The days of wine and roses

Ed Smith
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This is the time of year when we count our blessings.

For me, this means reviewing the blessings associated with being quadriplegic. I have taken considerable time over the last 12 years to complete this list. You who are even paraplegic rather than quadriplegic may marvel at the degree of imagination and inventiveness which have gone into this exercise. I marvel at it myself.

You may think the day-to-day life of the person with quadriplegia is one long list of negatives, beginning with the inability to walk and ending with the inability to walk. But not so. Contrary to popular opinion, life as a person paralyzed in most of his body, including his extremities, isn’t all bad.

Below is a list of those things which make our lives anything but tragic and sad and depressing.

1. Itching.

When you are paralyzed in 90 per cent of your body, there are far fewer places which itch. Thus there are far fewer places to scratch. This includes the human bottom, otherwise known as the backside, the butt and, for the more sophisticated among us, the derrière.

For those with no couth, it’s also known by another name: the rear end, which is what it really is.

Itching in this area of the human body leads to scratching in the same area which, if done in public, can lead to acute embarrassment for the scratcher’s spouse. Strangely, for others who are observing this activity, it can create much hilarity.

When your bottom is paralyzed, the potential for this kind of problem is minimal. For this reason, I list it as the first of many blessings for those of us who are quadriplegic.

For further study, the reader is referred to a small body of water on Twillingate Island known as Scratch Ass Pond. I’m not sure if the good residents of the island eat the trout that come out of the pond or not.

2. Helping little old ladies across the street.

You don’t have to, which is the whole point. Surely you’ve seen examples of legal suits which have been brought against well-meaning people trying to do a good deed. The octogenarian slips, falls and breaks a hip and sues the Good Samaritan out of his pants — or her pants, whichever is most appropriate.

The person with quadriplegia, on the other hand, is more likely to be on the receiving end of good deeds and thus in a position to better his financial worth should someone be foolish enough to try helping him or her across the street.

3. Saving soles.

No, I have not spelled “soles” incorrectly. I am aware that a sole can be a very flat and very ugly fish. It can also be a very flat and ugly part of your shoe. When one considers the materials — for want of a better word — this particular sole comes in contact with on a daily basis, particularly if your next door neighbor happens to own a dog, it’s not the stuff of which dinner conversations are made.

A person with no legs to speak of: 1) doesn’t come in contact with such materials, and 2) doesn’t wear out his soles as quickly as someone who seems to be better off simply because he can walk.

I still have the same soles I had at that time of my accident, which in four days will be 13 years ago.

My soles tend to rot away rather than wearing so thin they have to be thrown out.

4. Flirting with women.

This isn’t normally done by your normal able-bodied male. On the other hand, perhaps it is and I never knew about it. But for the last 13 years of my life, I have been making up for lost time.

I have come to the conclusion, albeit a bit late in life, that there are three ways to meet women. The first is to buy a Lamborghini (for the more ignorant among us, that’s not a famous painting or a famous painter or the head of the Mafia in Sicily — it is a most expensive automobile that says more about you than Facebook ever could).

The second is to buy a puppy. However, it seems to me that the sensuous nature of flirtation would not be enhanced by the chap with a pooper scooper in one hand and a paper bag in the other. Holding hands might not be all that it once was.

The third option is to break your neck and end up in a wheelchair. I tell you the truth, nine out of 10 women I meet in malls are very friendly. If you make eye contact at all, they give you this warm smile and you just know that if you stopped you’d have her telephone number in less than a minute.

OK, I’m not stupid. I know it’s because they consider me harmless. It didn’t happen a whole lot when I was six-foot-two and 200 pounds. But it’s still nice enough to be included in this list of things that are positive about being quadriplegic. You might remember that next time you see me coming.

5. You live the life of Riley.

Yours is a chauffeur-driven existence. You get aboard your vehicle to drive to St. John’s or St. Barbe and you lay back and go to sleep. Six hours later, you’re where you’re supposed to be. Only thing left to do is eat and go to sleep. Admittedly, that’s the sad part.

The five items I’ve listed here came easily and quickly. If I should think about it some more, I could undoubtedly come up with several other factors pertaining to life with quadriplegia that might cause you to rethink what you feel when someone floats by in a wheelchair.

A little envy might even be in order.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His e-mail address is

Organizations: Scratch Ass

Geographic location: Twillingate Island, Sicily, Springdale

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