Friday, January 09, 2009

Road Worriers, Part 1

Finally, I've almost written through all that happened over the past couple of weeks. I'm breaking it up for your time, and my sanity.

And if you don't like it very much, well, I think this might be more for my own therapeutic benefit than anyone else's.
Part 1

December 22

On Monday night, we were in the midst of doing some initial packing for heading to Allentown and Boston for Christmas and New Years. We were planning on spending a couple of days with my sister, Jill, and my brother-in-law's family in Allentown before heading to Boston for Nationals. We were also thinking of stopping in New York, either on the way up or the way back, to go to the Times Square Toys R Us as we had promised him we would do for a while (since September, when Sammie decided to throw up in the store and we had to cut it short). Perhaps we would even try to do the ball drop while there, and then have a slow trip back so as not to keep the kids ridiculously confined for more time than we deemed safe to all of our psyches.

However, I got a call from my nephew, Ian, around 11:30 PM which drastically changed things. Apparently, my sister had become very ill and was taken to the hospital in Mt. Kisco, NY. So, instead of planning on going to Allentown, we started planning on driving further north so that we could get to the hospital. While we didn't know quite how things were coming, we figured it had to be pretty bad.

December 23: Atlanta, GA > Roanoke, VA

I went in to work, but really didn't focus on too many work-related items. I checked in with a couple of people in the office, and finished up some loose ends, but left slightly early so we could get on the road. Since I wasn't sure of the condition of roads north (aside from probably being really bad), I tried to get out of the office ASAP. We got on the road around 4 PM after bundling up the truck and the kids and securing the house.

We had been planning on staying in Johnson City, TN (home of ETSU, where we have been before) but we decided that we needed to drive as far as we physically could that night. We had booked a free night in Johnson City, but after some bouncing around were able to switch it to a destination further north, which turned out to be Roanoke, VA. As we were both pretty exhausted, we pulled off to try to get some sleep before heading through the rest of the mountains the next day, as there were reports of ice, sleet, and severe winter weather on Christmas Eve when we would move into Pennsylvania and New York.

December 24: Roanoke, VA > Brewster, NY

We left Roanoke around 10:00, and made good time up I-81 through the rest of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. When we hit Pennsylvania, though, we really got slowed down by the combination of crappy weather and drivers who don't know what to do in crappy weather. Throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we were forced to go about half as fast as we had hoped.

Given the severe weather floating through northern PA and central NY, we made the decision to get off I-81 and, instead of heading through Scranton and Port Jervis on I-84, to go instead through the Lincoln Tunnel and New York City. So, instead of dealing with winter conditions, we dealt with long backups that took us an hour and a half to get from Secaucus into Manhattan.

We made it to Mt. Kisco around 8:00, and went in to see my sister. She did not appear to be in very good shape, as her platelet levels were alarmingly low - 2,000 instead of the normal 100,000. Despite transfusions, the platelet level was not going up as hoped, which precluded fighting any of the cancer cells which were popping up in other areas of the body with any sort of other treatment. Despite the low platelet counts, she had possibly had some small strokes – which precluded heavier amounts of transfusions to bring up the platelets, because they did not want to induce any more strokes. When we got there, they were trying to make her as comfortable as possible for the time being - pain medications, IV's, and many other tubes and measurements.

She seemed a bit better than we had been told in the previous couple of days, but was still in pretty serious shape. The kids stayed in the waiting room with a family friend while I, and then Kim, went in to see her. Alex did make a picture for her, which brought a smile to her face – my sister is a very gifted artist and illustrator, so I guess Alex got a little bit of those talents within family. Lord knows I was never a very good artist.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my brother-in-law's parents' house. It was up some very big hills in Brewster, which is a little more than an hour north of NYC. The truck survived getting up the hills - barely. I think it was more tired than we were after going almost 1,000 miles through mountains, rain, sleet, ice, and the Lincoln Tunnel.

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