My Italian Adventure part 1 of 5?

Before I begin to talk about my “Italian adventure”, it is important that I stress that all of my travel plans were with airline buddy passes.  If you aren’t familiar with these, let me briefly explain.  When you travel using a BUDDY PASS (an employee benefit), you are able to fly for free or dirt cheap on flights that have unsold seats, but you are on standby. This means you don’t know if you have a seat on the plane until moments before the doors on the plane close.  I was aware of this before I started my trip.

Monday morning 5/20/2019

I woke up at 5 am. (actually I think 5 am is more the time I gave up trying to sleep, and began moving.) I “Coffeed”, showered, put on a DRESS , and…wait for it….a little bit of make-up. This is another thing about the buddy passes, you have to “dress up” . I threw a couple of last minute items in my carry on, TRIPLE CHECKED that I had my boarding pass, passport, and bus ticket for when I arrived in Italy. Check, check, and check.

I checked the standby list and was still at number 2 (my chances were good that I would make it on the plane.) Whooo hoooo!!!!

My dear friend Brian arrived at 7 am to take me to the airport. We spent the hour plus drive catching up on all the things that had been happening in our lives since the last time we were able to “hang out”, almost a year ago. Traffic wasn’t bad, in fact we arrived early. He dropped me off at a door that had wheelchair access and assistance was just inside the door. ANOTHER win.

I checked a large suitcase.  Having a medical condition makes traveling for any amount of time with just a carry on, very impractical.  ( Pads, diapers, waterproof pads, medication, surgery shoe, etc)

Going through security was a breeze, other than a small oversight on my part which COULD have been very embarrassing. I was able to STAND in the scanning machine instead of having to be completely felt up. I didn’t have to take off the boot, and the lines were relatively short. WIN WIN! The moment that could have been embarrassing was when they had to open and inspect my carry on because I forgot to remove my laptop. DOH!

I arrived at my gate at 9:15 and immediately checked the standby list again. Number 17?!?!?!? What the hell had happened in the last 2 hours? Did everyone suddenly feel the urgent need to travel to Milan?

After people watching (active listening) for about half an hour, it was more than obvious that the standby list was going to continue to grow. The 9 am flight to NJ (My first stop) was cancelled because of the storms that were pounding the east coast.  So all of the customers that missed the 9 am flight would be squeezed onto later flights.

As a NON PAYING CUSTOMER, getting me on a plane was of very little importance to anyone but me.  Ok, I knew this COULD happen, let’s make the best of it. I chatted with several other passengers which made the time pass pretty quickly.  I looked up other flights that were leaving for NJ, and there were several, before my flight from NJ to Milan would leave at 6:30 pm.   Chicago to NJ is a 3 hour flight, and there were flights leaving at 10:00 am, 11:30 am (my flight) and 2:15 pm that would allow me to make it to NJ on time.  CLOSE, but still on time.

I waited at the airport and watched the 10:00 and 11:30  flights depart without me.  The airline personal said that it was only going to get worse, and may feed over into the next day. I was number 45 on the standby cue for 2:15, so  at 2 pm I  “gave up”. Again, I KNEW this COULD happen but  I certainly didn’t expect it.  I had asked my friend Marisa a couple of weeks ago if she would pick me up if ended up stuck.  I made the bail me out call now.

She picked me up from the airport and we went back to her house where I could use my laptop to explore any other options that might be available. During this time I began searching the airlines for flights to NEW YORK, PA, or Dulles that might allow me to still make a connection to Newark in time for the 630 flight to Milan. While I could fly from O’hare to any of the other states without issue, the lists for flights into NJ were all full.  Hmmmm what if I rented a car and drove to NJ from one of the other airports?  Probably not a good idea considering my right (driving foot is still in a boot).  It’s one thing to drive with my left foot  on country roads where I know how to avoid the traffic, but not very smart and probably illegal to do in a big city.

After researching all the options, we decided that I might as well try to catch one of the 4 other flights to NJ that night.  The flight to Milan had over 30 seats available for the next 2 days, so if I could at least get to NJ, half the battle would be won. I would just need to stay in Newark for the night.  ( yay hotel points)  So back to the airport we went.  If I didn’t get on one of the flights, Marisa would come back and get me at 9:30 pm and I would just crash at her place.

The trip through security this time did not go as smoothly.  (not terrible, just not smooth)Inkedbody scan_LI

While I remembered to take my laptop and tablet out of my carry on bag this time, I forgot to take off my sweatshirt, and to remove my cigarettes and lighter from my pocket.

