Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Special Needs

When they talk about people who have “special needs,” just whom are they talking about? I think they think they’re talking about me.

Oh shit! If that’s the case then that officially makes me “needy.” That means I’m screwed because nobody likes needy people.

I don’t feel like they’re talking about me when they say “special needs.” I can’t think of anything I need that’s all that special. I need to eat, sleep and eliminate bodily waste. I need to breathe.  I need to get up out of bed every day and go do something. I need to wash the crud off of my body. I need to laugh. Nothing special about all that. I need to get laid. (Maybe that’s where the special part comes in, at least as far as cripples are concerned.)

When I think of people with special needs, I think of like vampires. Vampires need to drink virgin blood every day in order to stay “alive.” They can’t get by on burgers and fries like the rest of us. Vampires need to sleep in coffins during daylight hours. Now those are special needs.

Vampires are needy as hell! I know that vampires are a bad example of human neediness because they’re make-believe. And yes, I do acknowledge that there are real live humans who do indeed have very special, very extraordinary needs that place a heavy burden on the rest of society. The most obvious example is Trump. There’s one needy sonuvabitch for you. That guy needs a constant, endless flow of money. He needs money like the rest of us need oxygen. He thinks he’ll die if he doesn’t get more money. No matter how much money he has today, he needs to have more tomorrow. His need for money is far beyond special. It’s grotesque.

Unfortunately, Trump is not make-believe. And he’s not the only person with this type of special need. And almost all of those with this terrible affliction are verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who walk). But when someone says “special needs,” they’re never talking about verts. They’re always talking about cripples.

Nobody wants to be perceived as needy because nobody likes needy people. We all act like we love the needy but we don’t. The only people who like hanging around needy people are heavy duty codependent types. I bet if somebody took a survey to determine the leading reasons why people get dumped by their lovers, at the top of the list would be neediness. “He/she was just tooooo needy.”

That’s the way it works. Don’t get too needy or you’ll get dumped.

Friday, February 22, 2013

One Last Laugh

I’ve found a new way to amuse myself, which, after all, is what life is all about.

First, I picture some anthropologists about a thousand years from now discovering my crippled skeleton. That makes me chuckle. My skeleton will be a keeper for them because they’ll know right away it belonged to a cripple.  It bears the ravages of sitting on my ass all day. It’s twisted and bent. It’s contracted up fetal. The bones are soupy soft. Sitting takes a toll. If God intended for humans to sit on our asses all day, she would have made us all Congressmen. But my body either sits in a wheelchair (or on a crapper) or lies in bed. Every day I abuse my body by making it get out of bed.

Finding a skeleton like mine is the kind of thing that gives anthropologists a great big boner. They’ll construct a whole theory about who I was and what became of me. And they’ll present me and their theory at some hot shot anthropology conference.

And picturing that really cracks me up. Because I’m a cripple they’ll probably assume all kinds of things about me. They’ll conclude that I couldn’t keep up with my tribe and so I was abandoned. They’ll probably see evidence of the time I broke my femur. What will they surmise? Here’s what really happened: I was acting like a drunken smart ass. I was in college. We were drinking in our favorite dump bar. The bathroom was inaccessible so I pissed in the alley. I forgot to refasten my wheelchair seat belt. A friend gave me a ride back to my dorm in my cripple van. I kept making fun of her driving. She hit the brakes so she could pull over and tell me to get the hell out. I somersaulted out of my wheelchair and broke my femur.

What are the odds the anthropologist will get that one right? They’ll probably also assume that I once lived in public housing for cripples. That’s correct. But will they thus conclude that I hosted a wild pagan baby shower? A friend was pregnant. Her pagan friends wanted to have a coed baby shower in a location accessible for her crippled friends. So we used my apartment. It was a raucous night of unwrapping baby-themed gifts, drinking, dancing and smoking weed. I’m lucky we didn’t get raided. Hosting a wild pagan baby shower probably would be grounds for eviction from public housing. You can get kicked out of public housing for farting too loud.

I don’t think the anthropologist will deduce all that just from looking at my crippled bones either. So I really want to be a fly on the wall at that conference and watch them get my back story all wrong. It’ll be good for one last laugh.

