Disability News

Karl’s New story 2018

My mam won a trip to New York with Rovers lottery but she didn’t want to go, well she is 81 years old so she decided to give me the trip.

I decided to go with my friend called Karen from Aberdeen. The flight was at 9am so we decided to meet up day before on the Wednesday. Good job we did as the weather was turning really bad with a lot of snow.

Karen got on her train ok from Aberdeen and I got on my train ok from Hull and I was jumping on Karen’s train at Leeds but at Leeds they told me Karen’s train was running late and told me to stay on this train as it takes me to Manchester and I need to change at Manchester station to get to Manchester airport as we had a hotel booked near the airport. I got to Manchester airport ok but Karen’s train was running two hours late so we decided to meet up at the hotel.

I have a sat nav on my phone and it was saying 35 minutes to the hotel so I decided to drive there as the weather looked ok so 10 minutes into my journey it started to snow and snow and now it was heavy snow, I couldn’t see much while I was driving and I was looking like a disabled snowman. Then my phone shut down on me so now I was lost and I didn’t have any phone to contact people. I saw Manchester airport terminal 2, so I went in there to get dry and warm, while I was riding around I saw a little corner room with a lot of amusements. I thought it would be warm in that corner as amusements gives off heat from all the lights so I sat in there for 15 minutes to dry out and heat up my phone too. Luckily no one was in the corner but probably the security was watching me on CCTV and thinking why am I sitting in the corner alone and not playing on the amusements!

After 15 minutes I finally got my phone to work but it was on 10% because cold weather runs down battery’s faster. I was relieved it was working again so I typed on my phone, “can you get out my external phone battery out of my small blue bag and plug it in to my phone please.” My next step was to find someone to do this job, I went up to this man who worked at the airport but he was sitting down having a coffee, so I told him to look at my screen, and he plugged in the external battery. He was a nice happy man, willing to help me and my phone was charging up now so I waited for 20% battery and it stopped snowing so off I go again to the hotel but I had to be careful with all the snow on the footpath… Surely nothing else can go wrong!

5 minutes to go says the sat nav I was starting to feel happy with myself and then the footpath was closed because of the building work and I couldn’t cross over to the next footpath because of the kerb. Therefore, I had to drive on the road, good job it wasn’t a busy road and then I arrived at the hotel. I was like ice, I couldn’t feel my fingers as I can’t wear gloves because of my disability. I parked in the lounge to get warm, the receptionist asked me if I need anything, I said no thank you. 15 minutes later I was just about to go to the bar as I typed what I want but Karen came. Hooray.

We had 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 drinks with food in the bar, then we had a bottle of wine and JD and coke in the room, the plan was to go to bed early and get up at 4am and get downstairs at 5.20am as Karen wanted a cig before the taxi came at 5.30 but we are never good at staying to the plan so we passed out about 12 o clock.

The next thing we knew the alarm was going off at 4am, I had an irish coffee while getting ready and the irish coffee stops me from shaking so they are good for me especially travelling on the plane. However, I didn’t take into the count all the alcohol I had before going to sleep so after the coffee I was feeling a bit tipsy. Oops! Karen was telling me to get in my wheelchair as the time was getting on but I was tired and moving like a tortoise, well I am not used to getting up at 4am. Karen shouted “KARL STOP PISSING ABOUT, WE NEED TO GET GOING” with her angry face look! I know not to mess with her when I see the angry face as it’s scary. So I got a move on and got into my wheelchair with a little help from Karen. We got downstairs at 5.30am and the taxi was waiting so no time for a smoke for Karen, my fault oops..

The taxi driver said what terminal are you going to? Karen looked at me for the answer but I didn’t know as it wasn’t showing up online and day before I was trying to print off the tickets but I kept getting an error on the website so I thought the terminal number would of come up on the flight on the app but no it didn’t so I guessed terminal number 2 because I went into that terminal yesterday and I had 1 in 3 chance getting it right. I was wrong and Karen wasn’t impressed and gave me her angry face as it was terminal 3 so back into a taxi again as its 15 minutes walk in the freezing weather. We got to terminal 3 and Karen had a smoke before checking in, we went through security they feel me all over and we didn’t have any problems. The flight was delayed for 2 hours so we had a sausage sandwich and a coffee, then we had a lot of time to kill and now Karen wasn’t stressing out and started to relax with a happy face maybe because she found the smoke room in the airport.

