The Next Challenge

I have decided to participate in the 2014 Terry Fox Run. I'm setting a goal of walking the 5km. Am I nervous? Yes. If I wasn't nervous, it would not be a challenge. I want to walk for those that can't.

I will be blogging about my journey in training for this event. I will fall many times along the way...I promise to always pick myself up and keep going.

For me, living a normal life takes an extraordinary effort.

A few people asked me who Terry Fox is...here is the wikipedia link Terry Fox was always an inspiration to me as I could relate to all the struggles and pain he endured during his Marathon for Hope. The word 'hero' gets thrown around a lot these days, especially with all the super heroes on the big screen. To me, a hero accomplishes every day life despite extreme obstacles.

Somedays, my pain is overwhelming but I have to push through it as I have a lot of things I want to accomplish during my time here. I put a smile on my face and move forward...because I love doing what I do so damn much.

People have asked me what motivated me to do this walk. Good question. I pay for my personal training out of my own pocket as it's not covered by any insurance. This is a big expense out of our monthly budget. My wife and I make trade offs like vacations & etc to accommodate this. If I can leverage this expense to help raise money for cancer then I'm getting a greater return on our investment by helping others have a better life.

If I spend 40 weeks, 120 hours training, 495 hours of cardio to give people with cancer one more minute with their loved ones...I believe that is time well spent.

I have an an awesome life. An amazing wife, family, friends, and colleagues. I get to go to work everyday to help people want to come to work and do the best job they can. Don't get me wrong, there are people in my life that I don't care for...but that's where I hope karma will help out.

My mom and dad went through a lot of struggles with school boards, doctors, and others to give me the life I have today. I do not take it for granted.

I'm doing this walk in partnership with my gym (The Athletic Club) on September 14, 2014. I would love to see you there...if not, I know you will be there in spirit.

I'm starting a video blog in a couple of weeks. This video I'm targeting to be 60-90 seconds in length. A number of you have sent me topics that you want to know about with regards to me and my life. Please keep sending things you want to know more about...to me, my life is normal and boring so I need to hear from you on specifics you want to know more about. In addition, I will give statuses of how I'm progressing for the run...and life in general.

Until next time...

 

No one said the workouts would be easy...but it was worth it!

Making the impossible ‘Possible’

Making the impossible ‘Possible’ Six months ago I decided to retake control of my health. Over the last few years I let a busy life get in the way of taking care of my health. My weight was rising and my energy levels were lowering. Sound familiar?

I put my pants on just like everyone else, my helper puts them on me one leg at a time. Having Cerebral Palsy, I don’t have the luxury of being able to do up my own pants in privacy. Having to watch my helper struggle doing up my pants saying, “Suck it in’ and my response of ‘they must have shrunk in the wash’ was an everyday conversation. The risk of my buttons popping and causing injury was starting to make my home a work place hazard.

I tried going for longer strolls in my power wheelchair for exercise but surprisingly it wasn’t giving me the results I was looking for. It was time to make a lifestyle change.

I started doing cardio on a recumbent bike and I’m up to 90 minutes a day (45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes after work) and quit snacking on chips at night. Not snacking on chips at night also helped our dog lose weight. The dog is an opportunist; it knows my gimpy hands are bound to drop some en route from the bowl to my mouth.

After a while I wanted to incorporate more exercise in my routine. Ten years ago, I worked out out with an awesome personal trainer. I remained good friends with him over the years. I called him and explained my situation and he reached out to a close friend at The Athletic Club and they recommended Alex Carroll.

Alex and I met and I could tell that he was goal oriented like me. The fist couple of weeks he was trying to learn what my limitations were. As we continued to progress the limitations became a list that we would cross items off after we overcame them. These could be the second pair of running shoes I’ve ever worn out.

I’m doing squats, lungs, leg press (100 lbs), planks, walking, leg lifts to name a few…

When my journey started six months ago I was 178 lbs, today I’m 133 lbs. I went from 38’ waist pants with a defeated button to loose fitting 34’ waist pants.