Making that happen won’t be easy.  It will require having my head cut off and frozen. And then  my head will have to be thawed out and reanimated and smuggled into the hot shot anthropology conference by a future generation of sympathetic smart asses. And how will the anthropologists explain why their prize crippled skeleton has no skull? I can’t wait to hear what kind of crazy shit they concoct!

This is a long way to go for one last laugh. Pulling it off is a long shot. But it gives me something to look forward to.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Day I Quit Walking Day

It’s like when you don’t know your dog’s birthday so you just pick a day and declare that day to be your dog’s birthday and have a party. You stick a birthday candle in a hunk of raw hamburger and give it to your dog.

So I declare February 28 to be The Day I Quit Walking Day. Why not? It’s as good of a day as any to have a party. I wish I would have thought to note the date on the actual day I quit walking. But I didn’t think much of it at the time. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. I just decided one day that trying to walk was a pain in the ass and I wasn’t going to bother anymore.

It’s coming up on 40 years now. I was a teenager at the state-operated boarding school for cripples. My leg braces were locked at the knee so I sat in my wheelchair with my legs sticking straight out. The therapist rocked me up to a standing position in the parallel bars. I walked like Frankenstein in cement boots dragging a ball and chain. I leaned way to one side, thrusted the opposite leg forward a few inches. I took two steps forward like that, two steps back. That's all I could do. I sat down. The end.

Don’t believe what they say in those feature stories you see when a linebacker becomes a cripple. Walking isn’t just a matter of desire, determination and discipline . If it was, therapists would take a whole different approach during rehab. It would be more like boot camp. “Get up off your lazy ass and walk, cripple! LEFT RIGHT HUT HUT LEFT RIGHT! C'mon! Move it! You’re a disgrace!”

I also didn’t like how therapists referred to walking as “ambulation.” Why couldn’t they just call it walking? “It’s time to ambulate!” I think that word bothered me because I was raised Catholic and ambulation sounded like something a priest would tell me I should never ever do. “Bless me father for I have sinned. This morning I ambulated all over my bedroom.”

I told the therapist that was it. No more walking for me. And it was a big load lifted. I could spend that time and energy doing something more fruitful and fun. They sent me to see the head therapist, who implored me to never give up trying to walk. But what was the point? Two steps forward, two steps back. It felt good for me to tell walking to fuck off! “You can’t fire me! I quit!”

While I’m at it, I also need to declare a The Last Day I Used the Stand-up Table Day. That was another thing the therapists did. They laid me on the stand-up table, which was this padded, horizontal pallet. They strapped me in good and tight across the knees and across the chest and all over and then they turned a crank until the stand-up table was vertical and, consequently, so was I. And there I “stood.” I felt like I was bound to a tree. I kept waiting for the therapist to place an apple on my head and shoot it off with a bow and arrow.  I felt like a magician’s assistant, backed against the wall and waiting nervously for the magician to fling knives that whiz past my ears. I felt like a scarecrow.

They discontinued that therapy for me without telling me. I don’t know why. I never asked. Just shut up and be grateful. I only wish they would have told me after my final crank back to Horizontalville that they were officially giving up on the stand-up table. I probably would have remembered the date of this great milestone.

Be it resolved that henceforth, February 27 shall be The Last Day I Used the Stand-up Table Day. That way for two days straight I can party myself silly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The True Story of the Almost-Was Cripple Colony on the Antarctic


There was a time only about 20 years ago when it was very dangerous for cripples in motorized wheelchair to venture out of the house. Danger lurked around every turn. You literally took your life in your hands.


Back in those days,  new horror stories surfaced every week about runaway wheelchairs that were suddenly kicking into gear and taking their screaming occupants on unsolicited roller coaster rides. A guy who sold wheelchairs said to me, in a foreboding tone of voice, “One guy went right over a cliff!” He snapped his fingers. “Just like that! Gone!”


An image burst open in my brain of a cripple in a motorized wheelchair sailing over the Grand Canyon like a motorcycle jumper, like a crippled hang glider without a hang glider, like Thelma and Louise. I resolved that if I ever went to see the Grand Canyon, I’d be sure to wear a parachute.


