Why You Need to Wear a Seat Belt in a Wheelchair

Reading time: 3 minutes

When I was in rehab, we were required to wear our belts and I didn’t like it. I don’t know exactly why, but I just didn’t want to wear it. I reckon it has something to do with being told I had to wear it.

When I was ordering my wheelchair, I almost didn’t get the seatbelt but I’m glad I did, I call it the adventure belt because, when I do have it on, it means that something awesome is going to happen.

I was once told about a guy who didn’t have a seatbelt or brakes for his chair, which is ridiculous, and hopefully, you don’t do that.

When I first got my chair, I strapped the belt below my seat and ignored it. I thought it was the dumbest thing ever and I was adamantly against it.

Then, I started to get into the Danger Zone, where things get exciting. Going up and downstairs, doing tricks, falling a few times, working out, doing handstands, falling some more, getting up ledges, and probably more that I can’t think of.

Imagine being in the car without a seat belt and hitting the brakes, your body moves forward. Think of speeding up quickly, you move back into the seat. Wearing a seat belt in my wheelchair keeps me locked in so that I don’t shift around while moving and gives me better control over the chair I’m in.

When I go into a door with a ledge, I do a wheelie, get my front wheels in, and then pull the rest of my chair up. Without my adventure belt locked in, I would likely pull my body out of my chair. Same for going upstairs. I haven’t made a video about how to do it yet, but it wouldn’t be possible without an adventure belt.

I’ve fallen a few times, at the time of writing, I’ve fallen six times. Each of them is a pretty good story and only a few of them I wasn’t wearing the belt. From experience, having a belt on helps big time with falling. Imagine you’re going down a fairly steep hill in the grass, you hit a soft spot and your front wheels dig in. You’re already tipping forward from going down the hill and so you fall forward. You could either catch yourself or at least keep the fall from getting too bad and use your hands to twist your chair to the side to avoid falling anymore.

If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you would’ve fallen forward and gotten dumped straight out of your chair, possibly caught yourself but more likely tumbled down the hill a bit and maybe even get knocked by your wheelchair falling after you.

When it comes to working out, the best example is doing pull ups. When I was in rehab, we tried many ways to do pull ups but never thought about keeping me in the chair. I’m here to tell you that staying in the chair is the best way to do it, and that’s accomplished only with the use of the adventure belt.

Even having the belt a little loose is all right, so long as you have it on.

There have been many times in the city where I hit a bump or crack that sticks out far too high and it brings my chair to a complete stop, I haven’t fallen yet, but I sure would’ve if I hadn’t had the adventure belt on.


Immediate actionable items: If you’re in a wheelchair, start using your belt. If you already do use your belt or you aren’t in a wheelchair, then I’m just preaching over here.

Summary: Wearing a seat belt in a wheelchair is important for those who want to do crazy things and avoid falling out of your chair.

Overdeliver: After a while of using your seat belt in your wheelchair, you may notice the clamp that attaches your belt to your chair moved. Mine moves all the time because of all that I do. You can easily find the right tool and loosen it, put it back to how it was, and then tighten it back up. For the chair I use, when the clamp moves out of place, it will hit the spokes of the wheel, which shouldn’t happen.

How to Reduce Muscle Spasms for Paraplegics

or anyone in a wheelchair

Reading time: 7 minutes

Well, I have to say a few things before we talk about this.

All of this information is derived from knowledge accrued over time from experience, asking questions, a little above average knowledge of anatomy, and what works for me. I’m not like anyone else, so none of this is actually guaranteed to help you, but I reckon it will. I’m not a doctor or anything like that either, so if you try this stuff and somehow get hurt, well, that’s on you, my friend.

Muscle spasms. Before I got injured, I had them occasionally. My definition is the involuntary contraction of muscles. If you aren’t in a wheelchair, maybe your eyelid was twitching or maybe some muscle, your shoulder perhaps, was twitching.

For myself and other people in a wheelchair with similar issues, and my understanding is that a lot of people in wheelchairs have these “issues,” muscle spasms are inconvenient, helpful, and sometimes dangerous. Overall, muscle spasms aren’t welcomed to most people. Personally, because I’ve mastered my body, I don’t have any issues with muscle spasms, and I have it under complete control. I’m hoping my advice will allow you the same.

We’ll be talking specifically about leg muscle spasms because that’s where my experience begins and ends.

For me, muscle spasms became a noticeable thing outside of rehab. I don’t actually remember if I had any while I was in rehab, but I’m sure I did and they were just so minimal that it didn’t make a difference enough for me to have a memory of it happening.

For paraplegics or anyone with some spinal cord injury and little to no motor control, nearly all movement or muscle contraction is considered (to me) a muscle spasm.

There are two common ways that I get muscle spasms and this will likely be different than yours, either my legs will lock straight out, with my hip, quadricep, calf, and hamstring muscles all contracting in some way. The second way is for my hamstrings to tighten and if I’m lying down, it’ll draw my knees inward. Other than these two, my calves alone might have a muscle spasm and my feet will go tip-toe while I’m in my chair. Sometimes my leg will just jump, which seems like a rapid contraction of my quadricep and hip muscles.

Now for the main event.

Here’s the breakdown:

When muscle spasms happen

Stopping a muscle spasm

Mitigating muscle spasms

When do muscle spasms happen? What causes them?

Reactionary – hurt, touch/temperature, after stretching, or from not stretching/moving
Movement – lying back, bumped the leg, bumpy ground
E.T. – a questionable occurrence

There are a few things for me that are known to cause muscle spasms. To start with how muscle spasms can be helpful, my legs will react to pain or something outside of the “normal.”

When I was in rehab, I remember this happening for the first time when I was in the shower and sprayed cold water on my feet and they kind of jumped away from the water. Don’t try this with hot water, cold is fine though.

Sometimes I’ll hit my toe on something and I’ll get a similar reaction. This is helpful because it indicates to me that maybe something happened that hurt me and since I only feel a negligible level of pain, that muscle spasm tells me I should check and see if I just cut my leg or burned my toe.

So, one reason for muscle spasms can be called reactionary. This is something that you can’t stop from happening, it happens from the environment, and it mostly helps.

A few more reasons for a reactionary muscle spasm would be touch and stretching. When I go to massage therapy, my legs might have some type of muscle spasm after someone touches the bottom of my foot.

If you don’t stretch regularly, then you should, but if it’s been a while and you stretch for the first time, then you may notice some muscle spasms of whichever muscle you stretched.

If you have a common muscle spasm of a specific muscle and your leg moves in a certain way, that’s a good sign that you should be stretching more. If my hamstrings aren’t well stretched, then I might have muscle spasms that bend my leg in.

Movement muscle spasms occur as a reaction to a certain movement. This can be useful depending on what happens, but more than that, it’s predictable. For me, this is when I lay back or anytime my torso is 150 degrees or more from my legs. I see this as my body wanting to stand up when my body goes straight as if I were to be standing up.

This is predictable and because of that, I can tell when a transfer or something I do might induce a muscle spasm and I can plan accordingly. Also, if you’ve seen the video of my getting into an aircraft, you’ll notice that I was hanging out of the doorway and then my legs had this muscle spasm and then I stood up on my feet and it helped me get into the plane.

Another movement type spasm is when I’m in the wheelchair and going over gravel or some very uneven surface. When there is a lot of shaking or bumps, it will make my calves have a muscle spasm and my feet will go tippy-toe or slide forward, both aren’t an issue but can be annoying. A great solution, absolutely amazing solution is here.

