Helping Rob cope with Tetraplegia

Surf and Sand to end the summer

The beach at Saudersfoot

The beach at Saudersfoot

 

 

A family holiday at the national park resort of Bluestones in Pembrokeshire at the beginning of September was a great way to round off a busy summer before getting back to the books and year 2 at Bristol Uni. Rob was keen to go back to the beaches that he knew so well from many previous holidays and test his and the chair’s ability to cope with the sand, rocks and sea. Two lodges were booked at Bluestones – one for the family, including Grandma, and one for the carers when off duty. A hospital bed was ordered to be delivered straight to the lodge and on the day three vehicles were loaded up with all the necessary medical equipment including Rob’s own air mattress, spare ventilators etc not to mention the “normal ” packing for a self catering holiday.

 

All set for the races just outside the holiday lodge.

All set for the races just outside the holiday lodge.

The race is on - chin and foot to the floor!

The race is on – chin and foot to the floor!

An added bonus when we got to the resort was finding out that most people used buggies to get around and so the first evening after arrival saw chair v buggy v bike racing as we explored the park. We were amazingly lucky with fine weather forecast but day two brought a black cloud as Rob had a pressure sore which meant he needed to stay in bed. The thought of spending the holiday in bed away from home without its comforts was seriously depressing but to go home would mean several hours up in the chair which was far from ideal. The decision was to stay in bed for that day and see what Rob’s nurse said when she came on shift the next morning. We managed to rig up Rob’s laptop and microphone in a position so at least Rob could do some computer work and reading. Meals eaten sat round the bed was a little different than had been planned. The verdict the next day was that the sore had improved and in fact due to its position it should not be made worse by sitting in the chair. A couple of hours up in the chair and then back onto the bed for a check up proved that to be true and so it was back to plan A and off to the beach at Saundersfoot.

Saundersfoot harbour

Saundersfoot harbour

Rob and Kirsty checking out the large blue jellyfish.

Rob and Kirsty checking out the large blue jellyfish.

Then the fun really started with the freedom of a wide open space, waves to be driven through and caves to explore. Watch Rob exploring the beach before taking a trip round the harbour and then finishing off with the compulsory ice cream. It was then back to Bluestones for a pub meal and relief that Rob’s sores had continued to improve. If the first day on the beach was a triumph the next day held the stiffer test of tackling the stone bank at Newgale beach. The challenge had been in Rob’s mind for some months. Going down across the stones was fine as expected and Rob enjoyed the wide open beach and exploring our old haunts.

 

 

Posing for a picture in the stream was not a good idea!

Posing for a picture in the stream was not a good idea!

Rob wheeling his name in the sand.

Rob wheeling his name in the sand.

But just like any motor vehicle we found out that stopping in a stream of running water is not a good idea even if only for a quick photo to show how clever you were in crossing it!! The tide was coming in, the power was gone and the wheels were gradually sinking into the sand with the water level rising round them. Turning the motor on and off didn’t work so it was time to disengage the motor, put it into free wheel mode and all hands on to pull Rob and his chair out. With a bit of effort it worked and stage one of getting off the beach was done however the thought of pushing or pulling the heavy power chair up the stone bank was quite daunting. Thankfully after a few minutes the motors dried enough to power up again and it was time to take on the challenge of going up the stones. This video clip shows just how awesome Rob’s chair is, what it can tackle and how skilfully he can drive it .

The ford at Camp Smokey

The ford at Camp Smokey

The woodland trails at Bluestone's national park

The woodland trails at Bluestone’s national park

 

Once off the beach we sat and ate our homemade rolls for lunch before heading back to Bluestones for some more exploring around the park. There were many trails to follow across the “tournament fields”, down the “steep ravine” across another stream at “Camp Smokey” (with out stopping this time!!) and up along the wooded paths – Just good to be out and about in the fresh air. What a difference considering how close it was to having to spend the whole holiday lying in bed due to pressure sores. The day and holiday was rounded off with a meal at the Farmhouse Grill as on Friday it was time to pack up and check out.