Life with limb loss means a life filled with adventures. For all of us, those adventures are the initial steps onto our life with prosthetics and onto a life without limits. For me, living a life without limits means traveling the world while getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. But I’ve learned that a little bit of planning ahead makes those adventures a lot smoother. And my advice is the same to you: Plan ahead!
1. Pack those things that you cannot buy at a 24-hour CVS. I use a prosthetic knee that needs a special cable to charge its battery. It came with the knee and isn’t something I could buy at a hardware or drug store. Because I have been stuck in a hotel room with lost luggage and a dead battery, I now carry the cable in my carry-on. This way, I will be able to charge the battery and use my leg so I can get to the store to buy the other things I need, in case my luggage goes missing again.
2. Plan extra time when going through TSA. For those of you taking to the friendly skies, the Transportation Safety Administration has check-points at all U.S. airports. Be prepared with what to expect by reading TSA’s website at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions. Because of security reasons, each airport has different screening procedures for people who wear prosthetic limbs and their website will not disclose what they do or do not do. But you can call TSA toll-free at 1-855-787-2227 to ask their TSA Cares staff with questions about screening, policies, and what to expect at security checkpoints.
3. Request a handicapped-accessible room. This means that your room will be relatively close to the elevator, or stairway. The room will have wider-aisles and other passage ways, so if you use a wheelchair or walker, it’ll make it that much easier to get around the room.
4. Bring your handicapped-parking placard. If you plan to rent a car at your destination, plan to deal with parking in busy places, just like you would at home. So, if you use handicapped parking at home, more than likely, you’re going to use it on the road.
5. Research the local area for O&P offices and write down their phone numbers. Don’t know if it’s Murphy’s Law, or what, but invariably, I have been in need of a prosthetist when I have not done my homework. Maybe it’s peace of mind but I like to know that help is only a phone call away when dealing with a prosthetic emergency.
No matter where you go or what you do, always remember to pack a sense of adventure, an open mind, and a willingness to see new things. And with that, I bid you bon voyage!