Crip Baseball - A Disabled Field of Dreams

With the Major League Baseball playoffs happening it reminded me of my playing days.  Surprisingly enough, I did not play Major League Baseball, rather 'Buddy Ball'.  Buddy Ball was the closest thing for crips.

Buddy Ball was baseball for people with disabilities.  Each disabled player had a 'buddy' they were paired with to field the ball and to push you along the bases when you were at bat.  We hit off a T since most crips can't throw a ball to save your life.  When your team was in the field the crip player would hold his ball cap like a net and your buddy would field the ball and place it in  the hat.  If you have seen my hands before, putting a glove on it would be as frustrating as bending a spoon mentally.

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One year my parents thought it would be good if my sister would be my 'buddy' for the season.  My sister is 10 years older than me and this was during the time of her partying days.  She wanted nothing more than getting home at 3am to wake up at 8am to play Buddy Ball.  I wanted nothing more than a hung over buddy.  Nobody would ever have suspected that we would be the most feared players in the game that season.

The first game came around.  I seen a spark in my sister.  Buddy Ball was intended to get disabled people out doing activities.  My sister saw it as a competitive sport that could be won, where there were winners and losers.  She was going to relive her softball days and bring the pennant home to the red team.  My sister raced me around the bases more reckless than a Fast & The Furious movie.  If you stepped in front of us...your wheelchair would be scrap metal and the buddy would need a buddy for the next game.

The whole next week my sister had me in the driveway practicing for the next game.  My sister thought it took too much time for her to field the ball from the ground and run it over to me and drop it in my hat.  She came up with the Buddy Ball game changer - the throw!  She had me place my hat on my lap and she would field the ball and throw it (hard) right into my lap.  Needless to say getting a baseball in the junk wasn't making me feel so good.  I never had more of an appreciation for oxygen as I did then.  I complained to my sister and she said, "Walk it off, we need to win"...yes, I appreciate the irony in her reply.

She did not stop there.  She made modifications to my chair...it looked like something the A-Team put together.  She took off the arm rests and feet rests as she thought that was giving too much weight and drag around the corners as we rounded the bases.  By the time she was done it looked like a shopping cart as my arms and legs hung over.  However, I successfully negotiated to keep the seat belt.

We piled up the wins that season.  The play I remember most was the time we got a home run.  The team we were playing had a catcher with all four prosthetic limbs.  We hit the ball and my sister pushed my chair so fast I could see my life pass before my eyes.  I thought we were going to stop at 3rd base because the ball was headed home.  My sister thought different,  The catcher stumbled to the baseline and we smashed right into him.  All I saw were limbs flying everywhere as we zoomed through.  While everyone else was putting the catcher back together, the ref called us 'SAFE!'

We never got invited to play buddy ball again after that season

I learned three things that season:

  1. You should always wear a cup
  2. Pain is temporary, but victory is forever
  3. My sister is pretty awesome

Until next time...

The Friends You Keep

 Our friends bring out both the best of us and the worst of us.  Throughout my entire life, through the highs and lows, I have had the best of friends surrounding me.

Recently, when I completed my 5K Terry Fox walk, I had a whole group of friends there that I don't think I would've made it to the finish line if the wasn't for them making me laugh. 

Friends with me each step of the way during the walk...

One of the benefits to having a disability is that you can filter shallow people out of your life.  This leaves you with real genuine people to surround yourself with. This alone makes having a physical disability well worth the price of admission.

My friends all have the same twisted sense of humour as I do.  This is one of the things that bond us...

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One year at work I forgot there was a dress up contest for work.  I improvised and quickly dressed up as Christopher Reeves...

I remember in university there were nights where we would go out for heavy drinking, and by some miracle I always ended up waking up safe and sound in my own bed.  Although there was this one time that we left my power wheelchair at the bar.  Imagine my surprise waking up the next morning and not seeing my power wheelchair in the room.  My parents were coming down to visit me that day and I couldn't think of what I would tell them about the missing chair.  I called my buddy that I went out with and asked him if he could remember.  He came down to my rez room and we began to trace our steps back for the evening prior.  He remembered that we only had twenty dollars left.  We had a very important choice to make.  Do we use that twenty dollars to order pizza or do we use it for cab fare back to the University residence?  Tough decisions for a university student.  Creatively enough, we came up with the idea that if we ordered the pizza from the place beside the bar we could have them deliver it to the residence (Village 1, North 6 represent) then we could have pizza AND catch a ride back home.  The only problem was that we had to leave my power wheelchair behind.  Maybe not the best decision I ever made, but hey, at least I didn't drink and drive.  Imagine my walk of shame the next morning as I had to go to the bar the next day to pick up my Powerchair before my parents got there.  I did get a standing ovation from the staff.

