As you recall this the first time I have flown alone since the loss of my second leg, as expected, and with precise planning everything went forth without a hitch. The airports, Chicago O'Hare and the Louis Armstrong in International Airport in New Orleans, both were quite accommodating with respect to traveling while in a wheelchair.
Both coming and going through both airports I did not have to wait to receive my own wheelchair upon landing. I touched upon the procedure of boarding a jet in my last blog post but now after having experienced it I feel I can elaborate more exactly what to expect. As I was told you have to transfer from your own wheelchair to what they call a "aisle chair." This aisle chair is a mini wheelchair of sorts, much more narrow than a standard wheelchair and you must be pushed in it as it does not have the large wheels that allow you to propel yourself.
Moreover, you transfer chair to chair on the jetway right before being wheeled into the plane. I was surprised about the number of belts they use to strap you in the aisle chair. They use four belts, one across your legs, one around your abdominal area and two that criss cross your chest. The toughest part of that for me was getting across that 3 or 4 inch gap between the jetway and the actual plane itself. I suppose this is because I am so used to doing things myself and am not accustomed to being pushed or not being in control of the wheelchair. When I arrived at my seat, it was the very first seat in first class and I remarked to the flight attendant, I felt like I was strapped in for a trip to Mars.
The flight went well and I did have a couple of Mimosas in the last hour of my flight being conscious of the necessity of not having to use the bathroom by drinking too much of anything too soon. I am still unsure how a bilateral amputee would navigate using the bathroom. I know they have an aisle chair on the plane and would wheel you to the door of the restroom but the problem lies in the fact that even if you could (and I am not sure) fit through the doorway, I don't think you could possibly turn around to position yourself to transfer to the toilet. I guess I will have to figure that one out when the actual opportunity presents itself, although that seems a little too late.
One of the many things I enjoyed on my trip was that I actually got in my wheelchair and rolled down the sidewalk in New Orleans and got a real feel for the area. God bless Paul for all the times he took the wheelchair in and out of the car for me. We went up on one of the levies and I looked at the mighty Mississippi River, a vast expanse of muddy water with beautiful bridges and various vessels.
Before I forget if you are embarking on such a trip, don't do what I did and forget to bring your handicapped parking placard. I could have kicked myself a dozen times for that faux pas.
We had lunch in New Orleans at a place called "Two Sisters of the Court" an old building that like so many in New Orleans have courtyards in the center of the building. Great food, beautiful outdoor ambience, typical of New Orleans and just the type of place I wanted to experience.
|I took this pic right after I got out of the car in New Orleans, I knew I would use it in this blog.|