​Quadriplegic and Holiday Travel

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on January 25, 2022 # Travel

Collie Family in a townWe have 6 people in my family. My son Zack has been a quadriplegic since he was 15 after a beach accident in 2010. This year during the holiday, we wanted to find a place in the mountains, it’s not easy trying to find a place that is wheelchair accessible. We have been to all the local mountains where we live in Southern California, so we decided to try Prescott, Arizona, a drivable distance as our destination.

We packed up the wheelchair van loaded with luggage, snow clothes, medical supplies, commode shower chair, books and remote-control cars ready for a week away and hit the road. 6 hours turned to 8 with bathroom breaks, gas and food stops. It was dark by the time we hit the last stretch of mountains after crossing the long desert. As we started the mountain climb, it started to snow. Now, my son’s wheelchair minivan is not really made for snow. We pulled off to the side of the road, looking for a place for the night. When I searched hotels, we had booked the closest one. We only had about 10 miles to go, but it was a bit nerve-wracking up a snowing mountain. Slow and steady, we were relieved when we made it to the small-town hotel where we would be staying for the week.

Zack window shopping. He has a hood over the back of his head and is using a wheelchair.Booking wheelchair reservations takes patience to find accommodations. This time my family booked 2 rooms adjoining. One had a roll-in shower. I find larger chain hotels seem to work easier because of ADA laws. Since Prescott is a western town, there are many old buildings and historic old town whiskey row with a couple of very old hotels and saloons dating back as far as 1877. I investigated booking those hotels for the experience, but the rooms were very small, and since they were built so long ago and are considered historic, they do not have the accessibility that we need.

The Marriott one block away worked just fine, plus included a free breakfast and for 6 people for a week, that’s a bonus. Snow mixed with a wheelchair is also something my family is not used to. Being from Southern California Zack’s body has a hard time regulating body temperature, so he gets overheated, or in this case cold, very cold his body will feel freezing to the touch. We brought warm thermal, wool sweaters and a heavy overcoat, complete with a beanie hat, scarf and gloves. Zack tends to avoid the cold, but my kids are getting older are family vacations are getting fewer. I’m glad he pushed through, and we were able to enjoy a couple of fun snow days.

Zack driving his remote control carZack drove his remote-control cars in the snow, a hobby he’s picked up since injury, something he can do as a quadriplegic. No surprise we had the unexpected bump in the road, Zack’s condom cath ballooned up, kinked the leg bag causing him to pee his pants and the wheelchair cushion fully dressed in his snow clothes! We lifted him to the bed, to the shower, washed the pants the wheelchair cushion and re-dressed him. Frustrated but knowing this stuff will happen in the wheelchair world, as it just comes with the injury. Take the good with the bad. We had a great time in Arizona and found another optional mountain town that worked for Zack and all of us. We visited 2 beautiful lakes, Goldwater Lake and Watson Lake, both wheelchair accessible with bathrooms and pathways down to each lake with some gorgeous nature trails. The historic Courthouse square was lit up with festive holiday lights. What a fun and different way to spend the last week of 2021 and Welcome 2022! Happy New Year!

About Amber Collie
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.

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