What really happened?

The other day I may or may not have been in an accident.  I honestly can’t say.  Maybe you can tell me?

No have I have not been drinking, doing drugs, or lost my mind in any other way.

You know how there are 3 sides to every story?  His side, her side, and the truth?  This is one of those cases.

I was coming up to a RED light at busy 4 way intersection like the one pictured above.

In Illinois, unless it is posted otherwise, you can make a right turn on red after you have stopped and made sure it was clear.

In this story, I am the orange car and Dude was the green car.  Dude stops, then lets off his brakes to proceed.  I  move forward to get a better view of the traffic coming from the left, see that it’s clear, and step on the gas. Then I SLAM ON MY BRAKES.  Dude is still there, stopped in front of me.  :O

InkedInkedInkedintersection 2_LIMy first thought was HOLY FUCK, that was close!!!

Then, Why isn’t he moving?!?!?

Dude gets out of the car and just glares at me.

I think, Aw Cmon…this can’t be happening.  I didn’t actually Hit him did I?  I even asked him, “Did I actually hit you?  Dude approaches my car yelling, Hell yeah you hit me.  Are you gonna make the next 4 years of payments on my car?!?!?  Then he goes to look at what may or may not be a scratch on his bumper.  He knelt on the ground to get a closer look.

From where I am sitting I don’t see a scratch, but there is No way in hell am I getting out of my car with him yelling at me like that.  When he stood back up and started to approach me again, I said,  “Ok, let’s call the cops, and file an accident report.”  He stopped dead in his tracks.  Then he went to look at my bumper, and back to his.

I said, “Why don’t we pull over and call the police.  If I hit you, then it was my fault.”  (I may be wrong but I believe the law states that in a rear-end collision the party in the 2nd car is at fault.)

When he stood up again, Dudes whole demeanor changed.  He was actually smiling when he said, “Ah naw, we don’t have to do that.  It’s really no big deal. Don’t worry about it.”  “Are you sure?”  “Yeah it’s all good.  You have yourself a nice day.

He got back into his car and drove away.  As I pulled away from the intersection,I thought what the hell just happened?!?!?  Did I really hit him?  How does someone go from “I’m gonna kill you”  to all smiles in under a minute?

When I got to my destination, I went to look at my front bumper. There is absolutely no damage to my car.  Not even a scratch.  I don’t remember FEELING any impact, but I could still hear the sound of my brakes as I hit them.

While I will never know what really happened, I am curious… Do you have any thoughts or opinions?

 

 

 

 

Leaving your phone in a Lyft driver’s car

I walked into the hotel room at 12:30 am to drop off my bags and to park the wheelchair.

How do you reach your Lyft driver if you forgot something in their car?

When I walked into the room, “T” was awake, and still fuming about the height of the bed.  I unburied my tablet and asked T to use her phone.  Actually, I don’t think I asked, I think I just said I was taking it.  She  continued to complain about the hotel saying I needed to talk to the manager.  I put my hand up and said,  “we need to be awake at 4:30″, I can’t do this now.  I have to find my phone, or I won’t be going anywhere tomorrow”.

I headed back outside with phone and tablet in hand.  I sent several text messages to my phone hoping the driver might see them on a pop up.  I called Thing One to tell her that I had lost the phone and maybe I needed her to put a hold on it.  (My family each pays her $50.00 a month and we share unlimited everything on her account) I asked her to find a phone number for Lyft to report the loss.

She responded with the following screenshots:

This is all good in theory,   If you know your passwords.  I don’t!  My niece set up the Lyft app on my phone during my Boston trip over a year ago.  Crap ! Crap! Crap!

I filled out the Contact Lyft form using the hotel’s phone number and my email address for which I also don’t know the password.

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I suspended myself from most of my accounts trying to guess the passwords.  Those that didn’t suspend me, sent a verification email to my LOST cell phone. SMH!!!!!

Just as I was going to surrender… I remembered that my neighbor works nights…maybe I could call her?   IF only I actually knew her phone number instead of only having it stored in my phone?!?!?!?

