Saturday, April 30, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter Z

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah- What seemed to be such a nightmare last fall has turned into much more of a pleasure in 2016. We have time to plan, to make our reservations for the things we really want to see and do like the Grand Floridian Tea and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and actually go to them on the day and time of our choosing. There are a few more venues open this year that we may want to do and all around more freedom for us to organize ourselves.

Table setting for afternoon tea in Garden View Tea Room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Grand Floridian Tea Room.
Both of us are eating healthier and exercising more. I am determined to strengthen my legs so I don't have to consider a walker.
 Mickey dressed in seasonal holiday clothing dancing in formation between two life-size nutcrackers
The best part of the whole "adventure" was I was there for her when she needed me the most. I was able to hold her hand and tell her we would get through this when she was the most scared.

When we get to Disney this year, the trip will mean a lot more to us because of what we went through last year and it will be a trip of a lifetime for us.

Thank you to all who visited my blog during the 2016 challenge, especially Jo-Jo who hung out for the whole story. Hope to see you in next year's challenge.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter Y

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Yes: I am happy to say that Alison is recovered. I stayed for about a week after she came home from the hospital. I watched her sleep on the couch a lot and gave her her meds. Then her grown kids started coming home for the Holidays so I took my two big red suitcases (the Disney one I never even opened) and went on home. She struggled through the holidays with a houseful of family but she left most things to her grown children to do and slept.

In January, when she saw her regular doctor for a followup, he told her that she was very lucky that it turned out to be a viral infection, which is less serious than the bacterial type. The virus takes several months to clear out and although the medicines she took in the beginning were helpful, he said the best thing for her to do was let her body heal itself by resting and sleeping any time she felt tired. He said our bodies have these viruses all the time and when our immune systems get weakened they attack. He said she probably got this from having the bad cold she caught from her grandson.

It took several months for the headache to disappear, for her ears to clear and for the overwhelming tiredness to pass. I was there in March for a visit and she was probably 85% back up to speed.

But what about Mickey Mouse you, my faithful reader, ask? And our beautifully planned trip? Stay tuned for tomorrow's final episode and find out. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter X

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Xtraneous Circumstances and Xtra Vacation- Thank heaven for trip insurance. We managed to reschedule the Disney trip for December 2016 with the help of the travel agent. As sick as she was, Alison managed to cancel all the reservations for the activities we had planned. A nice young man on the phone who wasn't even in the right department at Disney looked up her number and worked with her as soon as she said she was in the hospital with meningitis. That was such a blessing.

As far as the airline trip was concerned, we had to postpone the reservation but they only let us postpone to the day we ordered the flight. So, we get to travel somewhere by plane until the middle of October on those tickets and we have to get new tickets for Disney for the end of the year. That will ultimately give us an extra vacation together (not switchable). We haven't decided where we will go. 

And how is she feeling... 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter W

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

What, Where, When, Why and sometimes Who- Questions, questions and never any answers. 

Alison was admitted very late that Tuesday night, with the help of her husband (the admitting people said they had no info from her doctor). I stayed back at her house to unpack my stay at her house suitcase because I realized I was going to be there for a while. I would be driving back and forth to keep her company and translate the hospitalese for her (I am a former RN and have personally been in hospitals more times for operations and procedures than you can shake a thermometer at). 

Alison ended up staying there until Saturday. They kept her in Quarantine, with everyone entering her room gowned, masked and gloved, until late Thursday when the Infectious Control doctor came in to announce that "It is Viral", and took out her iv with the meds in case she was bacterial and got rid of the masks. He acted as if he had saved her single-handedly. He came back several times during the next days to confirm as other test results came back that "it's Viral." That has become a catch phrase for us.

Although everyone was wonderful during her stay, no one explained about what the illness really was. I had my daughter and husband google information about it for us because I was vague on the details. It is an infection in the covering of the brain- the meninges. The infection causes swelling and puts pressure on the brain and the nerves serving the brain. That is where the intense headache and confusion was originating. It also affected her ears and eyes, thus the loss of hearing and sensitivity to bright lights.  

She was given meds to reduce the swelling and some pain meds to dull the headache and some to help her sleep and some other stuff- well you get the picture. She found no matter how hard you try to sleep in the hospital there is always someone there in a mask to scare the heck out of you by waking you to see if you need anything or give you a pill.

