Hot to Trot, Not to Clot
At 5:30 in the morning, my clotting factor had its first exposure to the TSA’s new body scanner. After loading three trays worth of stuff to go through the x-ray machines and stripping through a black hooded sweatshirt and leather jacket, I walked into the body scanner and lifted my arms.
“I hope you’re appreciating the view of my armpits,” I joked, even though the last place I should probably crack wise is in the middle of airport security. I walked through, and the body scanner tracked yellow warmth in my legs.
It made sense; after all, I had been wearing the ugly anti-embolism stockings that would hopefully keep me clot-free through the next 24 hours of travel. But they were still skeptical, and the lady wearing the bright blue TSA button down asked to look at my legs.
“Like this?” I asked, lifting my skirt as if I were some sexy pinup, although I can’t think of anything less sexy that these bright white stockings. The lady in the red shirt in front of me began to laugh as the TSA agent shook her head, squatted down and began patting down my legs. She then instructed me to turn around and patted down the backsides.
“I hope you are enjoying feeling up my TED hose,” I joked again, and the lady in red burst into more giggles. Not bad for 5:30 in the morning.
They pushed me aside to wait and I grew concerned as my boxes of stuff began to pile up. They patted down my stockings; were they going to question me about my blood thinning injections?
I haven’t traveled internationally since I had my blood clots at 21. The most I ever did was fly to New York and back. So needless to say, I had been worried half of this journey simply to the airport. Did I have the alcohol swabs? Would I be able to lift my shirt in the bathroom to give myself the injection? Were all the doctor’s notes and prescriptions in place in case I got questioned in security?
Most people don’t know of my genetic disposition for my blood to try to kill me through clots. Most of the time I live a normal life, taking an aspirin regimen and making sure I get my circulation flowing regularly by walking. There are only two instances that you would know: One is if I’m traveling, and the other if there is ever a conversation about my having children, because I’m unsure if I would be able to sustain a pregnancy with such an active clotting factor.
As I walked around the terminal at LAX, feeling the stockings against the back of my knees, I felt strangely out of place with the people who seemed to be able to travel without any problems, casually reading books or lying with neck pillows. Sure, there were discomforts, but they were ones we all experience, like bag weights and slipping off our shoes. I wished for a way that I could travel with just normal discomfort, not this feeling of being a medical patient.
However, as I saw the people pile into the terminal, it was almost like my subconscious was nudging at me, reminding me we all were traveling somewhere, and our travels were all for different reasons. Some were for pleasure and redemption like mine, but others carried emotional pain or a discomfort that couldn’t be measured by an outward appearance. My struggle with clotting, although awkward-looking and questioned by TSA, was not the only issue in that Virgin America terminal. We all fought battles to get here. Some of us are still fighting and will never stop. And some wars finally were about to end.
So I sat in the terminal listening to the music on my iPhone as Debbie Friedman came in as if by fate, singing in her sweet voice “L’chi Lach” while the sky outside began turning from black to inky blue, as I was left remembering Eve’s head on my shoulder. It was the memory I attached to that song. And now, it was about to begin again.
Sure, I don’t travel the same as I did at 17. It’s uncomfortable and leaves a lot to be desired, particularly in the stocking department. But I have been kept alive for this moment. And that is bliss.