|At the Carolina Renaissance Festival, 2012|
As I write this, I'm packing for my annual trip to Minnesota to see family and friends. Part of my trip is to go to CONvergence, a sci-fi and fantasy convention (here's my post from last year about the con itself). As I pack, I'm realizing how much of my mental energy is devoted to adaptive equipment that I need to bring, and how much body awareness I need to try to make these decisions.
Since the surgery, I've used a variety of adaptive aids to get me through daily life. Cane, walking stick, or forearm crutch for usual getting around (I'm starting to realize that the forearm crutch is what I really ought to be using on a regular basis as my wrist tendonitis is finally subsiding because of using it, plus it's more stable when I lose my balance). Leaning on carts in stores or using my partner for balance for longer trips. My poor sporty wheelchair has been sitting in my car gathering dust though. I've been trying so hard to be able to tolerate walking with aids (one of my physical therapy goals) that I've been avoiding the wheels (the chair is also about 20 pounds total, which is 15 pounds above what I've been supposed to lift).
Anyhow, as a part of packing for the trip, I feel like I need to somehow have psychic powers in order to know how my spine is going to behave for the trip. Do I hope for the best, keep the wheels at home, and stick with the crutches? Do I prepare for the worst and just take the wheelchair? Should I bring both the wheelchair and the folding cane so I have more choice (even though the cane is less stable and means less walking, plus the potential of it being kicked out from under me accidentally because I'm so short)? Do I ask my partner and my friend to help be my pack mules at the airport so I can have a crutch and the wheelchair?
On top of just the adaptive equipment, I want to cosplay. Cosplay can be a lot of fun, but trying to pack costumes and accessories for a flight can be a major hassle. I'm slowly working on easily packed costumes (like the orange jumpsuit for a Misfits costume), but sometimes a person wants to bring something less easily packed. For this trip, I really want to bring the jaunty hat that I'm wearing in the above photo. It's big, especially with the feathers. Under "normal" circumstances, I could just plop it on my head through the airport and tuck it in an overhead bin on the airplane. However, this becomes another part of my flying-while-gimp dilemma. It's another thing that needs to be handled through TSA, along with digging out my quart-sized baggie of toiletries, pulling out my laptop, fussing with my shoes, getting fondled by a TSA agent, having the entire surface of my wheelchair getting swabbed and tested, and then trying to get everything where I need it to be to continue on my journey (chair cushion & seat back put back in proper order, bag reorganized, shoes on, and traveling companions gathered).
It's a hassle, and I just don't know which battles I want to fight. Maybe if I wasn't a part-time wheeler and part-time stick user. Maybe if I wasn't an introvert. Maybe if I didn't want to wear outrageous hats and costumes. Maybe if my body were more predictable (hell, I'm not even asking for more mobile!).
I've decided to bring the wheels, but I'm undecided on both the cane versus crutch debate. I'm still waffling on the hat as well. It is a marvelous hat that I spent too much on at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, and I have so few opportunities to wear something that fantastic. Should I bring it despite the hassles?