A Thanksgiving Journey

Our three children live in Seattle, San Francisco and Santa Monica. The balance of power certainly has migrated west, and we are meeting in LA for Thanksgiving.   So much for roaring fires, at least in fireplaces. Meredith’s assistant booked us on Jet Blue, and I got a knot in my stomach.

I ‘ve flown Jet Blue out of JFK before. I know the usual wheelchair drill.   You grab a Skycap with a chair at curbside. Usually they are amiable folks who want to help. They get boarding passes and guide passengers through security with a minimum of waiting.   Want to buy a newspaper on the way to the gate? No problem. The expedited process deserves a healthy tip.

Not at Jet Blue.   The guy with the chair listens to what you want then ignores it. Suddenly passengers are dumped in a holding area with other chair bound travelers. The first time, my skycap just walked away, saying nothing. I sat confused, feeling like just another piece of baggage. There ware Jet Blue attendants around. Good luck getting their attention. I think people just look away.

Flying these days is dehumanizing enough. We were treated as if we were cargo. I looked at the faces in the area and saw weary looks. Maybe some of us come to expect this. Skycaps are skycaps for a reason, and they are only following orders.   It was not just what they did but how they did it. Finally someone showed up and rushed me to the gate. No time for a newspaper.

Airlines are right up there with the phone company, hate able and with no accountability. For the disabled, that means alienation to the second power. I have been put through the Jet Blue wringer a few times. Nothing has changed. I know a losing battle when I see one. Indifference is not malicious, only thoughtless and insensitive.

Happy Thanksgiving.

13 Responses to A Thanksgiving Journey

  1. Christopher November 20, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

    Mindfulness is not built into the human condition, it has to be learned through trial and sacrifice. Ironically it is that thing that is missing that we all yearn for, that could be so much better for all if more of us practiced it. We would all actually enjoy more quality time if we all freely gave more quality time. Thus the paradox of our life in amongst other lives. Who matters? Maybe too late in the year to be so deep.

    Have a very Happy Thanksgiving with your family, sir! That’s what really matters right now.

  2. Vonni November 20, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

    Traveling for the holidays has become one of my worst experiences so I am choosing to stay put. My family doesn’t understand the logistics of traveling when your handicapped. They are incredibly helpful giving me all kinds of suggestions on how to manage moving from point A to B. What they are missing is the anxiety it causes as I travel alone since I’m living in a different state from ever

  3. Vonni November 20, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

    Oops. Hit submit with my shaky hand. Anyhow, everyone lives north except me. until one lives through the varied airport wheelchair experience, especially if it’s not a nonstop flight, they don’t get that I know they will do everything to accommodate me AFTER I get there but it’s the getting there that’s a pain in the ass. Sigh, I went to the store to get my mini feast and a bottle of champagne to toast skipping the hassle this year. Maybe next year…

    Happy Thanksgiving Y’all

  4. Paul November 21, 2017 at 5:58 am #

    Happened to my wife at the Miami airport on American. She felt humiliated. Cargo, that describes it Now she travels with battery operated scooter. She is in control. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  5. Jane November 22, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    I travel with my scooter, too, which gives me independence. I can go to the bathroom without someone waiting for me, and I feel much more relaxed. I can get a newspaper simply by going into the shop and buying one.
    I gate check my scooter and at this point know the drill better than the gate agents. TSA can be interesting. I absolutely refuse to let MS or anyone else dictate how I live my life or how I think about myself. So, I am thankful every day.

  6. Jan November 23, 2017 at 9:02 am #

    Go through Midway, and you may get a treat. I flew Southwest from Dallas to Chicago about a month ago, and the skycap was the most helpful I’ve ever ever had, with one regular wheelchair of theirs with me it in one hand and my Rollator and two bags on top in another, speeding to a gate because a kindly SW rep changed my flight to earlier and more reasonable.

    I have never seen anybody do that. Gave him the biggest tip I’ve ever given plus a phone call when I got home to a supervisor to thank again. Your post provided a good reminder to be thankful today for that.

