About Me

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For those of you that don't know, I was diagnosed with ALS in March 2007. After two more opinions, the diagnosis was confirmed in the fall 2007 at age 39. This coming August (2010) I will have been married for seven years to an incredible wife, who has supported me throughout. During the course of our marriage we have been lucky to have two wonderful, amazing daughters. Sydney, will be 5 in November. Emily, will turn 2 1/2 in August. Currently, we reside in New Jersey with our Beagle, Trixie.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Post 24 - "Simple Twist of Fate"

A quick look at my blog tonight revealed that it has been two weeks since I've posted. Honestly, it does not feel like it has been that long. Looking back, with the computer problems I was experiencing, it turns out that I have only written one post over the course of the last month. It has been a month of ups and downs, and thrills and spills. Actually, there really weren't any thrills, but there were ups, downs and spills. The up and downs have been varied over the past month, and I will get to them in some detail later on, but for now, I want to tell you about the spills.

The spills that I am referring to occurred nearly one month ago. One week after my semi-fall on the ramp (Post 22 - "Catch Me Now I'm Falling") Tracey and I decided to take the girls to Great Adventure for the first time this year. We had last gone back in October, and during that visit, I was still able to walk around the park. Granted, I needed to use the children's stroller as a pseudo-walker, and I needed to take frequent rests, but I was still able to walk the park. Six months later, I knew there would be no way I'd be able to make it from the car (with handicapped parking) to the entrance. If I was going to go, it would have to be in a wheelchair. Since I was still waiting for insurance to approve my power wheelchair we would have to use a manual wheelchair. I think even Tracey was a bit surprised about how quickly I consented to using the wheelchair.

We were in the park for less than five minutes before I started to question this decision. Sydney was sitting on my lap, and Tracey was pushing us along, when we came to an area where the pavement turned to brick. One brick was not flush with the pavement and was raised up about an inch or two. Guess which brick we ran into? The chair stopped and fell forward, with both Sydney and I included. Sydney ended up with a slight cut on her lip. I on the other hand, had a bump above my left eye, and banged up my left ankle. The same ankle that had sent me to the emergency room several days earlier. After lying on the ground for several seconds, Tracey and I started to strategize about how I was going to get up. At that point, a person came up and offered to help, followed shortly by another person. The two guys quickly lifted me back into my chair, temporarily restoring my faith in humanity. We went on with our day as if nothing had happened. We were really enjoying our day until about two hours later. As Tracey was pushing me along, this time with Emily on my lap, we managed to go over a piece of pavement that was missing about a 3 inch divot. Again, the wheel got stuck and this time, both Emily and I went flying out of the chair. Emily was crying hysterically and became our immediate concern. After seeing no visible signs of injury, we were finally able to calm her down. It seems that she was upset and crying because she had dropped pretzels. Again, thankfully, I took the worst of it. This time, I had a bump over my right eye, along with a small cut. Additionally, I banged up my right knee pretty bad. Once again, several people immediately offered to help and were able to get me back into my chair. Again, I was surprised at the willingness of people offering to help. As the crowd dispersed, I noticed a woman, a few feet away from us in a power wheelchair coincidentally (if you believe in coincidences), who was kind of staring at us. As we got settled and prepared to move on, she approached us and asked us if I was okay and if we needed any further help. She offered me the use her power wheelchair to borrow to get back to our car, stating that she knew how difficult manual wheelchairs could be. She then mentioned how easy her wheelchair was to use, perhaps to encourage me to get one of my own. When I told her that I was just waiting for insurance to approve one, she offered me the use of her power wheelchair until I got mine. Tracey and I really did not know what to say, but I knew there was no way I was going to take this poor woman's wheelchair from her. We talked a little longer, and she explained to us how the wheelchair that she was using was one of two that she had. The wheelchair that she had with her was her backup chair that she told me she got from craigslist. I told her that I would start looking for a backup chair on the web that evening. She went on to tell us how she had also procured a number of ramps through various sources that she is uses in her home and for when she travels. She became insistent that she was at least going to give us a ramp, for when I got my wheelchair, if we were not going to take her wheelchair. She wanted us to call her when we were about to leave the park so she could meet us in the parking lot. Up to this point, we still did not know this woman's name. She introduced herself and told us her name was Dana. She then exchanged cell phone numbers with Tracey. As we walked away, Tracey and I discussed as to whether we were actually going to call her. We decided that she was either one of the craziest people we had ever met or one of the nicest.

About two hours later, when we are about to leave the park, we began to contemplate what we should do as we headed for the exit. We decided that Tracey would call her, thank her for her support, and her generous offers, but graciously decline them. As Tracey was pulling out her cell phone in front of the exit, Dana came up to us. Coincidentally, Dana and her family were leaving the park at the same time. Again, she offered us her power wheelchair and when we declined, insisted that we take a set of ramps. Both Tracey and I consistently reiterated that we did not want to put her out or be of any trouble. Dana had explained that her friend was already out by her car getting the ramps ready for us to take home. If we would just tell her where we were parked she would drive over to us. Now for those of you that don't know, the parking lot at Great Adventure is pretty huge, and since this was the week of spring break, the parking lot was very crowded. In fact, in addition to the handicapped parking spaces being full, the entire parking lot was full and the overflow parking lot was being used that day. As we continued into the parking lot, we were both heading in the same direction. Finally, Dana pointed to a minivan and stated that that was her car. Coincidentally, we were parked right next to her. As we were driving home, Tracey and I talked about the way things unfolded that day, and the strange set of coincidences. Had the wheelchair never hit that small crack in the pavement, or if we had gotten there 10 seconds later, we may never have met Dana. Had we not be leaving the park at the same time, we may not have gotten back in touch. Had our cars not been parked next to each other, we may have never seen each other again. Because of that chance meeting, I was encouraged to look for a backup power wheelchair on craigslist, which I picked up two weeks ago for the bargain basement price of $200. Thanks to Dana, we now have a ramp to get the wheelchair in and out of our minivan, while we search for a handicapped accessible van.

Chances are, if Dana had never introduced herself to us that day, we most likely would have gone home feeling a little down and depressed. Perhaps we would have been a little bit more hesitant to go out again in the future. Instead, our day was turned 180° because of some small gestures from a few people and a great big gesture from one person.  It made me realize that I am not alone and reminded me of the great support I have received thus far from family and friends.  Most importantly, it reminded me that nobody knows for sure what tomorrow will bring, and maybe, just maybe, good things are right around the corner.


  1. I have chill bumps all over my arms and tears in my eyes! How amazing and awesome!! THANK YOU DANA!! and thanks to all the other "Dana's" in the world even if they aren't named Dana. There are still GREAT people in this world!

  2. Thank you for writing about this. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family. I also look forward to getting to know your family. Everything in life happens for a reason. I truly believe it was fate the brought our families together on this day. Thank you Dana

  3. Dana,
    you sound like a very special person, you did a great thing, so much more than a ramp...