Thursday, April 12, 2007

The pain of flying

Off to Belgium tomorrow, which will be fun. I booked the trip well before I screwed up my Achilles Tendon, so after the accident I called Ryanair to make sure there wouldn't be a problem with me flying since I know they only accept a maximum of 4 limited mobility passengers on any one flight. No problem, I was told, as long as you can actually get about on the crutches you don't count as limited mobility which is really for wheelchair bound people. Great, I thought. That's sorted then.

I was surfing t'InterWeb the other day and found myself checking the Ryanair site and clicking on a link on the FAQ pages. This told me that if I had a full leg cast I'd need to book two seats (I don't) but a half leg cast is fine for one seat, but in all cases anyone travelling with a leg in a cast needs a medical certificate stating they are fit to fly. What? I read it again. Yes, indeed the dozy twat to whom I spoke at Ryanair weeks ago told me I could fly, but didn't think to mention the requirement for a certificate!

I immediately called my GP to arrange this and half an hour later received a call back from the receptionist who told me that the GP (it's a locum) was strongly of the opinion that it's the fracture clinic at hospital who would provide this, not the GP. I then phoned the clinic and was told, no it's your GP. I phoned the GP again. I phoned the clinic again. And finally (I hope) the outcome is that I was put through to one of the medical secretaries who confirmed that they had in the past typed up such letters and said that when I go in this afternoon to have my cast changed to a split one (suitable for flying) I should ask to be seen by one of the doctors who would then dictate a letter which could be typed up while I waited. She said this should be OK. Wait a minute. Should be OK? This is going to be 3pm on the day before I fly. I have to be at Prestwick Airport for about 10am, which really leaves me no time to arrange anything else if there are no doctors available/willing to see me or no secretaries available/willing to type the damn thing. I pointed this out to her, and she said that it would definitely be OK. Fingers crossed then, but I have a niggling doubt in my mind, funnily enough.

So I have to get a taxi to the hospital for 3pm, then try to get that elusive certificate while I'm there. The funny thing is that it was the plaster room staff who told me I'd need a split cast (in case the leg swells while the aircraft is in the air) as airlines insisted on it. The Ryanair site says that I need a split cast if it's been on for less than 48 hours, over 48 hours a normal cast is OK. I've printed that page from the site and will show it at hospital to see what they think. The cast I'm wearing is comfortable and stable, so I'd say there's no point in changing it unnecessarily, particularly since next Friday is the first big painful change of angle day so whatever cast I'm wearing will be off then anyway. Did I mention that before? It's the sort of thing you only really need to know the day before, but what they do is set the ankle with the toes pointing downwards, as though I was on tiptoe. Four weeks later they remove that cast and angle the toes up a bit. The second cast also lasts four weeks. Then finally they change it again so that the foot is in a neutral position, as though I was standing normally. That cast lasts four weeks, making a total of 3 months in plaster. Anyway, when the cast was being put on I was advised that even if I had stopped needing them by then, even if I didn't think I'd need them, I must take painkillers before coming to get the cast changed. Or rather before they stretch the Achilles Tendon to change the angle each time. I was told it is painful. This has since been confirmed gleefully by several people who have had the same accident, one of whom said that the pain of the accident was as nothing compared with the pain of the change of angle. That's the sort of thing you don't want to know too far in advance, but useful to know to take painkillers first.

This evening the pussy cats are off to the south side of Glasgow to be looked after (and spoiled I would imagine) for the weekend. I'll collect them again on Monday. They are currently running about wildly in the garden chasing each other, enjoying their last taste of freedom before a few days with no access to the big wide world.


  1. Ahh but you will find that Ryanair and Mr O'leary are a bunch of money-grabbing gits! They are almost impossible to deal with, a friend of mine was recently charged £1:50 for a cup of hot water on a Ryanair flight to Bournemouth.

    Hope the trip goes well, I enjoy reading the blog - all the best from a former Cathedral layclerk!

  2. I have no problem with Ryanair being money grabbing (they are running a business after all) as long as the quid pro quo is reasonable service.

    Most of my dealings with the lovely Ryanair were fine, but the senior cabin crew person on the way back from Charleroi tried to have a go at me for not asking in advance for assistance. I pointed out that I was fine on the way there, and in fact when I had asked on the telephone in advance had been told that I wouldn't need assistance, and her response was that I should have asked again! So basically if you get an answer, keep asking the same question until you get a different answer! She had a bad attitude, but everyone else was fine. And at the end of the day, you are potentially paying a pittance for the travel so if you want brilliant service fly BA and pay a fortune.

    Glad you enjoy the Blog, MDB.