The Locked-In Traveler: Californian Friendship


The Locked-In Traveler

(Kati’s Wheelchair Traveling Journals)

Californian Friendship

(Click here for audio version)

After I became paralyzed, some friends just faded away. However, others reached out to me. It is just how it is; you win some you lose some. Trust me; it is not a phenomenon that only people that are struck by tragedy must go through. It is how life works, and it happens to all of us.

Jamie, my old friend from Los Angeles, came to visit me in Finland after my stroke. Unlike most people, he treated me than just the same as he did before I had Locked-In syndrome. It was people as Jamie; that helped me keep my self-worth. Family members and friends that kept treating me as the same old Kati made a massive difference in my life.

Jamie invited me many times to come to visit, but I was hesitant to go back to California because after the stroke I had become very emotional. I was afraid that being again in old familiar places would bring back memories of how life used to be, and that this would hurt too much.

In 2005, ten years after the stroke, I finally decided to go. I felt ready, and the fact that Jamie was not living in the same place made me think that I could handle it.

Get Kati’s autobiography; “Living Underwater

Jamie lived a couple of hours drive from Los Angeles. He had new friends, people I never met before. They were bikers’ type, and I must admit that they scared me at first. The roaring of the bikes, the black leather jackets, helmets and sunglasses made my heart skip a beat.

Once the helmets and sunglasses came off, and I could see the smiles on their faces and shine in their eyes, all fear disappeared. It was a big bunch of them, and it was unbelievable to see how close and tight they were, like family. Later that day after the BBQ, I felt like I made friends for life. I was delighted to see that wonderful people surrounded Jamie.

Jamie planned a weekend trip to Santa Monica, where we used to live before. We used to live on the same street, just two blocks away from each other.

It felt good driving through the streets of LA, but emotions took over when we turned unto the familiar Yale Street. My heart over flooded and tears burst out of my eyes. I did not even know why I cried. My life there was not precisely rose-colored. It was more than anything else just; ‘work, blood, sweat, and tears.’ I was just starting to make a name for myself. I was just about to make a breakthrough when I got the stroke. I never have gotten to taste the limelight.

Later that day we went to Venice Beach to walk around and look at the people as we used to. It was easy to stroll down the pathway in the wheelchair. It felt the same as when we used to do it on a bike in the past. I felt like I was back home.

We sat to have something to drink by Santa Monica pier on our way back. I looked at Jamie and smiled as he called me; “turoid” (tourist & hemorrhoid/tourist that is a pain in the a**) just like he used to before. At that moment, I realized what the tears were about. They were not for lost moments of glory. They were for the memories of the moments I shared with my true friend.


Get Kati’s autobiography; “Living Underwater

(Kati & Henning van der Hoeven)

Comments (1)

  1. james neville 08.04.2020 19:17

    Love you Turoid. Our friendship is priceless.
    You made me a better Man.
    Really miss you and Henning.
    Looking forward to our eyes meeting again.
    Hi to all.

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