Sunday, March 15, 2009

honeymoon tales

So i'm sure any of you who have traveled know that there are always funny stories of mishaps that happen along the way. Well, let me tell you some of our funny tales from our honeymoon. First of all, we went on a cruise which was the best vacation we've ever been on. I highly recommend it! We had to fly from Virginia to Miami and had a layover for each flight. This would be our first flight together. When we arrived in Miami Chris' wheelchair did arrive with us, so that was a good thing. We did notice that one of his front tires seemed a little low on air, but didn't think much of it. We got settled on the ship but the first morning we woke up at sea Chris' joystick wouldn't turn on. Great! We get on our honeymoon and Chris can't drive his chair anywhere....nothing like a tropical honeymoon when you're stuck in your room the whole time.....out of the sun! If any of you know me, I'm not one to have a quick temper. I usually try to be patient and find the good in the situation. But after 15 minutes of trying to fix it, I got mad and punched the turned on and worked like a charm! So the rest of the week that's what we did when his chair wouldn't drive, I'd punch it and we'd move on. On the 2nd day we were sitting on the top deck enjoying the sun when Chris' chair started driving itself. Now autopilot may be nice in some circumstances, but not when you want to be still and not when you're on a ship and your chair starts heading for the railing! Again, we had to turn it off, punch it to get it back on and then it stopped driving itself....this happened a few more times, but we just kept truckin through the trip without worries. By day 3 Chris' front tire went completely flat, so he had a bit of a limp as we rolled through the various islands that we visited, but again, no biggie.....we just laughed as we went! Now, for the trip home........
We flew to Atlanta for a very short layover before heading to Roanoke, VA. When you are in a wheelchair, you are the first person on the plane and the last person off the plane. Well, apparently the Atlanta airport couldn't find Chris' wheelchair after the first flight. They said they were sure it would be on the next plane but that they couldn't bring it up to us at the gate in order for him to use it to get on the second plane. We were running late and couldn't waste time so we had no choice but to use the chair they brought him. Now, let me be sure to give you a good visual of this experience: Chris is 6'1" with very long legs, the seat on his normal wheelchair is 16" wide. They brought Chris a stainless steal wheelchair with a 20" wide seat and a bright orange flag on top. He can't control his trunk position so when he sat in this chair his trunk looked like an S, his knees were up in his face practically and his feet were so far apart that his knees collapses in on each other. They tossed me all 4 large carry-on bags and took off pushing Chris through the airport, on the train, to the next terminal. It was like a circus though with me running as fast as I could yelling to the airport employee which gate to go to. Just when we were making some ground they passed Chris off to another employee and told him the wrong gate info. I'm still running with all my bags and trying to correct the direction we were going while Chris just bounced along in his orange flag wheelchair. When we finally got to the gate they whisked Chris out to the runway (we had to load up outside, 40 degrees and windy) while I took care of the tickets. The person at the counter didn't tear my ticket off since we were late, he told me to run down the steps and out the door. However, when I got to the door the woman there wouldn't let me out because my ticket wasn't torn! Meanwhile, I've still got all 4 bags hanging off me, I'm out of breath, and I see Chris being pushed out the runway to a plane that say TEXAS on the outside.......I told the lady that I had to get out there because they were about to put my husband on the wrong plane!! But she wouldn't budge, so up the stairs I went, back to the counter to get the guy to tear my ticket so she'd let me out. I ran out on the runway about the time that the pilot from the "wrong" plane was yelling to Chris that he was headed to Texas!!! Fortunately he hadn't boarded and the employee ran him back across the runway to our plane. I boarded the plane but Chris had to wait for the "transport chair" and the "lift". When he boards a plane, he has to be transferred onto a transport chair that is skinny enough to fit through the aisles of the airplane, then he is transferred into a regular airplane seat. The "lift" is like a forklift. It's a truck that drives up, the chair is put on it, and he is lifted up to the door of the plane and then rolled in. When I got on the plane I asked the stewardess if the lift was on the way and she said she assumed someone probably called for it. Well assuming never gets Chris and I anywhere, for sure so I asked her repeatedly to call for it. Eventually she did and found out that no one had contacted them about Chris. Keep in mind that it's still 40 degrees outside and windy, Chris has no coat and can't regulate his body temperature, so he's freezing, plus he's still sitting in the shape of an S in this huge wheelchair with his knees cocked to the sides. The plane is now 15 minutes late for take-off and everyone on board is staring out their windows at Chris. I heard Chris yelling to me, so I went back outside and he showed me that the employees had in fact found his wheelchair and were loading it onto the the headrest and the joystick (could this have been why the joystick was broken in the first place??)! His wheelchair weighs about 300# and the headrest is a skinny bar that is removeable and not sturdy. Now I'm not assertive, but Chris is. He told me to get back there and show them how to load it before they broke it all. So I headed right for the chair and had to yell over the motor of the plane for them to hear me.......of course they didn't want to listen at first to a yound girl trying to tell them how to lift it, but when they failed long enough, they finally listened. The chair was loaded, but Chris was not. Forty minutes after he got outside, the lift finally came. I helped with the transfer and Chris and I both told the other helper that he needed to hold Chris' chest once he was in the transport chair so that he wouldn't fall out, but alas, as soon as he got on the chair the gentleman let go and Chris did a faceplant on my back. Fortunately he wasn't seriously hurt and of course the employee never apologized, just looked at Chris as if it were his own fault that he fell. He finally made it on the plane and the first thing the stewardess said was,"Sir, can you evacuate yourself independently in the case of an emergency?" Um, yeah, I'm thinking "NO". Did she just watch the last 40 minutes??? But Chris was very calm as always and at first said, "No, mam, I'm paralyzed." She then informed him that it was the airlines' policy that all passengers be able to evacuate themselves in an emergency or they can't fly. Well that makes sense, huh?? Why would they even have transport chairs and lifts if that were the policy. Chris looked her right in the eye and said, "Mam, I'm pretty sure that if this plane goes down we're all gonna die, so, not that it matters, but Yes I can instruct anyone to lift me up and get me out if I need to." She didn't like his answer, but allowed him to stay, nonetheless. We were on the plane and headed home!
Wow, some trip, huh?? We just laughed about it once Chris was able to get warmed up.....and of course we complained and the airline paid for all of the damages to his wheelchair.......believe it or not, the story just makes me laugh to remember all of the chaos. Aaahhh the joys of paralysis!

1 comment:

  1. That is crazy and I can't believe I never heard that story before.