Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wheelchair Magic, and more Angels

May 2006

Two days before the end of our May 2006 trip, and late in the evening (after 8pm), Rick’s back went WAY out. Isabel was a *huge* help. She called a taxi for me, told the driver which pharmacy to take me to, asked him to wait and then bring me back. Then she wrote down medications for me to get. When I got back with them, she took care of injecting them in Rick. Here you can get a syringe, and inject-able anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants – over the counter! For $8!

Time to leave...

4:30 a.m. - We're up! We are almost packed when the taxi arrives, so we get everything zipped up and downstairs, then Rick stands and walks for the first time in 2 days. He gets in the taxi, but is in some pain. We make it to the airport, get a wheelchair, and get our exit fees paid. Then we find out that a wheelchair cuts through a *ton* of lines!!! We zip right to the ticket counter, and start checking bags and getting checked in. But then Rick's back starts hammering away. The ticket counter person starts saying things like “Can he fly? I don't think he can fly. There's no turning around after we take off...” I abandon the ticket counter, and we take Rick to a place he can lie down. I don't know what to do, but fortunately, *someone* does. The airlines call the Red Cross (Cruz Roja), and the paramedics show up. They have a doctor who speaks English, and a medic who speaks a few words – both are concerned, professional, and kind. They give Rick a shot (I show them the medications that Rick got last night, and there is no problem). Then one of them walks with me back to the ticket counter, and the person there changes our tickets – on the spot, no charge, because she can see that there is a medical reason. We change to a Saturday flight (if we have to change it again, we need a Dr. note tho). I go back to where Rick is recovering, and the paramedics make sure he is ok. Then they help us call the hotel, make sure it is ok for us to return and stay extra, then they get a taxi for us, help me get the bags, and walk us to the taxi! I suddenly think “I don't know how this works! Do they bill us? Do we pay with a credit card?” So I ask, and they say that it is free! That is what Cruz Roja is for!! Well, I lose it again. It is all I can do to stammer out a Muchas Gracias (I think I embarrassed the poor medic).

We get back to the hotel, and Isabel and Norman have already set up a downstairs room for us, and talked to the couple that was going to move from the overflow apartment. They are all just too cool about the whole thing. And this is all before 10:00 a.m.!

I go out for more back drugs to last us till Saturday, then collapse for the rest of the day – food gets delivered.

Two days later...

Up early again – we leave for the airport, and get the magic wheelchair again. Rick is feeling a *lot* better this time, but still needs the chair. I'm not saying it is worth it, but that thing it like a “jump to the head of the line pass” at Disney land! We cut straight to the ticket counter, cut around the security gate line, and were waiting at the terminal within 15 minutes of arriving! Then the gate changed ;(.

By then they had taken the chair away, so I got help at the desk. They sent another chair, we changed gates, then boarded early (skipped another line). When we got to the Miami airport, we waited till everyone else got off, then they brought a wheelchair, Rick got in, they walked us around the immigration lines, we got our bags, then walked around the customs lines, around the security gate lines, and out to our gate. The woman who was our pusher :) was from Costa Rica, so we had some great conversations.

We got back to Oakland, I went and got the rental car, and we're home!

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