Then, there are of course the muscle spasms that you can’t quite figure out why they happen. There is definitely a reason, but it isn’t obvious without more analysis than its worth. This could be when you’re laying down and your leg will twitch or sitting down and your foot will raise.

Stopping a muscle spasm

Brute force – moving against the muscle spasm
Patience – waiting for it to go away
Prediction – putting something in place to stop the muscle spasm

It isn’t always convenient when a muscle spasm happens, it can slow things down, cause a transfer to go awry, and maybe even keep you from doing something momentarily.

The thing with muscle spasms is that they don’t last, and for me, their potency over immediate time decreases in the same way a bouncy ball will. Meaning that if I lay back and my legs lock straight out, I wait for it to stop, sit back up, then lay down again, and the muscle spasm won’t happen or be as powerful.

The first tactic and my favorite is to just be patient. Let it happen, wait it out and then it’ll subside. If you do the same movement or do something reactionary that causes a muscle spasm multiple times within the same few minutes, you might find that after the second or third time there is no muscle spasm.

Aside from waiting it out, you can go for brute force, which I don’t think has any negative effect. Basically, if my foot is raised while I’m in a wheelchair, it’s because my calf is tightening (think of when people do calf raises for working out) and I will sometimes just push down on my knee to make my foot go flat again. This doesn’t always stop the muscle spasm completely, but for the calf example, it keeps my foot from being raised.

Another example of brute force would be going against the muscle. What this looks like for me is when I lay back and my legs go straight out, my hip muscles are also activating and cause my torso to be pushed back (to lie down completely), if I’m able to get my chest to my knees, this will stop the muscle spasm entirely. So, there may be a muscle spasm that happens when you do something and you can brute force your way to stop it by doing a counter movement.

As for the method of prediction, much like I mentioned earlier with the belt to keep your feet on your footplate, there may be things you can do to stop a muscle spasm from happening at all. When you do a transfer or a general movement and you know what does and generally doesn’t cause a muscle spasm, then you can either be prepared and have your hands in place to counter the muscle or have something ready so that it doesn’t catch you off guard.

Mitigating muscle spasms

Movement – leg bike
Stretching – stretches

There are really two ways to stop muscle spasms from happening. But before I elaborate, the cheap seats might’ve missed that this is all from my experience and it’s plausible that none of this will apply, or all of it will work swimmingly.

I mentioned before that muscle spasms will reduce in strength and occurrence when you are doing the same thing over and over within some amount of time. If there is some specific movement you do that causes a muscle spasm and you do it repeatedly within a few minutes, the muscle spasms will reduce.

There are machines that you can use to move your legs. The one I used is pictured below and I could use my arms to move the pedals and those would make my legs move. In the beginning, my legs weren’t cooperating, but after 20 minutes, it was going smoothly, and afterward, I didn’t have any muscle spasms for any reason.

Not only is this healthy for you overall, but it also gets your legs moving in a way that can stop muscle spasms by giving them continuous movement.

If there isn’t a machine available, the next best way to mitigate muscle spasms is by stretching. When stretching out, it’s important to know that holding a stretch for an hour won’t help, it’ll actually hurt. You need to treat stretching like a workout, so sets and reps. It might look like pulling back your foot to stretch your calf 4 times each foot for 2 minutes each time, with a little break in between.

Staying well stretched is to infinity and beyond important. Sitting down all day or most of the day, avoiding technical terms, is not good for your muscles or body. If you expect to recover, and I fully expect that, then you should be preparing for it everyday by staying healthy and keeping your body in its best condition.


Immediate actionable items: Determine when you’ll start stretching and create a routine.

Summary: Muscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that can become a nuisance. We talk about why muscle spasms might be happening, how to stop them when they do and how to prevent that from happening or reduce the frequency.

Overdeliver: If you’re able to use a machine that moves your legs for you, close your eyes and visualize walking. I would do this as well as watch videos of myself walking before I got injured, if you have those, they might help.

Patience and Love for Paraplegics

And Everyone Involved

Reading time: 5 minutes

Summary

If you’re in a wheelchair, or not, the purpose of this post is to help you realize that you should try to never complain and view life with patience and love.

Something I’ve seen more than I’d like is people complaining. Myself included, but I reckon I’m more careful/aware than most people.

In general, people don’t like to be around people that complain. In certain cases, people will tell me, because I’m in a wheelchair, that I’m allowed to complain. I don’t ever think that I’ve earned the right to complain or something like that, and no one should.

Everyone has problems, and for them, it could be a big deal but seem small when compared to others’ problems.

I’ve had conversations where a parent would tell me that once their kid started to complain, they told them to look at me and see that I’m not complaining and my issue is larger than theirs. The issue here is that everyone has a self-importance complex and the problems that affect them is a big deal.

The big question is how can we, in wheelchairs or anyone inconvenienced in life, stop complaining and have more patience and love?

I continually glance back at these wise words by Churchill to put me in check and stop complaining.

A man is about as big as the things that make him angry

Winston Churchill

What does it look like to live with patience and love? Here are some select stories.

Story 1

I’m meeting chatting with two guys in a wheelchair, I’m not particularly enthusiastic. Nothing to do with them in a wheelchair, but they’re just not exactly my type of people. Luckily, I have tolerance and unparalleled acting skills, so I stick around, listen and talk if a question is tossed my way.

 We’re in the US and each of us has dealt with snow, so the topic migrates to dealing with snow in a wheelchair, a task that isn’t particularly pleasant.

One thing to point out is that a person in a wheelchair wouldn’t necessarily talk to someone not in a wheelchair about the problems in snow. The issue with this is that when 3 of us in a wheelchair got together, the other two only complained about wheelchair specific things.

So as the topic migrates to snow, the other guys talk about how annoying or how much they don’t like the slushy snow and when it sticks to the wheelchair tires and then when they get in the car, it gets all dirty.

That’s a small problem, something that most people have with their shoes. A topic that I don’t care to partake. It’s a car. Just a car and cold, muddy water. In 10 years, I won’t care or think about the little problems. Even tomorrow I won’t think about it.

This is an example of how it’s important to avoid even the smallest complaints, because those are the ones that really don’t matter and take away from a good conversation. Especially when they really don’t matter in the long term. The truth is that if you’re in a wheelchair or not, no one wants to hear about your tiny problems.

Story 2

I’m on Instagram and I looked at someone’s profile that recently followed me. I notice they’re in a wheelchair, the motorized type that tends to be bulky – more than a manual chair.

They posted a picture at Starbucks (in the US) of one of the tables that has a little handicap symbol, a table meant to be adequate for people in wheelchairs and probably follows some dimension standard based on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Because of their bulky wheelchair, they actually couldn’t fit at the table, their chair had armrests with controls to move the chair and the table wasn’t high enough for them to go beneath. This person was ranting about how terrible Starbucks is and how inaccessible the table is.

As I see it, I’m just happy that Starbucks even did anything. They tried. Nothing is universal. It’s a common mistake made by people in wheelchairs to think that the world needs to accommodate them completely when it doesn’t even do so for people that aren’t disabled.

Should we not have anything high on shelves because some people are short? Should we flatten any hill because they can be steep and hard to get up? The answer is no.

Patience and love are needed. Patience because the world isn’t going to cater to you immediately and if you just make people aware (in an understanding demeanor) then all you need is patience and soon enough, that table could be raised.

