On Our Way to #Namibia2017


For those who don’t know about our trip, we are heading to Namibia, Africa as a part of the Safari Club International (SCI) Pathfinder Award. We will be hosted by Jan Oelofse Hunting Safaris, and we will be in country for 11 days for a hunting and photo safari.

When I first found out that I had been awarded this trip, we immediately began looking at the best way to fly internationally. As a person living with a disability, and with a history of blood clots, the long flights were a concern. We did our research, and here are some of the precautions we have taken so far in order to ensure a safe and as-easy-as-possible trip:

  • TED Compression Hose: I’m not gonna’ lie- I hate TED hose. When my accident happened in 1999, I was introduced to these bad boys and right away, I wasn’t a fan. First of all, it took two nurses to get them on my long legs. Second of all, I was 16 at the time, and I wasn’t thrilled with the look of them. Definitely not the fashion statement I was after. Finally, I didn’t fully understand the importance of good circulation at the time. Now that I am older and supposedly wiser, I can get them on myself, I don’t care (as much) about the way they look, and after two rounds of DVTs and PEs (blood clots in my thigh and lungs), I appreciate anything that helps me stay as healthy as possible. And so I am proudly sporting a set of black, knee-high TEDs under my yoga pants.
  • Vena-Pro: When I called my doctor to discuss the upcoming trip, she suggested the Vena-Pro. If you’ve ever been in the hospital for any amount of time, you may have been hooked up to a similar machine that wraps around your calves and squeezes periodically to increase circulation. This portable option is much smaller, and the battery pack runs for about 4 hours before needing to be recharged. Easy to transport and use, and I’ve noticed a huge difference in my swelling. My insurance wouldn’t cover this, so we ended up buying them out of pocket, but with the amount of traveling that we do, I know it will be a great investment.
  • Cushion: I take my wheelchair cushion onto the plane and sit on it during the flight. It helps protect the integrity of my skin, and my body is already used to sitting on it for long periods of time. Since this puts me a little higher than normal, once we are in the air, I put my carry-on on the floor in front of me and put my feet up on it. Not only does this elevate my legs a little, it prevents them from hanging from my higher seat and helps with circulation and decreased back pain.
  • Seating: This took a little more research, as each plane and airline is different. We have one 9-hour flight and one 11-hour flight, and we knew that leg room was the most important thing for us. On the larger planes, we requested the bulkhead, as it seats three people and provides tons of additional leg room, and it is also in close proximity to the lavatory. Not only can I stretch out and have plenty of space to put my feet up on my carry-on, I can do any private cares in my seat under a blanket and have the privacy and space I need. The arm rests don’t usually come up in the bulkhead area, but the staff was able to turn the aisle chair and get it right in front of the window seat, so it was an easy transfer for me. On our lonest flight, there were lots of available seats, so I got an entire row to myself and I was able to stretch out and completely elevate my feet.

Obviously, everyone is different in their needs and abilities, but this is what worked well for us for our first international trip. Your best friends will be research and communication with the airlines. We have been working with British Airlines for several months now, and I have been incredibly impressed with their assistance, professionalism, and genuine care and understanding for my requests.

I will try and blog each day, so stay tuned for more as we head towards Namibia!

P.S. We had an interesting encounter in London. While cleaning out my hunting pack, I accidently left two shotgun shells in my carry-on. Security would simply confiscate them in the States, but Europe is a different story. I was pulled aside and waited as the police were called. After a thorough discussion with two very polite gentleman and a new understanding that I could have been arrested for bringing “unauthorized weapons” into the city, I was allowed to continue my trip. Obviously, the mistake was entirely my own, but it was definitely a wake-up call that your rights in regard to the Second Amendment do not follow you worldwide.