If, like me, you acquired your disability while living your everyday life, you can look back and always remember that unforgettable date — the day you were injured or struck down or diagnosed. Many of us know our stories so well that whenever someone wants to know what happened to us, we trot out this well-rehearsed version, which seldom varies. Lately, though, since I am a writer — and since tragic stories make for interesting tale-telling — I find myself embellishing my story to make it more engaging.
I first noticed what an effective tool fictionally enhanced memory can be (sounds more respectable than “lying out your ass”) when someone I had known for several years took it upon himself to explain to a new acquaintance of mine how I came to be paralyzed. The true story is quite simple: One summer day I crashed in a small plane, broke my back and damaged my spinal cord, and an ambulance came right away and took me to a nearby hospital.
My friend’s version sounded much more dramatic: He crashed on a mountain in a small plane that caught fire in the dead of winter. Amazingly, he survived but lay unconscious in the wreckage of the plane for a week, buried in the snow with wolves circling, before an airplane spotted the wreckage. Miraculously, he was able to be evacuated by h