Friday, September 26, 2014

Details, Details, Details!

I am constantly telling my Personal Care Attendants (PCA's) it is all about the details! Last Friday the details came back to bite me in the butt to the tune of one hundred seventy dollars! One hundred thirty-eight for a tow to the Minneapolis Impound Lot and thirty-two for a parking ticket!

I was on my way to an elpisenterprises board meeting on the twenty-third floor of 150 South Fifth Street, in downtown Minneapolis. Since I cannot park in parking lots if I am alone because I cannot pull the tabs out of the dispensers, I pulled in to the last meter on the corner of Fourth Street and Marquette. I did not bother to look up and see the sign that read, "No Parking 4 to 6 PM." That was a big mistake! With my handicap plates, I am able to park at a meter for up to four hours. I knew I would not be in the meeting that long, so I decided to park there.

I left the meeting a little after 4:30 only to watch the tow truck pull away with my van a block and a half ahead of me. I had this sickening feeling I was going to have a very difficult time getting home.

I knew that tow truck was taking my van to the impound lot, so I took off across downtown Minneapolis during rush hour and people walking to the Twins game.

My chair has six speed settings and C is the fastest. You have heard people talk about multiple-choice tests and questionnaires, and they will tell you to, "Always answer C." That is the way my power wheelchair is. I clicked on C and took off the 1.4 miles to the impound lot. I cannot tell you how many times I told people as I was approaching them, "Passing on your left." I always do that so people do not get scared when I go speeding past them. It is also fun to watch oncoming pedestrians as they oftentimes do not know what to do as they approach me.

I asked a couple people who were waiting at bus stops if they knew if the bus stopped at Glenwood by the impound lot? One man told me, "That's a long ways. You can't get there in a wheelchair." He was not sure which bus I would take; he just knew I could not get there in a wheelchair.Obviously, he did not know my wheelchair!

Once I got on the bridge going over the freeway, I knew I was home free. I saw a gentleman in an SUV that was marked City of Minneapolis Protective Services. I managed to flag him down and he was very helpful. He got on his walkie-talkie right away and asked someone about the impound lot and their hours. He told me they were open until 11 PM. That eased my mind considerably as I knew I would not have to hurry and get there by 5 PM.

I only had a few blocks to go and as I was turning off Aldrich Avenue, I saw the tow truck right in front of me. He was turning to go down Colfax and enter the impound lot. I got a charge out of that! I almost beat the tow truck who was towing my van to the impound lot!

I did catch up as he was entering the lockdown area. I asked the woman in the booth if she would ask him to park the van somewhere where I could get in the passenger side door so I could get in my ramp. She was less than cordial and I am sure not in a good mood because of the angry clientele she deals with all day long. If you have ever been to an impound lot you know they can be places you do not want to spend any time! 

I was pleasantly surprised when I went inside to settle up with the towing fee to get my van back. There was only one woman in the waiting area with me! I could not believe there was nobody in there. The only problem was I could not get the door open! I believe  that is in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I approached the first window and started to talk to the man on the other side that was also not wearing a smile. 

He told me what I needed to get my van and when he asked for my ID which I cannot get out of my wallet. My wallet would not fit under the window and he was not willing to come around and help me get my ID and a credit card.

Fortunately, my new friend, Allison, who was there to get her car because it had been towed after she had a little too much to drink the night before. I love to start conversations with complete strangers and get their stories. She was more than willing to tell me her story.

Allison took my ID and slid it under the window. After a quick check of finding I had no outstanding warrants, the nice man behind the window passed my ID back for Allison. Then she gave him a credit card and helped me through the entire process.

The nice man behind the window told me to go over and wait by that door and another nice person would come and take me to my van. I did as he instructed.

When I was waiting at the door a woman drove up in another nice SUV and told me she would take me to my van. I told her, "No you won't, because I cannot get in your vehicle. If I could, what will we do with my wheelchair?"

She agreed and told me to just follow her through the lot. My van was parked in the far lot and she told me to take these papers and give them to the first nice lady at the exit to the lot. 

