Waiting Out Hurricane Harvey

ORIGINAL POST: 8/27/17
UPDATED: 8/30/17

My blog has been quiet these past few weeks. Why? Because I’ve been gallivanting around the southern United States having fun and enjoying summer.

Not only am I feeling great, but there are exciting developments in the recent cancer saga. I returned home from a fantastic two-week trip to New Orleans and Orange Beach, Alabama to discover my insurance covered the first round of PRRT. Hip Hip Hooray! And in even better news, last week’s blood work revealed a 75% tumor marker reduction. This wasn’t a surprise considering how I’m feeling and the significant reduction in my only symptom of facial flushing.

My husband and I decided to take advantage of our good luck and plan a weekend in Galveston Beach before my next scheduled therapy on August 31st.

“NOT SO FAST,” said the universe.

I received a call Thursday from a Coordinator at Excel Diagnostics giving me a heads up on potential therapy delays due to the approaching hurricane. I’m a little embarrassed to say this was the first I was hearing of the situation. See, I’ve been trying to shelter myself from the news because I don’t need any more stress.

But with this development, I tuned in and decided a trip to Galveston during a hurricane was pointless. Ever the planner, I quickly came up with a back-up vacation, which was to take our scheduled flight to Houston Saturday morning and drive to Dallas for the weekend. We held our breath as we headed to the airport with notifications alerting us that we were “On Time”, but 30 minutes before our departure, the flight was cancelled.

Not too worry. I had a Plan C. So, we rented a car in Nashville and are taking a little southern road trip. I’ve always wanted to visit Memphis, Little Rock and Dallas (said not many people).

Last night we stopped in Memphis, got a room at the Peabody and bounced around the lively city on a Saturday night. Today we drove to Little Rock  and visited the Clinton Presidential Library. Tomorrow the plan is to drive to Dallas for more visiting while watching the conditions from (not too) a far. Plan C included hopes that the situation would improve by Wednesday when I’m scheduled at the clinic.

NOT SO FAST…

I can rationalize with myself that worrying about things outside my control (ie, cancer and hurricanes) is a waste of time, but  I can not help but be selfishly stressed over the uncertain timing of my next therapy.

But the truth is that I/we am/are not powerless. We can pray. If you are not a prayer, just replace the word with send good vibes, thoughts, positive energy, etc. The people of Texas need our prayers, especially those in harm’s way and those who will experience medical emergencies. We need to pray for the people whose medical treatment and surgeries will be delayed because of this catastrophe, especially those who are critical. We need to pray for those who will not have the financial resources to recover from such an event. We need to pray for our government, rescue and medical workers who selflessly sacrifice themselves for others.

This has been (yet another) reminder how out of control we really are when it comes to nature and science. We all hold dual citizenship in sickness and health and in safety and harm no matter our color, religion, bank balance, location, gender, orientation and level of power.

So, after all of those prayers, if you have an extra I’d gratefully accept them as I watch and wait from Little Rock tonight and Dallas tomorrow.

***UPDATE: 8/30/17***
Seconds after we crossed the Arkansas-Texas state line, I received an email from Excel Diagnostics rescheduling my treatment to September 12. It was a relief and a disappointment. Still driving towards Dallas, we debated if we should continue and try to get a flight home or just turn the car around. After several failed attempts to call the overwhelmed airline for our options, we decided to drive. By taking turns every couple hours, podcasts, a book on tape and making calls to change our plans, the eight hour drive went surprisingly fast. Fortunately, we were given full refunds for all our reservations, so all we were really out is the time and effort.

My first therapy took a lot of coordinating and I felt good this one was going smooth until the hurricane hit. My heart breaks for those who are not strong enough, too sick and/or don’t know how to navigate this maze. I also feel guilty for complaining when there are people in Texas who’ve lost their homes, animals and loved ones. It will only take me a couple days to re-plan for my next therapy, but it will take some years to recover from this.

“We need each other, and we must care for one another.”
Bill Clinton, 1993 Inaugural Address

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Tonight’s beautiful sunset over Downtown Little Rock

Tennessee – A State of American Classics

A really exciting aspect of living in a totally different part of the country is traveling to the little areas that would we probably never make it too had we stayed in Michigan. While Fabien & I have only been in Tennessee for 1 month, we have found time to explore. Through these explorations, we have found Tennessee to be a state of true American Classics.