I found despite being a less than eager driver, I could make the trip to and from (in the dark- oh my) the hospital with ease. I spent hours keeping up with family and friends who were stunned to hear Alison had Meningitis, "where would she have gotten that?" I remembered to ask all the questions that Alison and I had thought of and translate the garbled answers back to her. We did find out near the end of her stay that this hospital almost never saw cases of Meningitis so Alison was a rarity.

 Best of all, I had found a Tim Horton's Coffee Shop (like Starbucks but way better) at the entrance of the hospital so I had coffee and food at hand for both of us. Now if there had been a Cold Stone Creamery, I would have considered moving in.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letters U and V

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

 Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, U is combined with V today; the unforeseen technicalities being a gremlin who took my completed and published U article off into the ether yesterday never to be seen again.

Unbelievable- Continuing our story... bright and early Tuesday morning , I drive Alison back to the medical complex that is close to her home. We have managed to get an appointment with a neurologist who will see us right away. She listens to Alison's longer and longer story- when she thinks she got the cold, the meds she's taken, the headache which is now the worst she has ever had, the ER doctor (no help there) the confusion (I am really stressing the confusion). The doctor walks across the room, feels Alison's neck, asks her to move her neck and says "I am sending you to the hospital, I want you to have a lumbar puncture; it will give us a definitive answer. I think you have Meningitis."

We mention that we are supposed to leave for Disney with the vague hope we can still go and the doctor immediately squashes that hope.

"You are a very sick woman, with a very compromised immune system right now- you can't be thinking you are going to get on a plane and possibly be infected by other passengers or have them infect you. And Disney- that has be be the most germ filled place in the world. You'll get there and be so sick you'll be in bed, and what- your sister will have to show herself around? You are in no shape to go anywhere.

Viral or Bacterial- To make the story move along for you, my faithful reader, I will skip the fact that Alison has been lucky in her life and has had little contact with the ugly side of medical care and hospitals. I will overlook that she is very scared to have anyone mess with her spine. I won't talk about her resources that are very low and she needs to rest and she is so easily brought to tears now.

We drive 30 minutes out of our way (there are other hospitals closer to home but this is the one the doctor is associated with), have the test done (which is very painful for her) and meet in the lobby with Tony, her husband. Realizing how sick she is, he has called the travel agent to find out what we can do about the trip. We can postpone into 2016.

Alison is sobbing, she is so afraid and Disney gave her something to hold on to. Ultimately, we decide to postpone the trip of a lifetime and concentrate on getting her better (one of us could see this coming when she stepped off the train Sunday night, to another of us it is a big surprise. She just doesn't realize how sick she is).

Around 4 o'clock, I drive her home on a major highway and two things happen simultaneously 5 minutes from home, we run out of gas ( a story for another day) and we get a call from the neurologist. 

She says she is surprised the hospital released Alison. She says since we are so close to home we should go there, get Alison some dinner and then Alison should pack a bag and go back up to the hospital because she is being admitted.

"You have Meningitis... now we have to determine whether it is Viral- serious but treatable or Bacterial- contagious and possible deadly and harder to treat."  


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter T

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

To the ER and Beyond: The next two days are mostly a blurry nightmare to us both. I am driving her car (because she can't) and Alison is navigating with some confusion while she talks a million miles an hour. "Why is this happening, what should I do, why hasn't the medicine helped, why won't the pain stop, Turn right at this corner, now I can't hear- my ears are clogged, the sun hurts my eyes- OH, NO, I meant turn left at the corner."

Dr. Office Monday mid A.M.- Alison's doctor hears her symptoms and that Alison has gotten worse with the medicine prescribed and that she now has "the worst headache of her life" (with me trying to get her to realize that Alison is a sharp cookie and right now she is having trouble remembering her name). Alison mentions that she looked on line and her symptoms are similar to meningitis.The doctor looks worried, stays far away from Alison, leaves to consult with some else, then says she is sending us to the ER for tests and has called ahead so they know Alison's information. (You know we are leaving for Disney on Wednesday morning.)

ER around noon- Everyone here asks the same questions that the original doctor did (this place is just down the hall). They have none of Alison's information. Alison explains how this all started 2 weeks or so with a cold that she might have caught from her grandson.
They do a cat scan of her head, they draw blood, they give her some meds, they give her some fluids and we wait and wait. Every once in a while, the ER doctor, english is a second language, comes in to assure us that her tests are being evaluated. He also repeatedly says she does not have meningitis, he himself has seen meningitis and Alison wouldn't be able to move her head, her neck would be very stiff. When we remind him again that we are leaving for Disney he thinks that Alison should see a neurologist before we go. He prescribes some new meds and sends us home around dinnertime.

