Airports, (In)Security and Medications

I’m in an airport again. By the time I post this, I will probably be on the “Arrival” side, rather than sitting in the “Departures” area. I still find airports exciting, and I don’t mind waiting. I usually try to be early so I have time to get coffee. In today’s exciting circumstance, I had time to drop my passport in the washroom sink. Thanks to automated taps, the tap turned on and my passport got drenched. It’s currently sitting next to me layered with paper towels, and I’m hoping it will dry before my flight.

I’m heading back to Alberta for a few days. I plan to pack up some clothes, pack up some books, get whatever else that I own that I can’t think of now. I’ve made it official, I have made that decision to move, and if I had to quote a movie it would be Moana “All the time wondering where I need to be is behind me”. I’m excited to see my friends in Alberta, knowing that I don’t know when the next time I will get to see them will be. That in itself is kind of a bizarre thought to me, not knowing when I will be back in the province that I lived in for my entire life.

Airports are an interesting experience for me as a person with A LOT of pills for a permanent condition. I have to keep all my medication in the original prescription bottles in order to go through security. Then, when I’m waiting to board, I usually distribute them into the weekly pill tray that I use. Especially if I will be landing (or still on the flight) around the time that I should take my medication. Then I’m in my interesting situation. I’m sitting alone, in a very public place, with half a dozen bottles of prescription drugs and trying to sort it all out for the upcoming week.

For a long time, I would ask if I could use the lounge to have some privacy, because it was away from the main terminals and waiting areas. I didn’t want anyone to see me with my little pile of pills and washrooms never have enough counter space. Over time though, I came to acknowledge that my reality is that I have this medication, I have to take it eventually, and I need to put it in the tray so I can be sure to take the right amounts and see that I did. That’s my reality. So I stopped trying to beg my way into the lounge and would just find a seat in the general waiting area and sort it all out there.

And guess what!?

No one cares.

There was really no reason for me to try to get out of a public space. There was no need for me to be concerned about what people thought, what people would say. No one has ever said anything to me and even if (hypothetically) they did, I would consider it an opportunity to provide information about epilepsy. It was my own insecurity that made me worried about someone seeing me sorting out my medications. It’s not like I’m making a spectacle of myself now, but worrying about what people thought did not actually necessitate that I hide away while doing something as basic (and necessary) as sort out my medication. Sometimes it’s amazing the impact that insecurity can have without being overt or obvious.

This has such a further reach than just airports. Sometimes I’m at a restaurant and I need to take my medication. So I do. Sometimes I’m at work and have to step away to take my medication. So I do. Sometimes I go out to a bar and I feel like I have to sit down away from the lights and sounds. So I do. I could be on a bus, or an airplane, or a taxi. I could be in a bar, restaurant or coffee shop. I could be at work or at a friends home.

If I continued to be focused on what people thought, it would mean a lot more time and energy allocated to something that really didn’t deserve that time and energy. People at airports, restaurants, workplaces, pubs, they don’t notice when I take my medication. They are too busy having their own experiences. I want to have the best experience that I can, and worrying about what people think is certainly not going to positively contribute to that.

Here’s one more thing: This is a personal choice. I choose not to be concerned if someone sees me taking my medication. That is not for everyone. The priority though is taking the medication. So, if someone you know needs a moment alone (for medication or space or any reason), give support. Be so supportive that your friend can feel comfortable saying to you “hey, I’m just going to go and take my meds” and you say “okay. I’ll be right here”.

And yes, I am wearing my sunglasses on the airplane. It’s still really bright and I have sensitive eyes. Or maybe I’m just trying to look really cool. Whatever. I’m not required to fit in.

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