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[travel|cancer] My misadventures getting home yesterday to see the doctor today

There’s no real way to make a coherent blog post out of this, so you’ll have to settle for a bit of narrative.

Getting home from Omaha yesterday was an epic effort, but I made it. My luggage did not. My irreplaceable Mongolian camel fur hat apparently did not, though there’s some hope I absent mindedly packed it into my luggage (which I never do on purpose).

I had five different flight itineraries yesterday. That is to say, at different points in the process, I was booked on five different flights out of Omaha before I finally managed to leave. American cancelled my original route through DFW on Sunday, the day before I was to fly, due to extreme weather in DFW more or less crashing their operations. I was rescheduled to a Monday flight through ORD.

When I got to the airport in Omaha early, they rescheduled me again at the check-in desk to an earlier flight through ORD, to help me make my connection to PDX. That flight began posting later and later, until was both later than the flight that came after it which I had been previously scheduled on, and late enough to make me miss my connection at ORD. It was also clear the later flight was going to be postponed.

I went to the American Airlines counter agent and said, “Look, I’m a terminal cancer patient. I have two oncology appointments tomorrow. I have to get home tonight. Can you reschedule me through Denver on another airline, since both Dallas and Chicago are such a mess?”

They’re not really supposed to do that when they still have available seats in their own system, but he poked around and was very helpful, placing me on a set of Frontier Airlines flights that went OMA-DEN, then DEN-PDX. Since I’d already checked in, he called down to the American baggage room and had my bag transferred to Frontier.

The earlier Frontier flight was full, so I wasn’t leaving til that evening. Then Lisa Costello texted me that the evening flight had posted a two-hour delay, which would again make me miss my PDX connection, stranding me in DEN. I went up to the Frontier gate agent and told him the same thing I’d told the American agent. He put me on stand-by, then got me on the plane in their ‘stretch seating’, which is what Frontier has instead of First Class. I’m pretty sure they’re not really supposed to do that, either, especially since I wasn’t even a Frontier customer in the first place.

I finally got on a plane leaving Omaha, my fifth scheduled flight out. I have no idea what happened to my bag at that point. My connection in Denver going to Portland was almost two hours late, but I got out of Denver and home last night. Frontier has no idea where my bag is, because I do not have a Frontier Airlines bag check tag, due to the interairline transfer back in Omaha, and they can’t trace it through the American Airlines bag check tag. We’re hoping it came in overnight from Omaha via Denver, but given the other delays, it may still be languishing in Omaha or in Denver. As me getting home was the critical issue, I am not grumpy about this. I would like to see my bag again sooner or later.

At any rate, on a day when well over a 1,000 flights were cancelled, thanks to the flexibility of two gate agents, one for American Airlines and one for Frontier Airlines, I got home. My first oncology appointment is at 8 am this morning, my second is this afternoon. I will make them.

So my thanks to both airlines.

Now I’m off this morning for some bloodwork preparatory to tomorrow’s monthly consultation with my medical oncologist. This afternoon I have a screening and intake appointment for one of the clinical trials I am trying to engage with. Overnight has brought the Portland area radically unseasonal snow and ice, which will make getting around today a lot more exciting than it should be.

But I’m here, and I can make it in to my appointments. Thank you American, and thank you Frontier.

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[personal|travel] Leaving Omaha for the last time

More weird, restless sleep, with weird, restless dreams. Something about the weather, or the heater in my hotel room, or my unsettled spirit, has kept me awake nights. This time it was vehicular arson as part of some large coverup, except I was very bad at cleaning up evidence of my misdeeds. The car in question in my dream was my first car, an orange 1976 Datsun 710 station wagon I drove in college. Not hard to interpret what that means, really. All in keeping with the melancholy of my visit here.

A friend who has been out of town all this past week is meeting me for breakfast, then taking me to the airport. American Airlines yesterday cancelled my flight this morning. Getting rebooked involved spending over an hour on hold with the Aadvantage Platinum desk (apparently hold times for the main desk were running closer to twenty-four hours). I am dubious of my new connection through Chicago O’Hare, mostly because of ORD’s chronic problems with delivering timely wheelchair transfers. Basically, in my experience they are incapable of doing so at that airport.

