Say HELLO to my new friend

I received a present! A big and unexpected one! It’s red, it has 4 wheels and it’s fast.
No – it’s not another wheelchair! It’s a Mobility Scooter!

 

Stories like the following one are a rare but powerful example that good people still do exist. I went to Mc Donald’s last week for lunch. While I was looking at the menu, a lady came next to me and asked if I would like to get an electric Scooter! For free!!! She explained that she worked for a disabled man who would like to give his old Scooter away to someone who could really need it. We exchanged numbers and the next day we went to the man’s home.

 

Mister J is also affected by Muscular Dystrophy. J seemed to be the kind of person who prefers not to talk about his condition but he appreciated it that his assistant had found a young woman like me to give the Red Devil to. As a symbolic gesture I offered him some nice Swiss Pralinés and there it was – finally a little smile showed up on the man’s face. He said he loved chocolates which made me feel even happier!

 

The Scooter is in a perfect condition. I only needed to buy new batteries to make it work again. It runs 15 km/hour, which is much faster than my electric wheelchair :-)!

 

I’ve already done a first tour around Cap d’Antibes. Such a great feeling to feel the wind in my hair and to not worry about how long the batteries would last (as my wheelchair batteries are not very powerful). Freedom, here I come!

 

I’m so grateful for this perfect present of the Universe! THANK YOU so much, J and N, for your kindness and your big hearts!

 

Enough for now… My Red Devil is waiting for me!

 

Airport Trouble

Some weeks ago I took a flight leaving from Nice/France to visit my friend Nina in Cologne/Germany. The flight was leaving at 12:45 pm. As always when I take the plane, I was picked up by Francy, a close friend, two hours before departure. Usually there’s plenty of time left when we arrive at the airport. But not this day…!

 

We wanted to park at a special parking in the parking lots for handicapped. Next to these lots there’s a telephone booth from which you can call the service assistance for passengers with reduced mobility. But actually this day there was a stand of Mercedes AMG installed on the parking lots for disabled and the whole area was blocked by barriers. Luxurious, powerful, prestigious cars everywhere! Francy decided to not obey by opening the barriers. We passed through and saw that the telephone booth was completely out of service. An Airport employee came straight to us and we were rudely asked to immediately leave. He didn’t even take time to listen to our explanations and obviously didn’t care at all. The man turned and walked away while I was asking where else we could park.

 

The thing is that my friend can’t lift me due to some back injuries. I felt sad and angry about this guy’s arrogant behavior and about the fact, that luxury cars are obviously more important than offering accessible parking spaces. I asked my friend to drive elsewhere.

 

We decided to go to the security guys, whose job it is to open and close a gate directly in front of the terminal’s departure area. It is possible for people with reduced mobility to park there for 30 minutes as I know from my own experience. I showed my disabled parking permit but this time the guards wouldn’t let us in. For what ever reason. As I started to speak to one of the guards he did neither look at me nor was he listening to what I said. My friend was very angry. Suddenly I felt so tired by these people’s ignorance and their “I don’t care”-attitude… The feeling of not being respected grew in my heart. Personally I am not used to be treated that way. Most of the time I am treated attentively with kindness.
Anyway… Time was ticking, so my only concern was to get my flight. Too much time had already been waisted with our attempt to park. We stopped at another car park. Luckily a friendly passerby was willing to lift me out of the car into my wheelchair! His gesture of kindness made me immediately feel better. Thank you, dear stranger! Francy took me to the counter, I got my flight ticket and a service assistant was called to help me through the security check.

 

Finally flying to Cologne

Finally flying to Cologne

I was boarded only 5 minutes before the flight was leaving. The Eurowings Crew was very welcoming and they even upgraded me. Once when all doors were in flight, I finally took a deep breath and made myself comfortable. The airplane took off and all the stress of the past one and a half hour was left behind. I was so looking forward to meeting my German friend who I only knew through Facebook and Skype!
A new adventure was up to come!
Up in the air

Up in the air

Little Miss Turtle Toothbrush

I only want to buy a toothbrush

Strange encounters

 

When you are in a wheelchair, people tend to tell you their whole life including all their diseases and worries. I mean situations like this one: About a year I ago my brother and I were strolling through Hamburg when suddenly a strange woman came out of nowhere. She stopped next to me asking loudly why I was sitting in a wheelchair. She didn’t give me a chance to answer her question as she continued holding a monologue about her friend suffering from multiple sclerosis and about all her own health issues. Just like that – out of nowhere. Kind of strange, isn’t it!? The idea of asking a stranger anything about her or his health would never even cross my mind.