Love. Have some love and appreciation for the people that tried and thought of you. Even if the table doesn’t work for you.

Story 3

Here in Australia, a country that doesn’t have ADA, I’ve come across more than a few little issues as I’ve explored. There are many buildings with a step or two to get in and no ramp or sometimes the ramp is insanely steep and not possible without a little help from my friends. In the gym, none of the water fountains are accessible.

Having patience and love is important when it comes to raising issues, because what we fail to realize is that the world is not against us. No one put those steps there to spite you. Most people are good and want to help, they just need to hear your perspective.

At Curtin Uni, here in Aussie, there was a medium sized issue. The walkways are brick and the bricks had morphed into what could be considered brail for the jolly green giant. It was so bad in fact, that I would need to go very slow and be very cautious so that I wouldn’t hit a brick and fall forward. It’s almost happened a few times.

I brought up this issue, that the pathways are a high risk point for me to fall as well as literally anyone, who could easily trip.

I didn’t complain or attack with hate. I knew that it’s only natural given the number of trees in the area and I also knew that the uni cared about me and took it seriously. I just told them about the problem in the same way a consultant would if they hired one to find issues.

Nothing happened for a few months.

Patience was inhibited.

Some construction fences come up and after a few weeks, the path is smooth.

Going along this path is what made me want to write this. The point I’m getting across (ideally) is that when there is an issue of accessibility, realize that the world won’t accommodate you entirely, but if you kindly bring the issue in light and have patience, it very well may get resolved.

Here’s another quick-ish story.

There are a lot of hills at Curtin and all over the world. While at Curtin, I would be going up a hill with some friends and they’d mention something about how bad these hills are with a kind of “how dare they” tonality. Not really with hate towards the uni but just saying how inaccessible the hills are. And they are rather steep and getting a push always helps. But my typical response is that I don’t mind.

Sometimes hills do get tiring, but that’s the same for 99% of people (probably animals as well).

I don’t expect the world to level itself for the likes of me, I’d be upset if it did so. I love the world and if there are hills, then let there be hills.

All I need is patience to get up the hills, as well as a bit of strength or an amazing friend. The latter I’ve had the great fortune of having many of in my life.


Immediate action items: The next time you have something happen that you might complain about, remember the quote and if you can’t fix the issue by bringing it up or doing something yourself, then just have patience.

Summary: Don’t complain about little problems. Bring issues to light and they will likely get solved if you have patience and don’t demonize the rest of the world. Approach people with love and understand that they’re trying to help you, but they sometimes forget – as we all do.


Overdeliver: Start looking at little problems as a challenge or something that will make for a good story. When everything goes swimmingly, the water in uninteresting.

The Paraplegic’s Guide to the First Time in the Gym

Reading time: 9 minutes

Substance:
Pre-Gym
At Gym
Post Gym


Being fit and healthy is crucial. Every single person in a wheelchair needs to workout and stay healthy. There are many reasons. Making a good first impression, being able to do what you want, having self-confidence, keeping your mind sharp, becoming more successful, being happier, living longer, and most important of all, being independent. If that’s not enough, read this.

As you should know, I’ve only been in a wheelchair for a small fraction of my life. When I was a kid, I was super into skateboarding, then I moved to basketball, after that I got into boxing. Included in the boxing phase came weight lifting. I started getting more and more into it and the next thing I remember is somehow finding myself on stage competing as a bodybuilder, winning my division and best abs, going home with a sticky coating of spray tan and then turning 15 the next week.

Since then, I’ve been working out with a substantial amount of competitions tossed in the mix. I proudly have this website bookmarked.

Although I’m not certified by any means, through experience in the gym, self education and getting plenty of unsolicited advice, I know enough to merit giving advice on going to the gym for the first time in a wheelchair or otherwise.

My first workouts after getting injured were in rehab and more functional than to build muscle, though that’s also an aim. We did a lot of shoulder exercises and lots of reps with lower weight. With my reliable tenacity, I refused to use any weight lower than 9lbs and mostly used 10lbs, which were the highest the weights went. The strength and function that I gained over those 4 weeks in rehab lead to my rapid recovery.

Since I was a little more strength oriented, I was able to muscle my way through most things and figure out how to do it with grace later.

I loved doing any type of workout, most of the time I’d just smile from how great it feels to be working out and sweating. The feeling of progress and growth.

Sadly, when I left rehab, all that bravado and eagerness for the iron had taken an unannounced vacation. I didn’t go to the gym for a while. I didn’t even know how I would do it. I kept telling myself that I would go when I wasn’t as busy. To be honest, and that’s what I always aim to be, I was fucking scared.

I used to be king of the gym. I leg pressed 1000lbs+ when I was in highschool. People used to be amazed that I was 15 when I talked to them at the gym. When I was 17, they thought I was a college student. I grew into it and it became less unique and now I was about to go back in less than agreeable circumstances.

Going to the gym for the first time is a bit intimidating for anyone, but when you’re in a wheelchair it’s a little more so. Since I didn’t feel confident to go back to the gym, the inertia became a vicious cycle. It was’t easy the first few times, feeling like the king that had fallen off.

Even the man was scared to go back to his own kingdom!

I obviously did go to the gym, I adjusted rapidly because I planned out and used the basic tactic that I’ll be describing below.

If you find yourself getting worried or scared about going to the gym, then you’re in the same place I was. I did have a lot of prior knowledge, but all you need to do is watch a few hours of credible videos and you’ll know the fundamentals. Just remember that even me, the guy who was the guy in the gym was scared to go back.


For and before your first time at the gym, there are checklists. They’re pretty much mandatory. Unless you don’t want to make rapid progress, in that case you can just stop reading this.

Before we even get to the gym, we have to wax on and wax off.

We have to do our research.
We have to prepare.
We have to have a plan.
We’re going to cover all that first and then we’ll talk about exactly what to do during our first time in the gym.

Pre-gym:

Before we begin going to the gym, we need to have a clear goal. Having goals for the gym will motivate you, keep you on track, keep you focused and give you a purpose in the gym.

As a former bodybuilder, I know more than ever that having goals/desired outcomes and a plan is the way to be successful in the gym. If you go in without a plan, you’ll come out without progress.

Here’s what we need to do BEFORE going to the gym:

First, assess what you can do.

  • What muscle groups can you work out? Any muscles that you have control over can, should, and will be exercised.

Split these muscles into groups

  • For me, this is Chest, Back, Arms, Shoulders/Traps, and Abs.

Have a clear vision

  • Next, take a look at yourself and envision what you want to become. Do you want to be stronger? Leaner? More muscular? You have an ideal body image, that’s your goal, and you will reach it.

Write out your goals for each muscle group or workout

  • Over time, you’ll be raising your goals as you get closer. I like to always keep my goals out of reach so that I keep moving forward. For me, I chose specific workouts for each muscle group and created a weight and rep goal with a timeline.
  • An example would be to do 50 dips. I started around 25 and every other chest day I would do dips until I dropped and wrote that number down to see how close I was. I reached 50 after about a month.

Find a gym

  • Now you need to do your homework, find a few gyms nearby, call them and ask them how accessible their facility is.
  • If you’re deciding between gyms, some important factors are: the weights/machines they have, the entrance/parking lot accessibility, the locker room, and how helpful the staff are (probably the most important).