None of that matters so long as I get home tonight. Today is Lisa Costello‘s birthday, the last one I will likely ever be alive for, and I’d like to see here thereupon, and I have two oncology appointments tomorrow. So, yeah, this terminal cancer patient really needs to get home today.

Even so, my weather karma has brought not only deeply subfreezing temperatures and inches of snow to Omaha, it appears to be doing the same to Portland today. Unseasonable here in Nebraska, almost unheard of their in our part of Oregon.

And I’ll have the long trip home to think about how I feel about having been here one last time.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

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[personal|dreams] Die Traumdeutung

It’s 13 degrees outside, with a windchill below zero, and snowing merrily. Supposed to accumulate two to four inches today here in Omaha. Luckily I am flying tomorrow, which is supposed to be clear and calm, though still colder than Dorgau’s hindmost paps.

Low-key day today after yesterday’s roaming about the wilds of southwestern Iowa. I think we’re catching a movie this afternoon, and an early dinner. Another friend may pop by the hotel to visit a little while this evening, weather and schedule permitting.

Last night I had, as usual, complex dreams. The part where my house was flooding to the window sashes in clear, warm water wasn’t hard to understand. My bladder has a sharp voice in my nighttime wanderings. The part where Zachary Quinto leapt out of a wrecked VW bus to attack me with a badminton racquet was a little harder to interpret, but I went with it. After fighting Mr. Quinto off, of course.

That last part is odd. While I often dream about real people, either directly or in the form of a dream avatar, I quite rarely dream about people I do not actually know personally.

I’ve spent time with the folks from my prior Day Jobbe. That was good but also sobering. I went on disability there just shortly after my tenth anniversary of service. That makes the Day Jobbe my longest-tenured employment in 26 years of working professionally across three related industries, by a fairly substantial margin. A big part of my life. It was work I enjoyed, with people I (mostly) liked, in a field where, while I wasn’t exactly working for the betterment of mankind, neither was I helping make anyone’s life worse. It was also work which enabled me to have a writing career through a good work-life balance and a decent paycheck. And, later it on, it was work of a sort that allowed me to segue into the deeper phases of my illness without an abrupt economic disruption, both through disability-friendly management and workplace policies, as well as a very good benefits package that turned out to make a critical difference in my life in at least three different ways.

So a lot to reflect on here in Omaha. Plus, well, Zachary Quinto. And snow.

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[photos|travel] My trip to Omaha (at least so far)

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I flew there, of course

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Hanging with the pooches

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A friendly meighborhood duck

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Yesterday we set out in the car of [info]garyomaha

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As always in life, we drove down uncertain roads

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Until we came to my joint in Shenandoah, Iowa

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A slightly more sobering neighbor

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Me and my namesake (or vice versa)

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The store was full of cool old things, like those sliding ladders, and the manager was very kind about us wandering around gawping and photographing

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[info]elusivem and [info]garyomaha enjoyed old fashioned fountain treats (I had an iced tea)

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Themselves

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We then looked at interesting old buildings in Shenandoah, which reminded me of my grandparents’ town in north Texas when I was a small boy in the late 1960s

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Including a dry-docked caboose

As usual, more at the Flickr set.

Photos © 2012, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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[cancer] Being in the world

Being here in Omaha, being in the world at all, keeps stirring my thoughts of mortality. My dreams these days are almost always about incompleteness, failure and error. Comically so sometimes, some nights a tragedy in six REM cycles. I feel like I am digging my own grave, slowly.

I am so very glad to be here, and so very sad to be here. Which in truth is how I feel about almost everything these days. Fortunately for me, it’s my nature to enjoy myself most of the time. Even when the grim dusk of my own death casts shadows across all my words and deeds.

We all die. Most of us spend most of our lives assiduously ignoring that most basic fact of human existence. I keep trying to convince myself that my own enforced awareness of my ending is a gift.

