Anyone for Golf?

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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A family wedding in the gardens of a grand country house some 30 minutes from Oxford sounds idyllic. And indeed it was. Not, though, for anyone in a wheelchair.

A deep pebble driveway at the front was impassable. It took very strong men to drag me backward a few yards. Going forward was impossible, as the little wheels dug in.

Luckily, I can still get up and clamber in and out of things. Unluckily, this was into a golf buggy and I had to do it about 10 times. The wedding was on a small island on a picturesque river. To get there, a small bridge with an open side that could just take a wheelchair had to be traversed. Getting me on it was like a segment from of one of those Japanese happy-very-slappy-family-torture-game-shows.

Then, photos at the front and back of the main house, and finally a return to the marquee near the island for the wedding breakfast.

Fatigue grabbed me. Sure, I could have stopped drinking, but it was probably the only thing keeping me going! I’ve learned, admittedly only a few years ago, to stay on the right side of merry. It’s very sobering, over a long day, to observe a large gathering of people get communally drunk. When you’re not, there really is no inducement to join them.

Made it to Wedding Island. (Courtesy of John Connor)

When I still played wheelchair tennis, the other disabled players would help me with things like getting in and out of the building. We were all in wheelchairs but they’d seen what MS fatigue did to me. Many had lost the use of their legs in car accidents but had fully adjusted to their circumstance and moved in their wheelchairs with speed and grace. Although in those days I could still walk a bit, I would gladly have swapped that for no fatigue.

The day had duly shattered me, and it was about to get worse. The toilets at the marquee were not disabled friendly. I had to be helped in by my son. Then I couldn’t get up again as there was nothing to grab onto. I’m not about to go into the details, but being rescued from a toilet by my 22-year-old son isn’t a memory I want to hold onto.

So, the next time I went up to the main house — in the golf buggy again. The pebbles had to be dealt with, and a comprehensive series of ramps laid. The toilet was at least big, but again, it was very low and had no disabled handles. I had to cling to my wheelchair while sitting on the loo for some 30 minutes before I had the strength to self-catheterize. Any sooner and I would have fallen off.

I went back to the party again in the golf buggy.

By then, I really did need a drink!


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Becky avatar


OMG- that sounds like a nightmare for you. Didn't anyone have the great idea of checking out the place beforehand? No, I probably wouldn't either.That would be something my husband would do in my stead. I think, as an MS enrollee for the past 30 years,that my good-humor and pleasant-thought personality would have skipped over all the bad possibilities immediately. I am a bit too optimistic at times. Thanks for you story. I think it will help a lot of us in the future.


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