Do your homework

  • Once you have a gym to go to, you want to make sure that you show up with some knowledge.
  • Study the basics of the muscular system. Watch some videos explaining how each of your muscle groups function

You really need to know this because in the gym, we have to get creative and that means using some machinery in an innovative way. The best way I’ve found to be innovative in the gym is to master the fundamentals and after that, I can find unique ways to use anything in the gym to help me in working out a certain muscle group or doing a certain workout.

Here are the fundamentals, though I highly encourage getting more detail from another source.

  • Chest is a pushing forward motion
  • Back is a pulling in motion, squeezing your shoulder blades together
  • Biceps are a curling in motion
  • Triceps are a pushing out motion
  • Shoulders are any motion with stiff arms
  • Traps are a shrugging motion
  • Abs are a crunching motion
  • Lower back is a curling of the lower back to lift your torso up

Know your wheelchair

It’s good to know about how your wheelchair reacts to movements as well. An example of when its good to know is the case of doing overhead extensions – having a substantial amount of weight above and behind your head will cause you to tip backwards and fall if you’re not quick to react. The solution is to back up against something so that you can’t tip over.

Knowing how the muscles are exercised means that you can look at anything in the gym and visualize new ways to use it for different muscles. This is absolutely crucial for success in the gym. I’ve been complimented many times for my innovations in the gym.

Learn about the basic workouts

  • There are going to be at least 10 workouts you can find for each muscle, after seeing those, you’ll be able to sieve through and find the one’s you’ll be capable of doing. It helps to know which workouts exist so you can avoid wasting time discovering them on your own (or never discovering them).
  • Knowing what machines the gym has will be helpful in figuring out what workouts you can do. I have a list on my phone of all the workouts I can do for each muscle, half of them are unconventional and definitely not the intended purpose.

Build up strength to workout

  • Once you’ve learned about how the body works, you should really do home workouts. Before going into the gym, you need enough strength to lift the weights, re-rack them, transfer to the machines or benches, and have enough strength to use the machines and weights.
  • It’s also about safety, you’ll end up hurting yourself if you try to do too much weight, and if you can’t do a lot of weight, you’ll probably do too much just to keep your ego intact.
    • All you need to do is search for home workouts (normal ones) and then go through them and see which ones you can do or get close to doing. Knee push-ups, crunches, planks, etc.

Pay close attention to form

  • Once you’ve built up strength, search up the basic workouts such as bench press and learn about proper form. Having proper form is another very important aspect of going to the gym. If your form is bad, you’ll hurt yourself, which could have catastrophic results if you have issues with your back or injure your shoulders.

Don’t go alone

  • Find a gym partner(s). Ask a friend to come to the gym with you, or if you know someone who goes to the gym, ask to have them join you or if you can join them.
  • You can go to the gym alone, but it’s much more helpful to go with friends and have people you know at the gym. My first time back at the gym, I went with friends and it really helped me. Correction, *they* really helped me.

This looks like a lot, and it is, but don’t be afraid to choose only the ones that you want to do and add things you think will help. This list is all-inclusive and is meant to help you build up the momentum so that you can smoothly and confidently transition into the gym, if you have gym buddies already or have a favorite gym, then obviously you don’t need to figure that out.

First time at the gym:

This part is important. All of this is important, but when it comes to the first time at the gym, you’ll want to make sure to follow this.

Your first time at the gym, you won’t be working out.
Cosmo, you’re crazy!
Yes, I believe I am, but for your first time back in the gym, don’t plan on having a full work out.

This is possibly a new gym and even if it isn’t, the circumstances are new.

You will do some exercises, but not a complete workout. Your first time at the gym will be to scope out some potential workouts you can do and learn the lay of the land.

When I first went to the gym, I did a tour of the whole gym, twice. I looked at every machine, then quickly went through each muscle group in my head, and then analyzed what possible workouts I could do.
This is why you need to know the basic mechanics of how your muscles work and what workouts exist.

After tour de iron, you and your friends will loop back around to a few promising workouts, maybe the bench press or some machines. Having your friends with you, or a staff member, will not only give you confidence to try some new things, but they’ll help you with transfers or other things.
Trying out as much as you can is crucial for you to build up your list of “known-to-work” workouts.

While at the gym, go through your list of muscles that you can (and will) workout. Try to find 1 or 2 workouts for each muscle group. Give each one a try and then move on to the next.

It’s also a good thing to tell your friends about this process before they come with you so that they know that this isn’t going to be a real workout. Having your friends or staff members help you will also add to the creativity, with everyone pitching in ideas.

Take note of what workouts you discovered and for what muscle groups.

Post gym:

Now that you’ve gone through the gym, and you know what workouts you can do, we plan.

Write down each of the muscle groups and the workouts below. This is the foundation for your gym plan.

For each day that you go in, you can now take these workouts, mix them up, and add how many sets and reps of each workout you want to do. It’s much easier to do this when you have an objective.

Remember we talked about goals? For each of these workouts, you need to set a weight, rep, and timeline goal. I prefer using workouts as the goal because they’re very measurable, body weight likewise.

Keep a separate list of those goals and track where you are at least once a week so you can measure your progress.

This is how you’ll motivate yourself in the gym and to keep going back. I like to have end of month goals. I track where I’m at right now and then I’ll have about 3 weeks to reach the next goal.

Now you’re ready to go and dominate at the gym.

And if you want to see some workouts, tips, and trick in action, check out this amazing playlist I found on YouTube. (more will be added).


Immediate action items: Pick the steps you presume you’ll find most helpful, and go through them.

Summary: Lots of things to do before, during, and after your first time at the gym.

Overdeliver: Look at other people in the gym for ideas. Some of my best workouts are from seeing other people doing a workout.

Remember to stretch!!!!!

Paraplegic Gear/Tools of the Month: Going for Speed

The Best Bearings for Your Wheelchair

Reading time: 4 minutes

Alright. Another month has passed and here we are with more life improving gear. for my favorite month – July – we’ll be looking at my favorite mindset. Going faster.

The problem we solve here is going slow. I really don’t like going slow. Another way to frame it is reducing the friction, so you use less energy and go faster and further.

I really don’t like working against friction. Right now, as I’m writing this in Australia, my bearings are completely shot. Rusted and broken. I’ll be heading home in 18 days, so I’m just camping out in the slow grounds until I get back home and address this monumental issue.

When my bearing are either broken or just the standard ones that I got with the chair, I feel like I’m pushing against some force. I actually am. Even when going downhill, I’ve noticed that I hardly pick up any speed if at all.

Having the least amount of friction allows you to exert less energy to go faster. It means that one push takes you further and you’re more agile. You’ll be surprised at the difference from the gear below.

Solutions:

  • Front wheel bearings
  • Back wheel bearings

The bearings that came with my chair, when I had them in the air and gave them a spin,they spun for only a few seconds. Once I upgraded, they spun for minutes.

Front Wheel Bearings

Front wheels in a wheelchair, I believe they’re called caster wheels, typically will be compatible with your everyday skateboard bearings. A very good thing because there’s a big market for skate bearings. The technical bearing size is 608.

You can either go all out if you’re serious about having the best or go decent if you want the minimum best.

One thing to note is that most skateboard bearing packs come with 8 total bearings, 2 for each wheel. Wheelchairs only have 2 front wheels, so this is like buying double.

Starting at the minimum end. Probably the best bearings you could get at the lowest price. Anything less than these shouldn’t be considered.

The recognized standard bearing. Reds. These will give you what you need and might be good enough if you want to go fast.

