By the middle of January Shane was better again. He got up every day and he walked a lot in his braces, even if just in the apartment. Sometimes he would just stand for a while to get his strength back. I told him not to overdo it but he felt he was okay and he was pushing himself some. He also kept coming to the shelter with me and there was always something to do for him, even if it was just playing board games with the kids there.
We kept looking in the newspaper and on the Internet for house and apartment listings but it was difficult to find anything. Until we would find a place Shane had to keep battling the stairs and even though it was still a strenuous task for him he never complained and took it more of a challenge to get fit again. Eventually he actually made it up the stairs fairly quickly.
At the end of January Matt called and informed me that Shane’s Quickie was in. Shane was in the living room watching TV as I took the call and once I hung up he looked at me.I smiled, “Guess what?”
He didn’t smile when he replied, “The chair is in.”
I was excited but I knew for Shane it was still not all the way easy and I walked over to him and plopped onto the couch next to him, “I know you’re nervous.”
“What am I even going to do with the thing? We don’t have a new place yet.”
“I’ll bring it up here and you can use it here in the apartment or we can bring it to the shelter and you can use it there.”
Right away Shane went into the defense, “Aw, no, not at the shelter.”
“Well, then only here in the apartment.”
I couldn’t all the way excite him but I hoped he would get used to it and feel better about it once he would have the wheelchair at the apartment.
On Thursday after breakfast we drove up to Madisonville. Shane didn’t say much during the drive and I saw him close his eyes for a little while. He was in his braces and his crutches were next to him in the front seat. I glanced at him a few times, his lips were slightly parted as he apparently had dozed off. I saw his long eye lashes from the side and the shadow of a beard showing. He had his baseball cap on and his hands were just resting loosely in his lap.
It startled him when I hit a small ditch in the road.“Sorry, I just hit a bump in the road.”
He didn’t say anything and only shifted in the seat.
Shane had been quiet a lot in the last few weeks and even though I knew some of it was to blame on the medication he was on I sometimes wondered if he was okay with everything. It was like somehow his spirit had been broken since he had been released from prison again.
I didn’t feel the spark in him anymore, the spark that sometimes made him angry and frustrated about his situation but at the same time I hoped that it was actually a good sign that he was somehow content now.
I said softly, “Shane?”“Are you all right?”
He turned his head toward me, “Hhm?”
He turned his head toward me, “Hhm?”
It took a moment until he replied, “Yes, why?”
“I don’t know, you seem so….sometimes you seem like you’re not in the moment.”
I glanced over at him and his eyes met mine but he didn’t answer right away.
I added insecurely, “I just hope you’re happy being back home with me. Was it wrong of me to push a wheelchair on you?”
He kept his eyes on me and shifted on the seat. I moved my eyes forward onto the road again.
“I’m more than happy to be with you Anna. I don’t ever want to be away from you again and no, it wasn’t wrong to order a wheelchair. I’m a little nervous but you’re right, it’ll make things easier for me. I’m sorry I seem a little out of it lately. I’m very happy to be with you again and I’m not sure why I’m so tired all the time. Probably the medications.”
With that he moved his hand over onto my thigh and I glanced from his hand to him quickly and smiled.
He added, “I love you more than you’ll ever know.”
“I love you so much too.”
We pulled into the parking lot of NuMotion in Madisonville. I turned off the car and we got out. As Shane eventually had a good stance he made his way next to me toward the automatic doors.We walked into the showroom with Matt having already spotted us, “Anna, Shane, it’s good to see you again.”
He actually hugged me and patted Shane on the shoulder, “I’m assuming you’re here to pick up your sweet ride?”
Shane nodded, “I guess so.”
Matt gestured us to his desk, “You guys have a seat over there and I’ll get the chair.”
We sat down on the chairs in front of Matt’s desk and waited. I put my hand on Shane’s thigh and only because he saw my hand he knew my hand was there. He put his hand on mine and we smiled at each other.
My heart was beating quickly in anticipation and there came Matt around the corner with Shane’s wheelchair. From what I saw it looked great and I felt my hands tremble and get sweaty at the sight of the wheelchair.Matt sounded motivated, “Here it is, Shane’s custom made new ride.”
