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Traveling to Houston!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The PHA puts on a conference/convention for patients, caregivers and medical personal whose lives are touched by pulmonary hypertension. This conference is held every two years. I attended the conference in 2006 with the help of my beloved youngest son, Chris. That conference was held in Minneapolis and Rod and I were planning on driving the 5+ hours to attend. But, Rod's Dad, who was living with us at the time, had to be placed in a nursing home. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for almost a year and lived with us while he went through treatment. Bud (my very beloved father-in-law) had a stroke and we had to place him in a nursing care facility because we could no longer take care of him. That was a very, very tough time. Anyway, Rod felt that he couldn't leave his Dad to go to Minneapolis and I agreed. So, I decided (against my better judgment and Rod's wishes) that I would just drive myself to the conference. Chris (who was living in Chicago) decided that my idea wasn't a very bright one so, he flew home from Chicago so he could drive me to the conference in Minneapolis! What a fabulous young man! Anyway, that conference was wonderful, but incredibly overwhelming. I had been diagnosed for two years and had just started using oxygen. My emotions were running everywhere, being depressed, happy, inspired and, of course, scared. But, by the end of the meeting I was so very happy that I had attended.

So, when the word came out that it was time to sign up for the 2008 PHA conference, I couldn't sign up fast enough! Rod also signed up to attend the medical section of the conference, we got a room in the conference hotel and we were ready to go! My sister, Kathleen, had even decided to go since she was going to be given an award for her work on our very successful PH fundraisers! It was turning into quite the "family affair!"

The opportunity to go to Washington DC for our anniversary came up after we signed up the for PH Conference. We were scheduled to be in DC on June 17-19 and the conference in Houston was the 19-22 of June. So, we became the traveling couple and flew to DC on the 17th, then flew from DC to Houston on the 19th! And then, of course, we flew back to Omaha on the 22nd. At this point you might be asking yourself "What did they do with Asa and Haver?" Well, the answer to that is we suckered our good friend Tammy into taking care of the pups as well as the horses and the fish and the mail and the newspaper! Yes, we owe her our lives! And, if we were still in the "baby-making" years, we would probably have to name our next child after her!

Traveling, especially by air has become a ridiculous pain in the neck for everyone! When you add a central line, a pump and oxygen the pain moves significantly southward, becoming more of a feeling of having numerous bricks thrown at your head. Usually, people (as in airline employees) are kind and understanding and I usually get through without too many problems. Unfortunately, these kind and understanding employees must not work with Continental Airlines out of Washington, D.C.! I was actually told, while sitting on the plane, waiting for it to take off, that I had to take the batteries out of my oxygen concentrator and not use it for the duration of the flight! I told the flight attendant that if I had to fly without the oxygen, I'd die (now realize, that's a bit of an exaggeration but I was NOT a happy flyier!)! Do you know what she said to me??? She said, "Well, then I guess you better get off the plane!" Holy crap!! Rod shows them THEIR paperwork that has been signed by my physician that says the type of oxygen concentrator I have is allowed on their flights! It was ridiculous! Of course, while this is going on, one of the flight attendants gets on the intercom and tells the entire, very full, plane that we are being delayed because of a "customer service" problem. Well, it was very obvious which "customer" they were having "problems" with since there was some serious LOUD CONVERSATION taking place at my seat! You know, (I'm whining now) it's hard enough having to be ill and travel with all of the necessary equipment, but to be incredibly embarrassed and having to argue with a flight attendant about whether I can use my "life-saving" equipment or not is just absolute and complete crap!! Finally, the airline realizes that they are wrong and the flight leaves. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I was to land in Houston. I was still in a foul mood and was trying very hard to shake "the attitude." As we were riding in the cab to the hotel, I saw a large sign that said, "Welcome to the 2008 Pulmonary Hypertension Association Conference!" My mood began to lift. When we got to the hotel, we walked into the lobby and I saw people walking around with oxygen, pumps, PHA shirts and smiles on their faces. I felt like I had come HOME. I couldn't wait to get checked-in, unpacked so I could start meeting some old and new phriends. I couldn't help but think about the contrast of the airplane and the hotel....why do people have to be so rude....

Oh well. More later. Thanks for reading!

Annette

3 comments to Traveling to Houston!:

Di said...

Annette,
NO ONE should be treated the way you were treated, ever!! I am so sorry and want to write a letter and complain on your behalf. It just makes me so sad that your trip was difficult due to some very uneducated people. Good thing I was not on that plane....I am just mad reading about it!
Welcome HOME! hugs, di

Donna said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the terrible treatment you received. Thumbs down to Continental! I know you were thrilled to be with your PHriends and am so glad you were able to go. It's so uplifting to be with survivor friends. Hope you take it easy and rest up this week.
Love, Donna

The Admiral said...

It's just as well that you didn't announce that the reason for the delay was incompetence of the crew...

You DID save all your receipts from this so that we can get Continental's operating certificate pulled, didn't you?