Pros

Cons

  • Will rust over time
  • Not the absolute best you can get
  • Other Bones Bearings have cooler stickers, but that’s an opinion.

Before we get to the top two bearings. Here’s a good in between option that I found.

Pros

Cons

  • Not widely known, not by me at least
  • Will also rust over time
  • Might not come with a sticker

For those that live in the fast lane, these two bearings are for you. On the expensive side, but commonly known as the fastest bearings around.

First up:  Bones Swiss Ceramic

Pros

  • Literally the very best
  • Super fast
  • Bragging rights
  • Super cool sticker to brag about
  • Ceramic doesn’t rust
  • The best

Cons

  • Only the balls are ceramic and the casing could rust
  • Expensive
  • Made out of toilet

Second up: VXB Full Ceramic

Pros

  • Individually sold bearings (can buy 4 instead of the pre-packaged 8)
  • Full ceramic to go even faster (less friction)
  • Not so expensive
  • Uses black ceramic balls

Cons

  • A ceramic case can crack, which will ruin the whole thing
  • Not skate rated like Bones
  • I couldn’t even find an ABEC rating
  • No sticker

Back wheel bearings

The bigger wheels on wheelchairs are much like (if not exactly like) bike tires. Luckily, bike (bicycle) bearings are also an existing market that we can dip into, and the water is warm. I’m back after eating dinner and doing more research, the water is luke-warm but erring on cool.

Bike bearings are few and far and they vary. I recommend taking off your wheel and checking what bearing you have. This is what mine looks like:

Cosmo’s wheel bearing

As you will struggle to see, it says “R8 2RS.” I also struggled. After some searching, I found that this bearing is 1/2 x 1 1/8 x 5/16 (inches), which is also, 12.7 x 28 x 8 (millimetres). Also called an R8ZZ or a 6001 bearing.
The measurements are Inner diameter x Outer diameter x Width

There aren’t any big players that make Swiss bearings of this size, or anything of distinct caliber like Bones.
I’ve found generic or ceramic.
Generic will get you medium results – probably better than the bearings that came with your chair but nothing mind blowing.
Ceramic (with a metal casing) will get you the results that come with ceramic, faster and better.

Here’s what we got. Keep in mind these are both individual bearings, so you’ll have to buy four.

If you want to look for another size bearing and you figure out the metric size or the name (6001, etc.) filter through this page to find a good bearing.

To make this process much more efficient, here are some amazing tools

Bearings are as hard to take out as

Bones Bearings Press Puller

To take off your caster wheels, you’ll need some hex keys (also used for bike maintenance)

Texas Best Folding Metric and SAE Hex Keys


Overdeliver? Absolutely.

There is a next level of speed, not the drug, and it involves some sauce. Don’t get lost in the sauce, you can actually use too much.

Bones Speed Cream Skate Bearing Lubricant

The Best Way for Paraplegics to Gain Experience

Reading time: 4.5 minutes

18+ halfway through

Possibly the best advice I have for anyone in rehab. Rather, if I were asked for the one bit of advice I would give, this would be it. (if I could only give one)

I bestow upon this advice the long name of, try new things and take risks in rehab where it’s safe. But unlike many things, the title is not completely explanatory in the sense that you would be able to conceive of everything I’m about to say before I say it. So, maybe it needs a better name. No, it’s actually a good name.

This is something I really wish I did myself when I was in rehab. It would’ve prepared me for going back home, exploring, and everything else that I ended up doing. I had to learn organic and fresh – on the spot from experience. It’s great to learn from experience, it’s even better if you can plan these experiences while you’re in an environment with low risk, such as a rehab facility.

If you’re serious about making a quick recovery and getting back into the world and dominating, this is advice that you should really consider. It’ll be different for everyone given your rehab facility, how much rapport you have with your therapists and nurses, how Danger Zone you are, and the details of your injury.

Because of the wide range of variability, I’ll finally get to the point of what this is and use examples from my life and how I would’ve done this in rehab (I did this process when I got back home). At the end, you should have some notion as to how this could be beneficial for you and how to implement it.

The essence of implementing this process is to rebel. Test. Experiment. Learn. Then, remember the lesson.

Whatever you’re doing in rehab, do the opposite, or something different.

That’s very vague, this concept is harder to articulate than I presumed. It’s best told through stories.

When I was in rehab, I was on a pretty strict schedule. I had to cath every few hours, I think it was every 2 or 4 hours. I would even get woken up in the middle of the night to cath, that type of strict schedule.

It’s not a bad thing to have a schedule and I happen to have a lot to say on the subject of routines, but we can’t always keep our routines. What happens if you don’t cath for 8 hours? All night/day? Or maybe you cath in the morning and just see what happens come dinner time.

I didn’t experiment with different times between cathing in rehab. When I went home, I became free of the routine shackles and decided to sleep through the night. The issue with that was my body had become so used to my routine in rehab that I woke up feeling a little nostalgic. Bringing me back to the days before I could walk, the baby days. I woke up peeing. I was on my back and peeing upwards, there was no stopping it. Even worse was that on my bed were two mattress toppers. The ones that make your bed feel like a cloud. I also wasn’t the only one in the bed, so that didn’t make me feel much better about being 19 and waking up in much the same way as I did 17 years ago.

What did I take from this? First, that my bladder won’t explode if I don’t cath. Actually a good thing. Second, that I need to slowly change my routine and not try a rapid change. Third, boy am I grateful to of had understanding people around me.

Here’s another example, an 18+ example, so cover your ears.

When I did my bowel program, I used a laxative, the type that gets inserted into the forbidden cave. It never occurred to me to not use laxatives until I was back home and decided to see what would happen. It turns out that I’m perfectly fine au naturel.

Why does this matter so much? In rehab, I was hoping that I’d be able to take a dip and learn to swim. I eventually learned a few months later, but it would’ve been nice if I could’ve done it with therapists that teach that stuff, I remember that I really wanted to swim. Alas, I was never able to swim because of the laxatives. Incontinence – more than a fart. That’s what held me back because none of us wanted to intoxicate the pool.  

The reason for my incontinence was the laxatives, as soon as I stopped using them, I spent less time in the bathroom and didn’t have the reverberations. If you use laxatives in rehab (or out), maybe try not using them for a few days and see what happens.

Most nurses and therapists will hate and love this. They want you to be on a routine so that as much as possible is controlled and then you’ll have a better and faster recovery. If you keep experimenting, you might get hurt or something go wrong – God forbid your bladder explode – and then they’ll have legal issues or just issues in general. The ironic part is that if you end up hurting yourself when you get home, or causing some sort of issue, then you’ll likely end up back in rehab. The same place you were when you could’ve tried it.

Rehab is a safe environment because there are doctors, nurses, and therapists on the ready, right there to guide and advise you in your spunky trials and help you understand the lessons from the inevitable failures and soiled pants. I literally did the same thing as when I found out that if I wait long enough, I’ll pee, but with the worser of the two evils

Someone I briefly talked to a while ago, someone also in a wheelchair, mentioned they were currently in rehab after getting injured at home. It was just about 2 months after I left rehab and that’s when this whole idea hit me that it would’ve been so much better to break the rules while I was in rehab because if anything went wrong, I was already where I needed to be.

What is the ultimate result? If you’re in rehab and you start objectively looking at your routines and trying to take things out and maybe add some in, you’ll gain experience. Then, when you’re in an airplane for 15 hours, it won’t be your first time dealing with shitting yourself and knowing how to avoid or deal with it.

