If you are reading my story, you are probably either a paraplegic or have some relationship with one. I have prospered despite (and possibly because of) my injury. On this page I share my thoughts and experiences with maintaining a normal life, dating, love, and friends, mentors, and helpers.
Normal life: As a paraplegic, my body is impaired, but my mind is not. This is important for you as a paraplegic or as a care-giver to recognize. I am not certain what attributes have helped make it possible for me to live with my injury, to overcome some of the resulting limitations, to prosper in business and to enjoy life, but I will mention several that I think are important. First, and possibly foremost, are relationships. Foster good ones, and dump those with insensitive and unthinking people. Second, develop an interest (or several) that is challenging and focus on it. Third, persevere.
Dating: I was twenty three years old when I became disabled. I was still young enough to act like a complete idiot on occasions. After my injury, dating was like starting all over again. I remember my first “date” after my injury. Talk about being nervous. My date was a pretty lady who was way out of my league. Our dating didn’t last long, although we remain friends to this day. I remember thinking during our first kiss that she is actually kissing me back. That was quite a revelation. On or about the second or third date, we went to see a movie in the Yorktown Mall about twenty minutes from my home. I transferred from my wheelchair into the theater seat and in short order pee’d all over myself as my catheter fell off. I wasn’t quite sure how to handle this “problem. I explained that I had to leave to take care of something. I don’t know if my date knew the extent of the problem, but off I went – alone on my journey to affect “repairs.” I returned about an hour later to see the final minutes of the movie. I don’t remember where we went next, but at the time I was mortified. Today I find it amusing.
Love: A more important, current and life fulfilling story is Judy. You may remember her name from my biography. She was instrumental in the early years of RMC. At that time, we were simply friends and business partners. How interesting that we fell in love and today enjoy a good and full life together. The family today, including her three sons and five grandchildren as well as the usual assortment of siblings and parents, is an integral part of our lives. The point is that girlfriends or spouses are indeed possible (sex included). I don’t have a lot more that I want to share, except to say that I have been in a loving, long-term relationship with the same woman, Judy, since 1988. All that you need do is get out there and chase one (if you’re single) or work to keep the one you’ve caught (if you’re not). Since I am certain that I am not an expert on this topic, I leave the rest to your imagination.
Friends, Mentors, and Helpers: Many people have affected me, taken from me or given to me. Some have been positive and others negative. A neighbor and close family friend from Western Springs provided a great role model, encouraging words of support and filled the vacuum created by my parents’ divorce. An uncle, who to me is an extraordinary person, has been supportive and encouraging all my adult life. He has been an immense help. I think to single out others in this space is inappropriate.
The majority of these people don’t think of me as a disabled man. My injury and disability have faded in their minds; they don’t think about it. I think cultivating this phenomenon is more about your attitude than anything else. I think it is very important if you desire a normal life. I do!