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Tour life

By: - Columnist
/ 12:30 AM April 18, 2019

The author

Today is Thursday. I have a concert tonight in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after which I head off to New York tomorrow for Easter Weekend in the city. Our third week out on the tour will have just completed, which means we have five more weeks to go before we can call it a day.

And so far, it has been a blast.

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The audiences in Southern California, New Mexico and Washington have been wonderful and generous. Many of them have had to drive long hours just to get to the venues, and all of us on the tour are so appreciative of the effort. A bunch of the shows have been on school nights, so I’m truly grateful that despite having to go to work or school the next morning, they’ve been there.

My recuperation has also been fabulous. My doctor gave me the go-ahead to put my full weight on my injured leg as long as I use the brace and crutches for balance. So right now, my gait with assistive devices is much closer to normal, and I’m encouraged at how my body is bouncing back so well.

Of course, onstage I err on the side of caution, and remain seated, wearing knee support under my gowns, and keeping with the sneakers or Oxfords (thanks, Mom). Since all of this has been so incredibly comfortable, I might just keep this up for even after I’m officially fully healed.

Tour life includes plenty of flights and hotels, and it has been a challenge with the wheelchair and everything else. However, what I’ve found is that folks have been incredibly kind and helpful when they see the wheels heading in their direction.

The winner for best airport security goes to the Albuquerque, New Mexico airport. Of course we were all aware of the procedures we needed to follow: crutches and leg brace go on the X-ray belt, and the wheelchair is rolled through to the other side by a TSA officer.

It’s not really the efficiency I’m lauding, but the compassion of each officer to help me across security. They ask if I’m able to walk the few steps through the metal detector.

One officer offered a chair so I could put my leg brace back on, not rushing me through. They didn’t bark at us like cattle, but spoke gently, which actually made us want to move faster. I’m normally cranky before, during and after going through this arduous but necessary step at airports—but not on this day. I left smiling and impressed.

Wheelchair accessibility has been unreal. Handicapped bathroom stalls at airports are large enough to accommodate my chair with room to move around, and there are sinks made just for wheelchair and scooter users with ample space to park the legs under.

Ramps are gentle (nothing steep at all), which makes for either someone pushing me or my driving myself around quite easy and not stressful. I’m sure my mom can breathe easy knowing I’m OK.

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At the end of the day, I’m just beyond joyous that I’m able to get up onstage and sing. Having to cancel concerts was heartbreaking for me, as it’s something I don’t think I’ve ever done. Returning to work has been tremendously fulfilling, and I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to be back.

Five more weeks to go. This will be fun!

My “Human Heart Tour” is coming to a city near you. Check out LeaSalonga.com for dates and ticket information.

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