Well, that is me. I’m currently the lady with one good leg as was the name given to me by our cab driver.
Last week we were on a family vacation in Amsterdam and just the night before we were flying back, I ended up slipping and badly twisting my foot. It was hurting, but it didn’t feel that bad. I found some ointment in the medicine cabinet of the home we were renting and slept. In the middle of the night I wake up with this huge swollen foot and a pain that is shooting, radiating and throbbing all at the same time.
We had an early morning flight and somehow through my tears and help from everybody, I got ready. When Naheed offered me a pain killer, I didn’t say no and even kept an extra one for the flight.
I limped to the cab and the our cab driver, Fred, asked which airline we were all flying with. Our sisters were flying United and we were going KLM. and then he ask, “and the lady with one good leg”, which airline is she on? We said KLM. That’s good, he says. He dropped us right at the gate which was closest to KLM assistance and directed the rest for United.
I was in no situation to walk the lengths and breaths of what airport terminals have now become but I didn’t want to take a wheelchair. I told Sikander I will lean on you and we will slowly go to the gate but after 5 steps I knew I couldn’t. While we had not pre-booked airport assistance; KLM staff was very gentle and helpful in arranging everything. This was my first time in a wheelchair at the airport. I was so conscious. I was thinking what will people think of me… I am not old, I had no cast on my legs to say I was hurt. I had no “visible” label to say I was hurt. People might think I’m just abusing the system. Every time we skipped the queue and were asked to come forward, I would keep my head down or make a sad face to show that I really was in a lot of pain.
There were two things that struck me. First was, My injury was bad enough that I had to take help. I needed help but why was I conscious of taking it? Was asking for help, in some ways accepting that I’m imperfect? I had this back and forth argument in my mind and I’m glad I finally chose to be happy about the state I was in. It isn’t everyday that I am wheeled around an airport so why not make the most of it! I asked Sikander to take me around and I gave everyone a big smile when they moved to make space for me. I was very comfortable once I let go of my need to justify help. I just enjoyed all the help.
The lady at the toilets, opened the disabled bathroom for me and I went it. the guy at the security opened a closed lane for me and I went in. The girl at the gate helped us go in first and I went. I even asked to get a photo clicked 🙂 The flight was nearly full, and we were the only other row that had no other passenger and it wasn’t a coincidence.
The crew was super sweet in their care and concern. Since it was just a 2:30 hour flight, they had no ice but they gave me the coldest can they had to do some cold compress during the flight.
The same treatment continued at the Bucharest airport too after arrival 🙂 We went to the hospital emergency and a quick x-ray showed no fractures and only a bad sprain. Cold compress and elevation… that is all that is needed. But I had fun even though it hurts.
The second and more important realisation was I figured I was having these thoughts because probably I also try to find “visible” labels on people using assistance? But we aren’t always carrying labels on ourselves. I should be sympathetic and patient with everyone I come across. Maybe they have an invisible sprain that says, “had a bad day”; “going through a breakup”; “feeling a little low today”; “just recovered from a fever” and what not.
I will from now on, try to remember that we all have invisible labels and we all need a little patience from each other!