One of the things I hate the most, but one of the most necessary anymore, is travel.
I had plans to fly to New York City on Thursday, but some heavy medical events kept me from getting on a plane that day.
We were looking for Hail Marys in Rochester, Minn at the vast Mayo Clinics and didn’t get what we were looking for. I drove back from Minnesota with my mom and the family in tow in other vehicles behind us on Thursday. I rebooked my flight for Friday morning at 6:07 a.m.
Instead of getting up at 2 a.m. and getting to St. Louis in time for the departure, I decided to stay the night in St. Louis.
We had appointments in Rochester at 8 a.m. Thursday and after a quick 2.5 mile run/walk around the Mayo campus and a shower, all three of my brothers and I wheeled my mom into the clinic for one more chance to talk with someone who would know how to save her life.
At 76, she’s just too young for me to think that the end is near. If they can’t save her, maybe we can. She has non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which is basically when fatty tissue in the liver turns scarred and starts to reject blood from the organ. She also has a 2-inch tumor on the top of the liver at the portal vessel.
Doctors are less worried about the tumor, and more worried about the liver failing.
We’ve been dealing with this for about six months. All at the University of Iowa.
Travel, sometimes two times a week to the Digestive Health Center, became the name of the game.
An hour here and an hour there. On Thursday it was 4.5 hours from Rochester back to her home in West Burlington. Then home to repack and take a quick nap, then off to St. Louis for about four hours of sleep before heading to the airport.
I got there at about 4:50 a.m. for my 6 a.m. flight. Checked in without a hiccup and checked one bag. It was free because I used some points on my credit card to get the flight.
I was off to security in under 10 minutes. Sweet. I’ll have time for a sandwich and a ginger ale. I drink ginger ale on flights to keep my stomach settled. A breakfast sandwich usually helps with that, too.
I went down the escalator to Gate C and about threw up my sandwich. The line through security was all the way to St. Charles and I had about 50 minutes to get to my gate. After about 10 minutes of standing there and moving slightly an aide standing near the line looked my way. I stepped out of the line, a huge gamble at this point, and told her I didn’t fly very often and didn’t realize the line through security would be that long. I told her about my flight time and she suggested I sign up for Clear. With a quick scan of my fingertips, face, and eyes, and 14-day free trial, I was ushered to the front of the line, where a gentleman looked at my boarding pass and moved me to the front and through an empty security line.
Five minutes later I was walking down the gateway looking for C18.
There I took a motion sickness pill and a Xanax and went to get a bottle of water. I looked up at the flight board and they were boarding in 5 minutes, but they had already gone through Groups 1-4.
I slipped into a magazine stand and got a warm bottle of water. Their coolers were down.
I had a lot of extra points because this particular card I signed up for midflight the last time I went to NYC and they gave me a 50,000 point bonus. So this time I flew business class. I’m 6-3 so the extra leg room was phenomenal. The motion sickness and anti-anxiety drugs kicked in and I put on Creed III. A decent movie.
When the movie ended we were already in descent. I looked out the window one time and saw the Hudson bay and then “errrrt” the wheels touched and the brakes hit. We rolled straight into our gate and I was the first one off the plane.
Our daughter Taylor was performing in another play in the SoHo district and our travel to this location was via Uber. Traffic on a Saturday morning was a bad as you can imagine, but we got there with about 15 minutes to spare.
I love seeing her on stage. This story line was two veteran men who were married, but one was suffering through Alzheimer’s and could no longer recognize his husband. Taylor played the couple’s daughter, the main female lead in the hour-long production.
These level of NYC productions have little stage support so it's mostly the actors having the attention of the small audience. So when she was up there, to me, the lights are only on her. Everyone else seems to be in a dull purple haze, but she’s bright as the sun.
It took me an eight-hour drive, a two-hour flight, a 40 minute cab ride, and a 30 minute Uber ride to get to see her, for the second time, follow her dream.
I don’t like to travel. It’s stressful and pushy and takes careful planning.
But I’ll travel every day to see her on stage, and I’ll travel every day to see mom get healthy.
At some point – it has to pay off.
This travel also has involved quite a bit of walking around the city. We typically move about 20 miles over a four-day stint. It’s a small price to pay – and very much Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached Charles.V@pencitycurrent.com.
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