DaveB4after
DaveB4after

Some people have asked me why I put in the investment of time, effort, and resources if you will always be limited with Cerebral Palsy. We all have limitations. Just because you can’t have it all does not mean you should not strive to be better. I always want to continue to strive to be the best me I can be.

This new lifestyle will not make me a professional athlete, it will not make me a big muscle guy, but it will improve my quality of life. Almost all my friends and family have non-accessible houses. How awesome to be able to walk more easily to visit more often to create more memories. Recently, while out of town for work, I went to a friend’s house for dinner. They had this steep incline (the closest thing this disabled person will come to climbing a mountain) to get to the entrance. Six months this might not have been possible. My house is not even wheelchair accessible, having 3 steps to get in. I know how disabled people drive their wheel chairs’, I’m not letting them scuff my walls!

A journey that started with weight loss but has taken me to places I didn't think was possible. And the journey continues on…stay tuned!

I might have Cerebral Palsy, but it does not have me.

I thank The Athletic Club and Alex for helping me along this journey.

I could not have done this without the support of my awesome wife.

*Update *

How do I achieve my goals? One step at a time...

Climbing The Stairway to Heaven!
Climbing The Stairway to Heaven!

I climbed 32 steps in 7 minutes.  Would have been impossible 52 lbs ago...

It was the best of times and the worst of times - Davey's Double Down Review

Please click here for background music while you read this. The song has a double meaning... When I saw the new double down sandwich commercial from KFC I remember thinking that this could be the greatest innovation to man kind since the internet.

Two chicken fillets with bacon and two slices of Monterey cheese and the colonel's special sauce...I had to try this bad boy myself.

Tonight...was the night:

Pre-Game:

I didn't know whether I wanted to just stare and admire it's greatness or to eat it.  Of course...I decided to take a taste of heaven...

 Double Down

Double Down

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game Time:

Oh my god...my taste buds were rockin! There was a party in my mouth and I hope every one could come.  The chicken crisp yet moist...the bacon coating each bite...the cheese the icing on this masterpiece.  The sauce was heavenly...if Jesus perspired, his sweat would be this sauce.

IMG_0013
IMG_0013
Every bite better than the last!
Every bite better than the last!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Game:

About 20 minutes after my face began to sweat. It was like I wiped my face with the inside of a ruffle bag.  It ran through my colon like a bowling ball.

About an hour later my male ovaries began to throb.  It's times like this that I'm grateful that I can't wipe my own @$$.

Will I ever have one again?...some day. 8/10

Until next time...

The One...

Dating is never easy.  After a number of years of being in relationships ranging from weeks to years, and women at both extremes; either sexually adventurous women that wanted to add a 'crip' to their checklist or women that needed to feel needed so bad, they acted like a personal support worker as opposed to a soul mate.  So I decided to give online dating a try. My profile was pretty straightforward, 30 something professional with Cerebral Palsy…  I figured being open would discard people that could not accept someone with CP.  When we eventually met I could not say, “Funniest thing happened right before you came…I came down with the Palsy”.

I immediately filtered out any profile without a picture or had a ‘glamour shot’ picture. I quickly came to discover that Glamour Shots was fool’s gold.  I came across the profile that would change the rest of my life…I came across the one that someday would become my wife.

We began chatting on the phone everyday for a month.  Her 3rd question out of the gate was “Can you have sex?”…I like the way she was thinking from the start!  As you all know from my previous post of Davey Day, all is good under the hood.  As a side, it’s funny how many people ask my wife if we can have sex.  Her response always is “Do you think I would have married him if he couldn’t?”  To think I thought it was my charm & wit that hooked her…

We shared a lot of intimate & heart-warming conversations about ourselves.  After a month we planned our first date.  In excitement we moved our date up a day, as we really wanted to see each other in person.

