I try to sleep, but I am not very successful. I sleep maybe from midnight to 2 AM. About 2:55 there is a code blue called. I check, it's not for me, at this point I wouldn't be surprised. It does result in every staff member scrambling. Even at this hour the unit is staffed with about 12 to 15 people divided into 4 teams with about a dozen patients assigned to each team.
Precisely at 3:00 a nurse comes to wake me. My last vitals are checked, I'm given my last drugs. I remove the last electrode patches from my body. Some are easy, some are stuck to last forever. She even finds me a tooth brush, mine is deeply buried in the suitcase. Freshened up, and in more or less clean clothes I am ready.
About 3:15 the call comes. The cab is here. I thank the staff and express the hope that the next time we meet it is in Florida or on a cruise ship. One person takes me in the wheelchair, another of the nurses hauls my two suitcases as far as the elevator.
The front door is a little problem. Not for getting out, but that no one can get back in from the outside. Fortunately there is another staff member nearby to hold it.
It is chilly, there has been a good frost tonight. The streets are nearly deserted. The cab driver is very interested in talking about our current President, like most Canadians he is very nervous, almost scared.
Twice on the way to the airport we have to stop for deer in the road. The driver says he often has a run to the airport in the early morning, and deer are quite common. I pay the cab fare by credit card, but give the driver a cash tip including several $2 bills. Having never seen them before, he is intrigued. Being brand new, and in sequential order makes them even more special to him. He helps me with my bags right into the airport terminal. No cops here telling him to move on.
There are only a handful of passengers at the airport. There is a kiosk for check in which I manage to navigate through. One employee didn't show up this morning, so one person is split between scanning checked luggage before it is loaded and processing passengers so they can board.
Mine is the second flight, so I just find a seat and wait my turn. Every passenger is assessed a $25 fee for airport improvements. A task which has begun but is progressing very slowly.
They label it as two gates, but really there is only one door. No ramps, just walk across the tarmac, and climb the stairs into your plane.
My turn. A small 2 engine prop plane that carries about 40 passengers, there are 2 empty seats. The single flight attendant is having a hard time getting passenger co-operation. Maybe its just too early to understand that you have to take the ear buds out of your ears and your bag needs to go under the seat.
Due to the heavy frost, we have to be de-iced before departure. We leave about 30 minutes late.
The flight to Montreal is smooth, I can't see out the window, but it is dark most of the way anyway. We land late, and I have limited time to make my connection. I have asked for wheelchair assistance. The guy starts on the way, I have my small suitcase in my lap. My large suitcase has been checked thru to Orlando. His pace is double what mine would be.
After about 5 minutes, he commandeers an electric cart. This moves about 5 times faster, beeper honking constantly. We make good time. He calls his supervisor several times to let him know of our progress. Where I need to go must be as far as possible to go from where I landed. We change vehicles again, he doesn't work that section of the airport. A stop at Canadian customs and security, yes every buzzer goes off as usual. Finally I am passed and we head to US immigration for a similar process. Global entry doesn't help me here. Eventually I am on my way. The gate is so far away, the gal isn't even sure how far it is. I see gate 73, about 100 yards ahead. The terminal waiting area is empty, as she rolls me down the ramp I hear an announcement that all passengers are aboard and the door is closed. I hope not, I'm not on the plane yet!
I board to find my seat occupied, expecting a no show, someone else changed seats. I don't care, the plane's door is closed and we begin to move before my baggage is in the overhead bin. Probably I have been the topic of speculation as to why the plane isn't leaving, it obviously was being held for me.
The plane is an Airbus 310. Luxurious compared to the last plane. There are two empty seats in business class and a few isolated seats scattered around the main cabin. A delicious fruit plate for breakfast with real linens,china and flatware. No free drinks for me, a glass of club soda will be fine. The flight is smooth, and I actually sleep for a few hours.
We make good time to Orlando, arriving a couple minutes early despite our late departure. Again with wheelchair assistance I arrive at baggage claim a few minutes before the luggage. My bag is the first one off, I call my waiting driver, Adrienne, and am headed to my house. With little sleep the last four days, I let her drive.
I tell her a little more about the details as we drive home. It is difficult, my ears have failed to equalize to the change in air pressure. If its not one thing it's another.