Shane shifted some on the regular chair to get a better look at the wheelchair and Matt pushed it to him. Shane eyed the wheelchair for a moment.It looked perfect, black frame with a single foot rest, no armrests. The backrest was mid high and the cushion on the seat looked comfortable. On the seat was a folder with papers and pictures, obviously the booklet that came with the chair.
Shane still had his eyes on it and Matt added with a smile, “All yours Shane.”
He showed Shane how the backrest folded down or could come off, and how the wheels came off their axles.
Matt pointed at the break on both wheels, “And here is the break.”
Shane didn’t say anything and just scanned the wheelchair.
I put my hand on his arm and said carefully, “Do you want to get in it?”
He snapped out of the moment of staring at the wheelchair and his eyes jumped from me to Matt.
Matt tried to sound reassuring, “Try it out Shane.”
Shane shifted and replied lowly, “I guess.”
I moved his crutches out of the way and Shane adjusted the wheelchair next to his chair. I saw his hands were shaky as he positioned the wheelchair so he could transfer over.Matt came to the rescue, “Here let me show you once again. Can you scoot your butt forward on the chair a little?”
Shane put his hands next to him on the chair and pushed himself forward some.
Matt angled the wheelchair in front of Shane, “Put your one hand onto the seat.”
Shane was concentrating, balled his hand into a fist, and set it on the cushion, sinking in some with his hand.
He was looking down at his legs and Matt asked, “Are you able to bear some weight on your legs?”
Shane nodded, “Yeah.”
Matt continued, “Okay, then use your legs as much as possible to push your body over onto the chair. The break is on, so don’t worry, the wheelchair won’t move away from you.”
His legs in the braces clunked together as he pushed his body over but his feet stayed in the same spot and Shane barely got his butt on the edge of the wheelchair seat. He didn’t look up, but kept his eyes on his legs and the floor and was breathing quickly.Matt praised him, “There you go, good job. Now scoot your butt up on the chair all the way, then you lift your legs up onto the footrest.”
I watched my boyfriend position himself with some difficulties and once he had his feet on the foot rest I said softly, “Well, if you use the wheelchair you won’t be in your braces. Your legs won’t be so bulky without the braces.”
Matt suggested, “Yeah, the braces probably make it slightly difficult with a transfer. Maybe you could take them off and try it without them.”
Shane was still finding his position in the wheelchair and shook his head, “I don’t think I need to take them off.”
I also felt it would be a good idea so he could get a better feel for the wheelchair.
“I think Matt is right baby. Let’s try it without the braces.”
Shane looked up at me with dark eyes and somewhat disapproving.
I added, “I’ll help you.”
“I didn’t bring my regular sneakers.”
That was true. We hadn’t even thought about that.
Matt smiled, “Sock footed is okay too. At least then I can see how your legs are aligned and positioned on the foot rest and the wheelchair. I want to make sure you have a good position and we don’t need to adjust anything. It’s difficult for me to see with the braces on.”
Shane seemed annoyed but agreed, “Okay.”
He put his hands to the thigh cuff of his brace and started to unbuckle it.
Matt smiled, “I’ll give you a few moments.”
He walked away and I smiled at him, “Thanks Matt, just a couple of minutes.”
While he was sitting in the wheelchair I helped him unstrap his braces and eventually pulled his feet out of his boots. I set the braces on the floor next to us. Gently I lifted his feet onto the footrest.I looked up at him and he met my eyes.
I touched his knee, “Baby, are you all right with all of this? I know this is not all the way easy for you.”
He shook his head and I said, “We can do this Shane.”
At that moment Matt came around the corner of his cubicle, “Okay, cool, you got the braces off. We can check out your seating again and the positioning of your legs.”
Shane shifted some on the wheelchair seat and with that his legs fell over to the side and his foot slipped off the foot rest.
Somewhat annoyed he set his foot back on the foot rest and then held his legs together as they were trying to fall over to the side still. Seeing his legs so floppy made me realize how much of a difference the braces made in keeping his legs rigid and held in place.
I could see on Shane’s face that he wasn’t too happy about his legs being so limp but I hoped it didn’t discourage him on having a wheelchair now.