We planned to have her pick me up at my mom’s place.  To provide a little background, I was staying at my mother’s place at the time because there was 2 months in between the closing of my 1st house until I got possession of my 2nd house.

We finally saw each other face to face.  This amazing lady is real.  After a brief chat and introducing her to my mom…we were on our way.  Like other first dates I had to give her a crash course in ‘Davey 101’.  This included how to walk Davey, fold his chair to put it into the car etc.  I wined and dined her by taking her to Kelsey’s.  That’s right…I’m frugal!  As she was helping me back into the car I decided to plant a first kiss as we were standing (I knew at my mom’s there would be no ‘alone’ time).  Either she was going to kiss me back or let me fall to the ground.  Luckily for me she didn’t think she could pick me back up.  After the date we confirmed plans to get together the following night.

The following day we called each other as we always did over the past month.  This time however, she was crying.  She said that me having a disability would be too much for her to accept, that she needed someone who was more independent and could take care of her.  This was difficult for me to hear.  I reminded her that I already have lived on my own for 10 years where she had never left her nest at home.  I thought it was totally unfair for her to judge me about independence.  She expressed interest to ‘still be friends’.  My response was ‘I already have a surplus as friends so if we were not going to progress beyond friendship then I wish her well in her search for her special someone’.  Despite being calm and cool on the phone I was broken up inside.    I had a number of relationships before but she was different…she was already in my heart.  Despite my feelings of anger, sadness, and emptiness I had to put my clown face on to shield my mom from my pain.  I knew while growing up that my mom would be devastated when she would see me frustrated and angry when my disability would negatively impact me from life’s pleasures.

Two days went by without speaking.  Then she called.  She said I was already in her heart and would love to see me again.  The prince, on a power chair as opposed to a horse, rode off with his princess.

Me and The One...

Neither of us is perfect…but we are perfect for each other.

Until next time…

Another segment of - Disabled People Can be Bastards

This week was a pretty emotional draining week for me.  Tuesday was the anniversary of my dad's passing, combined with our neighbor growing up, a close family friend passing away this week.  I could not attend her funeral but I wanted to write this blog about one of my most cherished memories of Anna. In the summer of 1983 I was recovering from one of my many surgeries.  I had full length casts on both of my legs for the whole summer.  My parents borrowed a hospital bed and had me situated in the living room.  Being in the living room allowed me to watch TV and look out the picture window to see what was happening in the world.  Remember, there was no cable or internet then, so entertainment was limited when you could not play outside.

My parents arranged to have Anna (the close family friend) take care of me during the day while they were at work.  Anna was 50-ish at the time.  She was a regular church going lady.  She originally thought that she would take this opportunity to teach me the bible while looking after me.  She gave up after 3 days when I would not accept Joseph had nothing to do with Mary's pregnancy. To her credit, 3 days is still the record of someone trying to teach me the bible.

During that summer my father rigged a switch to the doorbell so I could signal if I needed something.

The next day Anna was down in the basement folding laundry when I needed help.  I hit the switch that triggered the doorbell.  She ran up the whole flight of stairs (25-30), ran past the living room to the other end of the house to answer the door.  Nobody told her about my father's recent doorbell innovation.

This day was about to get a lot more entertaining!

She came back to the living room frustrated that she did not answer the door in time before this supposed visitor left.  She said, 'David when you get older you will find it harder to run as fast as you used too'.  Being disabled, I already had pretty good insight into not being able to run fast.

I waited until she made her way to the basement to resume laundry before ringing the doorbell again.  Again, she ran up the whole flight of stairs, past the living room to the other end of the house to answer the door.  This time I'm laughing so hard that I'm about to wet the bed...especially since the original reason why I clicked the switch was to get help with going to the washroom.

She came back to the living room out of breath.  Anna said, "I bet it's that little bugger across the road that keeps ringing the doorbell and running away".  I think she suspected him because he was riding his bike in his driveway at the time. I replied, "Could be."

Three times a charm!

