So I’m on a Southwest Airlines flight, maybe half way to Vegas.
In a window seat.
I calculate that it’s about time I catheterise.
Next to me, on my left is a boy of about 11.
Next to him is his brother, maybe 7.
I consider my options.
Wait til the boy next to me goes to the loo?
Talk to him, and explain the situation?
Try to do it without him noticing ( given it involves unzipping, removal, a 2 foot catheter, a disinfectant wipe and a disposal bag.
Knowing just how unobservant children of that age can be, I opt for the latter.
I position my ‘satchel’ between him and me, and go through the process, complicated by me dropping 2 of the 3 articles at the start , and having to reach them from the floor, by tipping forward so my head is against the back of the seat in front ( having no lower back muscles to pull me back upright ).
I manage the 5 minute process successfully, but throughout fear the worst – that the poor kid glances to his right, and Is scarred for life.
He doesn’t know that I’m paralysed, as I’ve been carried on before he and his brother boarded. They are travelling unaccompanied.. Making the whole scenario potentially far worse.
I can see the headlines now.
And the lifelong counselling for my neighbour in seat 3B.
Not to mention the lawsuit against Southwest by his parents.
I’m more than relieved when it’s over, and immediately ask the lovely Emily ( who looks just like a girlfriend I once had ) for another glass of wine, which she doesn’t charge me for ( wow, the benefits of being paralysed and knowing how to look doe- y eyed ).
So now my legs have stopped twitching as much, and I can concentrate a bit better on my book ( yes, my second.. Having finished the story of Earnest Shackleton’s incredible voyage from certain doom to ultimate survival… Bought for me by the fantastic Mark Pritchard of Chiswick… The parallel being no matter how bleak it looks, don’t give up. … Everyone should read that book….and now onto the Muhammed Ali autobiography ‘ his life and times’ … Pertinent, as he’s Louisville’s most famous son – even more famous than Tom Cruise or Jennifer Lawrence… Can I have this much stuff in brackets? ) and relax a bit, which is frankly a relief, not wanting the complication of pissing myself on the flight.
90 minutes to Vegas still.
I’m feeling reasonably positive about the trip, now that my worst fears have been allayed, and I’ve gotten this far without mishap.
Ally, at the Residence Inn, thank you so much for the lift to the airport, and for humouring my somewhat stressed self for about an hour.. And despite being smaller than my 11 year old daughter, carrying my suitcase, shower bench and carry on bag filled with 35 catheters, to the check in.
I so owe you a drink.. Or 10.
I think you now read this blog, so you are famous amongst a very small circle of people that you’ll never meet.
But if you ever come to London, we’ve got a spare bedroom.