Traveling While Disabled

We’re BACK! And I’m so happy to be home, where everything is already set up for my ease and enjoyment. The trees have leafed out while we were gone, some are in flowerand it’s the prettiest time of the year in the desert Southwest.  It’s so frustrating that now that I have time to travel more, it takes more time to rest than it does to enjoy wherever we are.  Still, with a chronic disease such as Fibromyalgia, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and decide that it’s OK to be uncomfortable for a period, or you will never leave the house.  Actually we’ve been back a week, but it’s taken me this long to feel comfortable in my body again. And I missed several weeks of Zero to Hero posts.NYC subway

TDH (tall, dark and handsome)  and I spent a lovely two weeks on the East Coast (we live in Arizona), including New York City, which felt especially unwelcoming as a disabled person in that most subway stations require several flights of stairs to get to and from the platform.  Some stations have elevators. but most do not, and none downtown do. Buses are all accessible and frequent, but they are very slow if you have far to go.  Taxis are ubiquitous but expensive.  My “Picasso” vision and poor balance and arthritic back requires having to have a sturdy handrail if I have to climb up or down stairs – and not climbing very many of them,  and fatigue sets in much more quickly than it does for other people, so many fewer activities. As you can plainly see, in NYC I did have to push myself WAY more than usual and so it took much longer to recover.

On the brighter side, since NYC is no place to take/park a car,  public transportation is your only option. 800px-BoltBus_Prevost_0807_in_NYC I have to tell you about the BOLT Bus between Washington DC and NYC.  The buses had electricity for our computers, and wifi, comfortable seating and  were very CHEAP.  $60 for both of us, round trip!  The train would have been hundreds. Speaking of CHEAP but wonderful, we have traveled with airbnb.com, a social media travel site, for years, both here in the US and in Europe.  we have always had an A+ experience, and this time was no excerption. $375 for 5 nights in upper manhattan .  If you try them, tell them I sent you. I’ll get a coupon.

For me, Disabled Also Means If you’re me, 72 years old, walking with 2 canes, with arthritis and fibromyalgia, related food allergies, and on a related  strict budget (lost my job due to Fibromyalgia brain fog), travel requires careful planning* – and a devoted companion with lots of patience. I am so lucky to have a loving life partner who assists me in staying safe.  I gave up my walker because my back was always bent over, and now I walk with two matching canes.  This allows my back to stay straight when I walk and is much less cumbersome off the pavement. My back gets into a painful knot when I stand for even a short period of time – so no standing in line.  I also can’t walk very far( 5 or 6 blocks) before I “hit a wall” and have to just STOP and find somewhere to sit for a while to let the back relax. I do keep a supply of Flexeril with me which I use to keep the back from going into full disabling spasm. My poor depth perception and “Picasso vision” require having someone with me willing to monitor and announce sudden unmarked changes in elevation.  ( I see multiples of things, and at different levels.  I will see an ophthalmologist soon to see if there is anything that can be done. ) My poor balance means watching my feet carefully instead of the scenery so I don’t fall on my face (as I did do last year in Europe.  It was embarrassing).  It’s easy to trip on uneven pavement.  Poor balance also means no bathtub showers. That meant no showers for a week in a Williamsburg resort.  They had walking showers, if I would UPGRADE.  I didn’t.  My multiple food sensitivities mean no eating out.  So traveling is nothing like it was when I was 35. 911memorial533px Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York

I was born in New York City, but have never been back to get the feel of it, so when we would be back East, I got to check it off my bucket list.  Sadly, both fatigue and budget precluded enjoying the night life, but we enjoyed a trip to the beautiful 911 memorial, and another trip out to the Statue of Liberty, which was built atop a fort protecting NY Harbor.

We spent Easter Sunday  at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, built in 1808 and where 100 years later, Rev. Dr. Adam Clayton Powell was pastor.

abyssinian_baptist_church“A group of African Americans (12 women and 4 men) who refused to accept segregated seating in the First Baptist Church of New York City formed The Abyssinian Baptist Church in lower Manhattan. The church name was inspired by the ancient name of Ethiopia, Abyssinia.”

The church is very involved in fostering the rights and education of Africans as well as African Americans, and it was amazing to me that the first 10 minutes of the easter service focused on VOTING.  Not for anyone in particular but on the hard-won right to vote that must be exercised to have any meaning.  pastor said, “I probably won’t see many of you until next year this time, so I have to catch you when I see you!” kitchwindow:sm,jpg

All in all it was a wonderful trip, we visited family in DC and in Virginia, got to see the sights in Williamsburg and Virginia beach and NYC, but I am SO glad to be home.

*Note – Careful planning means

  1. Combing the internet to find rooms/condos with an “accessible path of travel” and a walkin shower.
  2. Ensuring there’s a wheelchair at every airport, and bringing plenty of tip money.
  3. Making sure to bring the “Handicapped” sign for the rental car.
  4. Combing the internet to find accessible transportation for activities when we have no car.
  5. Making sure there is a grocery store nearby with an organic produce section.
  6. Making sure there is a kitchen where we can cook to the multiple food sensitivities
  7. Making sure there is a blender/food processor for my green smoothie medical-food concoctions
  8. Not scheduling anything the first day we arrive anywhere, nor more than one activity a day.
  9. Bringing plenty of pain meds (Flexeril) so I don’t miss out on everything.

 

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