I don't know which is harder...having radiation or traveling to Boston on Mondays and then having radiation. After a long weekend, and just starting to feel a bit less worn out, it's time to hit the road again. This time I'm not driving, I'm training. Jon drives me to the Amtrak station in New Rochelle so that I don't have to hassle with the Long Island Rail Road that I would need to take to get to the Amtrak train...it seems simpler to just board at New Rochelle; it's about 45 minutes from our house in Port Washington. We hit a predictable amount of traffic, but get there well in time for me to use the ticket kiosk (never used this before for Amtrak...in fact haven't taken Amtrak in 30 years), and meet the train. It's seems a bit ridiculous, but I'm sort of nervous. I'm used to driving (I've been making the NY/Boston trip that way for many years), I feel like I'm traveling with the flu. I'm headachey, nauseous, tired,...and this makes me feel vulnerable...so I'm nervous. The train comes, I say good-bye to Jon, and feel like I'm going off to war.
I'm boarding with two bags. One bag contains my laptop, and it's cables, my Ipod and it's cable, my phone, it's charger, my digital camera, and my video camera, and it's cables, some speakers, a couple DVD's, and I'm guessing it weighs about 25 pounds. The other bag is clothes and some sheets, and maybe that weighs about 5 pounds....and believe it or not, I'm traveling light, much of what I need I leave behind in Boston.
I make my way onto the train from the last car; I'm using my Long Island Rail Road experience here, and figure that the last car would be the least crowded. Not true. No seats in this car, and this may be a special car...a car you'd have to pay more for, it's a "Quiet Car"...no cell phones, and the seats seem plush. I walk to the next car. No seats., the next car, no seats. Even though I haven't taken the train for thirty years, (since I was in college), not much seems to have changed with regard to availability...nor the cattle car atmosphere in the "non-special" seat area. I end up walking the entire length of the train with my 30 lbs worth of bags, until I come to a seat in the first car. This also seems to be a "special car",...there are plush seats. The car before this one, had plenty of non-plush seats, but it also had plenty of hot air...no air-conditioning. I thought for a moment about sweating it out here, but after trudging through 7 cars with 30 lbs of bags, this decision was easy. No way!
I collapsed into my seat in the last car, feeling sick and tired, when not too shortly after, the ticket taker came to claim my ticket. Immediately he saw me as a ticket offender. "I'm sorry Ma'am, but this is reserved seating, and you can't sit here...there's plenty of seats in the next car back". I ask, 'Is that the car with plenty of seats, and no air conditioning? Because other than that, I couldn't find any seats, and I've walked the entire length of the train". He rolled his eyes, like I was just the biggest pain in the ass, punched my ticket, and moved on...and here I stayed until it was time for me to get off and meet my friend Barry at the New London station...I stayed in the plush seat section, for the non-plush seat price...but I really had to work for it. I think I prefer to drive.
My friend Barry lives in Florida, but had a wedding in New London. He offered to pick me up at the train station and drive me to Boston (about two hours away), which was great. The train stopped in New London and he was there. I will say this about the train, the route is beautiful, lots of water, and great scenery.
Once we got to Boston I was hugely exhausted, we ate lunch, he escorted me to my Proton session later in the day, we shopped for food for me for the week. We talked, it was great to see him, he left, and I went to sleep. So tiring. What is more tiring than radiation? Traveling and radiation in the same day.
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This is the Barry who met Heidi at the New London tain station. It was a good day and a lousy day. Good to spend time with a dear friend, lousy due to the circumstances. Heidi has maintained her sense of humor and her indomitable spirit throughout this ordeal but I could see she was drained. We drove to Boston and talked on a range of subjects. When we got to the loft, there was no parking on the street but a friendly Boston cop let us stay there while we got her bags upstairs. The stairs were narrow and steep and it was a schlep so Heidi was set to lay back and get some rest while I, after parking, found the local Starbucks. We went to the hospital and I was allowed to go back to see the cyclotron and the doctors explained how the treatment works. I also saw Heidi fit into her mask, which holds her head still during treatment. Very Hannibal Lecter.
Afterwards we shared some sushi and talked some more until it was time for me to go.
What I really want to write about is not the events but Heidi. She is brave and she is inspiring. I don't know if I could go through something like this with the kind of calm and the grace she exhibits. Being in the hospital and seeing this gigantic, 3 story tall rotating unit which looks like it's right out of 2001 A Space Oddessy shook me up. It made me realize how amazing modern science can be and it made me want to take Heidi in my arms and hold her and not let go for a long time.
If you are her friend, know that she feeds off your support and love. Call her, write her, read her blog and let her know that you really care. It will make a huge difference in her recovery.
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