Well, this blog would be nothing if it were not for me reporting on the crappy times as well as the good ones. I know long distance flying takes its toll on anybody, not just people with my physical issues, and as we age. But it really does feel like I have a harder go of things, especially as I recall how relatively “easy” long-distance flying was before my accident. I was initially optimistic around the first 9 hours into the flight from Newark to Hong Kong. The compression socks I wear, even though I am neither pregnant or diabetic, were working remarkably well, I thought! The back was not especially painful, the leg was not acting up; I was seated in a bulkhead aisle seat with no crying babies or snoring neighbours to boot. Yay! And then. Time. Stood. Still. Nothing I could do for the next 8 hours could distract me from the aching, nerve pain, inability to sleep, and inability to concentrate on anything else except my inability to concentrate on anything else. The 6:58 hr mark seemed especially still. Since the seat next to me had freed up (I was in the middle three-seat section on the 777), the guy next to me had moved one seat over. But there were no arm-rests to lift. So I did something I have never done before, and that is, curl up and lie down on the floor in front of those two seats with my head on my backpack. All the while thinking, who the fuck knows what has been on this floor but I do not fucking care. It was not a successful strategy.
Arriving in Hong Kong and the breezy airport experience was a brief respite to all this. Deplaning to reaching baggage claim took 5 minutes. If only all immigration experiences could be like this. Certainly, this process is so expedited because I do have a HK Identity card which you insert into a slot, pass through a set of glass doors that then close behind you, have a thumb scanned, have a second set of glass doors open in front of you, and then you are on your way.
It seems like 36 hours is the magic number for recovery time for me. I really was pretty much a vegetable for that first day and a half, barely managing to shuffle around, declining to go out, and just lying down and sleeping an awful lot. I did walk past some old tennis courts where lots of kids were either having lessons, practicing, or competing (there were some feelings around class, expats, and elitism that were also conjured up, but that is a much longer blog post). Tennis was one of my main sports growing up, and I was very good at it, if I do say so myself. Watching these teenagers hit the ball hard and move around the court quickly did make me feel a bit sad that I could not do that any more. But I think there is also more acceptance than before. Maybe it is because I can tell myself that hitting a ball back and forth across a net and chasing it around is silly. This pretty much characterizes most of the sports I played growing up and into/through college (tennis, squash, netball, field hockey etc.) :p But deep down, I do miss it a bit.
But I am back on my feet! What do you do when you feel like shit and are trying to feel less like shit? Go for a walk around your childhood home on old and familiar footpaths at first light…
I remember when I visited Hong Kong for the first time after my accident, in January 2014. I did not know whether I would be able to manage this walk, with all its steps, inclines, and uneven spots. It felt like a triumph to conquer this path that I walked/ran so many times before. While the steps up still are not completely trivial to me now, I am glad that the walk – a few years on – feels pretty easy.