I recently had a nightmare experience whilst passing through Frankfurt Airport, being held back on the plane because I booked wheelchair assistance and they did not arrive for 20 minutes, so I had to use the toilet on board the plane & I started getting anxious that I would miss my connecting flight. I had my family waiting for me in Algiers, travelling alone as I had done before with success. The panic started & I felt a loss of control but had no ability to change either my situation or stop the panic, lack of sleep did not help. I only had a 45 minute change over so I missed my flight, I started crying & ranting & got held in the police office until I was calm. I had an expensive, unplanned night alone in Germany that cost me £80 and it took me 2 hours to get any assistance from the airline. The worst part was the security man who throw a box at me because standing with crutches meant I could not lift my bag onto the scanner, he did not know I had brain injury or pain or emotional crisis, just that I had no free hands to do as he requested, this is what lead to me getting man-handled by staff. I know it was abuse, that I could no longer deal with what had gone wrong, as all the planning was organised for me, I was unable to make any decisions or change my plans but I knew this aggressive security man had no right to treat me like that, but as usual because I was verbal I got the blame. I never see it coming, or read people properly, so I had no clue this man was going to take his stress out on me. I lost my confidence in that moment, because deep down I know I can't change how other people have negative reactions to me just because of my obvious physical disability. In my experience being abused just because you have mobility issues is too common, I would say that maybe 1 in 5 people are extremely aggressive towards me, this hurts, but also I have to live with this reality. When things started to spiral out of control I was lost, I could not make any complaints at all because no one was listen to me, I became a 'thing' an obstruction, not a person. Because this happened on my outward journey, I have had to endure 3 more flights alone. The hardest thing I had to do was turn up the very next day, to catch another flight, after the shame and embarrassment of losing it the day before. This is what you have to swallow every day. Everyday someone says something or does something that takes away everything I build up for myself. I feel helpless like a small child, inside my head I know that I get abused, people take advantage of me, when they realise I forget things they steal from me or ask me to pay twice. when they realise I can't find my way around they lie to me so I waste time getting lost. When they realise that I am not understanding things they shout at me. Sometimes you just need to be aware that it is not all the fault of your disability, that society is disabled, that people are emotionally disconnected & selfish, rude, demanding & people bully you because they believe that you are weak. If I was weak, I would not suffer this pain just to live another day, I would not tolerate the things I have had to do, surgeries, treatments, therapy or suffer the loss, grief & loneliness. I am not weak or stupid just unable to react to things that change beyond my control & understanding. Having said all this, I had a wonderful time in Algeria, the reason for my trip was to get married to the best man ever! My husband never freaks out when I don't cope, he stays calm & sorts it out, one step at a time. If only other people could be the same. My life changed for the better when he came into my life, if just 1 person believes in you then it changes everything. The airline made me feel like unwanted baggage that had to be transferred from one plane to the next, if only they could realise that I needed to get off the plane before the rush of people that started my panic, and that like everyone else, I just wanted the opportunity to go to the toilet, have a coffee and a smoke before I got on the next flight. most importantly, they caused me to miss my connecting flight & this meant my family had to travel back home and get up at 5 am the next day to come pick me up. It's bad enough being dependent on them, without stretching it, without the cost, without ruin my relationships because of all the stress it causes people. When you bully me, you disrespect everyone who is supporting me to keep my independence, you disrespect all those people who pay tax and fund my rehabilitation programs and every set-back might take me years to overcome. So please don't, a little patience was all that was needed and maybe people who provide wheelchair assistance service need to test out their system by being the disabled person, because only when you are put in these difficult situations where you have no control over what happens can you see how it feels or find out if your system actually works. The woman who put my heavy flight bag on my legs because there was no trolley for my baggage needs to know how much pain she caused me. Everyone has a flight bag, what's wrong with understanding that? Everyone travelling has a schedule to keep to, the staff told me 'well you can get another flight tomorrow' as if that was just fine, no sorry it was not fine at all, it was not what I paid for. It took 8 different members of staff to organise an alternative & find me a hotel. now I know what happens when things go wrong I can never feel the same level of trust I had before. I lost something important that I can never get back, my faith in other human beings who I believed were responsible for my safety and care. I have never lost faith in myself, because even if people don't realise it, even at my worst times, I actually always do the best I can.
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