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News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Wheelchairs: Love to Have, Hate to Need

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Wheelchairs, scooters and I have a love/hate relationship. Not hate the actual chair, just the need to use one, hate the fact that my mobility is so badly affected by multiple sclerosis that walking, with a walking aid, any further than 10 to 15 yards is impossible without sitting down.

From that, you will probably realise the reason that various ways of getting around have played a part in my life in the last few years and will continue doing so.

Let’s start with scooters. There have been a couple. I remember using one for the first time, the feeling of independence was incredible. The first one bought from a mobility aids store was supposedly a mini sized model. It was certainly the smallest one on display but it was heavy and was difficult to lift into a car.

I next bought a smaller model that easily came apart to pack into a car but its batteries just weren’t up to the job, so that one was a second failure.

Next it was time to give wheelchairs a chance. I’ve had two manual ‘self-propelled’ chairs but as MS means I have very little strength on my left side, if trying to propel myself, the chair goes in left handed circles; forget a straight line. That meant my wife Lisa had to push me and, while that never bothered her, it meant that my independence was curtailed.

j-silver10jMy doctor back in the UK recommended that I have a motorized chair ad, in due course, it was available. It was supposedly foldable but to achieve that two heavy and bulky batteries had to be disconnected and removed and lots more. In fact, to collapse that chair took about 40 minutes with a similar time to put it together again. Simply impossible without meeting the expense of getting a vehicle especially adapted to carry it without collapsing the chair.

More recently, though, I have bought one of the lightweight, foldable wheelchairs being widely advertised online by Better Products for Disabled People. Here, pictured above, is the wheelchair I bought,

Finally, I have found the perfect match for my needs. It folds and unfolds in matters of seconds. It is compact enough when folded to go in the back of our car along with the weekly shopping and is light enough, just, for my wife to lift into and out of the car.

wheelchairs

Hey, that’s me in my new wheelchair in the HSCT centre in Moscow, with Dr Fedorenko and assistant Anastasia.

It has two sleek batteries that slide into the chair frame and is brilliant in use. It is easy to control, has the tightest of turning circles, in fact it can turn around in its own length, and can travel so far without recharging.

A couple of weeks ago, I took the chair with me to Moscow. As I was travelling alone, it made my life easy. Whether it was negotiating city streets, a bus station, hours in an airport waiting for the time for my flight, or travelling through the Moscow hospital’s maze of corridors, the new wheelchair coped and, eventually getting home, it still had more than half its charge. And no, I didn’t recharge it while away from home.

All in all, in my opinion, the BPDP wheelchair is the very best for my needs.

To see if it would suit you, just contact BPDP through its website or talk to Shaun Atkinson on Facebook.

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ian profile

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Wheelchair user’s dream: Motorized, foldable and lightweight

As regular readers will know, I am a bit of an advocate when it comes to accessibility and mobility issues and, from time to time, do address these subjects. Those subjects are of particular interest to me as I have to use a wheelchair as my mobility is severely restricted because of multiple sclerosis.

Occasionally, I come across something that simply deserves to be highlighted because it fulfills a need that people with disabilities have. For example, someone who needs a wheelchair to get about has a general choice of a manual or motorized one.

A manual one either has to be self-propelled, if the user is physically able to do so, or be pushed, so the wheelchair user has to relinquish independence and rely on someone else.

The alternative, as I have discovered, is not much better. Motorized wheelchairs are great to use, easy to maneuver and control and give the user the feeling of real independence. However, they have a major downside too – and that is their weight. They are so heavy.

In fact, anyone that uses a motorized chair and wants to take it to different places needs a specially adapted vehicle with either a hoist, ramp or elevator platform to load the chair on board.

BUT, there is an answer to the problem. There are now good quality, lightweight, folding motorized chairs that make the old problems disappear:

  • They give the user the independence provided by all motorized chairs;06 blue
  • They fold-up in seconds to go in the boot (trunk) of even a small car;
  • They are light enough to be lifted easily into and out of a car by one person;
  • Their batteries simply pull out in seconds to be transported separately on aircraft;
  • They are light enough to be carried on and off tenders if the user is going on a cruise holiday.

Talking of cruises, here is a report from Emma. She had just taken delivery of one such folding motorized chair from Better Products for Disabled People. This is her story:

Earlier this month my husband and I set off on our first ever cruise, heading to the Norwegian Fjords. We had been recommended cruising for its excellent accessibility but had no idea what it would be like.

