For those of you who don’t know me, let me mention real quickly that I’ve flown a LOT in my little life. My dad is a pilot. We grew up being extremely exposed to flying. Before gas prices got all crazy back in the day, we used to rent a 4 seater plane and fly to another city for the day. We’d eat lunch and fly back again. My dad would let either my brother or I “copilot” one way and then we’d switch for the way back. I’ve also made numerous trips to Europe, so flying is not new to me.
Flying in a wheelchair is very new to me.
Everything takes longer. Everything.
I realize how ignorant I sound because shouldn’t I have realized this or thought about how different or difficult it might be for someone in a wheelchair before now? Yes. Yes I should have.
Oh, then add in a portable oxygen concentrator, which is frequently handled like it’s C-4. Even if you print your boarding passes online ahead of time, don’t think that you can skip the long line at the ticket counter. You have to show them the magic paperwork from the doctor’s office. Oh and when I checked the website for Alaska Airlines, I didn’t see special magic paperwork. I did for Southwest which is the airline we’re flying back on.
If you think the doctor paperwork that says the word Southwest will work on Alaska, you would be very wrong. Finally, we agreed that I can carry it on the plane, but can’t actually use it.
Tom gently explained that should the situation arise they could then choose between letting me use it and making an emergency landing.
Going through security requires the wheelchair be fully checked as well as the oxygen and each attachment. This does not speed along the process.
Right after security the choices are to take the stairs, wait for the elevator, or take the escalator, which was in no way made for wheelchairs. Each time Tom chose the escalator, which was quite terrifying. Basically, the entire airport scene is just one big ‘Trust Fall’.
The plane itself was not as horrible as I thought it would be. I did drink a lot of water. Mostly I just got a pounding headache and arm and leg pain. I avoided nausea and dizziness which was great! My oxygen only got down to about 87 which was tolerable. I do think if I could have used my oxygen it would have helped reduce the headache. I hooked it up as soon as we landed though.
I really appreciate all the prayers and messages of encouragement! I was a bit nervous, well actually pretty nervous.
Here’s a picture of me not throwing up.