Craig Hospital was a pretty special place to do the rehabilitation I needed in the early stages of my injury. There were world renowned doctors that helped to get me healthy and tube-less (you wouldn’t believe all the stuff I had stuck in me…), there were nurses and techs that cared for my physical AND mental health, and there were therapists that taught me the things I really needed to know to survive out in the “real world.” But Craig had something else that I think may have made all the difference, it had a community, a community of patients struggling through the same life changing event.
We all had very different injuries, were from different places around the country and even around the world (I met someone from Ghana), and were all at very different stages in our lives. Yet, we were going through the same thing. We had all suddenly found ourselves in a situation where putting on your own pants was something to be celebrated and the conversations around the dinner table weren’t ever about things you’d want to blog about. I met some awesome patients and made some awesome friends while I was at Craig, some through pretty unique situations…
Let me try to set the scene of one “introduction” I will never forget.
While in rehab for an SCI you have a pretty crazy busy schedule of classes. There’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, weight lifting, wheelchair skills, and the list keeps going on and on. One of the classes was an educational class called Lifestyles (or something like that) and was meant to teach you the basics of living life with an SCI. In the class there were days dedicated to different topics ranging the spectrum from skin care to bladder management to recreating. One of the topic days was all about sexuality. So yep, there I was, age 21, sitting in a classroom with my fiance, my mother, and eight other strangers (mostly adult males), learning about sex. Yea, its about as awkward as it sounds.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what the teacher was saying at the time, but she was basically saying that individuals with an SCI can still enjoy and “do the nasty” like anyone else, it’s just different and people may choose to use different things to get certain results. All of a sudden, the man sitting next to me, who I’m pretty sure slept through every Lifestyles class except that one, blurted out, “Viagra.” The teacher whipped around super fast, I’m sure trying to keep the environment super welcoming and respectful, asked, “Who said that?” Then that goofy little man, whom I had never even spoken to before, without missing a beat, goes “Sam.” I’m pretty sure I had to pick my jaw up off the ground as everyone busted a gut around me. In that moment, I became friends with a man named Travis because of Viagra. Wow, that’s a sentence I never thought I would say…
We became really good friends throughout my stay at Craig and it was a really sad day when I went to say good bye before getting discharged. We’ve kept in touch since leaving Craig and it was pretty awesome hearing all about Travis’s awesome progress, he was even walking short distances again.
Travis passed away unexpectedly this past week.
You never want to receive news of the passing of a good friend and I think it takes a few days for the shock to wear off when it happens so unexpectedly. My thoughts and prayers go out to his close friends and family, especially his sweet little kids, one of which we’d see going for rides on the back of his power chair whenever he came for a visit.
I guess it just really puts things in perspective. No one knows how long any of us are going to be around, so why waste the time we’re here worrying about useless things or fretting about earthly trials that’ll all pass away eventually. Why waste time holding grudges and being angry with the people in your life who truly care for you. Why waste time leaving important things unsaid, like telling someone you love them or how much they mean to you. Life is just too short.
I know it’s customary to say rest in peace, but if you ask me, I think the last thing Travis is going to be doing now is sitting down, so run like the wind Travis.
Run like the wind.