A Post a Day APAD.. Day 30 ..Using Special Assistance at the Airport

I know that I have written about Using a Wheelchair at the Airport before, Air Travel with MS ,but I feel like each time I use the service I learn more about how to make everything go smoother. I would like to share what I’ve learned over the last year with you now. Maybe you would benefit from using at a wheelchair at the airport?

Before purchasing your ticket

Be sure to check out the website of the airline you will be flying and both of the websites for the airports you will be leaving from and flying into for information about how use and how to request assistance. Most airports have a terminal map available and often times, you will find the door closest to the assistance desk on their website. You will also see tips on how to pack liquids, medical supplies, etc to make getting through security easier. * more about that later

Purchasing your tickets

Once you have investigated the services offered, be sure to ask for them when purchasing your ticket. When I buy my ticket(s) (either online or the phone), I request wheelchair assistance from the assistance desk to the gate, and sometimes another wheelchair that takes me down to the plane. (Even though I have never used one to go down the aisle of the airplane, those are also available.)

Arriving at the airport

Hopefully you were able to find information on the closest entrance to the assistance desk. If not, you can ask almost anyone who works at the airport. When you arrive at the desk, the agent will ask for your boarding pass. The information on your boarding pass (your name, the gate you need to leave from, etc ) will be transferred to the person “driving” your wheelchair. *Expect to wait as long as 20 minutes for your driver to arrive.

Your wheelchair Driver

The person driving you will normally confirm your information when they greet you. Often times, they will also ask you if you need to use the restroom, or if you need to stop at any of the stores. If they don’t, now is your time to speak up. Personally, I usually have to stop at the bathroom almost right away, but I wait to purchase any food or drink until AFTER going through security. (Chances are they will make you dump it anyway)

Getting through TSA (Security)

On the way to security, I gather my Drivers License and make sure to PIN my boarding pass to my phone. I also find getting through security goes smoother if I have already emptied my pockets, taken off my shoes, and let the driver know that I have a laptop in my carry-on bag. (Some of the security lines no longer require you to remove electronics, so I try to let the driver know asap, so we can try to find those lines)

If you end up in the normal line, the driver takes care of loading your belongings onto the xray machine. If you can stand or walk a short distance, you will go through a scanner yourself, if not a search can be completed while you remain sitting. (This takes a little bit longer, but is an option if you need it) If you are traveling with a companion they will also move “to the head of the line”.

It’s TSA’s policy that anyone under 75 years old needs to remove their shoes if they are able. Read that again… IF THEY ARE ABLE. I no longer try to explain WHY I can’t walk without my shoes. I find that it’s easier, when they ask me to take them off, if I respond that I can not STAND without them, and give them the option of doing a pat down, or allowing me to walk through, sit in a chair, and then take them off. *The most important part of going through security is trying to remember that everyone there is just doing their job. They don’t need to be stressed anymore than we do. Remember you aren’t really losing any time because you were probably able to skip the line anyway. Bonus right?

On the way to the gate

Sit back and enjoy the ride! Remember to use the restroom BEFORE you get to your gate as well!!! In the past, the driver would ask me if I wanted to remain in the wheelchair, or sit in the handicapped seating area. However, the last few times I have flown I was not given the option to remain in the chair. (I assume that it’s because when requesting assistance my reason for needing a wheelchair is my inability to walk long distances.) The newer wheelchairs they are using would not allow you to move without assistance anyway. 😦 If I could not walk at all, I would mark that on the form when requesting help. Before leaving you, the driver should ask if you will need help boarding. They will send another person to assist you closer to that time if you do.

Tipping your driver

I actually have no idea how much you are supposed to tip your driver. That’s not to say there are not 100 different opinions out there. For myself personally, I tip based on how much I have asked of them. Since I am usually pretty self sufficient, and only have a small carry on when I travel, I usually give them between $5.00 to $10.00, but I would do more if I had asked to stop at stores etc or brought more luggage. I have also tipped less.

Boarding the plane

Most of the time, people that require a little extra time when boarding, ( people with disabilities or people with small children) are allowed to board first. On the rare occasions that this is not the case, I tell them I am going to need a little more help.

