Well, I'm not quite done after all.
The bulk of this book was first written years ago - in the summer of
1978. The delay in having it published is primarily my fault. Soon
after it was written events occurred that put its publication on a back
burner as far as my priorities were concerned.
After finishing the masters program at the University of Illinois I
went home to New Orleans to look for a job - preferably in the oil
industry since I had a B. S. and an M. S. in Geology. It didn't take me
long to write a resume' and send it to many companies. However, I knew
I would probably have to wait a good while before receiving any
responses. That is when I decided to write this book. I thought it
might be a worhtwhile project, and I needed something to keep me from
going into periods of anxiety and/or depression during my job search.
Soon after completing the work I received a letter from Exxon
Production Research Company. It informed me of a job opening in the
Computer Applications Section and also stated that my advisor at the
University of Illinois had thought I may be right for the position. I
wrote back informing the author that I was indeed interested.
At this point I feel I should start naming names. There are many who
deserve credit for helping bring about the truly wonderful events in my
life. However, I'm going to forego the urge to do that. I would no
doubt slight someone by accident. They know who they are - from my
always supportive family members, to my very good friends, to those
connected with the United Cerebral Palsy Center of Greater New Orleans
and the Louisiana Center for Special Education, to those connected with
Louisiana Vocational Rehabilitation (who had enough faith in me to put
me all through college), to those connected with the University of New
Orleans, to those connected with the University of Illinois, to those
connected with Exxon Production Research Company (especially those in
the company who were willing to try an unknown commodity).
Because of the self-care techniques I had learned, I was able to fly to
Houston alone for an interview. Of course I still needed help with a
few things, such as eating, but these presented no insurmountable
problems. The people I interviewed with liked my attitude and potenial,
and I liked what they had to offer. My first day at work was October
16, 1978 - by then I had moved to Houston alone.
Not quite alone. That came a little later. I moved in with a man who
was a quadriplegic and owned his own home, and had someone to help him
out. The home was a condo in a development exclusively for disabled
persons. It had aid available around the clock. I was thus able to get
the help I needed as well.
Eight months later I bought my own home in a different part of Houston.
I liked to have roommates and did not have too much trouble finding
good ones. The deal was that they stayed at my house free of charge in
return for cooking for me, feeding me, doing my laundry, and generally
helping to take care of the house. On June 2, 1984, I got married (my
During the first 8-10 years I was in my home I continued to learn new
self-care techniques, modify old ones, and discard other ones. For
instance, if my roommate needed to be away for a while, I could take
care of myself and my cat totally for up to four days. This was
accomplished by having things I could eat alone placed in tupperware
containers in the refrigerator. When hunger struck I only had to open
the refrigerator, get one or two out, dump the contents onto a table,
chow down, and clean up. I regulated what my cat ate by having a large
amount of cat food placed in a bowl inside an old briefcase that I
could open with my foot. When his dinnertime came, I'd open the
briefcase. When he was through, I'd shut it down. Cat cafeteria closed!
However, as time has passed, I have become less independent. The
primary reason is that I have lost various abilities, like the ability
to get on my knees. Losing this ability precludes me from getting into
my wheelchair from the floor or the bathtub. In some cases, Marilyn has
agreed to help me to save time. In one case, she has taken to shaving
me because she was afraid I would damage my hearing because I was
spending a lot of time with my ear next to the high-pitched whine of an
I am very lucky I met and married Marilyn Cooper when I did. First, and
most important, I finally found the love of my life - someone I could
happily grow old with. Second, she may not have married me now that I'm
more disabled. That's not taking anything away from her. She has just
always known that she was not a caretaker. Consequently, she did a good
job of not putting herself into caretaking situations. The situation we
find ourselves in now has gradually evolved. We have not allowed it to
nullify our marriage vows. I still support her and give of myself
enough to make it worthwhile for her. And she does that for me. She
also tells me I'm cute and, after you've seen pictures of me, it's
obvious she's still blinded by love.
This is the year 2000. There are many techniques and methods listed in
this work that I no longer employ. Some have become unnecessary, like
the telephone setup and typewriter I used. Some have been assumed by
Marilyn, my wife, such as bathing and dressing. Still others can't be
done due to injuries and, horrors!, "advanced" age. As with all people,
the things I can and/or choose to do have changed over time. I will
write an update when I can, but this "book" is still valid. The idea
is, of course, to illustrate that problems are rarely unsolvable.
I grew up with an expression that goes: "He's not just whistling
'Dixie'". How or why it came about I do not know. It means that "he" is
serious about what's being said. I'm not just whistling "Dixie". This
book has attempted to illustrate methods and concepts that work for me
(and maybe you) beyond any shadow of a doubt. I've shown you my way of
impementing these - you have the responsibility of developing your way
I came from a "complete vegetable" to a research computer programmer
who does a good job (according to my work evaluations). That excites me
and gives me a feeling of great satisfaction.