Carlton jumping in here for a blog post.
First off hasn’t Dan done a great job with the blogs?! Much better then I would have done. So I just want to give a little insight into doing a long travel like this as a paraplegic in a wheelchair, I’ve been in a wheelchair for 11.5 yrs. I’ve done fair bit of travelling, quite a bit domestic, and trips to the United States and two overseas flights previous to this trip. I always know I need to expect something to not go as planned in the wheelchair. So no different with this trip. In order to better explain these challenges, I will break this post into three categories: Flying, Transportation, and Misc.
Domestic flights and flights to the States have always been a breeze. The only thing advised to do is give a call to the airlines after i’ve booked the flight to give them the dimensions of the power wheelchair and battery information. The battery needs to be a dry cell battery or airlines don’t allow the wheelchair onboard for safety concerns (which my battery is). For this trip I had forgotten to call ahead to give that info but that should be no worries as long as I give myself enough time at the airport.
Jumping back to beginning of trip in Oct our flight out was at 1:30 in the morning, in order for the person dropping us off at airport not to get back at crazy hour in the morning we got dropped off around 9pm, plenty of time at the airport for checkin. We needed to wait about an hour for check in to open, and this is where the fun began.
The checkin staff right away started making a big fuss about the power wheelchair. Asking for a lot more details about the battery specifications on top of if it was a dry cell battery or not. After 2.5hrs back and forth we finally were ok’d to be checked in and head to the gate. This was over the top and way more hassle then necessary. Anyways, on the plane and Thailand bound, no need to fret over that any further. So i didn’t expect any further complications with the battery of the wheelchair, but like they say expect the unexpected.
We went to check into our flight from Thailand to Singapore a few weeks later. (I’d booked this flight via the phone and they had asked for all the details of the dimensions and battery information.) The fun started all over again when they said the battery would be a problem and that it would need to be disconnected, and if it couldn’t be they’ll need to just refund us our flights. (which later we were told we should never disconnect the battery because that can cause problems when you go and reconnect it) After a long back and forth we tricked them by unplugging a wire that had nothing to do with the battery and we showed them the wheelchair couldn’t drive. They were happy with that thank God.
After that I was all leery what complications my flight from Singapore to Brisbane would bring. I called in to Emirates airline and they confirmed there should be no issues. At check-in for our flight from Singapore to Brisbane once they heard the battery was a dry cell battery there was no issues thank God.
Dan and I knew transportation would be different with the power wheelchair in Thailand but had a few different ideas in order to reduce the hassle. Our plan was to rent a truck in Thailand to get from Phuket to Hat Yai where we visited a friend of mine. When the time came to arrange the rental we ran into some problems, talking to different rentals a few allowed for the vehicle to be dropped off in a different city, however they either didn’t have anything big enough for us or required a minimum rental of 5 days. Well this wasn’t going to happen. So we had to come up with a different plan, we couldn’t take a bus due to the power wheelchair. We had taken an SUV taxi from airport to hotel a few days before so we look into that. We did find one taxi that was willing to make this 8 hr drive for a price that was expensive but a price we could live with. It took some fancy packing to get everything packed into the SUV. Packing a power wheelchair, 2 suitcases, 2 duffle bags, 2 backpacks a guitar and the manual wheelchair in there. Hats off to Dan for completing the puzzle.
Few minor problems:
My power chair was getting a little low after a couple days in Thailand so we went to plug it in. We realized we forgot the one cable for the charger but any computer or screen cord works. We borrow one from the front desk and after a few seconds smoke came pouring out of the charger. We hadn’t taken into account that Thailand had 230v power where the charger was only made for 110v.
A friend in Hat Yai did some electrical work and he took a look and spent some time on it but the charger was past repair.
So at this point a few more days had past and the wheelchair was getting low especially considering I didn’t have a charger. I figured I should be ok until Brisbane. While in Singapore I bought a new charger, so problem solved, or so I thought. After some time in Brisbane I found my wheelchair battery wasn’t lasting as long as it should especially seeing I had got new batteries put in it in Sept before we left. When the wheelchair technician replaced the batteries I found out what happened. When the batteries are dead for a long period of time they slowly loose life. Mine had been about dead for 3 weeks. So what seemed like a quick repair with a new charger wasn’t.
A week and half in our Ozzy stay Dan an I were heading to get groceries (a 30 min walk.) on the way back when I crossed a street I heard something go through my fender of my tire. I took a look but couldn’t see anything that I drove over, we continued home. Once home I felt like I was leaning a little to the one side, I looked over and saw I had a flat tire.
Well I jumped online and saw who I could get out to fix my tire. One phone call I made they were backed up a couple of weeks even for emergencies. They gave a couple of pointers and I found another one online and called and they were out the next afternoon.
There was also the fun of looking around for medical supplies that I would require for my time in Australia. Thankful for some tips from the local spinal cord organization in town they gave some good suppliers to call for my supplies.
So visiting different sites/tourist spots /hikes can be mixed results in regards to accessibility. Here’s one reason I thank God for Dan, he has done really well in going the extra mile and bumping the wheelchair up or down steps, pushing the wheelchair up really steep hills, over rough terrain just to get me to a spot for a good view. This started right away in Asia and by the time we were in Australia I knew what he was willing to do for me in that regards. Which resulted in some really good hikes. This is one of the things that has been a lot of fun seeing the different responses we get when we are off the accessible track or some where there isn’t any. Shortly after arriving in Australia I looked into options to make trail hikes easier. I found this freewheel which has help so much on trails. The regular small wheels can be such a nuisance on trails with small rocks or roots.
Now I’ve always been up for a challenge that’s how God made me. So for me to be travelling around and proving that with a friend, or a community you can pretty much do anything, I give God the glory. I know God allowed me to have the accident that left me in a wheelchair for a reason, and for me to be seeing that I am an inspiration to those around me fills me with joy and I pray that I allow God to continually work through me to show others the Love God has for each person out there.
How can I, a guy in a wheelchair, be smiling and happy to be alive? First off because I know God loves me. Second of because of His plan of salvation. He sent His Son Jesus to earth to live as an example for us and to die on the cross to free us from our sins that we can live in an amazing relationship with God. I can call Him father, and you can as well.
Third I have an awesome family and great friends which have been great support and help to live my life in a wheelchair. Couldn’t do life without you guys!