"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them"

Home

Sylvie’s Autobiography

Inc Health Diary

Sylvie in

the Media

How to

Cope

with MS

Help

dealing

with MS

Diet,

Nutrition  

Exercise

CCSVI

Sylvie’s Poems


Useful

Links

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MS

The dates on the links below are when the updates to my autobiography / health diary were completed. The updates usually cover the time period since the previous one. There is overlap in what I wrote as health diary they were originally written for different sites. There are some specific topics which are named rather than dated, these have been put in approximately when I was doing them / they occurred.

1996 - 2000

March 2001

September  2002

Florida

My life to 2002

April 2003

June 2004 H

July 2004 H

January 2005 H

February 2005 H

September 2005 H

September / October 05 H

November 2005 H

March 2006 H

June 2006 H

September 2006 H

April 2007 H

September 2007 H

May 2008

July 2009

September 2011

September 2012

June 2013

December 2013

May 2014

Unpublished articles

January 2015

June 2015

January 2016

March 2016

August 2016

February 2017

July 2017


Updates List

Holiday Adventures

In The Florida Keys

This was originally on our florida home site

but it really makes more sense as part of my autobiography so has been moved here

Hi I'm Sylvie and though I have Multiple Sclerosis I don't let it stop me from LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL, well not anymore anyway! I have skydived, and just recently done an Abseil, even though I have great difficulty walking, and it was AWESOME!!!


I've been raising money for the MS-UK (formerly MSRC), the MS Charity which EMPOWERS people with MS and HELPS THEM TO HELP THEMSELVES. You can read more about the MS-UK, on their webpage, link above. If you need a mobility scooter you may want to check out our business Webpage: www.fairprice-mobility-scooters.co.uk . My partner Steve runs Fair Price Mobility, offering disabled people in the UK a Fair Deal.


In case you were wondering yes I met Steve when I bought my scooter. I got the scooter and the scooterman too, and it wasn't my scooter he ended up servicing on a regular basis LOL! So really I have MS to thank for ensuring that I settled for nothing less than the best, a real man, and with Steve in my life I never stop laughing!!! We have come a long way together and we are going from Strength to Strength. Anyway enough about us, let's talk about our Adventures in the Sunny Florida Keys.

My partner Steve owns a little piece of Florida, well he owns a Home out there anyway! So every year we enjoy escaping the cold winter weather and flying off to sunny climes of the Florida Keys, for a well earned break!

My first trip over there in Jan 2000 was a real leap into the dark. I had never been to the States, never mind as a wheelchair user with MS. I agreed to go for two weeks after much reassurance from Steve that all would be well!


We planned it all out. As luck would have it we made contact with a lady called Nancy who also has MS and lives nearby! She agreed to lend me a wheelchair so I could take my mobility scooter on the plane with me! Airlines carry scooters for free for disabled passengers! She also told me where the local health store was, where I could buy continence pads etc and assured me on my other matters.


Suddenly this holiday looked totally possible and I couldn't wait to go! But 10 days before we departed Steve broke the news that his Unit wouldn't be ready to stay in by the time we got there. He was having it rebuilt after the old one had been blown away by Hurricane George in 1998.


Thankfully last minute Jack, our Builder, saved the day by offering to put us up in his trailer! I still had reservations. Would I cope? Was I doing the right thing? With all the worry I kept getting UTI's and my mobility was not looking good but I knew I had to go whatever! I didn't want to look back at my life and see missed opportunities or have regrets so wild horses wouldn't have stopped me!

Our journey seemed a long one. We flew with American Airways from Manchester to Chicago where we changed flights for Miami. We had arranged seats in Bulk Head so we had plenty of foot room and were close to the toilet. I made sure I continued drinking enough fluids, as I didn't want to end up dehydrated. We had the diet thing worked out too. I'd ordered vegan meals on the planes (the closest I could get to Best Bet Diet food), and found I could eat most of the food. I came prepared with plenty of tuna salad and fruit as back up anyway!


The 7 hour flight was very challenging and towards the end I felt very poorly. The airline staff were great though and really looked after me. Somehow I made it to through to our destination. Our total journey time start to finish was 21 hours! Upon arrival I was convinced I was dying and Steve was very concerned. Had we took on too much? Maybe we had made the wrong decision? We settled into our aptly named 'invalid room' and crashed out!


The next day things seemed a little better. I peeped out of the hotel window, saw a palm tree and smiled! Steve went and got our hire car, a big Chevy Venture, perfect for transporting the scooter. Next minute there I was scooting around the Everglades in glorious sunshine, exhausted and shaken but distracted by the spectacular wildlife. My main concern was not getting too close to all the alligators lying around!


There are many shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables by the roadside in the Everglades so we stocked up. We then cruised on down the US1 Highway, radio blasting away, over the famous Seven Mile Bridge and down through the Keys. It looked like paradise to me with palm trees, key deer, pelican's flying about, and brilliant sunshine in the middle of Winter!

The next 10 or so days my health was pretty rocky, but in many ways I didn't care. The PAY-OFF was that I was living my life! I was challenging MS head-on, facing my fears and pushing back boundaries. Somehow I knew that whatever happened I would handle it.


It was a real test for Steve too. One time I awoke in the night shaking and feeling freezing. Steve had to lie on me to warm me up, wondering whether or not he should run to the phone box and dial 911. He breathed a huge sigh of relief when I fell back to sleep. Together we coped with every challenge and by the end of the holiday felt closer than ever!

