May 22, 2013
Image credit: OldBarnRescueCompany on Etsy
I stood on the stage and paused for a moment, taking in the hundreds of little faces staring attentively at me. To my right was a wheelchair, a somewhat sleeker black version than the rickety one I’d used in the hospital.
Slung across my body was what looked like a large square purse to the kids, but essentially held my heartbeat. It contained two heavy rectangular batteries, each the length of an old videotape, connected to wires that led to a donut-sized heart pump implanted in my abdomen.
My jeans carefully masked the titanium metal bar that now served as my leg. I was 16 years old.
The program was called “Everybody Counts.” For a week, children in the elementary school tried out wheelchairs for a shift in perspective, and I was the culminating inspirational speaker.