By Ryan Wilson
Recently, I came across this picture.
I haven’t seen it since I was in the hospital last year.
I believe my mom took this photo to show me what the cafeteria area of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital looked like.
I had been in the ICU there for a few days.
I had fallen out of my wheelchair, and needed surgery.
The surgery took a turn for the worse, and I was unconscious for three days.
Once I came to, I was looking for the outside world.
When I first ventured to this cafeteria (in the picture), I vividly remember two things: watching a man helping a little girl (presumably his daughter) and a fish tank.
The little girl was in a hot pink manual wheelchair. Her chair was shaped similar to one of my manual chairs, and it, just like hers, gives off the hospital-wheelchair vibe.
I remember seeing this girl, thinking of all the athlete-friends I have in wheelchairs, and, of course, feeling deeply grateful for all those who have helped me.
As my parents grabbed my food, I sat alone at the table, under a cluster of drugs, and with no functioning limb.
I thought to myself:
“What am I doing? So many disabled people have helped me. I need to make sure I help many disabled kids just like her.”
A few minutes earlier, the fish tank took my breath away.
It was remarkably colorful, and the fish, shimmying up, down and around a bright blue tank, looked so alive.
That, I admit, almost made me tear up.
I was — and still am — so grateful to be alive.