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Attention Passengers

“Attention passengers, flight AA2709 will now be departing from gate C6.” The front desk attendant announced to everyone in the terminal.

I had just been dropped off at the gate after being driven from my earlier flight gate to catch this next flight. This new gate was the second departure gate as the original gate was C24 which was rescheduled while I was on the sky cab cart. Unfortunately, I wasn’t walking well, actually, I wasn’t walking at all, as my disability had flared up on my vacation. I spent five days in a beautiful hotel room In Manhattan icing an elevating my knee in an effort to bring the swelling down. Every now and then, my “old war injury” as I like to call it, flares up but this time it laid me out and I couldn’t do much of anything. Walking was out of the question as my knee was the size of a football and I couldn’t stand on my left leg at all.

The sky cab who dropped me off at gate C6 was long gone and I had no idea how I was going to get to the new gate to board my plane.

I’ve lived for 39 years with my disability and there was a strange sense of familiarity and frustration building up in me at the same time. I decided to embrace the situation and make the best of it. I immediately changed my attitude and just laughed out loud in an effort to display my faith that everything was unfolding exactly as it needed to. Either way, I had no control over the situation so I chose to just flow with it. Luckily, I did have a pair of crutches and I had checked my bag. There was my computer bag to contend with, which was far more awkward on my shoulder than I had guessed it would be, but I could do this. I hobbled to the men’s bathroom, which was a gate over, about 200 feet, and then went to try and find something to eat. As I did that, a couple who saw me being dropped off by the sky cab, approached and told me that the departure gate had been changed again…

“Attention passengers, flight AA2709 will now be departing from gate C10.”

No one was at the check in desk and I couldn’t find anyone to help, a wheelchair maybe, so I decide to get myself over to gate 10.

“Whew! I made it!” I said to myself as I sat down to eat the food that was bouncing around with me and my crutches before I finally found myself in a seat at the new gate. I had not only been observing myself but also observing the people around me. Some smiled at me, some ignored me completely, and some looked at me with disdain. It was a really odd experience and I was enjoying being the observer. Being the observer gave me a little extra room to step back, breathe, and not be caught up in the frustration of the moment. I was giving myself an internal pep-talk, saying things like, “You can do this!” and “You got this!” or “Just breathe and let the pain go” when a new desk attendant stepped up to the podium.
“Attention passengers, flight AA2709 to Palm Springs will now be departing at gate C17.”
With that news, I sighed deeply and grabbed my crutches as fast as I could to try and catch the gate attendant before she ran off to gate C17. Luckily, I caught her. I knew that there was no way I was going to make it to gate C17. I was barely standing on my good leg by that time and the clock was ticking before preboarding would start. She kindly took the time to help me and called for a wheelchair attendant. She wasn’t sure if one would come before boarding but she did her best. I did my best to stay calm and trust that I was going to be on my flight home soon. Gratefully, an attendant found me and wheeled me to gate C17 just in time to preboard.

Half of the journey would be over soon. Once on the plane, all I had to do was navigate to baggage claim and drag my suitcase, somehow to my friend who was picking me up at the airport in Palm Springs to take me home. How I did that is a whole other story.

My knee has greatly improved since then. It’s now just swollen like a softball and I can put weight on it. I’m continuing to ice it, wrap it, elevate it, and to take anti-inflammatories. I got to practice smiling through adversity, learned to ask for help, and strengthened my faith. I practiced holding the vision that all is and would be well and I was…and am. I am grateful for the experience. It reminded me of the importance of strapping in and simply being part of the ride and how important my attitude is when going through difficult times. What a beautiful way to be reminded of this lesson.

“Ladies and gentleman, we will be landing soon!”

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