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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Traveling Maniac

Last week was CRAZY. I mean...really crazy. I did about, wait, I just did the calculations, I did 1051 miles by car and train in six days. Yowza. All while anemic and exhausted.

First, I went with my husband to his dock job so he wouldn't have to backtrack to get me. We got up at 3:00 and left at 3:30 am to get him there by 6:00 am. I spent the day wandering around the beach, reading, eating chips, and just having a nice day.

He finished work about 3, and we headed up the coast to a small town with a cheap Motel 6 so we could be up early and within striking distance of his new job's HR department so he could go through orientation, get fingerprinted, and sign his teaching contract.

While he was doing that, I sat in a Starbucks and tried to figure out the route to Sacramento to see my retinologist--my favorite, most trusted doctor--and from where I was would require about five freeway transitions, most I'd never been on before. Yikes. I knew when I saw that route that I would never make it. Why? My vision. If I am driving a route I've been on before, or just in a straight line like straight up central California on the 99, I can do it. Freeways I've never been on? A recipe for me to become very, very lost and potentially have an accident.

I started to panic, a genuine anxiety attack. I knew I would need my husband to drive me or I'd never make it. I just wouldn't. His principal had asked if he could spend the day with the students with the substitute--he can't be in there with them alone until his fingerprints clear--and he said he would, so I asked him to change it to the next day so he could drive me to the doctor. He did, and the principal was understanding, particularly since he was volunteering his time and would not be paid for any time he spent there until fingerprints cleared.

We missed a freeway ramp, which was unmarked, can you imagine if I had been driving? and were about 15 minutes late, but typically the appointments are two hours long and run about 15 - 30 minutes behind. That's all right, he's worth it. Not only is he a retinologist and opthmologist, he's an ocular melanoma specialists, a certified oncologist, a certified geneticist, a surgeon, and Summa Cum Laude at Harvard. And he likes the Packers. He's just a kind, compassionate, highly skilled doctor. Everyone on my OM boards who goes to him loves him. He inspires confidence and high care. In contrast, when I went to the the other OM specialist that shit insurance "allowed" me to see at big teaching university about the tiny nodule on my lung, she told me, "I'm not an oncologist, so there's nothing I can do for you."  Not what I wanted to hear. Dr. T? He gave me a lab slip and MRI requisition dated for January so I don't have to call him or come in; I can arrange my own appointments and then see him in February for follow-up. The guy is organized. His IQ has to be about 200. I watched him stop in the hallway and consider something after he took an important phone call, and I swear I could see the cogs in his brain twirling as he thought about it. He is amazing.

Anyhoos, after that we drove back down to the city where his new school is, got another Motel 6, and in the morning, 7:00am, I caught a train into The City (what locals call San Francisco). I was going to spend 3 or 4 days with my sister and my nieces, none of whom I'd seen in two years. I missed them a lot.

She picked me up downtown at the train station in The City about 9:30, and then we all went out to lunch. I had presents for the girls that I gave them after we ordered, and one for my sister because it was also her birthday week, but that one waited until the actual day. The girls are so tall, so beautiful, so shy around me (that made me sad), but I think we enjoyed each other's company. They just started middle school so they are tweens and their hormones are kicking in and their personalities are changing and they're just trying to deal with it all, so they're not rambunctious little kids anymore. I missed part of it. Sigh. They are clearly very smart, confident young ladies, and I'm so proud of them. I wish I could see them all the time. Maybe....

My sister and I had several good conversations and one really long excellent needed-to-be-done conversation about our lives the last two years, and to say we've both had it kinda' rough would be a bit of an understatement. But I think we're both on the same page as far as what is happening in our lives right now. I don't think she realized the extent to which my vision has been compromised, or the potential for metastatic cancer constantly looming over me (and I try, try, not to think about it, but three more people on my OM board have died this week dammit), and I got a better picture of the stressors in her life. It was so great to reconnect.

