I am so excited to introduce my friend, Sydney, as she shares her perspective of being friends with a quadriplegic. When my accident happened, I thought it would be difficult to make genuine friends in a wheelchair. I mean, I had a solid group of friend’s before the accident but would the new friends see past my disability? What would they think? Would it annoy them? How would they know my true personality if they’ve never seen me dance to Beyonce? It was hard to imagine a friendship that only knew me as disabled Abby and not abled Abby. So with that being said, here is how it all happened!
Hi everybody! I’m Abby’s BFF, Sydney. It is such an honor to be able to write this post for In The Waiting. I’m going to give you my perspective on what it’s like to be friends with a quadriplegic. But before I get to that I would like to tell you a little about myself and how I got to meet Abby.
I first met Abby when we were babies, I don’t really remember this meeting but I’ve been told about it. Our parents went to church together and knew each other way before I could even comprehend what a friend was. I didn’t really know Abby but I heard of her in 2012 when her car accident occurred. My parents told me what had happened and told me to pray. Coincidentally, a couple months later I was diagnosed with cancer. Abby and I spent a lot of time in the same hospital together before we even knew each other. Our parents had a lot of mutual friends so many of them would come see me and then go see Abby or vice versa. One time this happened and Abby had them bring me down a stuffed bear for me. (When you’re stuck in the hospital for months at a time you get a lot of random stuffed animals that you don’t want. I knew that she had just shoved off one of her unwanted stuffed bears to me, so although this seems like a sweet gesture… it wasn’t.) My tumor was in my left femur bone. During the surgery to remove the tumor a nerve was stretched in my lower thigh. This has caused nerve damage from basically my knee down in my left leg. Because of this nerve damage I started taking a medicine called gabapentin (I promise this will be relevant in a moment.)
So fast forward three years. After several other unfortunate things occurred in my life I felt the call of ministry so I started the internship program at 7 Hills Church. Abby started the same program the same year. Every day I would come home from church and my mom would ask, “Have you talked to Abby yet?” She had a feeling we would become good friends. I found out later Abby’s mom was asking her the same thing about me every day (What can I say, mothers know best.) One day at church we finally spoke to each other. We were sitting next to each other and she started taking her medicine. I asked her what kind they were, and she said it was gabapentin! I told her how I take the same medicine and we immediately bonded over our need for the same prescription drug. BOOM friends.
Okay, now let’s get into the stuff that you all came here for. What is it like being friends with a quadriplegic. Here is my answer…. Drum roll please…… it’s the same as being friends with anybody else on this planet. It really is exactly the same, and it drives me nuts when people act like it’s different. I spend time with her and do things with her like I would with any other friend. I believe God places every friendship/ relationship in your life for a reason. So instead of singling her out as a quadriplegic I’m going to talk about why I believe God blessed me with having Abby as a friend.
My first reason is my changed perspective on the world. I was dependent on a wheelchair for a short period of time during my chemo treatments so I already had a small idea of what it felt like to be handicapped. I was hindered from the outside world far beyond just being in a wheelchair during that time, so I didn’t get the full grasp on what it’s like to just try living in a wheelchair. Now that I have really experienced going out with Abby a lot, I have a new appreciation for handicap accessible buildings. Simply having a ramp for her to be able to enter through, having a handicap button to open the doors, and having enough open space inside for her to be able to move around. Not to mention parking, I know Abby just made a whole post about this subject but it truly is so frustrating to see people not respect the van accessible handicap spots. All of these aspects make a world of a difference for her independence.
My next reason is that Abby is just an amazing friend. I have had several people tell me what a blessing I am to Abby, because I help her with a few things physically, but she honestly helps me way more on an emotional, spiritual level than I could ever do for her on a physical level. You hear in ministry a lot that you need a friend that will give you a heart check. In case you haven’t heard that term before, this basically just refers to someone that will tell you when you’re off in your thinking or if you’re falling away from God they’ll bring you back. That is Abby for me. She is someone I rely on to give me advice on the dumbest things. She is that friend I can call at any time and she’ll answer. She is my best friend, and she just happens to be quadriplegic.
To close out this post I’d just like to share with you my favorite thing about Abby. I love that Abby does not look at her disability as a hinderance, she looks at it as a small obstacle she needs to work around. Even better, she uses her disability as a blessing to others. I have had many conversations with her where she is a little frustrated about not being healed yet. After she vents a little it always comes back to her remembering that God is using her story to bless others, and because of that it’s worth it. Her heart for others is unbelievable. I believe that when she is healed she’ll continue to bless others with her testimony. That is why it is a blessing to be friends with a quadriplegic.