My afternoon/evening in a wheelchair at Epcot

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by Sarah H., May 23, 2000.

  1. Sarah H.

    Sarah H. Earning My Ears

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    I just got back from a wonderful 16 day vacation to WDW, with a day each at Sea World and KSC. It's the trip to KSC that indirectly caused the temporary (and involuntary!) use of a wheelchair at Epcot one afternoon. To make a long story short, something I ate at KSC was bad, and I must have gotten some food poisoning, becuase I was very nauseated and vomiting for the last 5 days of our trip.

    However, trooper me, I crept around the World Showcase, even though I had to stop every 5 steps to sit and rest my tummy. Finally, at American Adventure, I could not go on! I thought I was going to die! DH informed a CM, and he called paramedics and Disney first aid. They wanted to take me to the hospital, but I refused, as I was feeling much better laying down in the A/C. They offered a wheelchair, since I was having such difficulty getting around, which my DH insisted that I use. We did American Adventure, France, and ToN while I was in the chair.

    Holy smokes! I couldn't believe it! People stood in front of me, (hello folks, I'm only 3 feet tall down here!) kicked me, and talked to my husband about me in the 3rd person! And these weren't all guests - one incident was a CM! While in France, we took a few moments to watch the living statues. People would look at me in the chair, and then stand in front of me. One guy rammed my legs against the chair in an effort to be the "next one" with the statue. No apology - nothin'. However, here's the one that really shocked me - my husband had to use the restroom, and wandered down the international gateway (pushing me). A CM told him that the nearest one was past the exit, but he could get his hand stamped and then come right back in. So, we proceeded to the exit. He parked me, and then asked the CM at the exit to stamp his hand because he needed to use the restroom. With me right there, right next to my DH, the CM ignored me and asked DH, "Do you need to get her hand stamped too?" H'mmm...it loses something in the writing, I think, but even though I didn't need my hand stamped, I would have preferred if she would have asked ME, instead of referring to me in the 3rd person to my husband.

    Anyway, as we left the park that evening, we left the wheelchair at the wheelchair rental counter. This was definitely a learning experience! Even though it was only 3 hours or so, (if that long), it was long enough for me! I definitely appreciate the difficulties people face who must be in wheelchairs or ECVs for an extended periods of time. Lemme tell ya, I got so tired of being on the eye level of people's butts! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif The very worst thing about it, though, was that DH and I couldn't hold hands and talk as we wandered around the park. He was pushing me, so his hands were occupied, and I was getting a crick in my neck from trying to turn my head to talk to him. I actually missed him!

    I also was wondering about what people were thinking of me - ok, here's a healthy looking 27 year old woman in a wheelchair - she's faking it. The CM's who brought the chair over for me to use were so nice, however. I told them that I didn't want to use the chair, because what would people think? They said that hey, nobody knows you here, who cares what they think ? And I thought, "yeah, hey, I know I'm not using it to get extra attn or shorter lines (at this point my tummy was in no condition for any attractions - I almost lost it in the France movie!) who cares what they all think?"

    Like I said, it was a learning experience. And a week after my KSC food experience, I feel 100% better, thank you


    Sarah H.
     
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  3. BonnieG

    BonnieG Earning My Ears

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    Sarah....

    Being in a wheelchair or ECV even for a few days or hours really gives you a totally different look at the reality of the people here and elsewhere who deal with their permanant disabilities on a daily basis.

    I know that I am a much different person for the better, I would like to think, after having my life change the past two years.

    We were also very surprised at the rudeness of some people in WDW and the fact that you became invisable to them or you were an obstacle to jump over,in front of or go quickly around! /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

    Anyway...I am glad that you are better and sorry that you had to be so sick while on vacation!

    I would also like to say that to all of my fellow disABILITIES pals....you and your families are all in my thoughts and prayers each night.

    Take care all,

    BonnieG

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Piper

    Piper DIS Veteran

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    Sarah,
    If you haven't already done so, would you post your message on a few of the other boards. I appreciate your writing. Maybe your experience would help other people understand some of the things we deal with daily!

