My grand children have dubbed me their ’ adventurous gramma" and with good reason. I am an Army vet who at first had a Middllin low back injury that only affected my legs, so I became a long haul trucker for about 16 years until my back decided that it was well and truly tired of the abuse.
Funny thing though, I was born to be a nomad. Military brat joins the military and then becomes a trucker? My retirement was doomed from the beginning!
My feet were itching and I needed to figure out how to be able to travel and also, how to do so when you can only walk 2 blocks at a time while using a cane?
I bought a gutted out, 38ft Dafour, spent a year refurbishing her and took off into the briney deep. Oh, and I taught myself how to sail on Youtube…lol
So yea, I took to sailing and had a wonderful time of it. I saw Belize and got my PADI certification, wandered to Panama, Costa Rica as beautiful places in between. I cruised the DR and so many developed and empty islands up the Caribbean. But eventually I had to make land and do boat maintenance so I chose one of the middle Keys.
It was there, in Marathon Fl that I decided that I was going to sail the Pacific next and perhaps around the world so I started work on expanding my power supply. Two 350 watt solar panels, a cool wind generator, the mother of all battery banks and a watermaker.
But, my trip was never to be.
I slipped down the galley steps and that little 3 step fall caused my left arm to burn as if my nerves were on fire so I took a trip up to the Miami VA and boy o boy was that a huge mistake. After CT scans, being poked , prodded and tormented, I was locked in a small room with the evil head of neurosurgery, may he burn in the very depths!
His Evilness told me that if I didn’t allow them to fuse c3-c7 I would wake up one day, paralyzed from the neck down and if it happened while I was alone at sea, I would die. Yea, pressured.
So, I had c-spine surgery and my 2-6 weeks of downtime turned into an 18month stay in the Spinal Cord Injury unit. I had woken up from my surgery, paralyzed from the chest up due to spinal cord shock and swelling. I threatened that surgeon with bodily harm every time he came to see me too because, well, how was I going to sail now?!
I gave my baby away for $1 to a lisveaboard sailor who lost her home/boat to Hurricane Maria. So, now my life is over, I’m living at home with my daughter and she decided to snap me out of my depression by presenting me with a lovely rocking chair for the front porch.
Oh hell no!
6 weeks later I had researched Hostels in Europe as well as the Eurorail system and I found out that IcelandAir had the best tickets leaving out of JFK for less than $400. found trip.
So, with a 3 month rail ticket, an awesome Deiter backpack mounted on my chair, I was off to backpack 3 months all by myself. Oh, I guess I should point out that my type of paralysis is really weird. I can move my hands and arms but a toddler has more strength and too much movement causes spasticity BUT, I can care for myself, I just do it differently. Also, I can use my hands and even have a strong grip as long as my concentration is on doing it but I don’t feel my fingers if I can’t see them. Weird, right?
Anyway, I wandered through Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and then my 3 months was up so I went home to reset my visa time, then flew into Madrid and wandered France, Portugal and Spain…tapas!!! Oh! pro backing too for gimps, wheelchair users get into museums for free in Europe. I wore out my welcome in the Louve. hehehe!
Anyway, I’m back home and finding that I’m losing more use of my right arm so I’ve been forced to promise the kids that I will stay on this side of the pond.
Now, that’s not to say that I won’t indulge my need to wander, it just means that I need to do my wheeling on wheels!
Cue, my nigh on obsessive research into van builds and skoolies!
Until now, I had 2 journals worth of notes on a customized mid-sized skoolie build with a wheelchair lift in back and a wet room bathroom so that I could sit while showering… But now, I might get to throw out all of those extensive notes and work on a build in either a Promaster extended or a Sprinter. How you might ask?
(Dancing a Shimmy!!)
In 3 weeks I’m being sent down to the main SCI unit for Fl in Tampa to have a baclafen pump inserted. (crossing fingers) if it works it will relieve the spasticity in my chest, upper back and arms. I’ll be able to hold my upper body up on my own and it’s goodbye monster-sized powerchair and hello upwalker!
Oh yea baby baby…
Either way, I’ll be out and about, rolling down the open road and continuing my life as an unapologetic nomad!