Anna goes back down to the basement to try and finish the laundry and I ring the doorbell again.  She flies up the stairs cursing. I didn't know that the lord's surname was 'Dammit'.   This time she proceeded to walk out the door, across the street, and 'disciplined' the kid across the road.

Anna came back into the house to find me in tears from me laughing so hard.  She noticed the switch under my pillow and clicked it.  When she heard the doorbell her face was red with anger.  However, she did not do anything...I was surprised.

The next day when she was helping me to the washroom she had a suspicious grin. Long story short, she had placed my urinal bottle in my dad's beer fridge that morning.  It was FREEZING! I still consider myself lucky to this day that I did not get frost bite.

I always found it so ironic that such a religious lady would carry out such an act of revenge.  Isn't revenge a sin?

Until next time...

A Christmas Story

It's that time of the year again when we celebrate the holidays.  It's funny how the holidays remind us of special memories from our childhood.  Playing, school pageants, and Santa. Playing in the snow was not as exciting for me as it was other kids.  Snow and disabled people don't make a great combination.  Still to this day I'm still puzzled how R2D2, the galactic cripple,  moved with such ease around the planet Hoth. My mom would spend an hour bundling me up in a snow suit and put mittens on my hands to go outside to play.  You have all seen my hands, putting mittens on me is as challenging as solving a Rubik's Cube.

Let me take a moment to list the many ways that I could play in the snow:

  1. Make snow angels

That's it. 1 hour to dress. 2 hours of play.  A lot of dumb ass snow angles in the front yard.

When I was young I attended a school with just disabled people.  Like regular schools, they too would have an annual Christmas show.  The major difference was that most of the cast was non-verbal.  It was difficult to tell whether they were singing jingle bells, frosty the snowman, or silent night...it all sounded the same!  Being that I was in the front my back was soaked from their spit.  Their Christmas play was more like an nativity set with Joseph wearing a hockey helmet, given that no one could actually move around on stage.

I remember one time that my mom brought me to sit on Santa's knee so I could tell him what I wanted for Christmas.  Sitting on his knee, Santa asks, "David, Do you want Santa to bring you a new pair of legs for Christmas?"

First off, why is Santa talking in 3rd person?

Second, isn't Santa supposed to listen to what I want instead of drawing attention to me being disabled?

Me and Santa

Third, why do I smell Scotch?

I replied, "The Millennium Falcon, page 345 in the Christmas wish book, with batteries!"

Christmas Eve always brought great excitement...Santa was coming to bring presents!  Would I get the Millennium Falcon or the 'Race 'n Chase' race track?   I remember trying to pretend to be sleeping one Christmas Eve as 'Santa' was attempting to put together (what I would come to find out) a race track.  The cusses of "God D***t, Stupid piece of sh!t," filled the air.  I remember thinking to myself, "Santa has quite a potty mouth for a jolly man".

Me and my race track

We all have special childhood memories of Christmas.  As adults we get to relive the magic of Christmas through little ones.  Instead of receiving - we give.  We give memories for the next generation.

Have a great Christmas everyone!

Until next time...

Being Remembered

I heard once that you start dying the second after you are born. My dad passed away over 13 years ago. I cannot go a single day without thinking of him. He was a great man. I regret that I have more appreciation for him now than when he was still with us. Maybe this is because I have grown into a replica of him.

I wish he could have seen first how all of the sacrifices that he and my mom endured paid off to make their son a man.  I wish he could have witnessed me falling in love to become the husband I'm proud to be.  I wish he could have seen the boy that everyone labeled a 'cripple' evolve into an adult that strives to excel in his profession.  I wish he could see me living a full and independent life.  I wish we could talk.  I wish he could see my eyes water up as I type this.  I wish I could hug him.

We had our struggles and our differences over the years.  It's only now that I know why he was so hard on me.  Society considered me an underdog but he believed in me.  My father could be considered underdog himself growing up.  With a grade 8 education and callus hands from long hours of  hard labour, he became a part owner of a company that employed over 100 employees.