So this is how I appeared on the scanner. ( lighter on my hip and zipper from my sweatshirt in my groin)

The sweatshirt and cigarettes had to go back through the x-ray machine, and the poor TSA agent had to reach between my legs.  She grabbed the poise pad I was wearing and asked, “what is this?” As we looked into each other’s eyes….We had a moment…. kidding.  I said ” a pad”, she said, Ok” . Kind of awkward :/ .

She finished her inspection of me. I re-packed all the items as quickly as possible in my carry on bag  and quickly moved away.  10 minutes later I realized that I had not recovered my cigarettes and lighter.  YES, we had to turn around.  No one in security could find them, so I shrugged it off :(.  As we were approaching my gate, the security girl came running up to me with my cigarettes and lighter.  This time, we did have a moment.  I even told her I loved her 🙂

When we arrived at the gate, I immediately checked the standby list and learned that I was number 33.  😦  I spent the next hour and a half catching up with the “new friends” I had made earlier in morning ( the other people that were stuck at the airport).  At 6:10 I heard one of their names being called to make the flight (#8) and went over to “congratulate” him.  As I leaned against the counter, I felt something move behind me.  It was his laptop falling off of the counter.

broken-laptop

(This is not his laptop, but it did look as bad as this 😦 )

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What had I done?!?!?!  How do you apologize for something like that?  He said, “don’t worry about it”, as he picked up the pieces and rushed to board the plane.  How do you not worry about it??!?!?  OMG I was going to go to hell for this.  I was going to be stuck in the airport for days. I was…… hearing my name being called.  I had made the flight!  The other 20 something people between this man and I had given up, or found another alternative.  I was actually boarding the plane!

Have you ever flown standby?  Do you have any security mishaps you’d like to share?  I would love to hear your stories!

 

 

 

Italy or Bust..or in my case BUST then…

Remember this old thing?  Well calling it old wouldn’t really be true, considering it is brand new………..

Confused yet?

Let me TRY to explain…

Do you remember, back in September of last year, I had a plate and screws put in my right foot? I was in a cam boot for a long time afterwards, and have only been walking in very hard soled shoes for the last few months.  A couple of weeks ago, while I was at my oldest daughter’s house watching the grandbabies, I took off my shoes while playing with the boys in their room.    Here’s where it gets confusing…..

I’m not sure exactly what I did or how exactly I did it.  I was holding Joey, and attempted to squat down on the floor with him.  I subsequently lost my balance, and in an effort to not drop him I did something very painful to my foot.  I don’t know what I did exactly, I just knew that it hurt like hell and I couldn’t stand on it let alone walk.

A trip to the immediate care and subsequent trip to the surgeon’s office revealed that I broke the lag screw from my surgery, and another bone in my foot.

I have no words.  Seriously who does this?  I have spent the last few weeks feeling embarrassed and in shock.

I am back in a boot for the next 3-5 weeks, and then the plan is to try to ease back into hard shoes.  If the pain is too great or the bone hasn’t healed around the broken screw, I will have to have another surgery.  😦

So there is the Busted (broken part)…what do I mean about Italy?

Earlier this year, Einstein’s dad gave us several buddy passes for his employers airline.  If you aren’t familiar with buddy passes, in short you are able to fly standby on the airline for next to nothing.  (taxes)  Anywhere.

I have a good friend who was born and raised in Italy, but has lived in the states for many years.  Her family still owns a home in the city she grew up in…..AND….they are going to be there for the month of May……………hmmmmmm

I have been to Italy 2x in the past, but it has been almost 20 years, and I was there as a tourist.  I have always wanted to experience activities of daily living in Italy, but never had the time, or the money.  I have the time, and the flight cost me $50.00 roundtrip, so I booked the tickets.

I am not nearly as prepared as I would like to have been,  ( I speak very little Italian and I have a broken foot.)  but I think I would regret not seizing the opportunity.  Who knows, the afternoon siesta’s may be just what I need.

I am supposed to fly out on Monday.  Wish me luck?

It’s the principle … Tenacious Grace

I have had a very difficult time coming up with a title for this one.  I have had to repeat the story in my head several times, all the while SHAKING IT side to side repeatedly,  to make sure I am not overlooking something.  I have also had to discuss it with a couple close friends that could handle the exorbitant amount of swearing that came out of my mouth as I told yet another, “I’m getting screwed” story.

Now that I have “tamed” my vocabulary a bit, I feel that I NEED to share this story.  I need others to know that the way I am being treated isn’t right, and that I am going to Fight for myself.  I hope if you find yourself in a similar situation you fight for yourself too.

