Monday, March 22

Nobody's Home


We hope the nest will be feathered again soon.

***

My dear old friend who was here visiting since last Thursday, left today for two weeks in Florida with her sister. Due to some recent respiratory problems, she now has to have oxygen 24/7. She has a unit that makes its own to use at home, and she rented one that is smaller, and approved by the airlines for use on a flight. When the rented one was delivered to her, the guy briefly told her how use it, but he didn't give her any instruction sheet or a manual to read. As you might imagine, the instructions would be hard for a young person to remember - let alone a woman in her 80's. But she, never daunted, piled it into her car and made the 300+ mile trek to Raleigh by herself, with the machine plugged into the car outlet.

After the first day with her, I soon learned how to plug and un-plug it, both into the car and in the house. It seemed hard to get it to stay in the mode it should be in, as it kept "changing itself" to another level. But we figured it out somewhat (I looked on-line for a manual, and found it.)

Today dawned, and I took her to the airport. She had asked for a wheelchair at the curb and expected to check her bag with the skycap. Both were non-existent. I left to go and park the car, found a wheelchair and located her (again), took her to the proper line and got assistance with check-in and baggage. I had wanted her to get to the airport at least 90 minutes before the flight, but she thought an hour was sufficient. I got her there 70 minutes before the flight, and we just barely made it through security to the gate.

When you have to carry a machine to make oxygen on a plane, the security rules are more stringent. I'm not complaining about that - I applaud the higher security nowadays. Better safe than sorry is my motto. The point is to tell you that you have to allow much more time under those circumstances. While I whizzed through the security line (keeping my photo ID and security clearance card at the ready, and having worn shoes that were easy to slip off and on); she had to be checked by a woman officer, "wanded" all over and 'patted down', plus they even put some kind of liquid on a cotton pad, rubbed it on her wrists and on the oxygen machine and then placed it under a machine to see if it emitted any telltale substances. I thought they'd never get finished. Finally we got clearance, found the elevator to the floor with the gates and proceeded to Gate 7, where people were already lined up to check in. A clerk came over to my friend and took her boarding pass, and said..."Do you have to wear that thing on the airplane?" She answered that she did, and that she had cleared it in advance with the airline. He said the seat she was assigned to wasn't good for her, so he had to search for another, more acceptable seat. Finally, it was completed and they took her onto the plane. I really wished I could have gone in, to get her seated and secure - but they wouldn't let me. She looked like a lamb being led to slaughter, and I really hated to leave her. The worst part was - she had to fly through Atlanta. I didn't have the heart to ask if she had to change planes, but I pray to God she didn't. I know she will be happy when she reaches her final destination, and the only problem is, she has to do it all over again in two weeks, when she comes back to Raleigh.

16 comments:

Kay Dennison said...

Life with a handicap isn't easy. I dread when the time comes when my both my legs are difficult. What a wonderful friend you are to help her so much and so well!!!! Direct flights are best when one has to travel with a handicap but in this day and age, it isn't happening.
Jeff never comes back from Florida without a layover in Atlanta thus proving that my ex's darling Southern grandma was right:
"Honey, you have to go through Atlanta to get to Hell."

And don't forget to come by my place to pick up your award!

Marcee said...

Hope your friend finds nice and helpful people on her trip!!

Here we go again...!

LL Cool Joe said...

I do a great deal of travelling on planes and it's a nightmare for an able bodied person let alone someone with a disability. The security checks take forever and the whole process is like a cattle market. I don't like it when my 15 year old is searched either, because to me she's still a child and the she's often had the cotton pad because she looks older.

The whole process for someone in a wheelchaor and requiring oxygen must be awful. I hope she had a good flight and the cabin crew looked after her well.

sage said...

It must be hard to travel like that, may she find helpful pilgrims along the way.

Gilly said...

She is a brave lady to travel with al that paraphenalia - and you are a very caring friend!

Granny Annie said...

I applaud your friend for jumping through all the hoops in order to travel. It exhausts me to hear about it. I would simply stay home.

Tabor said...

You are a good friend!!

Olga said...

I love to travel, but plane trips are not what they used to be, for sure. Your intrepid friend has my admiration.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I feel the same way you do Judy...'better safe than sorry.' But what a pain in the butt for your friend. I've never witnessed the ordeal someone goes through at an airport when they have the kind of medical apparatus your friend had. Airports make it hard enough for people without disabilities. She was lucky to have you along with her.

Nancy said...

As Kay says, life with a handicap isn't easy. And, trying to get through security at the airport only adds to your problems.

My husband lost his right leg to Diabetes and wears a prosthesis. He does real well with it and you would never guess from watching him walk that he is handicapped. BUT, the TSA crowd take no prisoners when it comes to security.

We were in LAX once, and they told him to take off his shoes. He explained that the shoe on his right foot was part of the prosthesis and could not be removed. SO the guy made him take the whole leg off and ,believe this or not, took it away to another room. That was OK except that he didn't came back and was gone for more than 20 minutes and
they were calling our flight.

There was nothing for me to do except go through the door that he took the leg through marked "NO ADMITTANCE" and there he was;sitting, chatting with his TSA
associates with Roy's leg leaning against his chair.

I am proud to say that, not wanting to be arrested, I stayed calm and simply asked for the return of the leg so we could make our flight. He handed it to me and I took it out to my husband and we were on our way. NO APOLOGY..NO EXPLANATION..NO KIDDING!

Darlene said...

Flying with a disability is no fun. I have to get a wheel chair and, although the only devices I have is a cochlear implant processor and a steel hip, I have to endure being wanded. It takes about two hours to get to your gate and I try to get at the airport about two and a half hours before departure.

On the whole, everyone was very helpful and kind to me and I hope your friend finds that others will assist her with kindness.

Your friend was very fortunate to have a good friend like you to help her get started on her journey.

tiff said...

Well, she IS Lebanese. :)

Good for you for taking such good care of her!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

At least you made the first leg of her trip good.

Star said...

I hope she had help in Atlanta if she needed it. That airport is insanely busy.

amarkonmywall said...

This was a tough read. I really feel for your friend and it brings back memories of plane travel woes with both my mother and Hoss, who had to travel with oxygen. The loss of personalized attention and the complications of TSA make everything all the more difficult. She must feel that the rewards of getting around are worth the trials and tribulations and that's a good thing.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I'm sorry....I know we need Security Checks, BUT...An 80 year old woman in a Wheel Chair with Oxygen needs to be patted down and "wanded", etc., etc...And then has to be asked "Do you really need that thing on the plane?"
THIS IS OVERKILL of the worst kind.
Thank God you were with her Judy---I shudder to think what may have happened in Atlanta....
When I hear a stopry like this I am doubly glad I cannot travel anymore.