I went to Europe. Really. I did. I never thought it would happen. I mean, with our enormous student loan debt we never have extra money for luxuries such as a vacation. But lucky me! I’m the granddaughter of Beatrice Goldstein Kaplan. She came to America in the 40s and left all of her wonderful family in London for us to play with. And as a result we are in no short supply of fabulous British cousins always telling us about their comfie spare rooms and how nice we will look in them. But without tickets to get across the pond it didn’t even seem worth thinking twice about. So when the opportunity came up to think twice, I realized that money wasn’t the only reason I resisted thinking twice. No, the money (or lack there of) was a helpful way to avoid the other reason for not considering this vacation. That being the one that hides underneath every moment when living with an incurable, unpredictable, potentially progressive disease.
About 3 years ago, my 20+ year old MS started acting out beyond it’s normal behavioral issues. Symptoms heightened and I shortened. (And I’m only 5’2″- so I don’t have much to work with here!) Over these past years I’ve been challenged by constant dizziness, greater limitation in my ability to walk and worse of all, an inability to stand for lengths of time. Like- for example- long enough to cook dinner. But as all of us with MS do- I found new ways to cope. Not-to-say that any of it is easy. These changes are always emotional ones. But when all is said-and-done, I have found a way to live within my limits-de-jour. So long as my expectations of the day are low and I have the “bright-side” handy when I need to break it out, – I can deal. Sorry I left the kitchen such a mess honey…you know….i have MS 😉
So when the possibility of venturing across the pond became a reality I went in to high-gear worry. I would have to come out of hiding and face the fact that I am now “it.”
Not long after our tickets were booked we started realizing that we have other close connections on the mainland. (that being Europe) Our lovely former neighbors moved to Berlin and our friend knew someone who has a great place to stay in Paris. Now how could we possibly make that voyage and not take advantage of these opportunities. But in the back of my head I’m thinking, If we don’t do it now we may not have the option when I’m less able. Oh wait. Not when; should I become less able. (Phew! Found that bit optimism in my back pocket!)
And though my adorable college professor husband doesn’t earn the big bucks (“even though we aint got money“) we do have summer vacations! So we reserved August for what we hoped would be an amazing trip. And it was all that; for reasons planned and unplanned, expected and unexpected. And I learned a lot more than the detailed history of the Berlin-Wall falling or how something called a Shandy is a great way to experience an English Pub with an actual beer product in hand.
* * *
Tune in next time for the second episode in the series “London Calling or How I stopped worrying and love GiGi” when I will discuss my experience with MS, accessibility in Europe and my new love for GiGi – replete with photos evidence for all of the afore mentioned.!
(BTW: If you subscribe to this blog- you will be notified of when that happens. I’m thinking this weekend.. but who knows!)
Amy, you are so amazing! I l
ove who you are and where you come from (and the rest of your family, while I’m at it).
Your commitment to focus and appreciate the affirmative is such a blessing, both for you and the world that loves you and supports you.
Thanks for being in my world!
Thank you Ken. Your ongoing support fuels the positive energy that I was lucky to be born with! Thank YOU for being there, right back! 😉
Well done Amy!! I can just imagine how difficult it can be especially as with the brain stem lesion I have, I suffer with some of the symptoms you mentioned – constant dizziness, difficulty in walking and the inability to stand for long. This with my strange dislike of big places with high ceilings makes it extremely difficult for me to travel especially abroad.
So your huge accomplishment has really impressed me and give me hope that maybe at some point I will be able to achieve going on holiday.
Looks like you had a lot of fun. Hope you enjoyed the UK – there are some beautiful places to visit here!!
Rhiann, Thanks for your response. It’s always great to have the encouragement from someone who gets it! I’ll be posting again soon. I imagine you will have thoughts to share with your experience living in the U.K.
Thanks for your comment~
Amy, congradulations on your European trip. I’m so happy you did it and can’t wait to hear some of the details of your fabulous adventure.
Ellie in WI
Thanks Ellie… It was quite an adventure! Hopefully I’ll write this weekend!
Hi! Thanks for your comment! It’s really great to know that people are reading this. I’m working on part two now. So stay tuned!
I will be interested in hearing. I have taken several vacations that were spent entirely in my wheelchair, and did great. Last year when we were in Europe, I remarked how thankful I was to be walking because the accessibility is quite limited. I hope you had a great trip, and I will look for photos from the Eiffel Tower! 🙂
Great pic!! I prefer lager ‘n’ lime to shandies. ; -))
I am so so SO glad you went!!! I am so jealous. Used to go to Europe fairly often – but not since the “income” of disability. Ugh.
Congrats on your success!