but it was on its side. I pulled it near me, grabbed the handrail from the ramp, and lifted myself back into the chair. And then put my seatbelt on.

That was probably the fastest I’ve ever had a fall and recover. I didn’t hesitate, I acted and got back up within a minute, probably faster. The first thing I checked was for any damage to my stunning outfit.