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A Day on the Beach, Yet So Much More!

A Day on the Beach, Yet So Much More!

Faith of the Mustard Seed
The royal blue kite struggled to stay in flight; the winds remained fickle on our day at the beach. I was mesmerized while watching a man and woman so fervently trying to manage the small diving diamond in the sky. The more I watched, the clearer the metaphor to my own life and multiple sclerosis (MS) became.

Living with a chronic disease is overwhelming, time-consuming, and hard to manage, but my time on the beach was just the opposite. It was relaxing, inspiring, and lots of fun!

(Courtesy of Debi Wilson)

A reunion with my siblings (Steve and Kathy) and their spouses (Rhonda and Dennis) took me to the coast last week. When we first organized the trip, I predicted my MS would force me to watch the waves from a distance as usual. It has been quite a few years since I have been able to maneuver down to the beach.

But recently, through my friend Jennifer’s Facebook page, I learned of a beach wheelchair. The Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) at Cannon Beach, Oregon, sponsors the wheelchair. The program was a vision by a fellow primary progressive multiple sclerosis patient and HRAP coordinator, Melissa Keyser.

(Courtesy of Debi Wilson)

Melissa has worked diligently to launch this program at Cannon Beach because she feels it will be of great benefit to the disabled. She is quick to add that the program would not have been possible without the generous donations of many.

The beach wheelchair is free to use, but donations are always appreciated. You will need to have someone to push you, and the chair is not allowed in the water. If you ever get the chance, I hope you can check out Cannon Beach and this program. We also went shopping along Cannon Beach’s coast, and it is a very accessible town — handicap-friendly!

(Courtesy of Debi Wilson)

A big thank you to Melissa, as I have not felt so free or so “normal” for a long time. My toes never touched the sand. But the warmth of the sun touched my face, and at times, an angry wind blew my hair. With each rolling and soft flowing pattern that the waves created, I became more calm and relaxed. To be sharing this experience with family and other random groups of happy, active people was surreal. All were enjoying a beautiful day with the sea. And I was one of them!

I had the honor of meeting Melissa, and her compassion for others was apparent. And she is correct: The program is of great benefit. To me, it was life-changing. It has inspired me to find more “adventures” that make adaptions for the handicapped. With handicap accessibility, there is happiness and inclusion. My hope is that others with disabilities can experience many incredible days just like the one I had!

I cannot express my appreciation enough for Melissa and the beach chair program. I’m also grateful for Dennis, Rhonda, Kathy, and Steve for taking me and pushing me. Thanks to all!

Search your areas for fun, handicapped-accessible things to do. It will lift your spirits and you will be glad that you did it!

Can you recall a time when adaptations made a fun activity accessible? Share on the MS News Today forums!


Note: Multiple Sclerosis 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 other 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. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
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  1. I am just curious. My sister has MS. Two years ago we tried to go to the beach. I was able to get her on beach, I put her feet in water not the ocean. We had cooling cloth on her neck. It was not too hot that day and we went out early in the morning. I set up an umbrella for her to sit under. By 9:30 approximately 30-45 minutes, she was very weak and had to leave. It took me and two life guards to get her up. Even we were parked very close to the beach, the three of us could not get her to the car. We were blessed because a family came by with a child’s wagon that the side dropped down. We were able to load her in the wagon and take her to the car and then able to lift her in her seat.
    She has not been back to beach since. Does the temperature not affect your MS? Or how do you work around the heat? We used to go on Cruises we were always able to work around her MS she even was transported into a small boat and airlifted the plane. Now she rarely leaves the house and leaving the house is controlled by the weather. Thanks for any information you have. I am so happy for you – I am experiencing some problems with my right leg and am dying to get the beach. I agree it – there is a peace – a high being on the beach. I am so glad you found a way to enjoy it again. I have a special place in my heart for people who make it easier for the “disabled” to become able to do things they enjoy.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Hi Barbara,
      I can relate to what your sister goes through with the heat. If it had been a hot & humid day I would not have been able to go to the beach that day. The temperature was in the
      60’s and low humidity. It was a beautiful sunny day, with a cold wind that would come and go. I hope you and your sister can find accessibility and enjoy the beach soon! Just remember to pick a day with low heat and humidity!:) Thanks for your comments and questions. Debi

    • Debi Wilson says:

      I want to stress Bsrbara that it’s the humidity that gets me the most. So I always check that even over the temperature itself. It sounds like you were doing what I would do, using a wet cooling neck cloth,cooling vest, or fan. You can also check the National MS Society website for more ideas .

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Hi Joann,
      I have read they are $2500 to purchase. The one I used was free to use, with a donation. Thank-you for your comment and question! Debi

  2. Carol says:

    Hi Debi
    I loved your beach story and the feeling of freedom.
    Let me tell you my recent holiday story. I’ve just return from a cruise with friend I have known for many years! The cruise took us to Guernsey, France and Spain. I took my powered wheelchair. This gave me so much freedom in my accessible cabin with a lovely balcony. I was able to go everywhere on board ship in my wheelchair, didn’t have to wait for someone to push me. Was able to go to dinner every night too.
    The highlight of my holiday was in Spain. When we went to a conservation park and I went up in a cable car (in my chair) it was great seeing the herds of wild animals.
    I’m pleased you had a lovely time Debi and so did I.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      That sounds amazing, Carol! You were even able to go in a cable car! Loved hearing of your trip, thanks for sharing that! Debi

  3. suzie hieter says:

    Hello! Thanks for the encouragement that your ventures give me … I’ve had MS almost 50 years most of them in a WC; I was able to go back to school, worked as a social worker for a few years, traveled in Mexico for 15 years thanks to people lifting in and out of buses; the last 10 years were ones of complications, but now I am ready to resume new experiences. Again, thanks, suzie hieter

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