Dawna Austin
Wow.. hard to believe we are finally home. Our flight was almost 2 hours late in departure! We sat there for such a long time on the tarmac, and finally found out that we were waiting for the food to be delivered to the airplane. Waiting wasn't an issue for us, but it was for people who had connections. Finally after an hour the pilot came on the intercom, apologizing for the delay. He then stated that a passenger, distressed with the delay, no longer wanted to fly on the plane and they had to let him off and also find his luggage and remove the luggage as well. Well.. here we sat for almost another hour!
(Gosh, we look tired before we even started this leg of the trip .. oh wait.. we got up at 3am and now it was already 3pm .. that explains it.)


The flight was long, and as is normal for me, every time there was turbulence I was compelled by some unseen force to open the window shudder to see the landscape of the place I was going to crash on. Hmm.. the first place that this happened was over the arctic circle.



NOT a good place to land I thought. Please don't crash here! Of course, all was well, but I was already planning how I was going to survive in such a inhospitable climate (the temperature outside at this point was -75 F).  The second time we had turbulance was over this area:
Hmm.. still not the greatest chance of survival, I thought.   I really am not a good flyer.  It was good that they had onboard movies to keep myself occupied.  Food helps too (and COFFEE!!), however the food on Lufthansa this time around was pretty meager. They must have thought I needed to lose some weight or something. Let's compare meals between Air Canada and Lufthansa.  Okay, here is the Lufthansa meal on the last leg home:
Pretty teeny huh?  The butter looks like it's going to cry because it's missing the rest of what should be on the plate.  Actually the butter looks almost bigger than the meal itself! 


Here are the meals on Air Canada .. and these were all on ONE flight.. I thought I was going to burst they fed us so much.. almost every few hours meals came.. it was unreal!  Air Canada is definitely my favorite now:

This was the dinner on Air Canada.. a TON of food and the steak was actually pretty good!

Num .. breakfast on Air Canada .. the fruit was amazing, the little jam for the croissant absolutely delish .. and the eggs, sausage and potatoes scrumptious.  Did I mention the coffee? (yes, you get the picture)






And believe it or not, this was a snack on Air Canada .. salmon and rye bread with a really funky salad and roll.





Okay, now I'm hungry .. snap out of it and back away from food.  The flight went pretty well, once I got out of my neurotic tendencies to plan my escape routes once the plane would crash.   It was sunny in Vancouver which made for a pictoral landing.  It really is beautiful, but you know?  There's something about Europe that is just so much classier than where we are (North America).  We just don't have the beautiful architecture that they do.

I felt sorry for all those people who had missed their connecting flights.  We had chosen to pack light and take only carry on luggage, so leaving the airport was quick and without difficulty.  I took a photo of our plane for the kids.

It was so nice to get back home.  At 6:30pm as we drove up our street.. everyone was outside on the driveway, waiting for us.  As soon as we opened the door, the kids piled in, practically strangling me!  It was wonderful.  We unpacked a bit, caught up with the family and put the kids to bed shortly after 7pm. We only managed to stay up until 7:30pm .. it was just too difficult to stay awake any longer.  We had been up for approximately 24 hours at this point with only an hour and a bit of sleep.  I hadn't slept well in weeks. The week prior to the procedure, there was just so much on my mind to coordinate this large trip with our travel requirements and getting things ready for the grandparents to babysit.  Once over in Poland, the jet lag mixed with recovery, being in a strange bed, etc. just makes for little sleep.  On the plane?  Ya, I don't really sleep well.  Every time I would fall asleep the seat belt sign would come on because of light turbulence, waking me up. At times I think it actually WAITED for me to fall asleep.  So, once 7:30pm hit  and we hit the pillow, the world ended to me, until my son woke up at 11pm screaming from a nightmare. My husband thought it was in the middle of the night, not 11pm!  We were soooo tired.  I fell asleep shortly thereafter and slept right until 6:30am when my husband woke me up, banging things in the kitchen.  I honestly think I would have slept for hours more. I don't recall ever sleeping 11 hours before .. it was wonderful!  I'm sure it won't happen too often. I usually only get 6-8 hours sleep each night, and usually it's broken sleep. So it will be interesting to see if my sleep gets better post-procedure.
Dawna Austin
We got up EARRRRRLY at 3am this morning, but it really didn't matter as I didn't sleep much last night.  Probably because I knew I was getting up early at 3am.  I tried to get Kirk to give me the shot this morning in our hotel, but that was a disaster, as I think he probably didn't push hard enough and was making me have experience pain for breakfast, rather than successfully giving me my morning dose.  It's not his fault.  I would have no idea how hard to push a needle to insert into someone's skin.  I shudder just thinking about it.   We packed up our gear.. and said goodbye to the gorgeous view from our room.
We met up in the lobby with a couple of other people heading back to Vancouver today.  We are all on the same two flights back to BC.   I asked if she could give me my shot.  I can't remember if she said she had never given anyone a shot before, but I do know that she had done it for herself.  She also had difficulty with me, saying that my skin was tough! hehehe .. so I bled a bit but I wasn't as scared as with Kirk.  I think that's just the way it goes with spouses.