Ah but wait a minute…we are friends on Facebook..and that is the one password I remember.  I sent her a message on Facebook messenger asking for her phone number and then called her from “T’s” phone.  It’s probably a sad thing that she wasn’t surprised in the least that I needed “bailing out”.  I asked her to go to my house with her key, and I would tell her where to find my list of passwords.

When I logged into my email account there was a message from Lyft that the driver had found my phone.  Somehow I was able to contact him and beg him to bring my phone back to me.  Lyft charges a $15.00 returned item fee.  I paid that and tipped him $20.00.

At 3:15 a.m. I finally crawled into bed.  Exhausted

At 4:45a.m, there was a knock on the door.  It was the front desk guy Brent.  He had spent most of the night/morning outside smoking with me while I tried to get my phone back.  He promised that if he didn’t see me surface from the room by 4:45 he would “bang” on the door.  He had also set up coffee and set out some of the cold breakfast items even though they don’t start breakfast until 6.  Yes I wrote an outstanding review for him and the hotel.

Grace: “T” We need to get going

“T” (from the bathroom), I’m working on it.  I’m gonna need you to help carry some of my bags.

Grace:  Growl….BAGS?!?! As in multiple?!??!?! How am I supposed to carry anything while I’m in a wheelchair?!?!

LOTS of cuss words

probably even a few more

I don’t even remember her response.  I loaded all 3 of her bags and my one bag onto the wheelchair and headed to the lobby to arrange the LYFT.

I’m going to insert a copy of the review that I left for Rosebud Taxi Service which explains in more detail how we ALMOST missed our train.

I am from the Chicagoland area, where Lyft’s are frequently used and also usually readily available. I made the poor assumption that they would also be readily available in Holland, MI. While I was able to use their services from the Amtrak Station in Holland to my hotel where I was staying, I was unable to locate a driver to get to the station at 5:30 in the morning. My companion and I were both traveling in wheelchairs, so I began requesting a ride using the lyft app at 5 am even though we did not need to be at the train station until 6:30. From 5 to 5:45am I could not find anything. At 5:45, our hotel receptionist had found the number for Rosebud Taxi Service. I called and explained our situation to a very nice gentleman, who not only apologized profusely that they wouldn’t be able to help with both chairs on so short of notice, but also gave me a phone number for a competitor who might be able to help. Who does that?!?! Wow! After speaking with his competition, I don’t think they are any competition at all, their response to my dilemma was, “sorry nope nothing we can do.” I went back to trying to obtain a ride from lyft, only to have the one driver cancel the ride because in his words, “I’m 20 mins out for a 4 minute ride, not worth my time.” I did explain that we would tip very well and would probably have to be transported separately. He said, “ no I’m cancelling.”
I think I literally cried to my companion to please call rosebud back while I continued to try to use the Lyft app with no luck. After explaining our tale of woe again, the owner of the company stopped what she was doing in her personal life and came to pick us up herself with a vehicle large enough to hold both of our wheelchairs. I have to ask again, “Who does that?” I am so grateful that there are people in the world who will still go the extra mile to help “rescue” someone in trouble. I truly feel that she “saved” us. It is also important to note that she didn’t charge us any extra for our additional “luggage or needs”. I wholeheartedly give Rosebud Taxi Service 5 stars and would recommend them to anyone!

I didn’t feel it necessary to add that the owner and T could/did not help me load the wheelchairs or luggage into the SUV.  BUT that’s when the BREAK happened. Everything happened in such a rush, I honestly don’t remember the exact point it happened.  Maybe I dropped one chair on top of the other?  Maybe I closed the seat on my finger?  In fact I am sure I did both of those things.

In the short 10 minute ride to the train station, my finger turned black.  Oh shit…. The ONE thing Einstein said before I left, “DON’T BREAK ANYTHING!!!”.  There was no doubt that it was broken :(.  Didn’t matter though, we had a train to catch.

I didn’t even try to use the wheelchair other than for baggage on the way home.  The fact that “T” was able to though without the use of her legs also supports that it is doable.