My Dad

When a loved one dies it forces us to stop and take inventory of our lives.  To measure who we are and what we have become.  I don't have those answers for myself but I know who my dad was.  My dad was a strong leader that lead without having to say a word.  He was a man with a huge heart...that it ended up quitting on him from caring and loving so much through his life.  A man that loved stirring the pot and playing countless practical jokes.  A man that worked hard to give me the opportunities I have now.  A man that gave unconditionally in silence.

After my father died I heard stories of his giving nature.  I heard that my father would deliver groceries to his employee that was off work on disability and was struggling to feed his family.  Three weeks after his funeral I received a letter from a church that explained how my father worked on their their furnace many times through the years even though they could never afford to pay for the repairs.   There were many more stories that were told.  My dad never talked about any of these things...that was the type of man he was.

How will I be remembered?  I'm dying to find out.

Until next time...

The Dating Game

Everyone wants to love...and to be loved.  Everyone wants intimacy.  Everyone wants someone to grow old with.  Finding this person is the end game of many trials and errors.  This game is called dating.  It comes with optimism, discovery, anxiety, awkwardness, and self realization.  Dating is a challenge to everyone...especially for me.  This game  started for me in high school and continued to my early 30's. The most common question people have about someone with a disability is if they can have sex.  Let's put it this way, I didn't go through my vasectomy for a good time.  However, this question was always in the back of the mind of  everyone I dated.  Over time I wanted to have my opening line be, "Hi, I'm Dave...and I can do it".  I can disappoint a lady just as well as my walking peeps can.

I didn't start dating until later in high school.  I had to wait until girls got their driver's license.  I realize that dating a disabled guy might not be considered cool, but having my mom drive would have made it worse.  My mom's singing along to her 8-track of Glen Campbell singing 'Rhinestone Cowboy' would not have set the right mood for the date.

Caveman used clubs to begin their courtship.  Our generation used mixed tapes.  I know I'm going to get heckled about admitting this...but I'm sure I wasn't alone in doing this in high school.  When looks are not your selling point, nothing sealed the deal like spending hours making a mixed tape that included  'In your Eyes' and 'Somebody' for that special lady.  If you were smart, you used your dual tape deck to make multiple copies of this love potion in case that week's attempt didn't workout.

When preparing for a date I would think ahead to what I might say.  Obviously she isn't going to be interested with my boring self...so I have to portray what I would be like if I was interesting.   I guess telling her that I scored 4 touchdowns in the high school championship would be a stretch...

In addition to this I would have to manage how much I drank during the day.  No,  not 'liquid courage' but ANY fluid.  I would quit drinking anything at 2pm for a 6pm date.  I didn't want to take the chance that the restaurant washroom wasn't accessible, and asking her to help me might be considered a perverted request.  Gigity!  Alternatively, wetting my pants would not likely lead to a second date (unless I was lucky enough to connect with her freshly after a really bad relationship).

I did not use my wheelchair on dates too often.  Since I'm able to walk with assistance, I would have my date walk me.  Something I discovered while dating, and verified over my 5 years of marriage,  that women do not wear practical shoes out.  Walking me is usually easy...unless you are wearing 4 inch heels.   It was like being walked  along a tight rope.  Having my date walk me assured that at least we would hold hands during our date.  Who's got game?  Davey's got game. Plus, I got to make sure she didn't have 'man hands'.

In an attempt to be independent I would always order chicken fingers so I would not have to ask her to cut my meat up.  Chicken fingers is one of the last socially acceptable thing to pick up and eat with your fingers.  The fact that chicken fingers were on the menu tells you the type of places I would bring my dates too.  Shut up, I'm frugal.

We have all been exposed to being on a date where the other person will talk your ear off over the most uninteresting things imaginable.  When this happened to me, she would say, "You are such a great listener".  Not really...I just can't walk away.  Falling out of the booth and crawling away might have given her the hint.

