Andy arrived on the 17th of August and left yesterday around noon to fly back to Salt Lake City. Our week together is very special to me. He is much more involved with the disabled community than I am. He is much more outgoing and gregarious than me. Many of those who know me would be surprised by the fact that basically I am quiet, shy and retiring. Having been an educator for over 34 years I am at ease speaking and interacting with groups, but on a personal level I tend to limit myself to a few close friends none of whom are disabled. Andy’s visit is much more unique for me than I believe it is for him. Since we share the same injury level, a very similar outlook on our situation and the love of all things outdoors we are closely bound together.
We always do some different things while Andy is here. This year he went with me to the Outdoor Adventure Day at Fort Drum (the home of the 10th Mountain division) where we manned a booth for Handihelp which displayed many of the adaptive equipment we have made and a lot of pictures of what those adaptions have allowed us to do. It’s always enjoyable to speak with the people who stop by and have questions about our lifestyle and things we’ve done.
With Smokey the Bear at Ft. Drum
One thing we do every year when Andy comes is participate in the Annual Quadriplegic Fishing Derby. In reality, it’s just Andy and me going fishing with our friend Dean of Dean Meckes Charters
and my buddy Steve Robinson or my son Mark. We caught a few fish, but that’s not the real reason we go. The time spent on the beautiful St. Lawrence River and the solitude of being out there is irreplaceable. The other annual happening is our visit with our friends Maia, Maddy, and Tonya Chamberlain for ice cream. It’s a chance for Andy to spend some time with Maia.
Andy with a bass
The most meaningful part of Andy’s visit for me is not the activities that we do, but rather the downtime at home when we can just talk about our situation, lifestyle and the mental and physical challenges we must deal with. This is the only time that I get to talk with someone who truly understands the ramifications of the challenges I face. While I do talk to my friends and my wife Marge at times, no one understands all the nuances that go along with being a quadriplegic. So, the time Andy’s here is like no other.
Andy comes to northern New York because it is much “easier” for him to travel than it is for me. However, we have begun discussing the possibility of my going to Utah and spending a week with Andy and his friends. The idea of it is very seductive.
Finally, I would like to thank Marge for her role in making this week possible and the others who helped make this week so special.
Andy, Maia and me
Posted in Ability, Attitude, Community Inclusion, Disability, Education, Fishing, Friends, Friendship, Nature, Reality, Recreation
Tagged fishing, Lake Ontario, lifestyle, natural environment, outdoors, physically challenged, quadriplegia, Recreation, relationship
In 1957 a Rock& Roll group named the Chantels had a hit called He’s Gone. Part of the lyrics are below:
“He’s gone (he’s gone)
I don’t know where
But he’s gone (he’s gone)
I must have done something wrong
He is gone (he’s gone)
I’m sorry (he’s gone)
For what I’ve done
To make you leave me…”
To hear the song, click He’s Gone.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Marge and I decided to go down to Lake Ontario. There is a beautiful wheelchair accessible trail not far from our home. It was sunny and around 640. Lake Ontario is quite large and the vista is similar to being at the ocean. It always reminds me of how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things and I love that. As I sat there looking out over the vastness of the water I had a strong reminder that he was gone. He’d been gone for some time, but the memory still engulfed me. Strangely enough, I can’t remember him anymore. I guess it’s a way to protect myself. In the beginning I missed him all the time and was very bitter he had left me. For years I had very vivid dreams of what it was like when he was around, but that has changed too. Like the song says, I’m sorry for what I’ve done to make you leave me, but I know it was nothing that I did that made him leave.
I realized yesterday he really had gone and that I can’t remember him anymore, his walking, jogging or spontaneous lifestyle, etcetera. As the Chantels’ sing “I don’t know where, but he’s gone” and don’t really care anymore. My life is very different without him and that’s okay. However, I now truly believe and that’s very reassuring that he left for a reason.
