How To Recover From a 20+ Hour Flight

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This week I am going to return to my 2013 trip to Australia. After the ordeal that was the flight over, we were exhausted. I was cranky, and my mom was hobbled by an ankle injury. Hopefully if you ever make the trip to Australia you won’t arrive in nearly as bad of shape as we did, but just in case I highly recommend you do what we did and spend your first three days on the north shore in Cairns.

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Yeah, the extra flight was brutal, but it turned out to be worth the extra hassle. By the time we finally arrived we only had energy to order room service and collapse into bed at 7PM. By the time we awoke 12-13 hours later we felt a hundred times better ( except for my poor mom’s ankle).

 

Cairns is a tropical paradise with luscious rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef just off its shoreline. On the first day we took an old train to the top of a small mountain that included stunning vistas and a scenic waterfall. The train was accessible, but the only accessible car didn’t have enough seats for our friends to sit with us. The views were spectacular however and at the top and it was pretty easy to get around the little town. There was a great little animal park where you could see native animals and birds up close. Most of these are quite exotic.   On the way down we rode in a gondola over top of the rainforest canopy. You could hear the animals and catch a glimpse of the occasional bird many of which are brightly colored. The secret to a gondola and accessibility is to make sure the gondola has totally stopped before trying to board. This was no problem at Cairns as everyone was very helpful.

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The next day we took a glass bottom boat and semi submarine to the Great Barrier Reef. This was truly wonderful and made me envious of those that scuba dive. The semi-submarine wasn’t really accessible in the traditional sense but the staff was great helping me get down there and they had a glass bottom boat that was accessible and gave almost as good a view of the reef. We had leisurely meals every night and woke up on the third day rejuvenated and ready to fly back to Sydney.

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Helpful packing Tips

 

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Arguably the most important part of any trip is also the most boring, least anticipated, and most often procrastinated aspect. Packing. Everyone hates it, but if you’re not careful you can end up on a week long vacation with two pair of underwear and three socks.

 

I have a couple useful tips that can help you pack at the drop of a hat for nearly any excursion. These are stolen from my mom, who is an experienced traveler capable of packing for a three-week trip to Europe in a couple hours.

 

We will start with some ways to permanently pack some things. You will need a part of a drawer or a box in your closet to designate as your travel box. Also a box of (1) quart and (2) gallon zip lock bags (those with the pleated bottom so they are a little bigger and stand up better), (3) few index cards and (4) a permanent marker.

 

Today lets start with non-prescription meds and other first aid supplies. This will take you through most any minor medical emergency with no need to find a pharmacy in the middle of the night. Who wants or needs to interrupt your vacation for a Tylenol or a band-aide?

 

We will pack a quart zip lock and you will never have to unpack it again – Pick it up, drop it in your carry on and you are ready to go. Remember to check the suggested list of items for any allergies you might have and substitute accordingly.

 

Buy or lay on your counter the following- try to buy your pills in blister packages not bottles

  1. Box of different size band-aides
  2. Tylenol
  3. Advil or similar drug of your choice
  4. Throat lozenges
  5. Your favorite cold pills (Claritin plus is what I use)
  6. Imodium or other antidiarreheal
  7. Ranitidine (zantac) or similar
  8. Pepto-Bismol tablets
  9. Benadryl capsules
  10. Small ace bandage
  11. Small cortisone cream
  12. Small Benadryl cream
  13. Gauze squares – 10-15 small
  14. Cohesive wrap- one package
  15. Alcohol pads 5-6
  16. Tooth adhesive- 1 kit (only if you have any dental crowns!)

 

 

Take your index card and write down the dose of each med from the box – for example

Advil 2 tablets every 4 hours for pain.

Also write the date of expiration of each med from the package.

Now take one blister pack of each med out of the package (if you can’t find blister packs put a few of each pill in a sandwich bag and label the bag with the name of the pill using your marker or a file folder label and fasten the bag with a twist tie) Remember you just need enough of each med for 2-3 days. If you still need it after that you are probably going to need to find medical care.

 

Put in your bag at least 2-4 of each size band-aides, a few gauze squares held together with a rubber band, your cohesive wrap and alcohol wipes then your card of med instructions, then a few throat lozenges to fill the corners. Put in your meds. Add the tube of Benadryl/cortisone at the very top so you can easily remove it. When you throw your meds in your carry on- drop those tubes in your liquids container so you don’t get in trouble with security. Date the bag with the month and year you pack it. Replace expired meds once a year (you already listed these on your index card). I usually attach the ace bandage with a big rubber band around my zip lock.

