Tag Archives: California Adventure

How to plan the best summer vacation despite your chronic illness

How to plan the best summer vacation despite your chronic illness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the thought of taking a summer vacation get you excited or does it send chills down your spine?  I loved traveling before I became chronically ill.  In addition to yearly Disneyland vacations, I loved exploring new areas in other states or within the ones that I lived in.  Weekend road trips without a destination were my favorites.

Soon after chronic pain became a part of my daily life I began to loathe traveling. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go exploring, instead it became too painful. Not only did my excursions increase my pain while away, it would take weeks and sometimes months to recover from them once I returned home. Not wanting to spend most of my time recovering I opted to stop traveling.

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A day at the beach revealed an awesome surprise

A day at the beach revealed an awesome surprise

In my latest Oska Pulse Journey update, I am sharing what this drug-free pain relief device has done for me in four months that my doctors haven’t been able to do in seventeen years.

I am not a medical professional.  I am not issuing medical advice.  And while I am an Oska Wellness affiliate my opinions and thoughts are my own and were no way influenced by the company.  My experience with Oska Pulse is mine and mine alone.

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My body failed to meet my expectations

My body failed to meet my expectations

 

I have been living with multiple chronic illnesses for over 17 years.  Throughout this time I have learned to expect my body to fail my expectations.  Some of those failures were due to my own unrealistic expectations of what I wanted to do and others were the result of my conditions progressing making it impossible for my body to do what it had been. If I have learned anything throughout my chronic life it is that I should always expect the unexpected and sometimes that is a good thing.

What I expected

Six weeks ago my husband and I found out that our landlord was selling our home and we had one month to find a new house and move.  Long story short (learn more by reading Moving Mayhem) we found a place but were unable to align our exit and move in dates. We had to go through the moving process twice in the past two weeks.  The first phase was moving our stuff into storage and staying with a friend for two weeks until we were able to move in.  We completed phase two of moving everything from storage into our new house this past weekend.  I honestly didn’t expect my body to cooperate for the entire process.  I expected my body to behave the way it did during our last move 7 years ago, which would have required lots of rest and not being able to do anything other than pack, clean, and move.  I also expected to experience additional pain and to need weeks to recover since that’s what I experienced and needed last time.

How my body failed to meet my expectations

My body failed to meet my expectations throughout the past six weeks.  Instead of daily naps my body only demanded one or two naps a week.  The few days that were spent in bed were because of pressure pushing in a couple of heatwaves, not because of packing, stress, or physical activity.  The last time I moved I didn’t have the physical strength to do anything other than prepare for the move.  This go around I was able to meet a few friends for coffee and dinner.  I also rode the new Guardian’s of the Galaxy Mission Breakout ride at Disneyland.  The morning after my day of Disney therapy I awoke with intense pain and worried that I would never finish packing.  Yet the next day I was back in action. This was completely unexpected because I thought for sure I was going to be down for weeks. In addition, on the first day of moving our stuff into storage my hip joint swelled and attempted to dislocate.  I had to work hard to not panic as I wondered how I was going to finish the next day.  I fully expected to be in pain and unable to walk the next morning.  To my surprise my pain level decreased and I was able to help for more hours than I could have ever expected.  Between phase one and two of our move I was also able to take Zeva the Diva for a daily 10 minute walk and go to Disneyland.  During phase two I was able to help way more than I expected.  Not only was I able to help my husband with unloading, I was also able to push through most of the day without pain medication making it possible for me to drive and fill my vehicle with boxes several times.  I had to use my walker to get around on foot that evening, but was able to walk and stand again the next morning. The following few days I was able unpack and work on organizing the house while only needing a mobility aid in the evenings. 

Zeva the Diva on one of our morning walks.

What the heck is going on?