When we would go to bars my buddies thought of me is the perfect wing man.  Nothing made them look better to the opposite sex that having a good friend in a wheelchair with them at the bar.  I have more assists racked up then Wayne Gretzky.  It was the least I could do since they had to help me to the bathroom after I broke the seal.  I was also during a public service to all the cougars.  Dancing with a guy in a wheelchair was a sure ticket to heaven, so I told them...

I don't take for granted the people in my life.  I am privileged to say that most of my friends have been life-long friends. They have seen me as a awkward teenager, trying to find who I was in my University years, seeing me transition from school to career, co-worker, and to fall in love.

The boyz at my wedding...

People always asked me if I could be born again without cerebral palsy, would I do it?  I always answer absolutely not.  I don't think I would be the stubborn person that I am, nor would I have the amazing people that I do in my life.  I would not trade that for anything.  

If you are judged by the friends you keep… I must be pretty awesome.

Until next time…

 

Achieving the impossible requires insanity

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Last week I achieved one of my goals.  I set a goal out thirteen months ago to be able to walk 5 km to raise money for cancer research.  Having cerebral palsy and spending the majority of my day in a power wheelchair makes this goal seems unrealistic or possibly insane.  Maybe it was… But achieving this  last week puts it in perspective...doesn't it?

After completing walking 5km I was filled with emotions I hugged my wife and did not want to ever leave her arms...

Throughout my life I have had to find different creative ways to be able to achieve the things I want in life.  This forced me to leverage out-of-the-box thinking, technology, and to develop a way to engage everything around me to be able to accomplish the things that I want to do.  I had to find new ways to be able to dictate written correspondence, I've had to leverage different ways of thinking to achieve what was expected of me.  Leveraging all of this I have became an effective change agent in helping organizations increase their efficiency and productivity by setting unrealistic expectations and coming up with creative ways to do things, a skill that I have developed in finding creative ways to do things that they previously never thought of within the organization.  To help people in the teams to embrace unrealism and insanity to accomplish amazing results.  

Last week made me realize that being a little insane not only  helped me achieve my goals, but it has an impact on others in helping them get confidence, motivation, and inspiration to achieve their goals which seem impossible to them.  

I challenge you to be a little bit insane.  I challenge you to be a little unrealistic.  This way you can take the first step of discovering what is really possible for yourself and open up the avenues to other things in your life.


Insanely yours…

Until next time…

The Power of Words

As the Terry Fox walk approaches I have been juggling a lot of thoughts and emotions.  Training for the walk, multiple work priorities, promoting the walk, looking for a new personal support worker have been all competing for my head space.  This week we did my final walk before the big day and I pulled a muscle in my knee.  My wife had to struggle getting me back into the house as I could barely put weight on it.  Happy to say it's all better now.

This week the following thoughts are running through my head - "Have I prepared enough",  "Accelerate", "Why does this have to hurt now", "When will I get a good support worker to interview?...How am I going to get out of bed tomorrow to go to work?", "Reduce time to market", "Capacity", "Am I promoting the Terry Fox walk enough?", "Am I promoting it too much?" "Can I do this walk?", "How are my friends and family doing?". Self doubt. Anger. Fear. Exhaustion. Frustration. You lose yourself.

 I stole this graphic from the internet...

I stole this graphic from the internet...

Then this week a gentleman approached me at the gym.  He said, "You say Terry Fox is your hero...YOU are MY hero.  I'm at the gym tonight because of you. Thank you" 

Re-motivated. Passion re-ignited. Re-focused. Bring on The Terry Fox walk next Sunday, September 14th! I'm Ready!

The Journey Continues.

Visit - http://www.daviddame.com/terryfox/

This video of my workout is courtesy of Edward Platero - http://youtu.be/Qps2kCGnfDA

 

Because I have been given much, I too must give.

The quote above is written over top of my cousin's family's kitchen table.  His wife explained that they instill in their children that they are fortunate to have the life they have so they should give to others that are less fortunate.  I found this incredibly inspiring.

