When the family I worked for at the time asked me to travel to Paris with the, as a nervous flyer, I had some questions. Their answers wouldn’t end on me saying no though. It was just nervous questions. It was a bitter sweet trip for them. They used to travel often as a family. Near and far, mostly far. During their last big trip, their daughter had a major medical emergency, which then contributed to her ABI and a full physical and developmental disability. After that, life changed. They camped, visited farms and drove to Disney, but not big trips like they were used to. Their daughter was 5 and their youngest 1, it was time.
I sat beside Janelle* and her sister on the plane. We held hands, I did all her G-Tube feeds and kept her comfortable. I wanted to give mom and dad a break, even though they were so worried and stressed. We shared sitting beside Janelle, they were really worried about how she would be during the flight. It was okay and there was some sleeping.
When we arrived in Paris, the transition was seamless. We waited on the plane until they got her manual chair. They got it out and brought it up to us on a platform lift (that every airport has). They came to the right side, opened the door, her dad walked onto the platform, put her in her chair, and then we walked through the plane to the right hand side to left and entered the airport. The entry way from door to door of the plane would be big enough for someone with a power chair also. They do this so that you’re not getting into your chair in that little gate where everyone is standing. We did notice her chair had a part broken off. They were somewhat responsive, and paid for the damage. It was still stressful talking to them. We could still use the chair, but we needed to tape and wrap a part tightly and then we bolted it on.
Arriving at our swap shared apartment was eventful. The elevator fit about two people. This made this unaccessible for us. We would take her out and someone would ride up with her, with one holding her and the other ready to open the door to carry her into the apt. Then, downstairs, someone was folding the chair into four pieces, to load into the lift and bring them all up. Once up, we would put the chair together again. We got very specific about when we went out, how long and if it was even worth it.
Paris was amazing and somewhat accessible. We didn’t do subways as getting into them proved to be tough. We did the Louvre, Eiifel Tower, fancy cafes, walked a lot, parks and fancy cafes. That was a highlight, food was amazing. Janelle enjoyed the sun on her face, hanging in the apartment with me and her sister, the Eiffel tower, and sometimes the arguing that happens when people travel together.
Overall, this was somewhat accessible, lots of fun and filled with adventure.
Illinois next, stay tuned….Published in