This I Believe

Chris - Brattleboro, Vermont
Entered on July 22, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: hope, illness
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While waiting for my mother to get her meds, this incredible person rolled by. His eyes were fixed straight ahead, a bag of groceries was in his lap and secured by his mouth, while his hands firmly clasped the tires of his wheelchair. This guy was intensely focused on making his bus. He was actually propelling himself ‘up’, the sidewalk. I got out of the car and yelled, “do you need a hand”? He responded with a big nod and waited for me to arrive.

As I got closer, I could see that nothing was protruding from the end of his pants. I could see the creases, but both of his cuffs came together into permanent folds. My God, this guy has no feet! As I pushed him up the sidewalk, I said, “you are amazing; wheeling up this incline, a bag of groceries in your lap, held in place with your mouth and no feet.” “Most people don’t realize how difficult even the smallest things are,” he said. He told me that diabetes had also claimed his left eye, in addition to his feet. Tomorrow, he would test drive his new prosthetic footwear, he announced.

“How do you keep your balance”, I asked. He said that his prosthetic feet were no more than “stilts mounted to special shoes. “ “Balancing on them is exhausting, I make sure to get full nights sleep, before each of these sessions,” he grinned. “I am busing,” he went on to say, “because some college kid stole the handicapped emblem from my car”. “Who would do such a horrible thing,” I asked? He replied, “let’s hope he never really needs it”.

Who is this guy, I thought? I want to bite this kid’s head off and my one eyed, footless friend just hopes that; this scum-bag thief, this amoral piece-of-dung, never becomes handicapped himself. This was an incredible “turn the other cheek,” experience for me. The man’s kindness, his patience, his strength of character and his resolve, washed over me like a giant spiritual wave. Instantly, I felt close to him. I was relaxed and comfortable as we made our way to the bus stop.

Everyday this man routinely made molehills out of mountains, yet he had no innate hostility, no anger towards the world, not even towards the creep who had stolen his handicapped sticker. His courage marked my own. His quiet resolve and determination have become the inspiration and passion for this program.

I believe you can get better. I believe that alternative neural highways are always under construction. I believe the brain will always attempt to repair itself and you can affect those changes. I believe you should never give up …. neuronal whisperings will eventually become shouts and alternative connections will occur. You can read about me and my common sense approach to brain care at