Attending events and doing speaking engagements is only part of what comes along with the title of Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota. The other part is participating in the Ms. Wheelchair America contest for the 2012 crown! My biggest focus so far has been getting ready for my trip to Grand Rapids Michigan August 1st-7th. I am one of twenty-seven contestants who are all hoping to win and represent the millions of people in America with disabilities. It will be a very busy week packed with workshops, field trips and judging sessions.
It has been a bit of a challenge preparing for this amazing opportunity. I have not flown anywhere since before my car accident, so I’m not quite sure what to expect. Before making any final decisions, my family and I did a lot of research about flying with a ventilator and how the whole process should work. We found out that getting me on a plane and making sure I was safe was only going to be half the battle; there was figuring out what equipment I would need, how to pack it all, what nurses should go with and how many, what things I would require when I’m out there, and then most of all how we were going to pay for everything.
We decided to have four nurses go on the trip. Two will fly out with me Monday, August 1 then fly back Thursday, August 4. Two more will fly in that same day and then fly out with me Sunday, August 7. They will each work three full 12 hour shifts, and then Thursday will have to be divided. I’m hoping that everything goes okay with the flights, because I depend so heavily on the nurses to be there. My physical therapist will also be coming with to help stretch me and decrease any pain.
Since I couldn’t possibly bring all of the supplies that I use during the week on the plane with me the supply company that I use now offered to ship everything that I will need. We also found a company in Grand Rapids who can supply me with a hospital bed, a Hoyer lift, and any other equipment that I require. They will also be my backup company in case I run out of something during my stay. I will have all my emergency equipment on the plane with me in my carry-on and then everything else will need to be packed and checked. This includes my clothes, personal items, and things I use on a daily basis.
The total cost for the trip includes three hotel rooms, eight round-trip plane tickets, dinners and events, and the initial contest fee. I’m very thankful that we were able to get most of the things paid for with donations. A lot of people contributed to my cause, which was wonderful to see. This included big corporations, friends, family and the anonymous.
We discovered that a lot goes into planning a trip for a week being a quad on a ventilator. It isn’t like I can just book a flight, board the plane and go. There are many decisions to make and things to put together in order to be safe and comfortable. I’m very excited for this upcoming adventure and new challenge!
What challenges have you faced while traveling or preparing for a trip?