Disabled in the London Marathon

marathon

Here’s a very grainy picture of me, in the white t-shirt, finishing the London Marathon way back in 1994.

Four hours 35 minutes and 20 odd seconds was my official time, but that includes the eight minutes plus it took to get to the start line and the few minutes I had to stop to use the bathroom.

I wasn’t disabled then obviously, and it was over two years before my first MS symptoms appeared.

So now 23 years later, wheelchair bound,  I must give a massive shout out to British disabled athlete David Weir who won his amazing seventh London marathon this morning in 1.31.06

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Picture credit: Reuters

Watching the pictures on tv today I’m reminded of how bloody far it is to run on two legs.

And after going through the runner’s wall at about 18 miles (when your body runs out of glycogen to convert into energy) those last few miles were more of a pained walk/jog than true running.

So I can only imagine how David’s shoulders and arms must be feeling right now. (My right elbow is in regular pain from the pinched ulnar nerve, aggravated by overuse) I imagine he’ll be using a powered chair for the next few days 🙂

Well done to all the athletes and fun runners, still finishing the race as I write. Thousands of pounds will be raised for dozens of charities today – especially Heads Together, supporting mental health, another form of disability.

 

Mission Impossible Malaysia

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Find a wheelchair friendly hotel in KL

Yeah, you’d think it would be easy right?

WRONG

After almost 21 years overseas I moved back to the UK at the end of last month. But I needed a few nights in a hotel after I left my apartment before flying out for good so I could tidy up any loose ends. So what better way to spend it than in 4* or 5* luxury.

But it took me more than month of searching and endless emails asking for photos of so-called accessible rooms to make a decision.

The hunt for hotel heaven began way back in January when I tried the Intercontinental. It was where I first stayed when I moved to KL in November 2005. It was the Nikko then but it seemed fitting to end my time in Malaysia where it all began.

I emailed asking for pictures of their disabled-friendly room. This came back:

I was not impressed (railings AGAIN) and moved swiftly along…

Next on the list: Traders. Nice view of the Twin Towers, great pool and bar.

 

Something here obviously got me excited, though looking at these pictures now I’m not sure why. But I was sufficiently interested to visit in person.

But glass walls prevented me from even getting close to either shower or toilet. Had to scratch that too.

Third on my list: Hilton Doubletree. It’s in sight of my home. What could possibly go wrong?

I emailed the hotel. Could they put in some additional equipment (like extra railings or a commode shower chair?)

Yes they could for the shower chair, including a photo of the same chair I had at home.

showerchairhilton

Finally I was getting somewhere.

But what about a commode for the toilet?

Ma’af (sorry) ma’am, tak boleh. (we can’t)

So three strikes, but I wasn’t prepared to quite say out. Just moving on again.

Early February was the Renaissance

The toilet was passable, but like the Intercon – the shower area offered a micro seat and…. join the chorus…. not enough railings. Not really any railings of use. And this was the hotel’s newly renovated disabled friendly room.

When I pointed out I could not stand and the installed railing was too high and too far away from the seat to be of use, the hotel did offer me a chair to be closer to it. But still missing the point of the railing being too high.

I didn’t dismiss it but it was not 100%. There was still time to check more.

But I was getting desperate. I’d booked the shippers, had my flight and cancelled the satellite tv.

Where was I going to stay? Surely it couldn’t be that hard?

In quick succession I contacted the NovotelPullmanG Tower, and the Mandarin hotels.

It wasn’t good.

The showers, clockwise from top left:

Common thread: Not enough railings. What about the toilets?

L-R: Novotel, Pullman, Mandarin and G Tower.

Common thread: Not enough railings (again) Sigh (again)

I dismissed the Novotel straight away, the whole bathroom space being too small. Ditto G Tower and The Pullman, even though their toilet did have two railings. Their shower area however did not look particularly accessible so dismissed that option. So my final option of the four was the Mandarin. I emailed with suggested pictures of what would work for me, but they couldn’t help.

Where would I stay? Time was running out…

This wasn’t sleepless in Seattle. More bedless in K-helL….

Surely there was a room in the city that could meet my needs?

The Ritz to the rescue

(aka there is a God)

I’d been speaking to Radhika, the Reservations manager, since mid February. Their facilities weren’t perfect but they had a toilet with two railings and promised me a shower chair – which was really a commode but I could live with that.

We’d been playing email tag trying to find a solution. Then I had a moment of inspiration. Could Hilton Doubletrees loan their shower chair to the Ritz?

Hotels might be rivals for guests but inter-hotel hospitality? Surely can? Malaysia Boleh, (Malaysia can) as residents of Malaysia are so frequently told.

Sorry tak boleh. No. Malaysia Cannot.

The Hilton politely declined.

I booked the Ritz anyway. We’d figure it out. Time was up.

When I finally checked in and got to my room disaster loomed. The two railings either side of the loo were too far apart. Standing up? Tak boleh.

Oh bol@**#!!

Ok lets use the commode for what it’s meant to used for and we’ll switch it round for the shower in the morning.

I slept on it and the next day had another idea. Could, would, the hotel buy a proper shower chair like the one the Hilton and I had?

After a bit of checking with the boss Radhika came back to me. Yes we can! One chair safely delivered while I celebrated my birthday with some friends nearby.

So five days of being pampered by the staff and the wonderful Butler service ladies (Jelena, Abigail, Amy and Sin Yee) and I checked out with a tear in my eye.

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Farewell Malaysia

farewell

Next stop London.