The day finally came (actually very early morning) when we had to leave to go back home. It turns out this was a very very sad time.
To leave this wonderful clinic, their staff, the new sisters and the sisterhood that I’m now part of – was a difficult thing – I have tears as I write this just thinking back to that day. We had everything packed the day before, except for what we needed to sleep and for my dilation. The fresh clothes we were going to wear were put out neatly. We got up at about 2am (ouch), I got up, emptied the catheter bag, did a long dilation, showered and emptied the bag again, then got dressed as Lisa got up and showered. I then cleaned the rest of my dilation kit and packed it away. Once we were ready we did a quick inspection of the room to make sure we didn’t miss anything (we did, we left a nice ice pack in the freezer part of the little room refrigerator). Then we called for bell service to carry our luggage down to the lobby.
Once at the lobby, we didn’t wait long before the driver showed up with the clinic’s van. It was so sad driving away from the hotel for the last time, driving down the main road of Chonburi, leaving … He stopped at a place to buy water for us just on the outskirts of the town. Right after that the road turned into a major highway and off we went. It takes about an hour to get to the airport. This was a very very long trip in my condition. The seat cushion only helps a little. I would put both arms down straight to lift myself up off the cushion every time I saw a bump coming. I missed a lot of them …. Once there, he got us to the check-in gate. However, we were about 45 mins early and had to sit and wait before it opened. Once they opened and because Lisa got us in business class, we were able to check in pretty fast. They got us wheel chairs and whisked us through security.
Unfortunately, I packed a large bottle of benedine that the clinic gave us in my travel bag instead of check-in. Security did not like that and confiscated it … grrrr. After I got home, I posted this to the sister-hood and no one else had any problems like this. I must have gotten the early morning security guard …. In fact, I had posted this question before I left and was told there was no problem, especially with the note that Dr. Suporn gave us for the airports. Oh well …
Then they pushed our wheelchairs to the business lounge – we were on JAL and oh my, what a beautiful lounge. And there was a bar (that didn’t matter, I was not going to drink before a long trip) and a smorgasbord of breakfast food set out. Lisa would get me settled (it was still painful) and then get something to eat. Eventually I had to get up to use the restroom (meaning undo the catheter pinch then empty the bag), so after that I got some food myself. It seemed like a long wait before the ‘wheelchair guys’ came back to get us and bring us to the plane.
A week ago, on our only outing in Chonburi, Lisa and I went to the huge mall they have there in an attempt to purchase some souvenirs for ourselves and friends back home. This didn’t work out because the entire mall was stocked with ‘western’ goods that the people there wanted! So we had planned to shop at the airport. Unfortunately the JAL lounge was far from the shops – way to far for to Lisa to walk and forget it if you think I was going to walk anywhere at all. So the only souvenirs we had were the couple of things we bought from the hotel (purse, jewelry boxes etc.) and a dress, shawls and earrings from the mall.
There was one tiny ittsie bittsie little problem ….. seems a certain mega-typhoon was in a race with us to get to Tokyo! Typhoon Vong Phong, dubbed the ‘most powerful storm on earth’. From the headlines of the day “The most powerful storm on earth this year is heading for Japan” (http://mashable.com/2014/10/07/super-typhoon-vongfong-japan/). It was a race, one I didn’t care to win. So leaving Bangkok we were racing this pretty bad typhoon that had Tokyo as a target. Turned out we lost, the typhoon won by about 4 hours. By the time we got there we had blue skies. We landed with just a little turbulence. Out the window to the north we could see it receding in the distance. Leaving Tokyo however, was delayed as all the planes that were grounded by this storm were now queuing to take off. We had about an hour delay.
The plane ride home was long and hard especially because I could only sit on my seat cushion and that is not very comfortable. Fortunately Lisa had booked us on business class for the trip back. The trip was about 25 hours long which included two 6 hour layovers. On the longest seqment we were JAL’s ‘dreamliner’ airplane. The business class seat had everything, including a ‘bed’ mode. That was great because it was the only position that was comfortable at all for me. The windows had electronic darkening – 6 levels of darkening so you could adjust to just what you wanted and still see out. It had colored led ceiling lighting that changed depending on what was happening: boarding, meal time, sleep, etc. What a plane!! Really glad Lisa splurged on the flight home …..
Around 21 hours after leaving Bangkok, we came in for a landing at Honolulu. The first words spoken to us as we got off the plane here: “Aloha, e’ komo mai” (hello and welcome) …. mmmmmmm, yesssssss, home! Oh how wonderful it was to have someone speak to us in English and understood right away what we said and not having to repeat or mimic – wheeeeee. Little things that say “you are home now”.
At last HOME !!!!! Wowowowowozie. Left Chonburi today at 4 am in the morning, arrived home at noon today (still Monday). That’s a total of 25 hours driving, flying, waiting forever in airports on layovers, etc. It’s weird – we left Narita at 8 pm Monday and arrived 11 am Monday …..9 hours BEFORE we left. Ah, the wonders of the international date line. So, am I 9 hours younger now? Personally I think the stress of this long trip more than made up for that.
My bottom is sooooo sore ….. And it feels so good to be back on Maui. OMG just seeing the beaches and mountains as we flew in …. Of course it helps when all the other people on the plane are tourists and were also very excited. Now I just have to figure out what is night and what is day. Before I went to bed I had to do the ‘infamous’ first dilation at home. Infamous because due to the long flight and stress, this would be a difficult one – it lived up to the hype …
Well, my turn has come to say aloha to Chonburi, to Dr Suporn, to the marvelous staff and especially all the beautiful sisters I have had the pleasure to meet. What an experience this was. What a glorious sisterhood we belong to. I think Shakina coined the phrase ‘supornista’ – yesssss! And we are all Suporn butterflies – this one is starting to feel the wind beneath her wings.
There is a sadness here – both Lisa and I started feeling it as we drove out of Chonburi – we are missing everyone so much. I have tears in my eyes just writing this. Lisa and I want to wish everyone else still at Chunburi their own safe journeys. And to everyone we have met, aloha nui loa (very much aloha/love) – may all of our life journeys lead to joy and happiness!
With much aloha,
La papillon Dame Sifan sent le vent sous leurs ailes