Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Travelling by Train - in reverse

Do not look directly into the sun. I’m a little slow to catch on to these sorts of things. I’m not sure if it’s a character defect or if it’s just because I don’t believe everything I hear. At least until I look directly into the sun, and then I remember, “Oh yeah, I’m not supposed to look directly into the sun, am I?”

But it’s so bright and pretty at 5:30 in the morning when I’m sitting on the train and I have a full window view of the rising sun.

I haven’t slept. Traveling by train is better than traveling by air, but on planes I fall asleep. On trains, not so much, not even when I get on said train at 9 pm and travel through the night. The first night I couldn’t get comfortable, and kept moving around. The second night, 48 hours later, I’m perfectly comfortable in my spacious two seat space, but I still don’t sleep. Instead I sit up, or lay down, or sprawl in some sort of way across my two seats, listening to a book and playing mindless computer games. I always play mindless computer games when I’m otherwise occupied. I have trouble doing just one thing at a time.

The sun is bright today. Did I mention that? I’ve been watching it before it appeared, when the sky just started to lighten, and then turned purplish on the horizon, and then the purple and pink spread to the undersides of the clouds, and the world was lit by a color combination I rarely see, for I am not a morning person and rarely see a sunrise. Usually by the time I get up the sun is well established in the sky and the only way I can look directly at it is to look directly up, and why would I do that?

I like bright sparkly things though, and the sun seems to fall into that category.

Now we seem to be turning away from it, which gives me a whole new color palette to admire. We’d stopped in some small town, and now we’re on our way again. I can tell we are because the scenery’s moving, and I’m pretty sure it’s us and not the scenery itself. Wouldn’t that be cool though, if the scenery came around to us instead of us having to go to it? The logistics of such a thing are beyond me though.

We’re crossing a river, a broad stream of placid water, so that must have been Pasco we just stopped in, which isn’t all that small. Not that I would know, never having spent any appreciable amount of time there, though I occasionally drive through it.

This is about where it started to get dark going in the other direction, and now it’s the part where it’s light out. How weird. Now I can see everything I see the first time, but in reverse, and I’m on the right side of the train to be on the river side, a fact I made note of as soon as I got on the train in Whitefish. This was important to me, so things are working out in my favor. Not only that, but I got a bulkhead seat, or whatever they’re called on trains, so I have extra room to stretch out my damaged leg.

The sun’s in my eyes again. Annoying, but I don’t move to change the situation, so I must not mind. How many chances will I have to look directly into the sun at this place? Might as well do it while I can.

The train theory didn’t work exactly like planned. The train theory was that if I traveled by train, instead of by car, I would be safer. Each trip to Montana has an exciting event attached to it, whether it’s running over wildlife or blowing tires halfway through the trip. Everyone sighed with relief when I said I was going by train this time.

I had a very scenic first part of the trip. Then a dark part of the trip, which wasn’t as scenic because I couldn’t really see anything in the dark, but it was still better than driving. And the train even got in early, which never happens when I drive – I always show up later than planned because I always have an incident on the way.

And after I got off the train, and for all that day, I noticed a pain in my knee, or right below it, to be exact. I’m not unaccustomed to knee pain, having bad knee genes (honest, it’s been verified by a laboratory) and a history of falling down the stairs onto my knees. Okay, it was just that one time, but my knees have never been quite right since. But this pain was different.
I worked somewhat diligently that first day, despite the knee pain. No big – I have knee pain often, and it works best to just ignore it for the most part and go about my business. I emptied my Mom’s closet, putting all her clothes into big garbage bags to donate. I emptied her dressers, both of them, and wondered where my stepdad kept his clothes, because all I found were hers. I kept a few items, just because.

I found more boxes of correspondence and pictures, and these slowed me down, for I had to take a closer look. I save all the correspondence, and the pictures are saved in a big box for other family members to take a look at.

