Sunday, September 5, 2010

'The Blue Button'

         This story appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on Sunday, August 29, 2010:

This is a better 'bloggie' version ...

Injury Enlightens While IT Challenges

(original title: THE BLUE BUTTON)
Rescue Your Vacation If Injured Abroad  By Cherry Sweig

   What happens when you misjudge a step on a cobblestone stairway while traveling abroad?             Your independence will vanish if you injure yourself badly and cannot walk.  Your plans will change in ways you would never imagine.
   As an experienced traveler and artist, walking has been my favorite approach to the European culture. The traditions, flavors, colors and people can be observed in vibrant detail.  They are the inspiration behind my series of painted journals.
   Last July, my adventures were curtailed in the French Mediterranean city of Collioure.                          I slipped on an ancient step and my right foot hit the stones sounding like potato chips breaking.  My camera took flight and I found myself on the ground in disbelief.                 Fellow travelers recruited two strong German tourists to carry me to our van.  At the hospital, x-rays confirmed a fracture.  The doctors ordered no walking on my right foot for six to eight weeks. It was the eighth day of my twenty-five day vacation including a week in Paris to follow.
   Coming home early was not an option for me.  The immediate test was how to mend an itinerary and overcome the logistics of life on one leg.  It was not about recovering costs through insurance, as French medical care was impressive and reasonable. My time became focused on finding wheelchair friendly taxis, fundamental aid, restroom accessibility, disabled compliant tourist attractions and a new creative attitude.                 I discovered the value of painting memoirs from a wheelchair’s perspective.
   A good example is The Blue Button.  Airport wheelchair assistance informed me that I would be met at the check-in counter only.  This left a 100-200 foot gap from the curbside for me to manage luggage and crutches on one good leg.  Numerous calls later, one taxi driver remembered a help kiosk with a blue button near the curb.  Taking a chance on his advice, I located the kiosk, pushed the magical button and an image materialized of a lady behind a desk.  The wheelchair aid arrived in moments and I was on my way through the airport maze.  Diligence worked and I dedicated a journal page to The Blue Button.
   This account is for others who, like me, never believe a sudden injury could occur.  Information is obtainable, but its takes persistence to uncover.  Be realistic, innovative and tolerant of detours. Your holiday will be rescued and your memories will be priceless.

Best Museums for Disabled: The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and Musee de L’Orangerie
In Paris: Wheelchair/Handicap accessible Metro/Bus  Line 14, Bus Line 20 and some buses on the 91 line.           
Most Airport Handicapped Services require a 48 hour notice.

Contact Info:   email:

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