An EAI member’s eight tips for flying after surgery

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Unfortunately, many of us have had to fly to access excision surgeons outside of Ireland. The idea of flying back after surgery is incredibly daunting. I remember being very overwhelmed just thinking about how I was going to leave the hotel room. I’ve put together some tips that were shared with me and that helped me manage my flight.

  1. When you book your flights, choose the option for special assistance and help on to the aircraft. Every airline and airport will offer this and will be able to accommodate your needs. Book it so they help you on to the aircraft and up and into your seat. You don’t want to be walking through an aisle, especially after already going through the hustle and bustle of the airport.
  2. Discuss with your surgeon how many days you should stay after your surgery before flying home. This is important to allow time for any complications or in case you need to stay an extra night or two at the hospital. I chatted with my surgeon and we decided three nights would be okay for me, but everyone’s case is individual. Some people stay a week, others longer. If you feel like you need some time before you feel ready to fly, then that’s okay; allow yourself plenty of rest and do what’s right for you.
  3. If possible, find out where the airport assistance area is in relation to the taxi drop-off point. We were dropped off in our taxi and it was a long walk to get to airport assistance. If you can arrange to have airport assistance meet you in the taxi drop-off area, that will make things so much easier on you, as usually the desk is located inside the departures terminal and you don’t want to exhaust yourself with walking that far. If they cannot meet you there, you can ask the person who is travelling with you to go ahead and get assistance to bring back to you whilst you sit at the drop-off point.
  4. Once at airport assistance, you will be allocated a minder who will push your wheelchair and take you through security. It’s a good idea to let this person know that you’ve just had surgery and request they are very gentle when they push you! I had no idea how bumpy floors could be until I was in that wheelchair.
  5. When you arrive on the plane, let the cabin crew know you have just had surgery. I found this really helpful so that they were aware I might need some help during the flight. My cabin crew attendant gave me a glass of water, some tissues and sick bags without asking, which was a massive help and saved me from having to ask for them during the flight. Also, I found it reassuring after talking to them that they often see people flying after surgery and it is more common that you’d think.
  6. Another thing I found really helpful was bringing a pillow to put in front of my belly so that the seat belt didn’t put any pressure on my incisions.
  7. If you are struggling with nausea post-op, contact your surgeon or hospital and request anti-sickness medication. I wish I had done this before my flight instead of trying to ride it out. It’s common to have nausea after your lap due to the anaesthetic, so if you are experiencing this, then it’s okay to ask for medication to help you get home.
  8. Remember to be kind to yourself. You have just gone through surgery. No matter how tiny your incisions are, never underestimate how much your body has just went through. Travelling anywhere post-op is not easy and having to deal with airports and flying after such a procedure would be hard on anyone.

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