Why I Rode Space Mountain and Celebrated Irresponsibility

August 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Guest Bloggers & Articles

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3219009453 b5dc39649c m Why I Rode Space Mountain and Celebrated Irresponsibility
Image by daryl_mitchell via Flickr

If I had paid any attention to the warning signs before I got on the Disneyland ride, Space Mountain, a high-speed, turbulent ride not recommended for those with weak stomachs, heart problems, etc. I never would have gotten on. Or if I’d been able to see it zipping around, I may have avoided it.

The truth is, despite this being my favorite childhood ride, I’ve skipped it a lot in the last 16 years since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

But this last weekend, although I have physically been in a new season (translation – in a lot more pain and with permanent joint damage), I had a few motivating factors to get on the ride.

One, my six-year-old son was with me and I wanted to surprise him. Mom is always the one that sits on the sidelines. And while I won’t risk havoc on my body for a 20-second  jerky roller coaster they pop up at the fairgrounds, I will for a “smoother” Disney coaster. Afterward when we asked him what he thought about it he said “I was shocked” and “It was awesome!” I’m glad I got to experience that with him.

Secondly, I used a wheelchair the entire time, even from the hotel over to the park, so I wasn’t thoroughly thrashed by the time I stepped out to get on the ride. Usually just walking 10 more feet to get on a ride is enough of a deterrent, but I was in decent “shape.” And putting some of my silly pride aside and using the wheelchair I got to experience a great deal more of our vacation.

space mtn Why I Rode Space Mountain and Celebrated IrresponsibilityAnd thirdly… well… I just wanted to throw caution to the wind and do something out of the ordinary.  (Even, dare I say it? Irresponsible!) After 11 months of my body demanding its own way all of the time, culminating in a diagnosis of diabetes last week due to my high blood sugar, I thought I’d show it who was in control. I was in control of my body and I wanted to go on Space Mountain. (Add in a little feet stomping there like a 2-year-0ld.)

And you know what? I was fine. Funny how I can barely climb 15 stairs without my knees popping out of place, but a good thrasing around on a track is exhilirating. How many times had I said, “I’ll just wait for you. I can’t do that. I shouldn’t really go on that?” A lot. And I didn’t want anyone counting on me. One look at the Autotopia cars and I said “I’ll meet you at the end.” There was no way Icould get in and out of those!

But surely a roller coaster gives my body a strong, fast dose of endorphins and they are also pain relievers. So, with that theory, we went again the next day. As I waited in line beside other people in wheelchairs, or with scooters and canes I saw anticipation on their face, and when they exited, exhilaration, joy, just pure fun. Faces were flushed with the thrill.

Those of us with chronic conditions are some of the bravest people I know. And if we have to sit through MRIs with knocking and vibrations, why not go on Space Mountain too? The burdens were lifted and lessened even if just for a couple of minutes.

I know my limits. I wrote this blog in a notebook while sitting at a table while my husband and son went on the Matterhorn. Even if I could stand the jolts in that ride, I couldn’t get in and out of the low car one must ride in. But for now, I can still grit my teeth and grab my husband’s hands and slowly pull myself up out of the car of Space Mountain. Unfortunately, since we were in the car for those with disabilities, we never saw our photos. But trust me… I did it. (And small secret, I want to do it again.)

Lisa Copen is the founder of Invisible Illness Week and also Rest Ministries, a Christian organization that serves the chronically ill. She is also author of a few books, including Why Can’t I Make People Understand? Discovering the Validation Those with Chronic Illness Seek and Why.

 Why I Rode Space Mountain and Celebrated Irresponsibility
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  • http://sickmomma.blogspot.com Aviva

    That is awesome, Lisa!

    Hey, I've got a question because I've got a 4.5-year-old who desperately wants to go to Disneyland and I really don't want to be left out and stuck at home or even in the hotel. Did you rent that wheelchair? Did Disney provide you one? Do they rent scooters or anything for people with mobility issues? (Mine is fatigue and pain more than being disabled and unable to walk at all.)

    Thanks!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    Aviva,

    Yes, the company name is Deckert Surgical and Homecare – Santa Ana, CA and their number is 714-542-5607. We stayed at a hotel that recommended them. I called them and they delivered the chair (in Anaheim) within an hour and picked it up later. We took the local city tourist bus that was about $10 for 3 days and if I had needed to, I could have stayed in the chair. It was helpful because the walk can be far where a bus drops you off all the way into the park and the wheelchair area. Plus, if you park hop, you have to turn it in and rent another one at CA Adventure. The price was about $8 a day I want to say. 1 morning a small wheel came off at Disneyland and we called and they told us the fastest way was for us to go to CA Adventure (where we were heading anyway) and pick another one up at the hotel. It was seamless. They were very kind and I strong recommend them

    The chair was really comfortable too. The materials weren't sticky or hot. 3 days in one of Disneyland's and I would have been sore!