I told her I would not be able to pass them to the first nice lady, and asked her if she would please go ahead of me and pass the papers through to my first new friend. She was more than willing to help me. She was very nice and very helpful.

We got back up to the first nice lady to check out and my new friend handed her my papers. Then she took off! She left me alone with the first nice lady and I knew I was in trouble as she wanted to hand back my papers. I told her I could not reach them and asked her if she would put them on my passenger seat?

She would not get out of her booth, so she threw the papers through my window and fortunately landed on the seat. I did not look back at her and did not say thank you. I guess I was being rude. That was not nice of me. In my defense, I was in no mood to extend any courtesy to the impound lot employees. I was just glad to be out of there and have my little urban orienteering adventure finally over.

The bottom line is, "Pay attention to the details!"

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Monday, September 15, 2014

You Can Go Home!

We have all heard people say, "You can't go home."

That simply is not true, at least for me. I did it again last weekend when I went home to Worthington, Minnesota for their annual King Turkey Day celebration. I love going to Worthington on Turkey Day weekend because I always run into people I knew both before and after my accident.

Plus, there is always the added attraction of meeting new people at any turn. I had another goal this year and that was to sell more of my books and schedule speaking engagements. That way, I could deduct my mileage, lodging and related expenses for my trip.

My goal was achieved before I even checked in to the local AmericInn where I stay pretty much every year. I booked my room a year in advance every time I check out, so I am set for next year.

I no sooner got in the door and a gentleman standing in front of me turned and asked me, "Are you Mike Patrick?"

I chuckled a little bit, and replied, "Yes I am. How do you know me?"

He replied, "I've heard you speak a couple times and you are very good."

I chuckled again a bit and said, "Thank you. When and where did you hear me?"

He said, "I've heard you twice. I heard you at teacher workshop in Mankato when I was teaching in Wells. You also came and spoke at our high school when I was still at Wells. I'm retired now. But, I often think of things you said and remember many of your direct quotes."

I thought that was pretty cool he remembered some of my quotes!  I was at Wells-Easton High School April 17, 1990! He was quoting me from a speech I gave more than twenty-four years ago! I thought that was pretty cool!

Then he said, "The problem isn't the issue, the issue is how you deal with the problem." That is my quote verbatim!

Then he told me he is retired now and is a member of the school board. I told him it was time to come back. Since he has heard me before, I gave him one of my books "I Still Believe In Tomorrow" and asked him to give it to the superintendent and/or principal at their new high school. He asked me how much he owed me for the book and I told him nothing since it was a promotional piece and I gave them away if I was going to get a speech out of giving away a book. We chatted for a while and the story could fill the rest of this post.

When his wife had finished the check-in process, I came up to the counter and the woman behind the counter told me she was at the game the night I got hurt and remembered it like it was yesterday! She wanted to know if she could get one of my books. She wanted it for personal use and said she wanted to pay for it!

I have not even checked in to my room and I had already accomplished my goal of booking a school and selling a book! I was off to a good start!

Once we got checked in, Robert, my personal care attendant, (PCA) and I went to get something to eat so I could take off and start my quest to build on my early success.

I started towards the Nobles County Fairgrounds because they have a beer garden and other King Turkey Day activities in the facilities. I stopped in to the Activities and Antiques building just to look around and kill some time. Before I got there, I ran into Worthington's mayor, Alan Oberloh. I tease him because he is not your typical small-town mayor. He has a beard that could fit him right in as one of the guitar players for ZZ Top! He invited me to come to the Mayor's Brunch the next morning at 9:15 AM and he would give me a couple minutes of microphone time to pitch my book.

I told him I did not know if I could make that because of the timing and wanting to be downtown for the 10K race at 10 o'clock. As it turned out, I did go to the brunch and gave him a hard time about making me kiss a turkey when I spoke as their guest speaker two years ago. There is another blog post back two years that talks about that whole traumatic experience and the lasting affects it has had on me!

I had brunch with my favorite Worthington detective and his wife, and then took off early to get downtown. I got to see several friends, family members and long time, lifelong runners as they started the race and watched them finish after running around Lake Okabena.

