Travelling with MS
My wife had booked eight nights at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como, the first time we had visited the Italian Lakes since I was diagnosed with primary progressive MS last year.
We both love Italy - the food, the wine and the people. Foreign travel can be daunting when you have MS, but I don’t want to let my diagnosis stop me enjoying life.
As we arrived at the hotel I was worried when I saw three flights of ornate steps leading to the grand lobby and reception, but my fears were soon dispelled. I was helped out of the car by a staff member and shown to the ivy covered lift to reception, with stunning views over the lake.
The staff at the hotel were incredible, and any help I ever needed was given. From dining in the beautiful glass, lakeside balcony restaurant to a relaxing drink in the equally opulent bar in the hotel, we were treated as if the MS was never a problem. In fact, in a bizzare way it enhanced the experience as the staff seem eager to help us both, taking the pressure off my wife and making us both happy.
Dealing with MS abroad
I had learnt in my best Italian to say, 'Ho la sclerosi multipla', Italian for ‘I have multiple sclerosis.’ I always like to confront the issue and wherever I am, explain to people why my walking is so poor. I think it puts people at their ease and dispels any taboos that any disability can prompt.
And offering the information in the local tongue shows a desire to embrace all that the country can offer and maximise the experience.
As with any holiday there were minor problems but I never dwell on those, as virtually everybody experiences minor irritants on holiday. I always like to value what I have, not what I haven't and anyway, on Monday I was enjoying lunch in St Moritz - how lucky!
Getting there and back
The facilities at both Manchester and Milan airports are superb for anyone who uses a wheelchair. I use a stick, not a chair, but in Manchester the staff were happy to get me through the airport and to my seat on the plane.
At Malpensa airport in Milan, we were met off the plane by an excellent assistant. He took us from the electronic lift off the plane through the airport, collecting our two heavy suitcases and out to our waiting limousine. Arriving back in damp Manchester the staff were excellent and got us back to a friend’s car outside the terminal - my wife and I, cases and all.
A great holiday made more enjoyable by a cast of thousands who enhanced the experience, and my wife who goes through it all with me.
Ciao, bella Italia.