​Mountains & Wheelchairs

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on December 23, 2020 # COVID-19, Lifestyle

CabinHaving a son in a power wheelchair definitely makes finding an accessible cabin rental in the mountains much more difficult. Most cabins have some kind of stairs on the property, two stories or a loft. Late one night, scrolling on one of those rental sites, I stumbled across a wheelchair accessible cabin in Big Bear, CA. I noticed the large roll-in shower. December was a few months out, but I spontaneously booked four nights early in the month. I thought it would be fun to kick off the Holiday season with a family trip to the mountains, a change of scenery and fresh air. With COVID-19 still present, I planned to bring all our food and stuff to do. Things continue to change as far as closures and shutdowns. This trip turned out to be a much-needed getaway. Clear mountain air and beautiful scenery did our family good. We brought Christmas movies, puzzles, crafts and games.playing games in cabin

The cabin was a one-story open layout, had a wheelchair ramp leading right into the front door, a master bedroom with a huge roll-in shower. Three bedrooms total, each had its own bathroom. It made for a great set up and slept seven people very comfortably. We had room for two more guests with the option of a pull-out sofa. The cabin's open floor plan with the kitchen and living room combined allowed my son Zack to roll around and be right in the action easily. There was a video game system, an old arcade game table (Mrs.PacMan, my favorite game in my younger years), and a pool table. Zack was injured at the age of 15 in a beach accident. He has now been in a wheelchair for a decade. At 26, this was his first time playing the game of pool after injury. He was just watching the first couple of days, giving input. On the last day, his fiancé said, "why don't you just push the balls around on the table, not use the poles?" She realized he could use a certain pool cue that is used for hard to reach shots (called a snooker). Once laid out on the table, Zack could take a shot with further pushing. He also played checkers for the first time in years. After Zack participated in both these games, I realized that we forget to even try new things sometimes, getting caught up in a routine. It's been a big reminder to me that even though paralyzed, don't settle for "this is it" if there is something you want to do, try!Zack outside cabin

Most likely, there will be an adaptive way. You just need to be determined and creative. Watching my son interact with his siblings doing fun activities has re-inspired me to keep pushing, looking for and find new things and activities he can do, not just to assume it cannot be done. Getting away from my daily mundane life helped me to get re-inspired.

I know Covid has taken away most of our social interaction at this time, but it won't last. I'm thinking ahead of places to visit and look forward to going back to the mountains—any season in nice up there.

With Christmas now just days away, I'm trying to soak it all in. The decorations, music, wrapping gifts, cheesy Christmas movies, cooking and baking. It's definitely my favorite holiday, but it does come with lots of preparation. I continue to remind myself to stay focused on what I'm doing at the time and not let my head spin out of control or let my constant lists of To Do's control my day. It's taken me many years to realize I can relax. I had to learn to give myself permission to do what makes me feel happy. After raising (and still am) four kids, I lost myself a bit. The funny thing is my kids just want a happy, relaxed mom! So, go enjoy your holiday, whatever it looks like this year. I hope that this Crazy 2020 will be one that we learned a lot from and I'm happy to welcome 2021…Happy Holidays everyone!

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.