Recently I took my first flight after my spinal surgery three weeks prior. I am allowed to fly, but I really have to be careful with lifting anything heavy.
I travel as per normal. I packed what I needed to bring including laptop, books and work documents. I am so used to moving here and there quickly. I was strong and independent. If I was in pain, I would tolerate it until it was no longer possible. As a matter of fact, I was having a major pinched nerves when I was doing the via-ferrata trek at Alila Jabal Akhdar in Oman (photo above). Oman was the last country I visited before I threw in the towel and got that MRI done. I was on a 6-week hiatus to El Salvador, Mexico, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, UAE, and Oman when things got notably worse!
So this post-op flight has been a very humbling experience, indeed. I had to ask for help with my luggage while checking in (no porters in sight when you need one – they are not that many at Changi Airport in the first place). The female ground staff had to call over a male colleague to help. I had a middle aged “uncle” to lift my luggage to the x-ray. Another middle-aged “auntie” to bring it down. A skinny (half my size!) Singapore Air stewardess to lift up my carry-on. The list goes on!
Honestly, it feels very uncomfortable and insecure to be in this situation. I was not born in a family who treats girls like “princesses” (thank God for that!). We are taught to take care of ourselves. We are taught that we can be what we want be and not be boxed into gender stereotypes. We are taught to overcome obstacles by our own effort. So this situation is totally out of my comfort zone.
But, I cannot stop traveling! It is an addiction. The world has beckoned and I will have to tolerate this discomfort of being helpless until life is back to normal!
Let’s hope I don’t get too used to being the pampered princess at the of the six months recovery period. And by then I have learned to pack light.
Note: In Singapore, we are accustomed to refer to older people as “uncles” and “aunties”, even when they are not related to us.