The Wheelchair Lucy Show

by Barbara Twardowski on March 1, 2007 - 11:47am

QUEST Vol. 14, No. 2

Sometimes, I imagine my life is a sitcom. I’m the star of the “Wheelchair Lucy” show.

My husband, Jim, doesn’t have a Spanish accent. However, like Ricky Ricardo, he does shake his head a lot and exclaim, “Oh, Lucy, not again!”


I’m convinced that I could easily produce a full season of episodes based on my experiences. One could feature me at the swimming pool.

To enter and exit the pool, I transfer from my wheelchair into a chairlift. Fifteen minutes into my aquatic exercises, the lifeguards blow their whistles, urgently wave their hands and yell, “Get out!” People are madly jumping out of the pool. Not sure what’s wrong, I climb onto the chairlift and pull the handle. The chairlift doesn’t move.

Frantically I tug while dozens of spectators watch me and the soundtrack from “Jaws” plays in the background. My heart is pounding as a snake slithers toward me. A lifeguard rushes to my side, scoops the reptile into a net and explains it’s the pet of a mischievous child.

My cardio workout has been accomplished in seconds.

Another show could open with me again dressed in a bathing suit.

I’m a modest person and I always wear a full-length cover-up. As I’m rolling across my front lawn, the cover-up becomes entangled in the wheels of my chair. I accelerate. Viewers hear an amplified ripping sound.

The orchestra plays “Let Me Entertain You” as I’m disrobed in a swift, yet oddly graceful movement. The garment is literally torn from my body and shredded.

During the closing credits, the camera zooms in on a bird’s nest in which twigs are interwoven with the remains of my cover-up.

Loosed on the neighborhood

Lucille Ball couldn’t carry the show by herself and neither can I. So I’ll have wacky neighbors, well-meaning friends and quirky family members to make guest appearances.

During Sweeps Week, I’d do a show featuring man’s best friend — the family pet. Yes, I do have a beautiful golden retriever named Teddy, because he’s a big, furry, gentle bear.

No, he isn’t a service dog: He’s 90 pounds and semitrained; he sits for a treat (watch your feet) and lies down. Anything beyond those two commands is a crapshoot.

The show opens with us taking an afternoon walk. Teddy spots a cat and makes a mad dash. I drop the leash and watch him leap into a muddy ditch. Turning my speed to the highest setting, I race (at 3.5 miles per hour) through the suburban neighborhood attempting to catch him.

He runs into an open garage, and shrieks are heard as he jumps onto our petite neighbor. The camera provides a close-up of her white linen dress covered in black paw prints.

Chase scenes are always good for a laugh, so my son jumps on his bike and speeds down the street searching for our runaway pet. He’s trailed by teenagers on skateboards, kids on scooters and a mother with a stroller.

Eventually, the humidity wears Teddy out and he slows down. My son clamps a leash on the dog and returns home — the hero.

Plenty of possibilities

The “Wheelchair Lucy” show is filled with slapstick moments. If anyone can do physical comedy, it is I.

While in my wheelchair, I’ve run over my own foot, smashed my hand in narrow passageways, crashed into every appliance in our home, and knocked a king-size bed off its frame. I’ve been stuck in the mud, spun my wheels on a gravel path and been trapped in a public bathroom.

The day I tried out a new wheelchair could make a great show. Not realizing my center of gravity had changed with the new chair, I leaned forward to pick up a pen that I’d dropped on the floor. I fell forward in a slow-motion somersault and landed on the kitchen tile.

No bones were broken. Just my pride. Remember the old commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”?

I scooted across the floor on my well-padded derriere and dialed 911. I explained my situation and begged the operator to tell my rescuers not to use a siren.

A few minutes later, an ambulance, a fire truck and six men arrive. All of the firemen are gorgeous hunks. (This may be the episode that features celebrity guest appearances by George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan and Tom Cruise.)

In the “Wheelchair Lucy” version of this incident, I will be wearing makeup and my rescuers won’t be wearing surgical gloves.

Sitcoms come and go. But the “Wheelchair Lucy” show won’t go off the air until I do.

Barbara and Jim Twardowski are freelance writers living in Mandeville, La., and frequent contributors to Quest. Barbara has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

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