Country Music Culture. Other than Baywatch, there is nothing outsiders associate with America more than Country Music and its surrounding culture. When we were living in Detroit, Fabien and his friends loved to go to a Coyote Ugly-esque bar called ‘Coyote Joes’. On any given night you would find the girl next door shaking her barely dressed body in an American flag bikini top to ‘Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy’. This American flag wearing, cowboy boot sporting, country music listening scene is oozing from Nashville and the whole state.  Having been a fan of the music for years, I love it.

Jack Daniels. Say you live in Tennessee to a foreigner and they’ll picture you sitting on your wooden porch, shotgun at your side and a Jack on the rocks in your hand. Lynchburg is an hour from our house and while some friends were visiting we ventured to the one and only Jack Daniels Distillery.   While I’ve never tasted whiskey without gagging, I really enjoyed the tour. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and are similar to a Michigan Cider Mill, but in the mountains. I love that their business is run in a simple and grass-roots manner. The headquarters is no bigger than the office at my last job and once a month employees walk away with a free bottle.  My favorite fact surrounding the brand is that the headquarters is located in a dry county which has been since Prohibition (1920-1933).  It’s a vicious cycle really- the county does not have enough voters to overturn the law and no one will move there because they can’t drink. However, through a huge financial bribing disguised as taxes, the company has arranged to legally sell alcohol on their grounds.  The rule is: you can buy, but you can not consume. To see pictures of our visit at the Jack Daniels Distillery, click here.  One tip if you ever find yourself in Lynchburg – go on a weekday when the actual bottling takes place.

Elvis. Okay, seriously. How can you not love Elvis? He is such an endearing icon of American culture and the driving force behind Memphis’s tourism industry. I could not wait to go to Graceland, so as soon as Fabien got a couple of days off, we drove 3 hours west to see the King’s Castle. From the front, it doesn’t look like much, but the property is impressive in the way of elaborate decor, rooms full of awards, a car museum, planes (yes, planes) and countless wardrobe displays. It should be a sin to go to Memphis and not visit the home, just be sure to bring some cash. To cross the gates, it costs $35 causing Fabien to say “Elvis raped me.” for the rest of the day.  However, if you visit the attraction website (Graceland) and become an Elvis Insider (free), you get free parking and a few dollars off your tickets. For pics, click here.

Fried and Fattening Anything. No wonder this season of the Biggest Loser had two Nashville area residents as finalists. Everything is fried, dipped in BBQ sauce and then refried. Recently, I went to lunch and in lieu of french fries asked for the vegetable of the day. Guess what I got? Fried pickles. As yummy as I find them, I don’t consider anything fried a vegetable.

Total Cheesiness. Note the bullets above and all of it has an element of American cheese. This was most evident when we visited Ruby Falls in Chattanooga. As a teenager, I visited Lookout Mountain in the area and thought it was only a tad smaller than Everest. So, when we arrived and Fabien said, “That’s it” (He’s such a mountain snob), we decided to go to Ruby Falls instead. As your driving to the city there are literally 200 signs located on farm lands, billboards and painted on barns urging you to “See Ruby Falls”. Upon arrival, you can expect to pay $17.95 per person and  to get on an elevator that takes you a 1,120 feet towards the earth’s core. The falls were quite beautiful and interesting, but whoever manages the attraction slathered them in cheese. Our guide thought he was a comedian and his plan was to hold us all hostage for an hour to listen to his stalagmite and stalactite jokes. And when you finally arrive at the falls, dramatic music and disco lights are queued on the water.  “Why can’t they just shut up and leave the beauty alone?” (Fabien) If you are ever lured to the attraction via the highway signs, go to the Falls. It’s neat. Skip Lookout Mountain and drive to Point Park for even more beautiful, natural (and free) views. Pics are here.

Having been in the state for only a month and finding all of these great things to do, we are really looking forward to exploring even more American Classics over the next couple of years. Feel free to leave comments of not to miss places in the great state of Tennessee and/or other areas in the south.