For the first 12 years of my chronic life the failures I experienced were always disappointing. My doctors all said that I would never improve, that this was as good as it gets.  They were wrong! Everything began to change after I stopped treating my conditions with pharmaceutical medications and turned to medical marijuana (MMJ) 5 years ago.  Treating my conditions only with MMJ has been amazing; however the additions I have added to my treatment plan in this past six months have completely blown my mind.  In addition to medicating with MMJ, I made dietary changes and committed to make exercising a part of my daily life, not just something I did when I felt like it.  Then three months ago I added another alternative treatment, Oska Pulse, to my treatment plan.  Some of the results from using my Oska Pulse were quick and remarkable.  (Read My Oska Pulse Journey to learn more)  Other results have occurred at a slower pace, but they aren’t any less remarkable than the others.  My stamina and strength has increased.  I am able to feel the sources of my pain and address them before my entire body reacts.  I am able to concentrate and focus on projects longer than I was before.  More importantly I have more time and energy for family and friends.

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Adjusting my expectations

I got used to expecting my body to fail me.  Each failure used to devastate me, over time I became emotionally numb to them.  It seemed pointless to get upset over something doctors said I couldn’t change.  Facing daily disappointment became my new normal.  The past few months have changed this as my biggest failures have been anything but awful.  Part of me wants to throw a party and celebrate each time my body surprises me, but the other is afraid that it’s not real or that it is only temporary.  All I know is that I have entered a new phase in my chronic life.  I may not be able to control flares that are caused from weather or my environment, but getting through them is a lot easier knowing that I am doing so much more during the time in between flare ups.  I may get knocked down a bit more because I don’t know what my new limits are.  Whether my improvements are temporary or permanent I am looking at life differently.  I am keeping my expectations realistic, yet allowing myself to try new things without fear.  Even if they do knock me down, the past few months have proven that I will rise again.  Three years ago I told my husband that I had set a goal to be able to spend less time in my wheelchair and more on foot while at Disneyland.  At that time I could barely handle a five minute walk down Main Street using my wheelchair as a walker, now I can do it for 10-15 minutes per visit without additional pain! My improvements haven’t all occurred overnight nor are they what some consider huge, but instead no matter how long they take I consider them all to be enormous WINS.  

I want to be clear that I am not offering medical advice.  I am just sharing my experience and treatment plan.  I am happy to answer any questions you have about my plan, but cannot and will not advise you on your plan; that is for you to decide.

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Moving Mayhem

Moving Mayhem

Stress is my enemy.  I do my best to plan and schedule appointments and outings in a manner that won’t increase my stress/pain level or spark an anxiety attack.  However, some times life throws some unexpected curve balls and I have to push through pain, anxiety, and fatigue to deal with them. A month ago we were given notice that our landlord was selling the house.  All my past moves had been planned as in we made the choice to move and when we would do it.  I have only moved on other time with all of my chronic illnesses in full swing.  While tough, I had months to prepare and because I wasn’t working I was able to focus all of my energy on packing.  Not only were we not mentally prepared for a move this month, but I didn’t have the time to prepare like I did in the past,  Thankfully we found a home within our price range fairly quickly, which is not an easy task in southern California.  In the meantime I have been working on this blog, articles for Psoriatic-Arthritis.com, other freelance gigs, reviews for Chronic Illness Bloggers, AND my new podcast Dish’n with The Disabled Diva. Whew…. I have a few other projects that I have had to push to the side, but they can wait.  Even with all of that going on I have been able to get a lot of packing done and was excited to move into our new home this weekend.

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A change of plans

Some times even the best of plans fall apart.  Early in the week our new property management company informed us that our new house won’t be ready on the date we had planned and that it may take up to two weeks for them to make repairs before we can move in.  If that wasn’t frustrating enough, to add insult to injury our current property management company is refusing to budge on our moving date!!!  UGH!!! Talk about stress!!!  I have had a couple of nasty anxiety attacks this month, but thanks to our wonderful friends, people we think more of as family, who have stepped up and offered to help us it has been easier.  One angel has offered to let my family stay with her until our new house is ready.  I tear up every time I think about her generosity.  So we are moving everything into storage this weekend and will stay with her for a week or two.  Then we get to move again!!!  While not how I would have planned this move, it is working out.

