United Spinal Association writes that the individuals in the #StrongWheeled Together community endeavor to ‘erase the stigma of disability … gain strength from each other’s lived experiences and personal stories’. We agree. Enjoy part 2 of “Adam Lane: In a Lane of His Own”.
When asked how he got to be a powerful, socially active, physically impressive person, Adam Lane laughs.
“I was lucky…blessed…I didn’t have that ‘poor-me’ thing in the very beginning. I had been through a breakup, became sober, so I was already on a healing journey and working on myself. I knew that I was ok, and that I’d continue to be ok no matter what happened to me physically.”
Maybe Adam’s previous job as an EMT and paramedic contributed to his confidence?
“Maybe, yeah, probably.” Adam pauses, thinking. “I was used to responding in unusual circumstances and relying on myself. My first relationship post-injury ended rather abruptly, and I’m pretty sure the injury had something to do with it.” His voice saddens, but Adam remains pragmatic. ”I could tell that her family was thinking: will he be able to support himself and raise a family? It’s human nature, people want to know what happens next.”
As Adam talks, I can feel him step into his natural leadership role, but he is quiet, even-handed. He is the opposite of bossy – his is a voice you would trust. After his injury he returned to the world of paramedics, this time teaching others.
“One of the best things that I did was volunteering and getting connected to my community.”
He reflects, drawing the words out slowly. “When you are newly injured you need to connect to others like you, in your situation.
“I was contacted a year after my injury to start a chapter of National Spinal Cord Injury Association, now United Spinal. I began working with Think First, a preventative program for brain and SCI injury. We would go into schools and tell kids about what could happen to them and how to prevent it. Because I was a paramedic, I could take the nurse’s role. I would be in the schools, plus I also did their young traffic offenders’ program. At lunchtime people came in to share their stories. We heard about speeding, DUIs and other stupid stuff. We would give them a tour of a trauma center, show them what could happen to them. The kids usually came in with an attitude, but ended up saying that it made a big impact.”
I ask how long it took after his injury before Adam felt ok?
“I think some people mistake ‘Being OK’ for not having any limitations or negative circumstances.” Adam replies, contemplation in his voice. “I got this moment of clarity: this sucks, but you can either lie around and let it suck or work your butt off and make things as normal as they can be.” He thinks, then the intensity in his voice revs up again.
“When I was in-patient, if they told me to do 3 sets of an exercise, I’d do 30. Then my PT would have to tell me to slow down so I didn’t hurt myself, and to rest afterwards. Some of that had come from being a paramedic, sure. I’ve pushed through things previously that I thought I couldn’t. It’s a mindset; yeah, I may be tired, but I can push through it.” He paused, considering. “And sometimes that’s stupid! You can really hurt yourself by pushing through the pain. You can’t force it.
“It’s like relationships. I always get asked, how do you meet someone after you are paralyzed? I remind people that relationships are hard. Period. That isn’t unique to the disability community.”
Adam’s next words bring the philosopher back to the power of self-talk:
“There is a reason why cliches are cliches and here’s a big one: You have to be comfortable with yourself before you can get the right relationship. You don’t want to come at it being insecure and needy. I had to go through my own process of not just knowing, but believing that I am…” he pauses, punctuating the words with firmness, “ an attractive man. NOT ‘an attractive man even though I’m in a wheelchair’! I bring things to the table, I am a desirable human being who is worth loving. That’s hard for people to believe about themselves.”
Adam Goes the Extra Mile
And what do you want the world to see? Adam doesn’t have to ponder the question very long.
“Even today, it is still seen as unusual for someone in a wheelchair to be gainfully employed. It’s even seen as unusual for someone in a wheelchair to be out with his wife and kids! I want to change that. I want to lead by example.
“I’ve traveled, I’ve done the Roll on Capitol Hill twice. It’s great to have people see us out there. I want to get the word out so, (to quote United Spinal Association), I can help e’rase the stigma of disability and fight so that everyone can live the lives they choose’”.
That is one of the reasons Adam is handcycling across the USA in the #StrongWheeled Together campaign. He started in San Diego on April 11, 2022 and is scheduled to finish in New York City on June 25, 2022.
San Diego – April 11, 2022 • Completed!
Phoenix – April 19, 2022 • Completed!
Albuquerque – April 26, 2022 • Completed!
Oklahoma City – Coming up!
Kansas City – May 11, 2022
St. Louis – May 18, 2022
Indianapolis – May 25, 2022
Columbus, OH – May 31, 2022
Pittsburgh – June 7, 2022
Washington DC – June 12, 2022 (Break for ROCH)
NYC – Saturday, June 25, 2022 (CLOSING EVENT)
To follow the journey and contribute to United Spinal, go to: