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Old 03-15-2013, 06:32 PM   #1
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Location: Memphis, TN but still an Alabama girl at heart!!
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WDW with severe COPD...any other tips?

My 70 year old dad has poorly controlled COPD (partly due to his being non-compliant, which is another topic altogether) and has a history of lung cancer 5 years ago with right upper lobectomy. He gets severely SOB just walking to the mailbox, exhausted from showering, etc. But this fall, he is going to go on a 4 night Dream cruise and then stay two nights at WDW with us in September for my daughters 4th birthday, and my mother and I are concerned about his ability to do so.

I have been very honest with him about the stamina required to tour Disney even at a snail's pace, and he says he understands, and is determined to 'get ready' for this trip. He is watching his diet and trying to control his blood sugar and also lose weight. Promises to use his Symbicort as directed, take his Albuterol nebs as directed, etc. He still refuses to use oxygen at home, although he has insurance approval for a home concentrator and portable tanks, he sent them back to the med supply company. I think he would benefit from it, but part of his denial is that as long as he doesn't use oxygen (even though he NEEDS it) his COPD isn't too bad. My mother is working on getting him to agree to at least let them bring the equipment back to the house.

I think that on the cruise ship we can get by without an ECV, but the land portion worries me I have booked the Contemporary, have reserved an ECV for him, and am insisting that he bring his oxygen supplies with him. He will be able to park the ECV and use regular lines if they don't have too many stairs, I hope. He can stand in one place without a problem, or a slow-moving line. I know that the hot and humid weather is not going to help, but they live in Alabama, so it's not a huge adjustment.

I'm trying to think of anything I can to help make this trip easier for him, and also for us. I have an active toddler who wants to go, go, go, and my in-laws are also coming along. We will be spending most of the time they are with us in the MK and Epcot. My DFIL has some mobility & health issues as well in the form of a knee that won't flex past 30 degrees, a-fib, and being 6'5 & 360lb. He is able to walk, but VERY slowly and deliberately since that knee doesn't bend very well to navigate curbs, stairs, etc. I offered to rent an ECV for him, but he says he doesn't need it. I am trying to get him to see that it would be beneficial to him so that 1/2 his day isnt spent inching down Main Street, i really cant make him realize the distances involved, just within the parks. I planned on perhaps getting a GAC for the both of them just to avoid long flights of stairs.

Does anyone have any other tips or advice? Maybe just encouragement? Im still in the planning stages but I'm already becoming worried that their denial and unwillingness to accept help will make their trips more difficult than they already are and more stressful on the rest of us who are trying to help them.
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Old 03-15-2013, 07:17 PM   #2
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Definitely recommend a GAC. Would he use a walker That had a seat attached to it so he could sit down when he needed? Here is an example of one of those:http://www.walmart.com/ip/Hugo-Elite...-Blue/20440155

And for the oxygen, maybe you can get him a small portable oxygen tank. Here is a picture of one: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=90192346
Then, you could put the tank into a small backpack( like ones used for bike riders in carrying their water bladders) so it is " concealed" and out of the way.

Hope this might help a little.
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:33 PM   #3
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A. The regular and official response for a request for a GAC for a mobility and/or stamina question is the suggestion that a wheelchair or ECV be rented. The real distances is going between the attractions; not necessarily the lines.

B. Please ask the following questions. Here are the suggested answers to go with them.

1. Are you disabled (even temporarily)? Yes.

2. Do the people you are traveling with, such as your family, know you are disabled? Yes.

3. Do you expect to meet anyone you know during this trip who may not know you are disabled. Probably No!

4. Do you expect to meet a bunch of people who you will probably never meet again in your life? Probably yes!

5. Is there any reason at all that you should care what these people think about you? Absolutely No!!

6. Will using a wheelchair or ECV make for a better vacation for you and your family? Absolutely YES!
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Old 03-15-2013, 11:02 PM   #4
Got a link for those Trip Reports? ;)
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I'm a complete sucker for a drop dead gorgeous dress and strappy heels
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Memphis, TN but still an Alabama girl at heart!!
Posts: 3,200

I know...I am going to be at the inlaws house all this weekend so hopefully I'll be able to talk to them about the chair. My dad (with the stamina issues) is definitely on board with the ECV. My MIL's husband is the one who says has no problems with stamina, just the mobility. I've been trying to tell them that I am worn out after a day there, and I can run miles at a time!

This board has given me a lot of ammo...I had time to read the FAQ and links on the way here. My dad had the portable backpack 02 at one time, so hopefully he will agree to bring it again. I think part of the problem is that he doesn't believe me when I try to talk to him about COPD being progressive and not reversible. He tries to blame his fatigue on his weight, or another illness, etc. I wish we could have all went to Disney sooner.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:29 PM   #5
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I totally hear you about non-compliance with COPD. My stepmother still smokes 1.5 packs a day. That is why Dad has not been able to move back home after heart attack and stroke.

We are going again this year in November and she has been voted off the vacation island. I realized that this is also my vacation and I won't be happy with her there.

I am not saying this is your situation. It is your dad and FIL and I have a lot of animosity about the way she has handled my dad's illness. Try to explain to your dad and FIL that this is a chance to experience magic and if they have issues then they are limiting yours and the rest of the families opportunities.
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