What if someone walked into surgery and awoke quadriplegic -- never having been warned of this risk? What if someone not only survived but also endured the horrors of this disability with hope and humor? What if that someone traveled, worked, entertained, returned to school, earned a masters degree, a law degree and got married? What if someone wrote a funny and tearful book about it?
Someone did. That book is The Squeaky Wheel -- an Unauthorized Autobiography and is the first book to honestly and humorously deal with acquiring a major disability and the profound loss and injustices that accompany paralysis. This book focuses on the author's accomplishments without straining to pat him on the back. This memoir does not back away from the details of degradation, urine, ignorance and indifference from the unknowing.
About The Author
BRIAN SHAUGHNESSY hales from Minnesota. In 1983 he became quadriplegic and fled for warmer climates. He earned two Bachelor's Degrees and relocated to Hawaii where he earned a Master's in theater and began dividing his time between Minnesota and Hawaii. He founded Open Door Theatre, a performing group by for and about persons with disabilities. Weary of the annual migration he opted for a simpler life. He enrolled in law school. Brian graduated and married his wife Amy in 1999 and has been a practicing attorney, public speaker and writer since. Brian's greatest role is as the father of Amadeus Yun Chi Shaughnessy.
Brian tells his story of suffering and survival with extraordinary humor and compassion. Fate dealt him what might seem an impossible life. His story is harrowing, horrifying and finally inspirational. His dignity, his humor, his life, have informed my own. I am indebted to him for all he is. -- Mark Medoff Tony winning playwright and author of, "Children of a Lesser God."
Rita M. Ippoliti from Philadelphia , PA
We all do it. You see someone in a wheelchair waiting for the bus or the paratransit van and you say to yourself, "poor guy." Pity seems to be your first reaction. You don't mean to be that way, but in your wildest dreams you cannot imagine life confined to a wheelchair, and you pity the person who has been resigned to that fate.
Then I met Brian Shaughnessy in 2001 at the Maui Writers Conference. He rolled into my retreat group one morning with his partially completed manuscript for "The Squeaky Wheel" and over the next six days I fell in love not only with his book, but with him.
The Squeaky Wheel is the story of a journey, albeit a horrific one ... but one that is taken with courage and more importantly, with humor. When I first picked up The Squeaky Wheel, I remembered the bare manuscript pages I had read some five years before. I enjoyed them then. What I got with the book in today's version totally floored me. Brian tackles topics that would devastate most normal people ... tales of horrific bladder infections, falls out of his wheelchair, untimely defecations in public areas ... and he treats them with humor ... almost blithly. As you go through the pages of The Squeaky Wheel, you can readily see how Brian has accomplished so much in the face of so many challenges. You can only do that when your sense of humor is in overdrive.
Brian is an accomplished attorney, playwright, actor, businessman ... and the list goes on. His greatest successes were attained after the surgery that left him wheelchair bound. Each one was hard-fought for, as he battled the many afflictions which befall a person who lives his life seated in a motorized wheelchair.
Brian discusses his daily challenges in an almost light-hearted way. He talks about studying his law school texts from a hospital bed as he recuperated from yet another necessary medical procedure or another bout with the pressure sores so commonly suffered by people challenged by the horrors of quadraplegia.
If you've ever said to yourself, "not me ... I'd rather be dead before I'd live in a wheelchair," you NEED to read this book. Brian said the same thing at first, but then went on to create a life far more accomplished than the one he had before "the chair." From falling in love and having a fairytale wedding on the beach in Hawaii ... to tackling the rigors of law school and passing the Hawaii Bar Exam ... to a successful practice as an attorney specializing in disability law ... Brian allows us the privilege of taking this journey with him, and becoming his friend and confidant.
Reading The Squeaky Wheel has changed me ... no doubt about it. I no longer look at someone in a wheelchair in the same way. Now, instead of pity, I have a curiosity to hear their story ... and to see if they are surmounting the challenges in their life just like my friend, Brian Shaughnessy.
I would encourage you to read this book. At close to 400 pages, I read the book in two sittings. I just couldn't put it down. The reading may be difficult, even painful, at times ... but you'll be enriched by a story told with humor, and with a brutal honesty combined with an incredible spirit. Once you finally put it down, you'll never be the same again. At least I'm not.
Samantha O'Hanlon from Santa Barbara , CA
I've known "Uncle Brian" for as long as I can remember. Sometime in my early teens, it finally occurred to me what an inspiration he is. No matter how tough things seem, they could be tougher. Brian has accomplished more as a "quad" than most "normal" people could hope for. He went to law school, has a family, and is always fun to be around. If a man who has had so much misfortune can pull himself though it with a positive (yet realistic) attitude and show us all what he can do, then man I got it easy!
Thank you Uncle Brian. You're a great guy and you've helped me out many times, even if you didn't know it. We all love you.
MMee from LA , CA
I can't stop reading it. I'll get mad if someone asks me to do something while I was reading it. It is that great never wanted to miss.