Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Swamp Incident

Swamp Incident

The most exciting event of our recent trip to Canada’s Maritime Provinces (7/17 – 7/26/09), was during our side trip to Sackville, NB on our way from Moncton, NB to PEI. Laura had found the Sackville Waterfowl Park (, which is a lovely pond/wetlands area with well-groomed trails and excellently maintained boardwalks. There are few, if any, barriers to handicapped access, and I set off merrily on my scooter to explore the park.

It was Monday, around 10:00 AM. There were relatively few people enjoying the park, including a fair number joggers/runners. If I ran, I would definitely choose a path through this park as part of my route. There were also several workers trimming vegetation along the trails. About halfway through our trek, we took a spur trail that turned out to be a dead end. The trail was packed sand with a grassy shoulder through bog on both sides. While backing up my scooter midway during a K-turn to reverse our course, I discovered that the shoulder was a little softer than I had realized. The three-wheel scooter is somewhat lighter, but less stable than the 4-wheel model. The left rear wheel pitched down, and I tipped over (not that I couldn’t also tip over in the 4-wheel model, I’m certain). I ended up on my left side with my rear-end in the dirt (somewhat muddy) on the side of the bog, with the scooter armrest wedged under my side. My upper body was suspended 4 inches above the mucky bog, supported by some well-placed branches and my scooter armrest.

After I convinced Laura (who was not pleased to see me lying suspended over the bog) that I needed to find a branch to hold onto to continue to support my weight above the muck, she was able to maneuver the scooter upright and back onto the trail undamaged. We were about 60 feet off the main trail, but were serendipitously espied by a passing jogger. She only saw the empty scooter and a woman squatting on the apron of the bog, gazing out into the muck. When she asked if she could help, and ran down the path, she saw Laura’s immediate (and ongoing) problem – me. With one woman grabbing under each shoulder, they managed to reposition me so I could grab onto an upright sapling, and help pull myself up to a standing position. Two steps back onto the trail, and I was safely back on my scooter. No cuts, bruises or scooter damage, just some mud on the seat of my shorts, some nasty looking bugs, and a good story to relate.

We spent another hour in the park, saw some nice birds (grebes, ducks, etc), grabbed lunch, and continue on to PEI.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Introduction and Background

My name is Aaron Cohen. I am a 56 year old who was diagnosed with MS in 1976. When we can get away from work, my wife and I like to travel, and we have gotten better and better over the years at accommodating my special needs. We have traveled in the past few years to several national parks, Australia, Alaska, and just got back from a week in Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Like all travelers we have good stories, and many of them have a special slant due to walkers, wheelchairs, and special people we meet who go out of their way to help. I’d like to use this blog to share some of our stories, in no particular time sequence.

My needs and the accommodations I require have changed over the years, as has our ability to prepare for and execute special needs travel. I currently use a walker for short distance walking, and a Go Go Elite three-wheel travel scooter with the larger battery for longer outings. I also have an Invacare Top End XLT handcycle (hand powered tricycle) that I take with me on road trips, like our recent trip to Canada. I have a Hitch Rider Trike-N-Bike Rack that nicely accommodates my tricycle and my wife’s bike. We also travel with a shower chair, which is invaluable for many tasks, including making do in a non-handicapped accessible hotel room, and getting onto and off of my tricycle.

My most important travel accessory is my wife Laura who holds it all together, asks for assistance when I am too stubborn, and tries not to gasp as I make my way down too-steep hills using the walker.