Late on a Saturday night, I arrived home from my first vacation where I was unable to walk from place to place. Yes, as you already know, I was in a wheelchair for almost the entirety of the trip. I say almost, but I’ll get to that later.
The idea behind the vacation started when my mom’s friend Jackie told us she was moving. We decided we would help her move to her new home near Raleigh, North Carolina then go on our merry way. These plans changed a bit but despite this, we started in Raleigh, then planned on moving on to Charleston, South Carolina before we ended our trip at Amelia Island, Florida.
Unfortunately, I was on a new antidepressant and it caused me to be catatonic and lose my appetite. Most of Raleigh and Charleston are a blur to me and I feel pretty awful about my mom having to deal with not only our first vacation with me in a wheelchair but also my drugged self.
Regardless, she shouldered on an handled the situation extremely well. Due to my less than functional state of being, however, we spent more time than I’m proud of at the hotels until we arrived in Florida. I made the executive decision to stop taking my antidepressants at this time. For the record, let me say this – never just stop taking a medicine prescribed to you by your doctor without consulting with them first. I know I did just that, but it’s not the appropriate way to handle that kind of situation. After I stopped taking that pill, things got a whole lot better for me and I think my mom as well. I got my energy back and was ready to seize the rest of our vacation.
This is about when the Beach Incident happened.
What is the Beach Incident, you ask? Well let me tell you, my stubbornness got me into this incident and my pride was the sacrifice to get out of it. Since we were in Florida, naturally we wanted to go to the beach. I used to not like the beach but with age I’ve grown to truly enjoy it. My mom knows how much I like it looked up ways to get me onto the beach safely. She found a place where we could rent a wheelchair made for the sand. I was so embarrassed by the idea of it but I tediously agreed to the special chair. For some reason, however, I decided I didn’t need it on the day we chose to go to the beach. I decided I could get by with my crutches.
I’m an idiot.
Correction: I’m a stubborn idiot. Part of having MS means that I’m sensitive to extreme temperatures be it hot or cold. These extremes exacerbate my MS symptoms. I knew this fact and still I made this silly choice. I give myself a headache just thinking about it.
So, mom and I go to the beach and I use my crutches to get down near the ocean. At this point I’m feeling pretty confident. We set up camp and I lay out, baking in the hot Florida sun. Mom lays out too then goes for a swim in the ocean. While she was gone, I start to feel it. The uselessness of my legs kicking in causing them to become noodles. By the time mom gets back, I’ve realized how huge of a mistake I’ve made. I tell my mom just this.
Mom then hefts me up to where I’m on my feet and we start the journey back. I make to to about thirty feet away from the wooden ramp that leads to and from the beach when it happens. I face-plant right in the sand. And this time, I’m not getting back up. Realizing this, I start to drag myself across the sand knowing if I could just get to the ramp I’d be okay. Thirty feet turns into twenty. A young girl walks over to us and asks if we are okay and need help. Then a man comes over. Then a man in a truck drives over.
Soon, I have a crowd of about 7 people including two very attractive lifeguards surrounding me. They all want to help me. Mom leaves to go get my chair and bring it as close as possible while the people standing around me try and decide how to get me up. Finally, the first man who arrived on scene just picks me up and carries me off the beach. One of the lifeguards trails him and so does the young girl.
Mom was upset because she knew how embarrassed I was. She was trying to give me options on what we could do instead. I was being mopey and said I just wanted to hang out in the hotel room. I could see how upset this made her as we drove back to where we were staying, so I put on my big girl panties and said I wanted to go to the pool. Thus ends the Beach Incident.
As it turns out, swimming makes me feel a whole heck of a lot better than I normally do. I found this out day one of vacation and had been frequenting the pools of our hotels since then. It helps my muscles to relax and not stiffen up like they usually do. I feel amazing when I’m in water. This is a welcome discovery that I’m glad to have made. I’m gonna try to incorporate swimming into my weekly routine once I return to Bloomington. I hope that maybe this will help me stay in shape and limber.
One other thing I discover is that people are generally super accommodating to people in wheelchairs. At least, they were for me. I was treated very well by everyone I came in contact with, from the boy on the boardwalk in Charleston who gave me free grass-woven flowers to everyone who served my mom and me in restaurants to the hot guy who flirted with the girl in a wheelchair. It made me feel better about everything that’s happening and made me realize that things are going to be okay. Yes, my life is going to be completely different but as long as I let myself I can still be happy.
All-in-all, this experience was just that – an experience – but not awful like I imagined it would be. I’m very much glad for the experience and everything I learned while I was away. But mostly, it was nice to just be somewhere else for a change.
So, that was my story this time. Not a lot and mostly centered around one incident but here it is – my soul, bared for all to see. Okay, okay. I know I’m being dramatic now. Until next time!
~ Jessa ~