Megan Again: Unintentional Roller Coasters
By Megan Wirts
I love roller coasters.
I know that may surprise some of you since I seem to be afraid of everything else, but I used to love a good roller coaster ride. The last time I rode one was the summer of 2014. We had gone on our annual family outing to Michigan’s Adventure and I rode as many rides as I could, much to the dismay of my mother. You see, two years prior I had...
... a little brain surgery and I hadn’t completely recovered and my mom was afraid I would “knock something loose and get worse”.
Well, I did get worse a year later and I really can’t go on them anymore, but it wasn’t because of the roller coasters…Mom! Had I known it would be my last time riding roller coasters, I would have gone on them a few more times, but that’s neither here nor there. Since I now live with Dystonia and vertigo is part of my package, I often times feel like I’m on a rollercoaster just sitting on the couch, so at least I have that going for me.
What reminded me of my love for roller coasters this week was a trip to the zoo. For this trip, I brought along my newly acquired nifty little mobility scooter that I like to call Ruby Red because, well, she’s red and I like to name inanimate objects. I have two canes one named Lucille and one named Betty. It’s more fun to say, “Get up Lucille!” when my cane falls on the floor instead of something boring like, “Oops, I dropped my cane.” Anyway, this was mine and Ruby’s first excursion out of the neighborhood together.
This zoo in particular has some really exciting exhibits with giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and so much more. My children and myself were really looking forward to seeing the giraffes, especially because you are allowed to feed them at this place. In order to get to the giraffe exhibit, you can either walk about a half mile uphill or take a tram. The tram is basically a truck painted with zebra stripes and some wagons attached to it.
We chose the tram.
The zoo employees set up a ramp and helped me into the designated area for wheelchairs and scooters, and my family sat in the seats near me while I stayed on my scooter. As soon as the tram started moving, I regretted it immediately. The up and down and side to side motion really aggravated my supremely sensitive vestibular system and sent me into a tailspin.
As soon as I got off the terrible tram of terror, I sat for a few minutes trying to regain my composure and get the spinning in my brain under control. However, when you are with five excited and impatient kids that really want to feed some giraffes, you either suck it up and move along or get left out. I chose the former option, as I am not one to give up so easily. I rode Ruby, my trusty steed for the day, towards the wooden walkway that takes you to the magical land filled with African wildlife.
What I didn’t know about this wooden walkway was that the slats of said walkway would turn my ride into one of bouncing and jerking and lots of nausea. It was like when you are driving down a dirt road and you hit, what my mom would call “chatter bumps”, when the car would vibrate and shake. When I was a kid, my siblings and I would giggle and laugh and enjoy the ride.
The wild walkway ride plus the previous tram trip did not make this very enjoyable. With every bounce and jiggle my stomach turned and it was just a matter of time before I was dry heaving over the side of the fence. I’m sure our fellow zoo-goers were thrilled with seeing the disabled woman in her natural habitat of nausea and dizziness. It wasn’t all bad though, while I was tossing my cookies over the side of the rails I did get to see an adorable baby zebra with its momma and my kids got to feed real live giraffes.
It was a pretty exciting day.
When we finally made it out of Africa and back to the Americas, the spinning and nausea settled into my usual feeling of rocking on a boat, and I was able to somewhat enjoy the rest of the day. But the day wasn’t about me, it was about my kids feeding a giraffe and they did it. I wanted them to have fun and see things that they don’t normally get to see. I have decided that I will push my limits and not let my physical disabilities keep me and my family from living a full life.
I do long for the days when riding a roller coaster was something I loved to do and I do miss being a “normal” mom. (Cue the, “but you were never really normal, Megan” jokes.)
Instead of dwelling on how my life should be, I am living it as it is now. Acceptance is hard and I struggle with it daily. Some days I fight it, while other days it’s much easier.
I probably won’t be riding any trams any time soon again, but if I do, I know that I will eventually be okay and get through it.
Even if it does cause me to lose my lunch over the side of the zebra exhibit.
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