After you land… Deplaning

Expect to be the last or one of the last off of the plane. It’s less stressful and easier that way. (Isn’t that what this is all about?) Your wheelchair driver will meet you right outside the door to the plane, unless you’ve asked for additional assistance. Usually they will also ask if you have additional luggage, if you need to use the bathroom, and how you will be leaving the airport. (bus, car, friend, uber etc) Again, if they do not ask, Be sure to speak up!

Remember to tip your driver!!!!

Have you needed to ask for assistance when traveling? How was your experience? Do you have any other tips that you would recommend?

A Post a Day APAD Day 25 …. The sun will come out…tomorrow

I think I have mentioned before that I talk to everybody right?  If I haven’t told you, let me assure you now that that is definitely the case.  Most people that know me will tell you that I make friends every where I go.  Everytime I make the trip to Colorado, people ask me if I think Colorado is beautiful.  I respond, “to be honest, I haven’t seen much of it other than the inside of my daughter’s house or the view of  her backyard.”  (Remember they moved out here as the Covid lockdown was beginning.)  We’ve been to a couple of parks, we took the boys to the zoo one time, but other than that my time consists of being a Grandma gym and crawling and climbing with the boys on everything possible.  Trust me, I AM NOT COMPLAINING!!!!

As usual I digress.  What I have seen of Colorado is beautiful!  When I walk onto the deck in the backyard the mountains seem so close that you can touch them.  It almost…ALMOST makes you forget that all of the houses look the same and are right on top of each other.

It’s been cold and overcast since I have been here this week, and I could have sworn the mountains had moved.  I am hoping to see a better view before I go home and maybe catch a sunset like this one from last time I was here.

If not I will keep my fingers crossed that everyone becomes afraid of flying again and I can enjoy this view on the way home.

This was my flight home the day Illinois was shutting down for the first time. LOVED IT!

**** Update: The mountains came back

A post a day APAD Day 20 Up in the Air again?

Leaving on a jet plane

At the end of March 2020, just as the world began to lose it’s fucking mind because of Covid, Thing One, her husband, and my twin grandsons moved to Colorado. (that’s another story for another time though) From that time, until May of last year, I have been flying or driving (mostly flying) to Colorado every 6 weeks to see them. The last time I was there was for Halloween last year. I was supposed to go again the 2nd week of December, but at the last minute decided to try to cut the tip of my finger off. ( Again another story for another time. )

When this post goes live, I SHOULD be on the airplane on my way to Colorado. Please cross your fingers all is going well!

As much as I have been traveling, you would think I would be a pro at it by now. The only things I can almost guarantee about the day is that:

  1. It will be a long one
  2. the rules will have changed from yesterday
  3. the waiting times will be enormous
  4. some one some where will cause a scene about something
  5. it will be different from my last flight
  6. I am sure that I will be using YAIS

Update**** on the ground safely. Truly the best travel day I have had in a long time. Not one instance of yais. Two infants that slept the whole flight. Almost no lines for anything. In The fact the only thing I was correct about is that it will be a long day and it would be different than my last flight

Living with Interstim 3 months post op

Back in August of this year, I had the Interstim bladder stimulator placement surgery. In September, I wrote about my journey with Bladder Incontinence in a post called, Being a Human Guinea Pig. A few days later, I wrote a sarcastic, yet honest post about what I was going through mentally after having the surgery. At the end of that post, How did your Interstim implant surgery go, I said that the device was already in my body, so I should at least give it the benefit of the doubt. I have, and I would like to share.

Did the Interstim Device “fix” me?

NO

Did it help reduce my symptoms more than 50%?

Absolutely!

Do I regret having the procedure?

No

Would I recommend the Interstim device to someone suffering from Incontinence?

Honestly, I don’t know. ( Not very helpful am I?)

Maybe this will help

On a day to day basis, I don’t even realize that I have the implant anymore. By this I mean, I don’t really notice it unless I am looking for it. I don’t feel any pain at the incision site while I am sitting, driving, walking, bending over, etc. I use a leg press machine for physical therapy and have not had any issues with that amount of pressure against my back side either. I have to admit that I do miss the “ass pats” (spankings?) that Einstein used to loving provide, but to be honest we are both a little nervous about that experiment.

I did not die in the MRI

I was very anxious about having my quarterly MRI last month, (another story for another time) but after finding a location that had the equipment and experience to perform MRI’s on patients with implanted devices, my anxiety about my body being ripped apart while in the tube has been relieved. As a bonus, the pictures from the MRI model that they have to use are 1000x better than any of my previous 100 scans!!!

