Stairs = Tackled!

My parents live in a two-story house.   For nearly three years, I never made it upstairs.

My family is close.  Like, obscenely close.  Like, we actually enjoy each other’s company and want to hang out with each other.  I talk to my mom every day (sometimes, multiple times in a day).  And I talk to my dad a couple times a week.  He’s not quite as chatty on the phone, so I usually save up for something big for him.  But they always want us around.  Heck, I lived off and on with them until I was 30 years old!

Family BBQs are pretty commonplace in my family.  It’s that above-mentioned like of each other coupled with the fact that my folks live on the beach.  I like to joke that we never need to join a beach club because we have our own private one.  The downside is that I can’t actually get on the beach in my wheelchair.  It’s rumored that the lifeguard has a beach wheelchair to be used on first come first serve basis.  I haven’t tested that theory yet and actually tried.  I’ve been fine for the past couple years being beach adjacent.  But now that the Little Mister is here, I feel like I have to (read: really want to) expand my horizons.  With my niece, I was fine watching her play in the sand from the safety of the concrete pathway.  I could shout encouragement from afar and still be apart of her fun.  But, now that there is this little guy that I’m responsible for, I want to be up in that action.  It makes me sad to think that he’d be having fun playing in the muddy watery sand by the waves and I would only hear about it later in stories.

Last weekend, the hubs, Little Mister and I made the 2 hour trek to my folks house for a BBQ.  It was still kind of cold, so there was no “on the beach” action.  We just hung out on the patio and chatted and BBQ-ed.  It was fine at first.  A bit chilly, but nothing a sweater couldn’t fix.  But then it started getting even colder.  I became worried about Little Mister being too cold.  The problem with my parents house is that the ground floor has a bedroom, office, bathroom and wet bar.  The second level is where the kitchen, dining room and living room are.  That’s why for almost three years I have relegated myself to the outside.  I’d rejected the idea of butt scooting up the stairs.  It was humiliating, I thought.  It was hard, I figured.  I just didn’t want to do it, I declared.

Well, again, it’s funny what you will do when it’s not yourself your worried about anymore.  Pride?  What’s that?  I have a baby now whose well-being trumps any minor inconvenience I may experience.  My dad was concerned about my going upstairs.  I don’t think it was a matter of thinking I couldn’t do it, but rather worrying about my well-being.  Over-exerting myself or getting stuck upstairs and not being able to use the bathroom up there.  But, as I often find myself saying, I am my father’s daughter.  I definitely got his stubbornness gene.  I’d decided I was going upstairs, and now I was determined.

Steph on stairs

It actually wasn’t that hard.  I just plopped onto the bottom step from my wheelchair and just took it step by step.  I’d scoot up and then bring my legs up one by one to the step below me.  I tried hard to focus on using my legs, because it’s amazing what the brain can do.  I never give up on the hope of positive thinking.  The hardest part was the flat landing mid-stairway where I had to be careful not to drag (read: rug burn) my ankles.  It didn’t take that long to go up the stairs.  The hubs brought my wheelchair up after me.  And he and my mom helped me get back up onto the chair.  For the first time in almost 3 years, I was upstairs!  I could see the ocean!  I could eat at the table!  I could sit on the sofa!  It shouldn’t have been so amazing, but it was!

Going down was much easier, as was transferring from the bottom step back up to my wheelchair.  And the cardio I got from that exertion was amazing!  I was sweating by the end of both treks.  So, let’s just say that while it’s something I could do, I’m glad it’s getting to be summer and we will be having months of outdoor enjoyment!

My parents live in a two-story house.  And I finally tackled my fears and those stairs, and made it upstairs.

First wheeled trial

Last week was big for me: I did my first jury trial in a wheelchair.  It’s crazy that I’ve been in a wheelchair for 2.5 years and it was my first one.  I say it’s because I am really good at pleading out cases (which is true).  But, I’ve also been hesitant.  The ones that I knew for sure were going to trial I was kind of pushing off.  And then the ones that I wanted to go to trial sooner ended up getting pushed for reasons beyond my control.  Such is the chaos that is the legal profession.

But last week, a case was ready, and away we went.  I was nervous.  Not for the case.  I felt as prepared as possible for that.  I had a whole other set of worries.  Would the jury be preoccupied with my wheelchair to listen to my arguments?  How was I going to take notes and address them at the same time?  I can’t use the podium because they’re wooden and set to a standing person’s height.  Not very wheelchair user friendly.  And things like standing as a way to show respect to the judge or jury.  Those were out the window.  Would they understand that I was still trying to be respectful?  Before my so called wheeled life, I would stand every time I addressed the judge.  And I would stand when asking questions.  It was professional.

But, I pushed all that aside so I wouldn’t be distracted from the main goal: winning.  The jury didn’t seem to react outwardly to my wheelchair.  They seemed to be focusing on the facts, which is exactly right.  Though, in my closing arguments, my investigator said a few of them were watching intrigued as I put my pointer and whatnot in my cup holder (I call it my “holster”).  Apparently they thought that was clever.  I hope they’re as amused by my arguments as they were by my cup holder.

