Mike Adams

She is then put in the chair in a reclined position and has to sit up straight in stages, so her blood pressure does not drop too low. Once the seatbelt is snapped, a chest strap is hooked and a head strap is put on over her head. After being disconnected from the bedside vent, the wheelchair vent is quickly hooked up and air flows again. It takes several tries to stop leaks and get her comfortable.

Her hair is then brushed and styled according to the skills of the nurse on duty. Makeup is applied to her face. Tube ties are adjusted (if too tight it causes high blood pressure and some discomfort, but if too loose the tube will come out and the air supply will be interrupted). Her shoes are put on with care not to bend her toes. Her toes have sometimes been broken while putting on her shoes and not discovered until several hours later when her high blood pressure started causing problems. The problems include headaches, a flushed feeling, and red spots on her body.

The suction machine that was cleaned the night before must be assembled and hooked to her wheelchair. Medications or foods that have been packed before she awoke are put into the van so they can be administered every four hours (usually between her classes) by way of a tube in her stomach. The emergency bag is loaded into the van with the backpack soon to follow. Her dogs have to be walked, the garage door opened and ramp lowered, and her wheelchair positioned properly for the trip up and into the van. Several ties for the wheelchair are secured to prevent unwanted movement.

When Christina gets home from her day at school everything goes in reverse to get her into bed. Usually a short nap is in order, but then she has to hit the books. Someone reads to her and she completes the homework assignments for the day. Then her physical therapy is preformed.

I really hope you were paying attention to this description because you won't be seeing Christina around the halls of UNC-Wilmington anymore. After repeating this ritual for four years, Christina has now received her college degree.

You have every right to claim you are a victim, just as you have every right to join a support group. Nonetheless, I hope you get hit with a case of Adult Determinism Deficit Disorder. But that is not for me to decide.

Only you can ADDD it to your list of disorders.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.