We’re off to Ireland today to visit Mrs Gypsytree and her clan. And we’re flying. With 2 kids and me braced up like Ripley in Alien albeit in a wheelchair.
Those big signs at departures that ask you to remove anything metal usually mean take off jewellery, or your belt. After doing a 2 day stint with Mr Geek in London for 14 hours of our day, I’m wobbly and twingy which means the splints are out in force. This means:
– Roboleg (hinged knee brace)
– temporary roboleg (neoprean & metal boned patella brace)
– shoulder / back brace to hold my shoulders back, but has 2 steel rods down the back
– 2 hand / wrist splints with metal stays
Oh, and the wheelchair.
The ancient Egyptians would be impressed with my bindings. Amenhotep probably looks healthier too. If I’m honest, I threw all my spoons to the wind at the weekend and consequently, I look like shit warmed up.
Then there’s flying with my meds. This time we’ve taken a confirmation letter from the doctor of my EDS to explain why I’m travelling with a backpack full of pills.
As expected, with this much metal, the detector went crackers and so off I rolled to the blue mat of shame to be searched. The chair was searched for explosives & each of my braces were inspected. They were both thorough and totally sensitive to not causing any pain. I tip my hat to you Gatwick airport security control. You were excellent.
Boarding, well that wasn’t quite so excellent. We found our gate and asked if we needed to do anything specific. We were told to wait in line. Standard stuff, no problem. Then someone from airport assistance noticed us and ushered us around the queue to the check in lady who promptly told us off for not requesting assistance. We said that we’d requested this when we booked the tickets. “But you have to also go to the assistance desk when you arrive at the airport!”. Apologies. We’re new to this & had no idea. “Can you walk on the gangplank?” Sorry, the what? “ON THE PLANE. Can you walk?” With crutches, a short way yes. I can also understand words more than one syllable long. Please don’t get stroppy with me, I’m much more tired and in pan than you realise and I will have a toddler style tantrum (or write a sarky blog post or whatever).
“Do you have a tag for your chair?” No, do I need one? Apparently so, and she strapped it to the hand rail then huffed as she called airport assistance as there were now more people who needed assistance. How very dare we.
Now, when you’re self propelling those rails around the wheels are rather vital, when you’re trying to stop yourself freewheeling down a ramp towards a wall, being smacked in the hand by a label is not just irritating, but bloody dangerous. Easyjet, you are not winning my affection here. I have papercuts 😦
Once at the plane, I was asked if I needed my chair brought up at the other end. It was suggested that we mention it to the cabin crew near the end of the flight otherwise it would go off with the other hold luggage. I was a bit confused by this – I needed help on, surely it was implied that I wouldn’t be skipping down the steps at the other end?
My chair was left with the assistance team and I was jostled onto the plane with crutches. I was sore and at shuffle point, but despite being visibly lifted from my chair by Mr Geek, I still got tuts for not getting on to my seat fast enough.
Now in the air, I’m not particularly keen on flying again. Most of the flight was spent fretting that my chair didn’t make it on the plane with me or that I’d need to crutch shuffle from the plane. I’d also needed to go to the loo at the gate, but we’d been ushered through so quickly that I didn’t get chance. Despite being sat fewer than 3 metres from the loo, with the combination of my crutches locked in the overhead locker, a wobbly plane and Mr Geek sat not in the aisle seat he’d booked, but squished into the window seat, I’d lost all hope. It’s a good job I can’t really feel it until I’m utterly desperate. I think it was safe to say at this point, I was not having fun. Even the prospect of seeing Mrs Gypsytree wasn’t detracting from my body screaming at me.
As it was, my chair was fine & I was met by it and a lovely lady on the actual plane and taken down on a ‘high lift’ which is essentially a beefy version of a cherry picker.
Arrivals at Belfast were so smooth and we collected our hotel car in minutes. Once inside the car, Mr Geek helped me strap on the tens machine to try to break through enough pain to make me functional. With a thousand tiny bees riverdancing on my spine, we started the hour long drive over to Omagh. Then it started to rain.
Welcome to Ireland. People are lovely, access is good, but the weather is shitty. Can’t have it all 😉