Tuesday 23 October 2018

New/Worsening Symptoms

I thought I'd write another quick updates post as, for the past 2 or 3 months, I've been having some suddenly worsening symptoms. My fatigue has been very bad (to the point where it's taking all my effort just to stay awake) and I've been having a lot of dizziness when sitting up or standing for a while.

I'm also finding that I crave salt, and after eating carbs, my dizziness worsens. I keep getting feelings that I'm going to faint too, but I've only ever fainted once in my life (about 5 years ago).

Other things that make my dizziness worse are:

  • overheating
  • turning my head
  • overexertion
  • pain
I've seen the doctor twice about this, have had blood tests (all normal) and an ECG (normal). My GP has referred me for physio (as she thinks I may have a neck problem) and to an ENT specialist to see if my hearing is affecting this. 

I did ask if my symptoms could be caused by a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and the GP said she doesn't think so, because my ECG was clear, but she will refer me to a Cardiologist (who will assess me for this amongst other things) if ENT and physio can't help much. 

I have my first Physio session next month, but I'm still waiting for my ENT referral letter. I'll update my blog accordingly.

UPDATE: My referral came through! On 21st December I have an appointment at Russells Hall Hospital in the ENT- Neurotology department. I'll write a new blog post when I start physio and then when I have my first ENT appointment. Please comment below if you've been referred to a similar department for dizziness. How did it go? What tests did they do?

Thursday 4 October 2018

Airport Assistance - My Experiences

On 13th September, my parents and I went on holiday to Gran Canaria. We flew from Birmingham Airport. Having had varied levels of service from Airport Assistance, I decided to live tweet my experiences in the airports and on the plane both on the way, and coming back from holiday. I will expand on these below:

Outbound - Birmingham Airport to Las Palmas Airport

As we arrived at Airport Assistance, there was a bit of confusion as all three of us needed assistance. Staff, however, had been friendly and helpful so far. Dad and I were taken through security fairly quickly, with no issues. Mum was looking for her bags though, as apparently she went one way and they went the other. My Dad and I were taken from security to Number 1 Lounge. We weren't happy that we were separated from Mum. The staff were very impatient though. Eventually, we all met in the lounge with well deserved drinks! There wasn't much time until we were taken to the gate so we hoped the food we ordered would arrive asap. Thankfully, we didn't wait long for it, and had a bit of time before being collected by assistance staff.

The rest of the journey went pretty smoothly and at Las Palmas Airport (Gran Canaria) we were whizzed through quickly and made good time for our taxi. It was the journey home after the holiday that was more problematic.

Inbound - Las Palmas Airport to Birmingham Airport

My parents and I arrived at Las Palmas Airport (Gran Canaria) in good time, a few hours before our flight was due to depart. Finding the right check in desk was quite confusing though; with not a lot of information. We eventually found the fast-track queue for people needing special assistance though. We explained that all three of us would need assistance to get round the airport and onto the plane. An airport wheelchair each for dad and I, and mum had her own wheelchair. The staff member was fine about this and we didn't have to wait long to get assistance. All good so far.

Getting through security was quick and straightforward. My piercings didn't even set off the alarm! Security were helpful, respectful, and efficient. We were whizzed through to the special assistance area before you go to your gate. All the other special assistance staff were fine, apart from a very angry and stressed out manager. He snapped at staff members and got confused over who was together on which flight. This confusion did worry some of the people needing special assistance.

Eventually things were sorted and we were taken straight to the plane, using the ambulift. The staff ensured everyone was secure before the ambulift set off. Some pretty robust attachments kept mum's wheelchair secure too. There was a bit of a wait for the plane's door to be opened, but we were boarded before the non assistance passengers. That's where the straightforward-ness stopped.

The Thomas Cook flight attendants weren't very professional or organised. The flight departed around 9.30pm. We were due to have in flight meals, but were not served until midnight. I was feeling ill as I hadn't eaten since 1.30pm so dad had to let staff know. The staff were more interested in chatting to some old guy that wouldn't go back to his seat for ages. They also decided to sell competition cards and drinks/snacks before eventually getting round to the in flight meals.

Apart from the passenger in front of me putting her seat back so far that I could barely move, the rest of the flight was ok. Food made me less dizzy and nauseous. When the plane landed, special assistance passengers had to wait for other passengers to leave the plane. Instead of a tunnel that we could all use, steps were taken up to the plane's front door, so we had to wait for the ambulift again.

Unfortunately some of the airport staff had blocked the way to the front door with equipment, so the ambulift could only be attached to the back of the plane. Most of the passengers needing special assistance were seated near the front of the plane however. We had to walk right to the back of the (large!) plane. Mum's foot was very swollen and painful, so the staff thankfully used an aisle wheelchair to get her into the ambulift.

The special assistance staff at Birmingham Airport were varied in their competency and attitude. One staff member (young lad) was as helpful as he could be, but was inexperienced. The other staff member (older woman) was rude and impatient. The female special assistance staff member tried to hurry us out of the ambulift. She hadn't brought wheelchairs for Dad and I, and seemed suspicious when we said we needed them. Luckily there were vacant ones nearby.

A few things happened which annoyed me. When being suspicious about Dad and I needing wheelchairs, she said "Really? All 3 of you need wheelchairs? How on earth do you manage on holiday?" She also barked at mum "brakes. now." before wheeling her into the airport.

After about an hour after the plane initially landed, we eventually got through the airport, through passport control and to the baggage carousels. The female member of staff spoke over us rather than to us for most of the time.

When we arrived at the baggage carousel, instead of checking we were ok to walk from there, the female member of staff said to the young male member of staff "I'll leave them here, they'll be fine" They then walked off. Luckily the young member of staff saw we were struggling to get the suitcases onto the trolley. He came back & was brilliant. He helped us with the suitcases, pushed mum in her wheelchair right to the taxi stop; checking that I was ok to walk there and that dad was managing ok with the trolley. Even though he seemed nervous and inexperienced, he helped us MUCH more than the rude female member of staff.

We were very late for the taxi (and got a lecture from the taxi driver) but at least we were going home!

So that was my most recent experiences with Airport Assistance! I have complained to Birmingham Airport and Thomas Cook; using their complaint forms. I'm not sure what to expect from their responses, but I hope they respond quickly and speak to the staff concerned. Clearly more training is needed.

Have you used Airport Assistance? Which airports? Comment below with your experiences!