Mobility matters. Chapter 24

Having taken the risk of going on holiday with an injury, I was seeking to explore the support for those with mobility issues. While at the same time experiencing the holiday from a completely different perspective than I am used to. It’s been an eye-opener and of course a drama.

When travelling it is always best to advise the insurance company and we have an annual plan. It was straightforward enough there were 4 simple questions to test whether you needed further assessment from medical practitioners. Bit like NHS 24; a triage system with the specific difference being that the call take is only trained in answering the phone. So the process is designed to get rid of the dross immediately. Did I have a terminal condition? Not that I was currently aware of, so NO. Has your Doctor advised you not to travel? Now that is an easy one because I have asked this repeatedly, I’m going with the senior professional as it adds weight; the Consultant suggested 6 weeks ago, ” should be fine”. Check two. Do you have any medical admissions or treatment planned while away? This was also easier since the misdiagnosis mean’t I couldnt have any, NO. And finally, the insurance get out of jail free card ” is there any reason you think you should not travel?” I’m thinking many reasons my holiday experience will be diluted; potential of DVTs, not really able to drink, sleep, dance, go excursions, but still I have answered NO despite this which should tell you how desperate I was to get out of here………

Next, I need to get my meds organised. An on-line repeat prescription all that was needed for my liquid Morphine. In fairness I wasn’t using it all that much now but ever the pragmatist, I felt there might be a risk of slips or further falls, so wanted to cover that eventuality because frankly nothing else covered that level of pain. All good, except the request prompts a call from my GP, checking of course I’m not addicted to it…..yet. But also because I might not be able to take it into the country. (Oh didn’t think of that one.) A website called HealthPro will provide the insight but my helpful GP, who having recently read the appalling debacle surrounding my injury and diagnosis was more than happy to do a little bit more and checked it out herself. Lo and behold right enough not able to take it into St Lucia. So she prescribed co-codamol instead and that served everyone’s need. I wouldn’t be an addict, nor arrested for narcotic importation and she had demonstrated the level of care we thought was lost in the NHS.

Feeling pretty organised I had also pre-booked some time ago mobility assistance through British Airways. There is a standard that is automatically associated with this brand so it was, I hoped, going to be well coordinated and seamlessly supportive in each part of the journey. In fairness to BA, they rely on the ground staff to deliver the service and ground staff are employed by the Airport, hence leadership and staff management are critical to how well the service might be delivered. Edinburgh were brilliant; excellent service, prompt, friendly staff, helpful, just the right level of intrusive questions and timely arrival at the gate. It was a scoosh at security and my husband was able to get me, albeit reluctantly to the duty free so I didn’t miss out.

Gatwick bit of a debacle; timely helpful disembarcation there and a very smart and competent coordinator who redeemed them somewhat. Guess what we had a quick turnaround between flights. (I know). While getting us off the plane (there were 3 of us needing this assistance) was easy, it seems getting back into the terminal then onto the next flight was not so straightforward. Our anticipated pre-booked connection wasn’t there, nor when this was queried was it planning to appear anytime soon. The coordinator despite her best efforts wasn’t able to assure us of anyone arriving in time to make our transfer.

I started to become a little stressed after 20 minutes when we were still airside and it was 30mins till our flight departed. It was another Florida moment. The coordinator advised the group that the connecting team were more likely to be transporting people already in the terminal, random requests brought tips and this was far more lucrative for them than fulfilling the pre-booked arrangements. Finally with 20 minutes to go we had a driver, but we still had to get to security. And of course you need to get out and walk through that or wait till they bring you a wheel chair.

It’s worth mentioning that we had a companion on the buggy, an older lady with heart failure travelling to Tampa but thankfully much later than our flight. She was unwittingly drawn into our little drama as we drew up at the security and there were no wheelchairs in sight………………….

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