When I first decided to set the goal to walk 5km, it was to push myself.  My stubbornness would motivate me to give everything I had to achieve this goal.  I want to show people that anything can happen if you put your mind to it.  This extends beyond personal achievements.  What can all of us do if we put our efforts into something.  What can we do as a community to help others.   If I can walk 5km...why can't we come up with a cure for cancer.  If I didn't believe I could walk 5km, I would never even try.  If we don't believe we can cure cancer, will we?

Some people think it's unfair that I was born with Cerebral Palsy.  I don't see it this way.   I see that I'm fortunate to have an awesome wife, I'm fortunate to have been able to go to University and have an awesome career,  I'm fortunate that I have the career that has allowed me to work with so many awesome people.  This career has allowed me to afford to pay for personal training to have shed 60 lbs and gave way to a healthier life.  Although my wife and I have to make trade offs & sacrifices to pay for training for me 3 times a week...I'm still fortunate.  I'm fortunate enough to be in shape to attempt to walk 5km.  I'm fortunate enough to honour Terry Fox and raise money for cancer. 

A number of people have asked me why I am doing a fundraiser for cancer as opposed to cerebral palsy.  That is a great question.  I believe that people need to look outside of their struggles and situation to help others with their struggles and situation… I want to help others that suffer from this disease and the families that support them.  Secondly, Terry Fox has always been a hero of mine, living a life to the fullest under extremely challenging circumstances.

A lot of people in my life suffer from cancer.  My uncle passed away from cancer a few years ago. I have another uncle that is battling 3 types of cancer.  I have friends & coworkers living with this disease.  These people are the real fighters, going through real hardships.

As a child, I spent a lot of time in the hospitals having surgery after surgery.  I would always think to myself that when I get past all the surgeries that I would live my life to the fullest.  I owe it to my awesome parents that have made a lot of sacrifices, my wife, friends and family, and charities and organizations who have all helped me have this awesome life.  It's my time to give back. This is my devotion.

Stubbornness is what started me to set this goal in the first place, to push myself physically.  Devotion to helping others have inspired me to push through tough times to achieve this so I can help others.  There is a thin line between stubbornness and devotion...and I find myself bouncing between the two sides throughout this journey.  In the spirit of the quote on my cousin's wall above their kitchen table...I've been given so much, I too must give...

The Journey Continues

Join the journey by making a donation to the Terry Fox run: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=2329392#&panel1-5

 

Stubborn?

While watching a Terry Fox documentary the other week my wife made the statement, "Terry was stubborn, just like you!"

I disagreed at first, but did some reflective thinking.  I guess I'm the product of my environment.

Growing up in Essex County you get called the armpit of Ontario.  Dependant heavily on the automotive industry you go through a number of ups and downs.  Every time there is a downturn the city, the people show resilience to persevere and push forward.  Everytime we get knocked down, we get back up.  Everytime we get underestimated we prove them wrong.  We are made up of a blue collar work ethic that we never give up.  We become Essex County tough!

My parents worked many hours and made sacrifices to make sure I had the opportunity to have a fulfilled life.  They fought school boards, government officials, and still found time to give me a kick in the ass when I needed it.  My father working on rooftops in the most punishing weather to make sure his family would have what they needed.  Someone with a grade 8 education persevering and providing.  A mother who would never back down from a fight when it meant she would have to be told no a million times before hearing yes to integrate me in regular schools.  My parents were Essex County tough.

Growing up I was always told what I couldn't do.  Being born they told me I wouldn't live, I would not go to a 'normal' school, I would not be able to talk completely,  never go to University, never work, never find love, never walk...never...  Never ignited the Essex County toughness born inside of me.  Never was a motivation that pushed me further than I thought I could go.  I fell many times, but the blue collar work ethic instilled in me allowed me to pick myself up and try again.  Being knocked down is an opportunity to pick yourself up.  Life is not fair...it might not be easy...but I will out work any obstacle.  Bruises will be my badges of honour.

If being stubborn means being Essex County tough...then yeah, I guess I am...

The Journey Continues

Join the journey by making a donation to the Terry Fox run: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=2329392#&panel1-5

 

Staying focused...You remember why...

How do I stay focused?  I remember why...

I'm doing the Terry Fox walk because:

  • I remember losing loved ones to cancer
  • I remember friends who have had to live with cancer
  • I remember friends with loved ones dying from cancer
  • I remember these same loved ones have to continue to live when their loved one passes on from cancer
  • I remember...

