A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, December 12, 2005

My Friend

I got the call on Saturday morning and I went to his home. He had been a patient of mine since 1994. He had also become my friend, and my teacher.

I don't think I will ever meet another man as crusty as him. I hope I never do. He was paralyzed from his neck down, the result of an active duty military training accident at Fort Bragg in 1981. He was a member of a motorcycle gang, even though he was forced to ride in a custom sidecar. He was a bouncer in a strip club, using his 700 pound chair to pin offenders to the wall. Before his injury, he had been a rodeo cowboy, and then joined the Army to enter the Special Forces. He enjoyed taking risks. As a quad, the only real risk he could take was alienating his care givers.

He found it horribly ironic that celebrities could suffer the same injury, and have all the influence and dollars at their disposal and still succumb to the inevitability of their injuries before he did. He took a morbid pleasure in outlasting Christopher Reeve. So many times, through so many complications, sheer strength of will was what kept him alive.

He taught me how to approach paralyzed people, and communicate honestly and without prejudice. He used to divide people into two groups......walkers and rollers. He rolled like few others. He did not let paralysis stop him. He conquered it. He never stopped living. He wanted to be seen as rough and hard. I knew a different man. I knew a man of simple words, but profound understanding. I will help carry him to his maker in a couple of days. I will miss my friend.



Anonymous Sterno said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. It's always hard to lose a friend.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

If everyone got to know such a friend, what a difference it could make.

Being in the care-giving field has changed me forever also.

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

How do you approach paralyzed people?

9:51 PM  

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