Control Issues

I am standing by the elevators on the seventh floor of the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta that specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, pain and other neurological conditions. The wing is so new there are no names on the doors and clear plastic sheeting stripes the carpeting from the elevators to the offices.

A man comes around the corner in a wheelchair, hunched over as if he’d been dropped into it from a considerable height. He has dark hair and challenging, almost defiant, dark eyes. His shirt is vertically striped in bold shades of green and blue, he is carrying a small pink bag.

I turn away, which is what strangers do in a city.

But then I remember: I’m at Shepherd, a family-owned hospital where patients are told "Once you’re a patient here, you’re always a member of the family." A place of passion and excellence, of innovation and generosity, a place where the unofficial motto is "Why not?"

I turn. He is eyeing me as he rolls nearer.

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