In Kelly’s Words – Q&A Guest Starring Greg & Edie
This month, I wanted to do something a little different with my blog. I love sharing my perspective on my injury, the KBF, and all things adaptive, but we also have some other amazing perspectives within our office. Edie, our Executive Director, and Greg, our Program Director, are both living with spinal cord injuries, and while we are united by our love for an active life, we have had totally unique experiences as well.
So this month, we put together a couple questions that we all answered them separately, and I’m super excited to share the responses. Some are fun, some are serious, and hopefully they all give a little window into the personalities of our amazing little team.
What is an unexpected upside of your disability that people would never know about?
- Kelly: You get free parking in Vermont! I don’t know if this is true everywhere, but in Vermont, in any garage or pay for parking area, if you have a handicap placard it’s free! Another unexpected upside is that I can get things like shots or IVs in my lower body and not feel them! This happened when I had my oldest daughter. They were having a hard time getting an IV in my arms and they finally did my feet and it worked great. Now I know I can ask for that!
- Edie: 1. My feet never hurt; 2. I’ve gotten really good at asking for help; 3. Most importantly, I’ve gotten much closer to family and many friends.
- Greg: Great seats at sporting events, cutting lines (we get shuffled past long lines at the airport, concerts, etc. and brought right to the front) and being able to go to the bathroom almost anywhere.
What is the most annoying part of having a disability that people wouldn’t know about?
- Kelly: Getting around in the snow. While I love living in Vermont, the snow can be really annoying when you’re in a chair. When sidewalks or parking lots aren’t perfectly cleared, or piles of snow are left on the ramps or curb cutouts, it makes it really hard to navigate.
- Edie: The amount of time and effort it takes to do the simplest things, like getting in and out of the car, running into a store, or putting on a pair of pants.
- Greg: People that are bad drivers and slam on their brakes when you are in the front seat. Without having any core muscles it’s like a bucking bronco ride (be gentle people). Also when people park their cars in the lines of the handicap parking spots blocking’s us from getting in and out of our cars. It’s illegal – don’t do it!
What does your dream active day look like?
- Kelly: My dream days have been happening recently! I ski in the morning with Zeke and we meet up with friends here and there. Then we get lunch and pick our kids up from ski school and ski with them in the afternoon. While I love skiing in Vermont (we mostly ski at Sugarbush), I guess a dream day would be to do this same routine in the Alps somewhere! During the summer, I would love this same routine. I’d get out for a mountain bike ride with Zeke that has some good terrain and challenge, and then go to a tamer setting to ride with my girls. I love having time that I can adventure but I equally love adventuring with my kids at their level.
- Edie (pictured handcycling in CA on the right): A 100-mile bike ride in the summertime through VT’s green hills with friends by my side. (NOTE: This has yet to happen. Still in dream-stage!)
- Greg: Winter: first tracks in the morning skiing, Nordic push in the afternoon, and ice skate in the moonlight with a beer in the evening. Summer: sunrise wakeboard session, mountain bike/gravel ride/road bike all day and camping at night.
What accessibility hack do you have in your home that you’re particularly proud of?
- Kelly: I have an oven that has French doors and opens above my lap. This allows me to open or close the door with one hand while I hold something in the other and allows me to more easily take hot things out of the oven. Something that a lot of people don’t think about is that I have no abdominal or lower back muscles, so I can’t bend down to pick something up and use two hands. To get something out of an oven that’s low to the ground is a real challenge. When I got this oven that opens above my knees, it made a huge difference!
- Edie: I have the perfect size and weight cutting board that I use for all my food prep. It sits right on my lap and I do all the work there. Love that thing!
- Greg: I have a modified (though not adaptive in any way) electric scooter to rip to work in and around Burlington. I wheelie over the scooter and put my footplate of wheelchair where you are supposed to stand. I can hold onto the handlebars of the scooter while sitting in my chair and have a thumb throttle. I love the looks I get when I go bombing by people!
What advice do you give to someone who is newly injured?
- Kelly: Be patient! Everything takes longer than you want it to and the more patience you can employ and the more grace you give yourself, the easier your first few months and years will be. My second piece of advice is always to get into sports. At the KBF we talk about the benefits of sports and activity going way beyond the physical. It’s the mental and emotional benefits of sports that is so critical after an injury. Even if someone wasn’t an athlete before, finding ways to get into nature and move your body can be life changing.
- Edie: My advice is: first, to stay in rehab as long as possible; and then once you’re home, be sure to connect with other with SCI and try sports or other recreational activities that make you happy.
- Greg: Be yourself, learn to drive as soon as possible (people with SCIs usually need to use hand controls since they can’t use their feet and you need to take lessons and become certified in this before you can drive), get involved in the adaptive community as well adaptive sports programs and be active!