Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The kindness of strangers (part 2)

Its funny, but when a day dawns bright and sunny I always find I am full of optimism again - regardless of how many steps there are where I am staying! As long as I can get down them and have good coffee inside me, I am ready to face the world. There was only one problem that day and that was that we needed to collect some towels from the hotel next door. Hmm....remember the ramp? The one I need a hero for? Well, if I went next door to get towels, then I wouldn't be able to get back up the ramp, so hubby needed to go with me. Poor thing, with his poorly leg too...but it had to be done. It was on our way to reception of that hotel, that we discovered another (steep) up-ramp and I was determined to have a go at getting up it on my own - after all, I'm a big, strong independent girl, aren't I?

I must admit, I managed to give it a good go, if I say so myself, but a good go is sometimes not enough and about half way up I suddenly felt like I'd hit a brick wall. I know when to admit defeat (yes, I do, so stop sniggering!) and so I gripped the wheels lightly to lower myself back down the slope. I guess I gripped a bit too hard and misjudged it completely and so I found myself flipping over backwards - and landed on my back, legs in the air, showing my knickers off to the world! Hubby stood back and waited, only getting hold of the chair to stop it flying off in to the swimming pool. He knows I need a few moments to compose myself and do my own diagnostic check of my body to see what I've done now. Turns out I hit my arm on the wall on the way down, but little else - and I couldn't complain about my bruise after looking at the state of hubbys leg!

I was almost rescued anyway by some nice German man too, who offered to get me up - and who was really nice about it. Of course, I was too stubborn to take up the offer and climbed back into the chair on my own. Towels had to wait until I could a) swallow my pride and get a push, or b) find another route!

Who ever would think that just getting a few towels could be so complicated? In the absence of any other comment, I have decided to mark the occasion in points out of 10:
Accessibility 5/10 (for at least installing a ramp)
Slope angle 1/10 (since I could get halfway)
Legs in air photo opportunity 8/10 (my legs aren't that good!)
Bruise quotient 5/10 (definitely had more spectacular)
Towel colour 6/10 (orange, JIC you care!)
So...all in all, could do better...

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The kindness of strangers (part 1)

So, we decided to go on holiday - we needed a relaxing break after a long summer (you only have to read my last entry to know what sort of a summer it's been & we thought we were due a break). Those people who know me well (and many who don't know me that well), know that I am an organiser and a planner and so, before booking anything I checked all the facilities of the hotel online - especially those relating to accessibility. I emailed head office, I emailed the disabled help department and I emailed the resort as well as phoning the specialist helpline to let them know I was a wheelchair user before we travelled. I checked Thompson's website (oops, did I name and shame?) and I did everything within my power to make sure that we were going to have the most chilled and relaxing holiday ever, with nothing left to chance.

A week before we were due to go, the unexpected happened (I guess thats what makes it unexpected - you don't often say the expected happened, do you?) and hubby had an accident where a huge lump of timber fell on his leg. At the time, the emergency department were amazed it wasn't broken - it was that bad (I can post pictures if you like really gory stuff) and we were immediately worrying about whether to cancel the holiday or not. Well, over the next few days the leg improved a bit and so we decided we wouldn't cancel, but hubby (abandoning the crutches issued by the hospital) still needed to use a walking stick. He was (kind of) ok, but as my normal helper, was suddenly unable to help much, which was a bit of a blow.

We arrived at the hotel at stupid o'clock in the morning and discovered a ramp up to the front door. Now, this ramp, was some ramp - it looked like at least 45 degrees so I manned (womanned?) up and took a run at it. I got...um...about two thirds of the way up; ran out of steam and found myself travelling backwards at an increasing rate of knots, desperately hoping I wouldn't trash whoever was coming up the slope behind me! Hubby was struggling with a stick and 2 cases and couldn't help and so some hero just dropped his bags and ran to push me up the ramp...and the next ramp ....and the next ramp. To be truthful I probably could have managed the last one, but it was late, I was tired and he was doing a great job ;-)
Anyway, we got to our rooms (my hero went off with his wife!) and we crashed out...exhausted.

The next day hubby's leg was worse - (not good news!) and so I headed out on my own to a welcome meeting. I should have known it was a bad omen when it was up some steps, but in the little optimistic world that I live in, I just managed, with some help to get my chair up to the top, and then on the way out, just chucked my chair down the steps and climbed back in at the bottom (to be fair, a nice lady did stop it from rolling clean across the lobby...). After all, these things happen...

Back to the room, collected hubby and went to find the dining room. Guess what? It was down steps (lots of them!) - ok, so out of chair, random man carries chair down (hubby just struggling to get down on his own with his stick), get back into chair and have lunch. Decided to go to the pool. Guess what? Pool is up steps (only a few) - so, abandon pool idea, decide to go to bar instead but guess what? Yep, you got it, the bar is up steps (different ones)! Anyway, hubby struggles to the bar (probably feeling that alcohol will anaesthetise the leg a little) and gets a couple of beers - for a while, life is good. I then decide that the toilet might be an idea, but guess what? Yep, you guessed it again. The toilet is downstairs!

To be fair, I did talk to a lady who said that if I headed down past the pool and around the road (there was no drop curb to get onto the road and no footpath), that I could actually avoid most of the steps - but - remember that ramp at the front door?, well, the road took you round to that....and there's not always a hero around when you want one!

Two things came out of this start to my holiday. One was that Thompson have a load of lessons to learn about how they market their hotels (I don't expect everywhere to be accessible, but I do expect the disabled helpline to tell me if they aren't) and the other is that people generally are wonderful and helpful. From the hero who pushed me up the ramps, to the lady who caught my chair flying across the lobby and the men who carried my chair up and down steps all over the hotel - they were all fab! I just hope they come across my blog and realise I am talking about them. If you have - this is a very heartfelt thank you!