I am back from my holiday. It was amazing and a much needed break.
On the 1st of August, after much planning and a hospital visit the week before for my stomach, and only getting out three days prior, I was finally ready to head to the airport.
I admit, I was scared as it was the first time I had been overseas without mum or anyone in my family. I was also scared my gut would be sick again. We met my support worker who has worked with me at lifeskills for 11 years.
At the airport we checked in and mum got me a travel card and we went through security. I find security here a breeze, we are very lucky in this way. Boarding the plane was also easy and I slept most of the 19 hour trip to Dallas.
America is a day behind us, so it was still Thursday when we arrived. We navigated customs and baggage claim, then got our ride to the Hilton Anatol where the CHARGE conference was. Upon checking in, we were told our room wasn’t ready, so we hung around the huge lobby and talked to a few other CHARGE people.
At a CHARGE conference everyone knows each other, so it is like a huge family reunion with a thousand or more people. When the room was ready we went and relaxed for the evening.
On Friday the 2nd there was a professional day, but there were also many people arriving. We walked around the hotel. It was huge, almost like a city itself. We went to registration where we collected my charge bag which had my conferences book in it and also got my CHARGE shirt. After finding more people, I went and got changed for the pool party.
The hotel had a water park with a lazy river, slides, and even a pool bar. There were many families and I swam with loads of people. In the evening there was a welcome reception. It was wonderful to see everyone after 6 years and to meet so many people I became friends with on instagram and facebook.
Saturday was the official start of sessions. It always starts with breakfast while we hear whos on the board. We also had a keynote speaker, Kathy Buckley, who is a american comedian with a disability. After this I went to the sessions. They had break out sessions, so there would be 5 or 6 sessions at one time and you would go to the one that matched your interest.
My first session was on the gut and micro biomes. I found this very interesting. After lunch there was an adults session wich was great, covering topics relating to cyber safety and college.
In the evening there was a bingo night and a baskets raffle. The baskets were all themed and my friend from Melbourne and I had an Aussie themed basket. I played bingo with a family that I’ve known through facebook for years and am close to.
On Sunday the 4th, in the morning there were awards given out for fundraising. It is great to see so many people getting up with the initiative of raising money for the wonderful foundation. We also had updates on research and watched a very moving video from the foundations “A Day to Remember” last year.
I then went to a presentation on laziness in charge. I find it interesting the role the vestibular system plays and when you have none how we compensate by adjusting the body as needed.
Next was a talk on belonging, friendships, and connections by a wonderful man from Australia.
After that I needed to relax, so I went to my room. In the evening, there was the carnival. I had great fun with everyone dancing and chatting. Lots of photos were taken and hugs given.
On Monday morning I cried because it was the last day and I didnt want to leave the place where everyone knew exactly how it felt to have CHARGE. We saw the last awards then the amazing adult panel wich is always amazing. After that two wonderful men shared thoughts on the conference and how they felt as professionals seeing everyone come together.
After this was the Goodbye to everyone. I did not want anyone to leave. In the afternoon me and my support worker went around the city. Then we packed ready for our flight to Hawaii.
Onto Hawaii on Tuesday the 6th of August we checked out for our flight to Hawaii. Our transport never showed up so the hotel booked a taxi. Check in was easy but I found security a bit rough as they tried to put my feeding pump through the machine, even though I said twice it is a medical item. We also realised my wallet fell out of my chair so we had to go get it.
The flight was 8 hours, it was good. When we arrived we found no transport so we had to ask the aiport to help. At the hotel we relaxed then checked out the area.
On the 6th we went to the outlet stores on a tour. It was a good place. In the afternoon we went to Almoana. I love it there, it is the worlds biggest outdoor centre. In the evening we watched the sunset on the beach behind the hotel and had a walk around.
Thursday morning we went shopping again and had a swim on the beach, where I tried to stand but couldnt balance well. We also wandered around the area. Friday we took a trolley tour out to Diamond head.
I love Hawaiis busses, almost all are equiped for wheelchairs. In the afternoon we did a coastal tour which was beautiful. In the evening we went to the night markets and brought stuff.
On the Saturday we were supposed to come home but something came up and I had to stay a few more days. Mum had to book another hotel for a few days.
At this hotel we did lots of swimming and relaxing. I got home on Thursday the 15th of August.
It was a great experience and I would do it again.