Saturday, July 10, 2010

Traveling with Faith

We do not travel with Faith very often. Once had to take her to Minneapolis because Rob had an interview with the INS and his wife and child were required to be there. She was only about 10 months old at the time. We also flew to Toronto for Christmas when she was fourteen months old. Both of these trips took place pre-wheelchair and pre-feeding tube so it wasn't so bad. As she got older, however, she attained more equipment and it became more and more difficult to travel with her.
There was one trip where I had to go to Rochester for possible gallbladder surgery and we actually rented a jeep in which to fit all of our stuff. The only vehicle we had was a 2001 Hyundai Elantra. It was January and very cold. We took Faith to the Mall of America (where she is shown to the right getting a feeding) so we could try to warm our spirits on such a freezing cold trip.

Two years ago, we flew once again to Toronto. It was a nightmare and we vowed never to do this again. Faith had her Kid Kart at the time, which is the smallest version of a wheelchair. We had to carry her carseat with us wherever we went because she needed to sit in that during the flight. When we flew out of Bismarck we hoped her Kid Kart would arrive in Canada all intact.

Before landing in Canada, we had to fly to Denver where we missed our connecting flight. We ended up on a plane to Chicago and ended up spending half the night in their airport. Everything was weather related so they couldn't put us up in a motel. By the time we had arrived in Toronto, Rob and I were exhausted having not slept for over 24 hours. Thankfully, Faith had slept in the airport with Rob and I taking turns holding her.

Once we got to Toronto we stayed overnight at a hotel then drove to Rob's sister's house in Peterborough, about an hour away. We had a very nice Christmas with his family but we were dreading getting on the plane again. To make matters worse, due to some mix up, Rob and Faith were on a separate plane than me. This caused serious anxiety. In Denver we discovered the footrest on Faith's chair had gotten broken during the flight. It was a good thing Faith was getting a new chair soon.

Most recently, we traveled by car to Regina, Saskatchewan over the 4th of July weekend. Somehow we managed to fit all of our stuff in our little Hyundai. Faith's seating system comes off of the base of her wheelchair and sits in our passenger seat and then the base goes in the trunk. She sits in her special adaptive carseat so there is really only room for the three of us in the car. I think we are the only family with a child in a wheelchair who doesn't own a minivan!

Faith did very well on the way to Canada, despite the fact that we barely got out of Bismarck and she was asking, "Are we in Canada yet?" She kept herself busy by telling stories, pretending to draw pictures on the window, reciting the Bear Hunt story and me and her pretending to take 10-second naps. She went for 4 1/2 hours before we got her Portable PlayStation out so she could watch videos.

We did her feeding in the car, which wasn't a big deal. The bigger challenge was finding a place to change her. We couldn't change her in the back seat of our car because there's simply no room. We stopped in an undisclosed small town gas station hoping they would have a large enough rest room for me to lay Faith down and change her. Thankfully, they did! I was relieved but a bit annoyed by the people in the gas station - they acted like they had never seen a little girl in a wheelchair before. Who knows, maybe some of the hadn't. Or maybe I'm just used to Bismarck where everyone seems so disability sensitive, going out of their way to help with doors and at least offer a smile.

Finally, we reached the border, showed them our passports and we easily entered into Canada! At our hotel, there was limited floor space so it was hard to get Faith's chair around in our room. But, they did have a swimming pool which Faith was very excited about and we went swimming as soon as we could.

This was a rare vacation for the three of us and we had fun swimming, going to the park and eating out. We also reconnected with one of Rob's friends, Scott with whom he had transferred from Toronto to Regina with during one of his computer gigs.

On the way back home, Faith didn't do as well since she hadn't really slept that great in a strange place. She tried her hardest to be a trooper but all she could talk about was wanting to be at home. Finally, after driving through a storm, making a final stop at Tim Horton's in Weyburn, Rob getting pulled into the office at the border (I guess the border patrol was doing a good job because they were pulling all the cars in which is something neither of us had ever seen before), we finally made it back to North Dakota. We ended up driving through some more rainy weather but once we got to Bismarck, everything was sunny, calm and peaceful. Home sweet home.

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