The Worlds Wheelchair Culture
June 16 2001

Bonzai Monk

DEC12 1990 3:42 in the PM. Thats roughly the time that my then long time fiance Amy recieved the same phone call that my then long time mother Brenda recieved just minutes prior. The meat n potatos of the the phone call was to this affect....." Tommy was just in a very bad company accident he is either dead or dying in a South Boston Va. hospital". Gee how blunt???

Nahhh!!!! thats not blunt.....hows this for blunt, just minutes prior to either of those two phone calls.....Me of all the people in the world.....Me!!! I laid wrapped around a telephone pole dying. What happened you ask?? ......Well I really dont know what happened...see, I was sleeping in the back of a brandnew company chevy suburban.......So really all I can tell you is that at some point after leaving Marion Ohio that morning and before getting to BASF headquarters in North Carolina is....That I fell asleep...... and that apparently 5 of the guys in our 8 man work crew INCLUDING the 18 year old driver, had decided to stop at the local package store and by some whiskey. Theres the big UHHHOHHH!!!!!.

Well the bluntness of it all wasnt that I was laying there dead n dying.......but in the fact that I wasnt gunna die at all......Granny always sez...."U cant kill that boy that crazy boy.....he hasnt gotten his point across yet" .....Granny was right.....Nope, I wasnt gunna die at all.......Hell I was gunna LIVE...........You still wondering where that dreaded word blunt is hiding?? I mean after all I was gunna stay alive.

Well hows this for blunt.......in a matter of seconds at speeds over 85 miles per hour I was ejected from the vehicle on the first roll.....Sleeping I mind you......I was bouncing down the road like a Raggedy Andy doll an on hand witness had stated......at a distance equaling that of a football field and a half. 450 odd feet.........Ya it was most certainly odd, the odd part was that a telephone pull finally stopped me with a thud that woke me up. "Talk about waking up n not feeling up to snuff" I dont know whos wrong side of the bed this belonged too ....but damn, take it back.

Still dont see how thats blunt.........Well after being rushed to the hospital it was declared that not only did the telophone pole rupture my spleen......but that amazing lil Raggedy Andy gig I just pulled got
me........Two Severly SMASHED!!! Femurs....both of which required permanent rods......One Left Humerous in 12 lil pieces....Lets see theres something else...."Ohhh yeah"....I broke my neck at C-3, C-5 and C-7. "Oooooooops"......"Hes awake whos goin to tell him??" I heard a small group of people just at the end of my bed say. Hell I was out of it I didnt know where I was let alone that that small group of people were doctors debating on whos gunna give me the bad news.

Here it comes!!!!!!!!!!

Tommy.....Tommy can you hear me??? I felt a tug at my right lil finger??

I awoke to this most beautiful sorta hazy face that of an Angel....as corny as it sounds....and her voice was so soothing....All I could do was smile....I never even knew I was in pain. She started crying and she went on to say " Tommy ....you were in a very bad car accident....and you are about to be life flighted to the University Of North Carolina Trauma Center. You have severe trauma throughout your body".....then she starts balling and continues on..." You also have sustained many broken bones in your neck and the possibilty of walking again might never happen"

Ouch thats blunt!!!!!

Never Walk Again??? Ohhh believe me it sunk in immediately at what she had said....besides she was now squeezing my pinky so hard that I could feel my pulse in it.

Ya It sunk in quick!!!!

And to this day I remember that whole scene like it was just yesterday and to this very day I also believe that it was the USMC that gave me the attitude to handle that very scene.

I looked up at that nurse and said......." Thats Ok....Its Ok...Its just another bad day" Then it was said that I had said Thank God Im Wearin Clean Undies.That part I dont remember, but it sounds like me.

