By (gg gordon)
Date: 26 Apr 1996

Break time is always Crystal's favorite time of the day.
We unstrap her from her wheelchair, and, before we lift her out we
take off her body brace--a two piece molded, fiberglass clamshell
that encases her from her armpits to her waist. She always smiles
when we take that off her. We pick her up easily (she's almost 14
but weighs no more than a skinny nine-year-old0 and gently put her
down on the carpet.
She'll lie there on her back for a moment or two and then
she'll start to roll. She'll roll until she comes up against something
and then she'll roll back in the opposite direction.
It may not sound like much fun to you or me, but it's Crystal's
high point for the day and she gurgles with delight as she rolls, her
usually slack features are animated and she smiles almost constantly.
When she is confined to her chair and body armor Crystal is a limp
and passive creature, scarcely able to hold her head up or co-ordinate
her eyes, but down there on the floor, rolling slowly around, that monad,
that spark of living individuality appears. You can see the child, the
entity inside clamoring to get out, to be free.
No longer a terribly physically and mentally handicapped body
confined to a wheelchair-unable to speak or even feed herself, on the
floor Crystal is now just a child at play-doing what she likes, what
makes her happy. She is totally immersed in the joy of rolling around,
a child at play.
I cannot fathom what goes on in Crystal's limited capacity for
thinking, or know what it's like to have virtually no control of your
body or its functions like her, unable to even sit upright without
an exoskeleton, but I can see that smile on her face and listen to her
contented gurgles. For the moment Crystal is happy. Crystal is doing
something for herself, she is free for a while!


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