Walkin’ and a Wheelin’
I knew there was a strong possibility that I would need a wheelchair at some point during my stay, but I really wanted to avoid it, if possible.
It was probably just pride and not wanting people to stare at me. And they will. Let’s just clear that up right now. I also felt like I would be an imposter. Certainly there are people who really need a wheelchair. I just needed one because my feet and legs hurt. When we went to Animal Kingdom I concocted a theory that, biologically and at our core, we are all animals. In the wild, if an animal is hurt and dying, they are often left by themselves with Arnold the Ape saying to everyone else, Sucks to be that dude. Or, it’s the signal for other animals to attack. Easy prey. So that’s part of the reason why we don’t want to be seen as weak or injured in, say, a wheelchair. It’s a primal fear. I think my theory is genius. Mike patted me on the head.
Clearly the cleaning staff agreed with me.
I knew after our Friday night at Epcot that I was going to need a wheelchair at some point the next day. Our night at Epcot was lovely, despite the pain in my legs and feet. I was able to mitigate the pain with lots of sitting and booze. Unfortunately the night ended in tears. We stayed late for Magic Hours so we could ride Soarin’. Standing in line for 30 minutes did me in. I could ignore the pain if I was moving or off of my feet, but the feeling of hot knives stabbing the bottoms of your feet is pretty hard to ignore while standing still. And once I rode the ride, I didn’t even have the satisfaction of my waiting paying off. Seriously? Soarin’ really wasn’t any different than the experience they used to have over at Magic Kingdom, where you were surrounded by 360 degree theater screens and felt like you were moving with the screen. Really the only difference was that we hung in chairs from a gondola and had air blown in our faces. Plus, the picture wasn’t in high def and was blurry and made Mike and I queasy. Once I got off the ride, I hobbled to the bathroom, where I received the final insult: a tampon trashcan cut me. (Wouldn’t that be a great movie title? “Epcot Tampon Trashcan: The Final Insult”, starring Steven Seagall and Lucy Lawless!) You know, those silver boxes on the wall? As I sat down to pee, I snagged my pinky finger on its tetanus-y hinge. (Now I’m pretty sure I have chlamydia or something.) I burst into tears and gave in to my pain and exhaustion.
By the end of Animal Kingdom, I felt sick, worn out, and wishing my legs could be disconnected from my body for awhile. We napped at the hotel and then made our way to the Magic Kingdom via bus transportation that runs through the parks and resorts. I decided a wheelchair was in order.
A quick word about transportation while in a wheelchair: Almost every time we boarded a boat or bus to get places, Disney cast members went out of their way to help and make sure I got on first. One bus driver even kicked some guys off trying to board the bus while I was getting on. Every driver, save one, that pulled up came out to ask if I needed to board their bus. But sometimes, you have to be assertive. We ended up not being able to board a bus because the driver didn’t make them wait until he pulled up to the stop and people are dicks and packed in the bus.
Mike was able to easily secure a free one through the concierge. There were also plenty of chairs and scooters available to rent within the parks. The chair was nothing special, just a worn, standard chair. If I was by myself, I was able to learn pretty quickly how to wheel myself around. I quickly discovered that a non-skinny person would need a wider chair. I fit into it just fine, but the fact that my thighs touched the metal sides quickly became a problem. The metal panels, heated from the friction of the wheels, burned the sides of my thighs. This prevented Mike from walking too quickly or required that I suck it up and endure the burn. So it may behoove you to find a chair that’s wide enough for that not to happen/ones without metal sides, rent a scooter, or bring your own chair. Mike said he’ll want to rent a scooter next time so he wouldn’t get worn out pushing me around. In most places it wasn’t a huge issue. But in places like the hills between Fantastyland and Frontierland and the fast pass lane of Space Mountain, it got a little dicey. All in all, I’m glad we had the chair. I wasn’t in nearly as much pain as the night before. The night still ended in tears, but that was because I was exhausted and scared to death by the Haunted Mansion. Because, apparently, I have the same grasp on reality as a 3 year old.
Part 5 will focus on riding the rides as someone with fibromyalgia and navigating the rides while in a wheelchair.