    [​IMG]

    Piper
     
  5. Wheelsie

    Wheelsie DIS Veteran

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    First off let me say that Im very sad that you got ill during your trip... I can that can REALLY stink..

    And as to your experince in the chair for that afternon (and I say this in an EXTREMELY joking tone...actually laffing as I type)

    WELCOME TO WHEELSIE'S WORLD!!!! ROFL /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
    I know that many permanantly chair bound types like myself do deal with in one day that you did in just a few short hours... I commend you for not smacking people around...Lord knows I want to some days LOL

    and I agree w Piper that you SHOULD post this to the other boards like theme park and resorts.... such things NEED to be said to make people aware of their actions... if you decide to do it and need any help at all ...just email me.. I'll be more than happy to get your experience to the masses /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

    Wheelsie /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif
    Co-Moderator of disABILITIES
    countrywheelin@icqmail.com
    EMAIL ME!!! I know you want to ROFL
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Jennifer L

    Jennifer L Earning My Ears

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    Hi, I'm not a disabled person, nor do I have any friends or relatives who are. I guess I just eavesdrop on your boards from time to time. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

    I honestly can't explain why, but there is some weird psychological... I don't know what it is, a something, that comes about when people who don't normally interact with disabled people are around them. Maybe it's simple unfamiliarity and uncertainty. Should I offer to help that person, or will they take it as a challenge to their independence? Questions like that come into play. I mean, logically I know they shouldn't, but they do.

    That said, I decided to test this 'unfamiliarity' theory by making an effort to talk with people more over my Disney visit. Sometimes it was as simple as asking someone in an ECV for the time, when I needed to know -- once a lady commented that I startled her, as everyone asked her husband for the time, never her. Or I whiled away some time in the Star Wars movie line talking with a woman with a gazillion tourist items she had decorating her ECV. Or talking with people on the bus to pass the time, seeing what they enjoyed most in the parks, stuff like that.

    I really do think that there's some strange, illogical awkwardness that able-bodied people feel. I still can't really explain it, and I hope that I haven't offended anyone with my posting here. That certainly wasn't my intention. I think if people would just talk more, though, and pay more attention, there wouldn't be quite so much unintentional (well, okay, and not so unintentional) rudeness about.

    Jennifer
     
  7. Piper

    Piper DIS Veteran

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    Jennifer,
    I, for one, welcome your post. I think it is important to share our feelings and discoveries. I understand the awkwardness you and others feel. I used to share it (and still find myself in the situation) whenever we encounter something or someone new. It is natural to off-balance in new situations.

    Unfortunately, some people react to their uneasy feelings by being very rude. Some people equate any disability with mental deficiency. That is not usually the case. Many of us are extremely bright (just witness those of us here -- grin.)

    It helps when people read boards like ours and discover some of the things that affect others. I bet you are much more aware of others. Good for you for posting.

    [​IMG]

    Piper
     
  8. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    Tiis is a really nice thread.
    Welcome to the other side of the looking glass.
    My husband landed in a wheelchair for a few weeks after a foot injury. He thought he knew all about what he would encounter becase we have a 14 yr old daughter who has used a wheelchair since she was 30 months old. He was very surprized at what he found and not at all prepared. I think your story is very important to share.
    I also have to say that we have encountered increasing amounts of rudeness all the time. In some cases, I think it is a result of the ADA act. People who don't realize what it is like to live with a disability see that act as a "GIVE ME" act for people with disabilities.
    Thanks for sharing and thanks to people like Jennifer (I think I remembered it right) for helping people with disabilites feel more like just people.?

    SueM in MN
    Co-Moderator of disABILITIES
    [​IMG] hn
     
  9. Sarah H.

    Sarah H. Earning My Ears

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    Jennifer -

    I've often thought about the same thing. Why is it that able-bodied people seem more comfortable talking with other able-bodied people than with people in wheelchairs/ecv's/etc.