Even though dating was excruciating, I would not change anything  After a long time playing this game, I finally won my soul mate.

Until next time...

Davey Day

A friend at work today was telling me about his upcoming vasectomy, so I thought I would share my experience from a chair side perspective. My wife and I decided to not have kids. I will share my thoughts and feeling about our decision in a future post as it is a deeper topic than this one. I think being a parent is the most important job in the world and I have the highest admiration to you parents out there.

This story begins when we go to the Doctor for our 'conciliation' where he explains the procedure. The doctor explains that he will give me a local sedative and freeze the area so I will be awake for the whole procedure. Having Cerebral Palsy - I'm spastic. This means I startle very easily. I explain to the doctor that I jump at the slightest tap on the shoulder let alone a razor blade approaching my goods. He tries to comfort me by saying that the sedative will make me feel all loopy and we will be talking to each other all the way through it. "It's like drinking and talking with your buddies", he explains.  I had three major problems with his explanation:

1. When I drink with my buddies we don't 'snip' each other.

2. We're not on talking terms - dude, you're snipping my berries

3. You shouldn't be talking to me - keep your eye on the prize

The day finally comes and I'm scheduled to be the first patient.  I like to handle these things head on and get it over with.  It did feel weird to be the only one in the waiting room.  I was rolled in on a bed to the operating room.  The nurse says, "Mr. Dame can you please jump up on the table".  My anxiety hits the roof...obviously she did not read my chart.  I politely asked her to read my chart.  She reads the chart and is embarrassed.  Given that my professional occupation revolves around reducing high risk and performing validation checks, I ask her to review what was to happen...one can't be too careful.

After the procedure my wife rolls me out in my wheelchair.  The fear that was in the eyes of the men in the waiting room was priceless.  Since we know that 'Disabled people can be bastards' , it should be no surprise that I announced to everyone that  I walked in there that morning.

On the way out the nurse hands us a container.  She tells us that we have to bring a 'sample' to the lab for testing in six weeks to make sure the operation was a success.  The hugest smile appeared on my face as I looked at my wife, holding up my hands and shrugging my shoulders.  For once in my life having gimpy hands was going to work in my favour - I was going to be the 'self-serve' gas pump.  My wife blushes.  The nurse cautions that the sample needs to be tested within the hour of 'procurement'

Six weeks later ...Saturday morning (forever known as Davey Day) arrives.  My wife gets everything ready as she only has less than an hour to race the sample to the lab for testing.  Unfortunately we could not get a police escort from our home to the lab so time was precious.  She 'procures' the sample and races out the door.  Having a new appreciation for what cows go through on a daily basis...I felt the need for a nap.  My wife returns home and she brings me to the barber to get my haircut.  This was a real old school barber so he used a straight razor, tonic the whole works.  This was followed by a nice afternoon walk and an awesome dinner and nice wine.  I don't know what a day at the spa is like...but this had to be pretty close.

Until next time...

Forever grateful

A lot of my coworkers have little children or are about to have a child.  This has had me thinking about my parents. My parents dedicated their lives to make sure that I have the life I have.

I was born in 1971.  At this time a lot of parents were advised to have their disabled child checked in an institution so they can get the 'care' they need.   Parents were told to not have high hopes as their was not much hope in the world for a disabled person. They  chose the path that no one dared to travel.  They were committed for me to have a life.  A life with highs and lows.  A life of love and heartbreaks.  A life of laughing and crying. A life of success and mistakes.  A life to the fullest.  A life I can call my own.

I'm grateful for your numerous battles with school boards who were not ready to accept me.

I'm grateful for you being a hard ass by making me work all hours of the night to one finger type my assignments.

I'm grateful that you didn't make excuses for me.

I'm grateful that you helped me build an armor shield that I would need to depend on when you weren't around.

I'm grateful for the many hours you spent with me in the hospital rooms telling me the pain would not be forever.

I'm grateful for all the sacrifices you made to buy the special equipment I needed.

I'm grateful for everything I have now.