The Journey Continues...

Click here to watch video: http://youtu.be/RaTs02XcOFs

Click above to play video

Living in the 'Now'

The past is the reason for who we are.  The future is what we hope we will be.  No matter what we do with the future it will happen.  Enjoy where you are now in this journey of life.  Now is time to rejoice who you are.  Now is time to enjoy the experiences.  Now is living...

 

Click above to play video

Video can be found here: http://youtu.be/fWOXC0iakR4

Transition to Independence...the sh!t is about to get real.

Graduating from high school is an exciting and scary time.  This is the time you are moving on from the nest to begin your journey toward independence to become an adult.

I was struggling to decide what to take in school and what I wanted to with my life.  My dad sat with me to put things in perspective.

He said, "Son, being in a wheelchair, you are not going to be a fireman, cop, or construction worker.  You know what else your not going to be?  Living under this roof for free the rest of your life...so whatever you are going to do...just do it".

It was the motivation I needed to move forward.  It was a new chapter unfolding in my life.  My life would start to move forward...the shit was about to become real! #TheJourneyContinues

Click play to watch video above


There is nothing more empowering than losing your fear of falling...

There is nothing more empowering than losing your fear of falling…

When you fall:
You learn that you learned something
You learn how to get back up
You learn to try
You get used to getting back up
You learn how to move toward your goal
You learn moving forward is possible
You learn new possibilities
You learn to believe in yourself
One life, life is hard, life is unfair, life is awesome.  Make it your own

Click play to watch video above

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.

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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...

Disabled Etiquette?

Yesterday I was in a meeting at work talking about 508 compliance. During the talk I was struggling to think of what the current politically correct term for physically disabled as I was pretty confident it was not 'gimp' or 'crip'. In my research for the new politically correct term, I came across this ridiculous article:

Mobility: http://www.disabilityliving.ca/people-with-disabilities-mobility-disability-communication/

Here is what they list as 'disabled 'etiquette:

1. Do not lean on someone’s wheelchair – remember, “Wheelchairs are an extension of personal space.”

Funny, so disabled guys don't mind a stripper on their lap but touching their wheelchair is off limits?

2. Do not help someone (for example, help maneuver a wheelchair) until you have first asked; do not just assume he or she needs your help.

Disabled etiquette calls for people to receive permission to help? Should we not be happy that someone wants to help?

3. “Don’t patronize people who use wheelchairs by patting them on the head. Reserve this sign of affection for children.”

So it's not ok to rub a disabled person but it's ok to be a pedophile? In my example for #1, disabled guys never minded being rubbed at a strip club.

4. If you are speaking to someone in a wheelchair for a considerable amount of time, get down on his or her eye level – this will help both of you avoid a sore neck later.

Able bodied people should drop to their knees for us? One word - "Giggity!"

5. If someone using a wheelchair asks you for directions, think ahead of any obstacles that may present themselves (weather, distance, hills, curbs, etc).

Maybe we should ask that the person providing directions lay a trail of breadcrumbs for the disabled person to follow... Really? Should we not be happy that they are providing directions? It's hard for non-disabled people to recognize the obstacles until they have spent a decent amount of time around a disabled person.

6. “Treat adults as adults. Call a person by his or her first name only when you extend this familiarity to everyone present.”

What? I don't even understand this one. When my friends introduce me to others as an idiot it's well deserved. I work hard at it.

7. Did you know that some individuals having a mobility-related disability use their arms to balance themselves? Keep this in mind when considering physical contact.

If your not sure...see if they are wearing shoes on their hands first.

8. Don’t set your personal belongings on the desktop attached to someone’s wheelchair.

If you have a desktop attached to your chair and don't demonstrate your upset when someone places items on you...your not a disabled person...your a book shelf.

9. “Keep the ramps and wheelchair-accessible doors to your building unlocked and unblocked.”

Is this etiquette or something that should just be done?

10. When possible, place things within the reach of the individual having the mobility-related disability.

Finnally, one etiquette statement I can appreciate. It took years for my wife to remember to leave the remote in my reach. I can't help to think this was done on purpose to avoid watching sports.

I'm not saying society is perfect in their attitudes toward people with disabilities. However, I don't believe we need our own etiquette category any more than any other minority.

Life is short. We can spend our time being upset that their are ignorant people out their or we can invest the time in appreciating all the great people out there that see us as no different.

This is an unfair and awesome world...Embrace it.

Until next time...