Matt suggested warmly, “You know Shane, if your legs don’t cooperate so much as you get used to the wheelchair I know some people use like a Velcro strap to hold them together, at least in the beginning to get used to it or even all the time if that makes it easier for you. You could also strap your feet onto the foot rest so they can’t jump off and get caught in the caster wheels when you push around. We can add straps fairly easy. I could have them add some in our shop today if that’s something you want to try. I guess it depends on how much you’re dealing with spasticity.”
Shane looked up at me and just at that moment his foot fell off the foot rest again.I realized he was frustrated as he roughly pulled his foot back onto the foot rest.
Matt then said, “Why don’t you wheel out onto the showroom floor and I can see your positioning?”
Shane finished with his foot and pushed the rims but didn’t get the curve right away, Matt showed him how to turn his wheelchair.
As Shane was parked on the open floor now, Matt walked around the chair twice, glanced from the top, from the bottom, and squatted down in front of Shane, next to him and behind him.“It looks perfect, your backrest is the right height, just like we measured it in accordance to your injury site. Your legs are aligned right if they just stay on. So I would recommend the straps for your legs and feet. We can do that before you leave today. How does it feel for you Shane?”
Shane looked over at me and I smiled at him even though I could feel he wasn’t all the way happy with the situation. He didn’t smile back at me but instead he seemed annoyed.
Matt encouraged, “Why don’t you push the rims and wheel around some to get a feel for it again?”
Somewhat reluctant Shane put his hands onto the rims and started pushing the chair and it wheeled easily and quietly over the smooth showroom floor. Matt came back toward his cubicle where I was still sitting on the chair.
He smiled at me and I smiled at him. I could see in his expression he had realized very much Shane’s frustration and he said softly, “The Velcro straps for his feet and legs would be no problem to add to the chair. I can see he’s dealing with spasms.”
I nodded, “Yeah, it’s an ongoing issue.”
Shane was out on the floor maneuvering the Quickie swiftly and was also able to push into the turns. I walked out on the floor and watched him. My heart was beating fast at seeing my boyfriend in the wheelchair and he looked perfect in it. I smiled and I softly clapped my hands cheering him on.
He turned a sharp curve and quickly came rolling over to me, swiftly holding the rims for a sharp break.I stepped back as Shane came to a stop right in front of me.
Matt was laughing, “You’re getting the hang of it Shane.”
Shane nodded and looked up at me with a smirk. I was glad to see him smile.
“I guess I should get the stupid straps.”
I smiled at him, “Yes, you probably should get the stupid straps.”
Matt came over, “Yeah, that’ll be no problem.”
We all saw his legs twitch again and his foot came off the foot rest again.
Shane nodded, “Yeah, get me those freaking straps on there then.”
Matt explained, “Well, if you want to come back over to the cubicle, sit back on the regular chair and I’ll take your Quickie to the shop out back so our technician can add the straps.”
We were at the desk again and before Matt took the wheelchair he showed us a few options for straps that could be added to the chair. Some of them were more extensive and kind of wrapped around the feet and some were just simple Velcro straps over the thighs close to the knees and then over the feet.
We opted for the simple black ones. Shane transferred onto the regular chair again and Matt took the Quickie to the back.Shane sat there sock footed and his legs were twitching wildly under the desk.
I said to Shane, “You feel okay about this?”
He nodded and he held his hand out to me and I put my hand in his, “I’m sorry Anna…I do feel okay but also…I don’t know. I guess something about it still gets to me somehow. Seeing my legs so messed up and doing what they want I just have doubts how this is going to work with the wheelchair. Now I have to add those straps.”
“At least in the beginning it’ll help you and in the long run you may not need them anymore. I really enjoyed seeing you maneuver the chair around a while ago. You did it so good.”
Shane smiled and looked down, “I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.”
I stroked my hand over his, “You looked very hot in it.”
He didn’t say anything and I added softly, “I love you babe.”
Shane glanced by me at the braces still on the floor, “Should I get rid of those then?”
I shook my head, “Ah no, you won’t need to get rid of those ever. I still love them too.”
He laughed lowly and I leaned over to kiss him.
Matt came back and while they added the straps to the Quickie Matt finished the paperwork for us.“Do you still want me to show you some more how to operate the chair or do you think you’ll be okay? There is a DVD in the packet and it’ll teach you the moves and tricks with the chair.”
“I think I’ll be okay, I just have to practice.”
“Well, you can come here anytime Shane with any issues or questions. You do have a lifetime warranty on the chair.”