    When I was in college, I had a good friend (who was also my roommate for a few years) who has Muscular Dystrophy. She wasn't in a wheelchair, (although her condition is getting worse as she ages, so I assume that one day she will be) but she does walk very slowly, has a noticeable limp, wears leg braces, and uses crutches. One day (perhaps a year after we met, and several years before we were roommates) I got up my "nerve", and asked her why her legs are as they are. She was shocked - she said that NOBODY ever asked her what was the matter, and was surprised it only took me a year to ask. She said that most people just seemed comfortable "ignoring" her condition. She said it was as though people wanted to make a point to her about how her disability doesn't matter to them, but the truth is that it mattered to her. If an able-bodied person broke their leg, people wouldn't hesitate to ask what happened. But my friend said that nobody asked her or even talked about it.

    With this friend, I've been on the "receiving end" of the 3rd person bit - people would talk to me instead of her when we were together. I knew that had to be annoying for her, but I never realized just how dehumanizing it can be until my Epcot experience - and it only happened to me once!

    But since knowing her, I've wondered what is that that makes able-bodied people uncomfortable? Perhaps it's guilt - "I'm healthy and this person is not, and I don't know how to deal with my guilt, so I'll deal with it by not dealing with it at all, and not talk to the person. If I talk to this person, perhaps my guilt will rise, and I want to avoid that possibility."

    Just MHO


    Sarah H.

    [This message was edited by Sarah H. on 05-25-00 at 10:01 AM.]
     
  10. Michelle NY

    Michelle NY Earning My Ears

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    Wow What a great thread. I know myself before having my DD I was always aware of others. I enjoyed helping people with disabilities, but I know that others around me never understood my interest in the diabled. I guess I was just in early training. It is amzing how something unexpected can really change our outlook. Thanks for posting.
     
  11. DisDuck

    DisDuck Backup Driver to Car#1

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    This thread seems to be the perfect place for me to post. I have no disability but had a departed friend who was w/c bound. And now my mother must use a w/c to get around and hold her oxygen. I can never understand the rudeness that is exhibited by some people. Am I missing something here? This is one of those 'walk in my shoes' moments. I do sometimes struggle with 'should I hold the door?' or other similar situations. I can see, thru my mother, how it might come across as just another loss of independence. But if I hold doors for non-disabled then why be different. I look upon people as just people first. We come in all sizes, shapes, colors and abilities. But the common thread is each is a person first. I have (with my DW at my side) raised my children (all 4) the same way. Each one of them cannot understand why others are/or have to be rude. I hope this post hasn't been too long. These are just some thoughts I have on the subject. By reading these posts I learn and I pass them on so my children learn.
    Thanks for your time and pixie dust to all of you.

    Donald Duck
     
  12. WDW-with-kids

    WDW-with-kids Earning My Ears

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    I came here looking for info on the electric carts! NOT THINKING about using one, just curious about the price. I am truly touched by this thread. When our family arrives (24 days) We are all going to try and be aware of ALL people around us. Having a mother WC bound for almost 3 years and with her overweight issues, people assume she can't walk because she ate to much! Isn't it amazing how much strangers thoughts and comments seem to hurt the worst?! Great great posts guys!

    WDW Family of 4
    DD DM and 2 DK's(5&1)

    WDW 74(DD)
    Epcot 83(DM)
    PO 98
    Poly 00 (not yet)
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  13. Wes

    Wes Mouseketeer

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    I'm reading this thread after just having made a flight reservation and requesting that a wheelchair be provided for me for the first time. I have chronic fatigue that sometimes allows me a few hours of normalcy a day, but I have had to face the fact that when I get to the airport, I have to be prepared for extra stress and the possibility that my few hours of normalcy will not coincide with the flight times. I am still hoping that by the time we go to WDW in December I will be better, but I won't really know for many more months.

    I think the discussion of why people react as if people in wheel chairs are mentally deficient is a good discussion. I do not think it is guilt. I agree that it is some sort of common response to anyone who displays any form of impairment.