 

Throw this in your drawer/box of travel items and you never have to pack this again. Also next trip when you turn your ankle you have everything to clean the scrape (gauze pads and alcohol wipes) apply band-aide and use ace bandage. Replace any items used as soon as you get home and you are good to go.

 

Check in next week for how to manage any prescription meds you have to take.

I have added links for some recommended items.

 

I would love to hear responses and additional items you use.

Happy travels and remember All Access Travel can arrange any and all of your travel in the most convenient and safe manner available. Just contact me at dbox@cruiseandtravelexperts.com.

 

The Importance of Being Prepared

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Back in March of 2013 I traveled to Australia for three weeks. The trip was amazing. I saw a great deal and had some wonderful experiences. I can’t wait for the opportunity to return. Getting there, however was something of an ordeal, and I learned a valuable lesson as well as discovered a piece of equipment that no traveler should be without…

 

We left for the airport early in the morning, arriving at the terminal three hours before our scheduled departure. The initial flight from Charlotte to LA was without incident. After an eleven hour layover in LA (our flight was booked using long hoarded miles so we were at the whim of the airline), we boarded the sixteen hour flight to Sydney. The length of this flight alone caused problems with my time sensitive medicine, but this was an issue I had dealt with before. Regardless, it complicated getting onto the plane and the inevitable trip to the bathroom.

 

The real fun began when we touched down in Sydney, a mere 35 hours since waking up the previous morning 18 time zones away. My mom and I were both exhausted, not even sure what day it was, and not done with our journey yet. We still had a three hour flight to the north shore before we could spend a few days recovering and unwinding. Complicating matters, we were not meeting up with our travel group until we reached Cairns. So we were left to navigate the Sydney airport on our own. The airport provided a pusher as far as baggage claim, but we were left to navigate the bus between the international and domestic terminals ourselves.

 

This left my poor mother with two large suitcases, a bookbag, her carry-on, and me to negotiate on board a crowded bus. Oh yeah, and it was raining. As she was hoisting the suitcases up the wet and slippery ramp her ankle turned badly and she nearly went down in pain.

 

This is the point in the story where some kind gentleman normally comes to our rescue and helps my mom with the rest of the luggage, but on this day there was no such savior, just a line of people staring dumbly and looking agitated at the holdup. My mom is normally the self-reliant type who hesitates to ask for help, but on this occasion she had to turn and ask a young man who was just standing and watching her struggle to ask for assistance.

 

When we got to the domestic terminal the comedy of errors continued. We were told the airline did not have anyone to assist us to the gate, even after I complained personally and showed them my mom’s black and blue, swollen ankle. They also insisted we check my wheelchair and use one of theirs which was much harder to push. We took the long journey to the gate and then after about an hour in the terminal reaching our gate we were told that our flight had been canceled. Finally we were able to locate someone helpful who had to rebook us through Brisbane to go to Cairns.

 

Eventually we made it to Cairns and, after a good sleep, enjoyed our time there immensely, but we learned some valuable lessons in the process. None of this would have been possible if my mother had not had anti-inflammatory meds in her purse (she had both ibuprofen and prednisone). Most importantly, however, she had an ace bandage in her carry on and was wearing athletic shoes. Without these we would have had to interrupt our trip and would have probably missed Cairns which turned out to be a highlight of the trip.

 

My next couple of posts are going to give you some tips on what and how to pack for unexpected events.

 

Also remember the blog has a new name, Wanderingwheelchair-Allaccesstravel. You may need to resign up to follow and be sure and share with your friends.

Foldable Power Chairs

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This week I want to talk about equipment that has helped make traveling more

convenient and enjoyable for me and that I hope will do the same for you. Even if

you don’t use a wheelchair regularly or if you normally push your chair this product

will totally change your travel (even just your local travel) experience.

Folding power wheelchair

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I originally purchased one of these from Australia (Portashopper) a couple

years ago. It worked wonderfully for travel and totally changed my ability to get

around when away from home. It broke and due it being from Australia we were

never able to get it repaired, despite extensive efforts. The design has since been

picked up by three US vendors. I bought a new one and have had minimal problems.

We did have an issue with one of the wheels, but it was no problem getting it

replaced as it was still under warranty. The chair has excellent casters that handle

bumpy terrain, even cobblestones, without a problem. This is huge in foreign travel.

It folds to size a small enough to fit in virtually any car’s trunk and weighs roughly

forty pounds (all parts included). Even my Mom can pick it up and put it in a trunk.