Shortly after that I went into siezures my lungs collapsed and I had flatlined 3 times briefly while waiting on my HELO Ride to UNCTC......My home town newspaper has me listed as dead........I just say I flatlined I  didnt see any lights....No faces or streets of gold.....But I will say this " I was utterly comfortable I felt so safe"

Upon getting to UNC hospitals they declared me ICU of course then they  send me a preacher in a big purple sash...." This is spose to comfort me " I took it as a sign of weakness that I was givin up ....I didnt wanna pray for my life afterward I wanted to fight for the now u turd" Anywho I could feel the already to familiar feeling of my lungs collapsing again.But just before they collapsed for what was about to be the last time I was asked whut I needed to make me comfortable....So just about when I was to be silenced with tubes and machines for 6 of the most hell filled weeks of my life in ICU I muttered " i want a tv in here so i can watch the cowboys game on sunday."

NOWAY HES GUNNA LAST TILL SUNDAY!!!!

Thats whut I had heard Medical Technicians saying in that wonderful Whirlybird.

They didnt know it , but them damn Med Techs pissed me off.......and gave me that goal to shoot for.

Living!!!!!

But see I was a Marine a "Jarhead" a "Devil Dawg" and you dont go tellin a Devildawgjarhead Marine that hes never gunna make it. First off hes gunna make it now just to spite you....The he'll get his kix from it later. 

Besides what the med techs didnt know......its whut the preacher didnt know that really stuck in my crawl.....I was a diehard cowboy FANATIC!!! since 76. And if they beat the falcons that Sunday.....Well we were back in the playoffs.......Gods gunna hafta cancel my last supper preach cuz my ass is watchin that game sunday.

Well needless to say ....I watched that game on Sunday and God bein a tad rad cause I cancelled our dinner date ....he seen fit to go on and smash my beloved Cowboys that day and add to the insul of me laying there in this gawd awful rotating bed with these corny ass Buddy Holly Birthcontrol goggles on my face that enabled me to see tv from flat on my back......."Ohhhhh what a sunday that was....it still burns my ass to this day that I only seen half that game because of that damned bed"

After my 6 weeks of hell in ICU....."Which made Parris Island seem distantly pleasant"......They were about to remove that damn tube in my throat which has been keeping me quiet fer just way too long.....My Mom who had been there for the last 3 weeks by my side reading to me told them." You
arent gunna like him talkin".......Well they took that tube out.....and all the nurses waited for me to say something.....and besides thinking to myself "Weeeeeeee!! nomore Ice Chips" The only werds I could think of at the moment to say was........." Hey Beth You Think I Could See You Nekkid??" Beth was
this nurse in North Carolina I mean Ohhhhhhhhhhhhmy!!!!!

But yes again Im afraid that too is another story ....best saved for barbershops n truckstops. *wink*

Mom went to dinner that nite and when she returned just as a joke cause of what mom had told the nurses.......Two of them had taped my mouth shut......" I still say joke my bootay.....the more I think about that memory the more I remember that I did lay there for a good 20 minutes quiet waiting on mom to return......Ive been Hood Winked for 11 years."

The day I left UNC Trauma Center I cried.......My sister with me ..." Mom dont fly....specially in no Danged Beach Plane" The hospital was lined up down the halls with family of other patients whom
befriended my mom n I......Doctors who were flown in to patch me up from as far as Boston and TCU...And NURSES!!!! Oh my the Nurses!!!!!.....I just balled as I laid on that gurney/stretchermathangy.......I felt like I was leaving home.

I was soon to embark on a journey that of which I would never whish on any Marine!!!!

THERAPY DODD HALL...................

Lets just say that in the patient screening assesment meeting ....My mother and my aunt Marla.....Was asked one question in paticular....." What is Tommys attitude like in his present state.........?? " The retort was quicker than the question itself....but suprisingly from is aunt....." Its all good and its all attitude!!....lady u gotta see this kid" Course I was 3 months removed from my 21st b-day....but still just a kid to her.

Shhhhhhhhh dont tell nobody but in the 4th grade she would walk me to school and beatup bullies.....I had the most kicked butt in ohio from 78-81 thx to her!!

