Last week, for the first time since March I went to a meeting in Europe with work. I used to travel a fair amount before I had my accident and catching a plane was for me a bit like catching a bus. In general the flights were to Europe or the UK, and I know the routes and airports well. Every airport has a slightly different approach to security but I have learnt them over the years and can generally get through security at speed. In recent times, more and more airports have introduced body scanners, and last week, the airport in Germany that I flew out of was doing body scans on every single passenger. Now, if you have ever been through a body scan you know that you have to raise both your hands above your head – quite high. I watched each passenger with increasing trepidation – how would security deal with me?
As I got to the front, jacket and shoes off, laptop out of my bag I stepped into the scanner. ‘ Hands up’ barked the German security lady. I put my hands up. ‘ No , not like that, both hands up, higher’, she said.
‘I am sorry but I can’t,’ I said and showed her my scar. Her jaw dropped and she went a bit pale, but not as pale as the man who did the scan and saw the metal work in my shoulder. I was taken out of the scan and put in a cubicle to one side. What happened next really surprised me. I was searched, but the person searching me pushed all around my scar with her fingers and thumb- presumably to see if it was real!
Once I was through I breathed a sigh of relief and sat in departures contemplating the trip. My shoulder really hurt and I think it was that age old problem – as my world gets bigger again I have to adapt and adjust, doing things differently than I would have done prior to the surgery. Although it was only an overnight trip I had to put my bag in the hold, I knew there was no way I would get it in the overhead lockers. It is of course slightly frustrating as you have to go via baggage collection on arrival at your destination. When I was walking through the airport, I wasn’t too keen on either pulling my wheelie overnight bag or carrying my briefcase ( which is quite heavy) in my right hand.
I like a window seat when I travel, and on this trip I was on the left hand side of the plane. It didn’t cross my mind what a strain it would be to reach over to the air hostess for a drink and a snack, but it was awkward and painful. There were other hazards on the trip; the lunch buffet had a very nice tomato and bread crostini but I couldn’t quite reach over to it with my right arm so I used my left – the consequence? Tomato and bread crostini all over the place. In the evening I sat on a low chair at a table but my arm ached as I ate my dinner – the low chair made the table too high for my arm. During the meeting I was asked to write on the flipchart – no hope. The glass and bottle of water were on my right hand side – I couldn’t reach so had to stand up to reach with my left hand. You get the picture.
Once again, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of my colleagues – this was a global meeting and so there were a lot of people that I hadn’t seen since March. So, again, I re -lived the accident, the hospital, the operation and the recovery.
Except I am not re – living it. I am living with it every day.