Brenda's Corner: Broken Windshields and Mended Spirits

A broken windshield with a wheelchair accessible sign on the dashboard

I was given a stark reminder last week about just how much more complicated everyday life and situations can become when you are living with a person who has a disability. My experience is obviously specific to physical, with Maclain having Cerebral Palsy, because that is the one that our life often revolves around.

A few months back we got an accessible trailer, so we could continue to take Maclain camping, and not break our backs or spend the whole time trying to keep the bugs off him and keep him comfortable, or worry about how to toilet him comfortably. While not perfect, it has made a huge difference for us as a family.

We were headed up to our first big group camping trip north with friends and Maclain and I were driving up in our van. My husband had left about a half hour earlier with our older son and our trailer. So Maclain and I got all set, had our snacks, had a podcast going, and were excited for the drive and the trip ahead. We even removed the front passenger seat of our accessible vehicle so he could co-pilot the ride, which he loves to do. It gives him such a different experience to be riding up front.

About an hour or so into our 3 hour drive, our windshield was hit with an object that came flying out of the back of a truck bed ahead of us. In a split second it seemed, our windshield was smashed, and came within an inch of blowing right out. I had about enough time to scream, bend over to try to cover Maclain and hopefully not lose control of the vehicle. We were northbound on the 400 and a swerve to the right would have put Maclain into oncoming traffic, a swerve to the left and we would have smashed into the concrete median.

After it happened, I sat stunned for a second trying to figure out what to do, which is hard to do on a busy highway. So after a quick cry, and trying not to get cut by the shattered glass all over me, we somehow navigated to the right shoulder and I took some deep breaths trying to decide what to next. Because here is the thing. Calling a tow truck to pick us up and then tow the van somewhere isn’t that easy. Maclain is in a wheelchair, he can’t just hop into the front cab of a tow truck. And we can’t just use any kind of tow truck.

My Village to the Rescue Again

Thankfully my village jumped into action and one of our friends who was also travelling located us at the side of the road and at the same time I was able to connect with my husband. We managed to call a tow truck, who sent a flat bed, and they were going to take the van to a windshield place to be repaired.

So now what do we do about Maclain and I and his wheelchair? We made some calls to try to rent an accessible vehicle, but there was no availability and there wouldn’t be for a few weeks. We decided to try and load his chair and his commode and his special lounge chair into the back of the trailer and then strap him into the back seat, supported by his brother and continue towards our camp.

Salvaging the weekend was going to help us deal with the scary situation we had just been through and the “what-ifs” that inevitably crept into my mind. We spent much needed time with friends who helped us have fun and try to forget what had happened, even as I continued to worry about what we were going to do for a vehicle after our weekend was over.

Lucky for us the car repair shop worked double time to fix the vehicle and allowed us to pick it up on a Sunday on our way back home and we all sighed a collective sigh of relief. A bad situation had now been resolved, yet I was still left with so much sadness as I was once again reminded that situations are not easily remedied when a wheelchair and a physical disability is involved.

Please Be Mindful on The Road

So some parting thoughts for anyone reading this.

Please tie down loose items in the back of your vehicle. What ultimately ended up being a scary and difficult to navigate accident could have been so much worse. Had I have been hit with that object and rendered unconscious or worse, what would that have meant for Maclain? Had that hit Maclain, who can’t put his arms up to protect himself, it also could have been devastating. Road safety is everyone's responsibility.

Make sure you have CAA, or some sort of roadside assistance, Had I not have been able to get a hold of friends or family, this was the only resource that would have been able to assist us with our accident.

If you see this happen to someone, please pull over and see if they need help. No one did this for us. Not the driver of the truck where the object flew out of, or anyone who witnessed this or anyone who drove by us as I nervously and cautiously made my way to the shoulder. Being a caregiver on my own with a child in a wheelchair, and an undrivable van put me in a very vulnerable and emotional position and one that I could not have taken care of on my own.

Try not to let the bad stuff get in the way of the good stuff. It would have been easy to have turned around and cancelled our weekend away and let the sadness and shock of what happened and the “what ifs” take over. But it was also just as easy to move ahead, enjoy our time and not let this get us down and ruin something we had been looking forward to. We have had that happen to us one too many times and we have vowed not to let it happen more than it needs to!

Thank you for joining us for this edition of Brenda’s Corner. Please continue to follow her family journey for advice, insights and education related to parenting and empowering children of all abilities. Any questions? Contact Brenda directly at Read more of Brenda’s Corner: Brenda’s Corner: World Cerebral Palsy Day



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