Posted in Attitude, Behavior, Community Inclusion, Disability, Nature, Observation, Reality, Recreation, Sensitivity
Tagged adapting, control, Lake Ontario, life lesson, natural environment, physically challenged, quadriplegia, Recreation, society, using your mind
I’m always looking for something different to do that will get me outside this time of year. The last couple years I went for a dog sled ride, but was hoping to do something different this winter. Imagine my surprise when two neighbors invited me to go ice fishing. I was excited not only for doing something different, but it also gave me the opportunity to work on adapting the equipment I would need to be successful. I’ve gotten to the point where I really enjoy the challenge of how to adapt the equipment so that I can use it. Add to this the anticipation of being outdoors in this weather as well as looking forward to a challenge.
Sunday, January 31 was the day. They went early and set everything up and then my son Mark drove to Lake of the Isles where we were going to fish. My Extreme X8 handled the ice really well. When we got there Tom and John helped set up my pole and get me started. Even though the temperature was around 42 there was a stiff breeze. We set up outside and fished for a while. After I caught some perch we decided to go in the ice hut where there was a heater. We also fished in the tent. Inside the tent you could see all the way to the bottom 10’-12’ down and watch the fish swim around.
Got a Bite
What a great day! Spending time with friends, who love the out-of-doors as much as I do, is awesome. Add to that the sense of the peace, quiet and serenity and it was unreal, especially in the tent. I’m a lucky man!
Out on the Ice
Posted in Ability, Adapting Equipment, Adaptive Technology, Attitude, Behavior, Community Inclusion, Disability, Fishing, Friends, Nature, Reality, Recreation, Sensitivity
Tagged adapting, fishing, inexpensive solution, Lake Ontario, life lesson, lifestyle, natural environment, outdoors, physically challenged, quadriplegia, Recreation, using your mind
You’ve probably heard about the snowfall totals south of Buffalo, New York this week. My understanding is in some areas, it approaches 7 feet. The same lake effect snow event produced large amounts of snow, where I live, east of Lake Ontario. The big difference is the fact that Lake Ontario’s eastern end is quite a bit wider than the end of Lake Erie. As a result of that, the wind direction here can oscillate and spread the snow over a much larger area reducing the totals in any one place. Usually when there is a lake effect storm off Lake Ontario the major accumulation is south of us. However, the snow bands were moving over our area most every day. Because of the force of the wind blowing, drifting is quite a problem. New York’s governor has declared Jefferson County as well as a number of other counties in a state of emergency.
One of the hardest adjustments I’ve had to make is the confinement the winter causes for me. Prior to my accident I was very active in the winter months jogging, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing were all winter activities that I loved participating in. The quadriplegia, resulting from my accident almost 16 years ago, had a tremendous impact on my lifestyle. I have struggled over the years to regain control of my quality of life. It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job persevering.
Without a doubt the activity I still love the most is hunting. Harvesting game was never the major reason I hunted. The time I spend outdoors sitting in a blind is what gives me a chance to renew my inner self. When the weather cooperates, I usually spend 4 to 5 hours a day sitting outside. It’s an unusual day when nature doesn’t share some of her special happenings with me. Another one of the beneficial effects on me is the impact on my mind of the solitude around me. That’s hard to contrive in my regular daily life.
I know my wife is right when she tells me I need to get out more, but out where? Going to the movies, out to dinner or any of the number of similar activities just doesn’t do it for me. It never did and it never will. It can be a sore subject at times between my wife and me.
I couldn’t wait for the blizzard to stop so I could return to hunting since there are several weeks left in New York State deer season. But conditions are preventing this from happening. My four-wheel-drive wheelchair will not be able to navigate through the drifts and get me where I want to go even though it’s not very far away.
It’s a constant struggle to keep this frustrating situation from developing into depression. As I read over this blog, I’m sure it seems petty to most able-bodied individuals. Only another individual who is paralyzed knows the struggle we go through much of the time to maintain a positive attitude. As I said in the title sometimes it’s pretty tough. Weather Bureau just issued another Lake Effect Advisory
Posted in Attitude, Behavior, Determination, Disability, Education, Hunting, Reality, Recreation
Tagged adapting, control, depression, hunting, lake effect snow event, Lake Ontario, life lesson, outdoors, physically challenged, quadriplegia, using your mind