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Little things taken for granted

Two years ago, this month, I ruptured both of my quads playing adult soccer. For eight weeks I couldn’t put any weight on my legs and was in a wheelchair. My occupational therapists taught me how to do many of the tasks I couldn’t do, like getting dressed and using a special tool to put on my socks. Going to the bathroom was a major operation. I had to learn to maneuver the chair to the proper angle then use a board to slide from my wheelchair to the toilet and back. Getting in and out of bed also required sliding on a board. All of these were things I took for granted and could easily do by myself before the injury. Occupational therapists taught me how to slide on my board from the wheelchair to the car passenger seat so I could go to physical therapy.

Our house required the doors to rooms removed to allow wheelchair access. Furniture needed moved or removed. A quarter inch lip on the floor between rooms would stop the wheelchair. We bought plastic mats to use as ramps so I could get between rooms. Lynnda fixed all my meals and moved them to where I could eat them. I couldn’t carry a plate, tray or even a cup of coffee and move the wheelchair. Most items in the kitchen were out of my reach. All things I could previously do for myself and took for granted.

While wheelchair bound, I was determined to attend our annual family Thanksgiving vacation at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Our family rents a large three-story house. Lynnda and my bedroom was on the top floor where the kitchen, dining and family rooms were located. Getting to the third floor required me to slide from my chair to the outside stairs. Sitting on my butt I could push myself up and slide onto the next stair. There were a lot of stairs to push up to. I was worn out by the time I got to the third floor. It was worth it to get out of my house and travel to see the kids and grandkids. We had no idea COVID was coming. Thanksgiving was the last time we would be able to hug our kids and grandkids for months. Something else we took for granted.

In December Lynnda helped me to attend the Shale Crescent USA Board of Directors meeting. Public buildings are wheelchair accessible in theory. The ramp to this one was so steep there was no way I could have wheeled up or down it by myself. If Lynnda had let go, I would have had the ride of my life. By Christmas I was in a walker and able to slowly walk to the front of our Church and do the Christmas readings. In January with a lot of pain I walked a quarter mile without a walker and began driving again. Finally, in February I was able to walk up our stairs for the first time in four months to our bedroom. Little things I took for granted.

When I see a person in a wheelchair or a walker I have a new appreciation of what they need to do to get around and perform tasks most people and even I took for granted. I was blessed to be able to use my legs after two months. My physical therapists and doctor were awesome. By May I was able to run a slow 5K (3.1 miles). With my daughter’s coaching, in December 2020 just over year after injury, I ran a half- marathon finishing in the top 3/4 of participants. May 2021’s half-marathon was faster with a finish in the top 2/3. Now training for another half in December. Slowly getting stronger and faster. Unfortunately, most people in wheelchairs don’t have the opportunity I had because of their injury or illness. Blessings should never be taken for granted.

A good friend of mine, Rosemarie, in Columbus, Ohio is wheelchair bound after being injured in an accident over 20 years ago. She is a successful professional speaker and uses her injury to advocate better accessibility for wheelchair bound people. As people age we can expect to see more people with accessibility issues. Rosemarie and her husband designed and built their home as a, Universal Design Living Laboratory https://www.udll.com/ This unique home gives Rosemarie full access to everything without assistance. She can cook, do laundry and easily move between floors. Rosemarie turned what others would call a handicap into an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others. She is a consultant for builders who want to make homes and offices more accessible. The odds are good all of us will have an accessibility need at some point in our lives.

Have you ever taken family or friends for granted? Lynnda and I did a lot of traveling this year to make up for lost time. We took toilet paper for granted until we didn’t have it. We took stores with full shelves of products for granted. Now we have supply chain issues. We ordered our high school warmups and coaches’ shirts on Aug. 5 so we would have them to start the season. They finally came this week as we are starting the playoffs. All were made in Asia.

We have lights and heat whenever we need it. It is easy to the take our access to affordable dependable energy for granted. We overcame the energy crisis with the Shale Revolution over 10 years ago. If we take our affordable around-the-clock energy for granted and allow it to be replaced by weather dependent energy sources, we could lose it.

We are all incredibly blessed in many ways and have much to be thankful for. We can choose to focus on and take care of our blessings rather than the negative we hear and see on the internet. All things are possible.

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering with over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.

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