When we get into a routine, things can go awry if it gets interrupted and interrupting it in a controlled fashion will prepare you for the times when it’s completely out of your control. You’ll know how your body will react and be ready for it. This includes diet. There are some foods that I avoid because they move through me. fast.


Immediate actionable items: Make a list of what you’ll try differently and how.

Summary: When we get into a routine, things can go awry if it gets interrupted and interrupting it in a controlled fashion will prepare you for the times when it’s completely out of your control. You’ll know how your body will react and be ready for it. The best place to try these new things is the controlled an supportive environment of rehab. (yes, this is copied mostly from the last paragraph)

Overdeliver:  If you’re in a wheelchair and happen to be part of a community or are in contact with someone, ask the question of what redundancies have they eliminated since rehab or throughout life that they wish they abolished sooner.

How to Ask Paraplegics About Their Injury

Reading time: 3.5 minutes

Talking to someone with an accent. We all hear it, but should we ignore it or mention it?

If you’ve been somewhere that considers the way you talk as having an accent (obviously its normal where you’re from), then you’ll have experienced that the first thing almost everyone says is something about your accent.

How do I know this?

I was in a coffee shop and saw someone wearing a hoodie with my – our – uni logo. I went up and said hi, we talked for a while and now we’re the best of friends (based on my analysis). We were having lunch or something and were talking about the first time we met and she mentioned that in her mind, she thought, “he didn’t mention my accent, YESS!!”

I definitely noticed it. I just didn’t think about bringing it up. But of course I was curious, and after talking for a while, I learned that she’s from Joburg (South Africa), not from asking about her accent, but in casual conversation about whatever and anything else.

With a name like Cosmo Socrates, rivaling names as unique as Elon, throughout my childhood I’ve gotten praise and jokes. I’m acclimated to being asked about my name and where it’s from (Greek), most people can’t refrain from vocalizing some observation about it. Seinfeld.

These two seemingly irrelevant examples – accent and names – are all to put in perspective the question of how do you talk to a paraplegic? How to strike a conversation with someone in a wheelchair, properly.

Some people have mentioned that someone once said “so, you don’t look like you need to be in a wheelchair,” and that can invoke some anger (it did), but really, I see it as someone who just doesn’t know what to say, wants to be nice (a failed compliment), and are interested.

In my experience, the best way to begin asking about someone’s injury is always with “If you don’t mind me asking,” and then followed by “how did you get injured?” or something in that discourse locale. Even though I personally never do mind, it’s polite and shows that you understand it could be a sensitive topic – respect.

It may have been a traumatic experience, and by definition, won’t be pleasant to recite and relive every time someone is curious. So that’s where the “if you don’t mind” part becomes important.

The environmental context is probably second only to trauma – that is, is it even appropriate to ask given the longitude latitude?

If I’m in the gym, I probably don’t want to tell you all about how I got injured, the details and my life thereafter, I just wanted you to spot me and then tell me I look good. Similar for being in the store or parking lot and about to get into my car.
I don’t mind the interest, but similar to someone with an accent, it becomes trite, sometimes inconvenient, and irritating to a point – having to explain how I got injured to everyone and their mother. This is one of those arguments of my time isn’t more valuable than yours, but equal and I just don’t want to say this story again.

The story doesn’t always have to be long. I have my one word explanation – “skiing.” Which leaves a lot to the imagination but resolves the curiosity. Likewise, I just say, “Greek.” if someone asks about the name. If you get a one word answer, that’s probably code for, I told you and let’s leave it there.

If you do find yourself post-mortem of saying something that pluck a nerve, you can always save yourself and say, “sorry if that’s rude/the wrong approach, I’m just interested.” People love when other people are interested in them.

Mystery isn’t a dreadful thing either, after all, satisfaction is the death of desire. If the probability of seeing someone again is likely, then leave the story for the second, third, or never time you see them. It will come up in conversation at some point and you’ll be able to focus on the most important exchange – learning about who they are as a person. You might think of it as dialing a wrong number, but not awkwardly. Just talking and learning, you have no face for that voice – no body either.

If you get to know the person first, they may be similar to me and have a website and YouTube where you can read/watch/listen to the story and relieve the mystery itch on your own.

Short answer: The best way to ask or bring up the topic is to just get straight to it. One thing you can be sure of is that it’s not the first or last time they’ll be telling the “what happened” story (results may vary).

Personally, I’ve never has anyone ask me about my injury in a rude way.

For those reading who are in wheelchairs, though there are rude and creepy people, most people who ask about your injury, whether it’s an elegant or off-putting performance, at its core it’s just someone who’s interested in you. It may well be the first time they’ve talked to anyone in a wheelchair or asked someone. Don’t mistake ignorance for belligerence.

There it is. My two cents. A while ago you could get a ride on a horse while your mom checked out at the market. Now, it’ll get you much more. (results may vary)


Immediate actionable items: If you’re in a wheelchair, it’s a good idea to have the short, medium, and long version of your story or a scripted way of saying “no” when asked. If you’re not in a wheelchair, maybe practice with leaving some open loops in your conversation, give mystery a chance.

Summary: When it comes to talking to someone in a wheelchair, there are best practices and considerations. Starting with “if you dont mind me asking,” is always great, being aware of the fact that your curiosity is not more important than the other persons time and it may be best not to ask depending on where you are (in the gym and places like that).

Overdeliver: I can’t think of anything. Usually I leave something out and put it here if it doesn’t fit like clockwork. I suppose it’s also important to know that people in wheelchairs are just people sitting down and you should take some interest in them before their injury, otherwise it’s quite one-sided – your interest and just their trite story.

On Changing Your Vocabulary

Reading time: a few

You can still say walk and people shouldn’t have to change their lexicon just to suit you (in a wheelchair) and not offend you. Were strong and we don’t get offended.

That’s about all I have to say. But here’s some more.

When I go for a walk, I’m still in my wheelchair, but I call it a walk. When people talk about going somewhere, they don’t need to say “roll” or “wheel.” People do that out of respect of course.

Some people have preferred pronouns, but for me at least, this is nothing like that.

My message to the world is that you don’t need to change the word “walk” with “roll”, I won’t be offended. Expecting someone to change how they talk on behalf of you is silly, in the context of being in a wheelchair. The wheelchair is not a part of me.
I dont get offended if you do say roll. And I stand up for what I believe in. And I do make jokes sometimes because I don’t take it seriously.

The perspective I’ve had since day 1 is that I’m just sitting down. If you’re reading this standing up, sit down and think about how you feel. You’re still you, nothing really changed except that you’re just sitting. Imagine that you can’t stand up. Still, nothing really changed except that now you’re just sitting and you magically can’t stand.

Here’s a quote and then we’re done.

I support anyone’s right to be who they want to be. My question is: to what extent do I have to participate in your self-image?

-Dave Chappelle, comedian, actor, writer, and producer

The Importance of Health and Fitness for Paraplegics

Reading time 2 minutes

Fitness is extremely important. Of course it is and you know that. But do you really know?

I could go on and on about a lot of things and you would diligently listen and say, “Yeah, I know that,” or “That makes sense, I can understand that.” Something I believe (and it makes sense) is that you don’t really know unless you’re actively practicing.

Here’s an example. I was talking with a new friend and we found ourselves talking about personal development – something I’m always learning and doing – and I was telling her about how important it is to journal everyday and I gave some familiar examples such as Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci. My friend doesn’t journal, but she said something like, I know journaling is important and has many benefits but… and even you reading this right now, you know journaling is important just as you know that being healthy is important. Eating the right foods for your mind, body, and soul as well as the right exercises.