Here’s the story…

At the beginning of April, I received the  annual email from the IL Secretary of State’s office stating  “you have not yet renewed your Illinois license plate registration which expires 4/30/2019″… yeah yeah I know, more bills.

On April 7th, I decided I might as well get it over with and send my payment.  ( Two things you can’t avoid Death and Taxes Right?)  and hey……They even let you pay it online for a $3.00 convenience fee…whoopy!  I clicked the link in the email and was directed to their website.  While I was there I learned about the state’s Benefit Access Program, which they say  “allows for the Secretary of State’s office to provide for a reduced-fee license plates aimed toward senior citizens and persons with disabilities with specific qualifications.”   Ok THIS part did excite me.  (If your sole income is from Social Security disability, you really know what I am talking about).

I attempted to apply for the BAP, but kept receiving error messages.  It appeared that that part of their website was down.  (How convenient?)  Shrug, well I had to renew my plates anyway and the website said,

If you have already renewed your license plate sticker and paid full price, and are now part of the Benefit Access Program, you may be eligible to request a refund. Call the Secretary of State’s Office at 800-252-8980 for more information.

so I went ahead and paid for my plates.

On Monday, I went back to the BAP’s website, jumped through their hopes and surprise, surprise…. I qualified.  (not surprised at all). page 1

Next step ask for a refund.

I tried to apply for a refund online.  For some reason that didn’t work….website down again?….hmmmm? So I called the number listed above.  The woman I talked with said, it must just be too soon, give it a couple days and try again.  Ok did that.  Same problem.  SO, I called again.  I talked to the same person (yes I do keep track of dates, times, and names of people I talk to after learning the hard way it is a necessity).  During this second call she said that she would submit the information for review for me.  I thanked her and assumed the matter was closed.

IT wasn’t.

page 2

HUH?!?!?!?!?

Remember this statement…..

If you have already renewed your license plate sticker and paid full price, and are now part of the Benefit Access Program, you may be eligible to request a refund. Call the Secretary of State’s Office at 800-252-8980 for more information.

This statement is from their website!!!!!

I feel like they should have included the free “how to keep an idiot busy keychain”

idiots busy

 

 

You know the one that has

<– written on both sides….

 

 

Ok so ANOTHER phone call.

This time the person I spoke with said, ” Oh you will have to download the required forms and send your sticker back to be reviewed”  Huh?!?!  I said…

  • HUH?!?!?
  • I have to return this sticker to buy this same sticker again?!?!?!
  • You can’t just issue a credit?
  • You do realize that it is almost the end of the month and I need to have a sticker on my car to avoid a ticket or penalty right?!?!?!?
  • Can I go to the DMV and return the sticker to buy another sticker?
  • @#%$#^#%&#^%&&&&&

Her response was, ” Um yeah it is a bad system.  Would you like me to send you the forms?”

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…………………..  Uh, yes please?

Since that call, I have been to the DMV…they can’t help.  I have received and filled out these forms

page 3

The forms, along with my sticker, are going in the mail today.  I can not purchase another sticker for my car (believe me I have tried) yet the only way I MIGHT get a refund is if I sent my sticker back and hope they have mercy on me?!?!?!?

So what do you think will happen next?  Will I be arrested or ticketed for not having a current sticker?  Will they refund me?  Will this game of cat and mouse ever end?

Just for shits and grins I googled why we have laws and this is what I found….

Laws protect our general safety, and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself. We have laws to help provide for our general safety.

So who protects you when your government is the ones screwing you?

Have you ever experienced similar red tape?  I would love to hear about it!

Terrifying AND Hysterical?

In November, I pulled a “disappearing act”.  One of my last posts was  Everything is ok, but. It was in regards to my Oldest daughter, Thing ONE.  At that time she was only 27 weeks pregnant. During the course of my daughter’s pregnancy, she developed Preeclampsia, and was put on bed rest.

On December 11, I made a brief post apologizing for my absence and explained (briefly) where I had been. BUT I wasn’t “back” yet.  On January 5th, my grandsons were moved to a new hospital and I made a brief update about that in 30 ambulances and over 100 patients.   Most of the month of January was spent in the NICU with the boys, and February I felt like I was living in my car, which is an improvement from living in the hospital believe it or not.  On March 3rd, I popped in again to post Not all who wander are lost.  I attempted to  say that MAYBE my universe was righting itself again, and that I would like to share some stories with you.

I would like to do that now if you will join me.

