I’m not crazy.
(My Mom had me tested)
Yes, I am disabled. It’s true that ever since March 2, 1999 I have dealt with a number of neurological issues related to the Medical Malpractice error that my quack Spinal Surgeon blessed me with during my supposedly “routine” back surgery.
Yes, the circulation in my legs is shot, courtesy of spinal nerve damage that has impaired the flow of blood to and from my legs. Yes, this has caused me two DVT blood clots, but thanks to blood-thinning medication, I have not had a clot since the summer of 1999.
Yes, the nerve damage has also resulted in both of my legs being completely numb, all the time. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed until they fall asleep. Now, stand up. This is what I have dealt with on a daily basis since 1999. I have numbness and tingling in the legs, yet the legs never have “woken up” since the surgery. It took months of physical therapy to get me to where I could walk “normally” again. Now, I am so good at it that I walk with just the slightest of limps.
A limp that results from another side-effect of the nerve damage, drop foot on my left foot and ankle. Since the surgery, the foot and ankle are the equivalent of a broken shopping cart wheel. Many braces and even a tendon transfer surgery have all been attempted to try to straighten my foot, all to no avail. It is what it is. It just does it’s thing, and I do mine.
Yes, even with all these problems in my legs, the nerve damage done to my spine was not yet done with me. The vital areas of the spinal cord which control normal bowel and bladder function were also damaged. I won’t go into great detail, but this is just another aspect of my disability that I have dealt with on a daily basis since my surgery.
Because of all this, I have been on disability and have been unable to work since 1999.
My effective job title should be “Disabled Househusband”.
While my body might be damaged, my mind has always been perfectly fine. (My wife will argue against this statement)
In the years prior to getting hurt, I was a Nurse, a Tech Specialist, an Intelligence Analyst, A Sales Agent, you name it. I was even a Cave Guide for the National Park Service for two summers back in the mid 1980’s. Since 1999, I’ve been a stay-at-home Dad because of the disability. There’s nothing wrong with that. Grudgingly, I accepted that fact years ago.
What I lost when I got hurt was my DREAMS.
While working, I always had dreams as to how high I was going to climb on my career ladder, had dreams of the places I was going to visit with my family, and dreams about what I wanted to accomplish with the rest of my life.
Getting hurt instantly squashed all those dreams.
In recent months, I have started searching for a new dream. Something that I could look forward to, work towards, and strive for. Something that would make a huge damn mark on what I have accomplished in the years since I got hurt.
I want that accomplishment that will have my grandkids talking about me, telling their friends about their disabled grandfather that did this thing so amazing, so unbelievable, so magical, that their friends just smile and say “Your Grandfather is so cool!”
I ran marathons back when I was a teenager.
I had a great sense of accomplishment from completing those marathons. I still have a great sense of accomplishment and pride from those races, well over 30 years since I last ran.
I want that sense of accomplishment that will carry me through the rest of my years here on earth.
I am not crazy.
I just have a dream.
The odds say that my chances of finishing the Appalachian Trail are pretty small. About 80% of those who try it, fail. It’s easy to guess that 99% of those attempting the trail are not middle-aged and disabled.
Most people will rightfully think I am crazy for even thinking about doing this hike.
But, who knows…..
Maybe I’ll just make it 100 miles, 200 miles, or 500 miles…..
Even that will be an accomplishment given the state of my legs.
Maybe Steve and I will shock the world. Maybe late Summer 2016 will see us posing atop Mt. Katahdin in Maine, a short 2,200 miles away from where we first started hiking 4-6 months earlier.
Just attempting this hike with good friend Steve will give me a dream to work towards for the next three years. And, if there is one thing we all need, it’s dreams.
April 2, 2013
This was the moment I feared most.
The moment I revealed my plan to my wife and son.
As we sat at the dinner table, I slowly spelled out our plan and the rationale behind it. I fully expected a loud chorus of “You’re crazy!!!” from my family.
No one thinks I’m crazy. They actually support me.
I know neither of them gives me any chance at all of possibly lasting the whole hike, but I can’t wait to surprise them.
It’s now time to start the weight loss, the walking, and all the preparations that will need to be done long before our hike starts.
Today the dream begins.
Come late Summer of 2016, I’m posting the photo of Steve and I atop that mountain in Maine, right here on this post.
And the dream will have become a reality.