You get out of rehab, and you’re a flash on wheels. But you’re no fool–you know that pressure sores can become a problem so you use the best cushions money can buy and you do your weight shifts religiously. Ten or 20 years later, you’ve got your first sore.

You nurse it. You spend a lot of time down, maybe cut back on work and definitely on play. The sore heals, but it keeps coming back. You change to another cushion, work on your posture and rip the back pockets off your Levi’s.

One time the sore comes back and doesn’t go away. A doctor suggests a “definitive closure,” meaning a flap surgery. You’re tired of messing around, so you take the fall. You spend six weeks flat and the problem is solved.

Until the nightmare recurs. And recurs. You’re battling cumulative history now, and every new surgery adds to your risk. So does worsening scoliosis and pelvic tilt. The plastic surgeon has to look further from the wound to find replacement tissue, so he starts robbing big shark bites from Peter (your legs, usually) to pay Paul (your butt). And the older you get, the more vulnerable your skin becomes.

Then the bone mass becomes infected, so you scorch your veins with vancomycin for six weeks. Each hospitalization now costs about $70,000 and a big chunk of your life. I know whereof I speak: I own a $400,000 butt myself, or at least the co-paid part of it. Blue Cross holds title to the other 80 percent, and it seems like it’s been that way forever.

Tail Tales
It’s been 20 years since Angela Lodmell’s car accident. She’s still only 30 years old, but she’s seen it all.

As a teenager, she was as active as a T5 para can be. She couldn’t abide being told that she always had to be sitting on a good cushion, because it meant staying in her wheelchair. If it came to a choice between doing more and pampering her skin, s