I’m calling this post “The Road to India”. Let me explain why. We want to go on an overseas holiday at the end of next year. Our children are getting to the age where they spend holidays with friends, girlfriends/boyfriends. That is the natural progression in their lives and I am happy and proud to witness this transition. But I do want one more whole family adventure.
When we started looking at destinations, we were shocked to realise how many places just weren’t suitable for wheelchair travel. Beach holidays are out, hiking holidays are out. My dream holiday would be Vietnam and Cambodia – but neither of these are wheelchair friendly. Europe is simply too far – long haul air travel poses all sorts of complications.
The USA was the obvious first choice. It is very wheelchair friendly and reasonably priced. Our 2nd option was India (a bit left field but bare with me). A colleague and friend of Steve’s is Indian. Although many places aren’t wheelchair friendly, he felt we’d be able to pay people to lift me everywhere we went. Plus we have several Indian friends who would be able to help us plan.
I discussed both options with the kids. I must admit I expected an overwhelming preference for the USA. But it was a 100% vote for India. Yes! So by the end of the day I had an itinerary planned.
When Steve mentioned it again to his friend, his friend had concerns. He said the sheer density of people in India makes travel a challenge. Crossing the road can be an extreme sport. He was worried that moving around with a wheelchair might be difficult. Steve started thinking the USA was probably a safer option.
As I’m writing this, I’ve just received a message from a lady I went to school with. She’s just taken her family to Sri Lanka. I messaged her as her holiday snaps started popping up on Facebook and asked her to see if she thought it was doable with a wheelchair. I expected a ‘Yes, I think it would be ok.’ Instead she’s sent me an in depth description of her trip, accommodation she thought was wheelchair friendly, contacts, costs etc. It sounds quite perfect and I will definitely investigate this option further. Thanks Jane.
I started to really think about the aspects of my disability that made travel hard … and there were many. But the biggest barrier at the moment is simply my weight. When I first came home from hospital, we did all kinds of things. We camped, we had skiing holidays, we owned a boat and water skied often. As my weight has increased, moving me has become so much harder for my family, and we simply don’t do much now.
I started to realise that if I could lose weight, I would be much easier to move around. My eldest boys are getting strong now, so with a thinner me, places like India become more achievable. So my weight loss journey number 534 starts now and will be referred to as ‘The Road to India’ (or Sri Lanka).
Since my stroke I’ve pretty much doubled in size. ‘You have an excuse’, everyone says. No I don’t. The simple fact is that the large majority of weight loss comes down to what you put in your mouth. There isn’t much I can do to stay busy, so I eat for entertainment. And I eat large amounts of calorie dense foods. Eating occupies my time and makes me feel happy (in the short term). As a new-grad dietitian, I hated weight loss clients. I simply couldn’t get my head around obesity. I’d think, surely if you were that overweight, you’d stop eating. Now, I get it! I wonder if I am the only qualified dietitian out there who is obese.
In the past I would drink rather than eat. I love my teas – all varieties. Now I hardly drink at all. Going to the toilet is a big effort, particularly on my own. 40 minutes for a number 1 is pretty inconvenient, not to mention exhausting. So during the day I have a cup of tea at breakfast and then I don’t drink until everyone is home for the afternoon.
It is probably over-share to make my weight loss journey public. I’m sorry about that. I’ve tried everything else, so I’m hoping having people ‘watch’ me will keep me on track. Weighing myself has always been difficult and I need to see the numbers to stay motivated. Standing on a set of bathroom scales is too hard and chair scales are about $3000. A very good friend of ours builds race cars. He mentioned that he has scales at his workshop that are divided into 4 pieces – each piece goes under each of the 4 wheels. He offered to weigh me on them each week.
Then I had a thought! What if I bought 4 sets of bathroom scales and put each of the wheels of my wheelchair onto one of the scales. Would that work? A couple of messages to and from an engineering friend of mine (the smartest person I’ve ever known- and she’s nice and stunningly beautiful- don’t you hate people like that?) and I had my solution. So it’s off to the shops I go tomorrow to buy 4 sets of bathroom scales.
There are other reasons I need and want to lose weight.
The health and well-being of my family
Getting me in and out of bed, on and off the toilet, on and off the couch, in and out of the car, is all physically demanding for my family. I’m really worried that one of them will hurt themselves lifting me. If Steve hurts his back it means time off work that we can’t afford. I’m going to be disabled for a long time so I need to do everything I can to protect their backs.
2. My health
If I continue on my current path, I will end up with significant health issues. I don’t need my life to be more complicated. I also don’t want to burden my family with more carer responsibilities. I also need to set a good example for the kids.
At the moment I am able to take myself to the toilet. This means I can be alone in my home. If I continue to put on weight, I will lose the ability to do that and will need someone around all the time. On weekends when kids are heading in all directions, I can stay home so Steve is free to run around.
4. Making the most of what I’ve got
There are so many things I simply can’t do. I can’t ski, bush walk, swim etc. But I can be there watching my family and sharing these times with them. I mentioned earlier that it is now much harder for my family to get me to places where I can watch them. Why on Earth would I want to limit my ability to be part of family adventures.
There are aspects of my appearance that I can’t help. My mouth is paralysed on the left side. So when I talk I look funny. I’m in a wheelchair. My left foot sits on its side. The fingers on my left hand form a fist. But I want to look as good as I can for my kids. I don’t want to be Jabba-the-Hutt on wheels. I’ve also found that the more weight I put on, the less pride I have in my appearance. I want to look after myself and take pride in how I look.
So overall, losing weight will change my life. I want to make it happen this time. So I’m sharing my journey so that I am held accountable. Wish me luck!
In future, I will only post an occasional update on my blog. I will create a tab on my site, and update my weight loss journey there. So you won’t be notified as I update that section. If you are interested in checking my progress you will need to check there. And if you’re not you won’t receive regular emails about it.