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Disney, Walt Disney World, disabled, tips for getting around Disney when you're disbaled

Last week, my family went to the happiest place on earth, Disney World, and I was disabled. We were all very excited. We’d been planning this trip since last year; everything got postponed when my life came to a screeching halt thanks to my slip and fall in my sister’s wedding last fall. Come hell or high water, we were going to Disney World. There was just a couple issues 1) my broken leg is still recovering (it’s an 18-month process y’all.) 2) the week before we left, I was in the ER with a severe gallbladder attack. I was far from 100% but I was going to Disney World.

Here is how I navigated the happiest place on earth with a messed up leg. I can tell you that it was no fun but I figured out a way to get around all of those parks and not end up back in the hospital. This post is just about getting around if you are physically disabled, I will write a separate post about eating at Disney World when you are on a restricted diet because, you know, I couldn’t just be hobbled I had to do it starving.

My advice for anyone who has a broken leg, is recovering from a broken leg, a sprained ankle, a bum knee or broken hip or just doesn’t do well with walking in high heat because they are sickly, especially the elderly…rent a wheelchair! I believe it’s $12/$13 a day or you can get 3 days for $30, which is what my husband did for me. But get to the parks early, especially the Magic Kingdom. Also, the wheelchairs are located to the right after you scan in but before you enter the park (the same place as where you rent the strollers).

Disney, travel, Walt Disney World, disabled, tips for getting around Disney when you're disbaled

I thought I could do it on my own. After all, I am 7 months out from the original break but I was wrong. I tried everything, ankle brace, ankle wrap, Kinesio Tape for the tendonitis, crutches and even took my walking boot. Nothing can make a recovering broken leg walk around the Magic Kingdom for 15 hours pain free, not even a strong will and multiple vicodin. Believe me I tried.

The first night we arrived, we went to Hollywood studios. We arrived around 4:30 p.m. we returned to our room around 10 pm, in those 5.5 hours, my ankle (that was firmly in a brace) had swollen up to the size of my calf and the pain was excruciating. I knew then and there that there was no way that I was going to survive the Magic Kingdom on foot.

A few things you should know about being physically disabled in a wheelchair at Walt Disney World:

Firstly, it’s not as embarrassing as you might think and don’t worry about your spouse or children pushing you around, they’d prefer that to hearing you complain and be in misery any day.

Secondly, if you do find yourself in a wheelchair, check with the cast members at each ride because some have steps and they will need to reroute you. Sometimes they just give you a fast pass and have you come back so you don’t have to wait in the long lines in your chair.

Thirdly, check when you go to the restaurants, some have special seating for people in wheelchairs and some you need to leave the chair outside but for the most part all the parks were very wheelchair friendly.

Fourth, check with cast members at each park about seating for fireworks and such. They are very accommodating and there are special seating locations for those in wheelchairs. It was very nice that they provide these spaces because it’s hard to see when you are at wheelchair level.

Fifth, and this is the important one, if you are not disabled do not rent the wheelchairs. Leave those for those people who actually need them. Laziness is not a disability. Also, don’t use the handicapped bathrooms; those of us who are actually handicapped need those larger bathrooms for a reason. A wheelchair does not fit in a standard restroom stall.

Disney, Walt Disney World, disabled, tips for getting around Disney when you're disbaled, travel

I won’t lie, being at Walt Disney World in a wheelchair was a humbling experience for me but, like most of these past 7 months, it’s given me a new respect for the disabled and respect for their situations. Disney did a great job of making the parks easily enjoyed by the disabled as well as the able bodied.

If it hadn’t been for the wheelchair rental service, the entire trip would have been ruined. If you find yourself, physically unable to walk Disney World, don’t be too proud to use the wheelchairs. They are there for those of us who are disabled in some way and need them.

Have you ever been to Disney World when you weren’t 100% physically?

 

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broken leg, bridesmaid down, surgery, broken bones, wedding

It’s hard going from being an able-bodied person to a disabled person but my broken leg has taught me patience and to embrace living with a disability.  This morning I went for my 2-week post op check up. I’m not going to lie. I was a little nervous. I knew the minute that I fell, this was bad. The same way I knew the moment I awoke from surgery and overheard the Big Guy and the surgeon talking about how my injury was so much more extensive than he first thought. There were more pins then originally planned on, bigger screws and 2 plates versus the one we planned for. So, when I went in today, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was nervous, for so many reasons. You my husband’s uncle had a bad break a long time ago and now he wears prosthesis. I know other people who broke their leg and never regained full mobility. I know this. It’s in the back of my mind. It scares me to death.

broken leg, disabled, disabled person, living with a disability

I am guaranteed a future filled with arthritis in my ankle. I know this. Right now, I am praying for a full, speedy and complete recovery. I just want to be who I was before the fall, as far as the leg is concerned.

I know that I needed to slow down. My life was a whirlwind and there was no slowing down in sight. I was missing things. I was too involved in the movement and not enough in the people and things happening around me.

This morning, I was terrified. This morning, I put on a brave face, held my breath and went in to get checked. My husband wheeled me in and I felt like this was unfolding as something happening to someone else. I wished it were.

I sat in the cold office, in the sterile room in complete discomfort. My mind was racing. Then the nurse came in and removed the splint. I looked down and almost passed out. Where I expected a 1-2 inch incision there was about a 10-inch incision site. As the nurse removed gauze after bloodied gauze, my heart sank. What the hell happened to me? My positivity was waning.

broken leg, disabled, disabled person, living with a disability

The nurse removed all the bandages and there was my leg, limp and small. It looked sad and feeble. I felt small and disabled. Then we went for x-rays. All I could see were the sutures; my Frankenfoot. It looked like a monster.

Stay positive, Debi. I said to myself. I mean, I know where there is a will there is a way. If I follow all of the directions, keep my foot elevated and iced as I’ve been told and put no weight on it until I am given the go ahead; it has no choice but to heal, right?

broken leg, disabled, disabled person, living with a disability

Then I see the emails, texts and messages all asking the same thing, “But will you have full mobility? Will it function like normal?” Normally, this would not bother me but after being mostly bedridden for 16 days, very emotional and after seeing the unexpectedly large incision, I cried. My heart sank and went to the dark place. What if my leg never works correctly again? What if there is a difference in size. What if I have a limp? What if I lose the leg?

It may all sound completely irrational to you all with your healthy bodies and souls but I am wounded and worse still, I know people who have lost their limbs due to trauma. I know people who’ve never walked right again. I want to be normal again, so, I’m taking it day by day.

I’m trying to see past the nausea, the scar, the recovery time, and the unexpected side effects of severe constipation, exhaustion and weakness. I’m staying positive or was until I was blind sighted by unexpected questions that make me second-guess all of it. Then I find myself crying, sad and feeling defeated.

broken leg, disabled, disabled person, living with a disability

So, while I truly appreciate all of the virtual hugs, heartfelt prayers, well wishes and pep talks, I could do without the question, “Will your leg fully recover?” It upsets me. The answer, so far, is yes. We expect a full recovery. If it turns out otherwise, I’ll keep you posted.

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