Beginning with when I “disappeared”.  (this is the terrifying part)

During the month of November, Thing 1 was sent to the hospital on several occasions because the doctors were having difficulty controlling her blood pressure. During her 30th week of pregnancy, she was admitted. I spent several nights at the hospital with her helplessly watching as the doctors tried to control her blood pressure only to watch it spike again within a few hours.  I heard words like STROKE LEVEL, the only cure is to deliver,…we need to wait til 32 weeks at least.

WHY?!?!?!?!?!  I asked, on more than one occasion.

What’s the difference between 31 and 32 weeks?

“It’s better for the babies” someone would say……..

but what about MY BABY?!?!?!?  I need HER to be ok!!!!

I’m going to pause here and tell a different story for a moment.

The story of Thing One’s birth.  ( a short version)  When I was in labor with THING ONE, I started hemorrhaging and remember yelling at the doctors that they needed to save my baby regardless of what that meant for me.  My parents were in the room with me, and my mom yelled, “NO SAVE MY BABY.”  They took me for an emergency c section and thankfully were able to save us both.  ok back to my original story….

OMG, now I have really become my mother!  How could I tell my daughter that at that moment nothing in the world mattered but saving HER life.  Of course I wanted her kids to be ok, but my first thought was that I needed HER to be ok.

After a few days of being at the local hospital, Thing 1 was  rushed via ambulance to RMH, a hospital with a level 3 NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), where the twins were born via Emergency C-section at 31 weeks.

Thankfully both her and the boys survived!

I have purposefully left out several details about the week Thing One was in the hospital before the boys were born because, while I have no issue writing about MY LIFE, I don’t feel that it is my right to share too much about others. Also, it was one of the most terrifying times of my life that I DO NOT want to relive.

Ok now for the hysterical, at least funny now that it’s over,  part

This is the story I will tell my Grandsons when they ask about their births.

OK, Please picture this….

Thing One is in surgery, her husband Z was with her.

Einstein is trying to hold me upright while I am freakishly pacing the floor (still in the damn boot).

My phone rings……  It’s Thing Two

As I answer the phone I think she might be crying, but I can’t tell for sure over the piercing alarm coming from the phone along with the sound of dogs barking uncontrollably.

Grace : Thing Two are you ok!?!?!?? Where are you? What’s going on?

Thing 2: ARGH &$#*%&@*($#%&W*($%&*$%

(barking and alarm continue)

Grace:  WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?!?  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!

Thing 2:  MOM I NEED THE DAMN ALARM CODE TO THING ONE’S HOUSE!!!

Grace: Um I don’t know it.  Why are you there?  Dammit make the dogs stop barking!

Thing 2:  I can’t! They don’t like the alarm! Mom I need the code!!!!!!! the police are going to come!!!!

Grace:  The police?!?! Are you ok?!?!?!?  What’s going on?!?!?!?

Thing 2:   Mom I need the code to shut off thing one’s alarm.  I didn’t realize they changed the code and I was picking up clothes for her and z, now the dogs are going crazy, I can’t shut off the alarm and the police are gonna come and I’m gonna get shot.

Grace:  What?  You got shot?

Thing 2:  (now definitely crying) Mom please just help me figure out the code!!!!

(At that exact moment, Z appeared in the hallway in front of us.)

Grace to Z:  I need your alarm code, thing 2 set off your alarm…… OMG wait a minute WHY ARE YOU here?!?!?

Z: Thing One and the boys are ok, they are taking her to recovery and I went with the boys to the NICU, the code is ****.

(Apparently we were standing right outside the recovery room door and I could see them wheeling Thing 1 in the room.)

To thing 2 ……I yelled….. “the code is ****, if the police come just tell them to call the hospital to verify or call me.  I gotta go!”  and to the nurses that had gathered around I yelled, screamed, cried…”please just let me see her for ONE second.”

THEY DID!!!!

cheese

I don’t know if it was from the drugs or seeing her children for the first time but this is what I saw when I walked in the room….

(This picture was taken at another time, but you get the point right?  Ear to ear smile without a care in the world….)

That’s all I needed.

The nurses told us it would be a few hours before we could visit, and Einstein directed me to the waiting room.

We sat there for a few moments trying to absorb all that had just happened when my phone rang again.

It was the police officers’ that had responded to the alarm.  They wanted to let me know that they had arrived at Thing 1’s. They believed the story that thing 2 told them ( no one could make this shit up), the code had been verified, and thing 2 would be coming up to the hospital once she calmed down.

Here is thing 2 recapping the events of the night

abby alarm story

While we waited to see our daughter, Einstein and I made our phone calls to our parents and Thing One’s Best Friend.   Z sent us a picture of each of the boys in the NICU, which I will share later this week.

