Thursday, July 18, 2013

I trip over flat surfaces, what’s your talent? I got the chance to experience some of that “tripping” this past week while I vacationed in Oregon

 (Cindi Hopper, Columnist, MS News Channel)
“I trip over flat surfaces, what’s your talent?”  I know we’ve all heard or said that before but when traveling, especially long distances with a disability, that phrase takes on a whole new meaning.

I got the chance to experience some of that “tripping” this past week while we (I) vacationed in Oregon. Let me elaborate. My husband had to fly out on business and since I LOVE the west coast and had visited Oregon before I jumped at the chance to tag along. I forgot for a minute the last time I flew not to mention actually
travelled any distance.  It had been about 15 years ago and my body was in a much better place than it is now. I could walk then, without help. I could climb stairs, without even giving it a second thought. Not to mention getting through the airport! I had not even thought about that! But I was going ,dang it. After all, this was the West coast, where my heart was. And 15 years ago when I was there, I’m sure I had left a part of my soul there too.

I had heard the airlines offered assistance for disabled flyers. I know they have golf carts and such that they ride you around on so that’s what I had envisioned. Upon arrival when we were let off at the baggage check-in, the Southwest attendant took one look at me, cane in hand and said, “You’ll be needing a wheelchair?” I said yes, reluctantly, and from that minute on we were taken thru every stop, security included, without any trouble. Every time we switched planes and including the return trip that note stayed on my ticket so I got “pre-boarding” status plus carried thru the airports without having to worry about walking any distance. It was great! I got over my feeling of embarrassment having to use a “wheelchair” real quick when I saw how far it was I would have had to walk! There’s no way I could’ve done that! Not now, never again. I felt so sorry for my husband having to walk and take our carry-on luggage (my meds). Although he never complained, I know he had to be exhausted.

Now there was one little instance in Atlanta while going through security,  I couldn’t stand without a cane or lift my arms above my head to their satisfaction, so I had to be “patted down”. That was a little embarrassing under the circumstances but I realize it’s for all our safety. They called a woman officer over to do it too and there was a perfectly good 6’3; 220lb Italian male officer right there. Why HE couldn’t perform that simple task I do not know! LOL Oh and then our 1hr layover in Vegas turned out to be 4hrs which played havoc on my poor legs and back but luckily I had my meds with me and since we had a designated driver my husband was able to “relax” some too. We finally got settled and in our hotel around 10PM PST which was a 3 hr difference from our EST zone so my nightly meds were a little screwy for that day. We lucked up in where we were staying though in that it was close to shops, restaurants, bars, etc. so I was able to go out and about while he was working. For me it was heaven. I dined in all sorts of outdoor cafes, shopped in quaint little family owned shops, and met some of the friendliest people ever. I brought home memories I will forever cherish. If you have never visited the state of Oregon, I highly recommend going. You will see some of the most gorgeous waterfalls in the world like the Multnomah Falls. Or if flowers are your thing, like me, visit the Gold Metal Rose Garden. I just thought I grew roses. And lastly, my heart, the mountains. Mt Hood. If you go there it’s purely spiritual. At least it was for me. There’s something about seeing snow on a mountain top in mid-July that amazes this born and bred Georgia girl. We went from temps of low 90’s to low 50’s. to rain for 24 consecutive days to no rain in Oregon for 14 days. There was such a contrast.

I know everyone’s MS is different but for me, the higher altitude, steady barometric pressure, almost zero humidity, and cooler temps is the perfect combination for a healthier way of life. I said before I felt like my heart and soul belonged on the West coast. Have you ever been somewhere that you feel like you just belong? That’s how I felt 15yrs ago and I went back to see if it was just a fluke. Well, not to my surprise, it wasn’t. The air felt so fresh and cool breathing in almost like I had breathed it before. In my younger days, I would’ve climbed to the top of Mt. Hood.  Did I climb it? I wondered how many women waited at the docks of the Columbia or the Willamette for their men to come in from months of being at sea.  Was I one of them? Those mountains are home for whatever reason. Maybe I lived there in a past life. Maybe I’m going to live there in a future life. Or maybe I’m just going to dream about them to have something to compare heaven to.