This is a big story to tell! It may have to be told in a couple posts. I have done a lot of traveling in my time but nothing would have prepared me for traveling in a wheelchair, let alone making my first trip in a wheelchair to Bangkok, Thailand for stem cell treatment.
We left our family home on March 21, 2016. My wife, and the person I've done the most traveling with was once again by my side. The two boys aged 6 and 10 at the time were staying at home for this trip, a decision that was incredibly hard to make at the time. We did not want to be away from them for 5 weeks! So much had happened to them in the past year. In the end this was the right decision to make. They would have been miserable in Bangkok.
So off to our local airport for the first plane ride after being injured. I was pretty tense to say the least! I had heard all sorts of horrible stories of other folks in wheelchairs having equipment damaged or lost or whatever. First plane load was off the tarmac, right out in front of everyone to watch...OK here we go! Transferred onto an aisle chair and got wheeled up this massive ramp and into the plane. Got settled in my seat, and it was all good. The cargo handlers were good about being careful with my chair and Batec hand bike. I was feeling much more at ease now. First flight was a short one, and a good warm up for the long haul flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong, then from Hong Kong to Bangkok. That feeling of being at ease would only last so long though...
The flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was a 12 hour trip and the only way that I was able to do a flight of this length was that the airline we were traveling with had the lay down style pod seating for the business class. With a little help from Cassy, my wife, I was able to lay down, and turn over so that I could off load my weight and be at less risk of pressure sores. This was a big concern because if I got a sore while traveling I would not be able to get the stem cell treatment. So everything went well loading on the plane in Vancouver, no issues with traveling with my Batec, just had to take the battery off the bike and put it in the overhead storage. We had brought all the compliance forms that say that the Batec was class one medical equipment, and that the battery was safe to travel with. The airline people in Vancouver were happy with my documents.
On a side note, we traveled with the same airline from Vancouver to Bangkok, with an stop over in Hong Kong.
We made it to Hong Kong with no issues, and once we were there we had about a 4 hr lay over. One of the perks of flying business class was the use of the lounges. Very cool I thought. So the airline folks in H.K. escorted us to the business class lounge, but some rather pointed questions were being asked about my Batec battery. I had all my documents for flying with it so I wasn't too alarmed, it was a new piece of equipment that hadn't been seen before so questions are expected. We were just getting settled when two ladies from our airline approached us. "Mister Campbell we are not going to let you on the next flight to Bangkok with the battery for your Batec. It exceeds the maximum wattage for Lithium batteries allowed on airplanes." The feeling of being at ease just took off like a 747!
So apparently the Chinese are a little more worried about my battery than the rest of the world! I was not leaving H.K. without this battery. It was like taking my legs away again, it was just not an option. The ensuing argument in the middle of the business class lounge was epic to say the least! There even was a panicked phone call to the national distributor of the unit in question. Wow, talk about stress! After nearly a 3 hour argument I was able to convince these two dragon ladies that the battery was safe to put on the plane. This took some fancy electrician speak and a bit of bullshit but it worked. If I had left that battery in H.K. it would have never been seen again!
So finally we are cleared to board the plane. The whole time waiting to get on was super scary. All I could think of was "Are we going to get outta here?" So we get going down the gangway to our plane and then the flight staff nearly drop me loading the aisle chair on to the plane! Could it get any worse? Well I didn't faceplant onto the floor so I guess that is a positive!
Finally we made it to Thailand! Now to find our contact from the hospital in the crazy Bangkok Airport!
To Be Continued...