So although you may know that fitness is important, are you actively practicing?

Why not? Why should you start being more active and healthier?

Seriously answer these, write them in your journal. Write down 3 reasons why you don’t eat healthier or exercise more and write 3 reasons why you should. (at least make a mental list if you won’t write them out).

If you’re already working on fitness and living healthier, you can skim through until you reach the resources at the end.

There’s a high chance you’re in a wheelchair or know someone in a wheelchair. Or you’re my family or friend and thank you for supporting me ❤

When it comes to being in a wheelchair, being fit and healthy becomes super-duper extremely important. Think of why that might be. Then compare with my reasons + explanations below.

  1. You can do more. It sounds simple but think of all the obstacles you face in a wheelchair. If you’re not fit, then people can’t help and lift you up. If you’re not strong, then you won’t be able to lift yourself or even get up a hill.[YouTube link for hill]. If you go to my YouTube channel, you’ll see that being both fit (low body fat) and strong allows me to get into airplanes along with getting carried up stairs by others. Going up stairs without help is hard. I’ve done it many times and I sweat on every occasion because of how difficult it is, even when you’re very strong.
  2. Self-confidence. A lot of people have low confidence as they are, then put them in a wheelchair and it’ll get a lot worse. Personally, I don’t have this issue and that’s in part because of my high fitness and health. I see this in other people and if you’re not healthy, then you’re naturally going to not be as happy as you can be, you might be scared to take off your shirt in public and now you’re impinging on what you do.
  3. Independence. When it comes to being a long wolf, it’s a lot easier if you’re strong and fit because you can easily help yourself. Also, once you reach a certain level of strength, people see that and they won’t try to take advantage of you, which can be a concern if you’re in a wheelchair and go out alone.
  4. Recovery. I’m not sure about you, but I’m going to recover and when I do I’ll  be ready. When it comes to the future, its completely unpredictable. We can sure try, but all knowledge is based on the past. We can make a prediction, but it never becomes more until it’s proven, which would mean it’s part of the past. You may not recover, but then again, you just might. The best we can do is just improve the odds. Improve the chances of recovery. Being healthy and fit will definitely improve your chances of a successful recovery. That includes stretching.
  5. Live longer and feel good. Sure there are people who are unhealthy and live long, but again, improve your chances of a longer, richer, and more fulfilling life by leading it with health and fitness. When you eat the right foods and exercise frequently you feel good. Scientifically speaking, its been proven many times and told so many times that it’s almost been dismissed and taken for granted, but if you’re feeling a little under the weather, go for a walk with nature.

So now that we know the importance of being healthy, how can we put it into practice?

It starts with diet. Then building up the habit of exercise. And you never stop. You should exercise every day, but if you need to take baby steps, try 3 times a week and build up.

The best advice I’ve gotten when it comes to introducing new things into your life is to only do it for as long as you want. Meaning that if you go to the gym, don’t force yourself to be there for an hour if you only enjoy the first 45 minutes, only do it for as long as it’s enjoyable, otherwise you’ll begin to dislike it – the opposite of what we want.

When it comes to diet, the best way to have discipline is to avoid needing discipline. You need discipline to not eat candy or unhealthy snacks only if they’re in the house. It starts with only buying healthy foods and having them be all that’s available. As a personal rule, I don’t eat any fast food, drink pop, or eat chips and most other snacks.

I’m not certified in any field of fitness, but I am a bodybuilder and I actively learn about health and fitness as well as put it into practice. I’m just sharing what’s worked for me (above and below). If you aren’t able to do certain workouts, always just do as much as you can.

Here are some resources for health and exercise to get you started. And remember to always challenge what you hear, but accept it if you’re wrong.

My favorite health podcast

My gym playlist

First video in the series of gym videos from my YouTube channel

Also, when it comes to staying healthy, massage therapy is another great thing to look into.


Immediate actionable items: Start leading a healthy life right now. Get rid of any unhealthy foods in your house and around you (not by eating them) and make a weekly plan for exercise. Such as walking every morning or evening and going through a workout routine at a set time each day or every other day.

Summary: There are 6 big reasons why fitness is important. Even more important is to start implementing a good diet and exercise right now.

Overdeliver:  As a little self-confidence boost and something that is entirely NOT my idea, but I was doing it before I realized it was common advice: ask for a discount. You might’ve heard this before, but just ask for a discount. Sometimes I’ll jokingly ask if they have a wheelchair discount or a handsome man discount. Student discount if you’re a college student. It’s fun and helps build up confidence.

The Benefits of Being in a Wheelchair

On the bright side

Reading time: 9 minutes

When you first get injured, there’s no doubt that you’re flooded with a white water rush of those negative thoughts. We’re almost wired to think about the bad things in life, if not from our primitive roots, it’s definitely been inhibited through our comparisons on social media and a generally gloomy world, maybe not totally but more than the peace, love, no war 70’s. If you’re really into psychology, there are some very persuasive explanations for why we’re more gloomy than before.

While the grey skies clouding our sun, adding a truly life altering injury doesn’t exactly bring out Mr. Blue Sky. Or does it?

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you use your injury to your advantage or let it use you.

Because I’m feeling good, I thought I would inform you or remind you that being in a wheelchair can actually be a quantum leap to heights that would otherwise take a lifetime. In short, this is a non-exhaustive list of the benefits of being in a wheelchair. So, if you’re new to the game and you’re not sure what to expect other than negatives, here are the positives that outweigh it all.

In a list + experience format, here is a short list of the grand benefits that answered the door when my caffeinated mind knocked and asked, “what are the benefits that make being in a wheelchair so nice that I almost want to stay. Almost.”  (and that I wish I could tell everyone who’s in rehab).

  • Parking – starting out with just something that has always bugged me. It truly drove me bonkers when I had to spend 10 minutes winding through a parking lot, just to get stuck by a car ahead of me waiting for a spot and then eventually find a spot in the back.

    I’ve had some problems with parking even with my handicap pass, but 95% of the time, I can pull into the parking lot, go right to the front and get my executive slot. We’re spoiled, but we deserve it.
  • Skip lines – every now and again, we’ll be able to skip a line. Typically, this doesn’t apply at Starbucks, but in airports – where the worst lines in the world exist – it’s absolutely unparalleled. After traveling almost too much, I have plenty of stories, but I’ll spare you. All I’ll say is that I’ve saved hours of waiting time, and this perk is very enviable when you’re flying international and another added benefit is your entourage gets to tag along and reap the benefits.

    I’ve actually been invited to events just so that the group I went with would get to share my benefits with me and sometimes I’ll also be the one to drive the group.
  • Extra care – people will heed you, unless you’re among a sea of wheelchairs, you’ll most likely stick out like a Goldfinger. When I went to EAA Oshkosh, you would not believe the presidential treatment I got, the parking especially. I got so close to the ground that it was almost unfair.

    When I was waiting for the theater to open so I could buy tickets for Phantom of the Opera, the security guard and I made respectful eye contact and he opened the door in front of me first. This was a student rush, where any college students get to grab the misfit, loner seats at a bargain and everyone waits outside the doors in the cold just to rush in and try to get the best low hanging fruit, they open one door at a time. People will also, in general, be most attentive and caring for how they could best help you, be it at a restaurant or the gym.
  • Moral high ground – this one is an ace up our well fitted sleeves. Only to be employed where it’s appropriate because with great power… We always have this card. The ability to shame someone and take the high road. Usually this is when there’s an ever so slight inconvenience or a major one, if something isn’t working you can almost always win an argument or get something. Of course, this is something that can make you look like an unwiped asshole if you’re not careful.

