I’ve been reluctant to write this post, partially because I’m still outraged by the incident and by my own response. You see my dear friends I do a great deal to hide my lupus. I exert precious energy to appear “normal” to outsiders. I struggle thought work, house chores, errands and all the normal stuff people do feeling like I have a dreadful bone aching flu and no energy at all. I do this day after day.
I hide the red cheeks with make up, wear long sleeves so I can tuck purple/bluish fingers into them or pockets. I never wear toe revealing shoes so you can’t see my purple/bluish toes or swollen feet. I wear long pants least you see my swollen ankle that now and then takes over my whole foot.
I wear confidence and bravado like a shield when really it’s a false front, bluster with nothing to bolster it. So of course when you see through the facade it upsets me because let’s face it, there is a great deal of effort and energy that goes into this. And there is always fear that someone, in some position of authority, will find me out and deny me something.
Which leads up to the incident that has me outraged, as well as my reaction. You see friends, I was supposed to be on a flight recently. No big deal thousands of people do this every day. Heck I fit a great deal throughout the year. I always pack light, arrive plenty early and try to get through security as soon as I arrive so I can settle at my gate until it’s time to board. This seem so of work best for me.
I arrived early, checked in, cleared security and had ample time at my boarding gate to get some background reading done. When they called for the flight, I went to the gate with no fear because I had made it through all the hurdles. Now it was just a matter of getting on the plane, settled and landing at my destination with no problem. And yet I never got on the flight.
The attendant at the gate denied me the pleasure of getting on the plane stating I was looking too ill to fly. She had taken my passport from my swollen, red hands with their lovely discoloured nails…that deep purple shade that they tend to be and decided I was too sick. The truth is if my make up wasn’t on she would have noticed my bright red face as well. I’m sure the redness was evident on my neck.
It is, of course, the right of the air line to deny you access to a flight for reasons including appearing too ill or what have you. I can write this calmly now, but at the time I was outraged, furious that someone who didn’t understand could decide that because I looked “less than normal” I could be denied something. I explained lupus to her, but she still wouldn’t let me board. And by now my hands were shaking with rage and humiliation and tears shone brightly in my eyes.
The agent at the gate kept telling me it was for my welfare as well as the good of the other guests and it was her job to keep us safe. She said that she wouldn’t allow for recklessness in one passenger to ruin everyone’s flight and if I had common sense I could realize that flying was good for me. She told me I was grounded.
And no amount of explaining, begging or threatening changed things other than let me know security could remove me. So I went home, angry and hurt. Phoned the part who was supposed to meet my flight and explained and then had a massive meltdown.
The airline is working with me to make things right, and I’m working with myself to manage this better going forward. But the reality is, I felt much like a child grounded by some unreasonable adult and it wasn’t even my fault!