Home Monday night: Everything takes longer because Alison can hardly move. We have to call and cancel our babysitting duties for tomorrow. She takes a dose of her new medicine and gets sick to her tummy. She takes a different new med and now I can hardly get her off the couch. My concern from Sunday night has turned into real worry now.  This is my baby sister whom I love like my own children.

We go to bed with Disney on a far horizon.

To be continued....

Friday, April 22, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter S

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

So Sick: Alison, who sounded awful on the phone despite several days of antibiotics, is scheduled to pick me up that Sunday night at the station. The train is late, she is late. I stand outside in the almost dark parking lot, knowing I am safe because I have my handy, dandy umbrella in my hand. We often joked that I could valiantly fight off any assailant with my umbrella- stemming back to a time when as a young mother I had protected my kids from an attacking dog by knocking him around with a loaf of bread until he ran off (I was fierce).

The little Sebring convertible I've been watching for drives up and parks. I hardly recognize her when Alison somewhat stumbles out of the car. She is pale and weak looking and mumbling about a trolly car that she almost really hit.She drives home but I realize later she was in no condition to be behind the wheel.

Long story short, her head and neck ache, she is running a fever and she is still planning to go to Disney but she has no idea what the next step is. Over dinner, (with some help from Tony, her husband) I convince her that before we do anything else, we go to the Doctor tomorrow, Monday. Obviously, the medicine is not working. We'll get some new medicine and she'll feel much better. I'll help pack and we will be all set. 

She is confused in speech and it doesn't appear she has been able to do much the last few days. I am really worried about her.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter R

Disney World Vacation:

  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Riding the Rails, Taking the Train: Long, long time ago, my husband would drive the almost 400 miles to get to Alison's house. He loved to drive and it was no big deal for him. However, because of work schedules, we seldom visited.

Then, the last few years of my career, I had more time off and I made the drive myself. I would push myself to get there arriving stiff and sore. On the way home, I'd be exhausted from the non-stop schedule Alison and I had kept up for a week. Once, I had a bad cold and missed my exit and ended up lost in Syracuse for several hours. I was always afraid of detours, flat tires, and falling asleep.

Enter the Amtrak train. Gary drives me East for an hour to Poughkeepsie, I board the train and I leave the driving to the engineer. The price is comparable to driving and there is no wear and tear on the car. The conductors are friendly and extremely helpful with luggage. 

I sit on the left side of the car so I can see the rivers, first the Hudson until Albany and then the Mohawk and even the Erie Canal for awhile. The train weaves through towns called Rhinecliff, Schenectady, Amsterdam, Rome, Rochester and finally Buffalo on its way to Niagara Falls. Most of the time the scenery is wonderful. Lots of times I am looking at the backside of the towns and neighborhoods I pass, with all the garbage, trashed cars and discarded furniture that brings.

I am allowed two suitcases weighing 50 lbs. or less and a carry-on that will fit in the overhead. I am always right at the limit. I am always looking for more efficient ways to pack and while researching what to bring to Disney on Pinterest, I have found some great ideas to try out. Hopefully I've learned to leave the kitchen sink at home.
Amtrak trip around the country! the perfect way to elope!:
I love the ever changing views of the rivers.

Some trips, the train is full to capacity with little kids roaming the aisles, babies crying, people talking loudly on their cell phones. Other trips, the 1/2 filled coach allows the college students and myself to stretch out in two seats, napping and reading. I bring my lunch, water and a few snacks. There is a snack car located on the train with essentials where I occasionally get hot tea at $2.00 a cup.
Amtrak Northeast Corridor:
The train allows me to travel to Buffalo and back all year long.
There are two restrooms to a car but I wouldn't call them restful. Balancing as the train changes tracks can sometimes be an exciting and dampening experience.
I color, read, play scrabble, talk to sisters and children on the phone. The train provides wi-fi and you can also charge your devices. I nap a lot. There is no stress on the train and I find that rhythmic moving very conducive to sleep. Before I know it, I've arrived at my destination and someone is meeting me...

7 more days of Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016. Please stay with me to find out what is the cause of our postponement and what we do about it.