In closing, other suggestions I have for traveling alone in a wheelchair are:

  • pack as light as possible
  • print your tickets etc Do NOT rely on your phone
  • TRY to get some sleep.  (I’m pretty sure the 1 hour I got is what lead me to getting sick when I got home)
  • Plan for back up options should your original plans fall through.  (multiple transportation and hotel options.)
  • Know your limitations
  • Call your hotel or transportation method to check heights, dimensions etc.  It would not be unheard of to ask for pictures of your accommodations before committing.

As a side note, while the ADA suggests a bed height of 20-23 inches in handicap accessible rooms, although, it is NOT a requirement.

0726192149a

 

 

 

Mission failed. Objective accomplished

My mission- in my own words

“Travel from Northern IL to Holland, Michigan and back without the use of my legs.” 

My objective  

To not only test if the Amtrak and Metra were handicap accessible, but to see if I could make it there and back in a wheelchair.

Wait a minute, the mission and the objective sound the same?

I thought so too, but the trip proved to me that I was sadly mistaken. The phrases “being in a wheelchair” and “not having use of your legs” are NOT synonymous.  I stated in my last post,

to make it an accurate Test, the circumstances need to be the same.  So with the exception of driving myself to the train station, ( I would be willing to pick her up and drop her off) I have made all of my travel plans from what I FELT was the perspective of someone who does not have use of their legs.

I also made the statement that….”I do agree that just because something SAYS it’s handicapped accessible, doesn’t mean that it actually is.”  While I did use the wheelchair, I did use my legs to pivot to the toilet once I was as close as I could get the chair.  I also climbed in bed ‘normally.’  I did not pull myself onto the bed.  I stood up and climbed in.  No wonder not everything that says handicap accessible is handicap accessible, how can you cover every possible limitation that someone might have?

Because I view every mistake, or experience as a learning opportunity,  I’ve been doing alot of reading and research about different levels of disability and the laws and services that are in place to as the ADA says

give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.

Another thing that I found interesting is an article at https://www.apa.org/pi/about/newsletter/2015/11/handicap-disabilities, which describes the difference between disability and handicap.

Defining Disability

First, what does disability itself mean? A disability is a condition or quality linked to a particular person. A disability is present when activities usually performed by people (such as walking, talking, reading, learning) are in some way restricted. Thus, someone with congenital blindness has a disability, as does someone who must use a wheelchair for mobility purposes. Other disabilities are not necessarily apparent, for example, acquired brain injury or chronic depression.

Defining Handicap

In everyday life, some people use the term handicap or refer to people with disabilities as the handicapped. The first term — handicap — refers to an obstacle imposed on people by some constraint in the environment. Older buildings that lack ramps for wheelchair access, for example, present a handicap for people who use wheelchairs. In this case, a wheelchair user is handicapped — her mobility through use of her wheelchair is disrupted — by the missing ramp. However, she actually is not handicapped herself; rather, the handicapping element is in the environment, not within her.

So while I accomplished my ultimate goal or objective by proving that I could make it to Michigan and back in a wheelchair,   I did not prove that EVERYONE in a wheelchair could make this trip.  I’m not saying they can’t, but I am saying that I didn’t challenge myself in this way.

Later this week I will share the story in a  “Grace style” post telling you THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH about my “adventure”. Einstein gave me one instruction before I left.  HE said, “Don’t break anything”…. I laughed.

I shouldn’t have.  😦

**Spoiler alert**

The trip CAN be made by someone without the use of their legs.

 

 

 

 

My Italian Adventure part 1 of 5?

Before I begin to talk about my “Italian adventure”, it is important that I stress that all of my travel plans were with airline buddy passes.  If you aren’t familiar with these, let me briefly explain.  When you travel using a BUDDY PASS (an employee benefit), you are able to fly for free or dirt cheap on flights that have unsold seats, but you are on standby. This means you don’t know if you have a seat on the plane until moments before the doors on the plane close.  I was aware of this before I started my trip.

