As some of my readers know, I had a bit of a mishap last weekend.
Arriving at the airport after a long day, I parked in the parking garage and as I got out of the car, catastrophe.
I wear a cochlear implant and the headpiece is magnetized to keep it on my head. Somehow as I got out of the car, I came too close to the metal frame overhead, and the whole implant -- receiver, transmitter, batteries and ear hook -- flew off my head and smashed to the cement pavement.
This isn't the first time something stronger than my implanted device has attracted the magnet. If I get too close to the spokes of an umbrella, the spokes pull it off. If I lean back in bed too close to the metal bed frame, the bed frame pulls it off. Or the reverse happens, if I put it on the dresser too close to my hearing aid, it pulls the hearing aid magnet out, or it sucks in hairclips. It's a pretty strong little magnet, with a mind of its own.
I was dressed for a talk I'd given earlier in the day -- straight skirt and heels. Nevertheless, I got down on my hands and knees to search under my car and the neighboring cars, in the dim garage light, for the scattered pieces. Luckily I retrieved the $9000 processor with the magnet attached, as well as the $150 rechargeable battery. But I couldn't find the little plastic ear hook that holds the thing on my ear.
The ear hook probably costs a couple of dollars. But it can only be bought from the manufacturer, and it was Saturday night.
Most sensible people would have brought their backup implant. But my backup implant is an old body-worn, and the processor, the batteries and battery charger are so heavy that I never take it anywhere. So for a day or so I hobbled along using my hearing aid. (In a double whammy, it happened that the personal FM system that helps boost the hearing aid was back at it's manufacturer being repaired.)
The next day, I drove to Belks, a nice Southern department store -- and found a light cotton scarf, just the right texture to anchor the implant firmly on my head, earpiece or not. Wearing it, I was able to hear my elderly mother's feeble voice, and the strongly accented cadences of her caregivers.
Lesson learned? Probably not. I'm just not taking that backup with me. It's too heavy. One of these days I'll be eligible for an upgrade. That day can come none too soon.
As I constantly preach, being well prepared for a trip helps a lot. Keep all your information in one place. Print out your flight information. Print out all your hotel and rental car and train confirmations, with the confirmation number. Print out names and phone numbers for people to contact if you need help. Don’t rely on your memory for anything.
Keep all that information in one place, and be sure to replace it if you take it out to look at it.
There’s nothing that will drive every coherent thought from your mind like being stuck in the Moscow airport because there was a mistake on your visa. This also happened to me, in September.
Even though I had filled out the visa applications correctly, the visa itself was incorrect -- something I didn't notice because it was in Russian. Airports are noisy -- I can't hear in most of them anyway. We had to find the Russian official who could extend our visa -- behind an obscure closed door. Photo attached. We had to find exactly the correct bank from which to withdraw the $90 fee for the Visa extension. We had to arrange for a new flight on a different airline, as the only flight of the day on Delta had left while we were running around the airport looking for money and the visa office. Very few people spoke any English, much less English I could understand.
No amount of preparedness would have helped. But what did help was my traveliing companion. My 25 year old daughter is a highly competent person. Still, the effort wore us both to a frazzle and the whole trip ended up taking 20 hours.
In addition to making sure all your documents are in one place -- and if you can read Russian, that they are correct -- is to take everyting you might need.
Travel heavy: Take spare hearing aids, batteries, and chargers. Take your FM system and its chargers. Take your laptop so you can communicate by email if you need to talk to someone at home. Take converters for every country you will visit. Take a power strip to plug all those devices into one outlet. Take your cell phone even though you won’t have cell phone service.
Take your laptop so you can email home if necessary. Take your cell phone so you can look up addresses in your Contacts.
And take a power strip and adapters to plug in all those devices. The picture with this post was taken on another foreign trip. I practically needed a separate bag just for the chargers.
Part Two: Trains
Part Three: Automobiles