My day was just beginning and I spent a good time in the early fall sun which gave me a nice red face, large forehead and rather sore top of my head!

I spent the evening crashing the Class of 1974 and 1964 reunions connecting with many old friends who many wanted to tell me stories of how my accident affected them.

One of my long time friends, Sheila Hawkinson, took the bull by the horns, grabbed several books and worked both rooms to sell dozens of my books! She was tremendous! Many photographs were taken on peoples' iPhones and Androids with lots of smiles and even some tears as cameras were in my face all evening.

I asked many people to send me photographs for my Screen Saver Collection and if you are reading this, please send those photographs either to my email address or put them on my Facebook page. Thank you.

There are already several photographs on my Facebook page. One of them is this photograph of Cindy Taylor-Moll and me at the 1974 Reunion: 

Click on the image to make it larger:

I could go on and tell you many more stories about going home and what a pleasure it always is to go to Worthington. This is a long post, so I will not keep you any longer. Let me say, "Don't believe people when they tell you can't go home."

Sunday morning found us stopping at one of my favorite TACO JOHN'S eateries to load up with plenty of calories to drive two hundred miles back home with another great King Turkey Day experience behind me. It is always hard to leave Worthington because there was people I wanted to see and did not and the conversations I did have were never long enough.

As always, I look forward to your comments and pictures. 



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Domestic Violence Is Never The Answer!

Domestic violence has been going on since men and women started cohabitating. That does not make it acceptable behavior. When one considers one out of every four women will experience some sort of domestic violence perpetrated on them by often times their own partner, that statistic boggles the mind!

The newly-releasd elevator videotape being shown ad nauseam on ESPN and other cable stations is indeed disgusting. Granted, we do not know what the couple was arguing about; however, we do know arguments should never be settled with one's fists!

The NFL and Baltimore Ravens were quick to act in suspending and even releasing Rice from his contract after watching the videotape of Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée Janay Palmer. The couple was married a short time later.

Janay Rice has come out with a statement saying, in part, the incident was her fault. It should be noted the couple have known each other since they were teenagers. They only started dating after he got his first NFL contract. They also have a child together.

I just saw breaking news on ESPN that the NFL offices received the elevator videotape in April. The Commissioner, Roger Goodell, adamantly denies anyone in the NFL offices seeing this videotape before two days ago.

Terry O'Neill, the president for the National Organization for Women (NOW), has made this statement. "The NFL has lost its way. It doesn't have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem. The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign."

The interesting thing for me about this whole incident is how pieces of information are slowly trickling out as the TMZ video has hit the networks. What I find interesting is how angry the entire court of public opinion is towards Rice — and justifiably so. Eventually, he will be judged by a jury of his peers. That is, if it goes that far.

The thing is, this kind of violence towards women and girls happens all the time and often times goes unreported, or the woman or girl is made out to be the perpetrator instead of the victim. That is just wrong.

We hear excuses all the time about the victims were asking for it because of the provocative clothing they were wearing, suggestive speaking they were exhibiting and many other excuses to blame the victim.

According to this page on, "Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults. Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men. Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner."

If you click on the Safe Horizon link above, it will take you to a page that is full of fascinating facts on the issue and how it relates to families, homelessness and a number of other consequences I did not know. I found the page incredibly helpful in helping me make this post.

In doing additional research, I found racial and ethnic groups are anywhere from one-third to one-half times more likely to be abused than are white women. There is also a dramatic socioeconomic factor at play in these numbers. In other words, poor women and girls of color and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be abused, and most of the time the abuse comes inside the home.

Another interesting point is women and girls are not the only victims of domestic violence as the statement from Safe Horizon's quote points out. Obviously, it is not as prevalent as women being abused, but it should be noted it also takes place. I am guessing here, but I would be willing to bet those cases are even less likely to be reported than when women are being assaulted.

The issue is not going to go away. It always amazes me how many events have a 24-hour news cycle and then it is dropped until the next time that type of event happens. It will be interesting for me to watch and see how this plays out over the next several months because, after all, we are talking about the NFL and everyone knows "Boys will be boys." (Know I say that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek).