    I’m currently in an insurance fight to get a SmartScoot covered to help with such things and others.

    A neighbor loaned me her book called “Hillbilly Elegy” to read—it’s good one so far. Perspective.

    Yesterday I made Ina Garten’s pumpkin banana mousse torte and will move along now to be grateful today for other things. But I may need an oxygen mask to drop from my ceiling come December because our two will graduate. So good for them, but I will need to take a deep breath. You enjoy your family gathering, as I hope everybody will enjoy something today.

  7. Christopher November 23, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    Thank you, Jan,. I am grateful for everyone here, even though we have never formally met.

    Everyone enjoy time with your families, it’s important in life in a world full of uncertainty

  8. Jane November 24, 2017 at 8:50 am #

    I agree with Jan that Southwest is excellent. Travel for EVERYONE is a challenge, but boarding early and a few other perks for those of us with walking issues really helps. Go for it.

  9. Jan November 24, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

    Thank you, Christopher and Jane.

    Richard, please tell me, did you sense that any of your three kids (no names) were just angry with you because of MS at some point in their early adulthood? …And that they have matured with a better understanding? Anyone else, too? Could also be complicated by this me generation.

  10. Christopher November 27, 2017 at 3:22 am #

    I was going back through other posts and I saw that someone asked me a question about Modafinil and I apologize, Ann, that I never got back to you.

    Modafinil, aka Provigil, is an alertness drug originally developed in France in the late 70’s for the treatment of narcolepsy and people suffering from shift work associated daytime somnolence (sleepiness). It works by affecting levels of circulating extracellular dopamine, also known as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor (DRI)–along the same lines as cocaine, though not the same kind of stimulant. Provigil (Modafinil) effects last for about 4 – 6 hours. It is supposed to make the user feel more alert and awake, with no The side effects are mostly the same as drinking too much coffee; upset stomach, nausea, shakiness, anxiousness, headache. The adverse effects are few, and only related to allergies and people with severe cardiac or hepatic (liver) problems. Provigil (Modafinil) also has a very low potential for abuse.

    Whether Modafinil works for you or not is dependent on many factors, not least of which is brain chemistry. Unfortunately, and paradoxically, brain chemistry is significantly altered by MS processes, which may make the drug less effective in its own effect on altering brain chemistry to produce less sleepiness. You also may have a higher or lower tolerance to the drug which would make finding an effective dose aggravating. It may take some experimenting with dosages to find if it works well for you or not. But please only do so with doctor supervision. Even though the drug is fairly harmless (effectively the same as a few cups of strong coffee), never experiment with medications without discussing with your doctor. I have personally taken Provigil before, but stopped because it only made me shaky and really upset my stomach. Your experience may be much different.

    I hope this helps and good luck to you, Ann.

  11. Ann November 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    Thanks Christopher. I have been on modafinil for many years and it assists me by keeping me more functional longer into the day. It has been very helpful in lifting some brain fog as well. When I have run out of the perscription, I find I can sleep 24 hours non-stop.
    As for Thanksgiving, I hope everyone had a good one. My reason to be thankful, is for all my friends and family who have stepped up to assist me into creating a demensia safe home for my husband. He is currently in a nursing home waiting to come home.
    I am setting up services for both of us so we can live at home. I probably will miss something but I have to treat my husband and I for services independently. The beet goes on.
    I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving:)

  12. Christopher November 27, 2017 at 2:14 pm #


    You’re welcome, and I wish you both well. Even though the scientific evidence is hazy, I believe your husband will do much better at home with you than in a foreign environment. You may very likely forget some things, but that is perfectly okay. And please know that if there is anything I can do, I’m always available. The easiest way is just to contact me through my blog:. http://www.edgeofthedivingboard.com

    Have a very Happy Holidays.

  13. Christopher November 27, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

    My door (er, email) is always open to anyone else as well.

    Happy Holidays all!