My trip to Australia is just three weeks away. Twenty days when this posts. I’ve been counting down for months. I am not nervous about the trip. I am not anxious about the traveling. I am not worried about the flights or the weather. I am not concerned about my cousin Kelly assisting me for two weeks without a break.
I have many lists for this trip. Here is my list of what I AM stressed about:
1. In a prior post, I mentioned the repairs to my apartment which will be completed while I’m gone.
Guess who still hasn’t packed her entire apartment? BUT – I have boxes now! And bubble wrap. And I’m still waiting for a Crusher to miraculously appear out back.
2. Charging my wheelchair safely while I’m in Australia.
Here in the United States we operate our electrical appliances on 120 volt current. The rest of the world, aside from other countries in the Americas and Japan, does not. I blame Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, JP Morgan, General Electric and all those involved in the early development of electricity in the United States.
In theory, it should be easy to call one’s wheelchair manufacturer and say, “Hey wheelchair manufacturer, I’m traveling from the USA to Australia. What wheelchair charger do I need to use to safely charge my chair so I don’t fry my charger or my chair and make my warranty null and void?” Well – it IS easy to say that. But, if you do, don’t expect them to have an answer for you right away. After many phone calls with the manufacturer and online discussions with other friends with disabilities who have international travel experience using power wheelchairs and electrical devices, I think I have an answer. The recommended charger, one compatible with Australian electrical current, is expensive for someone like me. So friends in Australia are looking into the feasibility of renting a charger. I have three weeks. No need to panic. It’s just my wheelchair. It’s not like I spend EVERY WAKING MOMENT in the chair.
Pause. Breathe. Have faith. Remind yourself how last July you had no idea how you would manage to make this trip happen. Count how many prayers have been answered. Repeat.
3. Accidentally not sending a thank you note to a benefactor.
Last year when it became clear I would have to be brave and ask for financial assistance to make this trip a reality, I created a crowdfunding page to help me use social media to spread my story and to track donations. More than fifty people and organizations came forward, offering gifts to help me share my message of living without limits next month. I have done my best to communicate with each and every person or group, but I worry I may have inadvertently overlooked someone in my efforts to meet deadlines. I am so appreciative of all who have generously supported me, and I would be so embarrassed if I accidentally forgot to tell someone of the impact of their kindness. At the rate I’m going, everyone will likely end up with at least two or three thank you notes, emails and post cards. All things considered, I’ve done much worse.
4. Starting a fire while onstage.
I was seventeen the last time I spoke at the Rotary District 9830 Conference in Tasmania. It was the end of my exchange year, and I was leading the exchange student presentation. We took turns speaking about the light of Rotary in our lives. As each of us spoke we lit candles, one at a time throughout the room, symbolizing the light of Rotary touching each of us. I don’t remember much about the presentation other than when I walked to the edge of the stage and turned to light Cecilia’s candle, my candle broke and fell to the floor. It rolled, catching the corner of the curtain on fire. We quickly stomped it out, placed my broken candle back in my holder, ignited the flame once more and continued with the program. I stood alone on the stage, watching the others successfully light their candles while waving away the smoke and desperately hoping for the floor to open and swallow me whole.
This time there will not be candles, and hopefully no fire. I said that several years ago after there was a fire at my Australia Day party. Then there was the fire the next year, and the fire the year after that. And then I decided to stop hosting Australia Day parties. My friends bought me a fire extinguisher, which I thankfully have never needed to use.
Managing a fifteen hour flight without needing to use the bathroom? No problem – I’m an expert at pee math. Packing everything I need for the trip in one suitcase and having it weigh less than fifty pounds? I can do that – medical supplies go in the carry on anyway.
But about that wheelchair charger…….