We talked about everything once more and eventually Matt handed us the information packet with everything in it and all that was left now was the final payment and our signatures.
The technician from the shop brought the wheelchair to us again, “Okay, straps are on there.”
He showed us where they had mounted a leg strap that would go over Shane’s thighs and the strap that would go over his feet and hold them down.
“The straps can come off again if they’re not needed anymore.”
We thanked the technician and Matt got up and showed us the straps again explaining the details.
“Do you want to try it out?”
Shane shook his head, “I think I’m good.”
He glanced at me and I asked, “You sure?”
I gathered he was ready to get out of there.
Matt nodded in understanding, “Okay, well, then we’re pretty much done with everything.”
Shane looked down at his braces, “I need those again.”
I replied, “Yeah sure.”
Matt smiled, “I’ll give you a few moments and then we get everything ready for you.”
I thanked Matt and grabbed Shane’s right brace, “Here we go.”
Shane shifted forward on the chair some so I could get his brace on and it turned out to be awkward in the small space of the cubicle.
As I tried to hold the brace the best way put back on Shane suddenly just slipped off the chair, “Let me get on the floor. It’ll be easier to put them on with my legs stretched out.”
Shane now leaned on the wall of the cubicle and while squatting down, gasping, and panting I got his braces back on his legs. Shane helped as much as he could but he also had to hold himself up with his back onto the wall. Once we were done, his laces were tied he just sat there and I stood in front of him, “I’ll pull you up.”
This proved to be harder than I thought. I had never pulled Shane up from the floor, especially not from the frontal position. Usually I helped him up standing behind him. I positioned myself in front of him, my legs spread over him and I leaned down to push my arms under his arms so he could lock his hands behind my neck. I tried my hardest to pull him up. I realized that even though Shane had basically no inch of fat on him he was still heavy for me to lift all the way from the floor.
I was gasping as I started to pull him up and just then Matt came in and saw our dilemma, “Guys, what’s going on? Let me help you.”I huffed under my breath, “Shane sat on the floor to put his braces on.”
Matt quickly reacted and took over for me and did the same thing I had attempted, ending up pulling Shane up and I quickly handed him his crutches. He grabbed them tightly and pulled himself up all the way, leaning very shaky on the wall and trying to find his balance.
I was right in front of him, “Are you standing babe?”
He nodded, focused on finding a good stance.
Even though Shane seemed to be standing I didn’t move away from him and stayed right in front of him, waiting until I was sure he was grounded securely.Matt stood by and watched, “Are you all right?”
Shane nodded and moved over to the regular chair to sit down. He kept his eyes on the ground until he finally sat. He didn’t take his arms out of the crutches but kept the crutches dangling.
Matt sat down behind his desk and laid out all the papers in front of us, the warranty papers, the invoice which I paid in full, the instructional manual for the Quickie, and a parts and accessories brochure. I ended up signing the papers since I was the main purchaser and Shane just sat there and watched as I handed Matt my credit card. Matt walked away for a moment to run my card and get my receipt. Shane looked over at me and our eyes met. I smiled at him.
When Matt came back we finished up and eventually made our way out to my car. Matt pushed the Quickie for us. At the car he showed us again how to detach the wheels of the Quickie before he stashed it into the trunk of my car. Shane stood by and watched and I thanked Matt for showing us everything.
He then made sure again that we knew we could call him at any time with any concerns or if we had any issues with the wheelchair.He patted Shane on the arm, “Thanks Shane for your trust in our company. I’m sure you won’t regret getting the Quickie. It’s a good quality chair and it’ll make things easier for you when you want to use it.”
Shane nodded, “Thanks for helping us with all of it.”
“No problem, even if there aren’t any issues you guys can stop by any time.”
Matt then turned to me, “Thank you so much Anna, you guys made the right choice.”
I smiled at him, “Yeah, I know we did. I’m sure it’ll be perfect for Shane.”
With that we said Good Bye to Matt and got into the car.
Our visit with Al and Cindy was nice. We had dinner again and talked about everything that was going on which was really not a lot at all.We showed them the wheelchair in the trunk of my car and I took it out and attached the wheels to it and set it up so they could see it better.
Al touched it and looked at it closely, “Looks like it may be a good thing for you Shane. Have you tried it out yet?”
