Adults With SMA: Collin Pollock

In 2013, Collin Pollock decided to combine his living with SMA with his lifelong passion for barbecue. Pollock’s business WheelyQ Barbecue Sauces & Rubs not only produces authentic and original sauces, but a portion of the company’s profits go directly towards SMA research. Pollock runs the business from his home in Garden Grove, California.

SMA News Today caught up with Pollock to talk about his work and family life, as well as his involvement in the SMA community.

Kevin Schaefer: First off, what does your daily life entail? Between your work and family life, what does a typical day of the week look like for you?

Collin Pollock: A typical day for me starts out at about 7am. My wife, Kyla, will help me sit up in bed and she’ll grab a cup of coffee for me while she helps our daughter, Elyana, get ready for school. Elyana (almost nine) loves to make my coffee in the mornings, too. I need a lot of help from my wife to get ready in the morning, which means she helps me in the bathroom, shower, getting dressed and most everything in between.

Once I’m up and in my wheelchair, I like to spend a few hours on WheelyQ Barbecue. I respond to emails, fill orders and do a lot of marketing on social media. I love to experiment with our products on different types of meat, so at least once a week I try to fire up my smoker and cook away. This week I tried making pork belly burnt ends and they were delicious little bites of bacon candy!

One of the best parts of my day is picking my daughter up from school. We live a few blocks away, so I’m able to roll over there in my chair and pick her up. It gives me some time to feel independent, as well as seeing my daughter’s big smile as she runs to me from her classroom. As soon as we get home, I help her make sure her homework gets done, she reads and helps out with chores around the house.

In the evenings, we like to keep it pretty low key. We tend to eat out A LOT, but in 2018 we are making an effort to eat dinner at home and eat healthier. The last several years, I’ve been experiencing more and more hip and lower back pain so I’m usually in bed no later than 7pm on most nights. With me getting in bed so early on some nights, we all enjoy eating dinner in bed together and watching our favorite TV shows.

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KS: You’re a husband and father, and you’re the only one in your family who has SMA. What are some of the challenges that come with being dependent on your family for physical help, and how do you and your wife work through these challenges?

CP: I’ve been blessed to be married to the love of my life for 12 years. Over the past several years, my wife has slowly assumed the role of my full-time caregiver, although I don’t like that title for her. Thankfully, Kyla and I both work from home so we don’t need to hire any outside help for my needs.

One of the biggest challenges we face as a family is working through the times when I feel guilty or like a burden for needing so much help from my wife. Taking care of others comes natural to Kyla and she assures me that she loves helping me. This also affects our daughter when she needs help from Mommy, but Mommy is helping Daddy. Elyana has grown to be a very patient child and she is very compassionate and giving as well. Marriage and family life is not easy and we are not perfect, but I believe that our strong faith in God helps us through a lot of the challenges we go through together.

My wife, daughter and I all have a quirky, sarcastic sense of humor, so we laugh a lot and try to find the humor in a lot of the frustrating or difficult things we go through. For example, we were at Chipotle the other day and since I’m in a chair, it’s really hard to hear the workers talking to me through the glass. My wife had to act as my translator and ended up yelling (humorously) between me and the worker preparing my salad. What could have been a very frustrating moment, ended up with my family and I cracking up because we were joking that I am physically disabled and also apparently hard of hearing.

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KS: When you’re speaking to people in the SMA community or just people with disabilities in general, what message do you try to convey?

CP: I love to share my life story with people with disabilities, especially families that have children with SMA type 3 (which is the type I have). I’ve always felt that attitude is everything and we shouldn’t let our disability define us. We have a choice every morning to either feel thankful and blessed for what we can do or dwell on the things we can’t. As a husband, father and business owner, I want to give others hope in knowing that we can all be successful in our personal, family and business lives as long as we put the right attitude and heart behind it.

KS: In terms of what society can do to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to live more independently, what’s one thing you wish would change (be it a law or just a shift in attitude)?

CP: I’ve recently been going through the process of trying to get a new power wheelchair. My current chair is almost six years old and doesn’t fit my current needs. Twice now, I’ve been told that a certain function I want is a “luxury” according to Medicare standards. Who ever decided that standing, sitting higher or even being comfortable was a luxury? A representative from my insurance company even suggested I just transfer to a recliner chair a few times a day to alleviate my back and hip pain. Really? That’s your solution? It would be great if the medical field could see me as a person with needs instead of just a dollar sign. I understand that it’s a business, but their solution of getting into a recliner chair a few times a day is not realistic for me, which they failed to understand. I’ll continue to fight this battle, and with the help of my wife, I know we will be victorious.

For more information about Pollock, visit his company’s website at www.wheelyque.com.

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SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.