Still I wondered if these stories were more of those bullshit cripple myths, where everyone’s heard of the cripple in the story but nobody’s ever met him.  And I never knew anybody who knew anybody who knew anybody who knew anybody whose wheelchair went berserk like that.


But even the Food and Drug Administration was hearing the stories. There were no reported deaths but there were stories of chairs taking off over curbs and off piers. And sometimes it happened when an emergency vehicle like a police car or ambulance was in the vicinity.


Holy shit! Imagine that! You’re a happy fishing cripple just whistling the day away. An ambulance goes by somewhere in the distance and the next thing you know, you’re waist deep in the lagoon. Now what do you do? Well, whatever you do, don’t call an ambulance!


Now I’m not a religious man but if my chair started spinning and bucking and popping wheelies and barreling into traffic, I’d call a priest. Screw the FDA. Have a priest exorcize the damn thing, waving an urn of burning incense over it while reciting Latin. Or maybe I’d call NASA. Because the other culprit I’d suspect would be smart ass Martians, looking down from their hovering saucers and laughing their asses off as they zap cripples with a special ray that make wheelchairs dance a crazy Mambo.


The FDA inspected a bunch of wheelchair and determined that what caused them to go haywire was electromagnetic interference (EMI), emitted not just from certain two-way radios like those in ambulances but also from cell phones. Cell phones! And so the FDA made manufacturers put a big yellow warning sticker on motorized wheelchairs that said something like CAUTION: STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM AMBULANCES AND CELL PHONES.


I remember those stickers. But I guess the problem was fixed by installing a shield on new chairs that protects against EMI. So the sticker is now gone which is damn good thing. What if cripples had to avoid cell phones today? We’d all have to move to the Antarctic.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Five Stages of Busted Wheelchair Grief

Susan once told me her dream lover man would be a Marxist-Leninist wheelchair repairman.

That’s how a  Marxist-Leninist quadriplegic views romance. I don’t know if Susan is still a Marxist-Leninist so I don’t know if that particular dream lover trait matters anymore.  I also don’t know if the “man” part is a deal-breaker anymore for her either. But Susan is still a quad so the wheelchair repair criterion is probably more desirable than ever.

If I was cruising the matchmaking sites, I know that’s what I’d be looking for: Single white male seeks….  What would be the acronym abbreviation for wheelchair repairwoman? WRW?

SWM seeks WRW. She’s the only woman who can soothe me in my time of deepest sorrow and pain, which is when my wheelchair breaks. When your wheelchair suddenly refuses to move, you are plunged into a state of despair. You long to return to that joyous time in the past when you could get about at will, like five minutes ago.

A WRW understands all that. She can make my spirit whole again, with just an alluring turn of her wrench. That really turns me on! You can’t get any sexier than that.

A WRW also fully understands the five stages of grief every cripple goes through when their wheelchair is busted. Stage one: Pissed off!  Goddammit! I can’t move! And I won’t be able to move again for months! The repair shop isn’t open til tomorrow! And they won’t send a truck to pick up my chair until a week from Tuesday! And it’ll be the Tuesday after that before they let me know what’s wrong with it! Goddammit!!! After working through that stage, the cripple proceeds to the next stage. Stage two: Pissed off! And then I’ll have to call Medicaid and beg them to pay to fix my chair! And they won’t return my call until a week from the following Tuesday! And then they’ll send me a form 96Z Repair Preauthorization Affidavit! And the form will get lost in the mail! GODDAMMIT!!! And then comes the next stage. Stage three: Oh quit whining! Oh quit whining! At least you broke down in your living room! You could’ve broken down in the street, in the middle of a blizzard no less! And what about the cripples in Guatemala, huh? They don’t even have wheelchairs! They live in mud huts! The Guatemalan capitol building is a mud hut with a rotunda! But that stage is quite fleeting and is quickly replaced by the next stage. Stage four: Pissed off! Fuck Guatemala! I’m stuck in my living room! And finally comes the last and most devastating stage. Stage five: Paralyzing sticker shock! Say whaaat? With my spend down and copayments I’ve gotta pay $6,725.38 to get my chair fixed? And all I need is a fuse? What am I supposed to do, sell my fucking kidneys? God I’m so depressed!

At a time like this, my sweet WRW knows just what to do. She has that magic touch. She restores my mobility. She restores my manhood.