Riding Dirty

Fall is my favorite time of the year! It brings college football, hunting season, bonfires, and crisp air! However, I’m not here today to talk about that kind of fall. This March will be my sixteenth year of being in a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury I suffered in a car accident. I have endured many challenges over the last fifteen years, one of the greatest being getting back in my wheelchair after I accidentally have fallen out of it.

I didn’t get to work on the process of getting back into my wheelchair in rehab very much. Needless to say, I never once was able to get back in it while practicing in rehabilitation.

I remember one day, not long after being discharged from the hospital, I managed to throw myself right out of my wheelchair. I could have called my dad, or step-mom, to help get back up but I refused to. I wanted to learn to do it on my own and I was determined to take as much time as needed to accomplish that goal. After, about twenty minutes of trying and adjusting my legs, I eventually got back into my wheelchair. It was one of the hardest things I have done since being injured. It took every bit of strength that I had to get back in my wheelchair but I managed to do it by myself.

We, who use wheelchairs, are going to fall out of it at some point in our lives. It’s just a matter of time! If you are like me, whether it be a dare devil stunt or clumsiness, you will fall out of your wheelchair often. There are two ways that you can fall out, frontwards or backwards. When I do fall, I always hope it is forwards. If you manage to fall backwards, I have learned that it is always a good idea to lift your head up as you are going down, that way you hopefully don’t hit your head on anything.

A fall can be bad and you can get hurt! However, it can be funny at times in the absence of injury. With that being said, I have a fall story that is hilarious! It happened about three years ago.

I had just gotten off from work at 7:00am. I had worked all night from 7:00pm-7:00am. I was tired and not thinking clearly. When I got home, I went out on the back patio to see my dog - Bell. I didn’t realize at the time that I had gotten too close to the edge of the patio. The next thing I knew, my wheelchair was moving forward. I went flying forward out of my wheelchair head first, and landed in a huge pile of mud. It had rained all night so the mud was thick. So here I am, at 7:30am, lying face down in the mud, in 40-degree weather. The next thing I felt was my dog, Bell, coming up and licking me in the face.

At this point, I was mad and extremely tired from having worked all night. I managed to get back upright, sitting with my butt in the mud. I pulled my wheelchair over beside me and tried to position my legs in a good spot to try to lift myself back into my chair. I got halfway up and then my wheelchair started going one way and my legs in the other because of the wet mud. All the while, Bell was constantly licking me in the face and putting her paws all over me.

I continued to try this over and over for forty-five minutes because I am too stubborn to call someone for help. However, after a thousand kisses from my dog and my hands beginning to go numb, I decided to call my wife, Jena, at work. She showed up and walked to the back patio, seeing me sitting there on the ground all covered in mud, with Bell right beside me. She laughed and asked “Did you and Bell decide to have a mud wrestling contest this morning?” I started laughing at this point too and thankfully, after about an hour of trying to get into my wheelchair, I was finally able to get back in it, take a shower, and go to bed.

I am not making light of how serious a fall can be, however, most of the time, the only thing that is hurt is our pride. We have to make the best out of each and every day, even if it involves falling in the mud
with a very loving dog!


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