Happy New year guys! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a fun New Years Eve. My Christmas was spent at home with my family in Cambridgeshire. I’m writing this post from sunny Egypt where we spent the New Year with Kasia’s parents.
All in all a good end to the year, and great start to 2018!
Now a warning for you. This post is unusually a little ranty. Very out of character I know, but I’ve had a few struggles recently. I figure it’s my responsibility to share these struggles (to show life isn’t always rosey), to raise awareness of some issues, and beyond having some closure – I hope that larger scale good may come of it.
Broken Wheelchair From Flying
The difficulties started back in October. Upon returning from a beautiful trip to Mallorca, my wheelchair was damaged after the flight. Upon sitting in the chair at Stansted I noticed:
– scratches on the backrest, control box and sides
– the metal footplate had totally snapped off on one side
– the joystick was bent forward
– my tray couldn’t attach to the armrest as that was bent down at the front
I went to the Swiss Port desk and reported the issue. They were very helpful. Taking photos and completing a form. The lady said she’d never seen anything like it!
Before I tell you the airline responsible, please know 2 things: 1) they dont actually deal with the luggage. Another sub contracted company do 2) The airline called me the next morning and agreed to pay the costs of repair. No evasive tactics or excuses.
Did you guess which airline it was then? It was Ryanair. Despite bad press, I still use them a lot and am broadly happy. I’d like to thank them for how they helped me too on this occasion.
I would encourage new training and processes with baggage handlers to stop this from happening. It goes on all too often with mobility equipment. It’s expensive to repair and very inconvenient for all.
Repairing The Chair
My local mobility aids shop in Peterborough were also amazing. Jason and the team got me in the workshop asap and bent what they could back in place. Plus my PA Eileen used duct tape and string.
Unfortunately the weekend spent in a wrecked chair played havoc with my balance and joints. But it was much better from after this patch up job.
Jason provided the quote for Ryanair on that first visit. He then ordered the parts from Invacare. I decided to get new tyres too, as they were old and bald. Unfortunately, it was late November before the parts arrved. Then mid December before the chair was fixed – as per my Madrid saga.
Apparently some parts were stuck in Germany for a while. As you’ll see I had other things going on, so I can’t remember the exact dates. Nor which part was the problem.
Needless to say it would be great if parts could be provided much quicker. This delay for something so necessary causes further uncomfort and stress.
Missing Out On Travels
I was due to visit Aviles in Asturias the week after Mallorca. It was where I’d lived a few years ago. I was excited to see everyone again.
With the chair hanging apart and me being so uncomfortable, I had to cancel the trip and miss out on the inclusion workshop.
I’m not sure whether my bout of a fluey virus that followed late November would have happened without the above. It undoubtedly drained my energy and spirits. Which was a factor.
I was feeling brighter after a week of Netflix, rest, chicken soup and herbal teas. Just in time to make the All Madrid 4 All blogging trip, tur4all app celebration, and the congress (which I was to speak at). After flying and seeing familiar friendly faces, I dropped again. Hard!
After 2 horrible nights and days in a Madrid hotel room, I decided I needed to go home. To truly recover.
Thank you to Tatiana and the team for inviting me, moving the dates for me (not to clash with Mallorca and Asturias), and for understanding why I had to leave without participating.
I’ve been lucky to travel a lot. So I got over missing out on the trips. But it was stressful and tiring nonetheless. It taught me that health really is the most important thing we have.
Plane Transfer Injury
I really thought I was through this s**t show after a beautiful Christmas. I even loved the snow we had. Plus work wound down and things were cool.
After driving to Manchester for the next morning flight to Egypt, we had a good sleep. Up at 6am, we parked at terminal 1 and checked in. Somehow my disability assistance request, and equipment information wasn’t on the system. Plus Kasia would need to sit 10 rows away. Not good when I need help to sit, eat and drink.
Luckily that got sorted (although the family separated were unhappy when they were moved!). The next thing up was the ever stressful transfer from my chair to the plane seat.
Upon lifting me, the 2 guys struggled and one tried to secure me by moving towards me. His thigh bent my toes back towards my shin. I yelled “move back” and we finished the job.
The next day my foot had swollen and it hurt like hell. It’s still sore today, 4 days on. But it seems to be on the right track.
It would be interesting what training the OCS staff had in manual handling. They did seem nervy and unsure. Which I’ve never felt before from the PRM assistance elsewhere.
Of course accidents happen. I’ve probably got away lightly on all my travels the past years. But let’s make accessible travel comfortable and relaxing for all.
Resetting The Phones Factory Settings
I’d kept various photos to illustrate this blog. Images of the broken chair, steaming my chest in the Madrid hotel, the guys in Peterborough mending it, and so on. Then my phone went crazy and I had to reset it. Losing everything.
Actually this was a blessing in disguise. It took 4 days on the Egyptian hotel Wi-Fi to download and connect to the world again. Having this time offline has helped me regenerate.
Our Big 2018 Plans
Before Christmas I was working with our Disability Horizons team on our new awesome plans. It’s a bigger and better offering for our community. I’m so excited to get back to inclusion and accessibility now.
We’re launching the DHorizons Tribe next Thursday. So watch out for that on Disability Horizons!
In the meantime I’ve got 2 more nights in this beautiful Egyptian paradise. Happy, positive and optimistic blogs will follow 🙂
– World Changing Blogger and Author
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– CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons and Disability United
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