(Photo credit Pinterest:  Amtrak trains) 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter Q

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

All's QUIET on the Western New York Front: It's Saturday and I am not hearing the usual chatter from Alison. When I am going for just a few days, we are always talking and texting together right up til the last minute. We should be burning up the wi-fi between here and Buffalo.

I call. She sounds all stuffed up. She's had this earache and the headache for over a week. She went to the doctor and got stuff to help her feel better. Doctor thinks it's a sinus infection. Alison is sure she will be better before Wednesday. She is so happy I am coming up early so I can help her pack and do last minute things at her house. She is just so tired.
I leave tomorrow on the train. 

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter P

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Packing to go North and South: I've never been a light packer; why take one blouse when I might need two. In December, maybe it will snow, maybe it will rain. If I take the gray sweater, and I drip ice cream on it, then should I take a black sweater in case I needed the gray to wear with the black capris. Or maybe throw in a blue in case....
Instead of buying packing cubes I used those zippered plastic bags that comforters, sheet sets and curtains come in. I was able to pack a weeks worth of clothes for my son, my daughter and myself. The bags that curtains came in were perfect for all of the toiletries for everyone. Instead of spending $30 on a set of 3 packing cubes I'm buying myself a pair of summer sandals.:

I cannot tell you tonight what I will wear tomorrow. I can plan ahead, but until I wake up and see what my mood is, I don't make a final decision. I may have picked a yellow shirt but now this morning it is blue or nothing at all. Some people pack each day's outfit in a plastic bag to save room and time. I look at those neat bags for 6 or 7 days in a suitcase and I am envious.

I have tried picking 2 or 3 colors with hopes that it will limit my choices. Let's say black, white and red. By the second day I am upset and uncomfortable because there are no other choices in the suitcase. Does not bode well for the day. Yes, I have a problem.

25 Tips for Perfect Packing:
So two suitcases, two different temperature zones. In one, I put long pants, turtle necks, medium sweaters, boots, hat, scarf, gloves and coat in early winter and Christmas colors. In the other, I put capris, short sleeve, mid sleeve, no sleeve tops, light weight sweaters, light weight jacket, sneakers, sandals and scarves, a big sun hat. These are all in warm weather colors. I pack jewelry with a Christmas theme for both places.  

I do this a few days ahead of when I'm leaving, and then second guess myself by taking things out to lessen the load and then putting things back because I'm afraid. Maybe another pair of pants or a pair of shorts. Maybe I should take the bathing suit and cover up.

 I text Alison, I call Alison. She says she's gotten some of the small essentials we can share. She says she hasn't started to think about what she will pack. Granted, she has 3 days longer than I do because I have to travel to her house and we don't leave until Wednesday at 6:25 am.

She's a little more vague than the last time we talked. She says she thinks she caught a cold from her grandson. She has a bit of a headache. She's going to take a nap. I think I'll go have a drink!!



Monday, April 18, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter O

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Orlando: I was wondering how big Disney World actually is. I did a little exploring and found out the amusement park is about 30,000 acres, give or take a few.  That's about twice the size of Manhattan, or the actual size of San Francisco. Luckily for me, the parks only take up about a 1/4 of the property.

The land was originally swamps, pasture, forest and orange groves. Some of the property was set aside as a Nature Preserve. Much of the land is still undeveloped. There is lots of space between everything. Just getting from your room to the entrance of the resort to catch the bus can be many footsteps.

So, that brings me to actually ME getting around. I am overweight, I haven't done any long distance  walking since my husband started to have very bad pain in his back, hips and feet, and I don't have good muscle tone. I huff and puff going up a flight of stairs. How was I going to do the miles required? And although my sister is in better shape, she hasn't been walking at regular intervals, either.Pride Portable Electric GoGo Scooter Rental Orlando:

Maybe I should rent a walker or a electric scooter. We could share the use so neither one of us would be worn out. I looked up scooters and the price is about $50.00 a day for a scooter and it must stay in the park that you originally rented it from. Then I began to think about how I would maneuver it in the crowds and have to worry about leaving it outside when we went in to attractions. EEEEEK.

 If there was just some more time to get myself in shape.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter N

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Top 10 Must-Dos at Animal Kingdom:
Nature VS Fantasy: the two parks I am really excited about visiting are Animal Kingdom and Epcot.

