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Posts Tagged ‘wheelchair’

A good story needs a good opening lines doesn’t it? So,….

An Englishwoman, an Irishwoman, an Iranianwoman and a South African woman descend on a resort in Wales.

What could possibly happen? Keep coming back over the next few days and you may find a few stories to entertain and inform.

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We had an amazing day out in the beautiful British summer weather today at the British Food Festival at Walton Hall in Warrington. When we realised that it was being held in a park of some sort we swapped my slick indoor tyres for the knobbly outdoor ones in case the terrain was a bit challenging – a good call because the trip from the grass field was a little muddy and bumpy.

I cannot abide big crowds because being lower down than most people makes you feel even more hemmed in (probably what children feel like) and the incredible weather brought people out in droves; not a big surprise when you combine, good weather, good food and good beverages all n one place!

On the positive side for me was another unexpected benefit of my Trekinetic K-2 – the umbrella! Not only did it provide wonderful respite from the rays for our newest granddaughter and I, but it acts as an amazing privacy and perimeter barrier – we did not get jostled or bumped at all because people kept an awed and respectful distance – brilliant!

Another great reason to buy a K-2 😄

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It was with great relief that my wheelchair arrived at the door of the plane – and in one piece, unmangled!
Having learned from the last couple of disasters, hubby and I took a piece of 50mm plumbing pipe that was lying around our personal landfill site, cut it down one side and taped this over the shock absorbers release mechanism. This should ensure that no prying hands can accidentally release the chair into the upright position. It seems to have done the trick – and it also helped that they didn’t drive a cargo container over it!
KLM have managed to do what the previous two airlines have not – thank you very much Royal Dutch Airlines.

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I’m in cloud nine – literally?

Being the last on the plane seems to have borne fruit. We were put into first class but because the plane is jammed to the gunnels, the k-2 has been bumped down to the cargo hold – it does feel a little like poetic justice.
Happy flying, see you in London….

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Techies can’t fix it so clearly it takes more than 5 blokes!
Now the bus has pulled up because we are on the runway nowhere near the terminal. Damn this is going to be a pain! Ah! Now the stairs have pulled up – oh joy, stairs and a bus with no ramp to negotiate!
I am going to just sit here and wait for everyone else to disembark before I make my move.

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“due to technical problems, we apologise for ze delay but we will need to change planes”.
No! No! No! Is this their idea of a cruel joke?

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At least five under the hood and another four confering next to them for glasnost! I only wish I was joking, take a look at this….

Has the engine devoured this one?  And look, his friend just looks on with interest!

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Another fifteen minutes and they switch all the lights back on and start serving refreshments. This is a clue that we may be a while!

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Our flight has moved to a different gate so we set off. I have never seen a gate with only five seats but I make sure that I am at the front because they always load wheelchairs and children first.
However, this is Russia and it is a free for all and people start to converge on the gate and so I decide that from my front position I am just going to go with the tide as they don’t call me forward.
At least only one woman manages to squeeze between me and the door and we are off. I managed to get to my seat using my crutches and leave hubby to deal with the porters and my wheelchair. After ten minutes I am starting to worry because no wheelchair appears through sky-lift door on it’s way to the hold.
Ah! There he is, sporting a very amused look so I am now worried because it could be genuine or a “you are never going to believe this” grimace.
All I can say is “is my wheelchair okay?” to which he responds “great, it is flying first class”. This is a definite first as they have decided to bring my Trekinetic k-2 inside the cabin into first class – probably the first k-2 to travel up front while The occupant has to sit behind the curtain.
I wonder if they will give her some decent service?

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….London. I thought that not much would surprise me in Moscow after spending the week here and experiencing firsthand how bad facilities are for the disabled – I was wrong, wrong, wrong!
Check-in took forever because they kept looking at my wheelchair (not me) and calling someone else over to confer, then another and finally on the phone to some other person who also had no idea what procedure to follow. Eventually we explained to one of them that I didn’t need the medical crew and would make my own way to the plane – they were very sceptical but clearly relieved to get rid of me and let me become someone else’s problem.
Passport control was interesting to say the least because all the gates are for walkers and no wheelchair could fit through the gates. The woman happily stamped us through and then we asked which way I got through and she simply raised her arms skyward and shrugged ‘I don’t know’ – very helpful. The questions was then passed to her friend next door who also shrugged and shouted to another guys across the hall. He at least had enough common sense for the two girls and after a short wait he came over and led us through the restricted areas and back out into the departure area.
A quick breakfast and stroll around before we head off to our gate.
What are the chances this will run smoothly, without the need for a party political conference?

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Ridiculous, but I am stared at in varying degrees everywhere we go. Some blatantly open-mouthed, others surreptitiously and the rest turn around to stare after we have wheeled past!
You would think I would be used to it by now because the Trekinetic K-2 gets a lot of stares anyway, but really this is ridiculous – I would love to get some pictures to include in my blog.

The only other wheelchair we have seen since our arrival is another visitor from America in our hotel – this is a city of 17 million – what are they doing with the countless wheelchair users who were probably created by their appaling driving? Locked up somewhere no doubt – perhaps they don’t like to air what they consider dirty laundry. In fact they cover up derelict buildings all over the city in huge decorated sheets -sound similar? Sorry, that’s me having a cynical moment.

