I am on holiday!
I love being on holiday. GOING on holiday however, is the most unbelievable schlepp!
Firstly, the packing! You can’t imagine how difficult it is packing with only one hand? I am naturally a right handed person. But due to my spasticity resulting from my accident my right hand is now useless. My left hand not only has to perform it’s own duties but it has had to become my “right hand” as well! I was never the best and neatest of packers. Nowadays I am utterly useless. The solution, as is the solution in so many cases: Mums! Mum is a neat packer but she is also a “canny” packer. She knows that in this shoe you can fit two rolled up socks, a bra and a hanky. The places where she manages to secrete my scarf and John’s 80th birthday present are hilariously unmentionable! What a complete star Mums is. By the end of the morning, my suitcase was packed, my ticket and passport were in my bag – I was set!
So, my journey begins……
Airports are a complete nightmare for me. Why? Because of my deafness and mobility! They are like huge towns, each with their own unique infrastructure and unintelligible tannoy system . Sitting in the wheelchair, I am pushed towards customs. ‘Wait a moment! Wheelchair? Gaynor, what has happened to you? For goodness sakes, why the wheelchair?’ I can hear you wondering.
Soft laugh! I now willingly go “Assisted Passage”. I am remembering back ten years ago to when this was first suggested to me. When I checked in, I watched my cases disappear and then turned around to be met by my form of transport – a wheelchair! Since my accident, I had strived and battled to avoid the blasted wheelchair at all costs. And I had succeeded. Wheelchairs, thank the Pope, did not feature in my life. And now suddenly I was being made to sit in one and was being pushed through this mass of humanity. Everyone could see me. Everyone could see Gaynor Young succumbing to that blasted wheelchair! felt…I felt humiliated at taking my place on that rigid seat.
I now realise that I was looking at things from the wrong perspective. There is nothing shameful about using a wheelchair. Generally people use wheelchairs because they can’t walk. I find it amazing how often people in wheelchairs are treated as stupid. I remember recently when I was in a wheelchair, people spoke of me to Mum as if I wasn’t there. They acted as if I was of no consequence. Because a person is in a wheelchair, people seem to think that there is something wrong with their brain! For goodness sakes! One only has to look at Stephen Hawking, the world famous physicist to appreciate that physical agility has nothing to do with mental ability.
It is actually such an unbelievable treat to go whizzing past all the other passengers at the airport as they trudge for miles to the baggage carousel. Then having picked out my case, I leave it in the porter’s hands as we make our way through passport control and customs. Do you know what a relief it is for me not to have to worry about doing that? Once I said to my wheelchair pusher that I would be fine. I could cope with customs myself and make my way outside to where I was being met. Silly, stupid, pollock that I was! Customs decided my innocent face was definitely hiding something. They made me open my case and dug through everything! They opened new jars of cream, scattered my underwear, opened up and sniffed perfumes! Can you frigging well believe it?! So I never venture down that road again. I go through Customs in my wheelchair. I am sweetly waved through and the machine guns, bullets and hand grenades I have obviously inserted amongst my toiletries are never discovered!!!
As Stephen Hawking said: “Nowadays, muscle power is obsolete. Machines can provide that. What we need is mind power, and disabled people are as good at that as anyone else.”