Snow, Belfast & Admin
It was over to snowy Belfast this weekend to witness a good mate from school tie the knot in one of the most spectacular settings imaginable. I would go into more detail about the event however i’m conscious of straying from the point and besides i’m not sure i would have the words to do it justice. Im just going to take a little time to touch on the life admin involved for someone in my situation going away for a few days. Now believe me when i say it’s getting easier, however it certainly has taken some getting used to and as my body changes so does my admin.
So i no longer need to take the wheelchair with me which is great, however that also means i don’t reap the substantial airport benefits, namely; no queuing, constant available seating and the miles of perfect rolling surfaces. When im travelling now my walking aids include my FES (functional electrical stimulation) and either my walking poles or a crutch. I don’t necessarily need the crutch or the poles to move around however having one with me in crowded places just helps inform others to offer me a slightly wider berth. It also reassures people that there is probably a legitimate reason why i’m shuffling around like ive had an unfortunate bowel movement and therefore don’t need to be worried if i happen to be sat next to them on the plane. The FES box on my hip often draws a fair amount of attention from security as im not sure they see many genuine cyborgs, however i have to say that every ‘official’ i have come into contact with so far has been nothing but helpful.
As with so many other facets of every day SCI life, the biggest issue with travelling distances revolves around the bladder. Bowel management is relatively straight forward, i will just make sure that i have been to the toilet before i embark on my journey. If a coffee and march around the kitchen table doesn’t do the job then i still resort to suppositories. To be honest i think no more of administering a suppository as i do brushing my teeth these days and i actually find them incredibly useful for peace of mind. My urge to go to the toilet for a number 2 often comes on just as suddenly as its liquid counterpart, however as long as i have already dealt with the matter that day i know there is nothing to worry about. The bladder on the other hand is not so forgiving. I still wear a convene catheter attached to a leg bag when flying. I rarely actually utilise the bag, however due to the more regular need to go at the moment and my weakened pelvic floor muscles, i feel a lot more comfortable to have the safety net. I also have to be aware of the volume that i am consuming as well as the type of liquid. Although i LOVE coffee, the fact that it is a diuretic means it’s best avoided on long journeys. Accidents are inevitable and have happened. Open valves and disconnecting tubes have resulted in some rather exciting moments in the past, but im pleased to say that these are becoming rarer. Its hard to tell if the lower mishap rate is due to clinical improvements or that i’m just becoming better practiced at my life admin. Either way i would like to think in due course i’ll be back travelling au natural.
When going away for a few days I also take my AFO (carbon fibre foot splint) with me. The FES is great however relying solely on electronics is risky, especially when you have a tendency to drop the unit down the toilet…. The only issue that i have with sporting the AFO all of the time is the state of the giant trainers i have to wear to accommodate it. Admittedly i have played with many second rows who have sworn by the functional trainer and jeans (shneans) combo, however i’m not sure that i’m ready to go down that path yet. The wedding was also black tie and as much as i like to be a trend setter, bright blue, size 12 Mizuno trainers with a suit would have been pushing it a bit.
The set up i use for travelling is the same as i utilise for any public events where i’m not sure how easy access to a toilet might be and/or i may have to be doing something for a while… sitting in a church / doing a speech etc. The key as usual comes down to preparation, it’s all doable but to take the stress out of the situation a bit of forward planning is necessary. There is no where i can’t confidently go by myself anymore, the only question is how much admin will i have to do to get there…..
P.s. I think Lois enjoyed the Xmas market….