I worked in her office, cleaning out the closet, and filled another bag with purses and shoes. The purses were spotlessly clean, which made me think my mother either never used them or she’d developed some pretty fabulous cleaning skills once she grew up, which was right after I did.

I told my stepdad to just relax – this was all overwhelming to him, and I was there to do it.
At the end of the day we went out to eat, then watched some TV before bed.

I slept badly, despite having slept little the night before. So when I work up the next morning I felt bad, and I went back to sleep. I’m sure by the time I actually got up and made myself presentable stepdad was starting to wonder if I’d died too.

But a funny thing happened after I started moving around. I found that I couldn’t. Move around, that is. The pain in the knee was worse, and after sitting at the table having some cereal and answering some email I got up, and it was then that I screamed.

Fortunately stepdad had gone outside to get a start on mowing the grounds, which are extensive, so he couldn’t hear me.

You know the kind of sudden pain that comes upon you so suddenly you find yourself screaming out loud and then cussing, and then tears spring to your eyes?

That kind of pain.

I’m starting to think Montana just doesn’t want me. Conspiracy theories are starting to form. Couldn’t they just send a nice letter asking me to stay away?

I called charming husband, because I didn’t know what to do.

Then I called and made a doctor’s appointment for Wednesday, when I was scheduled to be back in town.

Then I called the consulting nurse for any suggestions. She was very nice, and asked a lot of questions, and then asked some more, some of which I’d already answered. Then she asked me some more, checking off my answers very carefully.

Then she told me I might die, and she wanted me to be seen today.

I said, "But I'm in Montana," and she said, "We can find someone for you to go to there."

"But it's just my KNEE," I responded, "Do you really think it might kill me?"

"It might be a blood clot," she said, "Especially with your history."

Huh? What history? It’s not like I’ve ever had one before. 

Look, I've been through this before. "You might have a blood clot," they tell me, "and you could just drop dead." I never HAVE a blood clot, though I appreciate their enthusiasm for my impending death. Just a bit too much enthusiasm, if you ask me though.

Never tell a hypochondriac she might have a blood clot. She’s likely to panic, especially when you (meaning consulting nurse) then tell said hypochondriac how easy it is for people with blood clots to have them move and kill one, and she’d seen it happen before, and she just wasn’t comfortable telling me to wait because I might DIE.

I’m opposed to dying. It would interfere with my to-do list.

So when stepdad came back in a few minutes later I told him I needed to go to see a doctor. He whipped into action, and drove me to the urgent care clinic.

I did not have a blood clot. I only have tendinitis in my patella.

I used to think patella was a type of pasta, but apparently this is not the case.

For the rest of the day stepdad was very attentive. He gave me an icepack, and then when that started to defrost he filled a ziplock with ice cubes and insisted I put it on my knee. He made me lunch, and insisted I not move. When he dropped off to sleep while we were watching Law and Order I snuck into Mom’s office and attempted to put things to rights, since I’d left a mess the day before, having meant to get back to it and finish.

When he discovered I was in there he told me to stop working and to get off my leg.

Since I was useless I decided I might as well take the train back a day early, because I wasn’t going to be all better by the next day. Stepdad is a really wonderful guy, like the father I never had (don’t tell my Dad I said that) and he would have happily waited on me for another day, but I didn’t think that was fair to him – I came there to help HIM, not to have him wait on me.

So at the end of the day I took him out to dinner (well, he drove), and then we went to the train station. He wouldn’t even let me carry my own bags to the train, and wouldn’t give them to me until I got on the train, since I had to go up two steps.

All of which leads me to watching the sun rise while on the train. 

1 comment:

  1. "I did not have a blood clot. I only have tendinitis in my patella. I used to think patella was a type of pasta, but apparently this is not the case."
    This cracks me up as a few days ago I found out I have tendinitis in my "snuff basket." My what??? Apparently your snuff basket is that little indentation between your thumb and wrist that shows itself when you flex your thumb out. The name comes from when men used to put snuff there before putting it in their mouth. There's your lesson for the day...