To understand the atmosphere in the Florida Keys you really have to experience it.

People are very friendly and laid back. Hey if a job doesn't get finished today there's always tomorrow. It's called 'Keys Syndrome' and it's catching!


People are also quick to offer a helping hand if you need it. Generally places are easily accessible to the disabled. If I have one criticism it would be that the disabled toilets (or should I say Restrooms) tend to be inside the mens/ladies. This poses a problem if like me your carer is of the opposite sex.


In Venture Out, the park where Steve's house is located, I could swim in the pool everyday and bathe in the hot tub, to my heart's content. I just had to be careful not to stay in too long though and overheat!

With the reefs the Florida Keys are a great place for snorkelling and scuba diving! The beach at Bahia Honda, reputedly the finest outside of Hawaii, is wonderful. It is famous for Flaggler's railway bridge, now derelict and home to osprey, who venture out of their nest into dog fights with pelicans. And as the sun shimmered on the sea we even saw the phantom shadow of a lone bonnet head shark glide over the reef.

Key West is just 25 minute drive away. The sunset at Mallory Square in Key West is world famous. You can almost hear the sun sizzle as it sinks into the sea. It is met with a round of applause from onlookers, who see galleons set sail into the sunset of the gulf of Mexico, and street carnivals with fire eaters and dogs walking tight ropes.

As you leave the vibrant bars and restaurants of Duval Street and make your way through the back streets steeped with the history of smugglers and pirates, walking through palm trees and banyans, you can still feel their presence. No wonder Ernest Hemmingway moved to this place, this island paradise on earth.

We've even had the privilege of meeting our very own 'Hemmingway' cat. They are famous as they have six claws on their front paws. When "Skooter", such a cat, (and yes that is his real name!) who lives in the park, strolls into our place we feel very honoured and his front paws are a sight to behold.

The highpoint of my holiday had to be swimming with the dolphins. We did a 'natural' swim at Dolphin Plus, Key Largo, FL. This involved snorkelling in a wetsuit in pretty cold water. The dolphins came past very close and we got some amazing underwater picture of them. Dolphins are very intelligent, playful and fun loving creatures so Steve decided to make some very strange noises underwater to intrigue them. Two dolphins came up immediately to investigate. They gave him a most curious look as if to say. 'Are you completely nuts?'. Now that showed intelligence, they had him sussed straight away!

The next year we went to the 'Dolphin Research Centre' and did the 'Dolphin Splash' (~£40). This was easier as you only went up to your waist in water (I was supported from behind by a carer) so it wasn't so cold and you didn't need a wetsuit. We then had fun with Tina the dolphin who happily came up to shake flippers with us and be kissed (she was well rewarded with fish!!!).


This year I achieved another dream! We went up in a 4-man plane with fantasy Dan and flew over the reefs and down to Key West. This ride only cost $140, which split three ways worked out at about £35 each. As we flew over, we looked down and saw string-rays and fish in the water and even the odd shark. On the way back Dan turned to me and said right 'you're flying the plane now!'. I was sat upfront and there were dual controls so I took the wheel. Steve says I turned around to the back to tell him 'I'm flying', the plane veered up and Dan calmly said 'you're climbing!' but I don't remember that!!! I think I did pretty well, even bringing the plane in to land on the runway, with a little help from Dan at the last minute!


The ride was not over once we'd landed. I then spotted Dan's motorbike and next minute I was offered a ride and zooming down the runway on it. I was so happy to be able to get on a motorbike again for it had been too long!

In the third week of our holiday the new Unit was ready (Jack having thankfully made a quick recovery from Keys Syndrome!) and we moved in. I did wonder where this third week had materialised from seeing as I had only agreed to stay for two, but by then I was loving the Keys so much I forgave Steve and was only too happy to stay!


By this stage I was walking better than ever and radiating with health. For the first time I even managed to walk short a distances with just a stick! By feeling the fear and doing it anyway I had taken a gamble and it had paid off big time. I had also learnt that it was totally possible to transfer my life out into the big world and cope despite the extra complications of living with MS (disability, diet etc ). Now that gave me a huge confidence boost.


My final memory from this holiday was cruising along the US1 Highway with our buddy Dan the man in a yellow soft-top Mustang V8 the night before we flew home. Talk about cool!

I left on such a high the flight home was easy. Not so easy was coming down to earth with a bump. It was raining in Manchester, our luggage ended up in Heathrow and our car had been broken into! But after a trip of a lifetime I wasn't going worry about such trivialities. I just couldn't wait till next year and for another taste of paradise!


Steve's Unit is available for rental. There are steps to climb up to get into the

Unit. Otherwise it is wheelchair friendly, we can even tell you where we have

hidden the commode!

Mail: brown.websites@gmail.com?subject=living with ms site Florida

Feel free to e-mail me

1996 - 2000

March 2001

September  2002

Florida

My life to 2002

April 2003

June 2004 H

July 2004 H

January 2005 H

February 2005 H

September 2005 H

September / October 05 H

November 2005 H

March 2006 H

June 2006 H

September 2006 H

April 2007 H

September 2007 H

May 2008

July 2009

September 2011

September 2012

June 2013

December 2013

May 2014

Unpublished articles

January 2015

June 2015

January 2016

March 2016

August 2016

February 2017

July 2017


Updates List