I haven’t blogged much lately, but I have been really busy getting stuff done around the house before I left and then spending time with my family. It’s more important than blogging.
So yesterday was a difficult day, the day of saying goodbyes. I left my house around 7:15 in the morning so only had about 30 min with the kiddos before I left. It’s hard to leave and very emotional. My oldest understands but my youngest does not. She is having a rougher time with me being gone. It’ll take a few days before my youngest grasps that I’m not going to be at home for a while and has to take food from someone else. According to my hubby she did pretty good yesterday and will take food from my mom, but isn’t a huge fan of taking it from him, so we’ll see how that goes. My oldest misses me but is happy hanging out with grandma and grandpa. Now my cat Ruger, who is my baby, is taking my being gone very hard, he is very depressed, as I suspected would happen. I saved him from dying several times when he was a kitten and we have a strong bond, so he’s not used to not being able to cuddle up to me and be held. He apparently slept on my pillow all night long last night. Hopefully he gets over it a bit. When I video chat with my family, guess that will have to include him too.
I left Idaho yesterday just before noon. I flew on Delta to Salt Lake City. The flight was not very crowded and I ended up getting a whole row to myself. The turbulence was pretty continuous the entire flight there. Also had a thick cloud cover and rain so no getting to see anything but clouds on the flight there, but it was only about an hour flight so nothing super exciting. In the airport before I left, while waiting in line, I started talking to a nice lady about our flight plans, I was discussing my HSCT procedure with her and she herself has a gluten intolerance, so we had a good time talking about diet, the screwed up medical system here in the US and how drug companies don’t want cures for anything, just more expensive meds. She got my blog address and is planning to follow it. I like spreading the message of HSCT for various autoimmune diseases, while it’s not a procedure for everyone it is an option that people should be aware of to be able to research and make their own decision about.
I had close to a 4 hour layover in SLC. That airport, while small, actually is pretty nice and it actually has water fountains with the dispensers to fill up water bottles! You can tell they are a greener state than most in the west. I went with the cheapest food option for lunch there which was McDonalds. I am not a fan, but I’m poor so it had to do, even though it’s completely against what I normally eat. While SLC is an international airport they really don’t fly many actual international flights out of there, on the departure boards for yesterday my trip to Amsterdam was the only real international flight and then one to Canada, which was to a city just across the US border. While waiting in line for our boarding zone to be called an older couple near me noticed the book I was holding in my hands for my plane reading and commented on it, it is a super thick book on the Korean War, not the most common thing for someone my age to read, lol. We joked about me not being able to finish it on the flight and I mentioned that I mainly brought it for my month in Russia and that got us talking about why I was going there, how the US medical system really fails people, etc. They had a friend who has very aggressive Crohn’s Disease that has run out of options and they were interested in more information on HSCT. Some places will perform it for that, so I gave them the info for the US clinical trails Dr. Burt is doing in Chicago to see if he is doing any work with that. They agreed that with chronic conditions it is best to see all options since medications don’t work for everyone and they certainly don’t halt disease progression.
Then I began my 10 hour flight to Amsterdam. The Delta plane I was on seemed to be fairly new and had good entertainment options and they fed us a lot, which really was surprising. We started out with the normal peanuts, pretzels and beverage, then about an hour later we got dinner. Dinner was a chicken and polenta option, being in the back of the plane that was the only food option left, I think the other option was vegetarian. The chicken wasn’t appealing but the rest of the prepackaged food wasn’t bad. It had a salad, roll, desert, crackers and cheese. Then we got a large bottle of water for the overnight portion of the flight when the lights were turned way down, but even then about every 30 minutes they came by with beverages. When sunrise occurred we got breakfast sandwiches and then about an hour before landing we got a breakfast snackbox with greek yogurt, pastry, cheese, crackers and orange juice. Followed by a couple more rounds of beverages. I have never seen so much food given on an international flight before from an US airline, it was amazing. But really the entertainment options were what shocked me. The TVs on the seatbacks had great pictures and you had the option of doing all sorts of stuff. They had around 200 movies you could chose from, from new releases to classics to musicals to Disney movies. Then they had a ton of seasons of TV shows you could choose to watch. There was a music option as well with numerous albums to pick from with a lot of the popular music from today, which really isn’t my taste. They also had a game menu with numerous games you could play. Plus the option to get all the up-to-date states of the flight, like the outside temp and altitude, at one point in time last night the outside temp was -87F, windows and wings were all frosty, I think that was when we were over Greenland. Arrived in Amsterdam around 11:00am local time.
Currently I’m hanging out in the Amsterdam airport on a close to an 11 hour layover. They used to recommend leaving the airport to do some sightseeing if you have a layover over 5 hours, but now it’s not considered safe to leave the airport unless you are in a group, sad, problems with the refugees coming into Europe mugging people and threatening people at the little train station things you take into town. So I’ve been enjoying Terminal D in this airport all day. What I’ve determined is that this is a very old and very dated airport. They have zero water fountains at all, you have to buy water, the cheapest you can find it is around 3.50 Euros a bottle, which is just crazy. And the bathrooms are so cramped and the lines to use them are huge. Literally each bathroom has 3 stalls and on each wing there is one bathroom, I guess Europe doesn’t have rules on a required number of bathroom stalls, US wins on bathrooms. The floors and walls are very dated and a lot of the floors have missing patches where they have another type of flooring duct taped to it to patch the problem areas. Guess there are no rules on that being a safety issue here either, I did expect European airports to be a bit more up to date, not gonna lie. And pretty much all the eating places here require you to pay with a credit or debit card and they have to be the cards with the fancy chips in them that you slide the end in the reader, which most US debit cards and credit cards have not updated to yet. So if you have a stop in Europe, keep that in mind. I got some Euros in the US before I left so I could buy food and some souvenirs and only 2 eating places in this terminal accept cash. My bank doesn’t charge for getting foreign currency if you have an account there, but I did have to have my mom pick it up for me, since the branches in my area don’t carry foreign currency, but the one in her area did. You can’t get rubles anywhere in the US or even here at the airport, but I’m planning to get those at the hotel in Moscow.
So as of now I have about 4 hours left until I board my flight to Moscow. I will post more blog posts after I get to Moscow and get settled. I land in Moscow at 1:30am and will spend the rest of the night in a motel and then I will check into the hospital around 1pm tomorrow or whenever the hotel checkout time is.
The journey begins, no turning back now!