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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Stepping Out Thanks to Bob and Papa Gino's

Saralee on Porch

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel

By: Saralee Perel

"You have to start getting out of the house," my husband, Bob, said. "Your spinal cord surgery was ages ago."

"But I still can’t walk," I whimpered, lying on the couch watching the 43rd "ER" I had recorded.

"Well somebody’s been walking to the refrigerator. The cake is gone."

I quickly grabbed my cane and got to the fridge in a flash. "There’s a whole piece here!"

"Ah hah!" he said victoriously, as we both saw I was standing just fine. "That was a test. You flunked."

"Oh no," I feigned weakness and gripped the counter. "I just threw my back out. You better help me to the couch, and while you’re at it, I could use a cupcake."

Tough love
"You don’t need help," he said. "Actually, yes you do."

I could see him looking through the Yellow Pages.

"What are you looking up?" I said.

"A drive-thru shrink’s office."

I grabbed the phone book from him. Annoyed, he left the room, leaving me to get my own cupcake, thank you very much.

"Is this a tough love thing?" I called out.

He called back, "Yep."

"But I had surrr-gerr-y."

"They forgot to remove the whine."

"Don’t you feel sorry for me?"

"Sure I do." He came back to the kitchen. "I’ll even put away the dishes – after you wash them."

"Me wash dishes?"

"Yes," he said. "You remember. You take this thing here. It’s called a sponge. Then you – "
I grabbed the sponge. "I can’t believe you’re making me do this."

"It’s good for you."

The great outdoors
That afternoon, he coaxed me to get out of the house. I opened the front door and looked outside. Then I slammed the door shut and threw myself against it. "It’s too much at once," I said, gasping. "There are trees and things out there."

"You’ll be fine."

An hour later I shouted, "I can’t do this anymore! Take me home!"

"We’re still on our front step."

So where do you go when you live on scenic Cape Cod and you haven’t been out for 3 months? To the local pizza joint - Papa Gino’s, of course. I stood at the counter and looked up at the menu, staring at it like a kid in awe. "I love the great outdoors!" I said to Bob in wonderment. "You just give people money and they’ll give you food!"

I placed my order. "I’ll have three slices of pepperoni pizza and breadsticks made with all that drippy cheese, and mozzarella sticks, raviolis, garlic bread . . . and a whole big bunch of meatballs. You want to split a Papa Platter?" I excitedly asked Bob. "They give you spaghetti on that."

The waitress looked for the rest of our party.

"It’s just us," Bob said. "She doesn’t get out much."

Grateful, indeed
We got our food to go and drove to the beach at a town landing.

And that’s when I had a happy attack. I stood up and flung my arms in the air as if I was giving heaven a giant hug. "I can walk!" I was ecstatic because 3 months prior I was told I might never walk again.

"She can walk!" Bob shouted joyfully to nobody.

Right then, I decided I didn’t need another crisis to feel this incredible way again. I will no longer take for granted the things I adore, like Bob of course and Cape Cod Bay and my wobbly but working legs.

And above all . . . the buttery goopy-cheese garlic bread they’ve got at Papa Gino’s.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Umbilical Cord Blood Banking (PDF)

Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD)Dept of Physical Medicine and Rehab Services at Baylor College of Medicine.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3001, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.