When you live with multiple chronic conditions, you get used to things not going as planned. As you may have already guessed very little of this day went as I had thought it would. I rarely visit Disneyland without another adult to do the driving. And when I do, I still have my teenage daughter with me to push me around the park as there is no possible way I could do a solo trip with my manual wheelchair. It has been over a year since I last drove my daughter and I to Disneyland. Today’s visit marks my 5th attempt. The first time I lasted 6 hours, and with visits 2, 3, & 4 I spent 4 hours in the park each. How long did I last this time? Read on to find out.
I live 45 miles from Disneyland. While not around the corner, the drive isn’t bad when traffic is moving. The reason I had planned on visiting my favorite mouse today was that I was already going to be in the area. I needed to drop my Prince Charming off in Los Angeles as he was leaving on a business trip. Typically, even with rush hour traffic it takes me just under an hour to reach Disneyland. Disneyland wasn’t my first destination this morning, so my morning drive time was 2 hours. Because I rarely drive more than a few miles at a time, I forget how much of a toll it takes on my body. I never thought it would happen, but I have really gotten used to being driven around by others. Maybe the reason I don’t mind it is that I am able to medicate when someone else is behind the wheel. Anyways, back to this day….. After two hours in the car without any pain medication, my back and hips were hurting pretty bad by the time I arrived at the parking garage.
My sweet daughter has been fighting the winter crud for the past week and a half. She felt better yesterday and was up for giving today a try when she woke up this morning. However, she began fading pretty fast this morning. I won’t say who, but one of left their pass in the car. The additional trip back to the parking garage and park probably didn’t help.
Wanting to help my daughter as much as I could, I attempted to maneuver my wheelchair by myself as much as possible. Not my brightest idea. My arm, shoulder, and back muscles just cannot handle the repetitive movement needed to get around by myself. The park hadn’t even opened and both arms were already experiencing spasms and tremors.
I was surprised to see such long lines at the gates on a Wednesday in February and even more surprised that no one was in the wheelchair line!
The crowd today was not the type of crowd that I normally encounter. Once those gates opened people were running and rushing inside. Which is pretty stupid, because while the gates were opened, the park itself was not. Prior to park opening time the only thing accessible to guests are the shops on Main Street. All the lands are roped off until the official opening time. Oddly enough, although we were practically run over on Main Street, no one tripped over my feet before the park opened. Unfortunately our streak was broken after the rope dropped to Tomorrowland. I swear everyone spiked their morning orange juice, because no one seemed to be capable of walking straight. People were walking like they were drunk and (not my or my daughter’s fault) we clipped 10 people during our visit.
If you haven’t noticed, Hyperspace Mountain is currently our favorite ride and how we love to start our day. On our last visit, my back began to spasm before the ride even began, yet my pain returned to my normal level a few minutes after riding. Today, I made it into the ride vehicle without freaking out my back muscles, felt pretty darn good when it ended, but then a few minutes later I was painfully aware that my back was not pleased.
Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to handle many fast rides, we originally planned to quickly knock out two fast rides, Hyperspace Mountain and Thunder Mountain, and then spend the rest of the day taking in various shows. While on our way to Thunder Mountain, my daughter began to look a little green and my spine was begging me to stay off of fast rides. Plan B, let’s ride Peter Pan. Hmmm. The line for Peter Pan was crazy long and would require a disabled return time. Because she was feeling worse by the minute, we decided to pick something without a wait time. Hello Snow White! Gotta love this slow moving and gentle ride! The air conditioning also provides a nice escape from the heat.
I had promised my daughter a Mickey pretzel, so we headed straight to the nearest pretzel cart. Surprise! They weren’t up and running yet….. BOO! Instead we grabbed a couple of Matterhorn Macaroons from the Jolly Holiday Bakery on Main Street. These are seriously my favorite treat.
No matter how well I am doing, I can only remain in the park as long as I have someone who is able to assist me. As we rested and snacked on our Matterhorn Macaroons, I could see that my daughter needed to go home. She began to cry when I suggested that we head for home, she didn’t want to disappoint me. I told her that there is no way I could be disappointed. I got to ride my favorite attraction and have my favorite treat. And then we were off. We slowly made our way back to the parking garage. It was kind of funny, as the park had only been open for an hour and a half, we were the only ones waiting for the tram to go back to the parking garage.
I am in no way upset that this visit marks our shortest visit of all time. That is why I live here and why I have an annual pass. It would be a different story if this one day was my only chance to visit or if I had to wait another year or two. One reason why I always suggest staying either on property at one of the Disneyland Hotels or at a nearby hotel that is within walking distance or has a shuttle is to avoid the pain and fatigue from driving. The second is by not driving you can medicate! But most importantly, if you have a chronic illness never, never, plan for only one day! I suggest a minimum of 3. This way even if you leave the park early everyday, your total amount of time in the park could quite possibly add up to a full day! When staying on property with my best friend last December, I only lasted for 4 hours on our first day and 8-10 hours on days two through five. My advice is to be flexible and let it go. I am never disappointed by the amount of time I spend in the park. I’d gladly spend an hour at Disneyland and 23 hours in bed, than 24 hours in bed.
Stay tuned, our next visit will be at the end of this month. I will announce the date as it nears. In the meantime, hopefully my daughter will kick her winter crud to the curb and I will give my body the rest that it is screaming for.
Tagged: arthritis, California, California Adventure, chronic illness, chronic pain, degenerative disc disease, Disney, Disneyland, fibromyalgia, handicapped accessible, health, hyperspace mountain, invisible disabilities, jolly holiday bakery, matterhorn macaroon, mental-health, mickey and friends, MMJ, MS, pain, psoriatic arthritis, relationships, snow white, spoonie, spoonies, tram, wheelchair