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Birth Balance Blog

A series of topics related to preconception, pregnancy, labor, birth, bonding, and post partum issues. Feel free to make suggestions for future topics.

Requesting a Break – Part IV

I hobble and stand on the curb outside the clinic, awaiting the arrival of my chariot and driver, Mary. There is a young man nervously pacing off to my left, looking both directions for something or someone that either exits or is a figment of his imagination. I’ve recognized him from the waiting area in the clinic. He reminds me of the ‘methadone’ population on the Upper West Side in New York City.

I’m quietly wallow in my pain, looking down saying, “Please don’t come and talk to me, please don’t come and talk to me…” and all of a sudden I look up and there he is in my face, off to the left.

“Do you know what time it is?” He impatiently queries.

“Ahhhhhhh… “ I look at my watch remembering, I TOO am on a time schedule. “…2:10,” I report quickly and curtly in my New York fashion.

“Huh, thanks,” as he continues to ponder my answer while desperately gazing at me.

I look off to the right, my eyes widen and I bite the bottom of my lip. I shout to myself, “Sheez, I hope he doesn’t think we are going to offer him a ride, somewhere, someplace, that either does or doesn’t exist.”

Before I turned 50, I would have been sucked into his field of ‘neediness’ and fell prey to helping him out, even at the expense of compromising my integrity. After 50, there’s a chemical produced in people’s brain- body called, “I don’t care.” It comes up at the most opportune times. If someone says, “I like your hair.” I say, “Thank you, I don’t care.” If someone says, “What in the world did you do with your hair?? Yuck!” I say, “Thank you very much, I don’t care.” It’s the ‘unattached hormone.’ Well, it kicked in here…in fact, with a little extra pain in the body to get the point across.

“Where is Mary with that car!!!” I  scream in my mind. “Ah, here she comes.” As I see the arrival of the familiar silver van.

As Mary drives up, the stranger to the left seems to have wandered off toward the main road. I stumble into the van and feel the welcome relief of sitting down. We strap in and off we go.

Being that everything in Cedar Rapids is fairly close together, the  ride to the airport is complete within a matter of minutes.

Mary drops me off at the curb, runs around to get the  suitcases. A young man comes over when he spots the crutches and asks if he can help.

I respond quickly, “Absolutely.”

Mary leans into me and says, “He’s going to expect a tip!”

“Why should this be any different than New York,” I say to Mary.

I wave my hand, roll my eyes and respond, “Whatever!”

Mary jumps back into the van and rides off to find a parking spot.

Off I go, hip pity-hop through the electronic doors as they part the way for my entrance to the check-in counter. Thank GOD, there isn’t a line of people. I crutch my way past the few waiting in line and ask what the procedure is for someone in my condition? Within minutes there is a wheel chair at my side and the ‘man who expects a tip’ is prompt with my luggage.

Mary has joined us and is helping out with the check in. I slip the man a $10 bill and off Mary and I go with my purse, crutches, and bulky, heavy, computer bag on my lap. She steers the operation as I painstakingly keep everything on my lap, ON my lap. The crutches keep falling off either dragging on the floor or poking people as we go by.

“Sorry, excuse me, oops!” Seem to be my mantras.

Mary, who is type A personality and the mother of all ‘controllers’, seems the perfect candidate for assisting me on this escapade. We efficiently weave in and out of stragglers, waiting for their families, friends or flights. When we get to the scanning area, I wonder how this is going to work. Even though Mary doesn’t have a boarding ticket, she is allowed to proceed through and wheel me to the boarding gate.

After I place all my bags, the computer, my shoes and  jacket in  the  plastic containers on the scanning platform, I’m wheeled to a  very  public area off to the side of the machines. A female airport  officer  is assigned to ‘check me out’.

I see Mary about 15 feet away, already through the line, collecting and organizing our things. She stands patiently watching out of ear shot while I go participate in the ritual of ‘padding down the crippled traveler’ and micro scanning the wheel chair. (Why are they are so interested in the chair? It’s airport property.)

The woman seems very official and stiff. She begins to tell me what she is going to do. She adds, “If you would prefer me to do this in a more ‘private place’ I can arrange for that to be done.”

I jokingly respond, “Listen, you can do what you like, but if you are going to do a vaginal exam, I probably would like to go to someplace more private.”

She looks at me shockingly, I laugh out loud, Mary wonders what’s going on. I wave and smile at Mary letting her know nonverbally all is well. Of course she know better.

The woman lightens up and realizes it was a joke. We clumsily begin the routine of her probing and patting my body.

She starts at my head, and I ponder, “How do they think, something could be hidden in my hair?” Oh, well, down the body she goes. At one point she is patting the front and back of my chest. Before she gets to the front, I comment, “Ah, I have a padded bra on, so, ah…”

“Oh, honey, we all do what we have to do!” She comes right back at me with a smile.

We start laughing and yucking it up and I see Mary out of the corner of my eye shaking her head and smiling.

The female officer needs to check my hips and butt. She asks me if I would like to stand. With athletic fortitude, I press off the arms of the wheelchair with my hands with my upper body strength leaving my derriere and legs suspended in air, awaiting her search.

“Oh, OK then…that works I guess,” she acts surprised with this alternative position.

She’s patting away, systematically and rhythmically until she comes to the left area under my thigh. She keeps patting this area with a confused look on her face. “Oh great…” I am wondering what in the world she thinks she is feeling. I’m wearing a light summer dress with tight leggings underneath.

I blurt out, “Oh that’s just my extra pocket of cellulite on that side!”

She bursts out laughing, has to stop the exam, and cover her mouth. My upper body strength gives out as I begin to giggle. The guards and general public are staring at us. Mary of course now realizes it’s beyond all hope. I pass the screening.

“That was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in a long time!” the officer shares as she finishes.

I’m wheeled past all the inquiring looks and Mary, embarrassingly receives the wheel chair and me in it. We pile on all the luggage and off we go to the next experience. I have been having such a grand time I have lost all track of time. I look at my watch and it is, 2:30 pm, 10 full minutes before the plane boards. PLENTY of time to spare, but then, I don’t know how far the boarding gate is from the scanning gate. Ah yes, this is Iowa, not very far.

Mary gets me to the boarding gate area. As I approach the tall, over powering reception desk at the gate entrance, my body as a surreal viseral response. How do people who have been handicapped all their lives adapt to a world where not everything is so handicapped friendly? My new-found empathy will be tested many times over the next number of weeks.

“Hello, Hello, anybody there?” I pleadingly call from my wheel chair.

A poised steward, leans over the desk, peering through his glasses, “Yes?”

“I just broke my ankle, about 3 and a half hours ago, and well, I’m not really sure what I’m suppose to be doing here. Can you give me a clue?”

I’m instructed I will board first so I am to stay close to the doorway. I will not be able to bring the wheelchair onto the plane, so I will need to use the crutches and an attendant will carry my luggage to the seat. When I arrive at the next City, I will be asked to exit the plane last and there will be an attendant present with another wheel chair to transport me to my connecting flight. This is great!  First class service without the extra fee, except the extra PAIN!

It’s almost time to board the plane. From my trusty, temporary,  wheelchair, I give my sister Mary a big hug and kiss. I know from  my heart of hearts, if this had to happen in the scheme of life’s  unfolding, I was blessed to have such a wonderful guardian angel  be here helping me. Love you girl, more than you will ever know.

More to come in Part V…

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