Monday morning 5/20/2019

I woke up at 5 am. (actually I think 5 am is more the time I gave up trying to sleep, and began moving.) I “Coffeed”, showered, put on a DRESS , and…wait for it….a little bit of make-up. This is another thing about the buddy passes, you have to “dress up” . I threw a couple of last minute items in my carry on, TRIPLE CHECKED that I had my boarding pass, passport, and bus ticket for when I arrived in Italy. Check, check, and check.

I checked the standby list and was still at number 2 (my chances were good that I would make it on the plane.) Whooo hoooo!!!!

My dear friend Brian arrived at 7 am to take me to the airport. We spent the hour plus drive catching up on all the things that had been happening in our lives since the last time we were able to “hang out”, almost a year ago. Traffic wasn’t bad, in fact we arrived early. He dropped me off at a door that had wheelchair access and assistance was just inside the door. ANOTHER win.

I checked a large suitcase.  Having a medical condition makes traveling for any amount of time with just a carry on, very impractical.  ( Pads, diapers, waterproof pads, medication, surgery shoe, etc)

Going through security was a breeze, other than a small oversight on my part which COULD have been very embarrassing. I was able to STAND in the scanning machine instead of having to be completely felt up. I didn’t have to take off the boot, and the lines were relatively short. WIN WIN! The moment that could have been embarrassing was when they had to open and inspect my carry on because I forgot to remove my laptop. DOH!

I arrived at my gate at 9:15 and immediately checked the standby list again. Number 17?!?!?!? What the hell had happened in the last 2 hours? Did everyone suddenly feel the urgent need to travel to Milan?

After people watching (active listening) for about half an hour, it was more than obvious that the standby list was going to continue to grow. The 9 am flight to NJ (My first stop) was cancelled because of the storms that were pounding the east coast.  So all of the customers that missed the 9 am flight would be squeezed onto later flights.

As a NON PAYING CUSTOMER, getting me on a plane was of very little importance to anyone but me.  Ok, I knew this COULD happen, let’s make the best of it. I chatted with several other passengers which made the time pass pretty quickly.  I looked up other flights that were leaving for NJ, and there were several, before my flight from NJ to Milan would leave at 6:30 pm.   Chicago to NJ is a 3 hour flight, and there were flights leaving at 10:00 am, 11:30 am (my flight) and 2:15 pm that would allow me to make it to NJ on time.  CLOSE, but still on time.

I waited at the airport and watched the 10:00 and 11:30  flights depart without me.  The airline personal said that it was only going to get worse, and may feed over into the next day. I was number 45 on the standby cue for 2:15, so  at 2 pm I  “gave up”. Again, I KNEW this COULD happen but  I certainly didn’t expect it.  I had asked my friend Marisa a couple of weeks ago if she would pick me up if ended up stuck.  I made the bail me out call now.

She picked me up from the airport and we went back to her house where I could use my laptop to explore any other options that might be available. During this time I began searching the airlines for flights to NEW YORK, PA, or Dulles that might allow me to still make a connection to Newark in time for the 630 flight to Milan. While I could fly from O’hare to any of the other states without issue, the lists for flights into NJ were all full.  Hmmmm what if I rented a car and drove to NJ from one of the other airports?  Probably not a good idea considering my right (driving foot is still in a boot).  It’s one thing to drive with my left foot  on country roads where I know how to avoid the traffic, but not very smart and probably illegal to do in a big city.

After researching all the options, we decided that I might as well try to catch one of the 4 other flights to NJ that night.  The flight to Milan had over 30 seats available for the next 2 days, so if I could at least get to NJ, half the battle would be won. I would just need to stay in Newark for the night.  ( yay hotel points)  So back to the airport we went.  If I didn’t get on one of the flights, Marisa would come back and get me at 9:30 pm and I would just crash at her place.

The trip through security this time did not go as smoothly.  (not terrible, just not smooth)Inkedbody scan_LI

While I remembered to take my laptop and tablet out of my carry on bag this time, I forgot to take off my sweatshirt, and to remove my cigarettes and lighter from my pocket.

