Travels with Sybil

It was good, all good. Well, I’d rather not be using a scooter: the real (read “younger”) me had feet that hiked city centers, historical sites, nature trails, canal paths and tourist attractions. All I really needed for a good holiday back in the good old days was my favourite pair of walking shoes. (And a credit card, of course.) But time and PsA have so changed all that: these days, I travel on my scooter, lovingly dubbed Sybil. She breaks down into four parts for convenience.** I was a bundle of nerves before our scooter honeymoon last year, but we all survived the trip. So this year, we relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. Of course, my secret weapon this year is Enbrel, which has me feeling better than I’ve been in years, probably twenty if I sat down and thought about it. But thinking about that just depresses me. So I don’t.
It was an epic journey for an arthritic on wheels. My sweet (and travel-enabling) sister took the three of us – me, DH, and DS (DearSybil) – to the train station. DS and I got a ride on a lift into the train. In Montreal, she was dismantled for the shuttle bus to the airport, and later reassembled. Airports are magical places for us: nobody blinks an eye at check-in, although they do ask questions about what help I need and what kind of battery is in DS. I always feel guilty about the way we are whisked through security in the special lane. (I’m sitting comfortably! Why shouldn’t I queue up like everyone else? Oh well … I don’t make the rules.) And then the magic. Sybil and I pre-board. We kiss goodbye at the door of the aircraft, and I proceed with my cane. Seven hours, a glass of wine, dinner and a movie later, Sybil is waiting for me in London. How amazing is that? (I have jet lag, she doesn’t.)
The UK in general, and London in particular, is a wonderland of accessibility. Just thought I’d throw that in. There are very few places in the UK that don’t have level access, although sometimes you have to ask where it is. (And if there’s ever a non-accessible place in the UK, it’s always easy to see why there was no way of making access possible.) From Heathrow, we went off and caught a train. Trains in the UK are accessed on a ramp that the nice customer service agent puts out for me. I’ve chatted with more lovely, friendly, helpful CS agents on railway platforms than I can count! Inside the train, I can ride the scooter or I can get a seat. As much as I like DS, a real seat still is more comfortable!
We rented a car, drove the countryside with poor Sybil jailed in “the boot”, went on several historic steam railways, visited stately historic homes, shopped, took The Feeeerry Across the Meeeersey (LOL), visited several museums, took cabs, went to the theatre, ate out, rode city buses, visited pubs and were houseguests with good friends. Then we took a final train ride, boarded a ship, and took a lazy cruise back across the Atlantic. (BTW, a cruise ship is the ultimate in handicapped convenience and accessibility!) From there, a cab to the airport, and a plane back to Ottawa, where my sweet, travel-enabling brother-in-law picked the three of us up in the middle of the cold night. But credit for this whole trip goes to Sybil: without her, I would never have got past GO.
This wasn’t my first trip with Sybil, but it was the longest and the most complex. One thing I’ve learned is to take a cane. (Mine’s called Candice, BTW.) For very short jaunts (like into a shop to pick up a newspaper while DH idles the car outside) I’ll walk in if it’s only two or three minutes on my feet. And that’s when I did my highly scientific experiment. Sometimes I took Candice (which made walking and standing much easier), and sometimes I left her in the car and just gritted my teeth, pushed through the pain, leaned on counters and coped. (This is the kind of experiment I don’t do in my small hometown.) And the results? Well, put it this way. It hurts A LOT less when you walk and stand with the cane. No brainer, right? But then there are the other people: somehow my cane makes them very considerate and respectful. I guess it’s human nature, but right now, my PsA-trashed body hurts, and having a bit of extra space, a smile and a bit of consideration goes a long way towards making me feel better. Besides that, it gives me a reason to smile and to and say something that will make somebody else’s day. Like, “That’s so kind of you! Thank you!” That makes it a good day for everyone.
It was a good trip, thanks to my DH, Candice and Sybil. And let’s not forget Enbrel, which gave me the energy and the optimism to tackle the adventure.
Yes, it was good. All good. Oh wait … there was also the brief episode of extreme medical tourism. I guess that’s the subject of my next blog.


Hurray for you and your fantastic trip. Glad you got out of London and braved it “up north” (where I’m from). Looking forward to your next blog on medical tourism… Glad you had a wonderful time and could rely on Daphne and Candice. We sure did miss you round here.

Glad this trip went so well, and that you were able to make good use of Daphne (and Candice).