Magic Card?

As we planned our Disney vacation, I learned about Guest Assistance Cards.  These are cards which Disney issues to guests with disabilities who may need special assistance or accommodations during their time in the parks.  I learned that they will issue these cards to guests with Type 1 Diabetes.

Curious about this service, I trolled the internet for information to find out if this was something we should consider for our daughter.  I found some strong opinions.

Some were adamantly opposed to the idea for a variety of reasons.  We know there are people much worse off than we are, they wrote, and they are the ones who should get special treatment.  We spend much of our time attempting to convince society that our child is just like other kids and it's against that mentality to have them be different at Disney World.  We don't want people staring at us as we enter a different line or discuss our needs with a cast member at the gate.

Some were in favor, and their reasons were diverse as well.  We're new to diabetes, they explained, or pumping, and know it will slow us down.  We're afraid we're going to get on a very long line and a diabetes-related situation will cause us to leave the line and need to start all over again.  We expect it to be 100 degrees the whole time we're there and don't want to risk the diabetes/dehydration combination.  Diabetes is a challenge every day of the year, why not let it be a perk for the few days we're on vacation.

I can see both sides of the coin here.  We certainly saw children with more obviously difficult medical needs than ours.  We do want our child to be viewed as a "regular kid," and to view herself as such.  On the other hand, our child does have medical needs which most children don't, even if they don't involve a wheelchair or an oxygen compressor.  Therefore, she's not a completely regular kid, and this did add a challenge to our vacation which Disney was willing to help us out with.

So here's what we did:  On our first park visit, we went to guest relations and requested a Guest Assistance Card.  We kept it with our park passes and dining confirmation numbers.  We never used it.  The closest we came was when the pump alarmed as we were about to board the safari ride, but we decided we could handle it on the fly, since it turned out to be a simple problem.

We might have benefited from having it, though.  What would have happened if after we'd waited 20 minutes to ride It's a Small World, my daughter had experienced a low blood sugar as we approached the gate and needed to stop for 3 minute juice break?  What if the next available fastpass for Soarin' had been for 5 in the afternoon when we had planned to be at Germany, nearly a mile's walk away? What if we'd wildly miscalculated a guess-the-carbs lunch bolus and been fighting low blood sugars all afternoon, therefore needing to minimize our walking?  What if a diabetes issue had slowed us down one morning and we'd missed our park opening blitz of the most popular rides?

I can't say we weren't tempted to use it. When faced with a typical Disney wait, we'd turn to each other and say, "magic card?" Had we used it, we probably could have scored some chairs while we waited for the Lion King show to start.  We might not have hiked quite so much around Epcot waiting for our fastpass times for popular rides.  My daughter would have ridden The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh about a dozen more times.

We chose instead to strike a balance; perhaps a metaphor for how we deal with diabetes every day.  We were aware a problem could crop up at any moment.  We were prepared to address any situation with all of the tools at our disposal.  Meanwhile, we proceeded along like a "regular family" to the greatest extent we could. It was simply reassuring to know we had a magic card handy to help us continue to have as much fun as we could should any problems crop up.  It would be nice if my daughter could have a magic card in her back pocket every day.

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