The Lost & Found Wheelchair

Well, I cannot help but wonder if someone woke up Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the producers & writers of the “Lost” television series or if they read my blog post “The Lost Wheelchair” ?!?!?!?! As a fan who loves “Lost” I was very happy with the Finale that aired this past Sunday. I didn’t have or attend any “Lost” parties, but I did record the recap show that preceded the Finale, along with the Finale, some of the local ABC news that followed the Finale with cast interviews, and the Jimmy Kimmel Live Special Aloha to Lost that ended the night! 

Overall, I really enjoyed the entire series and this Finale episode. But I was a little concerned about some things – namely beginning with the whole storyline of Jack miraculously healing Locke’s spinal cord injury! Hey, I understand that Jack is a brilliant, well maybe not the best according some of the flashbacks over the past 6 years, but a wonderful spinal surgeon. Still, the brightest minds on the planet cannot figure out how to repair a spinal cord – or more accurately to create, grow, artificially substitute, or make our own bodies grow nerve cells – the key to our entire nervous system and the central nervous system that requires the spinal cord to use the conduit to and from the brain! We can transplant organs like kidneys, livers, even hearts from one human to another. Or create, manufacture and implant an artificial heart to keep a person alive. And most recently I have seen them create organs out of tissue cells – BUT the NERVE CELL still cannot be replicated and made to heal the spinal cord! The big hope is that stem cells will provide new nerve cells to help someone with a spinal cord injury to repair it and heal the person, or to somehow figure out to tell our bodies that it is okay to once again generate, create new nerve cells as it did when we were young and before it turned off the switch that makes nerve cells. But right now it is still impossible.

But in typical Hollywood fashion it looked like “Lost” was going to the end the Locke story with him being healed from paraplegia. This has been developing all season as Dr. Jack Shephard has been trying to convince the John Locke character in the flash sideways segments/alternate dimension, that he can heal him. Locke played it pretty cool and accurate given that they never gave any details on how he would be miraculously cured! Never mentioned any research, studies, or even a simple basic description of how this is going work – other than Jack is a brilliant spinal surgeon who will do “extensive spinal surgery” to cure him and he feels Locke is a prime candidate for the miraculous surgery that will do what nobody in this world can do by healing a severed spinal cord! I should know because I have a severed spinal cord! Whether you have paraplegia or not – everyone knows it is impossible to heal – otherwise there would not be any paraplegics!

But regardless of reason, Hollywood loves to use the miraculous healing of a paraplegic as their happy ending. As if a person with a disAbility cannot ride or roll off into a happy sunset unless it comes with a miraculous healing and becoming able bodied! WHAT? Yeah, thanks for perpetuating that message over and over again!


Anyway, the “Lost” storyline looked like it was going down this typical – or should I say stereotypical ending, as Locke finally agrees to let Jack perform the surgery and as he is on the gurney being pushed toward the operating room he looks over at his new wheelchair


which is a chair that is much more likely to be used by a paraplegic and included a very necessary seat cushion that prevents or helps prevent pressure sores that we are very susceptible to when seated all the time, and just like I blogged about in the previous entry mentioned above! In that blog entry, I said that I hoped that the wheelchair that Locke was using – the hospital wheelchair which they were using to portray a paraplegic character was not a very genuine portrayal for a character who had been paralyzed for 4 years as Locke was – and I had hoped that that hospital chair would not survive the crash Locke suffered when Desmond ran over him in an episode earlier this season. And it looked like hopes were realized and fortunately the producers did not get Locke’s replacement chair from the same unauthentic Durable Medical Equipment store they got the first one from!    

So far, so good! Now back to the storyline – miraculous healing and fairy tale ending or realistic, honest, respectful ending? At this point, Locke has been wheeled into surgery and maybe the surgery would not be successful or Locke’s body rejected the treatment and we will have a more realistic storyline! Opps, not the case – Locke is wheeled into a recovery room and Dr. Jack comes in to hear Locke tell him something even Jack thinks is unbelievable – REALLY? The healing spinal cord surgery is not unbelievable enough we need more unbelievable material/content? First, is that Locke is becoming conscious so soon after he was under anesthesia that the nurse assured the Doc that she knows he had gotten a full dose from the anesthesiologist!  So Locke just comes from the operating room and suddenly awakens? Really? That is pretty quick, but wait we are not done yet! John Locke says that he can feel his legs and Jack doesn’t believe him as he responds, “It is highly unlikely you’d regain sensation that quickly” – Really? Again it is a surprise to me too but hey, you Dr. Shepherd just performed an impossible surgery as if it was as common as an appendectomy and his feeling any sensation this quickly is impossible or surprising to you? Wait there is more! If you order in the next ten minutes we will double your order for free – you only pay for extra shipping and handling! John Locke then moves his toes.


He is healed! It is a miracle! It is Hollywood’s main ending to a character they have no idea of what life is like for them! Fake it! Pretend you know! Do what Hollywood has done before! Hey, it worked before, right? Yeah that is the answer!