You did an amazing job in raising someone who is a husband, who is a brother, who is an uncle, who is a son-inlaw, brother-in-law, uncle, and co-worker.  You did an awesome job raising Dave.

We had stairs in our house while growing.  Stairs that were a huge obstacle for me.  Despite asking my dad many times to build a ramp he never did.  For the longest time I thought it was because he couldn't be bothered.  A week before he died he told me that the reason why he never built the ramp was because he would not always be around to build ramps for me in this world...so I needed to be prepared to climb for myself.

For those of you that have children or are about to have a child, remember it's not the material things you give them, it's not about knowing all the right things to do, it's about giving them the opportunity to experience a full life.

I think I'm going to call my mom right now.

 Left to right: Mom, Sister, Dad, Me

Left to right: Mom, Sister, Dad, Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time...

Disabled people can be bastards

To help provide insight to the dark side of disabled people I thought I would share a story of a practical joke that me and my disabled friend 'pulled' on a helper (PSW) that we both shared. This helper had been working with my friend for a lot of years. This helper only had been working for me for six weeks when we played this practical joke on him. As you will read, he is quite gullible. I wish I could take the credit for thinking of this, but it was my disabled buddy who thought of it.

I scheduled this helper to accompany me on an off-site management meeting for the company I was working for at the time.

While working with my buddy this helper says, "I'm going out of town with Dave for a few days."

My buddy replies, "Did Dave tell you what he needs for his 'bedtime' routine?"

The helper replied, "No".

My buddy proceeds to tell him that because my spasticity is so bad that the only way I can relax to fall a sleep is to be 'massaged in his private place' at night. After a bit of back & forth words between them, my buddy has him believing the story.

That day my buddy called me at work and told me what he had done. He encourages me to play along...I was just hoping I could do it with a straight face.

The next day this helper was working with me and brings up the conversation that he had with my buddy. I cut him off before he could finish and said, "Look, this isn't a rose garden for me either and rather not talk about it"...the truth is that I wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face if the conversation went on any longer.

The day before the trip this helper asked my buddy if he had any last minute advice. My buddy told him, "If I was you, I would bring condoms. If Dave is a 'quick trigger' you really don't want to clean that up"

My buddy calls to give me the update of their conversation. I decided to share this story with my wife, giving her another opportunity for her to shake her head in disbelief at me. To my surprise, she played along. When my wife filled my suitcase she packed condoms. I feel lucky to have found a woman that has a gimp fetish AND a twisted sense of humour!

When we got to the hotel the helper opened my suitcase to find the condoms...I still remember his look of fear as he noticed them.

Like every company offsite there is the usual team building exercise at a bar in the evening. My helper was taking every advantage of the free liquor to prepare him for what he thought he would be doing later. Near the end of the night I told him that I was tired and ready to check in for the night. My helper downed 3 drinks and proceeded to push my chair back to the hotel. I NEVER recall being pushed so slow in my life. It was like the final walk of a death row prisoner about to go in the electric chair. All we needed was the Imperial March theme from star wars playing in the background to set the tone better.

Before I continue on with the end of the story I think it's important to pay tribute to this helper's dedication to his job. This dude was about to 'churn my butter' out of commitment toward his job. The military would love to get this blind loyalty to duty!

We got back to the hotel, put my pajamas on, and asked for instructions for the rest of the routine. I said there is one thing before you start...can you sing "I'm a little tea pot"?

At that moment he realized we were 'pulling' his leg. He said, "You crips are warped bastards"...and to all a good night.

Until next time...

Ordinary Life…what an extraordinary effort

The last couple of months have been insane. For the first time in 5 years I became incredibly sick. I have no one to blame but myself for stretching myself thin in all areas of my life. However, for me to have an ordinary life it requires an extraordinary effort.

