This Is What It’s Like to Use Mobility Assistants
Moving through an airport is rarely easy. Add a disability to the mix and it becomes way more stressful depending on your level of impairment. I remember being able to run to a distant boarding gate lugging carry on baggage. Post 9/11 air travel became much slower with the addition of tighter airport security. When I became disabled in 1999, I was introduced to the world of airport “mobility assistants”. These are people who push you in a wheelchair through the twists and turns of getting you through security to your boarding gate on time. When you travel with family or friends, you expect things to move more quickly due to your priority status, however, sometimes there are delays associated with waiting for assistance.
I have often found myself having a prolonged wait for a wheelchair after checking in at the ticket counter. My family stands around waiting impatiently thinking they could have run through security and gotten to the gate in the time it takes for the wheelchair to arrive.
I am finally used to the idea of traveling through the airport in a wheelchair 20 years post-stroke. I can now enjoy the ride as I move through crowds of people at speeds I would never be able to travel through my own efforts. There is often an unfamiliar breeze on my face when I am moving through space at the pace of someone who is able to walk normally. I sit and smile at everyone as they uncomfortably move out of the way of a fairly young woman in a wheelchair. It is an effort to not feel envious of them as they effortlessly walk or run along carrying their stuff, talking on the phone and maybe drinking coffee.
I have practiced the art of focusing on gratitude for being able to travel with a mobility impairment even though it plain sucks to need mobility assistants.
Thank you for reading:)