After I gave my talk I was exhausted, but also exhilarated. So many people came up to me, wanting me to sign their copies of my book, or the program, or to give me their cards or things they had written, or just to talk. Eventually we made it back to the hotel room and were able to rest and relax. I felt so totally different from the way I'd felt on Thursday, when I was so miserable and scared and wondering how we were ever going to get home.
We talked about going out somewhere for dinner (the hotel van was available to take us to an area with lots of shops and restaurants), but I was nervous about using up any excess energy before what was sure to be a tiring travel day, so we ended up eating in the hotel restaurant again, as we had the night before. It was nice when my good friend Pat Risser pulled up a chair and we got to have a nice long visit.
On Friday evening after dinner we went to see some of the talent show, which is always a mixed bag, but included some pretty talented people, especially one guy from West Virginia with a gorgeous voice. Gayle Bluebird did her "Henrietta" persona, which she does every year; this year, her act was that she was talking on the phone with Mark Davis, who was too sick to be there, so he couldn't do his specialty, in which he appears in full beauty pageant regalia as "Miss Altered States of the Arts"! It was very funny and was nice to have Mark there, at least in spirit. (I love the way in which the GLBT contingent at Alternatives have named themselves the very in-your-face Fruit and Nut Bar).
The talent show was supposed to include an "ice cream social," so Marty decided not to have meat for dinner so he could eat ice cream later (since he observes kosher requirements); what a disappointment when we found just some little cups of sherbet and frozen fudge bars. But when we stuck our heads in after Saturday dinner at the Conference Halloween dance, it was a nice surprise to find a hotel waitress cutting up a big cake and we each had a big slice, and then called it a night. (Marty told me he had had a conversation with the hotel restaurant about making a small cake for my birthday--which was on Friday--and that it had ended up with them saying it wasn't possible.)
When Bryce, the guy from Philadelphia who set up our tickets asked about scheduling, I told him we definitely didn't want to take any early flights, so we weren't scheduled to leave until four, which turned out to be a very good thing (in addition, the clocks had gotten set back an hour to standard time, giving us an extra hour). We started packing, and then waited for one of the hospice nurses, Kathy, to come to take the port out of my arm that Amy had left in place. Everybody we had dealings with from the Omaha hospice was just so nice and friendly and helpful that we decided we would send a card of appreciation, and I have some nice note cards (yes, actual mail rather than e-mail!).
Then we went for the hotel's Sunday brunch, as we didn't want to end up in the same situation as on the trip out, when we ended up not eating all day, which may well have contributed to me getting so sick. Marty and I each got an omelet--mine was mushrooms, onions, ham, and cheese--but when I started eating I got hit with one of those extreme fatigue episodes and had to struggle to eat about half of it, along with some delicious fresh fruit, juice, and tea. Fortunately, I was mostly packed, and we had time when we got back to the room for me to sleep for over an hour. Marty said he had a hard time waking me up (when I was falling asleep I couldn't imagine how I was ever going to manage the trip), but sleep was restorative and I felt much better.
The trip itself went smoothly. We were worried about the portable concentrator, which has a much shorter battery life than promised, but between the extra battery pack and keeping the concentrator plugged in before we boarded each plane, the oxygen lasted. On the first leg, we were seated in Row 3, so I said I could walk onto the plane once I got out of the scooter at the end of the jetway, but on the Cincinnati-Boston leg we were further back so they used the aisle chair. Because they were small planes there was no jetway when we got off, both in Cincinnati and in Boston, so we had to use a rather scary lift, but in both cases my scooter was waiting for me right on the ground and so it was easy to get into the terminal.
One of the things that has changed since my flying days is that airlines charge for checked bags. United exempted anything labeled "medical equipment," and charged $10 per bag for the others; Delta's charge was $25 and they did not exempt medical equipment--very annoying!
We had a ride arranged, which also worked out perfectly, but by the time we were in the house it was about midnight and we were too tired to think about much else but getting to bed, and unpacking only what we absolutely needed, like our elephants and my nebulizer. I'm really surprised that I'm no more tired than normal, after all these stresses and expenditures of energy.
It's good to be home!