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Made It 43 Years ... And Counting!

"9-3-71" is my response when someone is filling out a form in a doctor's office or some other person wants to know my injury onset. It is hard to believe it has been forty-three years ago tonight since I had my accident.

If you were one of the people at the game, I am guessing you remember something about that night and the ensuing months when many lives were affected by an instant in time. That is a phrase I use often, "an instant in time" can change anyone's life forever. I am guessing everyone will agree with me they all have their own "instant in time." Some of you have more than one instant in time.

That is not a very difficult prediction to make. Our instants are not always negative like that one was for me. I have had many "instants in time" that have proven to be very positive experiences. I am sure you have too.

I remember that entire day as if it happened yesterday. I cannot tell you where the last forty-three years have gone. I would guess many of you feel the same way. Life goes on. It has always amazed me just how fast our lives fly by. It seems like when we are young, we cannot wait to grow up and time drags on.

Now, as adults, at least for me, time is measured in years and a year goes by incredibly quickly. I remember being a boy and anxious to get old enough so I could finally play varsity football and basketball.

As a freshman, I ran on the track team and missed getting my letter by one point. I lettered my sophomore year in track and proudly wore my letter jacket for just a few minutes one day because I did not get it until the summer before my accident.  Summer in Minnesota is not the time to be wearing a letter jacket! I still have it and it looks brand-new.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times someone will walk up to me and tell me they were at the game, or they remember my accident. They all tell me what kind of an impact it had on them and how it affected the way they looked at football, taking risks, how fortunate they were not to have gotten hurt playing football, or more often their lifelong struggle with an injury they received playing football.

People will tell me how their shoulder hurts or they have a bad knee because of a football injury. One of the things I always tell them when they say they compare their injury with mine is not to do that. I do not believe it is a matter of degree.

If you have an injury or trauma of any sort, that is your issue and you need to address it. I do not believe you should compare it to "What happened to Mike." Too many times people do that and I want them to know they have to address their own issues their own way.

September third is always a bittersweet day for me. I have always felt the bitterness of the day my first life ended and my second life began. I believe very strongly I have had two lives. The life before my accident lasted sixteen years and now I am forty-three in this second life.

It is hard to imagine I am only several months away from turning sixty! I still feel like a young boy much of the time. I just go to bed earlier now!

I feel the sweetness in knowing I have lived another year. I say that because when I was in Sioux Falls for the first ninety-nine days after my accident, the doctors came into my room and asked to talk to my family members. My parents did not remember this, but my sister remembers it vividly. The doctors told my family my life expectancy was nine years.

I guess I beat those expectations. The thing is, those were the statistics on life expectancy for spinal cord injuries in 1971. High-level neck injuries like mine did not live long because of complications due to the injury. Now, they are able to deal with many of those complications and I can expect to die of the same thing most of the rest of us will and that is heart disease.

Doctors keep telling me they do not know what to do with certain problems I come up with because they have not had to deal with those issues and people with spinal cord injuries who have lived that long because we are living longer all the time.

I know a couple men with spinal cord injuries who are alive and they are well over fifty years post injury. I often post about new developments in spinal cord injury and regenerating nerves. I know it will happen, I just do not know when it will!

I want to attach this photograph taken by Jim Brandenburg. He took nine photographs that night as he was beginning is incredible career as a photographer for the Worthington Daily Globe. You may see the rest of his photographs of that night on my website at:

I distinctly remember the applause I received as they carried me from one end zone to the other to wait for the ambulance. I never understood that applause because I had just suffered a traumatic injury and people were clapping. I felt like I was a Christian who had just been mauled by a lion in the Coliseum and people were clapping. That did not make any sense to me. I now know why they did it out of respect. The thing is no one knew what had just happened. I write about this in more detail in my book "I Still Believe In Tomorrow."

Click on the image to make it larger:

Now, I am off to acupuncture and I am sure I will feel a complete state of calmness after my treatment.

As always, I welcome your comments.