The bags and cases have been packed, unpacked, repacked, weighed, and weighed again, and still need some tweaking. Packing for a boccia camp or a holiday is always a military operation. Packing for the Paralympics takes on a whole new meaning. Normally if we overlook something there is always a shop or a specialist supplier. This time it’s a little bit different! For Tokyo 2020 we are not allowed to leave the athlete village in search of a missing item.
Christie and I are sharing a room so it means we only need to take one of some items (the thermometer and hair drier for a start). I’ve encroached into Christies’s bags in a big way, but most of that stuff won’t be coming home.
My team and I are the queens of ‘the’ list, and for a big trip away always end up with lists of lists. The easy bit this time is all the Paralympics GB kit. We’ve been supplied with fabulous items in exact quantities, neatly folded, nothing to iron, and basically ready to go. Apart from UK Boccia kit for the UK holding camp there is nothing extra clothes-wise to take.
My boccia equipment is the same as it always is, nothing new here packing for the Paralympics. The balls travel as part of my hand luggage. Then I have 2 ‘Pelli-cases’. One is 146cm long for the ramp and the other 50cm by 30cm for all my associated equipment. I have conceded packing an extra powerchair controller after a member of the squad a couple of years ago ‘lost’ all power. Sadly due to extreme rain his chair wouldn’t work and he had to compete in a borrowed chair. I’ve also got a second wheelchair charger (and adapter) as my playing chair will live in the secure team storage at the Arkiake Stadium. Ariake is where the gymnastics were held for the Olympics.
Eating and drinking
Then there are the straws, napkins, and facial wipes. Normally we improvise, buy extra, use what is provided in hotels and restaurants and generally make do. This trip means taking what we need for 21 days. Also, we’ve recognised with covid that straws won’t be able to sit in open beakers so they will need to be replaced after each drink. I’ve got silicone straws for in the apartment, but for out and about I feel there is no choice but to take plastic straws this time.
As I’m gluten and lactose intolerant it also means taking snacks that are going to be nutritious and easy to eat.
We have enough disposable gloves, hand sanitiser, and anti-bac wipes to sink a ship. And, then there are the face masks. According to the playbook these are to be worn at all times apart from when eating, drinking and sleeping. Packing for the Paralympics means between us we have 5 different types of masks:
- The official sponsor masks.
- ‘Normal’ clinical masks for Christie.
- FFP2 white medical masks for me (the shape means they stay up better with a headband due to my involuntary mouth movements).
- Clear lip-reading masks that actually are most comfortable for me and essential for Christie to wear so we can communicate, but too expensive to be worn all the time.
- Clear face visors, mainly for Christie if she has to be masked on court during play.
The clear masks have been the most difficult to pack. They weigh nothing, but even with the air removed from the packaging are bulky. In addition, we need to ensure they are protected as the design means they cannot be squashed.
Next are care items. I’m not tall so I need a foot block for the toilet so I can sit securely. Then I have a small portable shower chair that is the right height for me. Luckily it dismantles with an allen key and sits in a case. This means we don’t need a second personal assistant for showering (I can’t climb onto a high seat and I’m not hoisted). The bonus is don’t need to wait around for the ‘team shower chair’ which might be on another floor of the residence, or in use by those who also need it.
Oh, and then there is the bedside. Due to my dystonic CP I have an immature Moro- reflex, this is around balance and coordination and means I have a fear of falling out of a single bed. At home, and when I travel under my own steam, I always have a double bed which alleviates this issue. Like many people I take my own pillow. Small things like this allow me to use the pillow(s) provided to lift or profile the mattress at the bed head to help with swallowing at night.
Finally, there are the techie bits. Of course, there is my communication aid (and backup), these need chargers, including for my Apple pens, the stylus. Then there is a speaker for when it is a noisy environment so my electronic voice can be heard. I mentioned 2 wheelchair chargers, one important issue was to get reassurance from the manufacturer and supplier that I didn’t need a voltage transformer. And, of course, I have the normal IT everyone has such as my phone and iPad. The result is I always travel with an extension lead, many plugs, a USB port, and numerous adapters.
I’ve also got an on-call bell, this is a battery-operated doorbell taped to a placemat (inventive J). This means if I’m having a lay-in and Christie wants to get up I can call her when I wake. I can’t get out of bed on my own, and I can’t leave or enter a room with a locked door independently. In addition, it’s helpful as we all need space. If Christie wants to chill in the bedroom and I want to stay in the communal space, or vice-versa, then I can call if I need help.
Dealing with heat and humidity
We’ve been recommended to take with us fans and cooling scarves. We’ve tried them out at home, and these have duly been packed. The ParalympicsGB umbrella will undoubtedly double up as a sunshade for waiting at the bus stop to go over the stadium. Normal weather at the end of August in Tokyo is hot and humid so we also have wet weather gear. This includes a poncho that covers both me and my chair, and rain cover for my communication aid. Can you imagine sitting in a soggy wet chair all day?
Will it all fit in the van?
The big challenge now will be getting all the kit and caboodle into the van to travel down to the holding camp. The better news is that I should have loads of room for packing Tokyo goodies to come home. I can’t wait to see what is available in the athlete village shops (pity we won’t have the chance to get in real retail therapy).