Please, no more flights

We were collected just after 11 to board our flight from Hong Kong to LA. While I wouldn’t want the hassle of being in a brace again – or having any sort of injury while flying for that matter – being able to get through security and board the plane before everyone else has been great.

We settled in, I got comfortable, we took off, they served us food and then we went to sleep. The problem with taking the overnight flights is that you can’t get into the right sleeping pattern for Canada.

Leaving at midnight Hong Kong time means it’s midday in Toronto so if we stayed awake until, let’s say, 9pm Toronto time then went to sleep, that would leave us with about five hours to get some sleep. Really, that would be three what with being woken up for breakfast and then preparing for landing.

Screw that. We went to sleep and subsequently spent most of the flight unconscious. Woke up for breakfast (Glen cheerfully telling me he’d had duck noodles during the flight), watched more episodes of The Mindy Project and then it was time to land.

We were collected at the gate and wheeled through LAX, getting through border control with relative ease, and then taken to the other terminal after collecting and dropping off our luggage. Glen got our new boarding passes while I waited for a wheelchair with a bunch of other people. Glen came back saying we weren’t sitting with each other but at least the seats looked suitable.

Someone else collected us and took us through security. While Perth and Hong Kong were both fairly lax with patting me down, the US gave me a full over service. I had to stand, take out my crutches and pillows and submit to a full-on body search. It was not pleasant. From there we went to the Admiral’s Club lounge. It’s not the best but at least it was a nicer place to sit for a while. Then, when it closed, we were collected again and taken to the gate and boarded.

We had “First” class seats for this flight but really it’s more like Premium Economy in that you have wider seats and a bit more leg room. US Domestic Flights don’t go all out and Australia has a much better product.

I sat at the front, which allowed me to stick my leg out completely in front of me and into the aisle without obstructing anyone. The woman sitting next to me was an ObGyn from Virginia and we had a brief but interesting chat about US politics before the plane took off (about 15 minutes late) and we all tried to get some sleep (it was about 1am when we left).

I managed to sleep for about half the flight but the second half was uncomfortable. Being unable to keep my leg up meant I was putting pressure on it into the floor. I took painkillers but it didn’t go completely. Still, it could have been worse and eventually we landed.

We had a really tight turn around in Chicago of only an hour and as we took off late, we were worried we wouldn’t meet our connecting flight. If that had happened, I might have gone a bit crazy as by that stage I was thoroughly sick of being on planes and in airports.

Despite waiting on the jet bridge until everyone had got off before a wheelchair arrived, and a delay at the gate as to who was going to take me across the airport, we managed to get through about half of O’Hare Airport to our flight to Toronto. Even our luggage made it in time.

I’d been given seat 6A but when I got on the tiny, tiny plane it was obvious to see that sitting in that seat was not going to be possible. I thought I could just stick my leg in the aisle but the flight attendant said that wouldn’t be possible. Luckily, the person in 1A was late and they stopped her at the gate and swapped her seat.

I lowered myself in and stuck my leg out, as comfortable as I was ever going to be. If I hadn’t been able to move myself from the chair and across the platform, I don’t know what would have happened. The plane was so small!

After taking off, I inched my way down to the back of the plane to use the loo. I can’t lift my leg so I have to drag it behind me. I was walking along the aisle, gripping onto the overhead baggage area, much like you would if you were doing one of those high-ropes courses. Then when I got down to the end, the light in the toilet didn’t work so that meant sitting down and jamming myself into this confined space. I came out of it alright but it was another experience.

When we were coming into Toronto, I couldn’t see the CN Tower or any of the familiar skyline, but nevertheless a big smile broke across my face. I was in Toronto again and it was a beautiful day. Plus, we’d made it. Through nearly 45 hours of impeded travel, we’d gone halfway around the world.

Collected once more, we sailed through border control. The officer asked why we’d want to come back to Canada. “Because it’s awesome,” I said. We got through without trouble. Our luggage was waiting for us. Glen collected it and we were taken out to the passenger loading area where we waited for Julian.

He pulled up in his car, wheelchair in the back, gave us hugs and then we were on our way, zooming along the Gairdner and the 40-something to Downtown Toronto. It’s not a pretty city, by any stretch of the imagination. Steel-and-glass buildings everywhere, a bit rundown in places and the whole thing lacking in an overall vision of what the city should look like, but it felt good to see it again. It felt like we’d never left.

Julian had picked up a wheelchair with a leg support so I didn’t have to use the crutches to keep my leg up. Wonderful invention. We hung out at Julian’s for a while and then he went for a suit fitting, while Glen and I committed the cardinal sin of travelling: we had a nap.

Honestly, we could barely keep our eyes open, but 3-4 hours later we felt even worse and trying to wake up at that point was torture. Still, we rallied and then had the long discussion about what to have for dinner. Bec and Al and Pete and Royden were brought into the conversation so soon people arrived and it was just like old times, like we’d seen everyone only the week before.

They went off to get food from Oja while I stayed behind and watched The Money Pit. Al popped in and we caught up, then the food returned and before we knew it, it was 10pm. I’d forgotten that with daylight savings in full effect, it’s still light until at least 8, if not 9. How marvellous.

After everyone left, we finished the movie then moved down to the guest suite and climbed into bed. Getting proper sleep never looked so good.

We’ve had to modify plans for the rest of our trip, and I’m not all that keen on getting out and about, but will make myself or else I’ll spend ten days looking out Julian’s balcony at the Marriott building. I’m glad we’re here, even with all the hassle.

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