A holiday in Bradbury House
I’m Babs and I’m tired, I am always tired, exhausted really.
I am married to the love of my life, David. We aren’t ancient, early 60’s, too young in fact to be President of the USA. We used to snow ski, David was always the brave one, black runs and whizzing down the slopes – David water-skied competitively. In previous years he used to sail too, and parachuted from planes – he has no fear (well, except snakes).
David had an amazing, high powered job, and is very clever indeed. He had a lot of staff reporting to him, they all looked up to him, he was a really lovely person to work for. He now has primary progressive MS, diagnosed about 12 years ago and is totally wheelchair bound.
Nobody sees him now, I mean, sees him as a person. They speak to me and ask me the questions… ‘would he like sugar?’ ‘Would he like to do this or that?’ David has more intelligence in his little finger than I have at all. Yet, they don’t see him. They see the wheelchair.
I am tired to the point, where I sit and cry. I have lost myself. I used to be fun, look glam a lot of the time, hosting dinner parties for 30 people was easy. I can barely cook dinner for us now. We haven’t had a holiday for so many years and I am running on empty. David seems to have turned into a recluse. We stay at home nearly all of the time, with the odd visit to a local pub for dinner that we know is wheelchair accessible.
It is so incredibly difficult to go anywhere in this wheelchair-unfriendly world. Do you know it took me 6 weeks to find our first ever holiday in years?
So many hotels, cottages etc say ‘wheelchair accessible’, when what they mean is there is a bedroom on the ground floor. Sure, there is a small step up to the narrow front door, the shower is over a bath, there are no grab rails, wet room and heaven forbid there may be a hoist. Truly, if you are a wheelchair-user you aren’t a second-class citizen, you are probably third class at best.
However, David is so positive. He has never, ever complained about having MS and no longer being able to walk or even go for a pee (he has a catheter in situ. TMI, sorry).
He says ‘the best bit of having MS’ (yes, there is a best bit) is that I never know if he has had too much to drink! That is David.
I feel I am letting him down. I am boring and dull and grumpy. I literally do everything for him, as well as everything in the house, from DIY, shelf fitting, boarding a loft, building raised beds, as well as the mundane day to day things. I am so tired I get short with him; I grump and groan, he doesn’t deserve that, but I am just so tired.
I get no help at all. Just me.
Summer is coming, so that will be better – we can sit outside and BBQ and enjoy the view. The thing is, I want David to have the fun he deserves, to do things that able-bodied people do. I may as well hope for a lottery win.
He doesn’t complain though. He constantly says thank you for everything I do, but I know he would do the same for me with a bigger smile on his face.
When I wake in the morning, it’s like that film Groundhog Day. Every day is going to be the same – we don’t have a very large space in our rented bungalow, so I have an ambiturn which is like a railway porters trolley. I use this to get him out of bed, dressed, showered, take him to the loo etc.
We have a young Labrador, that we hope to train as an assistance dog, but he is currently at the stage of ‘wild child’ who loves everyone. So, again this year I tried to find a holiday, which is wheelchair accessible and now dog-friendly too…
Six weeks later, I gave up. It is just so difficult – you use filters on holiday firms’ websites, and they are useless – some don’t even include the word wheelchair!
I cried, David encouraged me, and said we could find somewhere, and that he doesn’t HAVE to have a shower for the week we are away, if there are no facilities, we can just make the best of it…
One morning I was checking what real people were doing on Facebook and I saw the Trevassack page. Well, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. I felt sure that the photos must be misleading. Grand Designs style houses around a lake, totally disabled-friendly (and I mean friendly) and…water sports for wheelchair-users. Come on, this is a joke right?
They day we arrived; I think we said WOW so many times.
The waterside lodge alone, was just stunning – in no way, shape or form, did it resemble the normal, institutionalised disability facility. You had to look hard for the hints.
The building was beautiful inside and out, like an Ideal Home exhibition for the best of what a disabled person should have.
We could not believe it.
The ease of use, the design and style…if someone had said design your own dream accessible home, this was surely it.
Then, we met the staff. Well calling these lovely people staff is insulting – they were like friends or family, well better really, as nothing was too much trouble.
The water sports were a revelation! Not only did we simple love sitting on the deck watching, David also only read half a page of his book! We actually went out on the lake with our mad Labrador, and David in his wheelchair. I could have cried this time from joy.
I indulged in kayaking too and for the first time in years I floated around, relaxed.
Every single part of Trevassack caters for disabled people. We could go for a stroll, go out on the lake, eat in the wonderful bistro and:
One morning David said, “shall I go to the Bistro and bring back coffees?”, because he could, and it was so easy to do.
We could feel ourselves coming back to life as the week went on. It was like being given a second chance at life, and I know that sounds a bit daft, but live our lives for a month, then you will get it.
On the Thursday, I think it was, David turned to me and said, “do you know, I don’t feel disabled here”.
That sums is up.
We learned a lot; how some different equipment can help, for example, so we have a mobile hoist arriving in two days, and we learned to relax and have fun.
Now we are home, I am different. I have found me, I am smiling a lot. I think David must think I have a hip flask tucked in my jeans!
Trevassack has really been a life saver.
From dark days, of thinking what is the point of life, to now looking ahead. We are looking to book at least another visit this year, and I see it is available on my birthday, but that is only three weeks away… is that too soon?!
Thank you to our friends at Trevassack – I really don’t think you know what a total difference you have made to us.
Babs, David and Toby