    I also strongly recommend spending the extra $15 and purchasing RideMax software at http://ridemax.com. You can choose your hours, when you want to take a break, when you want to see parades, etc. and what rides to go on. It tells you when to get Fast Passes, when to get in lines, etc. based on time of day. VERY HELPFUL! And you can schedule a break in if you want to go back and take a nap or something. You don't use it exactly (if a line is short and you are standing there, get in it!) but it's helpful to have a schedule, especially if you have family or friends coming too and want to kind of stay together.

    Some rides w/ a wheelchair you wait the same amount of time; some you don't wait long at all; some you wait about 1/2 the time. We got Fast Passed for everything we really wanted to do that I did. If, w/ the wheelchair we didn't end up needing the Fast Pass, then my husband and son used them and went a second time.

    Keep me posted!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    Aviva,

    Yes, the company name is Deckert Surgical and Homecare – Santa Ana, CA and their number is 714-542-5607. We stayed at a hotel that recommended them. I called them and they delivered the chair (in Anaheim) within an hour and picked it up later. We took the local city tourist bus that was about $10 for 3 days and if I had needed to, I could have stayed in the chair. It was helpful because the walk can be far where a bus drops you off all the way into the park and the wheelchair area. Plus, if you park hop, you have to turn it in and rent another one at CA Adventure. The price was about $8 a day I want to say. 1 morning a small wheel came off at Disneyland and we called and they told us the fastest way was for us to go to CA Adventure (where we were heading anyway) and pick another one up at the hotel. It was seamless. They were very kind and I strong recommend them

    The chair was really comfortable too. The materials weren't sticky or hot. 3 days in one of Disneyland's and I would have been sore!

    I also strongly recommend spending the extra $15 and purchasing RideMax software at http://ridemax.com. You can choose your hours, when you want to take a break, when you want to see parades, etc. and what rides to go on. It tells you when to get Fast Passes, when to get in lines, etc. based on time of day. VERY HELPFUL! And you can schedule a break in if you want to go back and take a nap or something. You don't use it exactly (if a line is short and you are standing there, get in it!) but it's helpful to have a schedule, especially if you have family or friends coming too and want to kind of stay together.

    Some rides w/ a wheelchair you wait the same amount of time; some you don't wait long at all; some you wait about 1/2 the time. We got Fast Passed for everything we really wanted to do that I did. If, w/ the wheelchair we didn't end up needing the Fast Pass, then my husband and son used them and went a second time.

    Keep me posted!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    Aviva,

    Yes, the company name is Deckert Surgical and Homecare – Santa Ana, CA and their number is 714-542-5607. We stayed at a hotel that recommended them. I called them and they delivered the chair (in Anaheim) within an hour and picked it up later. We took the local city tourist bus that was about $10 for 3 days and if I had needed to, I could have stayed in the chair. It was helpful because the walk can be far where a bus drops you off all the way into the park and the wheelchair area. Plus, if you park hop, you have to turn it in and rent another one at CA Adventure. The price was about $8 a day I want to say. 1 morning a small wheel came off at Disneyland and we called and they told us the fastest way was for us to go to CA Adventure (where we were heading anyway) and pick another one up at the hotel. It was seamless. They were very kind and I strong recommend them

    The chair was really comfortable too. The materials weren't sticky or hot. 3 days in one of Disneyland's and I would have been sore!

    I also strongly recommend spending the extra $15 and purchasing RideMax software at http://ridemax.com. You can choose your hours, when you want to take a break, when you want to see parades, etc. and what rides to go on. It tells you when to get Fast Passes, when to get in lines, etc. based on time of day. VERY HELPFUL! And you can schedule a break in if you want to go back and take a nap or something. You don't use it exactly (if a line is short and you are standing there, get in it!) but it's helpful to have a schedule, especially if you have family or friends coming too and want to kind of stay together.

    Some rides w/ a wheelchair you wait the same amount of time; some you don't wait long at all; some you wait about 1/2 the time. We got Fast Passed for everything we really wanted to do that I did. If, w/ the wheelchair we didn't end up needing the Fast Pass, then my husband and son used them and went a second time.

    Keep me posted!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    Aviva,

    Yes, the company name is Deckert Surgical and Homecare – Santa Ana, CA and their number is 714-542-5607. We stayed at a hotel that recommended them. I called them and they delivered the chair (in Anaheim) within an hour and picked it up later. We took the local city tourist bus that was about $10 for 3 days and if I had needed to, I could have stayed in the chair. It was helpful because the walk can be far where a bus drops you off all the way into the park and the wheelchair area. Plus, if you park hop, you have to turn it in and rent another one at CA Adventure. The price was about $8 a day I want to say. 1 morning a small wheel came off at Disneyland and we called and they told us the fastest way was for us to go to CA Adventure (where we were heading anyway) and pick another one up at the hotel. It was seamless. They were very kind and I strong recommend them

    The chair was really comfortable too. The materials weren't sticky or hot. 3 days in one of Disneyland's and I would have been sore!

