10 Days Without Legs

Day 9…

Since movies and TV shows are known for portraying reality with accuracy, I thought it might be interesting to see how they portray people in wheelchairs. Grab a bag of lime popcorn (my newest favorite treat) and read about the following characters (this is a little long, but there’s a lot to cover).

X MEN | Professor X

If I ever end up in a wheelchair for real, I want to be as cool as Professor X. I hope Joni Eareckson Tada is okay with this, but she reminds me of Professor X. Why? Because she was affected by disability at a young age, and then committed her entire life to helping other people. If you’ve never read her story, you can read it by clicking here. Anyway, Professor X is the epitome of generosity and philanthropy, and I think it can be summed up well with the following quote: I’m Charles Xavier. Would you like some breakfast? Actually, I would like some breakfast Charles, and I also want your wheelchair — but then again who wouldn’t want a power chair made out of glass.

THE MENTALIST | “Miss Red” | Season 1 | Episode 21

During this episode, we are introduced to Stuart Hanson —  a man in a wheelchair who happens to be the security guy for a murdered CEO. Although there are several people who seem guilty, the case never seems to get anywhere until the detectives sit down to lunch with Stu. Something at the lunch tips of Patrick (aka the Mentalist) that Stuart is guilty of murder, and after arresting him they have the following conversation (spoiler alert).

Stuart: 6-months living in that chair —  6-months and no one ever questioned me about it. Why did you?

Patrick: Whenever I meet someone in a wheelchair I check the bottoms of their shoes — the bottoms of your shoes were scuffed.

So I guess the moral of the story is that if you’re going to use a wheelchair to fake a disability (aka me) make sure you keep two pairs of shoes with you at all times — one new and one old, and whenever you’re in the chair wear the new pair.

AVATAR | [the Smurf-Pocahontas movie]

I have to be honest, I really don’t like this movie. In fact, you could open up a dairy with the amount of cheese in this movie, but it has a guy in a wheelchair so I’m including it. In the movie we meet an Avatar driver named Jake. Of all the movies and shows I’ve watched for this post, Jake was by far the most efficient wheelchair operator. He would drop himself into this really cool yellow pop-up chair, and then pull his legs onto the foot rests with speed and precision. Of course he summed up his reason for being quick by saying: “Maybe I was sick of doctor’s telling me what I couldn’t do.”  Something I noticed in the movie was the fact that his wheelchair catered to his needs. It’s amazing how bulky my chair is, and how efficient and sleek Jake’s was. I would imagine that for people who use wheelchairs daily, customization is really important. I guess that’s why Joni and Friends makes such a big deal out of pediatric sized chairs for kids in need.

FORREST GUMP | Lieutenant Dan

Lieutenant Dan and I have very similar wheelchairs. Both are bulky, heavy, and slip easily on snow and ice. And when Lieutenant Dan said, “Do you know what it’s like not to be able to use your legs?” I got to answer back, “I have a little bit of an idea.” Dan is one of the sadder representations of people affected by disabilities (at least in the middle) because of his anger. His disability made him hate the world and his life. The fact that he was an injured vietnam vet. made we wonder what opportunities exist for us to help our veterans affected by war-related disabilities. Do you know of any? If you have some ideas please comment below…

UNBREAKABLE | Elijah Price

Probably one of the coolest movies of all time (my wife could not more strongly disagree). Unbreakable describes the origin of comic books by placing the inspiration for super-heros on people who did seemingly super-human things throughout history. Elijah Price — the villain, clashes with David Dunn — the hero. Elijah is affected by a disability that makes his bones like glass, and in the movie he ends up in a wheelchair. This movie is a great example of the fact that not all people in wheelchairs are the same (obvious? should be). Some lose their legs in war (Lieutenant Dan) and some have genetic disorders like Elijah. Maybe a good first step to working with people affected by disabilities would be to listen to their story, and hear about the emotional needs they have as well. It’s great to provide for their physical needs like giving them a wheelchair, but organizations like Joni and Friends go beyond that and strive to meet the needs of the whole person. That’s huge!

Classic line: It’s alright to be afraid, David, because this part won’t be like a comic book. Real life doesn’t fit into little boxes that were drawn for it. – Elijah Price

To sum up this post, let’s go back and hear from Forrest Gump himself: “My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get.” I guess that’s true in a way, because things happen every day that are outside of our control. But I guess that also means the classic cliche, “when life gives you lemons — make lemonade” might also be really good advice. What do you think? You may comment below…

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* picture of Stuart Hanson – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0144073/

* picture of Jake Sully – http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4241918208/ch0098390

* picture of Lieutenant Dan – http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0002105/mediaindex

* picture of Mr. Glass – http://static.moviefanatic.com/images/gallery/elijah-price.jpg

* picture of Professor X – http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0001110/mediaindex

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