Practical Travel Advice by David Purchas, February 2004
From the 6th
October to the 15th October 2003 myself and Eva (another carer) took Lindsay
a severely disabled lady with advanced multiple sclerosis to the Casa in Brazil.
Below I have outlined the practicalities in making this trip. In terms of
Lindsay's personal experience please visit her website at www.websamba.com/lindsayinbrazil
The trip really consisted of two major parts. Getting there and being there.
- We flew with Varig informing them that we needed wheelchair assistance throughout the trip. This consists of swapping wheelchairs at the departure gate. Your one will be put in the luggage hold of the aircraft and another provided that can be wheeled onto the aircraft. Assistance will be given to lift people onto their seat (Make sure you ask for it).
- Wheelchair access and assistance was excellent throughout the whole trip. It always paid to check that there was a wheelchair waiting for us at any stopovers and final stops before the plane landed.
- Airport staff were assigned to us who would take us though customs and assist with any problems. This service was excellent throughout.
- Because of cost involved Eva and I flew economy class but managed to get an upgrade to business for £200 per person when checking in.
- Before Lindsay was moved to her seat we laid out a sheepskin rug, a plastic sheet (to assist with movement) a gel cushion, and 4 small pillows to take the pressure off feet and arms.
- Once in Brasília airport we had a taxi organised to meet us. This was a large people carrier that we could lie Lindsay down across the seats. At this stage being able to lie her down was worth the extra expense (about £90 total)
- With a little careful positioning it is possible to change pads in an aeroplane seat.
Getting there and back was not exactly a walk in the park. Try to keep a good attitude and work with the airport staff as they can make your life much easier ie letting you into business lounges.
- Rooms at the pousada (Hotel) are very basic in quite a charming way.
- We arranged a double bed for Lindsay. These are very simple with foam mattress.
- Again for the bed we had a sheepskin rug, various types of flat and fitted pads, plastic sheets and cushions. Extra pillows etc were supplied.
- The main problem we had to overcome were bedsores that surfaced because of the combination of flights and inadequate bed. (Lindsay at home had an air mattress that circulated air around to different parts of the mattress). We managed to rid the bed sores by a combination of treatments including cleaning them with blessed water, whenever possible not using pads so that air could circulate freely. Also we brought a mattress and cut a hole in it where the bedsores were. After 3 days of this care routine the bedsores disappeared (yay)
- There were not facilities for chair showering so this had to be done by bowl and cloth.
- Wheelchair access is adequate for getting to and moving around the Casa. It pays to book a posada that is close to the Casa.
- At the Casa there is a recovery room where Lindsay could lie down while waiting for her line to be called.
- Meal times are communal buffets with ample room to have a wheelchair at the table and other people sitting around. This I found to be a very important part of the process as Lindsay spent so much time in bed this was the main social occasion where personal stories could be shared.
You will need
to take with you a good balance of faith in the healing abilities of the entities
and common sense. You will need to be proactive in finding original solutions
Thoughout the trip I had contact with Rupert Drew who takes groups though the Casa. Having him to help translate and discuss problems with was invaluable. His website is www.rupertdrew.com
Although our trip was short and there was no miraculous cure, taking Lindsay on an adventure like this brought forward tears of happiness for her and changes are certainly happening.
- There is an orthopaedic store in Anapolis (Next the main hospital) that sells wheel chairs of all sorts (cheaper than London), gel cushions, neck supports, and foam cushions with round holes that could have been used instead of the mattress to take pressure off the bedsores. (If I can't find this address before I post this, email me and I will find it for you). Of note is that they wanted a doctors note before they would sell me anything. Once I explained that it is for an old lady they were happy to sell to me.
- We took huge supplies of pads of different types, cleaning substances, towels, face cloths etc. However once there I found a good chemist in Anapolis that stocked large nappies/pads. I did not see any flat pads ie ones to put over seats. The cost was about £2 for 5 pads. It is easier to have stuff from home that you are familiar with but it is good to know you can buy what you left behind!
- We took a portable walkman with external speakers for Lindsay to listen to. There are no T.V's. Also other guests offered to read to Lindsay. A good idea might be some stories recorded on CD.