While I was still in the hospital, recovering from my injury, my wife left me. I get it, I wasn’t who she married anymore. However, at the same time, in our vows we promised that in sickness and in health, we would be there for one another. I guess in a way I am glad she left. I certainly wouldn’t want someone in my life who just stuck around because of a sentence spoke on our wedding day.
Post divorce, I found it difficult to date. I had a few online dating accounts. I would message people with similarities.
Sometimes I would get a message back, simply stating, “I can’t date a guy in a chair” or “You are super attractive, but the wheelchair supersedes that.” So, I stopped looking.
I figured, eventually I would find someone that mended well with me. Little did I know, that it would be someone I’ve known most of my life. Lynn and I met in Middle School, pre-injury. One day, I posted something on social media, I said, “I need someone to ride with me to Chicago for a Doctors appointment.” Chicago is a 4-hour drive each way, so 8 hours of driving in one day was too much for me to do alone at that point in my injury. Lynn quickly said, “I have that day off of work, I’d be more than happy to ride with you.” Mind you, I hadn’t seen or talked to Lynn since High School, 10 years ago.
The beginning of a love story
Well, I picked her up the day we needed to go to Chicago and we spent 8 hours chit chatting, having great conversation. A long time acquaintance was becoming a life long friend. At that time Lynn was in a relationship, so it was nothing more than a friendship. A few years after that, I invited Lynn over to carve pumpkins in mid-October. She had been single for about 6 months. When Lynn came over that day, to carve pumpkins, sparks were definitely going off. We spent the whole day really getting to know one another. Our relationship began on that day. We have now been together for almost two years, engaged for nearly one. I proposed on our one-year anniversary, and we are getting married the day before our two-year anniversary.
Lynn’s family initially struggled with the idea that she was dating someone who used a wheelchair. They were afraid she was going to have to be my caretaker. They quickly learned that while I’m in a wheelchair, I rarely need help with much of anything. They have come around and now accept me in their family.
Challenging the stereotypes
It seems that people often have a preconceived notion that people with disabilities are less than or unable to care for themselves or their home. I am extremely smart, currently earning my Master’s Degree in Public Health. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy, Magna Cum Laude. I am physically active. I ride my hand cycle quite often, I play wheelchair tennis, lacrosse, and basketball every once in a while. I lift weights, use my work out equipment, etc. I manage to work part time, go to school full time, run a household, take care of three dogs, 14 chickens, care for my 30 ft by 30 ft produce garden and my 4 fruit trees. I mow the acre lawn with my zero turn radius mower (all hand controlled).
Don’t let anyone make you feel that you aren’t worthy of a romantic relationship because of your physical disabilities. We are all worthy of love and affection.
It may take time, to find the love of your life, but we shouldn’t rush such important parts of our lives either. Having a person that completes you and is willing to walk beside you is of the utmost importance. I am certainly glad I didn’t settle for someone who didn’t have the potential to become my better half.
Thank you to Kade Patterson, a T8 paraplegic, for submitting this original post to AbleThrive, and reminding us all that love will find a way – no matter the circumstances.