Sunday, July 4, 2010

Traveling with Disabilities

by Lori Gebbie

I’ve been asked repeatedly, why it’s taken so long for us to travel such a short distance. So, I decided tonight I would write about that. We always got into the van with good intentions. We would start out in the morning, intending to pull in 400 miles down the road for the evening. But, we’d start on the road, and the trailer would start to sway, so we’d start driving slower and slower, to keep it all under control. Our max speed was 60 mph, but we would average between 40 and 45 mph. And on mountain roads, sometimes we would trudge up the side at 25 mph, and pull it down at 40 mph to keep it under control.

What is a sway? It’s where the trailer starts going one direction while the van is trying to go another. And the sway is from the wheels, not a tipping motion. So it feels like you are going straight, but the van is being pulled sideways. When it gets bad, it feels almost like the rubber is going to be ripped from the tires. So you can see how stressful and tense the situation can be if you get out of control with it. It’s a lot of white-knuckle driving and a LOT of praying.

Another issue we have is Robert’s disability. He has a degenerative lower back injury with severe nerve damage down the right side of his leg and foot. After five operations, and killing his stomach with vicodin and morphine, he isn’t able to take painkillers anymore. So part of the white-knuckle driving is pain, and after an hour of driving with your whole body tense, it feels like you’ve run a marathon. So we would welcome the sight of a rest stop, where we could get out and he could stretch out again and try to get the blood moving. Sometimes he would just need a quick stretch and we could be off again after an hour or so. But sometimes a bad road or hill would wipe him out and he’d have to sleep for a few hours. And until we get the swaybar and equalizer hitch for the trailer, I can’t handle the trailer like it is, so we go at his pace.

So, that should explain why we seem to be crawling across the desert to get to our first destination. Next week we are having the van worked on, and we hope to be back on the road by the end of the week. But, as much as we plan for life, sometimes life has a different plan for us. For example, if we hadn’t been stopped here, we would have missed out on reconnecting with an old friend of ours. And my uncle and aunt just happen to be doing some work in Salt Lake City this coming week, so we’ll be able to visit with them, too! And Utah is God’s Country. The weather is beautiful, and the scenery is breathtaking. So, while it was unfortunate that we were stopped by engine problems, in the end, I’m glad we did. For the last two days, Robert hasn’t even been able to get out of bed. I think the stress stripped him of all he uses to hold himself together, and his body is just responding. I have him set up in the bedroom area, his computer there so he can still work while he lies down. He’s determined to be up and moving tomorrow, so I’m hoping the rest he’s had will allow him that much.

We hope you all have a lovely and safe Fourth of July this year.

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