    I also strongly recommend spending the extra $15 and purchasing RideMax software at http://ridemax.com. You can choose your hours, when you want to take a break, when you want to see parades, etc. and what rides to go on. It tells you when to get Fast Passes, when to get in lines, etc. based on time of day. VERY HELPFUL! And you can schedule a break in if you want to go back and take a nap or something. You don't use it exactly (if a line is short and you are standing there, get in it!) but it's helpful to have a schedule, especially if you have family or friends coming too and want to kind of stay together.

    Some rides w/ a wheelchair you wait the same amount of time; some you don't wait long at all; some you wait about 1/2 the time. We got Fast Passed for everything we really wanted to do that I did. If, w/ the wheelchair we didn't end up needing the Fast Pass, then my husband and son used them and went a second time.

    Keep me posted!

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    Aviva,

    Yes, the company name is Deckert Surgical and Homecare – Santa Ana, CA and their number is 714-542-5607. We stayed at a hotel that recommended them. I called them and they delivered the chair (in Anaheim) to the hotel within an hour and picked it up when we were done.

    We took the local city tourist bus that was about $10 for 3 days and if I had needed to, I could have stayed in the chair. All transporation people were wonderful and always let me get on first (usually, I'd have to wait for 2 buses because I couldn't use the "standing room only" and hang on.)

    It was helpful because the walk from where a bus drops you off all the way into the Disney parks and then to the wheelchair area where you wait in another line (and a line to turn it in at night when it's chaos). Plus, if you park hop, you have to turn it in and rent another one at CA Adventure.

    The price was about $8-9 a day I want to say. Disney was about $7 or 8 plus a deposit. One morning a small wheel came off at Disneyland and we called and they told us the fastest way was for us to go to CA Adventure (where we were heading anyway) and pick another one up at the hotel. It was seamless. They would have met us out front at the park in about 45 minutes if we'd not been park hopping.

    They were very kind and I strong recommend Deckart Surgical (in fact, I am going to write a review on them now that you've reminded me of it.)

    The chair was really comfortable too. The materials it was built out of weren't sticky or hot. 3 days in one of Disneyland's chairs and I would have been sore!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    I also strongly recommend spending the extra $15 and purchasing RideMax software at http://ridemax.com. You can choose your hours, when you want to take a break, when you want to see parades, etc. and what rides to go on. It tells you when to get Fast Passes, when to get in lines, etc. based on time of day. VERY HELPFUL! And you can schedule a break in if you want to go back and take a nap or something. You don't use it exactly (if a line is short and you are standing there, get in it!) but it's helpful to have a schedule, especially if you have family or friends coming too and want to kind of stay together.

    Some rides w/ a wheelchair you wait the same amount of time; some you don't wait long at all; some you wait about 1/2 the time. We got Fast Passed for everything we really wanted to do that I did. If, w/ the wheelchair we didn't end up needing the Fast Pass, then my husband and son used them and went a second time.

    Keep me posted!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    I also strongly recommend spending the extra $15 and purchasing RideMax software at http://ridemax.com. You can choose your hours, when you want to take a break, when you want to see parades, etc. and what rides to go on. It tells you when to get Fast Passes, when to get in lines, etc. based on time of day. VERY HELPFUL! And you can schedule a break in if you want to go back and take a nap or something. You don't use it exactly (if a line is short and you are standing there, get in it!) but it's helpful to have a schedule, especially if you have family or friends coming too and want to kind of stay together.

    Some rides w/ a wheelchair you wait the same amount of time; some you don't wait long at all; some you wait about 1/2 the time. We got Fast Passed for everything we really wanted to do that I did. If, w/ the wheelchair we didn't end up needing the Fast Pass, then my husband and son used them and went a second time.

    Keep me posted!

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/invisibleillwk invisibleillwk

    I also strongly recommend spending the extra $15 and purchasing RideMax software at http://ridemax.com. You can choose your hours, when you want to take a break, when you want to see parades, etc. and what rides to go on. It tells you when to get Fast Passes, when to get in lines, etc. based on time of day. VERY HELPFUL! And you can schedule a break in if you want to go back and take a nap or something. You don't use it exactly (if a line is short and you are standing there, get in it!) but it's helpful to have a schedule, especially if you have family or friends coming too and want to kind of stay together.

    Some rides w/ a wheelchair you wait the same amount of time; some you don't wait long at all; some you wait about 1/2 the time. We got Fast Passes for everything we really wanted to do that I did. If, w/ the wheelchair we didn't end up needing the Fast Pass, then my husband and son used them and went a second time.

    Keep me posted!

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