You never know what sort of battle someone is fighting, so always be kind.

2018-03-28T14:27:58+00:00November 2nd, 2017|2 Comments

Hey, how are ya?

This weekend is alumni weekend at my alma mater, Quinnipiac University (“QU”). Being members of the most recent graduating class of QU, my close friends and I have had this weekend circled on our calendars since graduation. We plan to re-live college for two wild nights while reconnecting with friends still on campus. Thinking about this weekend brings back some amazing memories of my time at QU. I experienced many life-changing moments throughout my college career, but my first memory will stay with me forever.

The story takes place on a warm Sunday afternoon in October of my freshman year. My buddy and I had just grabbed food from the cafeteria and were heading back to our dorm across campus to eat and watch NFL football. We had a great Sunday planned. We were making our way down Bobcat Way, the main road on QU campus that ended at my dorm, when I realized that we had forgotten silverware.

My buddy took both of our plates and continued forward while I made a U-turn in my scooter to grab forks and knives. We decided to divide and conquer. I figured I could scoot to the cafeteria to grab silverware, and then easily catch back up to my buddy by shifting my scooter into “Bunny Mode.” Not to be confused with “Turtle Mode,” Bunny Mode is the fastest mode my scooter allows. Not kidding, my scooter has a bunny icon and a turtle icon to control the speed. Bunny Mode maxes out at 7-8mph. Me turning to Bunny Mode on my scooter is comparable to Marshawn Lynch going Beast Mode on the football field. When I am going at that speed, just move aside. So, I got to the cafeteria in record time, secured silverware, and made a bee-line to catch my buddy. Things were just fine, until I dropped my pen…

“Bobcat Way,” Quinnipiac University

Now let me back up a bit. The first time I ever sat in a scooter was during freshman orientation at QU. Until I arrived on campus in August 2013, I had been walking on my own or with assistance. Needless to say, I was a rookie scooter driver at this point. When I noticed the pen was down, I made a sharp turn to retrieve it and took flight. The scooter threw me and spit me onto the middle of Bobcat Way. Forks and knives were scattered around me, and the pen was nowhere close…Yikes.

It is very difficult to put into words what it feels like to be on the ground and unable to move. It is even harder to describe the feeling of helplessness that sweeps over you when you are incapacitated and alone. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do. I had never been in that situation before. I was down on the ground, physically unable to get my scooter or myself back up.

“Are you okay?!” a concerned voice yelled from behind me.

Obviously not, I thought to myself while making sure no cars were coming. I looked up and saw Emily heading towards me. I hadn’t formally met Emily, but I knew of her. I never would have expected my first conversation with her to occur while I was laying powerless on the ground. But hey, that’s life.

We exchanged words, but I honestly do not remember what was said. I do remember that Emily was fantastic. She got my scooter upright and helped me get back on. Considering I am pretty much dead weight, Emily was a CHAMP. She tried so hard to make light of the situation too. I wish I could have laughed, but the whole thing was mortifying for me. All I could muster was a thank you, as I scooted back to my dorm, wishing I had Nitro Gas on top of Bunny Mode.

Emily could see I was upset about the scooter spill. What Emily did not know is that I was also feeling home-sick at the time. I was mentally down. I was still unsure about living away from home and whether I could fit in on campus, being disabled. Until this point in my life, I had been able to walk, mainly, but not always, with assistance. Now I was in a scooter full time. There were so many life changes happening, and my head was spinning.

Now in hindsight, I see that when Emily helped lift me off the ground, she also lifted my spirits. Her actions that day – and each day I saw her during the next four years – helped me gain trust in my fellow classmates. I started to develop hope that I would be okay on my own simply because I realized that I wasn’t alone after all. During my four years, I grew to love the QU community and developed a wonderful support system there.

You never know what kind of battle someone is fighting, so always be kind.

 

2 Comments

  1. Katerina hillios November 3, 2017 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    This story made my heart full!! You’re such a brilliant writer. “Bunny mode” and “turtle mode”….hilarious!!!!

  2. Brenda Bodanza November 3, 2017 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Joey thank you for sharing..of yourself. Being someone with Multiple Sclerosis…so often what you express..is my own heart. Being disable carries no "age barrier"..being limited within our daily living..creates much within ourselves and our fight to maintain our own dignity. Keep bei g the amazing person you are. Xo

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