My body would have never survived this move without my Oska Pulse. I wish I could buy one for all of my readers, but I can’t. However, I can save you $55 when you use promo code DIVA

My support system

I would have had daily anxiety attacks this past month and especially this weekend if it weren’t for my support system.  First is my husband who took on a lot of the moving responsibilities that I have handled in the past.  This made being able to continue working throughout this process possible.  My daughter has been a big help with the packing and we have a bunch of friends who will be helping move our stuff to the storage facility this weekend and out of it once we have the keys to our new home.  The angel who invited us to stay with her has made this detour in our moving process possible.  She is saving us thousands of dollars by not having to live in a hotel for a couple of weeks.  I thank God for her friendship every day! In addition to the people who have been helping, I couldn’t have done it without my current medical treatments.  If you have been following my Oska Pulse Journey, you know that I have had some significant improvements in the past two months.  Not only that but I have also noticed that my recovery time from flares, whether my conditions or my own stupidity was to blame, has also decreased.  Last Sunday I needed a break, so the family and I went to Disneyland to ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout ride.  The day after my pain was insanely high.  I though for sure I would be down for days if not weeks.  Before allowing myself to freak out with worry of not being able to finish packing this week, I gave myself a day of rest.  I medicated heavier than normal with medical marijuana, slept most of the day and all through the night, and used my Oska Pulse.  The following day my spine felt better and the pain in my ribcage lessened to the point that I was able to pack some more.  Before treating my conditions and body with Oska Pulse, the pain I experienced on Monday would have left me bedridden for weeks.  So you can imagine how surprised I was to be able to resume packing just after spending one day and night in bed.  This device is seriously amazing.  By the way, if you want to try Oska Pulse yourself, be sure to use promo code DIVA to save $55.  Also you can make payments if you pay with PayPal’s payment plan. Between Oska Pulse, CBD, and THC, this move will not only get done, it will get done without sentencing me with weeks or months of agonizing pain in bed.

Anyways, I need to wrap this up and get back to packing.  Disneyland fans stay tuned, I will be updating and sharing what you need to know about Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout when riding with a chronic illness or disability in a few weeks.

Wishing you a magical day filled with many reasons to smile!

Cynthia Covert aka The Disabled Diva

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How to survive a Disneyland or Disney World character meet and greet

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to survive a Disneyland or Disney World character meet and greet

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Survive a character meet and greet?  Aren’t those supposed to be fun?  For most people, both adults and children, they are.  It is a chance to meet their favorite characters, get autographs, interact, and have their pictures taken.  But some of us (adults and children) have physical and/or cognitive issues that can easily cause our day to go from magical to maddening.  Some may not like to be touched.  Others may need to be the one to initiate physical contact.  This can be problematic as most characters love to give hugs.  And beware; if one hug could set off a meltdown or cause physical pain, there are some characters that don’t know when to stop hugging or squeezing.  On a few occasions I have exited a meet and greet feeling like I had just been beaten up because the character was overly affectionate. There have been times when I chose to stand to meet a character only to come dangerously close to falling when a character has pulled me in for a hug.  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, there is a way to meet your favorite character without physical or emotional trauma.  Before visiting the parks, think about how you or the person (adult or child) with the physical or cognitive sensitivities reacts to everyday greetings.  Are they in constant physical pain?  Do they initiate physical contact or are they okay with someone else being the initiator? Will they tolerate a quick hug but nothing more beyond that? Will a prolonged physical touch or a rough hug cause physical pain?  When I am experiencing a high pain day, every touch no matter how light feels like a punch.  I could feel bruised for hours or days from the gentlest of hugs.  Do they have a weak immune system, could receiving a hug from a character that has already had thousands of other bodies pressed against it cause this person to become ill?

 

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Next, write a list of what would make the meeting more magical.  Keep it simple.  No touching, handshake only, be gentle, one hug, etc…   Depending on how many characters you or the guest with sensitivities is planning on meeting, you may want to print out the requests.  This would also be beneficial if the person will be meeting characters with other party guests and not always you.  Whether you print it out or not, make sure that everyone who could possibly accompany said person to a meet and greet is informed of the requests.  When you arrive at the line for your chosen character, you will see that they always have a cast member with them.  Some have several cast members in attendance.  Be sure to inform the first one you see of your requests.  They will then inform the character prior to your turn to meet the character.  