This opens up the possibility of use of regular taxis rather than a specialized

handicapped van.

Some downsides to the chair are that it is not very comfortable for sitting any

extended length of time , and the footrest makes it a little tricky to get into and out

of, but these are minor issues relative to the freedom it provides. The battery life,

especially with the dual batteries is excellent (many miles) and ease of use and

turning radius are pretty good but it is not quite as easy to control as a heavier

power chair.

Another negative, at least at the time I bought it, was that it was not FDA

approved so insurance wouldn’t pay for it. If that has not changed already it may in

the future, and the cost was very reasonable compared to other medical equipment.

There are several very similar versions and I can recommend the concept

totally. My current one is an AirHawk- check out these links:
Smart Chair – Electric Wheelchair

Original Foldawheel PW-999UL with Travel Bag

Stylish heavy duty Foldawheel PW-1000XL

All Access Travel is available for all your travel needs whether you have

limitations or not. Just contact me at dbox@cruiseandtravelexperts.com. Send me

your questions and feedback on any type of folding chair you use.

Update and a Short Story

2016 Panama Canal Cruise-All Access Travel (7)

I haven’t posted in quite awhile. One reason is I haven’t really done any exciting travel of late. The other reason is I have experienced some problems with the renewal of my domain.. You’ll notice thst the domain has changed to wanderingwheelchair-allaccesstravel.com. it may change again in the not too distbtr future, but I’m not sure when so stay tuned to Facebook and twitter for that. Like I said I haven’t done much interesting travel of late, but I do have a few updates for you and then I’ll share something I wrote and submitted recently for publication..

First of all we’re all set for our November cruise and I’m really looking forward to it. We have a group going but there might be room for a couple of add-ons so if you’re interested please contact me at dbox@cruiseandtravelexperts.com.. Secondly, we are planning aPanama Canal cruise for September of 2016. This package includes the 16 day cruise, airfareto San Diego and from Ft. Lauderdale, and optional shore excursions from the ports of call..Lastly, I’ll sharte this story I wrote about my dog that recently passed. It may or may not ap[pear in an upcoming issue of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Duke, my Schnoodle

            “Mom, I want a puppy.” It was one of the first things I had spoken in months. I had suffered a massive bleed in my brain, due to a malformed blood vessel that ruptured when I was seventeen. When I first woke up from the coma, I could move only my eyes, but gradually over the next few weeks and months I was able to move my right side pretty well and my left side a little bit. My speech, however, was slow to return. Nobody was quite sure why. It was probably a combination of things, a perfect storm of environmental and neurological factors that combined to make my recovery arduous and frustrating.

My mom witnessed my struggles. Everyday. For five long months she and my father sat diligently by my side as I fought my way to some semblance of a recovery.

When I was finally discharged from the rehab hospital, one of the first things I wanted was a new puppy.

So my mom drove me to a breeder to chooser the puppy of my choice. She decided on the breed, a schnoodle, and I didn’t object. When we got to the home of a pleasant middle aged lady she brought several puppies out to the car one at a time so I could see which I bonded with.. the first couple looked more like classic Schnauzer’s , except for the slightly curly hair as opposed to a fur coat. But they were either black and white or all black.. They were a little stand off-ish, as Schnauzers tend to be, and I wasn’t really enamored with any of them.

Then she brought out an all white one. As soon as she sat it on my lap he immediately crawled up on my shoulder and began ferociously licking and nibbling at my ear. When he tired of that he moved to my stroke-affected left hand, clearly determined to “fix” it. This was my puppy. Without a doubt.

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On the drive home I carried him in my lap, which seemed like a good idea. It wasn’t.he became violently car sick and vomited on me no less than half a dozen times. From that moment we were inseparable.

I named him Duke after my favorite college basketball team, and he was enrolled in obedience school. He was to become a therapy helper dog.

The trainer never had any success with Duke and was exasperated with himself and Duke . he couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t get any semblance of cooperation from my dog. Until one day, when my mom arrived to pick him up from his lesson and ipon seeing her he took a flying leap into her arms and assumed his favorite position. One paw planted on either side of her neck and his bottom resting on her folded arms. Suddenly it all made sense to the trainer, Duke was being spoiled rotten at home. Shortly thereafter hw had officially failed obedience school, and gone were all of our lofty aspirations for Duke as an agent of rehab and recovery.