That was thee main question meeting over in 11 minutes.........

NOW LANDING IN COLUMBUS OHIO ONE BEACH PLANE WITH ONE CRAZY DOOD ONBOARD....

Welp here I am ...its come full circle as a famous metal band of the 80's Cinderella once put it........I was "Back Home Again".......Just 35 minutes up the road was my pad..............

But I had no clue that 35 minutes up the road was gunna take possibly 9-18 months to get to...........

That was what the Doc had just told me upon gettin to Dodd in my mission plan....I could be up in this place for 9-18 months.

Noway im in here for 18 months.....Not even 9 I told him I'll give u guys 2 /2 and a half months thatsit....................................

" ILL give u guys "

......geesus who was I all of a sudden??? GenghisQuad perhaps???? Naaaw not me.But so beit there I laid for the next 3 hours seething thinking to myself..."geesus im never gunna get home."

Whats up with this bloomin quad u may ask......he prolly cant even breathe right letalone dress his self yet???

Weeellll, that statement would be only partailly right.....Although I am a highquad at C-3 im also an incomplete....Which means ....ya im a chickenshard fer not bein a tuff guy and went on ahead and ripped my SC all the way through......So im a chicken......But the really cool thang was not only did I have surgeons from allover the US a team of 9 in all fly in to put my Humpty Dumpty back together again........but they did such a good job throwin rods in me plus two more big rods in my back up into my neck but the job was sooooo good infact that after just a mere 5 weeks my HALO was off and a Boston Collar was dawned....No more Halo....No more Angel.Plus I had all these wonderous gifts like...Not a single head injury.....at the time at least 30% use of my left hand "I was left handed" but hey heres a
plus...about 70% usage of my right hand.

But heres the key.....I had FULL USE OF MY TRICEPS!!! I had no clue at the moment at why the doctors were big on me havin triceps....but id soon find out.

Ya so I havent tried to dress myself yet......remember extensive surgery on my left arm.....I havent even tried yet...So what....still aint no reason to hold a mine 9 months against his will. "I'll roll around nekkid I said"

I still have no clue as to why me?? All these Doctors for me??? WoW!!!! Im just Joe Average Everyday Me....Somebody perhaps just like you. But hey why question that huh.???

OFF TO MY NEW ROOM...HOME FER ???? MONTHS!!!

The first person I seen was Milo......he was first bed right hand side upon entering the room....Milo was an African American and he was in bad shape I didnt spend much time lookin cause I didnt want anyone feelin bad or gettin pissed. So I laid there motionless as they put me in my bed from that gurneydohickamajig....And I was surrounded fer the better part of the rest of the day getting grilled by shrinks doctors and family members gettin their first peek at the new me. But I knew there was a guy directly in the bed across from me just on the other side of that blasphemous curtain around my bed.

Later that first nite at Dodd Hall things had gotten quiet.....and it was dark in the rooms....but I could tell the first moment I seen him ....." That theres noway in hell were gunna getalong at all." No it wasnt the guy across from me....it was Mike!!! a 6'4" inch Neanderthal that I later tagged as my first "Walker"...Walkers are those around Wheelers everyday and claim they have an understanding of how we feel when in all actuality they have no clue.

Ya he came in the room that nite and headed right for the bed across from me and as hes pullin back the curtain to reveal to me my soon to be new buddy Jeff.....But he was also being very snotty toward my soon to be new buddy saying trash like.. "You been here 10 days i think its high time u sat up and we took u down to the shower room" then he hoisted up Jeff and had him verticle for the first time in a grip. We all know what happens then......Jeff was gettin real lightheaded.....but as I laid there watching
I noticed Jaff didnt have the use of his Triceps....His arms were bent at the elbows and sorta drawed up to his chest.....Well by this time Jeff had all he could take he was almost out. So Mike leans him back into bed and says...." C'mon U Pussy Dont Quit On Me".........Well you couldnt tell me on that nite in that very instance that I had suffered a torn Spinal Cord Injury.......Cause the message my brain was sending my mouth and my right arm got there quick and was recieved all to well............Mouth sez
......." Why u big walkin sumofa##^%$......Put his ass down and you come set my ass up u cogg#$$%#" Then I grabbed my complimentary 32oz OSU Sippy cup up and threw it right at Mikes big ass Grape screamin my Triceps work azzhole!!!!. Of course I missed and got Jeff more wet than him but I got my point across!!!!!!

