I’d had the hip replacement operation exactly five days after I’d moved into our newly built house, one that still had lots of work and lots of unpacking to tackle.
The thought of all that work didn’t faze me as much as how I was going to get rid of the damn compression stockings, off the walker (I’ve been off my rocker for many years but that’s a different story!), and reduce the swelling and the massive pain in my hands and neck from the new dragon that is RA. I had been commissioned to write a magazine story on the mystical islands of Haida
Gwaii, British Columbia and be darned if I wasn’t going to get ‘er done.
So these were the challenges and semantics that I had to figure out to make it all happen in a time-is-a-wasting- fashion: Get the OK to fly- had to be 90 days after the operation; figure out a way (I was traveling alone part of the trip) to pull my packed-for-three-weeks suitcase, my camera bag replete with a heavy (for my swollen joints) Canon camera, several lens, filters and batteries, and my carry-on bag stuffed with tickets, passport and a multitude of precious books. Yes, I know there are KOBOs and iPads out there to load books on, but for me, it is just not the same ‘turn the page’ experience that ‘real’ books offer.
My schedule entailed a one- hour drive to the airport, two hours in the terminal, a five hour flight to Vancouver, and a three hour layover for my two hour connecting flight to Sandspit, Haida Gwaii. In total, a 13 hour traveling day- which felt extremely overwhelming considering the state my RA was in- up-and-down flare mode at the most unscheduled and who-knows-when times.
After a few anxious hours of worrying, knowing that a 13-hour travel day was virtually impossible for me at this point, a solution finally broke through.
I shaved one day off my 90 day no-fly time- re-booked my ticket to Vancouver one day early and met my friend in Vancouver for an over-nighter at her place, rather than meeting her at the airport. A $100 change fee, and a one-day difference in flying made all the difference in this, my first trip with my new hip and my newly-diagnosed RA. Booking an aisle seat so that I could get up and roam freely on the plane was also key, as well as not being shy to ask for help from the stewardess in pulling my camera bag down from the overhead.
I found that people are happy to help what was an evident damsel in distress. I found that not being shy to ask for help and never giving in are two of the more important lessons when traveling with RA.
Next post: Landing in Haida Gwaii and climbing into a six seater float plane- cane and all!