July 20th 2017, my family set out on our first “real vacation” after the stroke. I was apprehensive. I used to be in
control charge of every detail of our vacations, down to packing up the car for the road trip. I dubbed myself the Tetris champion of luggage packing. I was able to cram luggage for 4 people, snacks and “other essentials” in the back of the Impala (may she RIP) and now the CR-V. It is not easy to not be in control charge anymore. The boys are older and they can pack their own luggage– so what if they only pack one pair of undies– and I instructed them on how to arrange the bags in the car trunk. My anxiety was still high. What if I get sick in the car? What I didn’t bring enough meds? What if ? what if? What if I just take a deep breath and just enjoyed myself?
Saturday, July 22, 2017, my sister celebrated her birthday at Universal Studios Hollywood. She booked us for the VIP tour and boy it was posh! The day started with a delicious breakfast which we almost missed coz our GPS led us astray. After inhaling yummy pastries (sorry no pics), we met with our guide. VIP perk #1 we get to jump the line on any ride we choose! Which was very much appreciated. It was around 1,000 degrees and the park had about a million guests that day! Our first stop was the lower studio. I had forgotten that “lower studio” meant four super crowded, super long escalator rides down. And we had to keep up with our fast moving tour group. I love the rides at Universal, I love thrill rides in general. But this time I was apprehensive, I didn’t know how my broken brain will react to the jostling, shaking and speed of the rides. The boys were worried that I will have another stroke if I get on the rougher (fun) rides. I got on Jurassic Park since I know it was pretty mild and really wet which was a plus in the hot weather.
The moment i have been waiting for finally arrived! We were at the Harry Potter Experience! I was so giddy, I swear I would have floated away if Armando wasn’t holding my hand. It.Was.Glorious!!! The snow on the roof tops, the shops and the owls! And of course Moaning Myrtle was in the bathroom being her old, irritable self. It was understandable that my son was nervous about my getting on the The Forbidden Journey ride. Our guide
described it as fast paced, rough and with lots of flashing lights (in my mind: FUN). The ride was UH-MAY-ZING! I would love to get into detail, but it is something to be experienced. Yes, I went twice.
I am proud of myself for keeping up with the tour group. I am proud of my mom for keeping up s well. It was definitely fast paced. I am sure the other folks in the group were a tad impatient with us. My mom braved the Walking Dead attraction. Speaking of, how many people could say “I was bit! I was bit” while exiting the attraction and actually walk the part!
I knew that going on vacation will not be the same after the stroke. I will be slower, the kids will worry and for now, I will have limitations. But I am determined that I will not be held back. I was going to rent a wheelchair for the day. I am glad that I decided against it. This was a challenge I overcame. The heat, the crowds, the noise and the pace of the tour were challenging. We had to keep up with a group of 6 able-bodied people. I more than once considered dropping out of the group, but I am glad I didn’t. We saw places at Universal Studios that are not open to the general public. At the end of the day, I was wiped. I could not think straight, my leg refused to move and I felt like i had no control of my body anymore. I knew that the neurofatigue would be kicking my ass the coming days (and it did).
I am looking forward to more vacations and more adventures. My disability might slow me down, but it will not limit me. I admit I tire easily, I am slower and it takes longer for me to recover. I am not ready to stop. If I am too slow for some people, they can move ahead of me and I will hobble my way to the adventure that awaits me.