We were taking my new folding motorized wheelchair but were concerned after the warnings from the cruise company about narrow doors and door thresholds. We need not have worried.

For a week I had more freedom than I’ve had at any point since my MS took most of my eyesight; I could navigate the ship just fine, the wheelchair took it all in its stride. Door thresholds were no problem; narrow corridors and doors were only an issue because of my lack of sight and skill and I improved quickly.

The battery handled it brilliantly; I spent at least eight hours a day in the wheelchair zooming around deck, attending shows, going to meals or out on excursions and never had a single problem.

What I did have were lots of admiring glances which turned into questions about where I got my wheelchair from and how I like it. Who would have thought I would be a travelling sales woman? BPDP folding electric wheelchair you are an international lifesaver.

Now, you cannot say better than that. Much to the relief of my wife, Lisa, my BPDP chair is on order. When it arrives, we’ll have the best of both worlds. I’ll get my independence back as I use a motorized chair and it will come out and go back into the car as simply as a manual chair.

 

Better Products for Disabled People <<http://better-products-for-disabled-people.myshopify.com>>

 

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Tomorrow´s wheelchairs and scooters available now

Being diagnosed with a critical illness, disease or disability – in my case multiple sclerosis – is bad news. But when I was diagnosed, in 2002, it was a relief. Relief? Yes, it was a relief because, although not something anyone would wish to hear, I then knew what was wrong.

Over those years, I have become a wheelchair user. Not all the time, just when I need it. At home, I get around without one and can just about walk out to the car, if I sit down halfway. There is a low wall that meets that need.

More recently, I have graduated to an electric wheelchair and that gives me much greater independence to get about without needing to be pushed around. Problem is that these chairs are big and heavy. To transport them, a wheelchair adapted vehicle is required.

So, that got me thinking about the development of tomorrow’s wheelchairs.

I have already written about lightweight folding electric wheelchairs that can fit in the boot or trunk of a small car as well as being light enough to use to go ashore from a cruise ship when it is using tenders to move passengers to and from the port.

But there are other exciting developments too.

Technological advancements are being made all the time, so it should comes as no surprise that we now have tomorrow’s wheelchairs today. Just take a look at these:

Devices that enable paraplegics and people with disabilities to move around in a standing position. This provides better cardiovascular health, the ability to make eye-to-eye contact and the independence to reach high and low heights.

All-terrain wheelchairs (ATW) allow the user to venture out around town or get into the countryside. It can also reach where other chairs don´t dare to go. These include a beach, down muddy tracks, over grass or gravel, or along cobbled streets. The ATW can even push through snow.

A wheelchair user can even get one designed and built to suit their individual lifestyle.

Then there are the electric, powered, add-ons that can be fitted onto an existing manual wheelchair, turning it into a powered chair.

There is a multi-directional chair that allows the driver to move forward and backward, side-to-side, and diagonally as well using a hand-held control system. Extremely responsive the chair can be driven through tighter spaces quite easily.

And let´s not forget disability scooters. These come in various types and sizes including those that break down into a number if pieces to fit in a car. However, there is now a transportable folding scooter that actually unfolds and folds itself.

It´s just my opinion but I find that wheelchairs are more maneuverable than scooters as they require a larger turning circle. What´s more, I need something light, easy to fold and really compact when folded to improve my lifestyle. And that is why I have ordered one of Better Product for Disabled People´s silver chairs. Cannot wait for it to arrive.

 

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Zika set to hit Europe but WHO plays down risk

The Aedes mosquito is the most common carrier of the Zika virus.

The Aedes mosquito is the most common carrier of the Zika virus.

Health officials are playing down the scares associated with the risk of a European outbreak of the infectious Zika virus – although they admit it is possible as the weather gets warmer.

Meanwhile, 279 pregnant women in the US and its territories have tested positive for infection with Zika. Of these, 157 are in the US and another 122 are in US territories, primarily Puerto Rico, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Back in Europe, a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe said on Wednesday, that the overall risk was ‘small to moderate’ throughout most of Europe but is highest in areas where Aedes mosquitoes thrive. These are the Portuguese island of Madeira and the north-eastern coast of the Black Sea.

“There is a risk of spread of Zika virus disease in the European Region and … this risk varies from country to country, said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO’s regional director for Europe.

“We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritize the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak.”

The WHO’s European region covers 53 countries and a population of nearly 900 million. It stretches from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Mediterranean Sea in the south and from the Atlantic in the west to the Pacific in the east.