By following this simple tip, you can avoid messy meltdowns and physical pain.  Find out how to have a most magical Disney vacation by discovering what you should know about visiting the parks with a physical disability, chronic illness, special needs, a service dog, and more by reading my Disneyland attraction posts.  Information about Disney World attractions will be coming soon as well as a tool to help handicapped guests in both parks.  Visiting with a handicap of any kind can be daunting, but when you know what to expect in advance you have that much less to stress about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I call myself The Disabled Diva

cynthiacovertdisableddiva_coverimageFind out how I became The Disabled Diva, accepted my conditions, and more in this piece I wrote for Healthline.

If anyone would have told me in my 20’s that I’d be writing about living with multiple chronic illnesses in my 40’s I would have laughed. I’ve been experiencing various symptoms since the age of 10, but my flare ups were rare and never long in duration. Soon after my 30th birthday, I started feeling pain in my bones, muscles, and nerves, along with extreme fatigue almost every day. It was like someone had flipped a switch….. Click here to continue reading

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Wishing you a day filled with many reasons to smile,

The Disabled Diva

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Ten pitfalls of using a wheelchair at Disneyland

Ten pitfalls of using a wheelchair at Disneyland

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Some people think that those who use wheelchairs at Disneyland get on rides faster and/or have it easier than other guests.  However, that is far from the reality.  Using a wheelchair at Disneyland is tough, especially for those who don’t use one often.  In this post I share ten pitfalls that could ruin your visit.  Find out what they are and how to avoid as many messy moments as possible.

1.       A wheelchair doesn’t move you to the front of the line.

If you think that using a wheelchair will get you on rides faster than other guests you would be mistaken.  In California Adventure all the queues for rides and attractions are wheelchair accessible.  In the Disneyland Park, there are fewer ride/attraction queues that are wheelchair accessible.  In both parks, many of the queues, while wheelchair accessible, are only accessible to a certain point.  From those points the guest using the wheelchair and their party (a limited number can accompany the wheelchair- see #6) are moved to an accessible waiting and boarding area.  The rides in the Disneyland Park that do not have accessible queues require guests using wheelchairs to enter through the exit.  However, most of those rides also require what is known as a Disabled Return Time, which is basically a virtual queue.  Upon returning at the designated time, guests then enter via the alternate queue or exit and wait some more.  Our wait times can be anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes longer than the average queue.  To learn more about the Disabled Return Times and the queues for both parks, check out The Disabled Diva’s Unofficial Disneyland Accessibility Guide. 

2.       Rough terrain

Besides the really steep hills, when visiting Disneyland on foot, I used to think the parks were flat.  I was sooooo wrong!!! Not only are there steep hills throughout both parks, many of the areas that appeared to be or felt flat while walking are far from it.  For example: Walking on cobblestone in Fantasyland while wearing sneakers isn’t an issue.  However, rolling over that same area in my wheelchair when my body is already throbbing from pain, can and has increased my pain level.  I am not saying that you should avoid that area all together, just when your pain is higher than normal.  Other areas where the pavement is anything but smooth includes but is not limited to:  Adventureland, Frontierland, area near the Rivers of America, Fantasyland, Grizzly Peaks, Bugsland, and the Esplanade in between the parks.  There are also some rides that have an extremely steep incline/decline at their entrance/exit.  If you are like me and lack the physical ability to get yourself up and down those ramps alone, be sure to have a strong person accompany you.  Click here to learn more about attraction queues and boarding areas.

3.       Going against the flow

The exits are the entrance for wheelchairs for many rides and attractions that are not either fully accessible have a break off point.  While we are always advised to stay to a certain side, the exiting guests are not.  In their defense, they are not expecting oncoming traffic.  However, if they would look in front of them instead of at their friends or phones, they could prevent themselves and those using wheelchairs from getting injured.  Be on the lookout for mirrors to help you see what is around corners and always expect someone to not see you.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has landed in my lap, all because they weren’t watching where they were walking. 

4.       Not all restrooms are accessible

Yes, every restroom has at least one accessible stall, but not all of the entrances to those restrooms are easily accessed.  One of the worst is near City Hall on Main Street inside Disneyland.  The ramp goes all the way to the entrance making it difficult to swing a door open while trying to not roll down backwards.  If you are lucky enough to make inside the door, the entrance is narrow and lacks the room for other guests to go around you.  Sad part is the handicapped stall in that restroom is huge!!!  In my guide I list each restroom and share which are the easiest to access.

