Wednesday, August 27, 2008

caregiving: a comet tale

Patti remarked that she had not been to Hershey Park in a couple months. Actually it has been a couple years but with Patti’s Multiple Sclerosis memory loss and mental confusion I can never be really sure where she is time wise. From her point of view of the moment perhaps it has only been a couple months. Recall for her is not unlike stepping into a broken time machine. 


She talked of wanting to ride the Comet and the Wildcat. The last time Patti rode a coaster her brother was with us and the two of us struggled to get her in and out of roller coaster cars.


Since then her progression has only worsened and she can no longer offer any self assistance with transferring.


Tuesday was one of those rare 70 degree evenings in August so I decided to go for it. The Comet seemed doable as it is an old school coaster with bench seating and a grab bar vs the contoured seating of modern launch coasters.


My plan quickly unraveled at the Comet. Frankly I was hoping to appeal to the eager, strong high school and college age students that usually staff the rides for assistance. However with schools back under way, seasoned citizens take over staffing. … A kind but frail senior gentleman attending the ride did offer to hold her wheelchair while I tried to transfer her. <grin>


Forced to invent a one person transfer from a wheelchair to a coaster bench lower than the wheelchair, I somehow got Patti into and out of the Comet car.


Patti had a grand time as we made the first 80 ft drop and raced around the track at 50 mph.


The Comet both the ride and the thrill of transferring in and out of the car was enough for both of us and Patti happily settled for enjoying the park atmosphere, games, food, “smoking huts”, and the Dry Gulch Railroad which has a wheel chair accessible car.


There are times that caregiving is more than care giving. Sometimes a caregiver may want to try to empower the improbable.


Caregivingly Yours, J Patrick Leer 




(also available in Blogger edition, Caregiver Blog: "Caregivingly Yours")


  1. oh my gosh!!! Patti is one brave woman!!! that Comet ride would have done me in!!! WTG for her being adventurous to ride it!!

    years ago, when we still lived in Montana, for the state fair, one of the organizations we belonged to at the time arranged with the carnival at the fair to open a bit early for those who needed extra assistance to be able to ride the rides, get extra help to get on/off the rides, etc.  you would think more theme parks would do something similar; what a great morale booster that would be for caregivers and patients

    great picture of Patti; I love her infectious smile!!


  2. What a grand time she must have had from the grin on her face!!

    How was Tyler's first day at school??


  3. (((((((((((((((((((((HUGSTOOU)))))))))))))))))))))Sounds like you both had a good time,even thoe it can be tough as a caregiver.Thats a big ride.

  4. Somehow I haven't seen anything come your way with Patti that has proven to be improbable yet. (Hugs)Indigo

  5. .............Patti always smiles, how can you not try to give her all the adventures and joys available!


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