Traveling With My Sister Was an Adventure

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by Jo Gambosi |

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In the summer of 2019, I visited my niece, Lou, and my older sister, Bev, in Ohio. While I was there, we decided to drive to Colonial Williamsburg, an outdoor museum in Virginia, for a brief trip.

Bev has stage 3 Parkinson’s disease (PD) and was 81 at the time, so my niece and I knew there would be some challenges. Nevertheless, we were determined to make it a memorable and fun trip, especially for Bev, who had always wanted to visit the town.

Fellow Parkinson’s News Today columnist Dr. C noted that vacationing with Parkinson’s isn’t simple. “There is always anxiety about the disease making things go wrong,” he wrote. How true that statement is!

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A friend offered us her timeshare condo near Colonial Williamsburg, so the three of us got started planning our adventure.

When making arrangements for our trip, Bev believed she only needed to bring her rollator, but my niece and I disagreed. Bev has obvious problems with walking and balance because of her PD, though she doesn’t have freezing or stiffness episodes. Unfortunately, her unsteady gait and balance issues have led to a number of falls.

Trying to be respectful, I asked, “What if I reserve an electric scooter just in case you need it?” Bev agreed, and I contacted a rental facility near the condo that would deliver the scooter directly to us. Win!

Lou and I also made sure that Bev had all her necessary medications (plus extras), along with snacks, and water for the eight-hour road trip. We told her we would stop whenever she needed. We left early in the morning and spent the drive singing along to music, particularly Neil Diamond, one of my sister’s favorites.

A minor setback

When we arrived at the condo, we had our first travel incident. Bev was going up the concrete steps and missed, falling forward. This left her with multiple bruises and small abrasions. After we made sure that she was OK and didn’t have a head injury, it was Nurse Jo to the rescue. We located the nearest store where we could buy bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and antibiotic ointment. Definitely not how I planned our first evening of travel!

I wrapped Bev’s arm and bandaged her knee, and then Lou and I decided we were ready for a glass of wine. Bev chimed in that she deserved a glass as well. I said, “Tomorrow is our Colonial Williamsburg visit. I’m thinking it might be a good idea to have them deliver the scooter, don’t you?” We all laughed.

Off to the races

We planned our stops in Colonial Williamsburg, allowing Bev to decide what she wanted to see. After a little instruction on how to operate the motorized scooter, my sister pressed on like she was in the Indy 500. She almost took down a display in one of the gift shops when she accidentally put the scooter in and out of reverse. Yikes!

Traveling with Parkinson's | Parkinson's News Today | Bev, seated in her mobility scooter, is stopped between two cars in a parking lot. She's facing her sister, Bev, and both women have their arms raised in celebration while on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Bev, front, rides her scooter while Jo celebrates her driving, during a trip in the summer of 2019. (Courtesy of Jo Gambosi)

The rest of the day in Williamsburg went smoothly. We all got to go on a horse-drawn carriage ride, and the operators used a special platform to assist Bev into the carriage. Afterward, she petted the horses. I wasn’t surprised, given her love of animals.

Bev was also able to share quite a bit of her American history knowledge with Lou and me when we visited the historical buildings. It was amazing!

Traveling with Parkinson's | Parkinson's News Today | Bev, seated on a mobility scooter, smiles with her arm around her daughter Lou. The two women are on a brick walkway next to the ocean in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

From left, Bev and Lou in Williamsburg, Virginia, 2019. (Courtesy of Jo Gambosi)

As a caregiver to Bev, I have witnessed the range of effects that PD has had on her. This trip taught me that despite her physical and cognitive challenges, Bev is a true fighter. She presses on and refuses to give up or give in to the disease.

Although our trip included some challenges and misadventures, it included far more joy and laughter. My niece and I will always treasure this adventure with Bev.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Jodie Flickinger avatar

Jodie Flickinger

I enjoyed the upbeat 'can do' spirit of this memorable road trip with a stage 3 Parkinson's relative. The tips to bring extra medication and reserve a motorized scooter (in case it became needed) to preserve the fun of the trip were helpful. However, the suggestion that hydrogen peroxide should be used to clean the wound is out dated. I, also, remember growing up with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy for the frequent skinned knees but more recently more and more wound specialists are recommending to avoid hydrogen peroxide for wound care and rely on mild soap and water. Of course, ask your own health care provider. This article explains quite nicely the complex reasoning in discontinuing hydrogen peroxide in wound care.

LouAnn Redaelli avatar

LouAnn Redaelli

I have to agree that it truly was an adventure filled with the challenges of PD. Even though PD is no laughing matter, there was much laughter during our attempts to bring some "normalcy" during our adventures, As the saying goes, "laughter is the best medicine". I had some challenges of my own, so I could definitely both empathize and sympathize with the events that took place. With the support of each other, Aunt Jo, Aunt Bev and I got through it all! This is one of my best memories! Thank you Aunt Jo for writing about positive outcomes that do affect the challenges that PD poses.


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