5.       Must wait longer than others to ensure a good parade or fireworks view.

The parade route in the Disneyland Park goes from Town Square at the beginning of Main Street to the area near “it’s a small world” in Fantasyland.  If you are using a wheelchair, you will want to camp out on the curb to ensure a view of any parade.  The reason for this is that the front (curbside) row remains seated throughout the parade, while everyone else behind that row must stand.  If you find yourself even in the second row, behind those seated, you will struggle to see anything, because the people next to you will lean and squeeze in front of and besides you.  Disneyland does provide a reserved handicap seating area.  However, it is on a first come, first served basis and has a poor view.  The handicap seating area is slightly elevated and has rows of benches.  The benches however are only for the handicapped and not their family members.  Family members, if there is no room on the benches due to a large number of handicapped guests, must stand behind these benches.  The worst part is that cast members and guests are always walking in front of the area and blocking the view.  I have used this area once and would never recommend it to anyone.  I would rather wait a few hours curbside than to ever sit there again.

 

 

6.       Not realizing that the number of people that can accompany a guest in a wheelchair is limited.

If your party totals 6 or less, this won’t be an issue.  However, those traveling with larger parties will be split up.  The best thing to do is to plan ahead of time.  Think about who wants to ride which attractions with whom and have your group line up in that order.  This will make it easier on you and the cast members as they direct one part of your party to the accessible queue and the other to the standard.  Just a little FYI:  Even though your party will be split up before boarding, you will still want everyone who is planning to ride to have a Disabled Return Time so that you can all enter the queue together at the same time.  I share everything you need to know about getting a Disabled Return Time in my guide. Another thing you will want to plan is where to meet upon exiting, especially if the exits for the disabled are separate from the standard exit.

7.       Eating and shopping are a little tricky with a wheelchair.

Whether it is a walk up or sit down restaurant, neither type of dining area is easy to move around in while using a wheelchair.  Tables are close together and paths between them are rarely accessible once guests are seated.  I recommend choosing a table on the outer perimeter or don’t plan on visiting the restroom or leaving your table for anything until you are finished with your meal. 

8.       We wait longer to use the restroom

With most restrooms only having two handicap stalls, and only one of them being wheelchair friendly, we often wait much longer than the average guest.  First, there isn’t always room to bypass the standard line so we must wait in that.  Sometimes a cast member will clear the way and make room for us to wait near our stall.  Secondly, families often use our stalls even though there aren’t baby changing stations in them.  Companion restrooms are equipped for families and the disabled, handicap stalls are not.

9.       Longer wait for trams and buses

Trams and buses that take guests from the parking areas to the parks have are limited in the amount of wheelchairs or scooters they can transport.  Patience is a must! The best way to avoid this hassle is to stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels or any other hotel within walking distance.

10.   We become trapped inside large crowds

Keep in mind when a parade, fireworks, or lightshow ends and do yourself a favor by avoiding that area until the crowd dissipates.  We once made the mistake of entering Frontierland just as Fantasmic ended.  We had been waiting to watch the fireworks, but they were cancelled due to wind.  We weren’t the only ones heading in that direction, so were most of the fireworks crowd.  Everyone one was elbow to elbow, moving slowly, and because my head was not visible people assumed I was an open spot causing them to either injure themselves as they fell over me or they fell on me.  When the crowds combined we came to a complete stop.  Because I was down below head level, I found myself feeling hot (even though the air was quite chilly) and claustrophobic.  I had bodies packed in tightly around me in all directions.  I try very hard to avoid situations like this.  Even if I am attending one of those shows, I will wait for most to exit before making my way out.  I would rather wait than be stuck in the middle of a thick crowd.

 

When you know what to expect you are less likely to let these situations ruin your vacation.  When I first began visiting Disneyland with a wheelchair, I found myself feeling annoyed more than joyful.  Now that I know what to expect and that there is always going to be some kind of annoyance or problem, I find it easier to let it go and keep rolling!  Planning on visiting Disneyland soon?  Be sure to download my guide for the disabled, chronically ill, and special needs.  Also be sure to tell your disabled, chronically ill, and special needs Disney loving friends about my site!

 

Wishing you a magical day!

The Disabled Diva

 

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