On occasion I succeed.

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[personal] Another day in Omaha

Yesterday was quite fine, but I overslept badly last night, in more than one sense of that phrase. I was asleep, or at least nominally unconscious, for nine hours. My sleep was very fitful, and plagued with odd dreams, mostly about unsuccessful attempts at travel insofar as I can recall.

Once again I woke up later than I hoped, and have wound up feeling rushed this morning. I have a tentative 10 am appointment at my hold workplace, and a firm 10:45 am leading to a group lunch. I’m planning to spend the afternoon with [info]garyomaha, then he and I will join some more friends for dinner.

How can I feel so busy when logically I am taking things easy? One of life’s sweet mysteries. Meanwhile, efforts proceed apace on securing clinical trials, and various other life issues such as car repair, fixing my broken recliner, and dealing with the problems I’ve been yammering about of late. As for the personal generosity that has been shown to me this week, thank you so very much. You know who you are…

Off to the cold soon. It is currently zero degrees F outside here.

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[personal] In Omaha, various reflections, an open dinner of sorts

I’m in Omaha, where it is currently 10 degrees outside. Because reasons.

Due to travel (which went fairly well, minus a few bobbles) I did not get to sleep until a little after midnight last night. Even allowing for the two-hour time difference between Pacific and Central, this is staggeringly late for me. It is probably no coincidence that I slept solidly for nine and a half hours.

The downside of that is due to a lunch date with a friend, my morning has been very rushed and out of sorts, where I’d expected to move slow and fly low today. Hence also the late blogging.

The Omaha Beach Party meets tonight at 6 pm at Zio’s on Dodge. If you’re within striking distance of Omaha and would like to see me, feel free to drop by. It will be a bunch of writers and friends eating pizza and yakking for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, being here is bringing a bunch of my mortality thoughts hurtling back to the surface. I’ve spent the years from 1999 to 2013 working jobs either based in Omaha or with a strong connection to Omaha. I’ve visited this city at least a hundred times, literally so — that’s not hyperbole, that’s 8-14 trips a year across most of those 14 years. Omaha represents one of this big parts of my life that has already sloughed away in the face of cancer’s mortal decline.

Still, weather and ruminations notwithstanding, I am happy to be here. I will see my old work friends, and spend the weekend with some of my dearest friends in the world. That is a goodness.

Back to Portland on Monday, and a medical appointment on Tuesday regarding one of my possible avenues for a clinical trial. No rest for the weary. (Well, except that long night’s sleep.)

See some, all or none of you tonight.

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[travel] Off to Omaha today

I’m off to Omaha today, after some morning lawyering here in town connected to my will and estate plan. Just a few days’ visit to see some old friends for the last time. Back Monday evening.

Note, per my previous post I am not flying United Airlines.

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[personal] Moving right along

Still feeling pretty loopy from this low grade bug. Very much in a state of anticipation this week, and not in the fun way. I’m currently scheduled to fly to Omaha Wednesday for one last round of visiting with my many friends and colleagues there. I’m pretty sure this trip will happen, at least at the front end. Waiting to hear back from various clinical trial sources about my next moves there (NIH and elsewhere). Any of those phone calls and emails could trigger an intake visit at their convenience. Plus I have to sign my updated will and estate planning documents this Wednesday, right before I head for the airport.

Various friends want to come visit. I’ve been reluctantly putting everyone off for the sake of sorting out some of this healthcare stuff. It’s leaving me slightly testy, but I don’t see much point in firming plans which are more likely to fall over than not. At the same, in putting people off I’m putting off things I want to do while I’m in relative good health.

So, yeah. Grumble grumble. I’m alive today, I should be grateful. But sometimes I feel like I inhabit the bottom of a deep well of logistics, and it’s all shifting shadows and angles of the light down here.

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[photos] My Omaha birthday party

Some photos from my Omaha birthday party on 6/6, the actual date of my birthday. A mix of my writer friends and my work friends there. Everyone involved swears that the clowns were a completely random element.

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[info]garyomaha

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[info]elusivem

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