‘Paul’s World,’ an intimate look inside living with a disability

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He loves to go to Starbucks, and his favorite band is KISS. His choice when it comes to movies is “Jaws” and “Mary Poppins” with “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” his favorite song. He loves to talk to people and adores teasing his mother. His conversations are unfiltered and his intelligence is undeniable, with a brain that remembers the smallest details from any day of his life. And he has a deep faith in God. He is a man of many questions and is anxious to get to know whomever he comes in contact with.

He loves to go to Starbucks, and his favorite band is KISS. His choice when it comes to movies is “Jaws” and “Mary Poppins” with “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” his favorite song. He loves to talk to people and adores teasing his mother. His conversations are unfiltered and his intelligence is undeniable, with a brain that remembers the smallest details from any day of his life. And he has a deep faith in God. He is a man of many questions and is anxious to get to know whomever he comes in contact with.

These are a few of the characteristics of Paul Buska that are quickly apparent when given the chance to spend just a little time with him. But for those fortunate enough to do so, they will walk away knowing that they have also made a new friend. But what is also apparent is that Paul needs a wheelchair for now to get around, he many times misses social queues, and that he has to work hard sometimes when he is speaking. But all Paul wants in life is to be seen as he is. An intelligent man who loves life, his family, his God and those that he meets.

An author and columnist for 20 years, his mother Sheila Buska took a detour from her weekly humor columns to begin telling the story of her son’s life. With a large following, these columns were so well received that with the help of Paul, they collaborated together and created a book that gives many people a glance into “Paul’s World: Trying to fit in with disabilities.”

This book is more than a memoir, it is an intimate look inside the life from childhood to middle age, filled with hope, frustration, laughter, anger and all the emotions in between that Paul, his mother and family have endured in ensuring that Paul’s world is the best that it can be. Struggling to be accepted for whom he is and not what people perceive is the underlying message as you go through doctors, operations, being able to walk, not being able to walk, and the many obstacles he faced and faces in life. With this book, it is his wish, along with his mother, that people not only learn to look beyond the disability, but to also find hope and courage in their own lives as they face their own obstacles. And to do so with a little bit of humor and a lot of love.

Coming from family with three “normal” siblings, and it took a couple of years before the family noticed that not everything with Paul was the same. When seen by doctors more than 40 years ago he showed nothing physically wrong, and through a slew of tests, and a team of doctors from physiologists, neurologists and orthopedics they could not find a diagnosis. They said he showed some symptoms of cerebral palsy, but did not really believe that was the problem. But they gave him this diagnosis so he could start taking advantage of programs that he might need. Now, with a lot of research from his mother, she believes he shows some symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome. Today, his diagnosis is still not totally assured, but it appears that he deals with a multiple diagnosis. But as Paul will tell you, he has CP. One condition is enough for him to deal with. And Sheila Buska, like Paul, wants people to see beyond the disability and does so with words, powered by love in this book.

“I think people have a view of disabled people in a certain mindset, and Paul breaks that mindset,” said Sheila Buska. “Paul is not a highly motivated disabled person that is going to overcome everything and be able to do all of the things that he cannot do now. But he enjoys life, loves to make people happy, full of enthusiasm and has fun.”

She said along with all the things that Paul loves to do, and his lively interaction with people, his closeness to God is remarkable and that he talks to him every day. Paul Buska said God is very important in his life because he helps him through the tough times in his life. “He was there every time I needed him,” he said.

You have to really look at people and not in a stereotypical way just because they have a disability, said Sheila Buska.

“Many people do not know how to interact with someone who is disabled,” she said. “They often talk to the person behind the wheelchair or whoever is accompanying someone who’s disabled. Talk to the disabled person, they might not be who you think they are, and are probably much different than your original thoughts.”

Sheila Buska asked Paul if she could write about him and she would read it to him before it was published, with the exception of a couple of chapters that were sensitive to him, but he wanted them published as well.

“It is important to read the book to see how I really am and not how people see me when they look at me,” said Paul Buska.

Sheila Buska is well known for her humor columns “Smile-Breaks,” where she takes everyday life, things that happen to her, people she meets and finds the humor and commonness that many can relate to. This was a perfect segue in working with Paul in creating “Paul’s World,” which is a truly endearing look at the mental, physical and emotional obstacles that he has triumphed over through his life. It is a journey through words that has an amazing message to spread.

Sheila Buska has taken snippets from her years of “Smile-Breaks” and published “Time Outs for Grown-Ups: 5 Minute Smile-Breaks,” another witty and personal look into her life.

“Paul’s World” is available in e-book, paperback and hardcover from Amazon, Xlibris and Barnes and Noble.

You might not get the pleasure of meeting Paul Buska personally, but in reading this work, you will get to know him well, and many others like him. It is riddled with hope, written in love, and delves deep into understanding that disabilities do not make the person. The person is already there and always has been. You just have to look a bit closer than usual.

For more information about Sheila Buska and “Paul’s World-Trying to fit in with disabilities,” visit www.smile-breaks.com.

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