Are you a lazy “superhero?”

The last thing in the world I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me.  It really bothers me when people feel a sense of pity because I have muscular dystrophy, weigh only 68 pounds and sit strapped in a power wheelchair.  The truth is, if I were fully aware of all the difficulties and challenges in YOUR life, I might be tempted to feel sorry for YOU!   But I wouldn’t allow myself to do that.   I’d respect you for what you have to deal with, and I’d try to learn whatever lessons your situation could reveal about overcoming my own obstacles.  Everyone has difficulties.  My physical disability is one of mine.  There are others.

That said, sometimes I do imagine what life would be like if my difficulties were not so extreme.  Most people think “wheelchair” and they think the greatest miracle would be my ability to walk again.  From my perspective, walking is a mode of transportation.  If I remember to recharge my power chair at night, I get around just fine.

But I wonder how much more productive I would be if I could just sit upright!  Since age 13, my spine has been fused and supported by three metal rods.   My position is fixed: abdomen arched slightly forward, shoulders back, and the fixed angle of my neck forcing my head into a perpetual upward gaze.  To type this blog entry, the back of my skull is leaning against a padded headrest on my chair.  Because of the spinal fusion, I can’t point my head down.  It’s locked.  Won’t move.  I cannot move my chin down in the direction of my chest far enough to balance the weight of my head.  I’m looking at the screen down the bottom of my eyes and I actually can’t point my gaze down enough to focus on the lowest pixels on the screen.  So I keep scrolling to the top.


From this position, I can’t answer the phone or make phone calls.  When the phone rings, I have to scoot my hips  back and lean my chest forward against the strap that supports me.  And when I do answer the phone, my arms are too weak to hold it very long, so I often use the speaker phone.

Sometimes, I think, “Wow, what would life be like if I could arch my back, hold my head upright and use my arms and hands to answer the phone?”

And then I snap out of it and get back to living my life.   As problems and difficulties arise, I solve them.   For example, I recently got this wireless mic/headset and I’m using the Internet to make calls.  I can now dial with my mouse and I don’t have to change position to make an outgoing call.  I haven’t figured out how to get my incoming calls on board with this system yet but I’m sure I will.

My point is this:  If you don’t have a disability, if you can sit upright and hold your head upright and look straight at your computer screen, and if you can answer the phone while you’re reading this blog, then wow!  You might as well be a superhero!  If you can do all those things and you aren’t using your special powers to make your world a better place, what’s the problem?

“Superman, why don’t you ever fly?”

“I don’t know, I just can’t seem to get motivated.”

Gimmie a break.

You have special powers.  Use them on the path to your dreams.  Don’t feel sorry for me because I don’t have the same powers and don’t worry.  I have other powers.  Instead, respect me for what I accomplish without your powers and put the lessons I teach to work in your life.

PS: No, the “W” banner behind me in the photograph does not stand for George “W” Bush.  Chicago Cubs fans know what it stands for!


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