Wednesday, 2 November 2011
An autumn holiday – the best of my life
"Gondola in Austria" by WH
Not for me but for one of my stroke clients – this is the story:
One of my stroke clients chose a hotel for her holiday from the Happicapped- Reisen, Disabled-travel, annual brochure. She was overwhelmed by how well she felt while there. She says it was the best holiday that she has ever had and wanted to share the experience and the information with others.
I suggested that the charity that provides the adults conductive groups might like to hear about this special holiday to include in its monthly information letter.
This lady is the adult success story from our conductive groups in the same way that the children, who are featured in media articles on inclusion, are the success stories from the younger aged groups.
I have worked with this lady since 1997, three years after the stroke had occurred. At this point in time she had already been told that the health insurance would pay for no more speech therapy, and other therapies would be reduced. By now she could walk but she could not yet speak, cook, sew, paint, sing, all of which she has learnt or re-learnt over the past fourteen years. She says it is not only through conductive education that she has achieved so much, she praises her occupational therapist too, but it is because of adopting a conductive life style that she has developed so far.
Conductively learning life’s skills
This lady decided that she would tell her story about the holiday in the group so I offered to take notes to pass on to the office for publication, and this is just what I did.
Her husband always collects her and often arrives early enough to sing with the group, or to play the accordion for us. Last week he arrived early to join in the account of the holiday. He is a very good amateur photographer and he uses the photographs as a memory-jogger for his wife. It is easier for her to describe her experiences when she has pictures in front of her. Even if they are not pictures of the actual thing she is speaking about they still help her to recall other memories.
The rest of the group were really interested and asked her lots of questions. Below I have included the notes that I made while she was talking.
The return of speech
When I met this lady thirteen years ago she could not speak, she could not phone to make an appointment with me, her husband did it all for her. Now she speaks very well. She can deal with any phone calls to banks and official places alone, she can call her family and friends. She has even managed to rejoin the choir.
The joy of story-telling
Her enthusiasm over this recent holiday was wonderful to witness and the interest from the rest of the group motivated her to talk with much more animation than she usually does.
It was such a feat of achievement for this lady to show us these holiday pictures and to describe with such emotion how well she had felt at the hotel, not disabled but someone special.
It is such an achievement that she can even think about passing on the information to others and even more important that she supplied me with so much information.
To relearn the skill of having empathy with others is a difficult task for stroke clients but this lady has learnt it. Working as a group helps to bring out, or rediscover, this empathy.
All that I have to do is encourage a caring environment and the group takes care of itself and each other!
This is how the lady in my group told us her story, sometimes but rarely she looked to her husband for a word or two. Her husband took a step backwards, literally, he moved to stand behind his wife. He let her tell the tale.
When she had finished talking and the group members were looking at the photographs he answered lots of questions and filed us in with lots of local history, but the initial story was hers and here it is:
"We had a very lovely holiday, Austria
At a four-star hotel with good food.
We booked it ourselves, from Handicapped-Reisen. We often book hotels from there. This was the best yet.
Breakfast was good, all the normal things, normal eggs, also bacon and eggs. There was muesli, yoghurt and ten different sorts of bread.
Evenings we had five-course meals, starters, salad, soup, main dish and dessert (warm or ice-cream)
Twice there were gala-dinners with six courses, once a fondue and once an “Oktoberfest”, with lamb and piglet turning on the spit and free beer between two and three Pm.!
When my husband was away hiking with his friend the waiter would organize a snack for me for lunch. Once my husband went out early in the morning to watch the sunrise and the hotel staff made sure that I managed to get down to breakfast alone and someone always carried my food to the table from the buffet.
I felt very happy there, cared for and at ease.
Whenever I was alone, when my husband went hiking, the hotel staff looked after me very well. I felt special.
The whole hotel was barrier free, wheelchair friendly. The bathroom was a little small but the rest was perfect, totally accessible.
The hotel staff looked after all the disabled people, there were many of us. I felt special while I was there. Everyone was so helpful, it was perfectly natural to help the guests in whatever way they could. For example, they noticed that one guest was only eating soups so they asked her to pick those foods she would like to eat and they pureed many meals for her. She did not have to eat only soup for two weeks!
I had taken my electrically-powered wheelchair with me and the hotel lent me a folding wheelchair, free of charge.
The gondola to the top of the Zugsptize Mountain was also accessible to wheelchair-users.
It was because of the wonderful way that the staff received all their guests, and of course because of the hotel itself and the food, that I had the best holiday that I have ever had."
Handicapped-Reisen Deutschland, Verlad FVG -