I really love my Dad, and somewhat more importantly, I really like my Dad, so I was very happy to be able to head out west to help him before and after his knee replacement surgery.
That said, I did go all Seinfeld with Carlos about how long I’d be gone ...
“Look, subtract the travel time to and from, the sleeping time, the time he’s in the hospital, the driving time around Toledo, Oregon, and I’ll be gone, what, about twenty minutes or so.”
I don’t like being away from home—I’m a nester—for too long and I really don’t like being without Carlos because I’m a very needy queen or, and this is more likely, I truly love that man and need to see him every day, always.
Still, I left; usually we fly into Portland and then dry the three-plus hours south and to the west to my Dad’s house, but this time I checked into flying into Eugene, which cuts the drive time to Dad’s to about ninety minutes. The price seemed comparable so I thought I’d go the Eugene route, except ...
Columbia is not a major airport—there are literally twelve gates—and Eugene is even smaller, so any kind of direct flight is out. I flew from Columbia to DC, and then from DC to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to Eugene. It would be a long travel day—about twelve hours with plane changes and such—but it still seemed like less of a hassle than heading to Portland until ...
The flight to DC was smooth; I had a row to myself so I didn’t have that stupid airplane chatter—Where you going—to contend with; then came DC. The airport there, we landed at Dulles, is a nightmare. I headed up two escalators to a third level and then down an escalator to a second level, across a bridge into a tunnel onto a train just to get to my gate; that seemed longer than the flight ... I am that impatient.
At the gate there was a huge crowd and I thought, “Crowded Plane.” I hate crowded planes ... airplane chatter. God! And then the pilot appeared and introduced himself and told us we would have a smooth ride cross country ... why did he say that?
Onboard the plane we sat and sat and sat until Friendly Pilot announced that we couldn’t leave because one of the Non Smoking lights was on and they needed to figure out why; that took an hour. No, I understand you don’t want mechanical problems when you’re 35,000 feet up but, because we stayed in DC an extra hour, you guessed it, I missed my flight from San Francisco to Eugene.
I was calm, but ready to rage at the United official I spoke to, but she was so nice and so calming, telling me that the next flight to Eugene would be at 7:30 ... AM ... the next day! But they put me up in a hotel and gave me meal vouchers to use to get something to eat, gave me a seat upgrade and told me I would forever and ever be Pre-Approved at the TSA; yup, no more shoes off, or toiletries out, or removing rings and wallets and belts and such for me.
So it was kind of a win. Plus, since we left in the morning, and it was one of those rare San Francisco fog-free mornings, I had the most spectacularly views of my old stomping grounds ... The City. The wide swath of green that is Golden Gate Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, the Bay Bridge, Giant’s stadium ... if only I’d taken my phone or camera from my bag ...
We arrived safely in Eugene and then it was short drive to Toledo and my Dad’s house. He was ready for surgery, had everything planned and all my instructions and we chatted and joked and then went to sleep because we had to be at the hospital at 6:30 AM where we were told his surgery would be about 2-3 hours and an hour in recovery. That seemed short to me; I mean, cutting open the leg, snapping out the old knee, putting in the Belgian upgrade and attaching it and then closing everything up in two or three hours?
Nope; it was about eight hours and me, with my overactive imagination instantly began fearing the worst. At the three hour mark I checked the board in the waiting room—patients are assigned numbers and you can track their progress by their number on the board—and Dad was still in surgery. Four hours, still in surgery; six hours ... seven hours .... eight hours.
My Dad was dead and they were afraid to come tell me; yes, that’s where my mind went. Luckily, the man at the desk in the waiting room was a calming influence, or else that slap he gave me settled me down, but finally my Dad was out of surgery and in recovery and then into his room.
At a little after 5 PM I was able to go in and see him and he was woozy, of course, but awake and alert and seemingly fine. Then he threw up; luckily a nurse’s assistant was in the room with a handy barf bag and I was able to suppress my own urge to vomit ... I am a Sympathy Puker.
Dad seemed to get better and then he started vomiting again but this time I was in the room alone ...
Side story: years back I had moved into a new apartment ... I was probably twenty ... and had a Housewarming Party. One of my friends had too much to drink and was very clearly about to hurl. Someone said, “Bob, Stacie’s going to hurl, you better do something,” so I did. I took her to the front door and put her outside. I cannot be near the vomit.
... so I went to the nurse’s station and told them my Dad was getting sick again and they all looked at me like I was a loon and one said she’d be right in ... except she sat there. So, I went all Shirley MacLaine Term’s of Endearment Debra Winger is dying on their asses ... or at least a more subdued version ... and said, again, “My Dad’s throwing up, can someone please come help him.”
And they did, and he was fine, and he was doing very very well. That same night he was able to bend the New Knee and the next day he was able to take fifteen steps with it, using a walker; his doctor was very impressed, his physical therapist, too.
Still, he stayed in the hospital for four days and was released on Saturday. He came home and his German Shepherd, Foxy, was thrilled to see him—she’d been giving me the Who-Are-You-Stink-Eye for four days—and that was my Dad’s best medicine.
He saw a physical therapist for a home visit on Monday and was again doing much better than people expected, and we planned out all his trips to the doctor’s and therapy and things he needed for the next couple of weeks.
My brother arrived Monday night to take over as Home Health Aide and the next day my twenty minute stay at my Dad’s was over and I was back in Eugene and ready to head home.
Eugene to San Francisco; short flight, row to myself, no airplane chatter. San Francesco to DC, long flight, row to myself, sleeping to avoid any airplane chatter. Then came Dulles ...
As I said yesterday, I got off the plane Wednesday morning and was hoping to see Madam President signs everywhere and instead saw President-elect_____. I was sickened ... see that post HERE.
I went up three escalators and down two, across a bridge and through a tunnel and onto a train and up three escalators and down four until I came to my gate where I could hear _____ speaking on TV. I fled to a cafe for some yogurt and granola and orange juice and then boarded my last flight ....
It was one of those tiny planes; the ones where a person over five-feet-eleven cannot stand up in the aisle, so being six-foot-two, I was a stoop-shouldered ogre headed to my seat in a full to the rafters flight. Narrow aisles, narrow seats, no leg room and then ... the pilot tells us the navigation system isn’t working so they shut off all the power to the plane for a few moments and see if they can reboot it; they did use an outside power source to keep the cabin lights on but it as a full plane, small plane, no air ... I had my very first, and hope, very last, panic attack. It was hot and crowed and there was no air and I couldn’t breathe and ____ was elected president; I was about ten seconds from getting out of my seat and running to the front of the plane and screaming to be let off and then the plane backed up ... oh, not to leave, mind you, but to see if maybe the navigational system issues could be fixed away from the gate .. so we sat on the tarmac with no air and me screaming on the inside until I heard my Dad’s voice saying Count it down.
So I counted 1...2...3...4...5...4...3...2...1.. and so on.
Seriously, that calmed me down because it kept my mind from racing toward the front of the cabin, throwing open the door and hurling myself out of the plane.
Then we moved back to the gate and were told to go inside and wait until, they could get another plane, which they did, and it was fine, though still small and crowded. But this one worked and we flew home, albeit it three hours later than scheduled.
Like I Seinfeld’d it at the beginning, it really was just a twenty minute trip out to Oregon and back, though the flights seemed to drag on for twelve days.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it ... thanks for listening.