    It is not unique to physical differences. I have known people from all over the world who have come to the United States and speak English with an accent and/or a bit hesitantly. My experience with this has made it second nature to me to see through their accent, hesitation or unusual choice of words to their meaning and to carry on a conversation with them as normally as with any native speaker. I had not realized how unique I was in this experience / ability until an Israeli woman told me that after she had spent more than a month in the United States, I was the first person who she did not feel was treating her as if she had the mental level of a child at some point in their conversation.
     
  14. dollyo

    dollyo Earning My Ears

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    Hi, I am new here, just reading through the comments of the lady who through an unfortunate event ended up in a wheelchair for several hours in Epcot.

    I am wheelchair bound partially, and having been an RN for over 20 years, get so frustrated with people when I am in my ECV. It's like I just took invisible pills or something. People stumble over you, walk into you, then cuss you out for not watching where you are going. I even tried tying a helium balloon at eye level on the handlebars of my ECV. I have even had people push tiny babies in strollers in front of me. Now you would think that at least a new parent should be watching where they are pushing their offspring.

    How can I tell them that I would give near anything not to have to be in that chair, as would most all of you. I get so frustrated that I wait to go to WAlmart until 10:00 at night so there isn't a crowd of people milling around.

    Another thing for "normal" people to consider. Have you ever wondered why your 5 to 6 or 7 year old gets restless in a crowd? Well, get in a wheelchair, Bub, and you will find out first hand. The sights sure aren't pretty, and the smell ain't so hot either, plus getting clobbered by purses, jabbed with umbrellas, stepped on, and nearly get smothered if you are pushed face first into someone. Now, people won't appologize to a person in a wheelchair, why would you think they would think to appologize to a child.

    I hope no one minds me getting this off my chest, it has been trapped inside for a long time. I still have about 11 months before we go to WDW, and I don't anticipate any great healing of my back taking place so I'll be in my ECV wheeling through the parks. If I see you, I'll say Hi and Wave. Dolly
     
  15. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    This is a really nice thread. Im glad people feel so comfortable sharing these feelings here.BRi dont know exactly how my dd who uses a wheelchair feels because she doesnt talk, although she makes her meaning well known most of the time thru sign language, gestures, etc.BRWeve had the experience her whole life with people treating her as if she cant understand. She understands TOO well most of the time. My problem is with people who should know better, people who deal with her all the time.BRWe had one good experience where Katrina really told someone off without having any words. She was in afterschool daycare and there was one worker who kept treating her like a baby. One night when I came to pick her up, she was signing bird (at least thats what I thou ght) and pointing at him. I finally figured out that what she was signing was turkey. She let me know thats what she thought he was AND she wanted ME to tell him that for her. I did, with her giggling uncontrollably behind me. He was amazed and apologized to her. He never underestimated her again. Shes called other people turkeys, like a lab worker who couldnt find her lab slip for blood work after 1/2 hour search. Ive explained to her that its not polite to tell people that, but I am glad that she knows when people are not treating her well. BRSueM in MNBRCo-Moderator of A HREF=http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Ya=frms=40009993f=38009194 TARGET=_blankdisABILITIES/ABRIMG SRC=http://disneyclipart.simplenet.com/Movies/Cinderella/Cinderella/cinderella08.gif P[This message was edited by SueM in MN on 06-03-00 at 10:18 AM.]
     
  16. nae

    nae Earning My Ears

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    In 1998 we went to disney and even though my daughter was disabled we used a stroller (she was 2) and had the most wonderful time imaginable.on our trip back in april during spring break our daughter was in her convaid wheelchair.the experience was not as good.people were down right rude.the stares,cutting us off,ect were unbelievable.the adults not any children had the upsetting behavior.we were absolutely exhausted.for 90% of the rides we had to remove her from the chair including taking apart her tray and had to listen to one father said "how do i get to go ahead of everyone else in line like you are?" i relpied be willing to carry your child everywhere and change her diaper for life.maybe that was alittle harsh but at this point i had had it.magic kingdom was the only park we encountered rude adults but are hoping this was just 1 bad experience and our next trip in august/september at the wilderness lodge will be more
    enjoyable.
     
