We all fall for those really cheap €1.00 tickets and then find out that it is really 50/60/70 Euro by the time they have added all those little ‘extras’ and it’s only one way. You need a whole other ticket to get home again which for some curious reason is always more expensive ! They all, without exception, have crammed in extra seats and it is hard work and painful to get in and out of the very squashed seating. But in fairness if you are there and the plane is there and the Gods are in your favour, then it can work. But no amount of praying is going to help you if one part goes out of kilter.
My son and I were in Pisa, Italy one January and the Ryanair flight was 3 hours late arriving to collect us to take us back to Stansted in the UK. Ergo, we arrived 3 hours late and, as with all Ryanair terminals, about what seemed like 12 miles from the Departure Terminal ! Ryanair have this quaint procedure that you have to check in and check out for each flight you take. No in-transit rubbish for them !
I had allowed about 3 hours between flights to accommodate my being in a wheelchair, but it was nearing the departure time for our ongoing flight to Cork so we decided to split up. Mark ran to collect our luggage from arrivals and I ditched the wheelchair and trotted as fast as I could to the check-in desk and met him there. But hey, it was 35 minutes before the departure time and they wouldn’t let us on the flight. Pointing out that our lateness was due to the no-show of their own plane got us exactly nowhere. Rule 28b subsection c (of those endless pages which you download with your ticket and never read) say you have to leave a four hour time lag between each flight ! It really does !! It also didn’t help that I had ditched the wheelchair and couldn’t go for the sympathy vote ! We were offered a flight to Dublin that was going later that night and for which we would have to pay and they couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t go there instead – after all, it was Ireland, wasn’t it? No amount of telling them that Dublin is several hundred miles from Cork where our car was parked had any effect. No we just had to buy all new tickets for Cork at a specially high price for ‘last minute booking’, then pay for a hotel to stay in near Stansted and then get up at 5am the next morning – all just to get back to Cork.
If you really want to get frustrated and stressed and set off a full blown flare-up of your RA try complaining on line (or by phone) when you get back………..
My other trouble with low cost airlines is that they all have the smallest check-in hold luggage allowance and yet you can take up to 10 kilos of hand luggage, if you can shift it ! And boy oh boy, do they make you pay for each extra kilo. I have to put practically everything in my hold luggage as I find it so difficult to clutch the things I have to carry. Some airlines insist that you can only take one item through the security check point and I got stopped for carrying a handbag and a book as 2 items of luggage. Unfortunately the book would not fit in the handbag and as I was in a wheelchair and couldn’t go back outside again to buy a larger handbag (as they suggested to my wheelchair handler !) they charged me £60 for the extra item. Daylight robbery !!
Do you wonder that I now save up my cents to travel Business Class which has a whole new experience of flying – especially for the disabled.


If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, you are probably no stranger to having various bits of your anatomy replaced at one time or another and all of these will set the alarm bells ringing when you pass through Security at an airport. When I first had surgery to replace a hip, the hospital gave me a letter stating this fact. I still have it, and to date no-one has asked to see it ! Mind you, at Brisbane Airport my new hip did not set off the alarm and they kept passing me through and through the security gate trying to set it off ! Now with an added knee replacement and two titanium feet, I don’t stand a chance ! I get the security pat down like it or not, but at least my watch which used to set off the alarms at Cork airport before I got RA, passes through un-noticed !
Because I travel so often, I am well aware of what you can, and cannot, take through security. This prompts great suspicion that I simply must be carrying something illegal ! I take off my coat/jacket, never travel with a belt, but just try asking for a chair to take your shoes off with! Oh the suspicion of it all – a granny shoe bomber who has to sit down !
Mind you I am always more than willing to comply being reminded of a young man in front of us after going through several security checks in Istanbul after a bomb had gone off that morning in the City. We were leaving to come home and endured security check after security check . Then at the last one they made us all take off our shoes and lo and behold the young man in front of us had a small knife in his shoe! He’s probably still fading away in some prison somewhere judging from all the armed cops that fell on him and we were pushed on to the plane still with our shoes off – but at least I could sit down in my seat and put them back on !
My handbag was tested for explosives recently in Cairns with one of those long probes with a special bit put on the end. Of course it was OK, though I always feel as if I am looking terribly guilty of something or other. However the lady doing the probe was far more interested in if I had seen Steven Spielberg at Mossman where apparently they we’re filming a war movie with 400 extras and bombing the beaches ! Seeing as how we were staying just up the road from this tiny town with a population of less than the extras, she was finding it harder and harder to believe that I hadn’t noticed being bombed whilst lying on the quietest, most beautiful beach it has ever been my
privilege to lie on. Maybe they were filming the crawling through the Daintree rain forest bit whilst we were there because they all passed unnoticed to my laid back, laid down personage !

(Newell Beach – Far North Queensland)


A small aside……

Oh my goodness – I am having such trouble learning to blog ! Everyone has wonderfully designed blogs, and mine is not. I thought of seeking the help of a ‘Happiness Engineer’, but before one blinds me with science I have found a great guy who knows about WordPress blogging and he is going to come and give me a hand next week – so WATCH THIS SPACE (or should that be BLOG ?!)

