As a group, we will also be blogging at:
Please feel free to join us there as well.
We got up for breakfast.
I signed and notarized divorce papers.
We went to the beach.
We returned to the hotel.
Nothing earth shattering. Nothing exciting. And yet. . . this is the start. We are here, 300 miles into a journey of unknown length. I am both excited and frightened, elated and overwhelmed.
The van is loaded to the utmost and we have no idea how much of it we’ll need. There are 5 teenagers in my car, any one of which is having an identity crisis at any moment. There are egos to massage, mine included. And on the night of June 23, I have no idea where we’ll be sleeping. A hotel ? A campground? The van?
Everything is packed wrong. The things we need daily ended up on top of the van. Things we haven’t touched yet are inside. The temptation to throw things out and travel lighter is overwhelming.
But the kids are excited. They’re ready for their adventure to start. Any minute now. When I’m done running the errands I didn’t finish last week.
I’ll be setting up a new blog for all of us to post to. Each passenger will have their own page to post anything they want. Highlights, lowlights, frustrations, discoveries. Please join us on our journey.
Today’s the day. Today we finish clearing our stuff from the house we’ve been staying in, we finish loading the car, and we leave.
After a 3 month delay and a new twist of going to Italy in September, our US road trip has been cut from 4-5 months to 9-10 weeks. And it seems like that will be the perfect amount of time to see the friends and family we’re hoping to connect with.
We have very little schedule and very little plan. We’ll start the trip by heading to San Francisco area tonight. I wisely booked hotel rooms so that we’re not trying to set up tents after dark. The Clarion hotel by the SF airport has good rates, decent beds, and a free hot breakfast every morning. We’ve stayed there on previous SF trips and have not been disappointed.
From there, we only know that we’re aiming for Eugene OR on the 26th or 27th of June and Denver/Colorado Springs July 1st. After Colorado, we need to be in Flint MI by July 23 for a summer camp. And back in the San Diego area by Sept 5.
So really, we’re just winging it. And everyone is excited to be off on an adventure.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some last minute packing to do.
On the way home from Vegas, we realized we needed an extra night in the SD area for Orthodontist appointments the next day. So, we started searching the internet for a motel.
We’re not terribly picky and we don’t need a ton of luxury. After spending money in Vegas, we did need a cheap place where no one had to sleep on the floor. And we thought we had found it in America’s Best Value Inn.
The room had 2 double beds and a fold out couch. Perfect. It was only $65 per night. Perfect. Logged in, booked it with the card, drove to it.
When we got there, they informed us that they charge $10 for every guest after 2. Which made our $65 room the same price as the room we stayed in far more comfortably in Vegas. A cheap room verses a decent room for the same price? Yeah. I’m just fine staying in the Springhill Suites wherever Marriott has a property.
After an eternity of sorting, packing, tossing, donating and yard selling, it seems that this move will just continue to drag on.
I can look at the house and see serious progress, but at T-7 days and counting, I’m not convinced the end is actually in sight.
Today, I’m finishing the upstairs if it kills me. And it very well might.
Since I’ve been so vocal about my methotrexate treatment on Facebook and twitter, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis and the medicines used to treat it. So, I want to answer a few of those.
I was diagnosed with RA in Oct 2002. My family, having listened to me complain about my joints for years but never seeing any diagnosis, assumed I was making it up for attention. Rather, I’m one of 30% of patients that have what’s called seronegative (meaning not a lot of markers in the blood) RA. So, it’s reasonable that it was missed for a number of years, until the damage started showing up on X-ray.
It seems like this sort of response for family is a fairly typical one, especially with autoimmune (your body attacks itself) illness where often the person’s outward demeanor doesn’t reflect the pain and fatigue they feel on a daily basis. And my reaction to it was to simply stop talking about it, to act like everything is normal.
