See Me, Not My Disability

Hello my friends. I am going to give you all a warning. This post is my attempt to bring some personal perspective on a few issues that people who are in wheelchairs are having these days. I will also be venting my frustrations, so please accept my apologies in advance. I would also understand if you choose not to read it, as it may not be something that relates to you and that is okay with me. For those who wish to proceed, please give me your feedback. Thank you for your understanding and support.

What has happened to people these days? I mean, really folks! I really don’t know what makes people think, react, and treat others the way that they do. For example, if I am in public places and surrounded by people, I can always count on being treated like I am not a real person. I truly believe that people have lost their humanity and cannot treat others with dignity and respect. I was raised with good intentions towards all people. I was never allowed to judge people by their appearance, only by their character. Okay, I understand that I am in a wheelchair and curiosity is a basic human instinct. But why is it okay to make me feel awkward because of my physical situation? Let me go ahead and answer this one. It is not okay.

I have the right to go to places without feeling like the Elephant Man. We should be beyond this behavior by now don’t you think? I am a real person, just like you and everyone else. Please give respect as you expect to receive it. I absolutely love when people act like they can’t see me and decide to cut in front of me. If you expect me to stop my chair on a dime, then think again. I cannot and will not. Would you walk in front of a walking person? If you do, then you are rude and in need of having your punk card pulled. Me and my chair will do the honor and educate you.

 

Joseph Merrick, AKA “Elephant man.” Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

I am also not in need nor am I wanting your pity either. I can see you coming a mile away, I recognize your look and body language. You are coming out of your way to tell me how sorry that you are for me. Just don’t waste your time and energy, because it wastes mine too. You wouldn’t do this for everybody else, so why do it for me. I am just a normal person just like you. So please don’t do it. Now if young person is starring at me, well that’s different. I have a soft spot for the children of the world and I will just smile back at them to show that I am human and it’s okay. If they come up to me and ask why I’m in the chair, I will tell them that my chair is much faster and cooler than my legs. Don’t you think? And they always say “yes”. You see folks, children are innocently curious and I am definitely okay with that. Children, don’t fear me, for I am also a dad. I will always have a smile waiting for you.

There are a few adults who actually see me as a real person and for you folks, I thank you for doing so. I am a people person and like to socialize. I am educated and can carry on meaningful conversations. I do have friends and I consider myself friendly. I always wear my Nebraska Cornhuskers shirts and I am decked out in red. I do this because Husker Fans are everywhere, especially in San Diego. Nebraskans are truly a special breed. We know how to treat people with respect. I use my clothes as bait to attract good people and the fishing is good. I have great success with good people. I look forward to meeting you my friends. Thank you for your goodness towards humanity.

Because I am just like the rest of you, I will go where I please. You will find me everywhere. Costco, the mall, the grocery store, clothing stores, auto parts stores, all over Camp Pendleton and Miramar airbase, the shooting range, my son’s sporting events and school events, the DMV, Bevmo, Walmart, Target, the Nebraska games, the airplane, the airport, the National Parks, on a cruise ship, restaurants and bars, and any places that people go. So please do not stare at me because I will feel uncomfortable and you will feel stupid. If I really feel negative effects from your stare, then you will have me come visit you. Trust me when I say this, you won’t like it.

 

 

 

Please just treat everyone with dignity and respect. This is my wish. I would like to run errands the same as you, quickly and without stress. Now, to shift gears and talk about another issue. Due to extenuating circumstances beyond my own control, I am pleading with all Americans to get on board with this next topic.

For the love of God, doctors and the DMV, please stop handing out handicapped parking permits to those who really don’t need them! I just love it when I see someone who parks their car in the handicapped parking spaces and then they “run” into the store. If you can run, then you can also walk from the parking lot. Please save the blue spots for those who cannot walk, okay? If you truly are handicapped and need the spot but, are not utilizing a wheelchair accessible vehicle, then please leave the van accessible spots for those who need them. Avoid parking your vehicle in the wheelchair lanes and park your vehicle correctly and in within the lines. One more thing, do not loan your permits to family and friends just to be cool because, it is not cool. Believe it or not, there are vehicles, like mine, that need those bigger parking spaces so my caregivers can “safely” help me exit my vehicle in my wheelchair. People, who really don’t need this handicapped parking permits, are mainly those that are causing the problems. People who are doing things like this, aren’t really handicapped or they need to have their punk card pulled. I will just do this if I catch you.

Well my friends, I will come down off of my soapbox for now. Thank you for allowing me to vent my frustrations with you this time. Please come back next time and by all means, please submit your feedback. So, until next time my friends.

Diagnosis : ALS

welcome_nebraska

Grand Island, Nebraska is where I grew up. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hello. My name is Chris and I have ALS. I was thinking about starting a blog to help me put together thoughts about anything that might help you and I get through the day. This message may not reach you, but I will send it anyway. First, let me begin by saying hello and welcome to my blog. I was wondering if anyone would like to share any thoughts, suggestions, feelings or whatever. I would like to have a safe environment for us to share what ever we feel.

I was diagnosed with ALS in 2010. Needless to say that was the worst news that a doctor had ever told me. First, I wasn’t sure what ALS was so I asked. After he explained it to me, then I thought surely he was joking. I instantly was filled with anger and that has not changed for me… Having said that, I would like to try and explain the worst day of my life. I don’t know if this is even possible, but here goes. I was thirty-eight years old with a family. A beautiful wife and three wonderful sons.

We had a life filled with school, sports, hunting, fishing, a mortgage, car payments, credit card debt, and two full-time jobs. I was just finishing my MBA and interviewing for serious, life-changing jobs. We were making big plans for our future. I was was so excited about “finally” making all of my promises to my family come true. Thirteen years of military service and five years of college classes later, I was given a freaking death sentence. People often ask me what does ALS feel like? Well, physically it feels like getting kicked in the groin over and over again.

Psychologically, it feels like everything is getting or will become torn away from you. I will stop here for now. I get very tired typing with my eyes. So until next time.