An outbreak of Zika that began in Brazil has caused concern across the world. It has been linked to thousands of cases of the birth defect microcephaly where mothers became infected with Zika while pregnant.

The WHO has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological condition that causes temporary paralysis in adults. GBS has also been linked to other neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

The WHO’s Geneva headquarters in February declared the Zika outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), warning it was spreading “explosively” in the Americas.

The WHO’s European office said that if no measures are taken to mitigate the threat, the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that can carry the virus mean the likelihood of local Zika transmission is moderate in 18 countries in the region.

A further 36 European countries have low, very low or no likelihood, the assessment found. Aedes mosquitoes are not found in those countries and their climates would not be suitable for the mosquitoes to establish themselves.

Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at Britain’s University of East Anglia, described the WHO’s Zika risk warning as ‘timely and real’ but added that any outbreak would probably be relatively short-lived.

“The risk is mostly in southern Europe and especially around the Mediterranean coast,” he said. “However, even if Zika did start to spread in Europe, it is unlikely to become established as an outbreak is very unlikely to continue over winter.”

The WHO’s European risk analysis took in multiple factors, among them the presence of Zika-transmitting mosquitoes, suitable climates for the mosquito, previous history of transmission of dengue fever or chikungunya virus, ship and flight connections, and population density and urbanization.

It also considered the capacity of the country to contain transmission at an early stage, based on four main factors: vector control, clinical surveillance, laboratory capacity and emergency risk communications.

 

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All new folding electric wheelchair is light enough to be carried aboard some cruise ships’ tenders

Crew members prepare to assist a wheelchair user to board a tender to travel back to the ship.

Crew members prepare to assist a manual wheelchair user to board a tender to travel back to the ship.

If you are fond of cruise holidays, you are far from alone and if you have any form of disability, you can be assured that all cruise companies will do their very best to help you.

What has always been a problem for users of electric wheelchair, however, are those ports of call where the ship cannot moor alongside but has to drop anchor and ferry all passengers ashore using tenders.

To transfer from ship to tender and from tender to jetty, a wheelchair user has to be capable of a taking a few steps with help but also have a collapsible chair that can be easily lifted onto and off the tender. And, up to now, this has really meant using a manual one.

Now, though, things might change.

Some cruise companies don’t allow their staff to pick up electric chairs but others do as long as they don’t exceed their weight limit. For example, Princess Cruises allows its individual crew members to lift chairs weighing no more than 22kgs (49lbs).1

Well, being a wheelchair user myself, I am excited to have just found one potential answer to this problem. I am sure that there may be others but this is the one I discovered:06 blue

It is a lightweight folding electric wheelchair. It folds and unfolds in seconds and can be lifted easily when collapsed. This particular model has two batteries, together weighing 4kgs (9lbs) that can be slid out easily to be carried separately and, without them, the chair weighs just 21kgs (46.3lbs).

The model in question is the Chinese-made BPDP 06J available from Better Products for Disabled People and you can find all you need to know here. That company also sells another folding model, the 10J, which is heavier and more expensive.2

 

1Please remember to check your cruise company’s wheelchair requirements with respect to tendering.

2If you know of any other folding electric wheelchairs that meet these weight requirements, please let me know and I’ll update the details.

 

Please note: I am a person who likes to travel and enjoys cruising but needs to use a wheelchair. This blog post is for people in a situation similar to myself as well as family members and carers. It is purely for information and is not in any way commercial.

 

 

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Hotel group bans disability scooters

Disability scooters parked on the pavement.

Disability scooters parked on the pavement.

Able-bodied people are being blamed for hiring and misusing mobility scooters leading to one of the leading hotel chains in Benidorm, Spain, to ban the scooters that are essential mobility aids for people with one or more of a whole range of disabilities.

As I live with multiple sclerosis and use a powered wheelchair, you will understand that this caught my attention.

According to Benidorm All Year Round website, “there is a local bylaw which forbids rental companies from hiring them out to under 55s with no disabilities, they are obviously flouting this.”

Hotel Castilla, one of Servigroup's nine hotels in Benidorm.

Hotel Castilla, one of Servigroup’s nine hotels in Benidorm.

Xavier Gil is Operations Director of Servigroup which has nine hotels in the area. He said: “We have nothing against people with disabilities and all our hotels are adapted to accommodate people who are less mobile. All public areas are accessible, with ramps leading to the bars, restaurants and pool areas in addition to specially adapted rooms for disabled guests.”

Wheelchairs are still allowed for guests that have mobility issues but those chairs must be stored in their own rooms.

