Since writing about this vacation will take a while, I decided that I'd break it into chunks, both to give you all a chance to rest you eyes (instead of reading a mega-essay), and me a chance to enjoy the vacation and rest my fingers. Here's a bit about Tuesday, and since it's long, it's going behind a cut.Written from Amtrak in Portland: 4:41 pm
So far this vacation has been excellent. I won't ly and say there aren't any challenges, but the challenges have been adaptable and we've gotten through them all so far. I have a lot of stories to tell, so this may be a long update, or I may break it into smaller updates related to a specific topic. It will all depend on how I feel as I continue to write.
As much as I love the pacific northwest, I've never experienced so many cases of weirdness with disabilities, dogs and discrimination. But I'm also having fun. I connected with friends I didn't think I'd see this summer, I had fun and I got to have a little break from the medical hell my life seems to feel like. That's not to say that I'm not in pain, but I've at least learned a few things about how to manage it. I'm not going to let things spiral out of hand like I did at CSUN.
One thing we didn't really think about was how difficult walking is after 2 and a half months of not walking without a walker. I fear I might have overdone it Monday, and I think the muscles and tendons are cussing me out. It's like the pain I had before surgery, but worse. So, I still had to use the walker to keep from falling on my butt. That meant that Mom had a lot more responsibility than usual since I could really carry a backpack and nothing else. So it took a while to get onto the park and fly shuttle, then off it to the curbside check-in. Fortunately, as an answer to prayer, we saw a sky cap with a wheelchair. He helped me get settled and whisked us through security. He was efficient, but friendly, and helped me get things onto the belt and got a female assist faster than you can say "homeland security". Mom got to experience going through security with a Guide Dog since I was using the wheelchair and had the cast boot on. The lady searching me/patting me down was nice and told me exactly what she was doing as she did it. When she patted down "sensitive areas", she used the back of her hand. They even offered a private screening, but I declined. I guess after this summer, I've decided that privacy is sometimes a luxury. Anyway, the sky cap was really helpful, and he got us to a food court quickly.
We didn't get to the gate as fast as I'd have liked (can we say "line in the bathroom?"). The flight was full, and we didn't have bulkhead seating or a seat with a window. The lead flight attendant didn't think this was acceptable, so she moved us to just behind first class, then found room for my walker in the closet. Then, the fun started. There were several families not seated together. She was trying to put the families together.
August 4, 2006 at 11:20 am in the hotel lobby:
So, anyway, she was trying to get this couple to move because she had several other issues. They wouldn't move for her, and it escalated to the point that the captain had to intervene. He was about ready to throw them off because, as the flight attendant said, "if they won't listen now, they won't listen in an emergency." THE plane left 30 minutes late because of all of this. Another flight attendant got mad at us because mom had bags under her seat. "Well, you should give you dog more room. You're the reason all of this started." I felt awful, especially because I hadn't requested it, and we'd offered to move back to our assigned seats multiple times.
Later, the lead flight attendant assured us it was her choice and that we had been more than cooperative. She said that in her view, taking care of people with disabilities and families was the most important. She asked if we'd be willing to write up a description of what we saw and whether we thought she was helpful. She was being accused of racism by one of her coworkers. It had absolutely nothing to do with the couple who wouldn't move being from Asia. She, in my observation, was as respectful and polite as she could be. She tried explaining it to them in English, but they never gave her an indication that she understood. She even tried to get a translator, but they wouldn't tell her what language they spoke. It turns out they did understand her and just wouldn't move.
The weird thing was that they'd been protesting "no dog", about Julio. You would have thought they would have wanted to move to get away from him. We finally got off the ground after several fed up passengers moved so the families could sit together. It was like a human game of sudoku. We ended up sitting next to a very nice guy. We talked religion, politics, sociological principals, books and a whole lot of stuff. This made the flight go by so much faster!
We once again had excellent help to get from the gate to baggage and to the rental agency. I got a little ticked because when we were in the bathroom, a lady had the accessible stall. If the bathroom was full, I could've understood, but it was completely empty. It was difficult to get into the small stall with the walker.
So, once we had our car, we started the drive up to Seattle. We made it to about Centralia before stopping for the night. We really tried to make sure that I’d have enough spoon for the coming days. I tried to be good about taking medications when I needed them and using everything in my “toolbox” to make myself as comfortable as possible. It’s hard, though, because my muscles and foot seem to be trying to flick me off. It’s harder to walk than I expected, so keep this in mind as we go along. Later, I’ll write about the rest of the vacation, but I want to get this stuff up before I get tired.