Getting back to Colorado was about as bad as getting to California by airplane. "What do you mean? Flying is much easier than driving across country." You ask. Well, let me explain in detail for you.
Packing and unpacking is always the fun part of getting ready to and coming back from travel. What happens in between for you and me is a totally different experience as you will soon see. Upon arriving at the airport, I have to prepare to be pushed in my own wheelchair from the get go. Not by someone who works for the airport or the airline, but by my mom. We always get to the airport earlier than most people because of what you will read coming up.
Once we get everything out of the car, me into the wheelchair and gather up all of the tickets, boarding passes, id's, etc. mom has to push me to the check in line and then push the luggage to the check in line. Throughout the entire line, mom has to keep shuffling between the luggage moving and me moving in the chair. By the time we get to the front and are called up to use the electronic check in system, mom is exhausted from all the back-and-forth pushing and pulling of me and the luggage, and the airline personnel is less than excited to wait for us to begin our check in process. They usually huff a few times before we get our confirmation number out and begin typing on the kiosk.
After about 10 minutes checking in, they usually find out that they have to do a special handling since I am disabled and get my luggage checked without having to pay their lame fees. Then they get really happy again (ha ha) when they have to print tags for us. Are we having fun yet? It has has been anywhere from 20-35 minutes just to check in. And that is if the line isn't too long.
Next is the absolute best part of flying, getting through security. So we wrap through the line like everyone else, carry-on luggage and all. Our carry-on luggage includes: my back pack with Lap Top, iPad, Power cords, Portable Hard Drive, Cables and Accessories, mom's carry-on bag full of whatever didn't fit in my backpack and her things, 2 purses (mom's and mine), 2 cushions to pad my wheelchair seat, 2 sweaters or jackets, 2 books, acceptable snacks for mom and me and once we get through security at least one bottle of water if not 2. The best thing of all of this stuff is that mom gets to put all of it on the security screening table by herself because I'm usually waiting for a female TSA agent to give me a full body pat down as I set off the metal detectors even if I get too close to it. The even more fun part for mom is that she is usually completely through the security screening process, repacked and has her shoes back on before they ever start patting me down. I always have to wait for what seems like an eternity to get mauled by the TSA. They are always so apologetic when they find out that I have cancer. They never know what to say at that point and want to get it over with as soon as they can.
So, another 20-30 minutes have gone by and now we are just out of the security area and on our way to the gate, via stopping for water or coffee first (depending on where we are flying from). Mom is still pushing me in my wheelchair while carrying her purse and carry-on bag and wearing my backpack full of heavy electronics. I try to put stuff in my lap so she doesn't have to carry it all, but she insists doing it any how (big point of conflict between us every time we fly). We may also stop to use the restroom so neither of us has to on the plane. If not, we make the stop before our connecting flight in the next airport.
We finally make it to the gate. We still are not done though. Since I have my own wheelchair for travel, we have to get special tags for it from the gate agent. We also have to make sure they know we need extra time to get on the plane so I am out of everyone's way when they all board. Once this is done, we are finally able to sit and wait to be called. All-in-all it is usually about an hour from the time we get out of the car to the time we sit and wait to board (usually another few minutes only).
We are boarded first so we can get to our seat and have all our stuff put away before everyone else boards. This way, we don't hold anyone up getting on the plane and us leaving the gate on time. The gate agent usually wheels me done the jetway to the plane, while mom follows with most of the carry-ons. I get out of the chair and make sure the leg-pegs have been removed from the chair and are in mom's bag before I start down the aisle to the seat. I am usually on my crutches by this time. Mom makes sure the chair gets folded up and is at the gate check door for them to take to the cargo area. Then she makes sure the flight attendant knows that we will need the chair again when we get off the plane, so they can make sure it gets delivered to the plane's door again. By the time mom and I get to the seat and she puts everything in the overhead bin, we are both tired and ready for a nap.
Once we take off, finding a comfortable position to sit in for the entire flight, is a challenge. I usually have to move around A LOT during the entire flight. There is no "Sit Back and Relax" on a plane for me because the seats don't recline enough for my disability. By the time we get to our connecting airport (usually Denver), I am in a ton of pain. We have to go through the entire deplaning bit, just opposite of getting on. We are almost always the last to deplane. Sometimes while I am getting in my wheelchair at the door of the plane, the flight crew already has their belongings and makes it to the gate before I do. Sometimes I just had to walk off the plane I hurt so bad.
Then, we race through the airport again to the gate because where we land and where our next light leaves from are on opposite end of the terminal. This is usually where mom is huffing and puffing to get us there and hurts herself in the process. Not a good thing! By the time we catch that last flight, we are even more tired and can hardly wait to get home so I can lay down from the pain and mom can lay down from exhaustion. But, we still have to get the luggage and me to the car and drive home. Usually we put me and the carry-on luggage at the curbside while mom goes, gets the luggage and takes it to the car waiting for us in short-term handicap parking. Great day, huh?
What a great New Year this would turn out to be. I was going to have a tooth removed. Yeah!!!!!!
Next, "Fire"works in January....
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:2-8