Thursday, October 15, 2015


Have you seen the Under Armour commercial featuring New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady? The one where there's hundreds of him doing drills in militaristic fashion. Precise. Over and over. And he keeps repeating the phrase "Every Single Day" ending the commercial with the words, "No Matter What."

I suppose the point of the ad is to emphasize how hard work practiced over and over, every single day, no matter what obstacles you face, will produce something great.

I had seen the commercial a few times before. But last week it came on at a rather inopportune time. And, well, it just rubbed me the wrong way.

I was transferring Jeff from his bed into his wheelchair doing what I call the "bullseye transfer." It's one of two transfers I do every single day, and it's the trickier of the two. I'm going from a big target (the bed) to a small target (the chair), and in order to get it right, it requires a precision and efficiency that only experience can provide.

Some days the transfers go easy peasy.

Some days they are far from smooth.

Today was one of those days.

As I lowered Jeff into his chair, I began to struggle with getting the sling removed from behind him. I'd been having shoulder and arm pain for several days prior to this transfer, and that pain was only adding to my mounting frustration. I was leaning and holding Jeff's body forward with my right arm, and tugging at the sling with my left arm. Grunting and swearing the whole time.

Just then the Under Armour commercial came on. And out of my periphery I could see a hundred Tom Bradys doing drill after drill. Running. Throwing. Grunting. Sweating.

"Every Single Day" came Brady's gruff voice at the end. "No Matter What."

That's when I lost it.

I looked at the TV with exhaustion and frustration dripping from my being, and I snarled, "Are you f***ing kidding me right now Tom Brady? Every Single Day? Really??? THIS is Every Single Day. Every Single F***ing Day!"

I jerked the sling free with those last words, and I flung it limply over the side of Jeff's chair.

I leaned Jeff back and continued in silence with the transfer.

I felt terrible at the nastiness that welled up inside me and came pouring out all over this commercial that had the misfortune of airing during one of the tougher transfers.

But I didn't apologize.

Because "this" is paralysis.

"This" is frustration.

"This" is the time-consuming, pain-inducing transfer we perform every single day. Twice a day. No matter what.

"This" is our life that is now dictated by an irreversible, life-altering injury.

After I got Jeff settled into his chair, I was still fuming inside over the commercial and the now-vilified Tom Brady. I was chewing him out in my mind, thinking something along the lines of, I've seen paparazzi photos of you and your family frolicking on an exotic beach. Don't pretend like you don't take vacations. Do you practice while you're on vacation? I doubt it. So don't give me this Every Single Day crap. Every Single Day my a$$!

Wow. I was really having a moment.

So I got to thinking about this life and every exhausting aspect we face of it every day.

And I realized that there's something I really miss from our old life. Something very selfish of me to miss. Something I have a hard time admitting because I don't like being selfish. But I couldn't help it.

I miss Sick Days.

I used to get five sick days a year at the company I worked for. And I always took all five.

Some, of course, were for those downright sick-as-a-dog days. I don't miss those days.

It's the ones where you're feeling just a little off. Not truly sick enough to miss work over, but the pull of staying home and doing absolutely nothing all day is so persuasive that you decide to call in.

The ones where no one else is at home because your husband is at work and your daughter is at pre-school, both safe and healthy and going about their normal routines.

The ones where it's okay to rest your body and mind. To take a guilt-free nap in the middle of the day. To change out of your PJs only the minute before your husband and little girl get home.

The ones that fill you up so that you can face the next day with a full charge.

Those are the days I miss.

Because I don't get those days anymore. Neither does Jeff.

Wouldn't that be something. To be able to take the day off from a spinal cord injury.

Today we're taking the day off. Shhh. We aren't going to tell anybody. You aren't going to be paralyzed today, and I'm not going to be your caregiver. We're just going to hang out in our bedroom all day long. Tomorrow, we'll get back to this SCI life. But today we're not having any of it. Today we are free.

Oh what a day that would be.

But those kinds of days are no longer part of our life. Because every single day we work harder than we ever thought possible. Some days are physically exhausting for me. Some days we have a mental mountain to climb.

Every Single Day we work hard at this life.

But unlike Tom Brady whose hard work, dedication, and perseverance win him a(nother) Super Bowl ring in the end, OUR daily hard work, dedication, and perseverance are rewarded with yet another day filled with hard work, dedication, and perseverance.

Every Single Day. No Matter What.

* * * * * *

Enter perspective.

I haven't seen that Under Armour commercial since that nasty day. And since some time has passed and I've been able to air out the negativity (since I don't like carrying it around with me), I'll try to remember, the next time that commercial comes on, that frame of mind plays a big role in interpreting the message.

I'll do my best to know that the hard work I put into every single day of my life means I get to experience the greatest thing of all: Another laugh with my husband. Another hug from my daughter. Another day to be thankful that we have each other to journey with through this life.

Every Single Day. No Matter What.


In case you missed my transfer video recently shared by AbleThrive, here it is. This is the "reverse bullseye transfer" going from the chair to the bed - the easier of the two we perform each day. It's a ten-minute process that I've sped up to just over one minute. If you look closely, Evie even makes a cameo appearance near the end!

p.s. Sorry Tom Brady!