Sunday was my last full day in STL. I spent the day washing clothes, packing, and doing some last minute errands. (I got some great window clings for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter at the Dollar Store).
Monday and Tuesday were filled with my two flights to Beijing. Traveling with a sprained ankle in a big heavy ugly walking cast and crutches is definitely a challenge. Especially when the wheelchair guy (mentioned previously) at #DFW takes you all the way down the jetway, but then just leaves you and your backpack right outside the door to the airplane that’s just about to close the doors for takeoff….
I waved frantically at the flight attendants who were scurrying around with their pre-flight duties. I finally got one woman’s attention and she waved back, telling me to get on board. I pointed to my crutches and then to my backpack which was several feet away, laying against the wall of the jetway. She finally understood and then after conferring with the other crewmembers had someone come out to grab my backpack. As I got inside several people all tried to rush me to my seat so the plane could take off but I insisted on stopping at the toilet since it had been over an hour from the time I had left the other plane and I knew it might be awhile before the seat belt sign was off and I’d get another chance.
When I got to my seat my backpack had been put into the overhead bin and they whisked away my crutches. When they started to serve drinks I asked for my backpack but the flight attendant said she’d get to it. My doctor had warned me that I was at higher risk of a blood clot because of the sprain, so I really wanted to prop up my foot. Luckily the Chinese man sitting across the aisle spoke English and asked me what I needed. I told him that my bag was in the overhead bin. He had try a few before he found my bag, put then I was able to elevate my foot.
The flight attendant did come back a little later.
I finally got to watch Thor: Ragnarok. That was the highlight of the 15 hour flight.
In Beijing I had to wait til everyone else had exited the plane, but when I told the guy which hotel I was going to, he got me to the hotel shuttle (which I hadn’t been able to find in December, and ended up taking a taxi). I was able to check my two big bags with the concierge this time, so I only had to take the small carryon and my backpack, which had my toiletries, coat, and a change of clothes.
I tried to get another foot massage to help with the jet lag, but was told that there was ‘no foot massage during New Year’. But I could get a full massage. I really didn’t want that, but my ankle was hurting so bad that I figured it would help. I needn’t have worried. The Chinese Traditional Massage I got was with my clothes on. I told her nothing below the right knee because of the sprain and even with her only rubbing my thigh muscles, it helped my ankle feel better.
I had dinner in the same restaurant as before, arranged to be on the first shuttle in the morning, and went to bed.
In the morning I checked out and got on the shuttle. He dropped me at Terminal 3, but just unloaded my bags and drove off. I was two driving lanes from the actual entrance….
Fortunately, the man who had ridden the shuttle with me grabbed my two bigger suitcases, while I grabbed the small wheeled carryon and limped over to the door. As soon as we got there, I asked the guards where I could get a wheelchair (since I’d requested one). They said upstairs at Information. The man and I both had go upstairs to check in anyway, so we found the elevator and then waited for several minutes while it came and went with no room for more than a few people and bags to get on. In the meantime a woman came along who was collecting luggage carts and I was able to get one from her. We piled all our bags on the cart, and were able to push onto the elevator the next time it opened.
We went towards Air China check in and found the Information Desk on the way. I showed them my ticket and crutches and they called for a wheelchair. I know my angel in disguise also had a flight to catch, but he kindly stayed until the wheelchair showed up.
Then I was whisked away to check in, jumping the line, because I didn’t have much time. He got my bags checked, grabbed my ticket, and we then had to go through several checkpoints (typical for China). All the while he kept pointing to the time on his phone, saying ‘no time, no time’. We got to the final checkpoint, where they xray your bag, and they must have sent my backpack through four or five times. Of course this just increased my guy’s anxiety! But they finally let us go, and we made it to the gate on time.
But I showed my ticket, and then we went outside to a bus. I had to get up and climb on the bus, while the guy lifted the wheelchair for me to sit in for the ride to the plane. And oh joy, I got to hobble off the bus, across the tarmac, and then climb the stairs up to the plane!!!
Once inside they tried to seat me on an aisle seat, but in the middle of the plane. I had requested the bulkhead, which I noticed was completely empty. They said no, that was reserved for the crew. So I sat where I was told, with my ankle throbbing.
When they started to serve drinks I asked again about the bulkhead seats. They had to get another crew member who spoke English, and I explained to him that I had to prop up my foot. Maybe because I used the words doctor and blood clot, but they let me move up. I got them to give me my backpack from the overhead bin where it had been stashed, and I proceeded to prop up my foot and go to sleep.
I had to teach class at 7:45 the next morning, so I once I got to campus and my coworker helped me get my bags upstairs, so I braved the stairs in the Canteen to eat lunch. I ended up just getting a to go box, because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was awkward carrying the bag of food down stairs and then up to my third floor apartment, but I just went slow and made it.
After eating and unpacking my dirty clothes from the past two days so I could throw them in the wash, I went to bed early.
I printed and copied some handouts before I left, so we had some easy assignments the first couple of days. I also had made sure I had some cereal and an unopened box of milk to come home to, so between my coworkers picking me up some bananas and juice, as least I had some food for the first few days.
And of course on the weekend I rested!!!!