“The most important of life’s battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul. “~ David O. McKay

(photo credit: http://actinglikeanimals.wordpress.com/tag/dog/ )

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to weight the pros and cons of revealing something about yourself and risking making yourself conspicuous rather than staying inconspicuous?

I recently had to do a complex travel hop for work…alone. This hop included a flight to Ottawa for one day, then a mid-day hop to Toronto by air the following day, then an evening flight to return to Halifax after a day of meetings on the final day. So what was my conundrum? Whether or not to reveal my seizure disorder to airline personnel.

To reveal, or not to reveal – that was the question!

If I don’t reveal, and have a seizure, I could end up in the middle of some strange city as a form of “Jane Doe” with no one aware of my predicament. Or I could make sure I have back-up in the form of colleagues and travel staff at least knowing who I am and where I came from and where I should be. It really is kinda black-white in terms of pros-cons…but the part about making myself stand out from the crown is the part that can be the question du jour. Because I have absolutely no warning if and/or when a seizure may occur, and because they are full-on tonic-clonic, and I lose awareness of myself for hours thereafter, revealing is a very real question that I must consider whenever I travel alone. For example – in travelling to Ottawa and Toronto, I was heading alone on the flight, and staying alone in my hotels. If I had had a seizure mid-flight…the airline staff needs to know how to help me and who to call to care for me.  I have colleagues in both cities, so I could give them names. Coming home, I could give them my family contact info. But giving my contact info is not the issue…it’s the very real choice I must make to actually reveal my medical condition and the reason WHY they need my contact information.

Initially, I was not quite sure how to go about it – I wanted privacy as much as possible. So I finally decided that the best way for me to handle it was to board the plane during the pre-boarding times…when people need extra help, extra hands, extra time. That way I could get the airline stewards’ attention a bit more privately, and feel a bit less conspicious. (Now – that being said, sometimes the glares from impatient people waiting to board and watching what seems to be a perfectly hale and hearty woman boarding in pre-boarding can be quite daunting. I can only imagine the colourful words cycling in their heads!)

I gotta say – having 3 opportunities on 3 different planes in 3 days to experience my revealing conundrum was fascinating in some ways. (That nerdy scientific side of me always comes to the front, eh? Such a geek! ) One young steward was absolutely thrilled because he was a registered nurse with a neuroscience specialty. One steward was stunned, and did not know what to do with the information. One older steward was very professional, noting information and checking on me mid-flight. Me-thinks age and training levels may have had some play here, eh?

So – was revealing as much of a conundrum as I had thought previously? Not really. But then again, I am a person who is willing to be transparent and share my experiences in life so that others can learn from them, if it applies.

Revealing takes courage, and a willingness to be vulnerable. If you are not a person who is comfortable being open about personal issues, this can be a very tough situation. One has to weigh the pros and cons for themselves and decide – to reveal, or not to reveal.

That is the question. What is YOUR answer?

“Since life and experience is a matter of trial-and-error, there’s no need to take choosing – or life itself – too seriously.” ~Soren Lauritzen