Putting It In Writing
Handicap to Go
My crippled-ass had to unpack my laptop, take off my jacket, and along with my purse and the book I brought to read, I placed them in the little countertop basket. Now, I’m sure you can picture all of this being perfectly choreographed by the smoothness of my mobility-impaired movements.
The really neat part…my cane also had to ride through the security screening process, while I had an invitation to trip the light fantastic through the security monitor without touching it. Well, so much for peace of mind in my ability to stay upright without support, which quickly became a moot point when I stepped through the arch…bells and whistles sounded. I was asked to step to the side.
At this point, I want to give kudos to the security personnel at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Since I can lift my arms by my own volition, only so far outward from my sides, they helped by slowly easing my arms up. They also unzipped my boots and removed them, plus, they put them back on. I’m still impressed.
But hey, the helpfulness didn’t stop there. They retrieved my belongings, helped me into my jacket, and sent me on my way. You would think the end, right?
I walked at least a quarter of a mile to the check-in counter, I walked a quarter of a mile back to gate D security, and now, I’m directed to a tram docking bay which will take me to gate D. And get this, once I left the tram I had to stroll another quarter-mile to the actual gate D.
Let’s take a time out here so I can give you a necessary weather report.
The temperature outside was thirty-nine degrees. I’m from the east coast, so with no wind chill factor it was cold but tolerable.
Stepping into the terminal…they must have had the heat jacked up to ninety because it was so stuffy I could hardly breathe. Factor in all the ripping and racing (don’t go there) I had to do from one end of the airport to the other…
Between the tram station and the gate, I had an asthma attack.
I guess in keeping with the well-intentioned decency of the airport and airline personnel, as I frantically kept walking while pulling my laptop case, and trying to keep the air flowing through my lungs, they paged me over the loudspeaker system. I’m sure the airline assumed that would be a sure-fire guarantee to put a little pep in my step.
I know… I can hear you out there sympathizing with the airport and airline personnel because hey, they didn’t know I had asthma. And you know…you’re probably right. Just because my travel agent has it noted on my itinerary that I’m mobility impaired and asthmatic, who am I to think that someone who has the care of hordes of people should be able to read.
Sorry, I digress.
Okay…where was I? Oh yeah…taking my last breath.
Actually, rather than pick up the phone and answer the page, silly me, I stopped, sat down, pulled out my inhaler and took two puffs.
When they paged me the second time, with my air passages less constricted, I calmly proceeded with my journey to gate D. Half way to my destination, the friendly airline personnel greeted me, and seeing my watery, glassy-eyed gaze and heaving chest, they promptly got me a real wheelchair, not one of those that a person my size can only use if they straddle the arm rests.
Once on board the airline, the staff made me as comfortable as possible in a seat designed for a child, or at best a miniscule adult.
Let me take a moment to say to the travel industry... When you say handicap accessible, you have to mean mentally. Because, if you mean physically, can you possibly mean the cargo bay? Then again, after watching the baggage handlers stow the luggage, I’d have to surmise that mode of handicap accessibility would be iffy.
And don’t give me that crap about the majority of the population is obese and they need to whittle down to a size ‘nothing’, so all the perfect people will feel comfortable around them.
How about you give us our monies worth and stop making doll-house-sized seating? Who do you think you’re kidding with those Barbie-doll seats? I’ve seen men without an ounce of fat on them, ass jammed into those seats, unable to twitch for fear of knocking the hell out of the person next to them.
Hey… Really… I’m not hostile or bitter.
Promptly fastening my seatbelt, I fell asleep and didn’t awaken until the sound of the pilot’s voice, announcing we were about to land, nudged me to consciousness. Stiff from remaining motionless for four plus hours, it took a few minutes to unfold myself from my seat. Because of the torn ligament in the left knee, I have to wait until the thighbone settles onto the leg bone (I feel a song coming on…the hipbone connected to the…thighbone…), oh…sorry.
And yeah…that’s right, I used the term thighbone. If I became all technical on you, I’d be tempted to compete with the medical professionals. You know...throw down some of my own voodoo phraseology.
Now where was I? Oh yeah…bones settling, or I get this collapse thing going on.
Did I mention I have a custom-fitted metal leg brace that I should be wearing? It’s designed to prevent the bones-not-settling-falling-down thing. Just image how that would have gone over with airport security. Hell, if you’ll remember, my boots set off the alarms, and I had to remove them. So...leg brace, worn under my clothing, needing to be removed for a security check…right. If you’d ever seen me that is not an image you’d wish on anyone to carry around with them. Not even airport security.
The airline personnel remained with me until I gained my feet and started moving. They escorted me to the doorway where they arranged for another real wheelchair to take me to baggage and ground transportation.
My flight actually arrived forty-five minutes early--eight thirty a.m., and I proceeded to Marriot Springhill Suites, Dania Beach, even though check in wasn’t until two p.m. Evidently, I looked as bad as I felt, because the hotel personnel allowed me to check in at that early hour.
By the time I reached my room, my gait was uneven, and my arms were practically useless. I couldn’t even undress. I took a vicodin for the pain, laid down and slept until seven p.m. I woke up, showered, put on my pajamas, ordered some food, ate then went back to sleep.
The following day... D-day.