Accessibility · Adaptive Adventure

Remember That Day You Got Braces and You and Your Dad Got Trapped in the Elevator?

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on March 17, 2022# Lifestyle First published on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

Getting braces in adolescence is memory making at its best — made more so only when one gets trapped in an elevator leaving the orthodontist’s office with one’s wheelchair rolling dad and service dog. Due to Geoff’s work at Loon Mountain, he isn’t often available to take our kids to doctor or dentist appointments, so when the opportunity presented itself for Geoff to take our son to get his Invisalign installed on a Tuesday morning, I jumped at the chance not to miss my work to do so.

“But, Mom,” our 12 year old pleaded, “you know that whenever Dad takes me to an appointment, he makes me late to school. Can you please take me?” And I did what many parents do — told him he was overreacting, that maybe only once or twice in our children’s history did Dad make them late for anything important. He was anxious about the orthodontia in the first place, followed by his middle school ski race championships the very next day. “But, Mom, if I’m too late to school, they won’t let me race tomorrow.” I reassured him that with his appointment at 8, he would certainly be back to school by 9:30, and let them try to tell him he couldn’t race tomorrow given how many kids have missed a lot of school in the past two years.

So, I was surprised when I checked in with the main office around 9:15 that he had not yet arrived at school. But being a teacher is an extra wackadoo career these days, and sometimes I’m not able to check my phone for long stretches of time. However, a little worried, I checked my phone around 9:40 only to find two text messages sent at the exact same time. I literally cannot make this up. New to texting entirely, our son does not like to use a lot of words, so his choice of the additional damn in, “I’m stuck in the damn elevator” totally made me chuckle aloud. Oops. My second thought was, I wonder where Geoff is if Carver is the one (note the use of singular I pronoun) stuck in the damn elevator. That’s when I noticed Geoff also had sent a text about also being stuck in just a regular elevator, not a damn one.

Not one to normally be ruffled, Geoff answered the phone calmly and reported that the orthodontist’s office was working on resetting the elevator. Clearly, it isn’t used regularly. I asked him if he would ask about an “orthodontia discount”, but he would never be that person, although I thought it an appropriate request given three-fifths of our family were stuck in there for quite a while. Calling the fire department would be the next logical step in their problem solving if resetting the elevator did not work.

Unlike his Dad and probably more like me, our son was fired up, to say the least. He was yelling, not calmly at all, at me on the phone, and them in the elevator, which is when I decided it might just be best to hang up. Clearly, they were safe, and people would not abandon them in the trapped elevator. They were released only a little bit later, and several of his teachers had good “trapped in an elevator” stories to share with him upon his “late” school arrival, for which I’m grateful. I do imagine that getting him to go to another orthodontist appointment with his Dad might be challenging. However, that is where bribery will come into play. We do what we need to do, right?

Our boy will tell that story to his own children one day, maybe, and I do hope that with a little time and reflection of “all those stories of childhood” that this one makes him smile too.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 12 and 10 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

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