To answer why I trick out my Wheelchair… it makes people see something other than the disability...
I have always liked to tinker with things: cars, toys or projects; I like to stay busy. Being told in my 20’s I would never have full mobility was a hard pill to swallow.
Hi! My name is Rick Brewer. I was injured as a member of the USAF during Desert Storm. I was exposed to a cocktail of chemicals that, for lack of a better term; fried my nervous system. Doctors for years were puzzled as to how to treat such a condition, because these types of military related issues had never really been present before Desert Storm. Later they classified these types of conditions as DSS (Desert Storm Syndrome) or CFD (Chronic Fatigue Disorder).
See More Detail of My Military and Medical Journey
Determined for the wrong reasons
I hated the fact that I had to use a wheelchair, walker or cane to get around. In fact, I worked as hard hiding the facts as I did getting this way in the first place. I couldn’t stand the constant questions of what happened: again and again and again. Around my parents, inlaws and friends I used every ounce of strength to try and lead a normal life; essentially collapsing when I got home from fatigue (when I made it home). As the condition deteriorated, the harder it became to hide. I kept a full time job throughout all of this, blessed to work for companies that understood and appreciated what I could contribute.
For a short time I began to get better. From 2007 – 2009 I was able to get up and get around very well. The sudden fatigue was still an issue; but I was ready to take on the world. Then the damage that was caused by pushing myself developed into MS Multiple Sclerosis; resulting is a consistent levels of pain and weakness. Stress, lack of rest and physical exertion became my nemesis as these can trigger episodes that range from numbness, confusion to partial/total muscle paralysis, inability to breathe, loss of vision… blah, blah, blah.
Like any disability I have learned to monitor and regulate my activities to the point that I can have a fairly normal life. I have fought with the Government for years over this condition, hoping for treatment and/or compensation, but have had little success. (although i keep trying) Many still don’t even know the condition exists because I work hard to not let it interfere. However; as the days go by the ability to control the condition is significantly diminished. I have left the public life and now continue to work from home. God has blessed by providing me the opportunity to utilize a lifetime of experience working for Modern Web Studios; here I can work from home, lessening the risk of an episode.
Let’s Change the Focus
To help take the attention off my disability I started building up my wheelchair. First with stickers, then exhaust, then lights, then it kept building from there. We used to go to Disney regularly and each trip Disney cast members would make suggestions on what to add for the next trip. Mingle those great suggestions with our over-do attitude and you get Power Wheelz.
Every day is special
As my condition steadily declines I appreciate every day and try to make it the best day ever. I don’t know exactly how long I will be here on this earth.. but when I go I want people to recall that crazy ‘ol preacher blowing bubbles and entertaining kids with his Power Wheelz wheelchair.