Michael and I attended the Summer Institute on Disability and Theology last week in LA. It’s a 3+ hour plane ride and a 3 hour time change. This was problematic for me which I’ll write about later. Today: trip home.
Since the trip there was overwhelming for me, we decided to do everything in our power to make the trip home less so. An airport is full of brain injury challenges: noise, flashing lights, crowds and other challenges. On our trip there, I saw many folks riding little scooters and people being pushed in wheel chairs. I mentioned to Michael that perhaps this would be a good idea for me.
When we first walked in to the airport, we saw an employee with several wheelchairs so we asked for one. I sat down in it while Michael left to drop off our luggage. I wore my pink ear plugs the entire time, including while returning the rental car.
Riding in that wheelchair is where the fun began. The woman was an expert in pushing it through the airport. She swerved around people and got to the gate so quickly, even if I wasn’t closing my eyes to reduce stimulation, I would have closed them out of fear!
We had to go through security which is always a nightmare. They even asked me to remove my eye patch so they could check it out! I walked through the scanner and we waited for Michael. We waited and waited and waited. The pusher was clearly frustrated. “He won’t go through the e-x-ray machine opting for a body search,” I said. She rolled her eyes. “That will take FOREVER at this airport.”
We continued to wait when she finally said, “Okay, we’re going to the gate and he can meet us there.” She then pushed the wheelchair, dodging all the people, safely arriving at my gate where she , brought me to the first boarders area. After pacing around a while, she said, “I’m going to go check on him.” I realized I needed to give her a tip but had no idea how much. I settled on a five dollar bill since she was an expert at pushing that thing. Michael told me later, she didn’t check on him, which didn’t surprise me.
The gate was changed while I was sitting there and I misunderstood the announcement so I remained in my seat. I texted Michael several times even though I knew he wouldn’t reply. I just needed to express my anger. We the last boarding our plane because I hate the commotion involved in this process. I felt refreshed instead of overstimulated as I had on our arrival.
I will use a wheel chair the next time I fly for it really is a great compensatory strategy.