I just didnt think hed take me up on it..........

So here comes Mike....OK you think your ready huh........." Hell ya I was ready cant back down now " I had 9-18 months ridin on a bet that I was ready..........So on my first nite in therapy Im gunna situp and let Mike wash my butt and I wasnt makin enuff hemoglobin yet to make enuff oxygen for a Teetsy Fly. " ohhhh boooy" .....Well he sat me up......full sit first time in close to 7 weeks fully erect...... "WHOAH!!!"...I could barely speak as I was going out I said " Quick Chair" and plop they had me in the chair givin me a tilt back..........Ok im gettin my wits about me........I sed Im takin his shower......He can have mine.....And I got to that shower half out of it.....but ohhhhhh man that water felt good!!!!.

Well Mike n I was buddys after that actually....turned out he was a respected linguist in the Naval Reserve and just about 5 weeks after meeting him and despising him.....I was now wishing him all the best from a bed in a hospital worlds away in a place called Kuwait in a war that I was watching on tv and shoulda been in code name Desert Storm.


THEY CALL ME THE BREEZE!!!!!

No not me ......his name is Breeze ...Bill Breeze......Nurse Judy our Mistress of the night had told Jeff Milo n Myself we were to recieve a new roomate we were a tite crew by now and we didnt want nobody new....Besides he was a threat to me threat??? ....She also said he was a Parapalegic who was commin back to finish therapy cause he was sent home due to a bad bed sore. Damn a dreaded PARA.......For the last 5 weeks Ive been preachin to my two messed buddies that PARA's were too sissy to go full  Quad......" Hey anythang to make Jeff n Milo smile."

Just as soon as he starts roolin in I can hear him.......he was commenting on the noise from our room.....See I done had us our own TV's with VCR's we had my bad lil boom box.....followed soon after by a kick butt lil stereo......and the food....my gawd between Jeff Milo N My families we had food all around the room in the window seals down in the nurses station down in the cafeteria freezer......Doctors and nurses hangin in our room to watch The basketball tourbneys leadin up to March Madness.....And every injured patient on the 4th or 3rd floor stopped at our room....We yelled at anyone
whod keep goin. We had it goin on.....but it still wasnt thee room till Breeze got there.

I already drew my conclusion I wasnt gunna like him.....thats it......Well just like Mike......Breeze rolls in and both of us turn white and our jaws drop. How in thee heck can I not like him , When I already know
him.......Bill Breeze is noneother than William Breeze......Son of coach Breeze and the starting pitcher of my little league baseball team the CUBS. Why just 10 years prior we had lost the little championship in Fredricktown Ohio by a score of 9-5.....Nobody knows but I sat in the dugout with a tummy ache that day after we lost...I was the last one to leave the field. Oh BTW ya we both know a certain actor from Fredricktown that played Dylan in a certain 90210 show.......He was a good egg in highschool to say the least.

Well once we had our small world moment and his parents left we knew we had that final piece to the "Room Of Vroom" as in "vroom!! vroom!!" We were movers and with our assorted spasm attacks we were sure as heck shakers too!!! Besides he ordered all our takeout food now on his cell phone.....Which was neat back then....plus I quickly found out that with his upper body strength I could actually get clearance to go out with him on the OSU College Campus if i flipped back in my chair or fell out he could help get me back up..........