Little did we realize thst Duke would become a much greater form of therapy for those lonely and somewhat isolated years of my life. Every time he entered a room I was in he jumped onto my shoulder in a mad scramble to get at my ear. He put in many hours of “therapy” on my left hand in a noble attempt to get it to function properly. But most of all he just made me forget all my struggles and remember the joy of living in the moment.

He wasn’t always the best behaved or exactly “housebroken”, but he was the sweetest dog I could have asked for. And up until his last day he remained loyal and never lost his affinity for licking my ear or trying to get my left hand to work.

Today I have recovered a great deal. I live alone and am self employed. I have a blog called Wandering Wheelchair on which I write about my adventures traveling the world and advocate for others with limited mobility to travel and see the world. Duke passed peacewdully in 2015. We still mis him, but are thankful for all the joy and good memories he brought to our lives.

 

All-Access Travel

I am excited to announce that I’ve acted on my ideas mentioned in previous posts and created All-Access Travel. I have partnered with a friend who has over a decade of experience in the travel business to create this boutique agency. We will specialize in escorted small group cruises and land tours for a wide range of clients including those with limited mobility or other special needs. We also offer complete travel services and custom itineraries for couples, families, and small groups of all descriptions.

 

We have relationships with all major cruise lines and tour operators, as well as with destination specialists in over 80 countries. These relationships help us create leisure travel itineraries designed specifically to desires and needs of our clients, whatever they may be. Through our affiliation with Cruise and Travel Experts, we have access to over 600,000 hotel properties , tour operators, local tour guides, and transfer services around the world

 

Our initial small group offering is an Eastern Caribbean cruise sailing out of Miami on November 14 and returning November 21. Included in the package is airfare from Charlotte to Miami and back, airport transfers, and optional custom shore excursions. More info on the shore excursions to come in future posts. All will of course be customized to suit our group’s needs. If you’re interested you can call or email for more information. dbox@cruiseandtravelexperts.com or 704-608-4689

Cruising Eastern Caribbean with David

Professional Travel Services-David Box

Cruising Eastern Caribbean Registration

A BIG Idea!

Travel has aided in my recovery in incalculable ways. It has tested my boundaries in capacities I would have never been able to otherwise. It has challenged my independence and forced me to adapt to fluid situations. It has taught me to rely on others when necessary and given me faith in the kindness of strangers. It has broadened my culinary and cultural horizons as well as taught me that most people are proud of where they come from; for panoply of varying reasons that are all justifiable. Travel has helped me to appreciate the nuance in culture and that experience is determined not by where you are or even what happens, but rather by the people you share your memories with.

 

And so when I think about all of these wonderful things that I have learned from my travels, I of course want to help others see the world and hopefully gain something that they didn’t even know they had lost or were in need of. Because that’s the beautiful thing about every trip I take, I always come away with an appreciation for something that I didn’t even know existed. Even if I knew it existed I experience a different level of realization to see it or touch it or just breathe in the same atmosphere.

 

This is when I had an epiphany. Surely there are more people who have a hard time getting around that would like to see the world. Their reasons for difficulty could be completely dissimilar, but the common denominator is that they are apprehensive about slowing down their travel companions or being a burden or simply fear of the unknown. I want to help these people check off their bucket lists. Go anywhere they want and experience things they never thought possible.

 

I want to know what you think about this idea and whether or not you could utilize such a service. Will you please do me a big favor and take just a few seconds to respond to the very short poll I have included

 

School Day

So the other day I went to a third grade class with my physical therapist. The third graders at St. Gabe’s elementary were just finishing their unit on human anatomy and Catherine (my PT), wanted to do a presentation for her daughter’s class. When she asked if I would mind going with her to demonstrate some of the assistive technology that helps me to walk I. of course, agreed. I have two little nieces that are younger than Catherine’s children, but I adore children and find their questions about me to be rather amusing.

So when we got there I mostly sat quietly and listened to Catherine give her spiel about me and the work she does. I smiled and waved back at the little girl who was grinning and waving ferociously at me, and I chuckled at the little boys who stared open mouthed in my direction. The best part was their “questions”. Almost every child in the room had their hand eagerly raised, straining to be called upon. Most of the time when called upon the question was really a statement that started with “this one time…” or” I knew someone…” Sometimes they were surprisingly relevant and perceptive, like the one little girl who asked if I could feel things on my left side. By far the funniest comment came from a little boy who asked me, and he was very careful to phrase it in a question, if I knew what it was like to have a T-Rex arm. I tried not to laugh because I didn’t want him to think he was asking a dumb question. But it was pretty funny. When I replied, “Yeah, sort of.” He just gaped and said, “Lucky…”