Overall, it wasn’t that different from when I was walking.

Negatives:

-Couldn’t stand for the jury or judge

-Couldn’t use the podium

-Couldn’t bring in my normal wheelie bag to carry all my stuff, so I was limited on what I could bring in.  I have some big cases coming up with way more files.  I’m going to have to figure something else out.

Positives:

I love my job and I’m doing it.  Nothing can stop me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the positives win.  Now I go back to waiting for my jury to return a verdict.

P.S. Shout out to the hubs who taught me the difference between an ax and a hatchet.  There was one involved in this case and that was actually a pretty big difference.  I was able to educate the judge and DA.  So, thanks hubs!

Doubting Tom

Today in Mass, the theme was Doubting Thomas.  You know (or maybe you don’t) Doubting Thomas was the guy who didn’t believe Jesus came back from the dead and bragged to all his disciple buds that he was going to stick his finger in the holes in Jesus’ hands and sides.  Then Jesus, who wasn’t around when he said that, came back and was like “here’s my hands and my sides.  Go ahead.”  But Tom backed down, probably a bit freaked out over the fact that Jesus hadn’t been around but had still known he said that.  And for all you millennials, this was a time before Facebook, Twitter and all other ways of mass communications.  So, him knowing was a much bigger deal then.

Father Checkered Past (the priest at my church who is pretty amazing always talks about sinners and says he has a total checkered past.  It’s a great way at relating to his flock.) gave an amazing homily today about not believing.  It started really sad as he spoke of a very young woman with two very young children who he gave Last Rites to on Friday.  By the time he gave his homily at 10am on Sunday, she had likely passed on.  (Cancer, you awful, awful fiend, you got another one!)  Father CP spoke about how the family of that young woman were likely crying out to God “Where are you?!”  And it’s easy to ask: Where is God in misery?

This got me to thinking about how I thought that when I was ten.  That’s when I had my first major back surgery and in the middle of it, my grandpa died.  I didn’t know for about a week.  It was a vision of my grandpa telling me how strong and brave I was that led me to the discovery that he had passed.  That was a hard time.  How can a kid handle all of that and figure it out?  It was easier for my baby brain to just accept that there was no God.  I still went to private school throughout my entire elementary and high school educations.  But, I just kind of tuned out the God stuff.  I learned facts in religion classes for the sake of getting good grades so I wouldn’t get grounded to my parents.  God was not real.  My parents grounding me for bad grades was very, very real.

Cut to August 2013.  That’s when I underwent the surgery that left me paralyzed.  When I registered at the hospital, I said Catholic, because I was baptized as such.  And I had been kind of toying with the idea of going back to the church right before.  I went to Mass at a different church that Father CP’s a couple times.  But I still wasn’t sold.  I did it more because I became the Godmother of my niece and I figured if I was going to guide her and be responsible for her eternal soul, I should probably start going back to church every now and then.  And throughout my twenties I went a few times with my sister because I enjoy hanging out with her and she was into it.  I mouthed the word “watermelon” during all the spoken parts so people wouldn’t judge me for not knowing the words now.  (Sidenote: I openly read from the missalette now.)

I don’t remember this part of the story, but as the hubs says, when I was in ICU, a nurse asked me what religion I was and I, even in my pain and medication-induced stupor, said “Catholic”.   It was a really bad time.  I do remember being in so much pain that I could never describe it.  And I was so loopy that I didn’t know what was going on.  But, I will  never forget when Father John came in.  It was instant calm and peace.  Today Father CP said that when he was contemplating becoming a priest, he asked God for a sign.  (He then proceeded to say that “It’s never a good idea to ask God for a sign” which got a big laugh from the congregation.)  He said as he was walking down the street sometime later, he saw Jesus next to him.  Well, not really saw, but knew he was there because he instantly felt so much peace.  It was “a sense of peace beyond imagination.”  That was his sign.  I hadn’t asked God for a sign because I wasn’t really interested in pursuing my faith more than I already was.  But when Father John came to see me that first time, it was the same sense of Peace Father CP described.  I know that Jesus was present that day with Father John.

And I know he was present every other time Father John came to see me.  The doctors tried to put me on medications and anti-depressants which I consistently turned down.  I just needed to be able to talk and vent to Father John and I was good.  The funny thing is, I never asked why.  I said “this sucks” plenty of times.  But, I never asked why.  I just kind of accepted it and decided to make the most of it.  And I firmly credit Father John for helping me be at that point.  Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t met him or if I had accepted the medications.  I firmly believe that Father John was sent to me to help me in that immense time of need to see that I could recover fully.

And today, as I sat in Mass with the hubs and the Little Mister, listening to Father CP’s great homily, I thought about how thankful I was that God sent Father John, because if He hadn’t, would I be as positive and successful in my recovery?  And would I have been in the place to have created Little Mister?  That’s why I am honored that Father John will be traveling the two hours to our city to do the Baptism for the Little Mister in a couple months.  The hubs and I love our parish and love Father CP, but if it weren’t for Father John (who funnily enough went to seminary with Father CP) would I be where and who I am today?

That’s a lot of deep thought for a Sunday.