Although the boys were born at 5:24 and 5:27 pm, and I got to see thing ones face and hug her for about a minute, we didn’t get to visit with her until almost midnight that night.  In fact, I think we only stayed long enough for another hug and a few congrats to the new parents.

Meeting the boys would have to wait til the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADL and Toe Mice

So Thursday’s post op visit with the surgeon didn’t quite go as expected.  That isn’t to say I am disappointed with the results, it’s just that he said something  I NEVER expected to hear….. EVER….

My friend Jeri picked me up and we, well she, drove to the doctor.  My appointment was at 2:45, we where shown to a room at 3:45.  (not bad as far as orthopedic visits go)  I climb onto the table and the nurse begins asking me what my pain levels are.  This is a trick question I am sure, because if I don’t walk on it and keep it elevated, my pain is pretty low on the scale.  After I have been walking around a bit, or letting my foot hang down too long it climbs quickly.  I told the truth…. kind of… I left out the part that I had been standing alot.

Do you want more pain pills?

I quickly answered, “NO!!!!!”, and pulled out the bottle of remaining pills that I had asking if she wanted them back.  I can not stress enough, that I really don’t like the way the make me feel ( mood swings, maniac, nauseated etc.)  and I NEED to be able to feel the pain to prevent me from overdoing things.  I agreed to take Tylenol over the counter as needed.  (in my opinion, advil is better at pain relief, but since I am a bleeder and it’s a blood thinner, I will stay away for now)

I took off the boot, the nurse removed the dressing, I took a quick picture, and then looked away.  The doctor, and a student came in shortly after.  As he pulled up a chair beside me to examine the stitches, he asked, “Did your father tell you what we found?”… I replied “um no, not really, he didn’t tell me that you FOUND anything, but what he did tell me was…… “So the doctor took off your big toe, reamed holes in your foot and then your toe, they put in a stud and then screwed your big toe back on”.”  The doctor looked at the medical student and then back at me.  He said, well “Yeah, that’s basically what we did”.

After seeing the horrified look on my face, he said, “No seriously though, let me tell you what we found.”  “When I made the incision, two toe mice immediately popped out.”

ANOTHER Horrified look

“Toe Mites?”, I asked.

“No Toe Mice” he responded. and then continued,  “It’s a medical term that we use to describe what we found.”

I really wish I had a picture of my face, because I can’t find the words to describe all of the things I was feeling at this point.

“Cmon doc, PLEASE tell me the truth, I am gullible as hell and completely disgusted that I have mice?!?!?!? My next step is to cry and I promise you don’t want that”.

He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “let me explain.”  “First of all young lady, I can not believe that you were able to walk at all with the amount of damage in your foot.  You had absolutely zero cartilage in your first metatarsal joint.”  He pounded his fists together to demonstrate the bones hitting each other as I walked.  He went on to explain that because I continued walking the bones starting splitting and breaking off into fragments (or mice).  This had been happening for so long that the bones had turned into smooth marbles and kept chipping away more bone.  The combination of those conditions, my unsteady gait, and whatever I was doing to compensate in my walking caused another break.

WOW that’s a lot of information.  Crazy as hell too, but a lot to absorb.

20180913_154439

As I tried to process what he was saying, he re-wrapped my foot in gauze and an ace wrap before sticking it back in the boot.  While he says the incision is healing nicely, I am stuck with the stitches for another week still, but I am released to begin ADL in moderation.

ADL- Activities of Daily Living

Should be simple enough right? But for me it wasn’t….please take a minute to watch this video to understand why, especially if you don’t know me very well.

So this is what Jeri and I were doing BEFORE we saw the doctor.  I get that I can’t use my right foot, so I thought we could just throw the ball and knock the beehive down.  I didn’t realize that to get any “air” with the ball I would have to push off with……you guessed it, My foot….holy mother of……………………………

I was ready to give up, but Jeri was having fun, so I played video  ographer…..

Anyway, I’m not sure that this is considered an activity of daily living, but since I do dumb shit like this all the time, I asked for further clarification.  More specifically….

I am allowed to….

1. stand/or walk for no more than 5 minutes at a time.  to be followed by a minimum of 1/2 hour break  AND ONLY WITH THE BOOT ON

2. Take the boot off except for when walking or sleeping

3. I can resume sexual activities, so long as my toes don’t curl during orgasm (yes this was discussed)

I am not allowed to

  • Curl my toes
  • get the stitches wet
  • put any weight on my foot without the boot
  • specifically throw a ball at a bee hive
  • mow my lawn
  • go grocery shopping without a scooter
  • drive 😦

I will call that progress……though not as much as I hoped