Gary Presley’s new book “7 Wheelchairs: A Life Beyond Polio” was published just last month by the University of Iowa Press. The book is a memoir– an “American tale” as Gary has put it– of his fifty year wheelchair journey after being struck by both bulbar and lumbar poliomyelitis after a vaccine accident in 1959.
Here is a short section of snippets from the University of Iowa Press:
“In 1959, seventeen-year-old Gary Presley was standing in line, wearing his favorite cowboy boots and waiting for his final inoculation of Salk vaccine. Seven days later, a bad headache caused him to skip basketball practice, tell his dad that he was too ill to feed the calves, and walk from barn to bed with shaky, dizzying steps. He never walked again. By the next day, burning with the fever of polio, he was fastened into the claustrophobic cocoon of the iron lung that would be his home for the next three months…”
“…Now, almost fifty years later, having worn out wheelchair after wheelchair, survived post-polio syndrome, and married the woman of his dreams, Gary has redefined himself as Gimp, more ready to act out than to speak up, ironic, perceptive, still cranky and intolerant but more accepting, more able to find joy in his family and his newfound religion. Despite the fact that he detests pity, can spot condescension from miles away, and refuses to play the role of noble victim, he writes in a way that elicits sympathy and understanding and laughter. By giving his readers the unromantic truth about life in a wheelchair, he escapes stereotypes about people with disabilities and moves toward a place where every individual is irreplaceable.”
[Note: Of particular interest is the November 5 apology on his site for hassling various blogs and other watering holes for Netizens to have a look at his book. I don’t know anyone who has read the book, but I, for one, am happy to suggest it as a possibility in a forum that is all about raising awareness. Keep on fight’n Gary.]