We immediately started gettin passes for all of us to get off the hospital grounds....Jeff always played it safe and stayed close to the hospital.....but we always brought him sumthin back. One day we brought him a college student.....a female......Just because they made me mad one day sayin that I'll never get a woman if im all messed up and in this chair........Breeze,and I sat in the lil square fountain deal there in the student medical buildings and talked to every female that walked by .....And asked them if being in a chair would cloud their judgement in such a way as to never see themselves dating a man in a wheelchair?? Well first off the question alone was geared toward making them say huh??? Thats the key in a chair......hook them quick....first impressions are bogus...make them stick around and see what crawls out and ask the question again....We found that in 100 different female college students in ohio on that day....58% said it had absolutely nothing to do with it...they would date fall n love or perhaps even be up to marrying a man in a chair. 22% gave safe answer and said honestly ive never thought about it. 12% Said no they couldnt see themselves doin that......and 8 % just kept on walking.......But out of those 58% everyone of them stopped to ask the question again and then usually gave a lengthy explanation.

Even after I left the hospital Jeff n Milo said they had college student stoppin by and bringin presents still. Anythang to make Jeff N Milo Smile.

Ya I obviously got home....n to make a long story a tad shorter....before  Breeze Left in that month he was there....We got drunk in ohios capital.....got chased by dawgs....he fell out of his chair repeatedly...not me......We went to therapy in a Toga only one day.....chased more nurses and students that even I can remember pissed off more nurses than overtime...created more smiles than Eddie Murphy... We even played crash up derby in electric wheelchairs once and Breeze and I smashed Milo at the same time on each side.....He sat there with his chair smokin me fallin outta mine laffin and Breeze runnin for the elevator to get a nurse to save Milo .one nite we even had a nurse let us use his Suzuki Samurai and one of my good friends ubducted me and Breeze and we went to the Steelheart /Great White concert. Right down to the night before Breeze left as he was in the independant living room down on the first floor......"They make you prove u can cook a meal by yerself before u can leave." That same nurse got us a case of beer that night........the next day the room was a mess......I was repoted on having fell to the floor for my very first time during a bed transfer and that my caths were over 900.

But ohh what a night!!!!!

I left the hospital in just under 3 months......I was totally independant....aced my dress test first time out......and I had 90% use of both hands......Them Nurses never got use to my "Occupational Hand Therapy Methods"

Jeffs doin real good ....he drives now and hes dating  woooohooooo.......Milo im sad to say was shipped to a home at 18 last word was hes a crack addict in columbus...I cant find him. Breeze well I havent talked to Breeze but once....I heard hes never accepted it.

As for me an that attitude??? Well I still got it...........And its the very same attitude that was givin to me by Staff Seargant Boone of the USMC.............." If you dont mind.... It dont matter "

Am I living??? Lets just say Im Alive!!!

Whyd I write this letter??? I dont really know why ...but lets just say for the last 11 years Ive lived in a town with not one person I know of but me in a chair......11 years and im finally bored...........11 years and this is the very first time ive been to a website lookin for Brothers or Sisters to bond with......What am I missing??? What is there out there yet?? I need to get involved my attitudes kickin my butt now.

Too much of If I dont mind......well lets just say it starts to matter.

Im in noway shape or form a basketcase...yet anyway......I travel extensively and New Orleans is my favorite place under the sun or moon.....I been married twice since the accident......And I have a beautiful 14 year old girl.........and lets just say a spunky 13 year old boy.

I thank gawd/zuess/planet earth.....everyday that I was Quadralyzed and not dead deaf or blind.

But what I dont know thats killin me........Is how many people are out there just like me?? What can I do to cure this boredom the since of wanting to belong to just anythang??

My lack of knowledge of my own condition or resources are of my own derned fault but hey......Im willin forget all that and get busy.

Thank you for peeping me........"means reading me"

Tom can be reached at: bonzai_dwb@hotmail.com


Copyright CrazyOne. This article may not be resold, reprinted or redistributed in any manner, print or online, without prior written permission of the author.  Reproduced in Paralinks with the expressed consent and approval of  the author.

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