We decided to look round the duty free, we got 2 bottles of whiskey for the room in New York and a small bottle of whiskey with bottles of coke while waiting around in the airport. We was happy and relax, maybe due to the whiskey as I wasn’t shaking or jumping in my wheelchair, now I was ready for the flight but I got called back to security again! They searched me again! Oh my god, do I look like a terrorist? Well, I was going around terminal 2 and sitting in a corner day before so I wonder if the computer system flag up my face, saying this man is dodgy! While they were searching me, I thought it would be funny to say “I have a bomb”  but luckily not many people can understand me. Karen gave me her angry look so I shut up, we got on the plane, and I put on some tunes and went to sleep.

At the airport, we waited for everyone to get off then I wanted a pee so I did it on the airplane chair in my pee bottle with a blanket over me and then they came to get me off, and my wheelchair survive the flight. Hooray.

We had to go through customs, they asked questions and take your finger prints, but taking my finger prints would be mission impossible due to my disability, and he actually came round the counter and looked at my hands then he said ok you can go through. We booked a shuttle bus from www.supershuttle.com they are really good and cheap.

I couldn’t believe all the traffic and this was before we got into New York, even more traffic in New York with crazy drivers. We stayed at the wellington hotel, it was on a main road and the shuttle bus stopped outside but he didn’t get me out on the footpath side, oh no, he got me out right side on the busy road, I thought I was going to die and then I had to drive up the busy road to the footpath dropped kerb. My heart rate was beating fast and even faster when I saw them put down 12 foot portable ramp at the hotel, it took two people to put it down, at first it didn’t look safe but after a few times up and down the ramp, it was fine.

The accessible room was huge with 2 double beds but the beds are really high so I did struggle to get on them, it was like climbing a mountain, Karen had to help me.

The wet room was amazing with 3 shower heads and it was a huge wet room I could lay down, so relaxing, once time Karen left me to have a soak but she got interested in TV and forgot all about me but I didn’t care as it was so nice.

On the first night we decided to go in the hotel bar/restaurant, as we was tired, so Karen was struggling to open the door to enter the restaurant and the waiter was just watching her, and lots of people was looking at us, well me. It was a bit like they haven’t seen a person in a wheelchair before. We was just sitting at the bar having expensive beers costing $8 each for a half pint, ouch. The barmaid was so rude too and she didn’t smile once, maybe she swallowed a wasp, the first drinks we paid for as we didn’t realize we need to give tips. Now she looked like she has swallowed two wasps. Also we realize we don’t pay straight away, there system is to pay at the end. The boss came over and started talking to us, he was very nice and friendly, we looked at the menu, I wanted octopus but I didn’t know if I would like it. He said if you don’t like it you can pick something else for free. The octopus came, it was lovely, I would defo recommend it if you like seafood. We had a few more beers before we got the bill. Ouch, how much!! And the wasp eating waitress actually circled the tip suggestions... We had already decided not to come in here again because of the rude staff, now the bill we defo wasn’t coming in here again.

On the way back, we got talking to the porter at the hotel. He was really friendly and helpful and he gave us free WIFI access as you had to pay for wifi. I was trying to pay for the taxi for the next day, they wanted $79 in advance. Luckily my internet wasn’t working so we asked the porter how much would a taxi be from the hotel to the helicopter ride. He said about $25 so he told us not to pay $79 and the doorman will get you one in the morning as they are ripping you off.

On the second day, it was raining, we went for a walk to Broadway to pick up the tickets for the show on Sunday, on the way there we stopped in by a bar/restaurant called TSQ we had a couple of cocktails and dried off and warmed up, we ordered food ... I may have dozed off for a few minutes, Karen forgot to feed me in the morning.. oops , after food we carried onto Broadway, on the way back to the hotel we stopped in another bar that just happened to be a ‘gentleman’s club’ that’s right Karen got us into a strip club ... where she paid for us both to have a dance ... the doorman’s faces were a picture, don’t think they get many women in there. But we had a good laugh.

In the morning, we went downstairs and we told the doorman we needed a taxi, so he went outside and blow his whistle for a taxi, so easy to get a wheelchair taxi. Never book a taxi online as you will get ripped off.

One day we got a taxi but he didn’t have a clue how to put up his back seats, he was trying to put up his seats for 10 minutes, then the straps wouldn’t pull out to tie down my wheelchair, he said he haven’t had a wheelchair in his taxi before, if I filmed him I would of got millions of views as it was unbelievable and funny too. 20 minutes later, I got out and got into another taxi without any problems and we drove off before him as he was still trying to put his seats down. What a muppet.

