I guess travelling is one of the things that most disabled people worry about, to some degree. For the most part, I travel with my husband and/or my sons and we tend to drive everywhere within the UK. This week though, I'm traveling abroad on my own, which can be quite challenging. To make it even more interesting, I only planned this trip 3 days ago.
Today's section of the journey began with Neil driving me to the airport. That reduces the capacity for things to go wrong before I even start. So he left me, checked in, at Airport Assistance. It seemed unusually quiet there and there was an overkill of staff but I later discovered they were all new and only one was allowed to actually assist. He took me through security. Well, actually, he accompanied me through security. I hate being pushed and left my handles in the car. Ooops! Shame!
Security was largely uneventful, except for a very patronising 'pat-down lady' who clearly assumed my tremor indicated either guilt or fear. Then three male security chaps decided to investigate the contents of my 'toilet kit', pulling out a range of pads, nappies and catheters in public. It's a good job I've already waved goodbye to my dignity!
I opted to take care of myself from security to the gate. Warning - only do that if you know you can propel far enough. It's often a fair trek from all the shops to the gates. Anyway, at the gate, a lovely Oriental assistant, about 4 foot nothing and 4 stone offered to carry me to my seat. I was so tempted to let him try but I whipped out my stick and asked him to carry my bag instead.
I'm not good without regular meals. We had a lovely pork salad for lunch at home so I went into Boots in departures and bought a meal deal. It's cheaper to do that than buy onboard food. Plus, if you can't find anything suitable, there's still other options.
I find the flight quite easy. The height and width of the cabin mean there's always something to hold onto. There are handles in the loo, which is better than many other places. I use my wheelchair cushion to sit on, making it more comfortable and the airlines always have extra little pillows, so I put one in the small of my back.
I'm actually writing this in the air, somewhere over Denmark, I think. I find landing the worst bit of the flight. I nearly always lose sensation in my legs and bumpy landings hurt my back. It doesn't always help but 'zipping and tucking' Pilates-style, tensing my core muscles usually provides some protection for my spine.
Then there will be the long wait to disembark. I'm always first on, last off. By then though, they should have retrieved my wheelchair and I can tootle off to baggage reclaim, where the assistance guys will do all the hard work for me.
This time, a friend is collecting me from the airport. I just hope my chair will fit in her car. I didn't think to check that. Oops!