She was able to observe me "in the wild" as it is, knocking over not one but two displays in Safeway (on my left, blind side), stumbling over curbs, missing steps (holding the rail!), losing them in stores and IKEA (because there was much lunching and shopping Oh My!), that she wouldn't let me take the BART to the Amtrak station to head back south on Sunday (I was going to leave Saturday, but she asked me to stay another day. Aww, my heart.), because she was pretty convinced I would get lost. She was right, I would've. We got lost in the car using a damn GPS. LOL

The IKEA is right near the Amtrak station, so we got there early, looked around, then had lunch in their restaurant. Their Swedish meatballs are fantastic. They give you a dozen !!! with gravy, and mashed potatoes with gravy and I think a vegetable but I don't remember, for like $5.99. LOL And free coffee if you are a "member." Then about 12:30 pm we headed over to the train station. Good thing we gave ourselves plenty of time.

I like to sit downstairs on the train because navigating stairs even when they're not moving is difficult for me at best, so I like to avoid them; however, the conductor said all the downstairs seats were reserved and sold out, so at a station stop I moved upstairs and stayed there. I had purchased a bag of Fritos, a peanut butter protein bar, and I also had a KIND bar in my purse (first time eating nuts with the new teeth. Eh, so/so.) and a huge bottle of water, so I didn't need to go over to the club cafe car. I should've, because about two hours in my butt clock went off. My butt screams in pain if I sit to long, even on padded seats. I was going to Bakersfield, which is the end of the line, and you have to transition to a bus to go into Los Angeles because the mountains are in the way--the train cannot make it up the Grapevine. So the spousal unit picked me up.

I was supposed to get in at 7:30 pm, but we ended up stalled on the tracks between Corcoran (prison town) and Wasco (another prison town) for TWO HOURS. By this time I was cranky, hot, tired, my butt hurt, and I wanted some real food. Since Wasco was the last stop before Bakersfield, I decided to move downstairs while we were stopped so I wouldn' fall on my face. There were plenty of seats downstairs. I sat in front of an older couple playing cards.

Did I mention I was cranky? The woman started kicking my chair. I would turn around and look at the main, and he'd just look at me and smile. My husband and I are texting in the meantime because he was actually on time to meet me (first time for everything :D ) in Bakersfield, and I texted him about the woman and I said, "I may punch an old lady in the face!" That's how cranky and uncomfortable I was. Finally after about 20 minutes of this shit I just turned around and said, "Please, could you not kick my chair?"  She denied it, but evidently was banging the fold down table every time she won a hand of cards. They got very indignant and rude, but I just sat there quietly. It took a great deal of fortitude on my part not to tell them to shove it. (What is wrong with people? Jeez.)

So evidently a freight had derailed so they had to inspect the tracks before we could drive over them. OMG. We were supposed to get in at 7:30 pm, and it was more like 10:00 pm. UGH. MY ASS was killing me. We went to Denny's--I had a bunless double cheeseburger of which I could only eat ha--and then we drove home for a bit over 2 hours. I stumbled into bed and took a pain pill, a good one, and I'm not saying where I got them *wink*, but in the morning I felt much, much better. Oy vay. My butt didn't quit hurting completely for about three days.

So yeah, it was a lot. Just yesterday was when I finally felt like I was recovered. It was sort of the perfect storm trip--doctor, new job, visit 'tivs--all coalesced into one trip. Win/Win.

So here's some pics:

The girls and I outside IKEA. I'm in heels so I'm about 6'2" in this photo, the girls are both over 5' tall, probably around 5'3" or taller. They wear juniors small or medium and look like adults. It's easy to forget they're still little kids and not talk to them like adults. I think I did pretty well. My niece on the right, younger by 20 minutes, looks like Meryl Streep to me. I think she's so beautiful. My other niece looks like me--pretty girl--and LOVES books. I'm putting money on her going to medical school, she loves science. That's her Rubic's cube in another photo. 

This is a view from my sister's place. It was foggy the first day, but subsequent days saw unusual high heat, two days nearly 90 F, which is unheard of for SF. Ugh. I was hoping for a break from the heat. Nope.

All in all, it was worth all the traveling just to spend time with these two and my sister. I'm already looking forward to going back, soon. With R working nearby, I'll probably be up once a month or so. It would be nice to see them more often.

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