Let me start by saying that Disney World is, without a doubt, the most magical place on earth (even if my selfie skills don’t quite capture it).
And when I tell this story, there are times when I might sound like I’m complaining about Disney. But the truth is Disney delivered in all respects. That said, even Disney couldn’t protect a stumbling buffoon of a father from, well… himself.
I had the opportunity to attend a work conference in Orlando in 2019. I brought the family, and we stayed an extra two days for a short vacation. The story starts Wednesday night, the last day of the conference and the night before our only “full day” at the park. That evening was amazing – we were staying at the Disney Yacht Club Resort which is immediately adjacent to Epcot, it was literally a 10 minute walk from our hotel door to entering the World Showcase (hands down, my favorite part of Disney World). We checked out Anna and Elsa in Norway, watched the Reflections of Earth show, and went to bed.
Quick note about the beds at Yacht Club – our unit had two queens, and the mattresses were both noticeably high off of the hardwood floors. I remember putting Lucy, my oldest, down in one of the queens and worrying about her falling out. My youngest Lottie was in a pack ‘n play between the beds. Liz and I laid down, exhausted but happy.
Then Lottie started crying.
She cried and cried – it was my shift, so after going through the usual troubleshooting checklist I started bouncing and shushing her for about 45 minutes. She was clearly uncomfortable, and at that point I started thinking I was kind of uncomfortable, too. It was hot – I went and checked the thermostat and saw it was like 80 degrees. Annoyed, I tried to adjust it and got an error message: “door ajar.”
It took a few minutes of staring blinkingly at the blue LED screen to realize what happened.
Someone had left the door to our balcony slightly open, and the AC wouldn’t engage while the door was ajar. I don’t know who left it open; it was either me, my wife, my two year old, or my one year old. I’m not going to do any more research into who did it – to quote Rafiki, “it doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.” I closed the door and immediately heard the AC turn on. A few minutes later Lottie was out and I went to bed, drifting to sleep beneath the cool air.
Then I woke up – I’d felt something.
My eyes focused and, to my horror, I saw Lottie at my feet, about to crawl off the edge of the bed which, as I mentioned before, was noticeably high.
I sprang into action, flipping away the sheets and jumping toward the front of the bed like a goalie, trying to keep her from falling onto the hardwood floor. My arm swiped at nothing, and I landed with all of my weight on my shoulder.
It felt like it was dislocated, but all I was thinking about was my sweet little girl falling off the bed. I did a quick pushup and winced as my shoulder seemed to squeeze back into place. I didn’t see her on the floor and moaned to my wife, holding my throbbing shoulder.
“Where’s Lottie? Is she ok?!”
“What the hell are you talking about???” Liz asked, using that very specific combination of whispering and snapping that adults learn how to do when they become parents.
I looked around. Liz was sitting up in bed staring at me, bewildered. Lucy was clutching her toy duck in the queen bed, dead to the world. And there was Lottie, snuggled up in the corner of the pack n’ play, right where I’d left her. It had all been a dream.
Except the “me falling out of bed” part, that happened. It sounds funny, but guys my shoulder REALLY hurt. And I was facing an entire day at Disney World. Not Epcot, mind you. We were going deep into the belly of the beast – we were going to the Magic Kingdom. It was 90 degrees in July, we would be pushing a double stroller, and we had a fast pass for It’s A Small World After All that expired at noon.
This was a challenge.
After the ride (which they loved) we decided enough was enough and took our screaming girls to the First Aid area for water, diaper changes and to get some Tylenol before we retreated to our hotel. It was a low point. This was the best picture we got:
Our new hotel also had noticeably high mattresses, and now I was paranoid (over an incident which, if you’ll remember, didn’t actually happen) so I spent 15 minutes trying to put together these toddler rails on Lucy’s bed before finally giving up and just stacking throw pillows on either side of her and laying down to try and nap while we all watched Puppy Dog Pals which I’d never seen before and sorry to all you fans out there (including Lucy) but it’s just not the strongest show in the Disney queue. But I couldn’t sleep anyway, because I knew what was coming. After just a few hours it would be 5:00… and we had to return to the Kingdom.
Because we had dinner reservations at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. So we powered through what ended up being a 2 hour dinner full of shenanigans. This was the best picture we got:
Then we stepped out into the cool of the evening and watched the fireworks, and I danced with Lucy in the street. It was magical again.
We flew home the next day, and after dropping off the family I drove straight to OrthoCarolina to have someone look at my shoulder, where I got to tell the story several times. The receptionist was indifferent. The x-ray technician thought it was hilarious. The doctor nodded patiently, took out the x-ray results and put them on a screen. It looked bad. I prepared for the news, that I was going to have to spend the next few weeks with my arm in a sling, explaining to everyone how I fell out of bed trying to save my daughter who wasn’t actually there.
“Your shoulder is fine.”
“What?” I replied.
“I don’t see anything wrong here, and your mobility appears to be normal.”
“Oh… so it didn’t dislocate or… anything?”
Good doctors are perceptive, and this was a good doctor. From the tone of my question he could tell – I’d just spent the last 48 hours complaining about this damn shoulder to my wife and I needed something, anything. I couldn’t go back and face her with a clean bill of health.
“Well um… there could be some inflammation that the x-ray isn’t picking up, I guess it could have popped out and popped back in,” he said mercifully. “If you’d like I can perscribe you a mild anti-inflammatory? Just try not to put too much strain on it for the rest of the month.”
That was all I needed. I went home and promptly told my wife that my shoulder most likely dislocated from the fall but I managed to pop it back in, and that I can power through it without a sling as long as I take my prescribed medication and don’t go to the gym.
So why am I starting out this the year writing about this story?
Well, I wanted to start the year off talking about Working Out. And the reality is that I was doing pretty well last summer, right up until this trip. I’d worked out an average of six days a week for 6 months and was performing at the highest level I’d ever experienced in all areas of fitness. But after The Disney Incident, I didn’t just take off the rest of July. I took off about four months. Because “my shoulder hurt.”
But again, to quote Rafiki, “The past can hurt… but the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”
Let’s try to learn from it. Let’s talk about setbacks next week, and how we can try to avoid them, work through them, and get past them.