 

Up to now I’ve never found an explanation for the WHY? Is it my wheelchair that invites people to explain their “suffering” or their troubles in life? Or is it my friendly smile? Is it to make me feel better? Or to make them feel better? Is it to show, that valid-looking people also have problems with health, relationships or what ever? Is it because people expect me to understand? Or simply because they need to pour their hearts out? Please let me know if you have any ideas! Most of the time I listen patiently to people’s stories but sometimes I simply don’t want to hear their private stuff. I’m not yet a therapist – I’m only a young woman sitting in a wheelchair.

 

The other day I was in a big drug store with the intention to buy an electric toothbrush. A simple plan. While I was standing in front of the shelf, studying the different models, a pleasant salesman joined me. I briefly told him what I was looking for and asked for his advice. He told me that he would buy model XY and started to ask about my disability right away. He was kind of a funny, nerdy guy and within 5 minutes I knew about his relationship, his divorce, his taste of women (luckily I didn’t fit) and – of course – about all his health issues. I nodded and nodded and after 20 minutes I finally managed to escape with no toothbrush. I’ll get in on Amazon!

 

What kind of weird experiences with strangers did you have? Let me know by contacting me or by leaving a comment below.

 

 

Air France Airbus A320 Paris CDG

Nice surprise at Paris CDG Airport

I lately took a flight to Paris CDG Airport together with my boyfriend. After landing, a nice disability service assistant helped me to leave the airplane. He lifted me back into my wheelchair and accompanied us all the way to the arrival zone. At the exit, he asked us what we would do next. I replied that we would go to our hotel and that no more help was needed as we came here often and knew how to get to our destination.

 

The service assistant wasn’t satisfied with my answer and kept on asking where we would spend the night. His insisting way of interviewing us was very uncommon – I really didn’t know how to deal with it! It made me feel slightly uncomfortable. My boyfriend replied that we would sleep in a hotel at Roissy, not far from the airport. The service assistant then wanted to know the exact name of the hotel. “Okay …”, I thought, “Why is this guy so curious? What might he be up to?”. But friendly as I am, I told him where we would stay, with a slight note of impatience in my voice.

 

Finally he informed us, that there was a free shuttle service especially for disabled travelers and that he would call this service right now to take us directly to our hotel. “Why didn’t he tell us right away about it?”, I asked myself with a sensation of relief. The assistant explained that he had been doing the assistance job for more than 20 years and he only wanted to make sure that we would reach our hotel without any trouble. He continued that he took his job very seriously which I confirmed noddingly.

 

As a frequent wheelchair traveller, I regularly fly to Paris CDG. However, no one had ever mentioned this shuttle service before. So in order to make this very involved assistant happy, I decided to give it a try for the next morning. The service shuttle picked us up at our hotel at 07:30 am. It felt like being some kind of VIP as we were the only 2 passengers. We were back at the CDG airport within 10 minutes. What an unexpected surprise! I’ll surely take advantage of this great shuttle service again!

 

 

Little Miss Turtle Strange Encounter

You are so charming, Miss!

 

Strange encounters – A true story

 

Yesterday I went to Cannes to meet a friend. While I was waiting on the sidewalk in my wheelchair, a scruffy, unkempt looking man stopped next to me and said “You are so charming, Miss!”. I looked up, surprised by his words. I thanked him when he continued “It’s such a pity for you to be in a wheelchair! You are so beautiful!”. He inspected my wheelchair and said suddenly that I had a bad life. “What the hell is wrong with this guy!”, I asked myself.

 

“Me, a bad life …! This man has no idea!”. I answered straight to him that my life was not bad at all and that it was only a matter of opinion. The man obviously didn’t expect such an answer and acted kind of embarrassed. He grabbed my hand and shook it with an awkward smile on his face to say goodbye. He left with a “Stay strong!” and walked away.

 

I regularly experience those kinds of strange and at the same time funny situations. It’s a weird feeling to explain a stranger that I do live a happy life and that my wheelchair is a natural part of me. After this short conversation I had to smile and I thought for once more that I could write a book about all my adventures!