So this is how I appeared on the scanner. ( lighter on my hip and zipper from my sweatshirt in my groin)

The sweatshirt and cigarettes had to go back through the x-ray machine, and the poor TSA agent had to reach between my legs.  She grabbed the poise pad I was wearing and asked, “what is this?” As we looked into each other’s eyes….We had a moment…. kidding.  I said ” a pad”, she said, Ok” . Kind of awkward :/ .

She finished her inspection of me. I re-packed all the items as quickly as possible in my carry on bag  and quickly moved away.  10 minutes later I realized that I had not recovered my cigarettes and lighter.  YES, we had to turn around.  No one in security could find them, so I shrugged it off :(.  As we were approaching my gate, the security girl came running up to me with my cigarettes and lighter.  This time, we did have a moment.  I even told her I loved her 🙂

When we arrived at the gate, I immediately checked the standby list and learned that I was number 33.  😦  I spent the next hour and a half catching up with the “new friends” I had made earlier in morning ( the other people that were stuck at the airport).  At 6:10 I heard one of their names being called to make the flight (#8) and went over to “congratulate” him.  As I leaned against the counter, I felt something move behind me.  It was his laptop falling off of the counter.

broken-laptop

(This is not his laptop, but it did look as bad as this 😦 )

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What had I done?!?!?!  How do you apologize for something like that?  He said, “don’t worry about it”, as he picked up the pieces and rushed to board the plane.  How do you not worry about it??!?!?  OMG I was going to go to hell for this.  I was going to be stuck in the airport for days. I was…… hearing my name being called.  I had made the flight!  The other 20 something people between this man and I had given up, or found another alternative.  I was actually boarding the plane!

Have you ever flown standby?  Do you have any security mishaps you’d like to share?  I would love to hear your stories!

 

 

 

Italy or Bust..or in my case BUST then…

Remember this old thing?  Well calling it old wouldn’t really be true, considering it is brand new………..

Confused yet?

Let me TRY to explain…

Do you remember, back in September of last year, I had a plate and screws put in my right foot? I was in a cam boot for a long time afterwards, and have only been walking in very hard soled shoes for the last few months.  A couple of weeks ago, while I was at my oldest daughter’s house watching the grandbabies, I took off my shoes while playing with the boys in their room.    Here’s where it gets confusing…..

I’m not sure exactly what I did or how exactly I did it.  I was holding Joey, and attempted to squat down on the floor with him.  I subsequently lost my balance, and in an effort to not drop him I did something very painful to my foot.  I don’t know what I did exactly, I just knew that it hurt like hell and I couldn’t stand on it let alone walk.

A trip to the immediate care and subsequent trip to the surgeon’s office revealed that I broke the lag screw from my surgery, and another bone in my foot.

I have no words.  Seriously who does this?  I have spent the last few weeks feeling embarrassed and in shock.

I am back in a boot for the next 3-5 weeks, and then the plan is to try to ease back into hard shoes.  If the pain is too great or the bone hasn’t healed around the broken screw, I will have to have another surgery.  😦

So there is the Busted (broken part)…what do I mean about Italy?

Earlier this year, Einstein’s dad gave us several buddy passes for his employers airline.  If you aren’t familiar with buddy passes, in short you are able to fly standby on the airline for next to nothing.  (taxes)  Anywhere.

I have a good friend who was born and raised in Italy, but has lived in the states for many years.  Her family still owns a home in the city she grew up in…..AND….they are going to be there for the month of May……………hmmmmmm

I have been to Italy 2x in the past, but it has been almost 20 years, and I was there as a tourist.  I have always wanted to experience activities of daily living in Italy, but never had the time, or the money.  I have the time, and the flight cost me $50.00 roundtrip, so I booked the tickets.

I am not nearly as prepared as I would like to have been,  ( I speak very little Italian and I have a broken foot.)  but I think I would regret not seizing the opportunity.  Who knows, the afternoon siesta’s may be just what I need.

I am supposed to fly out on Monday.  Wish me luck?