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Jun 25, 2008

Comparisons Show the Changes

As you all know, my big adventure started today. I flew into Chicago. My flight came in about 5 hours before Paula's. I'll go pick her up a couple of hours from now, when she gets here.

Waiting for her to arrive, gives me plenty of time to share some of the thoughts I've been having today, as I flew in. Flying isn't something I've done a lot of, so my experiences are often more memorable, especially the flights in the years preceding my "renovation" project.

To start with, I remember flying to Seattle for my birthday, back in 2004. This was about a year or so into Dick's ALS diagnosis, and about a year before he passed. I felt strongly about going and spending some time Dick, as I've explained in prior posts, we'd built a very strong supportive relationship. I had to buy two round trip tickets in order to go. I started out buying one ticket, but was informed that I needed a 2nd ticket after I got to the airport. I just didn't fit in one seat, and it wasn't fair to make someone else not be able to fit in their seat, because I spilled over into it. I was kind of prepared that it might happen as I was fully aware that I was way too big. Nevertheless, it was mortifying.

At that time, I was struggling to walk very far, and should have been on oxygen 24/7 (I can't remember if I was on it yet at this time, but if I wasn't, I should have been). I know I didn't use it in Seattle, because at sea level, there was more oxygen in the air. Anyhow, between the fact I couldn't walk far, with my bad knee (bone on bone), too much weight on my feet, and not able to get enough oxygen; it was more than I could handle in the airport. I had a wheelchair meet me curbside, and wheel me to the gate. Flying was a nightmare. Once I was on the airplane, I had a special card I was given to place on the seat next to me, I guess so no one would say there was an empty seat that really wasn't empty. The stewardess would bring me a seat belt extender, which was really a struggle to fasten, as I didn't fit even that much bigger belt. There were times I hid the buckle part underneath my blouse, so that no one could see I couldn't fasten it, even with the extender. I couldn't put my tray down, because my stomach took up so much space. The tray could only go about a fourth of the way down before it would be stopped by my body. I remember thinking how they make the seating areas on airplanes way too small. I felt at the time, they should've been doing a better job of making sure the seat could fit "real" people. I would need to put the tray down for the seat next to me in order to put my soda and what not on it.

It's been quite a while since I've flown. Here I am, within about 25 lbs of goal weight now. The contrasts were startling to me, because of how different this experience is from whenever the last time I flew was. In my regular life, I've had a lot of changes over the time period that I started losing the weight in December 2005. However, changes in most things happen gradually over many months, so there's not a stark comparison of how it is now, vs. how it used to be, and sometimes I forget how it used to be. With flying though, I don't do it much! This makes the differences stand out soooooooooo much! It boggles my mind.

Today, I walked into the airport, stood for quite a while to get through security (I could never stand for long before), with no difficulty. Oh, and it was no big deal to take my shoes on and off (even though I was wearing sandals, it wouldn't have been a big deal if I wasn't). I remember how awful it was before, as I couldn't really reach well to put my shoes on, without the bed to pull my leg up towards me, when I put my shoes on. There was too much body between my arms and my feet to allow me to simply bend down to put the shoes on and tie them. I stressed a lot about taking the shoes on and off at the airport, trying to figure what pair of shoes I could slip in and out of easily.

I walked under my own steam and power all the way to the gate. No wheelchair, no stress, no difficulty. In fact, "piece of cake". I sat down in my seat on the airplane, and buckled my seat belt. It was about 7 or more inches too long. In fact, funnily enough, when we landed, I was having a hard time not sliding out of my seat! I had to pull the belt even tighter to keep me in my seat! :) My knees were not cutting into the seat in front of me in fact, I even was able to cross my legs. I kept thinking there's so much space in my seat. I put the tray down and had room to spare. I shared my seat with the water bottle with no stress. I didn't even dream of pulling the seat arm next to me up. Even with sharing the seat with my water bottle, the seat arm was not cutting into my leg or any part of my anatomy anymore. I couldn't believe this! What a contrast. What happened to the seats that are engineered too small? How did I end up with seats that are big? Wow!!!!!!

It was all pretty cool folks, to realize the change that my flying experience now is. When I got to Chicago, I chose not to stand on the moving walk ways and walk the whole distance. I'd rather get the exercise after all. In the past, I couldn't figure out why they didn't have moving walk ways for the entire lengths of airports, since it's so difficult to walk so far. I was struggling to make it to a walk way, so I could catch my breath. I thought people that walked were crazy! Even though I was all the way at the end of a concourse, I didn't feel like I got enough of a walk in. I should have walked another mile! Haha! Amazing.

After my long/short? walk to baggage claim, I got a rental car. I then was able to find the hotel (quite far from the airport, in a way), find a Subway for dinner and get all set up here in the hotel! I'm a happy camper. I even did a "dry run" to make sure I could find the airport going in another direction, and could find my way to drive around it a few times when I go to pick up Paula. I feel pretty confident I can do it in the dark, as I will be doing, since she won't be here until 10:00.

With all these stark contrasts from the last time I flew, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself and realizing I've done what I once thought was impossible. I once thought life was "hopeless". Now I know better. I've spent a long time working on the external renovation, and there is more yet to go. The internal renovation is also an ongoing project, that is moving right along. Life is GREAT!

Gratitude Entry: I'm greatful for the opportunity to travel and to expand my horizons. To think, this was a trip that I told myself I "couldn't" do, in the recent past. I'm so grateful that I've progressed in my life to where I can undergo a life renovation. I'm grateful for the journey which is allowing so much change, rejuvenation and excitement into my life!


Ang said...

Wow! What an amazing difference. Thank you for sharing this story with us. I am so happy for you! Jenny Craig would be crazy not to have you as a spokeswoman. You are such a beautiful woman inside and out!!!!

jacksonfamily said...

Ann, that is so neat of you to have gone through that after such a difficult time flying before you lost the weight. You should be an inspiration for all those who are struggling with their weight. I am proud of you and for all of your accomplishments. You need to keep up with your inspirational and positive stories. I love reading them! Love you lots!

cami said...

AWESOME!!!! Isn't it amazing how we take some of life's experiences for granted? Have fun on your trip!

lamiss ibrahim said...
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