Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Two more firsts 2

This week accounts for two more firsts, both of which I had not been looking forward to. Sunday morning 9am (despite the snow) was the start of the summer racing season for most athletes in Huron County. The Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund annual Run-Around-the Square was one that I had competed in three or four times before and I wanted to keep that tradition going. I love to support local, and that goes not just for food. It was Selena who got me to even think about it because she was using it as a goal for her training. So I thought, sure, I will use it as a goal too…except training was not likely going to happen. Ella said she would do it with me, and Melissa, Hannah and Oliver too. Theo surprised me when he said I should sign him up (being that he is older than me, he has knee trouble). So I ended up with a whole crew to run with while I rolled.

If I had all my peeps to run with me, why was I not looking forward to it? It’s all a mind game. Last year I clocked my best 5km run, ever. This year would be different – as I have mentioned before, firsts are hard. We started at the back of the pack, and pretty much stayed there. I remembered the course being really flat, and it was if you were running, but once you get on wheels you feel how it is not. I had my free-wheel on front and lots of air in my spinergy wheels – I planned on being fast. Did you watch the Boston marathon this year? Those wheelchair racers – they were incredibly fast. I thought I would be at least sort of fast…

Do I look fast?

There were lots of people there that I used to train and race with and some old friends that I had not seen since my accident. Everyone I who I spoke to thought it was great that I was there – and don’t get me wrong, I am glad that I was – but because I didn’t do it all myself, I didn’t think it was so great. I wanted to do it all on my own. Theo was more than my pit crew pumping up my pre-race tires, he (and the kids) pushed me for a lot of the race.  He pushed me even when I said I’m fine. Because anything greater than horizontal was not easy. He didn’t want me to overdo it because I would end up paying for it (and therefore so would he). It was also hard to see all my old friends and remember what life used to be.

But it was great to finish.

The other first that I was not looking forward to, but knew would eventually come, was falling out of my chair. It happened, today. To make a longer story short, I went out (read: Theo pushed me to the clothesline) to hang some laundry; Theo was also going to be outside, or so I thought. When I was ready to go back in, he was not around, so I gave it a try on my own. Now our lawn is not exactly rolling hills, but there is the occasional slope and the unevenness of the yet-to-be-rolled lawn did not help. As I headed toward the “slope” I looked back to see if my anti-tippers were in the down or up position. As I expected, they were up because they otherwise they get caught in the lawn. Knowing this, I planned in my head for the event of tipping backwards. I thought “tuck and roll”. And just like I jinxed it, it happened. I tipped backwards, landed with chair back on the grass and rolled one quarter turn. I stayed in my chair until I did that quarter turn then I just landed on the lawn, hip jammed into the armrest. I did not hit my head (or get hurt in any other way).  I can hear my mother now: you really should wear a helmet when you are out on the lawn. 

Many, many people have said to me “always have your cell phone with you”. But not for the reasons in evidence below. The cell phone is not for your husband to take pictures of you while you are sprawled out on the grass. But indeed, that is what he did. (Sorry, been watching a lot of The Good Wife). I had called out to him a few times, but hearing nothing decided to phone him and said “can you come and help me for a minute?” He came out the back of the garage, yup, laughing. Later he explains himself by saying that there were no tears and no blood, so he figured I was FINE. So, what do you do in that situation? You take pictures, of course.

Here we are sorting out what is the best way to get me back into my chair.

And this is what we decided would work best – get me in, then tip me up. 

So what did I learn? First – training does make a difference, I would highly recommend not just going out and doing a 5k run (or roll) – even a tiny bit of running will make a difference. Even “going fast” was hard on my hands, gripping the push rims was tricky –  glad I had mitts on. This was surprising to me – demonstrating the need for yet another specialized wheelchair to be added to my wish list.

Second, trust your gut. We had another “incident” that landed me on my back in my chair, no harm done, but I made me develop a new gut reaction.

I also was reminded of how lovely it is to lay in the grass. I miss that.

There was a third first this weekend – a gull trying to eat my post-race breakfast through the windshield of my car!


  • Ernest Dow says:

    LOVE IT!!!
    And yes, you DO look fast. Well done!

  • Linda says:

    Reading this reminded me of my mother. I am going to get her a t-shirt shirt that reads "I am fine" or "I can do it".

    Take a blanket and lay out on the grass more…run your fingers through it…maybe the beach too. Let me know when you're going – I'll come.

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