I thought, in the meantime , I should give you a brief history of my RA. I was actually diagnosed in 2000, although looking back I probably had it long before then. I was feeling terrible, all aches and pains and entering that phase when you convince yourself that it is all psychosomatic and even my GP looked rather disappointed that his gout diagnosis proved negative ! Me ! Who only drinks about a glass of wine a week ! Undeterred, he took another armful of blood and tested me for everything. This brought about an instant diagnoses of Rheumatoid Arthritis — I was so relieved, I laughed out loud ! Now at last I had something solid to get hold of, to ‘Google’, to join RA clubs, etc. etc. My smile was somewhat diminished by learning that it was incurable, but there were lots of new drugs to keep it in check. For those that are in the know, I am on Humira (anti TNF) and Methotrexate.
Stage one was to get a Rheumatologist and my first one was a sweetie, but too old. He retired after taking care of me for about 8 years and then there followed a sorry list of not so good ones. I was determined to get one younger than me, so in theory he/she would outlast me. Eventually after a number of operations such as a new hip, having my gall-bladder out (?? ) which proved to be unnecessary after they had done the op and failed to notice that I had RA – despite the fact that I always give each doctor I see a large sheet of paper with Rheumatoid Arthritis written in large capital letters on it! Although I did have a few small stones in my gall bladder, I was ill with something called Costachondritis that affects RA patients., so had to go back to hospital for another week and be massaged twice a day by a real hunky physio !!
Next I was given a cream by yet another private skin doctor for my skin cancer that made my entire face swell up and upon reading the accompanying literature, it said quite clearly ‘Do not give to RA patients’. Where did the skin cancer come from I hear you ask – well not from the RA. Anybody of my age will know that protective sun creams were not invented when we were children. You got a good dollop of olive oil plastered all over you and were sent out to play (and cook) in the sunshine !! And yes, she got the letter stating I had RA too ! So the lesson to be learned from all of this is to keep repeating in a a loud clear voice that you have RA !
Next came the knee replacement – never go here if you don’t absolutely have to ! Mine was done by a doctor who had never done one before (I didn’t find out that till afterwards )and 21/2 YEARS later I found out it had been put in crookedly. The pain was excruciating and if it hadn’t been for my excellent GP and my husband, I really think I might have died at that point. And how did I find out it was crooked ? By first my left foot breaking and then my right. To top it all off, I was just sent home with a broken foot and nobody would tell me the truth of what caused it or fix it. Having talked it over with my husband after suffering a broken left foot for 18 months, we decided to go to the top person for feet in Ireland and, at the same time, change my Rheumatologist to the top one in Ireland too. Both of whom were up in Dublin. What a good decision that was ! As my foot had been broken for so long, it needed titanium plates putting in it and, he told me, the right one was about to break too ! So I eventually got home after the first op. with both feet in walking boots to keep my stance as even as possible. I was so delighted not to have a broken left foot, that I promptly tripped over my booted feet and broke my left wrist and my right shoulder. It was hard not to be very, very depressed ! Once I had recovered enough my darling, long-suffering husband sent me and my girlfriend over to Australia for five weeks to stay with my daughter in Far North Queensland and each day we walked a little further on 4 mile beach – I came home practically skipping ! The right foot broke on the second day of a trip to Greece to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary. But by keeping it in strong , supportive fell boots and lots of pain killers, I managed to make it home and back to Dublin to have this next foot operated on. My surgeon warned me that this would be worse than the left one, and he wasn’t joking. Not from a pain point of view, but this foot was plated and wired together and it meant I couldn’t put it on the ground at all for 3 months. My first prolonged wheelchair experience ! But in fact I was lucky. My eldest son is a Joiner so he put in ramps all over the house and, as the Oil industry suddenly bottomed out, my husband was at home to look after me and become my live-in cook/housekeeper ! I had the op done in March 2015 and I am just about better with only swollen feet in the evenings, but able to walk a little more each day. Apart from the last 18 months, I still travelled down to meet up with my husband as flying is made so easy when the airlines realise you are disabled. I can’t go long-haul without a bed in Business Class, and I can manage on a boat with the help of a couple of strapping crew ! For the moment I am OK and getting better each day and any of you can do it too. I know I probably face a few more operations yet, but I refuse to give up and try and walk the dogs every day – except when it rains too much = this is SW Ireland after all! So back now to my Blog about how to travel with a disability, apart from being just over 70 !


Married to an oil man who works as a Consultant all over the world, his job calls for extensive travel and oil companies consider wives to be much along the lines of a rather bad smell  – i.e  something to be endured at most and, if possible, got rid of in the nicest possible way !  Whilst the children were growing up he would come and go at fairly regular intervals, but as they grew – he also climbed the corporate ladder until one day they had all left home and he would be gone for months at a time to some far flung corner of the world and it was left to me to trot along after him if we wanted to retain any semblance of a marriage !  Also by this time I was on the wrong side of 60 with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis,  plus the common variety of arthritis as well and all the added extras you get thrown in for free such as bursitis, fragile bones and an inbuilt hatred of packaging that I can never undo.   Just the kind of nasty passenger to wander the world’s airlines!  I also have this strange idea that as a ‘paying passenger’ I have to be treated well at all times, not given a load of bullshit, expect my luggage to arrive along with me and generally be flown from a-b without hassle, physical effort or being treated as an active member of Al Quaida!  Oh rue the innocence of the unwary Grandma !   Here are some of my tales………