Mr Gil added: “The situation with regards to mobility scooters has got totally out of hand and we have had to take action following numerous complaints from other guests – primarily for safety reasons.

“The sheer volume of scooters left in the lobby and reception areas are causing serious problems for both staff and guests, with anywhere in the region of 25 scooters obstructing passageways and exits. There have been countless accidents, with glass panes broken and furniture frequently damaged – and they are running out of room.”

Some tourists with mobility problems genuinely rely on the scooters and feel outraged by what they feel is discrimination by the hotel group. Others agree that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, not just in hotels but in Benidorm itself, one such person said: “This is about the able-bodied hiring scooters when they shouldn’t be using them.”

When asked if other hotels are likely to follow Servigroup’s lead, Antonio Mayor, President of HOSBEC – the local Hoteliers Association that represents 88% of the hotels in Benidorm – said: “No, I don’t think so. We will open our hands out to those guests as it is a necessity for many.”

Interestingly, Servigroup is not a member of the association.

The streets of Benidorm are similarly affected. A Benidorm All Year Round report says: “Only this weekend I saw so many young able-bodied joyriding on them. I can testify that there was nothing wrong with one pair of lads, as I saw them jumping off and on a double scooter.

“But it is not just the young, the over 55s are just as guilty. I have had to walk onto the road many a time to pass as they have been parked up outside bars and cafes, clogging up the pavements.”

I wonder if Benidorm is the only holiday resort that has an issue with the use and abuse of mobility scooters. Do you know of any others?

 

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Andalucía: Great scenery, fantastic weather and improving accessibility for those with disabilities

andalucia name

andalucia scenery andalucia beach

There can be absolutely no doubt that the area of Andalucía in the south of Spain is a lovely place to visit on holiday. There are many places to visit, fantastic and varying landscapes plus gorgeous Mediterranean beaches.

   And all this while enjoying the very best of Europe’s weather. Of course, it is a wonderful place to live, too. My wife Lisa and I moved here last November but that is another story.

   Getting around most places in Andalucía, and elsewhere in Spain for that matter, is not a problem for the majority of people. Similarly, access to buildings is largely pretty easy and not worth a second thought.

   Not worth a second thought, that is, as long as you are able-bodied. For those who have physical disabilities, however, it is not always so easy but tourist sites and hotels are fine and generally the situation is getting better. Accessibility is something that matters to me as my mobility problems, caused by multiple sclerosis (esclerosis múltiple in Spanish), mean that I’m in a wheelchair when out and about.

   Now, in more modern towns and cities, or in developments that have taken place relatively recently, there are few problems. In Andalucía, you can see real differences.

   In many towns the pedestrian crossings regularly alternate between those at road level and those at pavement height; the latter also serving as traffic calming ramps. But, for a wheelchair-user, both are easy to cross because the road-level ones have proper dropped pavements each side while the pavement-level ones are just that, flat and level.

   However, not all dropped pavements are as good. In older towns, originally built well before the invention of motor vehicles, some facilities for the disabled have been added but not always with sufficient thought.

   To see this, we need look no further than the road right behind the medical centre in Cuevas del Almanzora, in Andalucía’s Almería province.. There, someone has felt the need to install a dropped pavement, which is a good idea for wheelchairs – so close to the medical centre. But why on earth has the bottom of it been left well above the road level? Dropped from the pavement height it may be but there is still a significant step to overcome. Words fail me.

   Then there is one pedestrian crossing with a dropped pavement on one side of the road but a full height kerb on the other. Of course, tourists and my fellow British expats may be tempted to laugh at such a situation but I could show everyone an example of something similar in the UK. There, a crossing has a dropped pavement on each side but, having crossed the roadway, you are then left on an island with a kerb to negotiate to enter the car park.

   Actually, talking about car parking, that reminds me about people from other countries using disabled parking facilities.  Disabled parking cards issued by any EU country are recognised throughout Europe but how they may be used depends on the rules of the country in which you are parking.

   So, a holder of the disabled blue badge from Britain must remember that here in Spain it does NOT give you the right to park in a ‘no parking’ zone like it does on yellow lines in the UK; it simply gives the authority to park in a bay designated for that purpose.

   Finally, a word about access to buildings. Fair’s fair, this is improving throughout Spain but we have to realise that what may be desirable may not always be possible. What can we do, for example, about an old town post office with its door at the top of five steps and with no room for a ramp or a lift? Not a lot.

