Ventured out in June for our first ‘disabled’holiday with the wheelchair, was both the most terrifying and the most wonderful two weeks ever! I was inspired by seeing a photo on Facebook of my friend’s son (paralysed in an accident) going to some far flung place on an aeroplane and I thought, ‘well, if he can do it, then so can I!’ I managed to persuade P that this was a good idea, he was not keen, like me, too nervous to try it, what if something went wrong, what if the wheelchair was damaged, what if, what if, what if……….
Anyway, we eventually booked it and off to Gatwick we went. After a moment of nervousness (him) and a total hissy fit breakdown (me), we followed the special assistance little bus to the gate. Said goodbye for now to my chair at the door of the plane, settled into some kind of comfort in my seat, threw some extra painkillers down my throat and off we went!
Below was my diary entry the day after we returned……..
We’re back! It was great! Yeehaa! The first ever holiday+wheelchair+aeroplane was a success! Apart from one or two blips, all was good, am still pinching myself that it went ok but it did! The things I have learned from this experience are:
1. Don’t turn up 5 hrs early for your flight ‘just in case’ (the lounge is not interesting enough to fill all those hours)
2. Be more assertive when being pushed/bumped aside in said lounge and when the manager comes over to ask if there’s anything he can do, accept some help, don’t burst into tears……
3. Accept and believe that they do know you’re there and they will remember to come get you, you don’t need to look forlornly at the man on the gate like a poor terrified little lamb, they won’t go without you.
4. You don’t need to plead with the man who takes your wheelchair once you’ve boarded to ‘please look after my baby’ They handle these things everyday so know what they’re doing.
5. Try and get seats closer to the toilets onboard, queues, moving planes and crutches do not mix well.
6. Put your flight stockings on BEFORE you board, limited mobility, small spaces and tight socks doth not a happy partner make!
7. Relax and enjoy it!
All the research, phone calls and emails we’d made beforehand really did ensure a fairly stress free journey and thoroughly enjoyable two weeks break. The apartments were fantastic (ca-tourist-apts.com.cy) everything was accessible, the family who ran it couldn’t do enough for us and it really was the holiday that we has wanted. In fact it was so good, it was a struggle to come back to my unadapted stair-ridden home. I never felt like the ‘disabled’ woman, I felt amongst friends who also had mobility issues so much so, there was cheery banter about who took the longest in the pool hoist! And thankfully, my new powerchair delivered on its promises, plenty of oomph and long battery life, even managed to take on the task of driving on the Cypriot roads in the village without giving up the ghost!
The one thing I really learned was that not only did I desperately needed the break, but so did P who supports me unfailingly day in, day out. All through the journey from Gatwick, to the adapted transfer and the arrival at the apartment, his face looked drained and worried. It took a good couple of days for that look to wear away, once we’d settled in and done the obligatory sunbed to pool relay for a while, it returned to the lovely happy face I know and love. This was as much of a challenge for him as for me so it’s done wonders for both of our confidences.
Will we do it again? Omg, YES! Pass me the laptop please……….