Okay, so the title is un-PC.
This is the first time in a very long time that my wife and I have gone on a mini-vacation. My wife has muscular dystrophy, and has to use a walker.
What did we find? In motels without elevators you may have to trade off a good view with being able to reach your room. The room we chose was on the second floor and there was a ramp leading up between the floors. It was very difficult for her to make it up and down the ramp. We kept the room and did the ramp anyway, she felt the view was worth the strain.
Thinking you don’t really need a handi-cap accessible shower can be problematic. The room had a bathtub/shower combo. It has very hard for her to get into the tub, and even harder for her to keep her balance while standing. At home we have a separate shower, and she can grab hold and keep her balance. In the shower/tub, you only have something to lean on on two sides. The back is nothing for a long way, and the entry side is just a shower curtain. Keeping her balance while showering took more out of her than the ramp!
Ramps for restaurants can be problematic when you are worn out from the day. We realized places met basic rules and had ramps in place. Since my wife uses the walker, there were times she was too worn out to make it up the ramp. So we did take-out, and I brought meals back to the motel. Most places were fine with that, but the Back Porch was rude about it, and did not offer take out. We will not try it when we go back to Cades Cove, even if my wife is up for the ramp.
Gravel and dirt paths that used to be simple are now a problem with my wifes balance problems. She was able to visit the Primitive Baptist church at Caves Cove, but that was the only one.
What we’ll do in the future:
We will need to get a wheelchair. While my wife is upset about the loss of freedom with using a wheelchair, in some ways it gives more freedom. She would not need to worry about falling, and me (or one of my sons) would be more than happy to help her around while site-seeing. A wheelchair would have helped getting into restaurants that we avoided.
My wife has run into problems with her walker at restaurants and church. She has been told it was in the way, and staff moved it, stating they would bring it back when she needed it. That brings problems – you gotta ask for your walker to go to the bathroom? If there is a fire, would someone bring her the walker first, or would she be at risk? At church you have to ask for your walker to go to communion? Come on!
I’m not sure how we’ll address this in the future. I’m not sure how we’ll pick rooms, (view? accessibility? handi-cap accessible bathroom – or just bring a shower stool?). I’m not sure how we’ll do restaurants. Use a wheelchair to get in? Do take-out and stay away from places that don’t offer it? Search for a website that checks out vacation destinations for accessibility?
At least things have changed a lot from when my father-in-law had to deal with it. He became paralyzed in Germany in ’63 while in the service. He hasn’t able to get in most places (that was long before the ADA act) – and would often chose to stay in the car with a book and wait for folks to bring him dinner from the rest. or wait for folks to come back from site-seeing. There are things to be grateful for, but there are things we’ll need to address and plan for.