Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Ya mon 3

Attach a Jamaican accent to that, and you have the theme of our long weekend in Jamaica. Ya mon.

The blue, blue Caribbean – this is not a doctored photo! Taken from the air on our way home. I have never seen anything quite so stunning.

Everything was good, the transport, food, the sun and sea and even the accessibility! But, yet again, I learned that life away from home is tiring.

As much as I would like to think I am completely independant…I’m not. 

I travelled with my brave and wonderful friend, Melissa.

Here’s a list of things that were frustratingly difficult.

  1. I do not have the capacity to carry two suitcases. I took one small suitcase for my things (that I can carry on my lap), and the second one was my shower chair. Boy is it heavy (30+ pounds)!
  2. Trying to roll anywhere while seated on that shower chair. I automatically reach for my large wheels with the pushrims – but this chair has just four little self-locking wheels. If there is something to grab on the wall (i.e. door frame, towel rack, drawer handle) then I can sort of direct myself, but otherwise I’m stuck – especially on a floor that is not level (i.e. a sloping shower floor). Also, it doesn’t go straight. Ever. AKA the sideways chair – which had nothing to do with the driver.
  3. Although the bathroom was pretty well set up, I’d be wet – because I couldn’t reach the towels.
  4. Trying to get undressed (i.e. wet bathing suit) while seated on my shower chair. It is one that breaks down and fits into a suitcase. It is stable enough, but it makes me appreciate my giant “Raz” shower chair that I have at home, for although it is large, it’s solid.
  5. I couldn’t see myself and dry my hair at the same time. The mirror was not low enough (nor angled) and the dryer was attached to the wall (at a height I would not have been able to reach anyway). Yes, Melissa dried my hair for me too 🙂
  6. Opening and closing the curtains…the resort tried to make this work, a long curtain-pull with a handle, but I’d have to get on to the bed to use it – the bed was too close to the sliding door to make that inventive pull useful.
  7. Getting around at this resort was great. All the buildings were accessible (except the gym) but I did accept some pushing on the few slopes to try and give my right shoulder a rest.
  8. I have to be organized. Knowing what I want to wear the next morning and putting it in the drawer beside me means that I don’t have to get up, get my clothes and then get back into bed to put them on. Having a friend meant being able to forget something, saving energy for getting to the beach.
  9. Too much heat/sun is still not good, I did my best to keep out of the direct sun, so having a friend who is willing to drag the lounger (or stack of loungers) through the sand to the shade of a different palm tree was essential.
  10. Ever tried pushing a wheelchair in sand? Enough said.
  11. Sunscreen on my back? Well, no one can do that!
  12. Flying was much better than any other time. WestJet had the proper working asile chair (or, as I found out, a “Washington”) ready for me to load first. Where the help comes in is with my backpack, lunch and all the parts that “fall off” my chair – cushion included. And I can’t exactly reach the overhead bins.
  13. Four hours of flying was quite enough, the closer we got to home, the worse my nerve pain got. Was that because I was flying? Going home? Or was it just a day for nerve pain? I’ll never know.
  14. And, as Melissa reminded me, it’s just better to travel with a friend! Who likes to go somewhere without someone else to talk to, make laugh or make fun of!

Having said all this, it was learning. Which is life. I had thought, that at some point in time, I’d be able to travel on my own…I have a lot to figure out before that can happen.

We had a great five days. Full of music, a little dance and lots of sun – all healing for the soul.


  • Dianne says:

    Julie…I envy you so much…I am a C567 Quadrapalegic …I had my motor vehicle accident in Oct. 8th 1999… I have not been able to be independent since… I go everywhere with my husband…I am not complaining because he is amazing…how do you do it all on your own…I read all your blogs and admire what you are doing, Dianne

  • Joan Hukezalie, OCT says:

    Hi Julie,
    Request assistance from the airline. They meet you at the entrance to the airport and see you through check in, baggage drop, and security and get you right to your gate. I know you want to be independent but this is one time the help expedites the process.
    I love what you are doing for all of us! Love you, J

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