The Trip to Santa Barbara
November 12, 2018
The day started bright and early Monday morning with Glen and I getting up by 7:00am, which is early for me! Breakfast was supposed to be there by 7am but true to form by 7:30am it was still not there. I called the kitchen and reminded them. I’m pretty sure they forgot because we both just got a couple of scrambled eggs and some cups of fruit (blueberries and grapes respectively). We figured it should be enough because we would get lunch on the Amtrak train ride to Santa Barbara.
We were supposed to go by 8:30am. By 9:00am we had said goodbye to quite a few wonderful people. Dr. Torres who had been so kind to us; Jonathon the nurse who hated his name and wanted us to call him anything but Jonathon – so Glen called him “Ollie” and I called him “Sweetie” (but just once – it made him smile). We said goodbye to quiet Phillippe, another nurse, whom I’m guessing wasn’t as quiet in his native Spanish language! And we said goodbye to Maria our cleaning lady who knew absolutely no English at all. She was older (how old – unsure) but seemingly very sweet. Glen wrote her an appreciation note in his English to Spanish app and had her read it. She definitely appreciated it based on the smile on her face. As I took their pictures I said the basic Canadian, “Say cheese!” which they obliged me by saying “cheese”.
“What do you guys say?” I asked.
“Whiskey,” smiled Phillippe.
I laughed at that! “What?! Not tequila?”
“No. Whiskey. And Maria won’t say it because she was at a party last night,” he added.
Maria at a party made me laugh too. She didn’t seem the type to party that hard so I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not.
We also said goodbye to Mike and Sue, our next-door neighbors who are super sweet.
I walked downstairs and Glen was pushed in a wheelchair as per hospital mandate. He was pretty tired but still doing better than a week ago when we checked in. Dr. Torres was in the lobby with Andrea, our driver, and Victor the Issels liaison. I made a quick dash to the bathroom in case the border line-up took four hours. Four hours with a small bladder is nothing short of torture in my mind! I ran into Goudala and gave her a quick goodbye hug. Hugs were then given all around as these people had seriously impacted our lives! They played no small role in God’s plan of bringing Glen back to health and healing so that he can complete his tasks on earth prepared for him by God. We are so thankful for people like them who defy the “rules” and actually bring health to people in so much need!
The border line-up was long but with the medical pass we made it through in record time. We were also travelling with another couple whom we met in the hospital just that day! We were somewhat disappointed that we didn’t have a bit of a meet and greet with other Issels patients. We were hoping to have more of a community setting and were only able to meet people by chance in the hallways. It was a pleasure to drive together with Ken and Ada, a couple in their seventies who were also travelling by train to Santa Barbara. By 10:00am we were dropped off at the Amtrak station and awaiting the 12:05pm train to Santa Barbara from the station called Santa Fe in San Diego. It felt like we were playing the game “Ticket to Ride” as that’s really all I knew of Santa Fe. We waited outside after purchasing me some boiled eggs – it was all that was there that I could eat. Glen got a sandwich. A sandwich isn’t exactly on the cancer diet but at least it wouldn’t kill him immediately like allergies do for me.
We boarded the train on a bright sunny day. It was glorious and I sat there like a child leaning into Glen who had the window seat so that I could see everything out there! It was a brand new land for me having only been in California once before. We were following the ocean and watching people surfing on this beautiful Remembrance Day for Canadians and Veterans Day for the Americans whose beautiful land we were going through. We were scheduled to arrive in Santa Barbara by 5:40pm. We were hoping to eat on the train but sadly there was absolutely nothing we could eat that wasn’t extremely bad for us or would kill me with the allergies I have. The train got delayed in Los Angeles because of technical difficulties. It took them an hour and a half to try to fix it and then finally get permission from the company to disconnect the data recorder. We arrived really cold and really hungry in Santa Barbara by 7:20pm.
Looking at Glen with no small amount of concern because he was so cold and weak we followed the crowd to the front of the station. Our phones had ceased to work so we couldn’t contact an Uber. Ken and Ada were in the same boat as us. Glen was freezing and the neuropathy in his hands and feet were horrendous. Finally I saw a taxi. Waving and shouting to get the taxi’s attention, he noticed me, stopped and loaded us up. Feeling really bad because I thought all four of us could fit in there we soon realized with our entire luggage it was just two at a time.
“I’m so sorry!” I yelled back to Ken and Ada who realized before me that it wasn’t going to work.
“It’s ok. I’m sure there will be another one,” Ken waved with a smile.
Armando, our driver, assured us that another taxi was on its way.
First stop was the grocery store because we were headed to a suite with no food and I knew I was very close to being useless with my blood sugar dipping dangerously low. Lyme Disease had probably caused Hypoglycemia for me many years ago. Generally my blood sugar was much better but we were headed into not eating (except some chips) for around eight hours so I was definitely at my maximum amount of time without literally fainting.
“I can do this,” I reassured myself with an extra prayer thrown in for strength as I hurried through the grocery store grabbing eggs, zucchini and tomatoes for tonight and the morning. I rushed back to the waiting taxi and we were off to our new home, the “Casita” on the “Mission”. It was quite dark by now, as the sun had gone down around 4:45pm already. We found our way in through the gate after calling the owners who were out giving comfort to friends who had lost their home in the fires. So many people have lost their homes it’s heartbreaking.
Settling in to our new tiny home, we fell into a restless sleep…