We went on a helicopter ride, I got out of the taxi and this man at the helicopter place said hello, are you Karl Dean? Yes I am. I said to Karen how does he know my name? Well Karl, I don’t think they get many people in wheelchairs with cerebral palsy!

A huge 6 ft. man picked me up like a baby and put me in the helicopter seat, and put on the seat belt and headphones so you could hear the pilot talking. The pilot said, if I am screaming you know we have a big problem, everyone laughed. The ride was amazing, I thought it was a bit like floating on water in a big bubble. The views was awesome too, I always wanted a ride in a helicopter from a little kid. It was expensive but it was worth the money.


We got the same taxi to pick us up and drop us off at a place called the high line , it’s an old railway line that runs from 14th to 34th street , it’s owned by the city and has been turned into a walkway with trees, plants and weird looking statues, when it’s warmer weather it has food venders and artists along it.

However it’s march and it’s cold, but it was a nice walk with amazing views, we walked the full length of it, then we had to figure out how to get back to the hotel, we were on West 34th 11th ave ,the hotel is on 55th and 7th ... we decided to walk along 34th street until we reached 7th ave and then headed straight up 7th to the hotel, as it was cold we stopped in a diner for a coffee where we met a seemingly nice lady who wouldn’t stop hugging me, then told us she stayed in a rehab centre and was on anti-psychotic drugs, Karen was scared to leave me alone with her in case she kidnapped me, anyway she left and we carried on our long walk back, we also saw street artists using spray paints so we watched and got a couple of pictures from them.

New York is a very busy place on the road and foot path especially in time square, and the people don’t look where they are going to, so driving a powered wheelchair did test my driving skills to the maximum.

For the first few days Karen nearly had a few heart attacks when we was crossing the road as you don’t have any button to press so you have to wait for the green light to cross but Sometimes the cars didn’t stop too. Some of the dropped kerbs was at a funny position but all the paths had dropped kerbs so this is good but it could be improve.

When crossing the road I had to find the dropped kerb then wait for the green light then watch the people coming towards me as a lot of people don’t see me when its busy as I’m low down so if it was really busy I had to slow right down and I had to find the dropped kerb on the other side too but this is really hard to because you are surrounded with people and sometimes there are big huge concrete blocks to go through too, these blocks are to stop terrorists. Can be difficult picking a block to go through in a split second, sometimes I picked the wrong one and the people coming towards me had to go backwards as the gap is only wide enough for a wheelchair.

After a few days I found it much easier to cross and Karen found it less stressful. 4am we was coming home nearly everyday and not many people was about at this time so it was easy getting home.

We went to Broadway to see Lion King, but we was running late as Karen was doing her makeup, so I programmed my sat nav to Broadway and it said 23 minutes to get there, now it was 6pm and the show starts at 6.30pm so lets go and I knew what way to go as we was there 2 days ago to pick up the tickets. Top speed is needed for this task with a lot of weaving around people with Karen running behind me and stopping and starting at the crossings, I was a man on a mission to get us there on time, it was very stressful but I didn’t knock anyone over and we got there at 6.21pm Yes I beat the Sat Nav. Maybe they should do this task on top gear and I could be the stig!

Anyway, we saw this long queue, but I remembered what he said to us, go to the back door so we by passed the queue and the doorman said you cant take your bottle of coke in with you, gutted as I had JD in it, so I had a fast drink before Karen gave him the bottle. We got to our seats at 6.29pm, yes we did it. The show was amazing, Karen was crying when the man dies, I was trying not to laugh at her but I did. After the show Karen told me, she never ever had seen a live show before, so she will never see a better show than Broadway show.

After Karen bought all the gifts from Broadway shop, I wanted a pee so we asked, "Where is the disabled loo." In New York the disabled toilets are always in the ordinary toilets, I don’t think this is a very good idea as do we go in the men’s or women’s toilets?

However, the irish bars have separate toilets for disabled people. They have loads of irish bars in New York, when we came out of Broadway I spotted a pub so after Karen even bought more gifts from the outside stall, we went to this pub and yes it was an irish pub. The pub was really big and cheap beer in a pint glass. Everyone was so friendly too, so we went back into this pub a few times through out the week and they had the same artist on every night, he had a guitar, he would sing anything what requested, without any computers, god knows how he remember the words, and when we came in the pub, he used to say, Hello friends from the UK. Once I was going to the disabled toilet, I was going round a corner but I forgot about the shelf on the wall and banged my forehead on it, Karen didn’t see me as she was in front of me. In the toilet Karen said Oh my god your head is bleeding, what have you done to your head? Hmm I was still seeing stars and was hurting a bit so a few more drinks would numb the pain.