    An example of a time I could’ve made a scene was when I went to a restaurant with my extended family and they sat us at a high table. I simply just ate on my lap or from the table, but it was at chin level. The owner came up and apologized too many times because this of course is normally unacceptable, however it was thanksgiving and they were quite crowded, though I’m not sure they even made much of an effort to find us a new table. In summary, being in a wheelchair gives us the option to take the moral high ground twice as much as the average dude, maybe three times as much.
  • People are nicer – some people will be rude, but a lot more people are nice. It can make the difference when someone decides to have a nice chat with you. People are more receptive as well, at least in my experience. So, the world seems to smile at you a little more. Just a few days ago (at the time of writing), I was going for a walk along a beach side path, from a pier looking over me and into the Indian ocean, there was this child, a girl about toddler age, or whatever age that kids made comprehensible sentences and she screamed out in excitement, “LOOK a man IN A wheelchair!” It was pure excitement, as if I were Brad Pitt. She said that same sentence many more times, boasting to those around her as if she were Indy and discovered something so mystical, it belongs in a museum. I waved and couldn’t help to laugh a bit at her amazement that she saw a man in a wheelchair, she didn’t even wave back, she just kept telling everyone to look. It was nice.
  • Able to inspire much easier – anyone can be inspiring if they do something inspirational. How about going to college? Everyone does that, so not really. How about a college with extreme snow and a reputation for being especially difficult? Still, there are lots of students at that college. So how would that person inspire others? Even getting a 4.0 and doing a sport isn’t unheard of, it’s definitely inspiring, but not all that rare anymore.

    Being in a wheelchair adds the extra edge to make you an inspiration with almost anything you do, so long as you’re challenging yourself. I was a pretty average college guy. I stood out a little bit and caught the attention of the people that were around me for a while, but I wasn’t entirely prominent. Now, being in a wheelchair, I have the same extreme ambitions, plus some, and I’m suddenly inspirational. I don’t deny it, but for me, I’m just picking up where I left off, and adding some things. But I’m still going for the same things I was initially after. So, if you have the ability to make the world better and inspire someone else to do something great, then you have to. It’s the law. If I can prove to be an inspiration to others when I’m getting into my car during the snow, something that wouldn’t be inspiring if I were walking, then you can definitely inspire others – it’s a great feeling.
  • Become a unicorn – like I mentioned above, you have the rare opportunity to become a unicorn. Like a black, female astronaut in the 1920’s (I know astronauts weren’t a thing, which makes it all the more impressive). Whatever you do, being in a wheelchair adds the horn to the horse and thus I knight you as a unicorn. Everyone wants to be different. We’re all the same at least in that we all think we’re different, but now we have a true testimonial to our belief.
  • Scholarships – if you’re in college or will be going to college at some point, you are now able to get scholarships that are wheelchair or handicap specific, which can be a great advantage. I’ve applied to many scholarships and programs that require the applicators to be in a wheelchair, it shrinks the competition, albeit the competition becomes all unicorns.
  • Uniqueness/pattern interrupt – when I showed up to a formal even, with all the attendees wearing dresses or suits and ties, I wore a button up shirt and my sexy jean jacket. Show up different, be a pattern interrupt. I always imagined myself, as we all do, as the center of a film. For me, whenever I walk into any building, or go anywhere, I see myself as James Bond. In reality, like the Churchill quote, no one was thinking about me at all, they were absorbed in their own self featuring silver screen. Now, no matter what you wear or do, you’re interrupting the pattern just enough that you become, at the least, a supporting character in everyone’s first person plot. It gives you that seasoning, the sugar and spice, the dish at the potluck that was cleaned out first. Some people don’t like attention, but they all want to be special and remembered.
  • You have a story – a story people want to hear. A peel from the same banana above, when you go somewhere, you have a little mysterious aura around you. You’re in a wheelchair and there’s definitely something that happened. I’ve been working on mastering my story telling, you don’t have to be extreme, all you actually need to do is write out the long, medium and short story of what happened to you and once you have your story sorted out (you’ll stumble over your words if you just go from memory without writing out once), you’ll be able to tell a captivated audience a story they want to hear, probably an inspiring one.
  • People wanting your perspective – it depends on who you are, but more likely than not, your opinion is now held a little higher, maybe a lot depending on who you are. You have a new perspective and people are interested in that. This is more conditional that the rest of this list because you have to present yourself as (and actually be) intelligent and astute. For me, when I was working at Kimberly-Clark for an internship, a lot of people wanted to know any recommendations I had for helping them improve and be a disability forward company. I was never good at giving great advice because everything was actually really good, but I was still asked and when people seek out your opinion, you feel and are important. Not many interns were asked the same amount of perspective questions as I was, or at least not of the same nature (I was the only one in a wheelchair, a true unicorn).
  • Opportunities like crazy – the best for last to end this with a big explosion. Once more for the cheap seats, this post is for anyone in a wheelchair or in any unique situation that seems like a disadvantage and I’m giving examples of how to look at the positive side of life, which makes life all the better.

    So, through many opportunities given to me, which I may map out one day, I find myself at a Disability:IN conference. I find myself talking with an especially important woman, who has become a mentor of mine, the CEO of Disability:IN! Because of looking on the positive side, having my story, my ambitions (being a unicorn) and wearing a jean jacket along with many other factors that hindsight can’t even discern, my life took an imperceptible turn for the best. It brought me 10 years into the future. If I weren’t in a wheelchair and never had gotten injured, my ambitions would’ve been close to the same (a little less) and it’s very possible that I would’ve gotten to where I am now in terms of success, measured by my own goals and their progress, but it would’ve taken a lot longer than just 8 months.

Although I love to brag, I hate to be boastful. That doesn’t make sense but it sounds good.

What I mean is that none of this is me just telling you how great my life is, although it literally is, the deeper meaning behind this is that whether you, the reader, have just gotten injured and you’re in dire need for something good to look forward to, or if you (the lovely reader) are going through any obstacle in life, you can look to my experiences and notice that everything I focused on, down to the small stuff such as parking, is all positive. I don’t neglect the negatives, I deal with them sternly, but I don’t let them take over my mind. I choose to focus on what is good in life and I’m giving you the exact things you can likewise focus on (if you’re in a wheelchair).

If my past self, in rehab, could read this passage and realize that being in a wheelchair will give me an extremely favorable advantage, it would’ve helped me out immensely.

The world is grand because it’s yours for the taking.


Immediate actionable items: Write out some of the positive things that are going on in your life as a result of something that may have been an obstacle, failure, or perceivable set back.

Summary: Being in a wheelchair have insane benefits. Focusing on the positive will make everything even more positive. My list of some of the benefits I’ve had along with some examples are: Parking, Skip lines, Extra care, Moral high ground, People are nicer, Ability to inspire, Unicorn, Scholarships, Uniqueness, Story, Perspective, and Insane opportunities.

Overdeliver: When you catch yourself focusing on the negatives, write them down and next to them, write out the benefits and opportunities that can or have come from them. If you can’t think of any, look at the negative and complete the sentence “This is good because ______!”