Our flight's booked. Our rental car secured. Our pet-sitters lined up. The only item yet remaining before next month's vacation to Florida with my mother is my mental preparation: for Mom's inevitable Vacation Medical Catastrophe.
Glo's general health is not the issue. The woman seldom gets a headache or a cold, and I'd venture to guess she'll someday be the one visiting my sorry ass in the nursing home. She is, as my German maternal grandfather used to say, "Strong like an ox."
Until she decides to fly the friendly skies.
The Gods of Mishaps and Maladies apparently keep close tabs on Glo's travel calendar. Her friends and family have all caught on to this by now. Still, she persists in scheduling vacations and continues to convince some naive sucker among us into tagging along.
First, we witnessed the Grand Canyon Fiasco of 2004. A pleasurable enough summer vacation, what with our visiting one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and all. And Glo was her usual amicable and entertaining self. Except for her nonstop complaints about the oppressive heat and all the walking. And her 15-minute intervals of coughing spasms. And her 15-minute-spaced runs to the ladies room. The Grand Canyon may be beautiful, but I could expound much further about the views from Arizona's restroom lobbies.
No great surprise, Glo's coughing, breathlessness and weakened control of bodily functions, considering her doctor's diagnosis after we returned home. I'd guess any vacation might be marred by a freaking case of pneumonia.
Oh, but that one trip was a fluke, surely, we thought. A minor blip in the whole scheme of Glorious vacation possibilities.
We're a sadistically optimistic bunch.
Flash ahead a couple years. My mom, my two sisters and I planned a long weekend to New York City to celebrate Glo's 70th birthday. We made it as far as the Detroit Metro airport before the trip's little hiccup. Those moving sidewalks in the terminal do indeed hasten your trip to your departure gate. Unless, of course, you're facing backward while riding, engaged in mindless conversation and paying no attention whatsoever to the sidewalk's end.
Glo mastered a perfect back-flip before crashing to the floor.
Daughters (crying in unison): "Mom! Mom! Are you alright?"
Daughters: "Oh my God! Help, help!" We waved wildly for medical assistance, an unnecessary gesture since a lawsuit-leery crew was already enroute, their cart's emergency lights flashing and siren blaring.
Glo: "No, no, just let me lie here." (You've heard those Jewish mother jokes, concluding with "No, I'll just lie here, alone, in the dark." Yeah. Glo would be the German-Catholic version.) She finally agreed to wheelchair transportation to our gate, just minutes before the plane took off.
Once we were in NYC, Glo hobbled and held her hip as we attempted to walk through Central Park and Times Square. In between heavy sighs and eye-rolls, we three daughters did entertain a worry or two. We agreed to take taxis whenever possible, even if it required us to take out second-mortgages on our houses. A week after we returned home, Glo finally visited the Urgent Care Center. An X-ray revealed she fractured her femur bone.
Yes. Of course she did.
This was followed, a year later, by her misstep at a party in Florida. (She insists that I note here that she was totally sober at the time. OK then. I have thus so noted.) The very same night at the VERY same party, her best friend also took a fall. (Her friend's sobriety is still unconfirmed.) The two of them enjoyed a tag-team visit to the ER. Glo was treated for a cracked rib, while her friend received numerous stitches in her forehead.
And so now, the vacation calamities appear to be contagious. Seriously. Why would anyone venture to take another trip with this woman?
Glo didn't manage to even make it to the airport for her most recent scheduled vacation, this past fall. As they neared Detroit, she began hemorrhaging uncontrollably from her nose. With blood spurting all over the car, they pulled into a gas station restroom. She depleted the entire supply of paper towels and a bag of ice while attempting to stop the bleeding, to no avail, before they headed back to a hospital in Toledo. She lost a lot of blood but somehow managed to keep her humor: She said Detroit police are probably still busy searching for a butchered body.
Vacation curses and all, she's a trooper, that mother of mine. She's managed tours of the Grand Canyon and walks through Central Park amidst circumstances which would leave most people bedridden.
Still, I'm not placing any bets on this upcoming trip. I'm paying for travel insurance. I'm tucking a first-aid kit in my luggage. I'm carrying my own medical insurance card.
And I'm packing a big bottle of vodka.
If my mother's managed all these horrors while sober, I think she at least deserves to endure one while half-drunk.
And no one should have to self-medicate alone.
Any travel horror stories to share? Suggestions of survival tactics? Extra vodka?