Monday, February 21, 2011

Cross-Country with the Cursed

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?"

Glo: "Uhh."

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?


  1. Bon voyage...I hope you all get there in one piece.

  2. ...and the time I was leaving in 3 days for Mexico with my travel pals, slipped on icey porch, broke two bones in wrist. Cast put on (and plastic bags/rubber banded for resort pool.) Also fell down 3 steps lobby area at St. Martins upon arriving w/ Cole to meet Lori & Mike. My leg/knee bruised/hurting, limped all week but didn't need medical help. Glo the Gimp

  3. Downith: Thanks for the well wishes. I've been trying to build up some good karma in advance...

    Glo: I'd forgotten those two incidents. Perhaps I should have foregone the blog post and written an entire novel instead.

  4. Packing a bottle of vodka? You might as well drink it at check-in. It won't get past security. Or was that your plan? TA

  5. Vodka? Check. More Vodka? Check, check.

    Would it be wrong to say I enjoyed reading this post? Sherry, I am wishing all goodness to fall upon your trip.

  6. I think alcohol is definitely the way to go. Also, rumor has it that if you find yourself head to head with a shark the best defense is to simply punch it in its nose.

    Happy travels!

  7. TA: Ah, but large bottles of liquor are indeed allowed in checked luggage, just not in carry-ons. So, I will wrap it snugly in a beach towel, stow it away and buy a Bloody Mary on the plane. (Two if it's turbulent. Exact change is preferred, thank you.)

    Teri: Perhaps. But it's probably more wrong that I shared my mother's violent nose hemorrhaging incident with the world... Thanks for coming by!

  8. Aww, poor Mom... soldiering on while wounded, trying not to let her daughters down.

    Definitely bring the vodka. It'll help pass the time in the ER waiting room.

  9. MSB: A shark attack? Oh God. You've opened up a whole new world of horrific vacation possibilities.

    Bluz: Sure, take her side.

  10. while i hope this trip proves to be the exception for your travel experience, part me me still hopes for another story like the one you offered up today (or was it yesterday? i'm behind on my reading)

  11. Sherry, you are so damn funny. Being of German stock, and I say this with love, funny she only clarified that the Florida misstep was the sober one...
    Maybe it's the vodka. Lager? Weiss?
    Good luck to you and your mom. Nothing but nothing will stop a stubborn, I mean, determined German gal. Hat's off to Glo!

  12. As my daughters all know none of the incidents involved alcohol! My choice beverage is always red wine. These incidents occur when I am not drinking so that leads me to only one solution, red wine BEFORE I travel....8 A.M. next week Sherry?!!

  13. Lyra: Since Glo is so intent on pleading her innocence on all charges (see comment following yours), I'll have to concede this one. Now, if you'd like a good drinking story? See my post from Nov. 10...

  14. Strap that mama in a sturdy wheelchair and give her a thermos full of bloody mary. (NO CELERY! Paging Dr. Heimlich...)

  15. Barbara: That, a bathing suit and a book; nothing else necessary. BTW, congrats on your new blog! Wow. Very thought-provoking.

    Glasseye: Choking on a Bloody Mary? Guess there could be worse ways to go...

  16. Holy mackerel!!! God almighty Glo, what is going on? This has got to be the lucky one right? Right? I hope so. I'm amazed she's willing to leave her living room. Best on luck and bon voyage!!!


  17. Sherri, when are you and Glo heading out? Just wondering if we should, you know, alert the appropriate authorities?

  18. Bobbi: I think it would take the plague to hold Glo back. Crap. I had to go and say that. The plague's not real likely in 2011, is it???

    Downith: Hahaha! We leave a week from today. Do you think it's too late to order one of those personal alarm devices? You know, the ones where you simply shout, "I've fallen and I can't get up" and someone comes to your rescue?

  19. Wow! Well, Glo is not one to be kept down. I'm going to have to use that as my model. My own mother doesn't leave the house much anymore after she was injured going to the grocery store in her little hometown. How sad is that?

    I hope you have a great time without any trips to the ER, Urgent Care or to Google for useful health care info.

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