While traveling with the kids in Toronto to visit family, I fell and badly injured my left ankle. Although the initial x-rays didn't show a clear fracture, the injury occurred on a previously fractured ankle and the doctor was concerned about the high degree of swelling and bruising. At the same time, I injured the big toe on my other foot and badly bruised the calf on the same leg. All this, the night before I was set to fly back to Paris, alone with two small children.
Thankfully my sister works at a hospital and insisted I go in straight away or knowing me I probably would have wanted to sit around fora while to see how I felt before making a decision. Instead I was assessed, x-rayed, and had an "open" cast put on until I could get an airboot cast instead. Armed with crutches, my sister took me back to my parents' apartment where the kids were waiting up and eager to help in any way they could. They set me up with pillows and a blanket and brought me something to drink. Thanks to the pain medication, I actually slept quite well that first night.
The main concern of course was whether I would be able to travel. Since I was unable to do much for myself, the next morning saw a whirlwind of activity and everyone pitching in to help. My sister and dad watched the kids and picked up my aircast while my mom pretty much did all my packing for me. I spent the time on the phone with the airline, Air Canada, to see what services they offer.
Air Canada offers a service for passengers with reduced mobility, where an agent will wheel you through check-in, customs, and on to the airplane. However, the airline is not responsible for wheeling you to the check-in counter, and transferred me to the airport to get that set-up. The problem? The airport staff member who took my call insisted it was the airline's responsibility to arrange that, and actually said "I don't know why they keep transferring these calls to us." I wasn't impressed. I was lucky enough to be staying with family, but what if I wasn't? Not the best service I've experienced.
Fortunately a Pearson employee came to help out once we were in the airport, and he took charge of everything right up to getting me settled on the plane. I had booked us in Premium Economy, and I honestly think if I hadn't, I may not have been able to travel. In Premium Economy there is enough room to stretch out, and I was able to keep my leg elevated almost the whole flight. The flight was in the evening, and both my boys fell asleep shortly after boarding, so I actually got to relax and get in a few hours of sleep.
Upon arrival in Paris there was an agent waiting with a wheelchair to take me through customs and pick up my suitcases. My boys were well-behaved, holding each others' hands and staying in sight at all times. I was really proud of both of them. My husband was waiting just outside to meet us and he helped get us all in a cab back to our apartment.
While I would prefer to not have to travel injured again, it's given me a better appreciation of the challenges associated with travel for those with reduced mobility and how important it is to ensure that travel is accessible for everyone. From start to finish, the obstacles for those with reduced mobility are crazy. I never realized just how much walking I do in airports until I found myself being wheeled through one. Everyone should be able to enjoy travel, and services need to be coordinated at all levels to ensure that each passenger is treated with respect and dignity.