I have felt pretty tired and weak the last few days, so I'm not quite sure what the cause of that is, but I have a few ideas:
  1. Our 8 hour journey into Krakow, which included 4 hours of walking! (Which I haven't done in MONTHS!)
  2. The copious amounts of coffee (and it's strong espresso here) I drink each morning for breakfast.  As Gerhard told me, when you go and socialize, you must drink (and smoke) the entire time.. it's what creates the atmosphere of socialization and fellowship.  I have to agree with that wholeheartedly (minus the smoking hehe)
  3. Lack of sleep at night.  Most of us keep waking up at 3am .. guess we never have adjusted to being 9 hours ahead of BC time.
  4. My body possibly adjusting to the procedure

The ride to the Katowice airport was uneventful .. and dark.  We basically watched the sunrise, well, we could have, if it wasn't cloudy again.  As always, it was a pleasure to have Chris drive us.  It was surprising how many cars were on the road at 4am. 

Once there we had to wait until 6:20am for our flight to leave and it once onboard, a nummy breakfast was given to us (and yes, more coffee!).  
The flight from Katowice to Frankfurt was very smooth and quick (about an hour and a half) which sunny skies, much of what we did NOT see in Katowice.  It was raining for most of our stay there during the past week.  We had a 6 hour layover in Frankfurt which I was NOT looking forward to.  When we had our 10 hour layover in Frankfurt last week, I thought I would die of boredom.  We did take a train into Mainz, which was lovely, but because I wasn't able to walk very long, we only could stay out a few hours.  We checked into our gated area and at that point realized that there were no shops, no coffee places or anything to do in our gated area.  It was a little secluded area, unlike most other gates.  So, we were stuck there unless we wanted to go through customs again, which we did not. So we counted dots on ceilings, people watched and generally contemplated going crazy for about 6 hours.   This time around, our gate is in a larger area, with lots of shops, internet access (YEAHHHH!!!!) and food, views of planes, and much more to do.  I feel SO much better about this layover!  Kirk and I went out of the airport for awhile, shopping and bought Jordan a birthday present!  I'm really excited about that one.  It is from Frankfurt .. so he will love it just because of that!   Got other stuff for the kids and some earrings for me (I haven't bought earrings in 15 years!).  Ya, pretty pathetic, I know.   Went to Starbucks and wanted to get an iced frap to cool off (it's HOT here, unlike Katowice), and then went outside for a little sun.
As if I needed that sugar rush!  Probably part of the reason why I feel so exhausted.  Walking through the airport, even though I'm tired, I still am not limping.  It's an answer to prayer.  My hands are still so warm that they feel like I have gloves on.  I haven't experienced that in years!  I don't really notice any other improvements, but the neurologist did say it can take months.. so I'm just trying to be positive and patient.

I was talking to another patient yesterday, one similar to my level of symptoms, and I asked him if he found it difficult to be around people who were more disabled than he.  He said yes, and I told him it was difficult for me too.  I met so many wonderful people this trip .. friends I'm sure will last forever.  However, it was very difficult for me to see their disability, because it provoked fear in me that I will someday be there.. in the same spot they are in.  It's a trust in the Lord that I still struggle with. Will He protect me from that? Or call me to that?  I know what I want for myself, but it's the death to self which I find so difficult.  One thing, however, is that the people who were in wheelchairs on this trip, had such positive attitudes about life .. I have a lot to learn from them!  I can only take one day at a time, and I pray that I can resist the temptation to open the door to fear.  It knocks loudly, and I struggle with that door 24/7.

I really enjoyed walking through the airport this time. With energy to walk, I found it a great adventure to explore.  I think it made Kirk a little stressed however.  He doesn't like the open-endedness of not knowing where you are going .. I, on the other hand, find it quite exciting to explore new places!  Here are a few interesting things I found in my travel of this international airport.  Apparently, in one sign no people are allowed to enter if they do not possess arms or legs? (ha ha):
Oddly enough, you walk through the airport and when you look up to the ceiling, you see these billboards, and I honestly thought these were real guys hanging off the billboards! Again, my senses were probably not clear as it was hours since my last European coffee intake!
I couldn't get over the bizarre shopping carts in this little pharmacy!    And of course, all over Germany you see this sign:
We asked someone what it meant and they said that in case of emergency, this was the way to safely exit the area.  Odd,  however, as in the train station,  it pointed to the train tracks (which would mean that in case a train wasn't there at the time, you could just escape the area by jumping down into the tracks. Hmmm

I can't get over how massive this airport is. After their new terminal is added (it is currently in construction), Frankfurt will become the largest airport in Europe!
Well, my internet time is almost up ($10 an hour!) so I should go. Our flight leaves in about 90 minutes.  I know I'll be too tired to post in the day or so, and the kids will be attached to me for the next month or so, making it difficult to type.  So, this is my time to get this done.

I have MANY suggestions for those who are contemplating this journey to see Dr. Simka in Poland, as well as a translation list for the nurses who do NOT speak English.  Feel free to email me and I will help as much as I can.

Would I do this again?  Yes, I would.  Even if this is only a temporary fix, it was such a blessed time with meeting new friends, and people who were on the same road as I.   I did not expect to meet any other people, or to have such great fellowship with them.  They are all so dear to me.

I pray this last flight is a safe one. I am NOT a good flyer, and every little bump I wonder if that is my last flight. Doesn't help with that terrible (and fatal) Air India crash a few days ago.  But the Lord has me in His hands, and that is all I can ask for.    Blessings to you all for reading this.. as I know it certainly hasn't been too entertaining. (I'm not
a writer at all, but just wanted you to know how my progress is going).  Sorry for making you listen to my holidays travels in the midst of the health information!

Now, for one more cup of coffee...