   However, in the same town, the branch of one bank, Banco Popular, with a step up to its door has recently been completely refurbished, including moving the door to eliminate the step and provide a flat and level entrance. Good planning for those with disabilities and parents with children in strollers.

 

 

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Cruise holiday finishes in New York City

Window displays are a big part of Christmas in New York.

Window displays are a big part of Christmas in New York.

Having spent the last three days concentrating on disabilities and the cuts to benefits planned for the UK, I think today it is time to lighten the mood.

A few days ago, having written about Lisa’s and my cruise around Hawaii on NCL’s Pride of America, I wrote a second blog about our enjoying the attractions of Oahu, the most populated island and home of the state capital of Honolulu.

After that, one comment I received said that he had never been there, probably never would and thanked me for sharing our trip with you all.

Well, our holiday did not stop when we flew out of Hawaii on the first stage of our trip back to the UK, where we then lived. Having left the cruise ship after it docked in Honolulu, we transferred to the airport and flew first to Los Angeles, then on to New York.

It was in the ‘city that never sleeps’ that my sweetheart Lisa was born and grew up. She loves the city and was so looking forward to showing me around and was quite determined that me being in a wheelchair, because of mobility problems linked with multiple sclerosis, was not going to stop us. Mind you it was December and, although not snowy, after our seven-day Hawaiian cruise it did feel distinctly chilly and we had to wrap up warm,

So helpful. Wheelchairs not a problem.

So helpful. Wheelchairs not a problem.

We stayed in a hotel across the road from Madison Square Garden and, being in Manhattan, most of the attractions were fairly close by – either by Lisa walking and pushing my wheelchair or in one of the city’s famous yellow taxis. Talking of the taxis, helping fold and store my wheelchair was no problem. Drivers seemed to delight in being helpful.

Lisa and I at the top of the Empire State Building.

Lisa and I at the top of the Empire State Building.

Our hotel room had a great view of the Empire State Building which is where we went after our first night in our hotel. Once again, no issues for a wheelchair user and, having completed the usual security checks, we travelled by high-speed elevators to the viewing platform. Lisa had hoped for a clearer day but I was happy to see so much of NYC.

Other places we went and things we saw during our short stay included the Christmas spectacular in the Radio City Music Hall, the festive tree at the Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty via a water-taxi ride, the 911 memorial plus the new Freedom Tower, built to replace the twin towers, Times Square, Broadway, the stores’ Christmas-themed window displays and a city sightseeing bus tour that included Central Park, Harlem, the UN building and a lot more.

Just a few of the Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular.

Just a few of the Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular.

Of course, one minor problem or another was bound to occur and, for me, it was during a trip to see Lisa’s sister Gen and her family. Towards the end of our visit there, I fell while in the downstairs ‘half bathroom’ and could not get up. Space was very tight, so nephew Jamie came to my assistance and helped me regain my feet before I could finish putting my trousers (pants) and underwear back in place.

Christmas Day itself started in a New York deli. I just had to try a genuine NY bagel with cream cheese and lox (like smoked salmon); it was great and went down so well after the previous night’s traditional hot dogs (Yes, I had two, but who’s counting).

Finally, on Boxing Day, we returned to the UK – our Hawaiian cruise and American holiday at an end.

 

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Norovirus: Sanitisers not as good as soap and water

hand washhand sanitiser

Some people refuse to go cruising for various reasons but the one fear that seems responsible for the reluctance of many is that of becoming ill in an on-board epidemic of one type or another.

And, without a doubt, the most well-known bug that dominates their thinking is the Norovirus – and that is emphasised every time a cruise ship reports an outbreak.

Of course, when you think of the number of cruises are completed by all the ships of all the cruise lines – the proportion of those that report an outbreak of illnesses is absolutely tiny.

Nevertheless, Norovirus is the cause of real trepidation, so let me explain exactly what it is.

Norovirus, sometimes known as winter vomiting bug, is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans everywhere – not just on ships – and affects people of all ages. The virus is transmitted by fecally-contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact and via aerial transmission of vomited virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces.

Much of the contamination can be avoided by good hygiene procedures so that the virus is not transmitted by person-to-person or person-to-foods. Many norovirus outbreaks have been traced to food that was handled by one infected person.

While having Norovirus is unpleasant, it is not usually dangerous and most of its victims make a full recovery within two to three days.

