Lifesmarts

Life Gear

cartoon car and aids

Summer means something different for everyone. For kids it’s freedom from school classrooms and for teachers, it’s freedom from kids. A bit of free time seems to be enjoyed across the board and that’s when most people plan …can you guess? Summer holidays!

One of the favourite events that happen for us during the summer is attending outdoor music festivals, usually those of the folk and blues flavour. My partner, known around our house as Sweet Pea, hosts a popular folk music radio show so we get to attend a lot of excellent shows and festivals. Sweet.

Most outdoor events get my vote …except for camping. I know that some folks with disabilities enjoy camping but I am not one of them. And to be fair, at this stage in my health journey sleeping on the ground would be anything but refreshing.

MY partner tells me she enjoyed camping in days gone by and based on the amount of camping gear that she gave away, I bet she misses sitting by fires and sleeping in a zipped up bag. I’ve noticed that campers travel with a lot of gear and that certainly hasn’t changed, what has changed for her is the nature of the gear that comes along for the ride when we travel. Let me the first to admit that traveling with my life gear is no small task. However, I do think camping prepared her because she’s an expert at packing and squeezing everything into the car.

Before we go to a music festival we first have to know if the location is, in fact, wheelchair accessible. Once we know the festival grounds are doable, we next have to locate and book a hotel nearby that is also accessible. We’ve done this for a few years now, so we have this down and each year we try to include one more festival to expand our roster.

While we are at the festivals I report about accessibility, but I bet you already guessed that, and Sweet Pea does MCing on big and small stages and often interviews musicians for her radio show too. We both thoroughly enjoy the music; you could say it’s “our thing”.

So with patience and precision Sweet Pea packs my scooter (and it’s charger), a walker for me to use in the hotel room, and my night-time breathing machine, which speaks for itself. And, of course, our suitcase, camera, phones and computers, we never travel anywhere without those either.

Sometimes I feel guilty that she must do all the lifting and lugging on my behalf, but she tells me, “It is just a part of who we are”. Huh – it never occurred to me that my disability had a “we” factor; I always thought it was mine alone. An acceptance between us has evolved concerning my health challenges and my life gear; the devices are non-negotiable. Overall, I’ve discovered the ‘weight’ of my disability is a whole lot lighter when it’s shared.
We’re ready to roll!

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