Friday, May 7, 2010

Angela's Time in the Heathrow Prison=Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Prisoner at Heathrow by Angela

I am getting anxious about this travel plan as I just found out my team mates won’t be picking me up in London. I will have to make my way to Gosport. I have traveled all over the world but when I am on my own I typically don’t have the xtra baggage of ocean rowing kit. I also have a post traumatic stressor specifically related to one of my previous experiences at London Heathrow Airport. I was flying from Malaga Spain to USA with transfer to connecting flight on British Airways in London. In Spain they gate checked my chair for me to use to change planes in London and when I arrived in London they refused to bring me my wheelchair. They porterd me, like luggage to a room far away from everything and placed me in a stationary chair w/o wheels. They took my ticket. I could not go to the toilet, could not get food, could not socialize or interact with other human beings. The door was open but it was like being imprisoned because without a wheelchair where can I go really? They violated my human rights! They forgot about me for a couple of hours and then the porters were arguing about having to take me to my flight, threatening to leave me to make bets on how long it would be before anyone found me. It was a terrifying experience. I am worried they are going to do this to me again. Really worried!

They also lost my wheelchair since it was checked for me to use in London and not checked through to Los Angeles. I had to use an airport chair in LA to get to the car and then Deb had to get my back up chair for me to use till they could find my everyday chair. I am thankful to have a backup chair but everyone knows in the VA system your backup chair is your old chair that was condemned and determined unsafe, necessitating the need for a new one. A horrible ride but got me through the couple of days it took them to find my wheelchair and get it back to me.

I do not want to relive this experience!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

At the OTC for the DAL by Angela

“OTC” Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the Developing Amazing Leaders Paralympics Conference by Angela

I'm here at the OTC Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the Developing Amazing Leaders Paralympics Conference. I am not a big fan of the snow and the cold. The kids at the rowing program gave me a beanie at my send off party since they knew I was beanie training for England. They are so thoughtful! This is a perfect place for beanies. It did feel strange wearing one around Southern California in 75-degree weather.

I have attended some of the sessions here as well as being a presenter at this event. I went to one on track and field. I was just curious after competing in the throwing events at the Veterans Wheelchair games. I wanted to see what class I would be and how my untrained, unskilled only thrown these things 2 times in my life throws would register on the national team. I made the A team elite with my distances SWEET good to know but won’t be trying out for the team. Their nationals are in June and I will be in England then. Maybe next year! I also attended a couple of sessions on coaching. I have met many super people here, all dedicated and passionate about the Paralympic movement and the development of sports programs for people with disabilities.

I did my presentation this morning. It was well attended and well received. I received many compliments and heard positive comments and buzz about my session. On the bus on the way home from the reception there was a cross-country skier who did not attend my presentation but had told me he had heard many good things about it from others. We had one of those “so that was you” moments. He had his own personal presentation or 1 on 1 question and answer session on the bus ride back to the OTC. I wanted to give him a DVD but I had given them all away. I made the announcement of this new rowing project and it looks like we will have many more people following online, way cool!

There is a session I want to attend tomorrow on a new rowing program in Texas and then we fly back to LB. I want to give a shout out to all our rowers at the California Adaptive Rowing Program. I miss them already and I have only been gone a few days.


RowofLife Journey-YouTube Video by Sageweb