Now we really are heading off for the coffee shop – hopefully it won’t turn into something resembling ‘the hunt for red October’….

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Having been out for the remainder of our first day, I can promise you that these are three words that cannot be used in the same sentence.

All major roads use under-passes and not a single one has any facilities for wheelchair users. We found some ramps on top of the stairs which have been installed for prams! Some of these were just wide enough for my chair but the majority of the time they were too narrow. Anyway, what use was it being able to get down when you then need at least 2 Mr Universes to get you up the other side! To ensure my hubby did not suffer a heart episode in a foreign country, I had to tackle the stairs – slowly and painfully!

We definitely deserved a rest and not having access to any of the other coffee houses, it seemed safe to try McDonald’s for a latte. Refreshed and recovered from our earlier exertions, we headed off for the next round.

Innumerable subways, enormous granite sidewalks up and down and we eventually made it to the Kremlin and Red Square and it was definitely worth the effort! All the sights were amazing and especially St. Basil’s which is breathtaking and all the pictures cannot prepare you for it. The Kremlin is gargantuan and a beautiful piece of architecture.

Having faced what must have been the worst city trip we have ever done in my wheelchair, we managed the return journey without too much fuss.

Exhausted, dirty and parched, we collapsed into the hotel lounge and enjoyed a latte and cake as reward for surviving the Moscow endurance race!

Tomorrow we head for a market outside Moscow – wish us luck.

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5pm and we are off for our inaugural ramble! Armed with new K-2, energy drink, fleeces, camera and plenty of enthusiasm (oh, did I mention the not so great weather?).

Our destination, Southport beach, with a car park surface that might have been laid back in the 60’s and is now more like the lunar surface. The first time we decided on this walk we didn’t even manage to get out of the car park – definitely not wheelchair friendly.

 

 Hooray! Our first goal achieved – out of the car park and onto the trail. Getting used to the unusual steering meant that I was all over the place at first, but the good thing is that wherever I unintentionally steered, I could get myself out of without my husbands muscle power. This independence lark could get addictive. With our sights firmly set on attaining the waters edge, we set off .

Now, if you know Southport you will realise that this can be no mean feat because the tide only seems to come in every few years and the rest of the time can be miles away. Apart from this we forged ahead and in no time were getting excellent practice over stones, mud, sand, grass and a mix of them all. Not being used to going off road it soon became apparent that I would need to be patient with myself and build up my strength. Pushing yourself around a shopping mall and a beach are entirely different matters. This did however give my hubby a chance to see how easy it was to push and before we knew it we had gone about a mile with the sea still just a distant glimmer! At this point we noticed we were the only people on the beach and rather than become the next headline on the North West news – I could imagine it – “Women in wheelchair rescued from incoming tide”, we decided to turn back and try reaching the beach another day when we had a tidal report.

 All in all, it was an amazing first trip. We tried and conquered a number of different terrains and at the same time got the confidence to go on to bigger and better things.

Tired but happy we returned home to hose off my K-2 ready for the next adventure.

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Delivery – Have K-2, but no place to go!

 After much excitement and anticipation the day for delivery of my Trekinetic K-2 has arrived. Mal dropped it off early on Friday morning and after going through some instructions and useful information, left me to get acquainted. I immediately went out onto our road for a few laps to get familiar with the new and unusual driving style. It was at this point that my hubby disappeared back to the office leaving me to spend the rest of the day reading the manual, pushing up and down the living room and waiting impatiently for his return so that we could go for our first outing.

Tick, tock, tick, tock!

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I know this post is going to be very familiar to those international travellers amongst us, but bear in mind that I have only been a wheelchair user for around 2 years. I have been to many European and South African destinations without any disasters with my cheap (£140), internet purchased wheelchair. So, in September 2008, without a second thought we made for Manchester airport and the long flight and many change overs to visit family in Saskatoon, Canada. Manchester to Heathrow, Heathrow to Calgary and then an 8 hour drive back towards Saskatoon. Sounds simple? Think again! My wheelchair which was loaded at the plane door and should have been safe looked like it had gone a few rounds with an angry Rhinoceros. The back was bent, the wheels crushed and when we opened it bits flew all over the airport car park! The airline customer services we very nice when we reported the damage and they told us to replace the chair and send off the invoices for a refund. Easier said than done when you are about to go half way across a vast country to your next destination. Anyway, we decided to take the chair and have it repaired as best we could in Saskatoon. Considering the damage, the repairers did a great job that allowed me to use it for the duration of the holiday – it just did not open and close any more! Luckily my sister-in-law also has a spare wheelchair and I used this whenever I could in and around the town. The old battered one did however come into its own when we went off track because by then we had nothing to lose and were no longer concerned about damaging it; after all we could not possibly do worse than the airline. 

Canada was a pleasure to get around in a wheelchair and the facilities were very good.  Disabled bays were never used by anyone other than official badge holders – well done Canada!   Some countries can learn a lot from their respect for disabled drivers. 

On a completely different note, the other photo is just a wonderful reminder of many early mornings spent queuing outside Tim Horton’s for fresh coffee and the most amazing selection of doughnuts.  If you are ever in Canada, they should not be missed.

Next episode coming soon….

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