Balancing work/life is challenging for everyone. We all want to make an impact in our chosen profession and it’s easy to allow our passion to consume us as we strive to leave our footprint with our organization. When I got sick it made sense for ‘rest’ and me to stay home. How great would it be to do this spontaneously as the cold sets in. For me, staying home and resting involves more structure than it should. Having to be independent while home alone requires me to stay in my office chair so I can move around independently to the washroom and around the house while home alone. When you are sick wanting rest…an office chair is NOT the most comfortable thing to sit in…trust me, I’m a professional sitter. However, getting loaded on Buckly’s made it a little easier. I was getting a little grief from co-workers that I was working when I was supposed to be resting…considering I couldn’t lay down and daytime tv sucks, working in pajama bottoms & t shirts was the next best thing. Unfortunately for my wife, luckily for me, she came down with the cold and stayed home the next day allowing me to sit in my spot on the recliner couch. Having these challenges seemed ‘normal’ to me but was a moment of discovery when explaining it to my work peeps.

For those of you that don’t know, I have Personal Support Workers that come in the mornings (5:30am-8am) to help me get ready (bike, shower, dress, try and make me look good) and drive me to work. They also come at night (4:30pm-6:30pm) to pick me up from work, assist with my work out and do light housekeeping (my wife likes this perk of marrying a gimp). Having the right Personal Support Worker is essential for me to have an enriching life personally and professionally. A common question I’m always asked is why doesn’t my wife do my care. ..it’s because she is my wife and I don’t want the lines to be grayed between life partner and caregiver. Also, at times I might say something to stir the pot…and I wouldn’t want to be stuck in bed all day from my big mouth. However, on vacation, it’s just the two of us…2 is company – 3 is definitely a crowd.

Anyway, two weeks ago both my PSWs gave their notice. My anxiety level rises, as I need to find all new staff with the dependability & personality that will allow me to continue living my life. The resumes I initially received was terrible…no effort to lie to make themselves sound good. I usually like students as they have flexibility to do early mornings, afternoons, and travel with me for work. I have to put my life in these people’s hands…given that they help me with showering I hope these hands are also gentle. If they do not show up in the morning my day cannot begin. I have to recruit, interview, schedule, and manage my helpers to just get into work to start working. In the interview I have to get the sense if I can trust this person with my life…sounds easier than it is. Secondly, we need to interact well. Spending a few hours a day with someone you want to make sure you enjoy being around them. I took this for granted in the past and wished I could have asked those socially challenged helpers to snap my neck so I wouldn’t have to listen to them anymore. Thankfully, experience has made me wiser. The two new hires start training this week…fingers crossed.

After all this it is definitely time for a vacation for my wife and myself. This should be straightforward to arrange. We have booked a Hawaiian Cruise 18 months ago, life is short so it’s important to experience everything while you can. In making special arrangements to board the airplane for our trip the lady on the phone asked, “Do you have a Dr.’s note confirming your disability?” Could there have been a cure for Cerebral Palsy in the last few days that I just didn’t hear about? Doesn’t a power wheelchair and gimpy looking hands mean anything anymore? I have 39 years of Cerebral Palsy expertise so now I just have to get certified in Cerebral Palsy. My professional signature should now read: Dave Dame, PST, CSP, CSQA, CSM, IIA, CP (Cerebral Palsy).

People always ask me, “If you could start your life over without Cerebral Palsy, would you?”. This is a tough question…but my answer is no. I don’t think I would be the same person or have the same special people in my life that I do. The challenges I have endured has made me who I am today, personally and professionally. I have done things that others say was impossible. I have learned to fall and to always get up. What I need to learn is it’s ok to be vulnerable., it’s ok to not fix everything, it’s ok to be fallible. My life has always been to live without regret. I can live with a mistake…but I can’t live with wondering ‘what if’

Although living an ordinary life is an extraordinary effort, it’s also an extraordinary accomplishment. You don’t have to be a rockstar to everyone…just a rockstar to those loved ones, friends, and co-workers that help inspire you on a daily basis. To everyone that is in my life that reads this, thank you for making my life awesome.

Until next time...