- breathtaking scenery
- clear, blue water under puffy white clouds and equally blue skies
- people-watching (the beautiful ones, of course, but also the interesting ones)
- bar hopping without driving or going out in the weather
- great food, in abundance
- being pampered
- free ice cream
- great theater-style entertainment
- a guy playing the guitar and singing any song you know
- a different guy playing the piano and singing any song you know
- the architecture, decorations, and furnishings onboard
- meeting new people (both crew and passengers)
- a different, exotic port of call each day, but need to unpack only once
- knowing that my wife is having as good or maybe even a better time than I am
I remember that when I was at the rehab hospital being qualified as an iBOT owner, I told the therapist that I doubted I would spend much time in balance mode. I was afraid it would freak people out when they saw a 220 pound man elevated to normal height zipping toward them on two wheels. I suspect I was right about the freaking out part, but I was definitely wrong when I assumed that I wouldn't use balance mode often. I choose balance mode every chance I can when I’m out in public. I love it. I've become an iBOT exhibitionist.
I spoke to Independence Technology, the manufacturer of the iBOT, about a minor maintenance issue a few weeks ago. While making small talk, I mentioned that I would be going on a cruise soon. About 10 minutes after I hung up the phone, the representative from Independence Technology called me back.
She said, "Since you indicated that you are going on a cruise I am obligated to inform you that you absolutely CANNOT use the balance mode on the cruise ship. The ship's swaying will cause a malfunction in the gyroscopes that control the iBOT in this mode."
I responded, "Duly noted. However, I must tell you that I've done a lot of things in the iBOT that you've told me not to do, and I’m going to try out balance mode on the ship as well."
She was pleasant- just doing her job.
I attract a lot of attention at the shopping mall, downtown, or at the grocery store when I'm up in balance mode. But, for whatever reason, the level of attention was two or even threefold during the cruise. People stared shamelessly at me. They came up to me and posed questions. They asked my permission to take photographs of me. They asked where they could buy an iBOT for grandma (they can’t). They spoke in hushed tones to one another about me and my wheelchair as if I couldn't hear them. I loved it.
For Kim, in addition to the wonderful items I listed in the opening, there were all sorts of athletic activities that she could take part in both on the ship and at the ports of call. On Tuesday morning, as the ship was docking at Labadee, Haiti, Kim decided to try out the surf simulator on the cruise ship. She chose to use a boogie board. Below is the video.
At about 10 a.m. on Tuesday we walked down the dock from the ship to the Royal Caribbean resort in Labadee, Haiti. Labadee is a manufactured little town- a la Disney. You don't get to see the real Haiti at all, but that’s probably a good thing. Below is a video we took from the ship.
The front half of Labadee was perfectly accessible, with concrete sidewalks. However, toward the back of the resort I had to follow a sometimes hilly dirt road. For many wheelchairs, both manual and power, this would have been problematic. Of course, it was no problem for the iBOT in four wheel drive mode.
CCSVI. Many people who have had this procedure reported an almost immediate improvement in one very common MS symptom – heat intolerance. Haiti was about 90° and very humid that day. I was able to confirm, with certainty, that my heat intolerance has not improved one bit.
The left side of my body has always preceded the right side in terms of progression. What happens (or more appropriately, what no longer happens) on my left side today will be echoed by my right side six months or a year later. But what about my left side? Does it have a preview of what is to come? It does, in the form of heat sensitivity. The way that my body feels when my core temperature is elevated is actually a window as to how I’ll feel at normal body temperatures about a year later. Does this make sense? If not I’ll be happy to provide a table, chart, or spreadsheet with more detail.
Because my right hand is less disabled than my left hand, I have the iBOT set up so that I control the joystick with my left hand, leaving my right hand free for, well, everything else. However, due to the uncomfortably hot weather, and the fact that I had already used my left hand on the joystick a lot that day, as we were heading back to the ship my left hand became too fatigued to operate the joystick. I had to reach over with my right hand for a while to give my left hand a rest.
When we got back to our cabin it was clear that I had overdone it that day in terms of exposure to the heat. Kim got me a cold washcloth to put on my face and I lay down on the bed for a couple of hours. By the time we went to dinner, however, I was fully recovered (I still had MS though).
Dinner was, of course, wonderful. After dinner we went to the top deck and enjoyed views of the northern coastline of Haiti as we cruised west towards Jamaica. Later that evening I won $112 on blackjack. Any guesses on whether I held on to those winnings all week?
Oh, and the iBOT balance mode worked flawlessly the entire week. Apparently, iBOTs don’t get seasick after all.
To be continued…click here
Piano bar guy
parade on the royal promenade
main dining room
favorite pub onboard