Not So Happy Little Accidents…

I hesitated at first to write about this experience because I feel as if it may be outside the boundaries of what is appropriate to share about myself. However, my intentions when I first started this blog were to provide a humorous perspective on what it means to be disabled. Some of the more challenging situations in life can also produce the most amusing, at least in hindsight. I tend to be a person that can find my way into some of the most absurd predicaments. These usually occur at the most inopportune times. Often it is my own body that creates events that make me want to run and hide. For instance, let me share with you what happened to me at work yesterday.

As I have noted before in this blog, controlling my bowels can be an issue for me. This is a common problem for those with spina bifida. I believe I might also have irritable bowel syndrome (I love to self-diagnose). These two conditions when combined can result in embarrassing situations. One minute I can be sitting down enjoying a conversation with someone and the next my bowels can go on high alert. If I do not hurry to the bathroom I can wind up having an accident, as I did yesterday at work.

I had just settled back down in my cubicle after eating lunch when I felt that unmistakable rumble in my gut. I knew there was little time to spare before I needed to head to the restroom. Fortunately, my cubicle is just a few feet from the restroom. However, that would not save me this time. When I sat down I realized I was going to need a change of clothing. This was going to be a problem. I usually keep a spare of pants in the backpack that I take with me to work. However, my backpack was in my cubicle and there was no way I could go and retrieve it. What was I going to do? My first thought was to scream “FIRE,” run out to my car, and speed home where I’d hide out until the apocalypse occurred. Then I came to my senses and did what anyone would do in this situation. I reached for my cellphone, which was tucked away in my pocket, and called my boss. Yes, I know what you are thinking, no one would actually call their boss in this situation!

I have a very understanding and caring boss who I knew would understand my situation, as she has a son who has special needs. Thankfully, I was able to explain my situation in a calm manner. I requested that she have a male co-worker bring me my backpack, which he graciously did. However, to my horror there were no spare pants in my bag! I then called Amanda, and being the loving wife that that she is, she left work to bring me a change of clothing.

I tell you this story for a few reasons. One, life can be a challenge when your body does not work properly. It is these times that you can choose to feel sorry for yourself, or you can rise above your circumstances and learn from them. Second, I want everyone who reads this to find the humor in it. Don’t feel sorry for me. Laugh with me and enjoy the absurdity that life can bring. Finally, I tell you this story to let you know that I am fortunate to work with such great people. When I go to work next week, I am gonna to ask my boss if she has ever had an employee call her from the restroom. I bet that she hasn’t. I will also bet that she will smile and we will have a good laugh. Life is far too short to take yourself so seriously. Learn to see the humor even in the worst of times. At the very least you’ll have a good story to tell.

Show and Tell…

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” – Brené Brown

Have you ever had that dream? The one where you are at school on the very first day and you are in your underwear? Well, let me tell you about my first day of kindergarten.

Like most kids who are going to school for the first time, I was apprehensive. Would I fit in with the other kids in my class? What would the other kids think about me? Would I make any friends? These were all questions that I had. However, my uneasiness was compounded by the fact that I was going to be showing up to my first day of kindergarten in a full body cast. For you see, I had undergone surgery on my hips shortly before starting school.

This meant that for the first several weeks of kindergarten, I would be confined to an itchy, sweaty, stinky, hunk of plaster. As you can imagine, being in a body cast limited my abilities in several ways. First, I was unable to move around the classroom like everyone else. Second, I was unable to sit down. Therefore, most days I was wedged between a table and a wall so that I would not tip over, as being in a full body cast makes ones body as rigid as a board. Other days I was placed on the floor on my stomach so that I could practice my ABC’s while laying down. I was rarely comfortable no matter what position I was placed in for the day.

Being in a body cast also limited my choice of clothing. Most days I wore a shirt with a towel pinned around my lower half. If only I would have had a kilt to wear! By this point you might be wondering what I did when it was time to use the restroom? Well, fortunately, the cast I was in had a section that had been cut out so that I was able to relieve myself when necessary. Little did I know that this would serve to be both a blessing and a curse on my very first day of kindergarten.

One saving grace throughout this whole ordeal was that my mother was my kindergarten teacher. Therefore, it was a little less embarrassing when it came time to use the the restroom, or when I needed to be moved around the classroom. However, it didn’t make it any easier when other kids would ask my mother questions such as, “why don’t you buy Ryan some decent clothes?” I guess my t-shirt and towel were not fashionable enough. Again, if only someone would have bought me a kilt! I could have possibly started a new trend among kindergarteners of the early 1980’s.

A kilt might also have spared me the embarrassment I experienced on that very first day of kindergarten. Remember that section that I mentioned earlier that had been cut out of the cast? The one that enabled me to relieve myself when necessary? Well, that section had a piece of padding that covered my private parts. This piece of padding was usually stuffed up inside the cast so that it would stay in place, especially once I had the towel wrapped around me. However, on this particular day everything came apart while I was leaning against a table. I also happened to be standing with my back to the rest of my classmates. Needless to say, I had a lot to offer for “show and tell” that very first day of kindergarten as I mooned my entire class.

Halloween of 1978. My brother Cory was a cowboy, while my brother Shannon went as Chewbacca. I think I was supposed to be a ghost, or I might have just been going as a body cast that year.
Is that a spacesuit or just another body cast?
Me just standing around eating while in yet another body cast. If only I could have been as enthused as my brother Cory was here. By the looks of it I think I might have been able to fit that whole chair in my mouth!
I don’t know what is uglier in this picture, the body cast or that couch that I am leaning against.

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