The Journey

Writer, Photographer, & Advocate
Our Stories

Taking on the World, One Story at a Time

Dear Spina Bifida
My first thought would be to hell with you. However, I’m not going to say that. I have had hard moments within my life. My mother was told by a doctor who examined me as a baby that I would probably never walk, talk, feed myself and I should probably be institutionalized. While telling me that particular story she had tears in her eyes. That wasn’t the first time she shed tears with regard to my disability. Entering tight spaces has always been difficult. Many people who don’t know me bend over backwards to help even without asking. This can be tricky at times.
What some would call being overly nice I sometimes misconstrue condescension. I default to believing people are only being nice because I’m disabled and they don’t think I can perform everyday tasks. The worst way I’m treated is when I’m ignored when I have someone with me. It makes me feel unimportant, unequal to or less than everyone else the person has interacted with. This has undoudtedly taken away opportunities for friendly relationships that I could still have. You have also afforded me many opportunities in my life that I would not normally have. In the late eighties to mid nineties I participated in the New York State Games For the Physically Challenged. While an athlete for the games I won fifty seven medals, forty of them being gold. I was also chosen to be on the Irish Youth Team. A group of American children flew from America to Ireland for free. While in Ireland we stayed with a family for one week and a college for the next week. We toured Dublin, going to different castles and historical sites. While there we participated in adaptive olympic games. It was an experience I had never had and will never have again. People ask me if given the chance would I be able bodied. My answer is always no. When asked what’s the most difficult thing about your disability my answer is always able bodied peoples reaction to my disability and the inaccessibility that I often deal with.
Sincerely,
Michael M. Humel

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Michael’s Top 10 Activities to Stay Active

1. Weight Lifting

My weightlifting routine goes from Monday to Saturday with an off day on Sunday. Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays I work my back and biceps. While on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I work my triceps, chest and shoulders.

2. Rolling The Dog Around The Apartment

I start out by taking my dog Bailey on a roll through our apartment complex. We do this 2-3 times a day going up and down hills as well as rolling the length of the complex from building to building,

3. Wheelchair Yoga

I complete a full Yoga regimen every morning in my Wheelchair.

4. Wheelchair Basketball

Once a week I go to the gym, and play wheelchair basketball.

5. Wheelchair Rugby

Once a week I got to the gym, and i practice wheelchair rugby.

6. Martial Arts

I started practicing martial arts over two years ago. I practice it once daily for at least one hour.

7. Swimming

When I was younger I would swim all the time in the pool I had at home as well as an official sized pool when I was competing in Olympic Games.

8. Wheelchair Racing

I love it. It’s a way to get my heart rate up as well as compete against myself to see how fast and how far I can go.

9. Wheelchair Tennis

I never thought I would be able to play tennis until I went with some friends and tried it. I didn’t think I would be able to roll and hold the racket. I’m learning I’m actually good at serving.

10. Wheelchair Rugby

I love the contact and the action. Playing allows me to use my wheelchair racing skills to get from goal to goal as quickly as possible.

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