30 Days: 30 Days in a Wheelchair
(S03E02) Being confined to a wheelchair is one of my own personal worst fears. Whenever I see someone in a wheelchair, I can't help but selfishly imagine how much it would suck for me. My mind immediately starts listing all the things I wouldn't be able to do or at least do without any difficulty. For this reason, I was very interested in this week's episode.
As with most episodes, Spurlock makes this one about more than just a pro football player in a wheelchair. He manages to point out that the issues of stem cell research, the war in Iraq and equal rights for the differently-abled are all connected.
I'm not a football fan so Ray Crockett was unknown to me. That isn't to say I wasn't impressed by his accomplishments as an athlete and a father. Not to mention the fact that he witnessed fellow athlete, Mike Utley, sustain an injury that did, in fact, paralyze him from the chest down.
One of the first things we "learn," along with Ray, is that spinal injuries can happen to anyone at any time. I'm sure there are jobs or activities that make a person more prone to damaging their spines but the truth is anyone who gets in a car is at risk.
One of the most striking parts of the episode was seeing Crockett struggle to get along in his beautiful estate. The giant shower and raised bed seemed to be more inconvenient now that he is confined to a wheelchair. Also, witnessing Ray watch his sons play basketball outside was very powerful.
Another effect of Ray's confinement is how his wife, April, has to adjust to the situation. Being well-off, April is used to setting her own schedule and being able to count on Ray for many things. Now, however, she is a full-time, chauffeur/valet/caregiver and much more. It was brilliant how Spurlock so deftly showed us the simple fact that these kinds of injuries have far-reaching repercussions.
Just when you think you have a good understanding of how tough things are, Spurlock brings out the big guns. In Ray's support group, we meet a man who who became a quadriplegic one month before the birth of his daughter. Seeing his baby standing in front of him, eager to be picked up by him is truly heart breaking.
My favorite part of the experience had to be seeing Ray take part in a wheelchair rugby game. I've seen wheelchair basketball before and was amazed at how rough it was but it pales in comparison to what these rugby players do to each other.
When Ray actually takes part in a match, he learns that not all athletes are built the same. While he is certainly in great shape, his upper body strength is far below what it needs to be to keep up. Once again, when I think about how often I avoid getting exercise, it's all put into perspective.
In my many years of watching TV, I've seen a plethora of stories designed to teach me how lucky I am that I can see, walk, hear, talk, breed, vote, etc. However, it takes a guy like Morgan Spurlock to go the extra step and point out the little things that I didn't even know I was taking for granted.