The genus name Norovirus is derived from Norwalk virus, the only species of the genus. The species causes approximately 90% of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world and may be responsible for 50% of all foodborne outbreaks of gastroenteritis in the United States,

On cruise ships and in hospitals, you will often find hand sanitisers placed at strategic points in an attempt to reduce, or even eliminate, infections. However, it seems they are not as good as washing hands.

Indeed. the UK’s Health Protection Agency claims that sanitising gels may be of benefit when used after a hand wash but adds they should not be regarded as a substitute for soap and water. Sanitisers may fail to remove all contamination from the hands, the agency warns.

The Center for Disease Control in the US also claims clean, running water plus soap should be used where available but that a hand sanitiser, containing an alcohol content of at least 60%, may be used instead where there is no convenient water supply.

However, one study in the US indicated that alcohol-based hand sanitisers may actually increase the risk of Norovirus in healthcare settings. Staff in long-term care facilities where Norovirus has been reported were found to be six times more likely to use hand sanitisers either to the same degree or more frequently than they would use soap and water.

So, wherever you are, keep your hands clean and make sure you wash them thoroughly.

hand wash how to

 

 

 

 

 

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Before our Hawaii cruise, it was time to enjoy Oahu

Tahiti dancers in the Polynesian Cultural Centre's boat pageant.

Tahiti dancers in the Polynesian Cultural Centre’s boat pageant.

When I was a first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, my life didn’t change but 14 years later it has – now my mobility is severely affected but my determination to enjoy life hasn’t changed. I see no reason to shut myself away and suffer; my need is to get out and live life as well as I can. Yes, I need a wheelchair to travel more than 10 to 15 yards but so what? In today’s world of improving (though by no means perfect) accessibility, a wheelchair is no reason to be held back.

A cruise in a wheelchair? Absolutely. Hawaii in a wheelchair? Of course.

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Just a few days ago, I brought you memories of a great cruise that Lisa and I enjoyed around the islands of Hawaii on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

Mention was made of our shore visits on Maui, the Big Island – two stops there at different ports, and Kauai but how could Oahu, the most populated of the islands, and the one containing Honolulu the state capital, be ignored?

Well, of course, it cannot; so back to Hawaii we go.

On arrival at Honolulu airport, we were greeted with leis of flowers.

On arrival at Honolulu airport, we were greeted with leis of flowers.

The Pride of America cruise actually starts and finishes in Honolulu so, to make the most of Oahu, Lisa and I arrived by plane three days before embarkation.

We stayed at the tremendous Outrigger Reef on the Beach hotel where, on our first morning, we enjoyed breakfast in one of its restaurants with no windows and the Pacific Ocean only a few yards away.

During our stay on the island we packed a lot in. This included visits to the Polynesian Cultural Centre, Pearl Harbor, Paradise Cove Luau, dinner at the Top of Waikiki, and coach tours that included passing the golden statue of King Kamehameha. Fans of the modern version of the TV cop show Hawaii 5-0 will be used to seeing that statue outside the Steve McGarrett team HQ in the series.

Polynesian Cultural Centre: Tonga's host.

Polynesian Cultural Centre: Tonga’s host.

The cultural centre features the traditions of many of the original Pacific islanders, including those from Tonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, the Marquesas islands and Hawaii itself plus the Maoris from New Zealand. Their skills are fascinating to see and experience and it is certainly not a place to rush through.

USS Arizona likes where she sank in Pearl Harbor.

USS Arizona likes where she sank in Pearl Harbor.

The Shrine Room at Pearl Harbor is a memorial to all who died.

The Shrine Room at Pearl Harbor is a memorial to all who died.

Another ‘must’ is a trip to Pearl Harbor, the US Navy base that was notoriously attacked by Japan on December 7 1941 – bringing the then neutral USA into World War II. I am a Brit and even I found our visit there to be emotional.

If you go to Hawaii and don’t go to a luau, you will have missed a treat.  It’s a series of entertainment spectaculars plus a great meal. There are a number of luaus to choose from and we chose the one at Paradise Cove. We were picked up by coach close to our hotel and that’s when the fun started as we were kept fully entertained by our guide. As I was in my wheelchair, when it was time to get our dinner from the servery, he told Lisa and me to stay at our table while he brought our food to us. It was absolutely perfect.

One night we decided to eat in the Top of Waikiki revolving restaurant. Having taken an elevator as far as it would go, we found ourselves one floor below the restaurant with the only access being via stairs. Seeing my problem, a senior staff member appeared and took us to another elevator that was actually inside the kitchen. Still, it got us to our table.

At the end of our three days on the island of Oahu, we boarded the Pride of America for our cruise.

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