Category Archives: Vacations

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…

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I am quite happy to say that I have survived yet another Michigan winter. This winter was by far the worst in my memory, and I hope that it remains the worst that I will see in my lifetime. For now though, the snow is a distant memory and I am now looking ahead to another Michigan summer. When I think about summer, a lot of great memories come to mind; boating with my family, swimming with my sisters in the backyard pool, running around the neighborhood until the street lights came on and of course, summer camp.

Summer camp started off as a rocky experience for me. First, there was the fifth grade class camping trip where I was sent home early because the staff didn’t know how to handle my disability with the activities. Then, there was the time in seventh grade when I went to camp with a good friend. I was again excluded from several activities because of my Cerebral Palsy, plus reprimanded when I slept during free period because I was so exhausted from trying to keep up with the other kids. Luckily, both of those experiences ended on a happy note thanks to supportive friends and family; but it hadn’t left me eager to try summer camp again.

When I moved in with my dad in High School, I was once again faced with the prospect of summer camp. My Step-Mom insisted that my twin and I were both going, and there was really no arguing with my Step-Mom. She had been one of my biggest supporters during the 5th grade camp fiasco, so she had found a camp that was exclusively for people with physical disabilities. I would attend this camp for two weeks; I can’t say I was especially excited about the idea. I had been to similar camps before, usually the activities were geared toward kids much younger than myself and I had felt babied.

As it turned out, going to Indian Trails Camp was one of the best experiences of my life. The activities I was left out of at other camps, like archery, swimming and rope courses, were all adapted so that every camper was included. The beds and showers were accessible, the staff was mostly made up of first or second year college students, and they treated us like friends instead of clients.

Indian Trails Camp changed my life. It gave me the confidence to be just me and to embrace my disability, instead of trying to overcome it. It taught me how to adapt things to fit my needs and that with a few adjustment I could accomplish anything. Indian Trails Camp is where I had my first kiss and met my first boyfriend. It is where I made lifelong friends.  It is where I found acceptance and inclusion for the first time.

I know sometimes difficult experiences can turn us off to new things; but if you are from Michigan, have a disability and you’ve never gotten to experience summer camp, I encourage you to give Indian Trails Camp a try. It is never too late; there is even a camp for adults. Give yourself or your child a summer they will never forget.

Home Alone? Tips on Staying Safe and Sane.

My husband is an avid outdoorsman. He likes to hunt, fish, camp, and go for long walks in the woods. A few times a year, he goes on what I call a “man-cation.” I call it this because, generally, women are not welcome on these trips. Not that I want to be invited. Spending a few days cooped up in a cabin with no access to running water and sleeping in close proximity to a bunch of snoring men does not sound like my idea of a good time.

He really enjoys these trips; getting some time away from the daily grind in good for him. However, this also means that I lose my primary source of transportation while he is gone; which means we have to plan for what I will do while he is away.

Generally, I try to plan my own trip, or have a friend come stay with me while my husband is away. This is as much for boredom as it is for peace of mind. But if the timing doesn’t work out and I do have to spend a chunk of time alone, I always make sure that my family knows when he is leaving and when he will return. My Mom and in-laws are just minutes away in case of an emergency. Additionally, I like to set up a “check –in” schedule with them; this way we can check in with each other once a day, and if I cannot be reached they come over to the house. This might seem like a silly thing for an adult to do, but because I don’t use an aid, this is very important in case of a bad fall or something similar.

Besides making sure that I have someone on hand in case of an emergency, I also like to stock up on easy meals. Spending half an hour to an hour cooking for one just seems silly to me. I like to buy frozen skillet meals, because they taste better than the microwavable ones and I usually end up with left-overs. Also they are really simple to cook, with no chopping or measuring; just put in the pan for seven minutes and you are good to go.

The last thing I do when facing a week alone is make sure that I have a project and a nice long book to keep me entertained. I have just started the Game of Thrones series which I heard from a friend is “epically long.” Of course, I love Stephen King, but his novels tend to not be the best when home alone, though some of his less scary work would be a good choice. My favorites include Heart of Atlantis, The Green Mile and The Long Walk. My project of choice is of course sewing, but being without my husband for a few days is also a great reason to get some organizing done, or trying a DIY project seen on Pinterest. The best part? No one is around to her you swear.

 

Traveling with a Disability? Some Simple Tips.

Traveling with a disability can be a daunting experience, especially for the novice traveler. However, a little preparation and some knowledge can make the experience of getting to your vacation destination easier and less stressful.

For those who are traveling by air this vacation season, be aware that TSA has increased their security screening procedures. It is recommended that the passenger with a disability arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before departure to accommodate for additional screening should it be deemed necessary. Keep in mind that TSA procedures vary by airport, but below is a list of general expectations when going through the security process.

1. Many airports utilize full body scanners. Being cleared through the use of this device deems additional screening, including the pat down, unnecessary.

2. If the airport does not have a full body scanner, the traveler can expect a pat down and swab screening. The pat down has become more thorough in the past few months which has caused both anxiety and embarrassment for some travelers. Private screenings are always available, and if you are uncomfortable it is okay to request one. (It should also be noted that you have the right to have a friend or family member accompany you to the private screening area.) The agent may take a piece of cloth and rub braces, crutches, wheelchairs, prosthetics and your hands for explosive residue.

3. Prosthetic wearer, please know that you do NOT have to remove your prosthesis (or the shoe on your prosthetic) to be cleared by TSA. If the request is made, you may ask to speak with the supervisor and politely point out the concern.

Packing an appropriate carry-on bag can eliminate a lot of stress and potential obstacles for the traveler. It is recommended that the following items be included in the carry-on bag:

1. For amputees, pack additional socks of various ply (keep in mind that changes in altitude can cause the volume fluctuations)

2. Prescription medications and over the counter pain medication

3. Lotion (these handy bottles assure that you are always within the size restrictions allowed by TSA)

4. Hand sanitizer to facilitate donning your prosthesis (again, be sure to keep the bottle small and within the one ounce limits)

5. All adapted equipment which may not be easy to locate at your destination should your luggage become lost

6. Name and phone number of your pharmacy and physicians, should you require refills or information on your trip

7. Handicapped parking hang tag (so that it can utilized while at your destination) Packing some simple amenities can make staying away from home more comfortable and accessible.

You might want to consider bringing a suction cup grab bar and folding shower stool. Although most hotels provide a shower chair upon request, the requests are honored on a first come/ first serve basis and there is often no guarantee that one will be available when you check in. In my experience, sanitation of the shower chairs provided by some hotels has been questionable and I simply feel more comfortable bringing my own compact version.

Taking some extra time to prepare can help thwart a vacation catastrophe. Most importantly, have a great time and don’t let your disability keep you from enjoying the adventures of live. Instead of being limited, strive to become an Unlimiter! Do you have a vacation tip that you’d like to share? Email me or post it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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