My choir went on retreat this weekend. My husband did not come, and given my recent relapse, it was pretty certain that at some point I was going to need help of the Lifting Kind.

I was only moderately apprehensive; I’ve been singing with these wonderful people for seven years and have many close friends. I spoke to a few of them ahead of time and got only encouragement to come and many offers of help.

The retreat was at the YMCA of the Rockies, a beautiful camp and conference center in Estes Park, Colorado. We rented a lodge with 16 bedrooms, a kitchen, and large common area, so we were able to sleep, rehearse, eat, and play all in the same building.

The lodge included two allegedly (and moderately) accessible rooms. The sink was little high, but had clearance for the wheelchair. There was no shower, only a bathtub with grab bars. The toilet had the appropriate grab bars, but with only 29 inches clearance to the side, I was forced to do a 180 degree transfer.

The biggest problem was the bathtub. The staff, when asked, could not produce a shower chair. More badgering produced a folding metal chair that actually did fit in the tub, but I couldn’t transfer into it independently.

Everything worked out very well. There were no sofas large enough to stretch out on, but when I needed to lie down, people arranged cushions on the floor, and were always willing to hoist me back up into the wheelchair.

One choir member commandeered my wheelchair while I was resting (with my permission), and proceeded to paralyze us all with laughter as he did laps around the fireplace, making engine noises all the while. Finally the room got too small for him and he went outside and did laps around the parking lot to burn off steam. He thought it was the most fun he’d had in a long time.

I was very lucky and happy to be amongst friends who were happy to help; the most personal service I needed was help getting in and out of the shower, and this was provided by a lady who is an ICU nurse. She was really pleased that I had brought a gait belt with me for her to hang on to.

The fact that so many people were helping me led many of them to feel confident to ask me questions about MS and about my equipment, and we had some good discussions and education about access and disability.

I’m really glad I went. The weather was beautiful, the mountains were beautiful, and there were elk walking by the porch early in the morning. The singing was fabulous, and our concert today went well.


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