In 2005, I did a long (9 months or so) course of methotrexate and Enbrel which greatly improved my joints and daily function. I then moved on to a study medication that made me feel totally normal again, other than the day of injection. And when the study ended, I found that my inflammation (in pretty much every joint in my body, but most painfully my left hip, both ankles, right shoulder, hands, wrists, and feet) was really well controlled with ibuprofen and occasional doses of prednisone for 4+ years.
But, as stresses mounted in life with work, kids, marriage, travel, it became obvious that I was going to need to go back on medicine again. So, here we are.
Insurance now dictates that we start with the methotrexate. Mtx is a chemotherapy drug, used to treat cancer in doses of 50-100 mg per week. For RA, it is used in smaller doses, 10-25 mg per week. When taken with folic acid, a majority of patients don’t have any real side effects from it. One day of lethargy or mild stomach upset seem to be the most frequent. And when injected rather then taken in pill form, those seem to largely abate. I’m not so lucky. Although not completely out of commission, I spend several days each week unable to do much of anything and I’m unable to eat very much.
I’m willing to give it a 6 week trial to see if my body adjusts to it. It’s been the case for many other patients. And I’ll almost certainly be adding a biologic (new RA drugs that fight the body at it’s own game rather than shutting the immune system down like the mtx does) to the regimen as well so that I can stop having the joints of a 100 year old.
On the plus side, mtx is a brutal but very effective weight loss program. What? There has to be a silver lining. . .
It’s crazy to now look at everything in our house knowing that if we keep it, it requires that we store it. Suddenly, things we have held onto are unimportant and even useless. They hold little or no sentimental value. We see them and think, “Why didn’t we get rid of that sooner?” It is somewhat painful and tedious, but also freeing to see entire rooms emptied out, closets made manageable, boxes that have been through several moves untouched, now opened, unpacked, and most of their contents given or thrown away.
It’s a winnowing, a separation, things with actual value being retained and everything else blown off like the chaff. And with everything that goes, so goes a little weight, a small burden, a microscopic thread is lifted, shifted, untied.
And we turn the page to a clean slate.
In talking with friends in our local Wal*Mart last night, we decided the trip needed a name.
It seems inevitable that I’m going to see every Wal*Mart along our way. I’m not exactly known for my planning skills or anything. And if they’re super Wal*Marts with groceries and everything? Oh, rock on! I’m SOOOOO there!
So, I think I’ll just look up all of the nationwide locations of Wal*Mart and actually schedule the stops in, and pretend it’s all a part of the plan. Because I’m cool like that. What? I fit right in there.
Think I can get them to sponsor us?
Spent a lot of last night thinking.
Thinking about the chaos I still have to tame with the house and the packing.
Thinking about stuff for work that I need to get organized and under control.
But mostly, thinking about the trip. THE TRIP. It deserves all caps.
I’m going to load 5 kids into my van and drive around the US. While trying to work full time. With a chronic painful illness. I’m wondering why no one has institutionalized me yet.
My kids will probably have to learn to change flat tires. They’re certainly going to figure out how to set up and tear down camp in a hurry. I’m guessing they’ll get good at lighting camp fires and cooking eggs and maybe even scrubbing dishes. Maybe. I’m sure I have no idea what they’ll learn as we wander the US. They’ll probably figure out really fast that Mom should not drink diet Mtn Dew unless everyone wants to stop every hour for pee breaks.
The two oldest will learn to drive. Not long highway stretches, but certainly around the smaller towns.
And then my thinking turned to logistics. What do we need?
If it were you, aside from personal items and toiletries, what things would you want to have a long on a journey such as this?
If it’s OK with everyone, I’m just going to hyperventilate a bit here. Nothing major, just 10 days of needing childcare and not having a a home for my kids to receive care in.
Got a call from the Realtor today. Our move out date is Feb 22. This is fine, except from March 5-15, I’m in San Francisco for business meetings and a convention.
Yes, I could take the kids with me, but I really don’t think I’m going to manage the shuffle of kids, bosses and clients. It’s an already busy stressful week every year, and adding on the children just makes me want to sit in a corner and rock my head against a wall.
Time to start some serious brainstorming.