Friday, February 13, 2015

Nerves, and asking for help from the airport

Traveling is a challenge for everyone. Anyone who has done it will, I am sure, agree that it is not a relaxing vacation. In fact, it may be considered even more challenging and difficult than regular day-to-day life. Mind you, for the travel-lover, the experiences we reap from it far outweigh the difficulties we face.

For someone with a spinal cord injury, however, we have added challenges. I am an ambulatory quad. To the layman this may give way to the misconception that I'm perfectly healthy. Dealing with simple ignorance is a challenge in and of itself. For example, in 2011 when I was going through the YVR airport to catch my flight to New York and then Spain, I found that one of the security lines was so abhorrently long I feared my legs would not be able to handle the long wait. The thing is, yes, I am able to walk, but doing so is extra fatiguing on my body due to muscle weakness, tone, and spascicity. I simply can't stay upright as long as I look I aught to. And I have to pace myself according to the activities for the rest of the day.

So, bracing myself for the inevitable kick-back, I chose the empty handicap line.

The first words the guard said to me were, "You're not disabled."

Oh, jeeze.

THIS trip, I've decided to try to preemptively avoid these sorts of troubles. Especially since I have a short layover in China. If I needed to rush for any reason, I'm not capable of doing it. My "running" speed is about as fast as a casual stroll.

So, I had my travel agent specifically request for special help due to my spinal cord injury. Personally, I've never done this, so I have absolutely no idea what it will mean. Will I have someone show up with a wheelchair and wheel me about? Will I have access to one of those golf cart dealios and get to blast through the airport pretending I'm a dune buggy princess? (Please be that one!!). Will I still have to deal with ignorance once I get there with another declaration of my physical ability spouted out from the mean lips of an uneducated airport worker?

I gotta admit, I'm a bit nervous of it. Nothing to do but set myself to ready, and go for it, though!

Wish me dune buggy luck!


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