One of my co-workers is a Disney Freak — annual Disneyland membership; knows the in’s and out’s of all the special park perks; owns lots or really
freaky cool Disney paraphernalia, etc.
But she’s got nothing on my Spouse who, if given the opportunity, would live in either Disneyland or Walt Disney World (or both, simultaneously). She is a bona fide Disney Commando, while I am a part of the greater non-Disney Diaspora, forever shunned because I cannot relate to the Chosen Disney People Thing.
But I’m okay with that and, now, back to my co-worker.
Last week Disneyland staged a one-day, 24-hour promotion where the park was, get this, open for 24 hours straight. tMy co-worker was all over this event like
stink on sh the fanatical Disneynoid she is.
Upon her return to work afterwards, she regaled us with not stories of how wonderful everything was, but, oddly enough, how incredibly crowded it seemed, even to her.
“Eureka!” I exclaimed. Finally someone else who thinks the place is more suited to Tribbles than Muggles. And from a Disneywonk, to boot.
Her displeasure brought to mind my own Disney Experience that took place early last year.
Fair Warning: It’s semi-Shameful, but True.
As Daughter will verify, our family mostly dreams of vacations without actually taking them. Just like we spend time searching on Zillow for homes we’d rather live in than taking care of the one we’ve got.
However, we do occasionally manage to launch a holiday excursion about once a decade, and Orlando, Florida it was in the early part of 2012. At a Disney Resort, no less.
For context, during this period Daughter was still semi-happily ensconced in college in Philadelphia and Son was beating the sidewalks looking for employment somewhere north of San Diego. Daughter Number Two (DNT) was the sole offspring from our particular gene pool in attendance, so I guess it technically wasn’t a “family” vacay, since two siblings were missing. However, we invoked the Greater Family Substitution Clause and were accompanied by Spouse’s Sis and her Son, for a grand total of five.
Rather than bore you with the nitty natty details of the Magic Kingdom, I would rather bore you with describing how unseasonably hot it was last February. I’m talking Sweat Monster, shirt-drenching, record breaking heat and humidity. For someone (like me) well suited to zero heat and balmy SoCal weather year round, it absolutely
sucked was terribly uncomfortable.
But our small platoon led by Daughter’s Mother would not be intimidated. During our four-day stay, we laughed in the face of hardship and fatigue. In fact, we considered the weather to be just another theme park challenge that could be met and overcome through funnel cakes and really overpriced fast food.
And it worked, for the most part, almost.
I think it was the afternoon on Day Three (could have been Day Four — it’s all rather hazy now) when DNT “hit the wall.” For lack of the appropriate medical terminology, she was physically fried and started experiencing such excruciating pain in her legs that she was having trouble with basic locomotion.
It was the full Monty for her: pain, tears, fatigue, exhaustion, and more leg pain.
To be completely fair, DNT has experienced this same pain semi-frequently growing up, and a basic cause and effect diagnosis has so far escaped all the doctors and specialists she’s seen over the years.
So we were faced with both a situation and a dilemma. We were stuck deep inside the park and short of carrying her myself what I estimated to be approximately twelve miles to the shuttle busses, we needed an alternative.
I was too mentally exhausted to be of much help, as my brains was fried from the “fun” of the first few days of the trip.
Cue Power Commander, Stage Right, aka, Daughter’s Mother.
I’ll paraphrase the conversation that ensued: “Look, she can’t walk, you can’t carry her, she’s in agony. Let’s just get her off her feet.”
“Well, she is off her feet,” I said. “She’s sitting here on the grass in the shade crying.”
“Not helpful. I’m getting her a wheelchair. The kid can’t walk.”
“Can we do that?” I asked. “Is it allowed?”
“Short of calling an ambulance, I don’t know what else to do. I’m going to go get one.”
And she did, and we plunked DNT into the chair after giving her some time to recover.
Then we thought, well, we’re here, and she’s stopped crying, and we have locomotion; shouldn’t we just carry on and see how she does?
In the face of this misery, what ensued was sheer wonder. No, DNT’s legs didn’t miraculously heal themselves, though we plowed her with pain meds (I think) and ice cream (I’m pretty sure).
No, we discovered the real key to the Magic Kingdom was the wheelchair. Suddenly, we didn’t have to wait in line for anything any longer. We had our own special lines, and we had our own special viewing areas.
And therein I discovered the three primary stages of temporary disablement:
1) Guilt – Is this bad? There are some truly disabled folks here. Even though DNT can’t walk, aren’t we horrifically bad people for taking advantage? That’s what we’re doing, right? Taking advantage? Are we going to hell? Have we cursed DNT? Even if it kills me, I will carry her back to the bus in order to avoid the shame.
2) Joy – Once you get past the guilt (after all, she’s stopped crying and isn’t in so much pain), you start to appreciate the easy access capability to everything. I liken it to those (very) few occasions when I (mistakenly) fly first class. Though I don’t belong in the privileged cabin, I look down my nose at the rabble filing past me to the oblivion of Coach, knowing that somehow I was cheating the devil and, yes, ma’am, you’d better believe I’d like another mimosa before take-off.
3) Entitlement – “Can’t you see I have a child in a wheelchair here? Geez, clear a path!” It was remarkable to me how quickly I transitioned from Stage 1 to Stage 3. Probably took an hour. Ninety minutes at most.
Half a day in a wheelchair enabled our ten year old kid to finish out the last part of her Disney Adventure, without having to endure really traumatic pain while doing so. She recovered enough overnight to be able to kind of walk around the park the next day without too much difficulty, but we kept the day short to preclude a reoccurrence of the same phenomenon.
A Podiatrist recently cautioned me about the lure of wheelchairs.
“A lot of guys come in here, trying to get off their feet and into a chair. Let me tell you. Once they do that, they never go back to walking. The chair’s too easy.”
Don’t I know it, brother. Don’t I know.