  17. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    Nae, I've very sorry that you had such rude encounters. My daughter is almost 15 yrs old now and if I had $1 for every person who cut us off or was rude to us, I'd be a very rich woman. There are also nice people, but it seems like they don't stand out as much. I think it's getting worse and I think the ADA has something to do with it. When the ADA is in the news, it's never for something good. It's usually about some poor business person who is being forced to spend humongous amounts of money to make accomidations or about some person who is trying to be included in the ADA for something that most people do not view as a disbility.
    If I could make my daughter completely perfect I would. But, if I had to choose between having her "normal" and not having her at all, I'd certainly choose to keep her the way she is.
    I wish there was a way to sensitize some of the rude people in the world, but other than making them live with what we live with, I don't know of a way. Even though the world has changed, there are still people who would rather have all the people with disabilities hidden away somewhere that they don't have to look at them. I'm just happy when those people DON'T have a disabled family member, because I wouldn't want to wish that on any person with a disability.
    Just hang in there and do the best you can. You and your dd have as much right to go to WDW as everyone else and if you need some extra help to have fun, that's how it is. ∞

    SueM in MN
    Co-Moderator of disABILITIES
    [​IMG]
     
  18. snoopy

    snoopy <font color=green>This space for rent<br><font col

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    What an eye-opener of a thread. It makes one really aware, and in all honesty I wonder if I have ever been rude. Not intentionally, of course, but if maybe I have ever stood in front of someone in a wheelchair? Please don't be mad at me, I'm just thinking out loud.

    I certainly will remember this post anytime I am ever in a large crowd, whether it be WDW or any where else.

    Thanks for your post.

    snoopy
    Moderator - Trip Reports Board
    Co-Moderator - Inspiration Board
     
  19. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    I dont think anyone really minds the people who inadvertently cut off a wheelchair. Its the people who PURPOSELY do it that make me upset. Those are the ones who look right at you and sneak in ahead or, even worse, do things like step over the footrests.
    SueM in MN
    Co-Moderator of disABILITIES
    [​IMG] a
     
  20. Linda

    Linda Mouseketeer

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    This is a great thread!

    I have a question , one of those you never want to ask... When my children, mainly the little ones see a person in a wheelchair, mainly other kids they point sometimes(only my toddler now, as pointing is not polite, he's learning) and ask why, what happened? What do you do? When standing next to these people I often wonder, is it ok to ask the child having a good trip? or let my toddler talk -as you never know what a 3 year old may say? I would speak to anyone else if sitting and waiting for something, but then wonder, well maybe I should not? Well they be offended if my child says something like why are you in that chair?. MY older kids always have had disablied kids in there school classes, I think this has been great for them as they have learned these kids are 'just kids'. This is a very difficult issue as to know how to always do the right thing, and teach our kids to do the same. But if my kids or I make eye contact with a disabled child or their family do you smile or say to yourself 'oh my God, they'll think I was looking at the disabled child' and turn away quickly. You always want to do the right thing, it is VERY hard to know what to do, if I smile will they think it is out of pity, when its not. It is just very easy to be confused as to how to act sometimes.

    This summer I'm traveling to WDW with my 2 mentally disabled cousins, both in there 40's now, we have been planning this trip for 3 years, it is their 1st trip to WDW and I can't begin to tell you how excited they are!!! They funtion on a pretty high level, but it is very easy to see they are different, I was in high school with one and the kids could be horrible! They are always wonderful to people no matter how awful some where to them, use to break my heart, really still does! These 2 guys are very special to me, and always will be... Knowing them has made a better person, my kids have also learned to treat them the same as anybody else and it has helped them when they encounter others like my cousins.

    Linda

     
  21. Rollwithit

    Rollwithit Earning My Ears

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    Linda, I can only speak for my husband, who is in a wheelchair. He doesn't have a problem at all when someone asks him what happened and he's more than happy to satisfy the curiosity of any little ones that can't keep their eyes off him and have questions. He's in a wheelchair because of a drunk driver and it's an awesome opportunity to educate people about drinking and driving.

     

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