Saturday, July 4, 2009

Having fun...if only the equipment would cooperate!

We actually got out of the house, as planned, just about one o'clock. Ann was very helpful with the packing and organizing and getting the car loaded. We were using the new concentrator, which consists of a unit about the size of a purse that can be worn over the shoulder, and which runs on car current, house current, or batteries, and, for extended life, a separate battery pack which can be worn around the waist. Together, the guy from the oxygen company had told us they should last about ten hours on battery.

Traffic was pretty bad leaving the city but eased up, and we decided to stop for lunch while still on the road. There weren't great choices--we settled on an Uno, which used to be mainly pizza but now has a more general menu, and I had a pretty good Cobb salad, plus a mini-dessert (a really excellent idea, just a couple of bites of brownie and ice cream). We got back on the road and had a little trouble finding the motel, which is set back from the road without much signage. When we went to register, we got a shock when the desk clerk said that Priceline had cancelled our reservation, but she was very nice and played around on the computer, and was able to get it reinstated. I have no idea what the problem was--I've used Priceline so often, and never had a problem.

The "suite" turned out to be all one big room, but divided into areas, with a full kitchen, dining/work table, a couch, and a comfortable bed. We had asked for an accessible room in the hope that the bathroom would have one of those nice walk-in showers, but the accessibility is just that the bathroom is oversized and has a sink that a wheelchair can pull up to. We had decided not to take the scooter into the hotel at all, saving Marty the work of unloading and reloading it, but we still had lots of stuff to bring in; Marty was able to get the hotel's wheeled cart, so he could do it all in one trip, but it was still a lot of work for him.

My knees had started hurting a little in the restaurant, so I'd taken some morphine, but I was feeling pretty good. We both rested, and worked on Thursday's crossword puzzle that we had started earlier. I thought Marty was going to fall asleep but instead I did! When I woke up, Marty suggested that he go out to a nearby supermarket and bring back some food that we could heat up or microwave, rather than going out, so we had a late dinner (veggie lasagne for me, and fish for him), along with some wine.

Marty set up things for the night, with the oxygen line from the portable concentrator going into the bi-pap, and just as I was falling asleep it started to beep. I think he was able to get it to stop beeping once, but then it started again and we called the oxygen company. The guy called back pretty quickly and suggested something (I was half asleep and Marty was dealing with it), but just as we were getting to sleep it started beeping again, and the final upshot was that the guy concluded the portable was incompatible with the bi-pap, which was not what we wanted to hear! We decided I should sleep just with the oxygen, eliminating the bi-pap for the night; we also decided that once we got home we'd take the matter up with the oxygen company, as this was definitely not satisfactory! To add to Marty's exasperation, I was able to go back to sleep quickly each time, while he was awake from tension and ended up getting only a few hours of sleep in total.

When I woke up it was after eight-thirty and Marty had already taken a shower. He was eager to get to breakfast (served in the hotel lobby and included in the room rate), so I got dressed and we got all my breathing paraphernalia together. Breakfast turned out to be surprisingly good--they had a waffle machine and batter--the waffle was really good, and I ate it with some cut up fruit rather than the fake syrup which is basically just sugar.

It took only about fifteen minutes to drive into downtown New Bedford. Marty wasn't sure how we'd make out with parking but he found a spot on the street only a few short blocks from the festival site. He put the scooter together and, using bungee cords, was able to attach both parts of the oxygen equipment to the back of the scooter, and we were off. We quickly found the entrance to the main stage, where the acts that Marty wanted to see were playing, and bought wristbands that are good for all stages, both days, for only $15. I put mine on the scooter basket and Marty attached his to his camera case (not wanted to risk losing them taking showers and such). I asked if there were wheelchair seating but the woman who sold us the wristbands said Marty should just sit in an aisle seat and I could sit next to him.

Marty has been to this festival a number of times, and was familiar with many of the performers. I wasn't, but I enjoyed everything we heard, although I was hearing it in a somewhat hallucinatory way, because of the morphine and the fact that I kept drifting into a semi-sleep state. All was going well until the portable unit started to beep, much sooner than expected, and Marty had to switch the power over to the portable power pack. We listened to some more music, and did a little looking in the craft areas (although it was difficult because a lot of the streets were cobblestone and the scooter had a tough time), but all too soon the power pack started beeping. Marty said he'd go back to the car to get the power cord, and we could go into the administration building and find an electric outlet to recharge. Of course, this was all a real pain and not at all what we'd been led to expect in terms of battery life.

Once we found a place to recharge the power pack, and I had gone to the bathroom after getting a sudden, extreme urge (negotiating some rather scary ramps, but making it in time since the women standing in line let me go straight to the accessible booth), Marty decided we should go back to the car and sit there while the portable charged off the car battery. He asked one of the workers if it was all right to leave the battery pack charging where it was, and they told him it was fine, so we went to the car, plugged in the portable and turned on the air conditioning, and did the Sunday puzzle from a few weeks ago that we'd never got to. In all that time, the portable charged to only 50% of capacity, but we figured that plus the battery pack would give us sufficient time, plus I was urgently needing to use the bathroom again. I was a little scared that I wasn't going to make it in time, but fortunately I did (there was no line this time).

We then had a late lunch in the food court area adjacent to the main stage, so Marty got to hear one of the performers he had been waiting for. I noticed that there was an entrance to the main stage directly from the food court, with a worker checking for wristbands (previously, we'd had to go around in a big circle), and it was at that moment that Marty realized that he didn't have his camera bag (to which he'd attached his wristband). We were both reasonably certain that he'd left it in the car, but it was still a bit nerve wracking, both from the fear that it was lost (it did turn up in the car), and because we weren't sure we could get back in, although we were pretty sure we could talk our way through it. But then Marty noticed that the worker was chatting and not looking at any one's wristband, so we just strolled right in and listened to some more music.

There's more to write, but we're both tired and ready to go to sleep, so I probably won't finish this until we get home tomorrow night.

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