My Disability Matters Club

Out travelling

I sit on the plane looking at the sun shining brightly on the clouds wondering if that is the way to describe life? I also wonder why the staff on the plane doesn’t offer me coffee but the ill-smelling man on my side he was offered! Such things make me angry. I have a fused neck that makes me unable to turn my head so maybe they thought I was not interested! So now I hooked a stewardess and said I was never offered a coffee. I got my coffee which is not even warm with half an excuse!

My fused neck makes me look more disabled than I am with my head slightly bent down and tilted to the right. My ataxia walking with sticks makes my appearance slightly … helpless? disabled? unindependant? or simply eccentric?

Now the stewardess wanted to take my coffee away before I got a chance to enjoy it! I refused and slightly raised my voice! Sometimes people don’t realise that when you have a mobility condition you need a few more seconds than others for the smallest things.

The plane has a stop in the city of Bergen before my own destination today which is Stavanger. It looks like I am stuck with Mr. Smelly all the way! Well, my trip in total has been so nice so a bit discomfort at the plane I will surely survive. Oh dear, and I discover I haven’t had the seatbelt fastened the whole trip! Loosen seatbelts while refuelling the aircraft.. well if the plane blows up it won’t make a difference anyway if the belt is on or off will it ?!

Visiting friends I hadn’t seen for years and feeling like I saw them last week is so nice. With some people, it’s like that and I’m happy and relaxed around them. Nice conversations. Meeting their grandson..me going for small walks. Having people around made the days together treasurable!

In the air again on the last part of the journey back home. Well almost, as there’s a 25 minutes drive by car home. My kind friend Tove is meeting me at the airport with my car. I have a special parking permit at the airport near the terminal which I can use until given other notice. When you cannot turn the head it’s amazing how difficult it is for me to pay with my card to get into the parking areas! I could open the door and turn my whole body to the side to get it done. Imagine if I only have one car driver impatiently tapping the shearing wheel behind me!
Then even worse if the barrier close before I have managed to hump myself back into driving position! My head hurts at the thought! So I was very happy that the airport parking company gave me this special parking permit. It is granted for my car only .. that’s why my friend has to use my car to pick me up.

A relief to get rid of Mr. Smelly but then the girl who was going to help me to pick up my luggage was so used to me having my own wheelchair that she didn’t bring me one. Hope she learned to never assume when I told asked if anything in my papers said I had my own wheelchair on this flight! I use the opportunity to go to the toilet in peace! One of the perks about needing assistance on a travel by air is they hardly have time to allow you to go to do necessities like going to the toilet. When they, in addition, behave as if they want to wait for you inside the toilet I gently chase them out!! Mamma mia if I wanted help to something like that I would definitely not travel alone! The relieve in these women’s eyes when they realise I manage on my own in these situations are hilarious!

My friend Tove comes smiling in the door just as we reach the exit of the terminal. The smiley young girl tells me now I can walk the last bit to the car. I could yes, but I am not letting her off the hook that easy, so I say well it’s too much for my friend to wheel me and the suitcase. Tove is with me and says nothing, so she has to fulfil her assignment and wheel me all the way to the car. Her face, when I put myself behind the steering wheel, is one of disbelief! The only person, not even twinkle is the man parked next to us who also has cp and looks so much like Robert de Niro I have to look at him twice!

Travelling alone with a visible disability can sometimes be challenging, this trip not as bad thank god. When things go wrong or I get annoyed I can get temperamental there and then. Later I strive to see the humouristic side, but there are times it can be difficult, like the time when one assistant took me in a hurry to the gate which made me really annoyed, because my flight wasn’t due for another two hours. When it says Brussels on the gate and not Manchester where I was headed I got really angry and also slightly panicked. Turns out I was taken there because another passenger was in need of boarding that plane. In need of some privacy to calm down over being deprived my lunch which I had planned to have while waiting, I stood up and walked off literally hiding from that assistant!

Other times it’s hilarious. Like when 20 men in Banjul wants to help me down the stairs from the plane. At the time it was not funny at all though!

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