Rolling Along Canada’s Old Towns

Edited 27690625_sIn 2013, I took a summer “vacation” from Dystonia! This year, I packed my Dystonia – along with my cane and walker – to head to destinations north of the U.S. border.  In case you’re wondering, I left my ego and my pride safely tucked away in my apartment. This was my first travel adventure with walker in tow and I was determined to serve patriotically as the penultimate trooper. Certainly, I’d no intention of defining this sojourn by my special needs.

The advance forecast was smooth sailing, my only trepidation the scents that threatened to assail me. Little did I expect a daily roller coaster ride rife with spine-tingling bumps and spur-of-the-moment curves.

Old Montreal offered a charming tangle of narrow cobblestone streets and squares lined with bistros and shops inhabiting the shadows of a modern city. Calling the terrain challenging is an understatement when my walker bounced over every square inch of cobbled friction. Swallowing my fatigue, I plodded along at my own measured pace, feeling a bit like Moses parting a sea of pedestrian traffic.

Unbeknownst to me, Montreal was merely my “practice run.” Our next destination, Old Quebec City, presented a veritable bobsled track snaking along the bank of the St. Lawrence. I found myself chasing my walker down descending routes, then huffing and puffing the upswings. Rain showers forced me to navigate single-handedly, a swift kick to my stability. I wasn’t the only one aching: my poor walker survived worse for the wear, even requiring an impromptu French Canadian repair!

A series of small victories over an endless obstacle course taught me an important lesson about weathering life’s bumps and bruises. While my sojourn was physically daunting, I brokered a treaty with my limitations and adjusted my future travel expectations.

18 responses to “Rolling Along Canada’s Old Towns

  1. I have nothing but admiration for you – Montreal can be a challenge on 2 good legs! (I’m a father to 2 DYT1 kids — Jack, 19, with generalized and DBS/meds; Lydia, 17, writer’s cramp ++ with botox/meds)

    • Bob, Lovely to greet you here. As you may know, I’ve had DYT1 Generalized Dystonia since age 8-1/2. What I’m pleased to share is how far the world has come since I was first diagnosed. While we still await a cure, Dystonia is increasingly on the map and our community certainly rallied during Dystonia Awareness Month. Sending you and your family my best. -Pamela-

  2. I’ve been enjoying your blog since earlier this year. Your posts reinforce what my family already knows — we are all incredibly lucky to live in this age, this time. Jack’s symptoms began about the same age as yours and we know that a generation earlier — his life would have been very different.

    • Bob, I’m with you on that one. I experienced many difficulties coping with Dystonia during my childhood and I’m thankful that the world has become more open and we’re seeing more activity when it comes to both medical research and awareness. -Pamela-

  3. I know exactly what you mean! I too use a walker when I choose to swallow my pride, or when there is just too much walking involved in my activities. I would recommend getting a motorized scooter for long hauls such as these. They are costly an will unlikely be approved with insurance (I too have DYT1 generalized Dystonia with symptoms in my arms, legs, face, and voice and my insurance wouldn’t cover it due to the fact that I’m not bedridden or chair bound!), but they are well worth it! MUCH more practical than a walker or cane. I’m so happy you were able to experience such a journey!

    • Hello Jessica, Thank you for taking the time to comment…and for the advice. Good for you getting out there any way you can. When my Dystonia took a dive a few months ago (from fiddling with my meds), I started with a cane but I find the walker much more stabilizing. Life is a trade off and we swallow our pride in the interest of greater independence. -Pamela-

  4. Thanks for writing Pamela! Before dystonia I managed to travel to nearly 20 countries and traveled the vast majority by myself. Since dystonia the thought scares me. But you have inspired me and maybe one of these days I will get the courage to do it again.

    • Lisa, Thrilled you’ve visited my blog. Like you, I’ve done my share of solo travel. I truly hope you’ll consider traveling again. With nearly 20 countries under your belt, it seems apparent you undertake a passion for exploring the world. It’s all about knowing our limits and managing our expectations. Perhaps you can start with some smaller trips to get your feet wet again. Best to you and please stay in touch. -Pamela-

  5. Enjoyable travelogue. Thanks. I too have movement difficulties thus I enjoyed the challenges you chronicled.

    • Andy, So nice to hear from you here. My trip was a challenge well worth the effort and Old Quebec City was a personal favorite! Just goes to show we can enjoy life notwithstanding our movement difficulties. Take care. -Pam-

  6. Hi Pam,

    Just nominated you for “Best In Show Blog” You deserve it.


  7. What an adventurer you are! Wondering if your readers are familiar with “Daring Greatly” Brene Brown??

    • Steph, How about this, I’m not familiar with “Daring Greatly” but after a quick look it seems I should be. I will share this book on Facebook as it appears to offer food for thought and helpful insights for us all. xxx -Pam-

  8. Hi I have a movement disorder but not dystonia but have 2 granddaughters with DYT 11 gentic generlized dystonia both have had DBS the ones started when she was 3ys the other was about the same age they are 13y an 8ys now and it seem there younger brother has it as well he is 5yr

    • Beverley, Thanks so much for stopping by for a visit. You are certainly familiar with the twists and turns life brings! Keep up the good work blogging about life with somatoform, epileptic-attack-disorder, an important awareness effort. Sending my warmest wishes to your entire family. -Pamela-

  9. Hi Pamela! Wow, you’re not only a real trooper, you’re also a very good writer. I noticed your post on the ST Dystonia FB page which brought me here, and I’m very glad that it did!

    It’s truly amazing how we can overcome our struggles, and if we have the will and determination, we may find that our efforts can be very rewarding. Your story is one of determination, faith and love of life. It’s an inspiration, and a great reminder of how we can live our lives to the fullest, despite the challenges and difficulties we experience in our journey.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Kurt, How nice to see you commenting and thank you for your kind words. In a few eloquent phrases, you’ve perfectly captured the intention of this site. I wanted to explain dystonia without an abundance of medical technicalities and show how we can confront our struggles with humor. Life with dystonia is packed with frustration, we can all use a bit of comic relief myself included! Stay strong. -Pamela-

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