“Yes sir, I have and it’s perfect.”
Cindy smiled, “That’s good and it’ll make things easier for you when you’re going somewhere with lots of walking.”
Shane nodded and I added, “It’s custom made for Shane and so it’ll be comfortable for him.”
We stayed until eight that night and then made our way back down to Metairie. At my apartment I took the wheelchair out of the trunk and with Shane’s backpack on my back, my purse over my shoulder and the Quickie in my hands I lugged everything upstairs.Shane made his way up and when he finally was in the apartment and saw all the stuff in the hallway he apologized, “I’m sorry you had to drag all this stuff up here.”
I was panting some, “It’s fine.”
His wheelchair was now parked there in the hallway of my small apartment. I wasn’t even sure if it fit through the doors into the living room, bedroom or bathroom. Shane leaned on the front door and stared at the Quickie.I stood there and felt somewhat strange all the sudden with the wheelchair there. I glanced over at it.
I had carpet in my apartment and even with that I had no idea how Shane could even use the chair in the apartment.
I looked over at him and our eyes met and he asked softly, “Are you all right?”
I shrugged my shoulders and for some reason I felt my eyes get blurry all the sudden. Somehow at this moment I felt that getting a wheelchair for Shane maybe had not been a good idea.I looked back at the Quickie and my voice trembled when I said, “Was it a stupid idea?”
Shane still leaned on the door, “What are you talking about?”
I pointed at the Quickie, “There’s carpet in every room here, the place is small and I don’t even know if it can fit through the doors.”
“Come over here!”
I hesitantly walked over to Shane and while leaning on the door and with the crutches still dangling on his forearms he pulled me to him and when I didn’t look at him right away he said, “Look at me Anna.”I looked up at him, Shane was slightly taller than I.
He lifted his hand to my hair, the crutch still attached to his arm. Leaning on the door he was able to stand.
He stroked some strands of hair behind my ear, “No one has ever done anything like this for me Anna. I can’t even explain what it means to me and yes, I may have acted a little reluctant because even though I know it’s going to make things so much easier for me and I know you’re okay with it, it’s still a change for me. I’ll have to get used to it still. Being in the braces I’m still standing in a way. I may be paralyzed but I can still stand and walk some. Like right now standing here with you is good for me. I love looking at you at eye level and being able to feel your whole body on mine, at least where I can feel it. When I would see or meet folks in a wheelchair in the past I always told myself I was still good because I could walk and stand and they couldn’t even do that anymore. It gave me some kind of reassurance that I wasn’t that bad off. But yes, it’s hard and exhausting to walk with these things and you know I hate it on a lot of days but at least I can still be upright. Being in a wheelchair changes that and it’s a psychological thing for me but I know it’s going to be so much easier for me when we go places and for that it’ll be great. And I’ll use it and you’ll see me in it a lot and I’ll figure out how to wheel around in your apartment. That you did this for me Anna means so much to me and I won’t disappoint you. This wheelchair will get used a lot but just give me the time I need.”
I nodded like a little child and said with a tear rolling down my cheek, “I didn’t mean to force this on you Shane.”He stroked my cheek, “You didn’t force anything on me. I’m so thankful to you for this. I’ve a question though.”
I focused on his face, “What?”
He smiled, “So if instead of being in braces I would’ve been in a wheelchair when you saw me for the first time at Charity in the courtyard, would I be here right now?”
I thought about the first time I saw Shane in his braces at Charity and how mesmerized I was with him and then I imagined him in a wheelchair and how it would have been never having seen him in braces.
“Actually I don’t know if you would be here in this apartment.”
He looked at me questioning and I quickly explained with a smile, “I probably would’ve had to meet you in a hotel room all the time. You wouldn’t have been able to come up here.”
“But you still would’ve wanted to talk to me even if it would’ve only been a wheelchair.”
He grinned, “Well, I guess I would’ve actually had to get down on my ass to get up here. Can you imagine that?”
The vision of Shane having to make his way up the stairs like that flashed through my mind and I smiled, “Actually – it would’ve been kind of hot.”
He laughed and shook his head, “No way.”
I smiled, “Yes way, because really it wouldn’t matter what you do, you’re always hot to me.”
“How about if I wouldn’t have been in any braces nor a wheelchair, just a guy walking like any other guy?”
