It’s not just about the ferry boats

Traveling can be a challenge for those with disabilities. Yet there is this natural wish to discover new places and make experiences. I have always loved to travel and thinking I couldn’t go anywhere alone again made me feel depressed and lonely.
Still I happen to go on one of my biggest journeys in less than 2 weeks. I’ll be going to the USA and meet some lovely friends. They are also fighting POTS and if it hadn’t been for my illness I’d never have met them.
With the end of September a new season began: Fall! But I’d rather call it travel season because the last time I fell was four weeks ago.
I went to Greece for one week with my sister. Greece is such a nice place to be. The sea was warm and shimmered in all shades of blue. I tried not to focus on my disability but still the boundaries and obstacles I face everyday were present sometimes. Everyone was nice and helpful and the usual amount of attention I unfortunately always attract surely wasn’t missing. A lot of people asked about my condition and I am now a pro in explaining my current situation with only 3 sentences. My nervous system isn’t working properly. I often faint, like every one or two weeks at least one time. My heart rate changes quickly from 70 to 140.
I keep saying these sentences over and over again so that I sometimes wish I had an information sheet with me, to pass it to strangers. It is exhausting to talk about it over and over again, however awareness is so important as POTS is often only diagnosed  after years of health problems. So here is another link to dysautonomia international where you can read something about POTS and other conditions within dysautonomia.
Sitting in a wheelchair the number one problem are stairs. I don’t get why people have to build so many of them. This is really challenging and I am lucky to be able to walk a bit. That saved me. Otherwise I could not have gone into the sea or even to the beach. Another step example are sidewalks. How can one build a sidewalk that goes down on the one side of the zebra crossing but on the other has a step so high it’s impossible to access the sidewalk. So you either have to avoid those sidewalks or cross the street somewhere else. What’s more annoying are the stairs to many restaurants and bars. This makes me sad because inclusion can be so easy, so why aren’t we focusing on it more?
I started writing this article while sitting on a ferry boat with no elevator. That’s why me and my sister sat on the platform with the cars. No windows. A good time to start writing. I totally get that a ferry boat doesn’t necessarily need an elevator for the two to five disabled guests that go on it every other week, but it’s not just about the ferry boats. Thanks to my optimistic side I can quickly overcome feeling discouraged. Still whenever I’m in the mood I try to organize the next trips which is not only time-consuming but also anticipates the possibility of discovering something spontaneously. Because sometimes, I have to admit, I wish that I had rather known before that it wasn’t possible to access whatever place with my wheelchair, it would have saved me from a lot of troubles.
There are often informations about the accessibility of places but unfortunately people often think that wheelchair users are some sort of magical wheelie-making jumpers. Well it seems that most people in wheelchairs can do a lot but jumping over a step that’s 30 cm high is at least not in my stock of capabilities. Also some elevators are extremely small and my wheelchair is not the biggest, still there is often now chance to access an elevator.
I often say that going places with a wheelchair always is an adventure no matter how often you have already been somewhere.
Now I’m not sure how I will manage to bring all my baggage from place to place as I’ll be traveling around a bit in the USA. A suitcase will be hard to carry, even those with four rolls are hard to push because I need both my hands for the wheelchair. For Greece I took a backpack and another bag that I managed to put under the wheelchair. But in Greece it was summer and I didn’t need a lot of stuff and it was also only for one week. For this trip, I have to pack for three weeks and it will be colder, so I will need more warm clothes which all need a lot more space than my summer clothes. I read an article of a guy in a wheelchair and he uses a six bag system, as he calls it. Maybe I’ll try that.
Also I try to concentrate on my diet a lot more at the moment, as I think it’s also very important besides the meds to help my body stay in a good condition. I’m not eating dairy and try to avoid processed foods. Due to time and other reasons I don’t always manage to stick to my resolutions. You can follow my journey on instagram claire__as

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