Well, hey this is “Lost” and it is their job to make us say, “What?” and “Really?” but it is usually to things that are not blatantly obviously impossible! Well then again surviving a plane crash on an uncharted island that travels through time, disappears and causes all kinds of weird occurrences because it has tapped into a huge electromagnetic power source that some have been trying to either contain or harness since the Dharma Initiative in the 1970’s – and effecting lives at least since the 1800’s(? when Ricardo/Richard showed up) or even before that during the unknown time frame when Jacob and his brother were born! So I guess the miraculous healing of John Locke’s paraplegia is okay? 

WAIT! Locke shows up at the church – the location of the final scene – 20 minutes before the end of the finale episode, he gets out of the taxi cab and into his new wheelchair!


What? Is he healed or not? I don’t know and don’t care – too much is happening with too many characters and we are getting close to wrapping it all up. I cannot dwell on every detail as it happens! But this is cool – Locke is still a paraplegic. He rolls up to the courtyard


and talks with Ben Linus who tells Locke at the end of their conversation, “You know I don’t think you need to be in that chair anymore.” What? Really, again? Locke does stand up and walks away leaving the wheelchair in the courtyard as he enters the church! WHOA!


Again, I was shocked and had a knee-jerk reaction as I was watching it but at the time of watching I do not have time to analyze what is happening as we only had about 15 minutes left in the show! But even when those 15 minutes were over – it took a few minutes to put it all together and when I did – the producers/writers Lindelof and Cuse redeemed themselves in my eyes! Well not completely – I wish I had been a consultant for them on this issues of Locke’s paraplegia, but I give them credit for at least keeping me thinking, guessing, and surprising me – not only with the over all story but with this subplot/storylines of the paraplegic Locke! As Locke got to the church – this is where time stops – Locke is walking in a dimension that is beyond this life. Like Albert Einstein said “time is irrelevant” as it comes to the universe – the past, present, and future are all happening at the same time. It is a bit much for our mortal minds to comprehend in a world where time is everything but if it is true – that is how I explain Déjà vu! And I believe that in the storyline of “Lost” this church is where the “time is irrelevant” as Jack’s father, Christian explains to Jack in the room next to the chapel of the church where the empty casket sits and he tells Jack, “There is no ‘now’ here.” and Jack realizes it is he that is also dead! So Locke got up and walked out of his realistically new wheelchair because he is at this point – dead and is either his spirit or his eternal body and spirit – as taught in Christian beliefs that thanks to the Atonement of Christ – death is overcome and once we end our “time” on this “time relevant” world – our spirit leaves this body behind until it is reunited with our renewed body that is perfected and we live in the eternities as Jesus showed when He returned 3 days after He was crucified and His disciples felt the wounds in His hands and feet – so either way as a spirit or as a spirit and perfected body reunited, Locke stands up and is in no need of a wheelchair!

Personally, I would’ve eliminated the entire “extensive spinal surgery” that would lead to a miraculous cure for paraplegia storyline – but other than that – I loved “Lost” – from the first episode through this week’s series finale! It was great storytelling and like the show JJ Abrams created before this one – “Alias” it was like a movie – a one hour movie every week – in content and visual appeal. Television will never be the same again. And I hope that television’s portrayal of paraplegics will never be the same again too! So to future television and movie producers – if you are going to fake my disAbility – even when it is necessary like it was with this character, John Locke – I hope that Hollywood will at least make the attempt to make it as real and believable of a paraplegic character as possible – which means using a wheelchair that a paraplegic would use – not a hospital wheelchair that a person who is temporarily injured or healing from a surgery that causes pain to walk – but one who is using a wheelchair while living their life independently with their disAbility!

Next step – going beyond a realistic portrayal and providing authentic representation – respecting the disAbility and the people who live with it by using actors with the same or similar disAbility as the character! And of course because I am not an actor – I have to mention authentic voices and visions using authentic writers and directors who KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO LIVE FROM A WHEELCHAIR! It really is a lot more than how brilliant an able bodied actor is in faking the paraplegia or other disAbility that can be represented by those who live with the disAbility!

This is about:

  • respecting and acknowledging that being a paraplegic – that living with a disAbility is significant to quality of life.
  • a life where those living with the disAbility HAVE TO RESPECT THE DISABILITY and so should Hollywood.
  • A disAbility is as significant to a PERSON’S IDENTITY as is their age, gender, race, and creed – and it should be treated with the same respect in the images, portrayals, and representation in movies and television! Any disrespect by unauthentic portrayals and representation of a disAbility is the same as disrespecting the identity of a person’s race, gender, age, and/or creed. That is why an able bodied actor portraying a paraplegic character is the same as blackface – and why I call most of them “Al Jolson’s in a wheelchair” (the John Locke character – in the context of the “Lost” show’s premise – is a rare exception to this!)

And quit saying that through current stereotypes and discriminating practices

  • that the disAbility is no big deal
  • that any actor can represent those living with it
  • and that those living with paraplegia are not good enough
  • nor are they capable of portraying and representing themselves!

That is what this is all about – it is deeper than most in Hollywood will even bother to acknowledge. Which in itself is disrespectful – but most don’t even care about that! Therefore you can see why we have a long way to go and it is surprising since it is 2010 and we still are not given respect to portray or represent ourselves in movies and television. Time for a Hollywood change!

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