I leaned my head on his shoulder and for a moment I thought about this, then I said, “Well, either way you would’ve caught my attention because of just being a hot guy…but if you would’ve been walking like any other guy you would’ve never been at Charity that day and I don’t even want to think about not ever having met you. Shane, I’m so happy we met that day and I don’t ever want to be without you again. I love you so much and I’ll give you all the time you need to get familiar with the wheelchair and I’ll never make you use it if you don’t want to. I also still love you in your braces way too much so I’m perfectly fine if you’re not always using your wheelchair.”“Thanks Anna, you mean the world to me.”
We kissed a long kiss right there standing by my front door, Shane holding me with one hand and one crutch back on the floor to help him stand better and I moved my leg in between his legs and felt the braces and I was just so happy to have him in my life.
The following weeks Shane would get into the wheelchair in the apartment and he actually fit through all the doors but it was difficult to wheel around on the carpet. He also used the chair on a few days at the shelter and there it was a lot better for him and he was able to get better with maneuvering the Quickie, practiced his turns and even attempted wheelies. He became very skilled with the wheelchair and he started feeling better about it. I loved seeing him in the wheelchair but I was also glad when he still got into his braces.
I kept looking at the real estate listings. I also signed up for getting any new listings matching our specifications sent to me online.
The club was getting remodeled and restored and it was in the middle of February when Nadine told me that we would open on April 1. I was excited but also nervous. Rob and she were in the process of trying to track down the girls who used to work at the club before the hurricane and wanted to see who would still be interested in dancing at the Maison again. The name would still be the same but the interior was going to look different. I was planning on going to see the club in the next few days. With the new look we would also change up our program some and would have to still order and get new things and items for the club.
I sat on the couch cuddled up next to Shane and started carefully, “So Nadine called me today and she said the club will reopen on April 1. We will have a grand reopening party.”Shane moved his eyes toward me and looked at me for a moment, “So you must be happy about that?”
I nodded, “I am really happy. How do you feel about it?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment but sat there thinking.
“Are you okay if I work there again?”
His eyes were dark when he looked at me now, “I don’t know if I want you to dance anymore but if that’s what you want then I’ll just deal with it.”
I traced the tattoo on his arm and explained, “Well, I actually was thinking about not dancing anymore and just helping Nadine and Rob run the place behind the scenes. If you don’t want me to dance, I won’t dance anymore. I mean I will still dance but not at the club anymore but only for you.”
“But you love dancing, don’t you?”
“I do, but if I really want to I can dance at the local gym in Aerobics class while you’re working out.”
I laughed and Shane shook his head, “I don’t want to keep you from doing what you like to do.”
I leaned my head on his arm, “I won’t dance anymore baby.”
Shane shifted some to get a better look at me.
He stroked my hair out of the way and tugged it behind my ear, then lifted my chin with his fingers, “I don’t want to be the one who stops you from doing what you love and one day you’ll regret it and be angry with me.”
I looked into his deep dark eyes, “No, I won’t dance anymore and I won’t regret it either. You’re the only one for me and I don’t want to show other men my body anymore. I think Nadine and Rob will figure out something for me. They’ll understand.”
His eyes were shiny, “Well, I hate to share this body with other guys, that’s for sure.”
I smiled and looked him up and down, “And I wouldn’t want to share this body with any other chicks either so it’s settled. I won’t dance anymore and you won’t ever go outside this place anymore.”
Shane tilted his head some, “What do you mean? I never did anything to make you jealous, did I?”
“No, but I want to keep it that way. So you’re not going outside anywhere anymore ever.”
He smirked, “I hated to be locked up but I guess it’s different if you’re the warden. Will I get to go down on you regularly?”
I laughed and pounded his chest, “You’re bad.”
We laughed and kissed for a moment and then Shane said softly, “So you’re sure you’re really okay with not dancing at the club anymore?”I nodded, “Yes, I love you Shane and that’s why. I won’t make you go through that. If Nadine and Rob don’t want me there anymore I’ll stay at the shelter for now.”
“I’m sure they’ll still want you there.”
“I think so too. So we’ll go check out the club this weekend and see what it looks like. I can’t wait to see it now. It’s probably super awesome.”
“I love you Anna.”
“I love you.”
We kissed again and it was settled.