I love to tour zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums. Sounds like Animal Kingdom will be a fantastic combination of all three. What a thrill to be up close to all the wonderful animals (over 1,000) that reside there. According to the guide books, the enclosures are built to bring the animals up close to the tourists but still maintain a peaceful setting for the inhabitants. If I get to see giraffes in Africa and tigers in Asia, I'll be set. Maybe some lions, too.
If you have 1 day in Epcot at Walt Disney World, here's our plan for doing rides, eating, and enjoying the park. This strategy guide contains tips, and daily itinerary!:

Epcot would be special, too. It is compared to the 1964 New York World's Fair. I visited the Fair several times as a teenager and it was a memorable experience. Probably the best memory was the idea that some day you would be able to see the other person when you would talk on the phone. What a fantasy. I remember thinking that you would always have to look your best when you answered your phone otherwise someone would see you in your pajamas and curlers. Now a days, my sister and I FaceTalk all the time and who cares how we look, we are just happy to see each other.

Epcot, has two sections, one called Future World, where science, technology and industry meet to educate and amaze. Sounds like an all day tour.The other section is World Showcase, with a collection of pavilions highlighting 14 countries. I remember this was great at the World's Fair.

What I am most interested in is how the Disney creators have mixed all the Fantasy in with the Real, how they mesh and enhance each other. I wish we had more than a day each to do these Parks.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter M

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

 Midway through the Challenge: I thought I'd meander a moment, release some mid-morning stress and mention that this monologue does have a monumental 3rd quarter and a momentous end. To be continued tomorrow when my muse will be over the mump or rather the hump.

Thanks for moseying on over and thanks for all the mindful comments.

Mikey Mouse rules. (Pinterest)Disney Party Ideas & Free Printables:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter L

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Lunch, Dinner & Breakfast: I'm so ready.

We had chosen the middle meal plan called The Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining. What a mouthful! This gives you a lunch, a dinner and a snack. We figured we'd eat light for breakfast, yogurt or fruit, when we grabbed a cup of coffee and that would be less expensive than the next plan up.
#Disney Ice Cream Gallery  - Pictures!!!!! #DisneyFood
My idea of a substantial breakfast.

Lunch can be a variety of things but this turkey leg is definitely something I want to try. My husband and I used to cook these all the time and do so much with them. There are plenty of spots for hamburgers, and quick lunch favorites within the plan.
Disney snack credit use: Turkey leg! You can find these in all the parks at Disney World, and in Disneyland. They are huge, filling, and my husband loves them. I've noticed a lot of people grab them right before they go sit in front of the castle to watch the evening fireworks.
Might need two of these to replace my legs from all the walking.

The dinner part of this deal features a wide variety of dining options.
Signature Dining Restaurants- excellent food served with style and elegance.
Casual Table Service Restaurants- sure to please food plus special creations.
Disney Character Dining- up close and personal dining with Disney friends.
Dinner Shows- Song and Dance Reviews with family style dinners.

Gonna have breakfast with the Mouse on our last morning in the parks.
 High Tea at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa ~ Walt Disney World Resort l Lake Buena Vista, Florida: You even can have high tea at the Grand Floridian although because we were so last minute in making our plans, this was one of the treats that was not available to us.

All of the above photos are posted in Pinterest under Disney World Food Pictures.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2016 - Letter K

Disney World Vacation:
  Planning, Prepping, Packing and Postponing a trip of a lifetime and things I learned along the way.

Keeping the story going: It was now the week before Thanksgiving and I was looking at my clothes, trying to make outfits in my mind. I had to pack two suitcases, one for the time before and after the trip when I would stay at Alison's house for about a week and one suitcase for the trip.

Everything I read about what to wear at the Parks talked about layering in December. We had already been shopping for some lightweight 3/4 length sleeve tops that we could layer under a light sweater or jacket and some nice scarves to liven up the outfits. We planned to wear capris and take several pairs of sneakers.

I am obsessive about coordinating my clothes. I started making lists. If we were going to be there for 6 days, should that be 4 or 5 capris? What colors would I go with. Navy, black and gray with colored tops or white tops and different color sweaters. What about jewelry- you'd think I had never packed for a trip before. And what to do if it was colder than we planned or hotter. I had too many clothes in too little suitcases. I was a wreak and driving my husband crazy.

Meanwhile, when I would talk to Alison, she seemed distracted and vague and told me she couldn't think about what she was gonna wear until after Thanksgiving.