RSS Feed Print
I'm insane, no question about it
Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 8:03 PM
Joined: 4/7/2019
Posts: 394

Once the shock of her diagnosis wore off, my sister told me she'd like to go to Italy/Sicily, where our family is from. She's never traveled out of the country, and she hasn't flown since 2001 when she got stranded far from home because of 9/11. That she was willing to put that trauma behind her to go to Europe told me how much going on a trip meant to her. So my partner and I decided we'd do our best to make it happen.

We planned this trip for over seven months, saving our money, cashing in miles, dealing with logistics, etc.. My therapist was skeptical, but said "if you're going to do it, do it as a cruise". The rationale was that going to the same room every night would give my sister a chance to create a mini-routine.

The trip, if it happened, was always going to be a race against time, I knew that. She's definitely mid-stage, and has been for awhile. Thankfully, she doesn't yet suffer from incontinence, and doesn't yet wander.  I made plans well beforehand to do private security (TSA Cares, or something like that), got wheelchairs at SFO, Heathrow, and the Rome airport, and got adjoining rooms at the hotel. Anything to make the travel less scary.

I won't lie, it was a challenge, and things could have gone wrong in many different dimensions, but they didn't. All of my airport prep paid off, and all of my partner's hotel/excursion prep paid off as well. No mishaps at all. We were lucky, although we made some of our own luck - like enlisting help from the cruise staff and from flight attendants.

Our biggest challenges were 1. finding out where the restrooms were well in advance for all excursions, 2. going up and down the vast number of stairs (lots of literal hand-holding for those, her perception is wonky now), 3. managing crowds - Pompeii and the Vatican are like Disneyland in terms of lines and crowds, and 4. keeping track of her stuff, like her camera, and the cruise ID.

We managed, and we even managed to have a good time. My sister was so happy to have been able to go. It's all she's talked about for the last week since we got home.

That said, the 75% care giving, 25% vacation left me bone weary, and I'm sure underneath the color, my hair is a little grayer. I'm finally back up to full-strength now.

My next weekend project will be to make a scrapbook with the photos and memorabilia I collected from the trip. I'm hoping she'll be able to hang onto those memories for awhile.

So yeah, I think I'm nuts for doing what we did, but it made her so happy....  I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, or if there even is one, but I'm giving all of us gold stars.
Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 12:54 AM
Joined: 9/8/2017
Posts: 2339

Yeah...a bit nutty, but brave. I’m glad you did it for her but that must have been exhausting. I couldn’t even handle a few days at the Grand Canyon with my dad in 2015. When I left the place I drove like a maniac and almost caused an accident when I swerved to not hit a wild animal-or whatever it was- that ran across the road. After we almost flew off the road, my dad and I agreed I should have just either ran it over or better yet, not drive like a maniac. I was just fed up and wanted to go home. I did not enjoy that trip. It was all about caregiving and making sure he wouldn’t get lost, while the rest of the family enjoyed with no worries. The only thing I enjoyed about that trip is when the ravens stole our food and had a blast of a feeding party. We didn’t know until we returned to our camp and found missing food, crumbs, trash everywhere, and laughing ravens watching us from the trees. It was awesome. My sister was pissed. I thought it was funny.
Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019 5:08 PM
Joined: 6/12/2016
Posts: 2402

Dear Gothic, I think it’s INCREDIBLY WONDERFUL that you made the trip! So much love!