The World Turned Upside Down
Being disabled constricts what my body does — but I’m still me.
For a long time, I was trapped as I could no longer self-propel my self-propelled wheelchair. Then last summer, my powered one turned up!
Never delicate, I instantly got to slam around in my very own Sherman tank! It was like giving someone dying of thirst a pint of 1959 Dom Pérignon (at $42,350 a bottle!). Now we could go somewhere and actually do something!
My wife and I decided to try going away for a few days last week. Neither of us can remember the last time we attempted this.
It’s not due to my MS, but rather family bereavements. We’re of that age in which we’ve had three in two years. Besides the obvious, the bureaucracy involved is life-numbing.
But my MS restricts where we can stay. These days, I sleep in a profiling bed. It lowers so that I can actually get in, but recently even that is becoming increasingly problematic.
So a profiling bed was our minimum requirement. We discovered we could hire one at just one London hotel. The cost was prohibitive, approaching £1,000 per night, all-in! (That’s about $1,300.) For that price, I might as well sit in my wheelchair all night and hang out in a suite at The Savoy!
There are also a few dotted around various Airbnbs, but we’d be pretty isolated if anything went wrong.
Then my wife, who’s far more diligent than me, discovered an amazing hotel in the seaside town of Bournemouth on England’s southern coast. Only 100 miles away.
The Grove is run by a local charity and provides all the benefits of staying in a friendly hotel but with a nurse on 24-hour duty. They also have something like five profiling beds.
You just have to provide detailed information about your illness — which is practical so that, if necessary, everything is to hand.
And, yes, something did go wrong.
We were in a bit of a hurry to get back for dinner.
I was also on a full steroids course and felt like some kind of MS super-disabled!
Somehow we both forgot to strap my chair down in the van. Weird, as we’d managed to put on my seat belt.
The trouble was we were heading up a steep hill away from the beach and all the action would be going the other way!
It duly did. And with a thump, the chair and me rolled onto our backs.
I felt remarkably sanguine about it — steroids like naughty drugs give one that ring of self-confidence.
We discussed heading for casualty (or emergency room) and deep embarrassment, but as we were near the hotel, we thought we might as well give that a go.
Anthony, the on-duty porter, popped out completely unfazed.
He helped me out of my chair, righted it, and lifted the whole thing down.
We had a lift on the van, but I think he figured he’d get a bit of a gym session in at work.
As a tip, we got him a bottle of cognac.
The tip for me is to make sure I’m strapped down.
Otherwise I will end up tipping twice!
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