We use to go in to another Irish bar, they had a portable ramp but it was very steep so when I was coming down the ramp I used to catch my footrests on the footpath, then doorman used to pick up the frontend of the wheelchair to free the wheelchair. But one day I went down the ramp a bit too fast and crashed into the footpath and bent both footrest and they came off. A stranger tried putting them back on but he could not do it.

Karen version of the story is, my back wheels came off the ramp and she had to lift me back on to the ramp, she had told me to stop moving my wheelchair so she could get in front and lift from the front ... but I didn’t hear/listen and kept going, so I crashed into the footpath and bent my footrest... maybe I should’ve listened...

I of course disagree. hehehe

My theory is the footrests were getting weaker every time I came out of this pub as I was banging them all the time.

We went back to the hotel with Karen carrying my footrests, I looked at them in the room and they were defo bent so luckily I brought a spare pair of footrests with me and I cable tie them on the wheelchair frame. Karen thought it would be very hard to get the cable ties off, but it was pretty easy to snap them off with a screw driver.

I thought I only bent one foot rest, so I told Karen how to replace it, but the screw wouldn’t undo, so she took it downstairs to the doorman and the doorman said we have a maintenance man so he came to the room and undo the awkward screw and tried fixing it on my wheelchair but the other footrest was bent too so he replace this one too but the screw wouldn’t tighten up on this one! So I suggested tieing it up with string, so he found some string and tied it up and it worked. 4 am he finished fixing my footrest he didn’t want any money but we gave him a big tip as we was going on the ferry at 11am and maybe we wouldn’t of got there without him replacing my footrests. Now it was bed time as we needed to be up and ready for 11am.

Statue of liberty day, we arrived there and saw a massive queue we thought oh no, then I saw another sign saying pre booked this way as I booked it a few weeks ago, so we went this way then we saw a small queue and they was doing security checks same as the airports do. They asked Karen to take off my jacket, and then a man searched me. I was thinking, do you get many terrorists in wheelchairs with cerebral palsy?

We finally saw the ferry and we jumped another queue as they wanted me on first but it was high tide therefore, the ramp was really steep so 4 big men had to push and pull me up. We thought the ferry would be rough as it was rocking but when we got sailing it was fine and the views where great but I was dreading coming off, but it was steep but not as steep coming on. 3 men were holding my wheelchair and the 4th man was in front of me holding me to make sure I didn’t fall out. At the bottom I did catch the footrests on the footpath, I could hear Karen saying “oh no” but the footrests survived.

Before entering the Island we had another security check, they asked to take off my jacket again, but Karen said it’s awkward to take off and on so he said ok I will search him with his jacket on. Hooray
maybe I don’t look like a terrorist.

We went into the café for a snack, but it was really packed so we sat outside and Karen nipped back inside and I was looking at the views, and then I saw a one legged bird pecking at Karen’s food, cheeky bugger, so I waved it away. Maybe he wanted a disabled friend.

After the snack we went into the statue of liberty, but the security took my lemonade bottle off me, gutted as it tasted so nice too and it didn’t have any alcohol in it too. Yes amazing no alcohol.

Statue of liberty is wheelchair friendly but some parts I couldn’t get too, but it is well worth going.  I got all the way to the pedestal, amazing views.



After Statue of liberty we went to the Hard Rock Café as I had been saying all week about going here, we had a few drinks and more and more and side snacks too and it was cheap too. Remember what I said about the disabled toilets being in either the men’s or women’s.... well I needed to pee, so Karen went in the men’s with me, saying “sorry guys ,I hope your not shy” they laughed and were maybe a little nervous but it was ok. Then we looked around the hard shop café as Karen wanted even more gifts as she is gift mad. Once I waited outside a small gift shop for 30 minutes as she didn’t trust me inside the shop. I wonder why?!? Anyway, I was looking at the leather jackets in the Hard Rock café shop, and one of the security leads got hooked on the back of my wheelchair so I started pulling a full rack of leather jackets behind me without noticing, it was a good job Karen saw it moving. She was laughing; maybe this is why she didn’t take me into the gift shop.

On the way home, we didn’t have any problems, everyone was saying the flight will be cancelled because of the snow in New York, but no it went fine, we had dinner and a few drinks and then I passed out, Karen had to wake me up when we had landed. We even got on the train ok at Manchester without any problems.

We had a great time and made some new friends