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April 18, 2014

30 Days: 30 Days in a Wheelchair

by Paul Goebel, posted Jun 11th 2008 9:42AM

Ray Crockett(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.

If you had to, which ability would you give up?
sight3 (1.7%)
hearing40 (22.9%)
walking29 (16.6%)
copulating65 (37.1%)
-delete-38 (21.7%)

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Quadius

I don't care what others say, I thought your review was right on target. Even though the show soft-pedaled several issues, I found it to be a moving exploration of what it's like to be a low-level quadriplegic. They mentioned high-level quads, but they didn't really delve into depth.

This was a great introductory show and I think it would be even better if he could follow-up with another hard-hitting show.
BTW, I have been paralyzed from the neck down for 13 years now and yes it does suck, but I'm lucky enough to have a good life. It's just different than it used to be.

June 19 2008 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mimi

I've never been a huge fan of 30 days but I decided to check this episode out. I am so glad that I did. It was such a powerful and moving episode. I learned so much and I feel like I have learned not to take anything for granted. My heart goes out to all the people that suffer from any paralysis and I hope that people across the US watch this show and learn to become more enlightened to the lives of others.

June 11 2008 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dusty goodson

i know all about how hard it is to be in a wheelchair i been in one for 9 years if it wasnt for my folks i wouldnt know what to do i live in a small town and it sucks i love to have a truck fixed up where i could drive but i dont see that happen when u cant work and got no money to buy one yea its real hard i broke my neck in 99 diveing in a creek cant use my hands or legs yes it does suck but maybe one day i can drive again that would help anyone in a wheelchair they could do what they like go ride around go places be with there friends should be a company out there to buy a person in a wheelchair there first van or truck for them to drive i could talk about this all day what ray did was a good thing alot of other people should do so thanks for what u did ray

June 11 2008 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jack

Being in a wheelchair is one of your own personal worst fears? Ohhh Paul, things could be so much worse.

ALS: Being trapped in an immobile body, which being completely aware of what is happening to you.

Being paralyzed from the neck down.

That disease that makes you allergic to sunlight, to the point that you can never go outside.

Going blind and deaf at the same time (either quickly, or gradually).

June 11 2008 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jack's comment
Kim

Jack,

Respectfully, I hate it when people start playing the "my disease is worse than your disease" game. My son was paralyzed at the age of 14. He's 17 now. While he has made the best of a bad situation, it still sucks out loud on so many levels. Did you know that people with spinal cord injuries have to catheterize their bladders and have to train their bowels? Did you know that people with spinal cord injuries are at risk for premature death due to blood clots, pressure ulcers, pneumonia, kidney infections, etc, etc.? Then, of course, there's the emotional & psychological issues that I can't even get into.

I can't begin to tell you the number of times after my son's injury that people told me that "it could have been worse". Worse than what, death? Yes, being paralyzed may not be as bad as having ALS but please do not make it sound as if being paralyzed is some kind of a cake walk.

June 11 2008 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
h8rain

This was a great episode, powerful and informative. Even if you had all the money in the world, it is still not easy. Just think about how much harder that would be if he did not have the money to afford ramps and retrofitting his vehicle. I have wondered what would I do if I loss the used of my legs, and it just makes me even more thankful that I can walk.

I loved the other guy's truck. I am sure that was really pricey to do, but wow what an outfit on a vehicle (the lift moved him into the car and up the wheel, and it looked like the doors closed for him). That is saying to the world, "HEY! I want a big truck with flames and by damn I am going to have one!"

June 11 2008 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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