Going through Airport Security with an implant

I am pleased to report that I also did not die while going through airport security at O’hare or Denver airports. (I did this two times just to be sure.) Medtronic supplies you with a card stating that you have an implanted device and can not go through the metal or magnetic detector. You can also always ask to have a pat down from TSA, but I had no trouble standing in the usual “stand still here and put your arms above your head” scanner.

Other horrible things that did not happen

The above list had me terrified, but to date I have done the following and have had no issues:

  1. Driven a car without turning it off
  2. Operated power tools including a drill and a saw while standing on an aluminum ladder
  3. I carry my cell phone in my back pocket (over the device) for 90% of my waking hours
  4. Operated all household appliances including the washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, vacuum cleaner, freezer, computer, television, security system etc
  5. I have been to the dentist with my 2 year old grandsons, not as a patient

What HAS happened after having the device implanted?

Most of the time, I am able to hold 400-500 ccs of urine before leaking. (pre interstim and without Botox surgery, the number was closer to 150 ccs) I still have to use a catheter to empty my bladder completely, but am actually able to “pee a little” on my own (if that’s a thing). *Drinking Alcohol changes those numbers. Beer seems to run right through me. The carbonated or hard selzer drinks ( Vizzy, white claw, corona) seem to move a little slower, but still increase frequency and decrease retention.

The only other change

I have to “recharge” the device once a week.

As you can see, the recharger is about the size of my hand. Also in the picture is an elastic belt that you can put the charger in to wear while you are moving around. The Medtronic website shows a woman gardening while wearing her belt. Yay her! (This doesn’t work for me.) I have found that I have the best results and shortest charging time, if I sit at the computer, put the device under my underwear and don’t move for a half hour or so. For some reason, when I am re-charging, my right foot (the one that has that all the titanium in it gets very warm)

While uncomfortable, its not incredibly painful. Maybe it’s a coincidence? Maybe that is where the nerve that is being stimulated ends? I’m not sure. I could also turn down the charging speed, but it takes twice as long to charge and sitting still IS difficult for me.

If you are reading this because you or someone you care about it considering getting the Interstim, I wish you the best of luck. Only you can decide if it’s right for you. DO YOUR RESEARCH!

Enter the “How Grace-ful are you?” Contest

Grace-ful- knowledgeable about Grace Fullnot or msgracefulnot.com

On Saturday evening, I mentioned that there would be a contest today. In case you did not see the previous post, let me explain the terms here.

  1. Please do not post any answers to the questions until Sunday, September 6th between 9 and 3pm central time so that more people have a chance to enter.
  2. When answering a question, please include information as to where you found the answer (post name, guess, etc) *If you have the time, this part is not necessary to win.

Here are the questions:

  1. How old am I?
  2. Why did I select msgracefulnot as the name of my blog?
  3. How long have I had MS?
  4. What is the “address” of my advice to those diagnosed video?
  5. What is the name of the disease modifying drug I am on for Mulitple Sclerosis?
  6. How do I refer to my daughters in my blog? Can you tell me why?
  7. Which of those sweet little demons did I leave at the store?
  8. Name at least 3 places I have traveled to via plane in the last 2 years.
  9. How many times have I been in a boot for a broken foot? (this is a trick question, even I don’t know the answer)
  10. What is the most annoying symptom of MS that I deal with? Please list at least 2 treatments I have tried.
  11. Do you remember my German Shepherds name?
  12. One of my happiest memories from 2018?
  13. What do I call my significant other?
  14. What are my grandsons names?
  15. Do you remember how we met or how you found msgracefulnot.com?
  16. What is your favorite post that I have written?
  17. What 2 three letter words, or acronyms, internet slang do I use the most? Can you tell me what they mean?
  18. Bonus points if you share this post on social media, and share the location you posted to!!!!!!
  19. This is a “freebie”… If you are a blogger, can you create a post with links to past posts you that you have written that you feel would give a new reader a good sense of what your blog is about? If you do I will share the hell out of it….FREE ADVERTISING HERE!!!!
  20. If you are the winner, which rose would you like? With or without stem?

The winner will receive their choice one of the above pictured roses that I printed with my 3d printer mailed directly to their home or office. (more about 3d printing to come)

Thank you in advance for stopping by!