a woman in a wheelchair is floating in the clouds with her passport and nebulizer

My Experience Flying With COPD

Well, it's been about a little over a week since landing on UK soil, and what a time we've had. I would just like to share my personal experience as a first-time COPD traveler.

Mental preparation

Arriving at Cape Town International was initially extremely exciting. That excitement eventually turned to absolute fear as I passed through the airport doors. All of a sudden the enormity of the whole place hit me. I could feel my body tense up. I knew what that feeling meant, but hadn't experienced it in so long - it was totally overwhelming

Having an unwanted panic attack

Having panic attacks was a very normal thing for me about 3 years ago, but I learned how to breathe through them. I seriously thought I'd overcome that challenge. Obviously not. So I just stood there and couldn't breathe at all. My chest closed up and as hard as I tried, I couldn't control my feelings.

A very kind man working behind a large screen and taking people's temperatures pulled up a chair for me to sit on. I was so grateful for that. I needed to get to the check-in counters so I could get my assisted wheelchair.

By this stage, I'd gotten my breath back and felt a little more confidant. To my relief, there was my wheelchair waiting for me. After that, we were escorted to a waiting room. We'd arrived at the airport at least 5 hours ahead of the flight so we could prepare ourselves for the journey, namely my needs.

Physical preparation

Before we found out we needed to take two planes to get to the UK, I was already getting ready to do some walking. If ever you travel, make sure you are near a toilet - that is a must.  I made time every day to do a bit of walking around the house we were staying in which definitely helped me navigate the plane.

Wheelchair assistance

When we got to Dubai airport, a wheelchair was patiently waiting for me. You won't believe how huge Dubai airport is. It took us almost 30 minutes to get from one side to the other. It's like a city within a city. I'm just so grateful for that wheelchair.

All the staff at every airport were absolutely wonderful and very kind. Everyone wore masks and we're all so considerate towards one another. Fortunately, I had a surgical mask on, and it helped me breathe better.

Emotional preparation

Through this whole journey, I've experienced some very stressful moments and I knew that my positive attitude would see me through it all. It was, however, one of the most challenging times too. I needed to make sure that everything was as calm as possible so that Nathan and Rebecca could enjoy the adventure.

It's times like these that I'm reminded that the human spirit is such a strong motivator. It can be an immensely valuable tool to have in your arsenal, to help you get through anything. We eventually landed safely and now we are ready to explore our new home.

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