The second hip was easier ~ knowing what to expect is more then half the battle. Dr. DeSmet or whoever your doctor is fights the other half for you. Maybe it is in the fight that we find life again. At least we make a conscious decision how we want to live the rest of our lives. Pain could find no partner with me. It was the most useless feeling. I left mine on DeSmets table – twice. There was a big pile of it there where others had gone before me. That was really how it felt. I fought it for 3 years never knowing what was wrong with me. Discovery for me was Nov 13, 2004. Here it is June 1, 2005 just 7 months later and I am completely free from bone on bone hip pain. That is a miracle.
Now my butt still looks like a battle was fought on it recently! I had the staples out last night and ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Did that ever feel nice! The new nurse Bart is wonderful. He is spraying my incision with something to kill the staph that lives on all skin so I don’t run into trouble like I did last time.
My exercises are going well with Marc the PT doc. Strangely; stairs seem to be harder this time for me. I can’t seem to pick the right leg for down and the left one (done in Feb.) for up. The one resurfed in Feb is very strong and absolutely like normal. It is really hauling me around quite nicely now. On day 4 after surgery I went down to one crutch. Today is the 5th day and I have already gotten up and walked to the door to answer it without any crutch at all. Not even thinking to get it, just walking away. It is about 10 minutes later that I looked for it, realizing I had left it behind. This DID NOT happen the first time. My left side was way worse and my recovery was much longer. I didn’t wait so long to resurf the right side and the bonus turned out to be the recovery was much quicker.
Hoping you are all doing well at whatever stage you find yourselves in. If anyone has any questions feel free to write, the next 6 days will be the most time I have to write back in the next century!
Oh by the way, I didn’t tell you this. I got my insurance to pay for all of it! Maybe there are too many stories on here already about American insurance paying in foreign countries, I don’t know because I haven’t written for so long. I don’t want to bore you so let me know if you want any tips.
Lovies, Lynn Beyler
Having Surgery in Belgium
Hello to all of you who are Belgium Hippy’s, or about to be’s,What a positive experience! The people in Gent are the kindest I have ever met. The staff at the hospital was outstanding and the DeSmet team fixed me so well I can hardly wait to go back and have the other hip done. To any of you who are wondering if you should do this~ 24 hrs after surgery the PT nurse was there with crutches. She gently lifted my operated leg from the bed to the floor. I eagerly followed with my right leg. She gently placed the crutches in my hands. As I stood, putting weight on both my legs a surge of joy went through my entire body. There was no pain! As Fyn led me out of my room and into the hallway I could hardly see through the tears. Speaking was impossible. My brain was flipping as it looked for the old familiar pain and found none. I wanted to shout, ” Thank-you God for creating Koen DeSmet!” I walked all the way to the end of the hall and back. Then next day we did stairs up and down. Over your head in the bed hangs a triangle so you can pull yourself up; then maneuver yourself into a comfy position. Work on arm strength now if you are pre-op. In bed, the operated leg is pretty much like a log for two days, but standing up it was a miracle. The 9.5 inch incision, the battleground of my left backside was impossible to see yet. My hands went over and over the bandage, trying to “see” it by feeling the incision. As soon as the morphine drip ran out they took it away, sometime about 5 am the next day. I didn’t miss the thing dangling in my face next to the nurse ring-a-ding- thing and the triangle. When it is time to “go” to the bathroom they come with a bedpan. Do not fear this, they lift you and they are very careful. Now never in my life have I sat on a bedpan, but even though I hardly drank any water all that IV stuff wanted to come out. Twice I managed a little but it seemed like it reproduced faster then I could go. DeSmet came and thumped on my tummy and bingo, someone was there with a “one-time” catheter. I didn’t even know they existed. After relieving me of 1.5 liters my tummy went down to normal size and I breathed a sigh of relief. After surgery you mainly work on going #1. We all know that after #1 comes the dreadful #2. No problem in Belgium. In they came with a cute little potty chair. Plunked it down and pulled the curtain. Two nurses assisted me out of the bed and landed me on THE CHAIR. There I sat for a long time. When it got to be to long I was put back in bed. They gave me another chance though and this time that little laxative I took the night before surgery at 11:30pm worked! Yes! In the hospital the small victories seem so big. Everybody talks about it too, making it common ground as everyone has to do it to leave. The nurses wash you vigorously- everywhere. I told them not to touch the TEDS, that I was still perfectly clean under there. I was washed and buffed and given a new nightie that snapped at the shoulder to accommodate the IV tubes. That went on for two days until it was time to leave and I was on my own to wash in the bathroom. This is a girl report so the next bit of info may not apply to guys. I took a baseball cap to cover up my hair the last day as it is not part of you that they wash. I took satin nighties that slid with me in and out of the bed- not PJ’s, the TEDS are on both legs. It gets HOT in that place so a summer nightie is just right.Take music with you to plug in your ears because everyone else in the ward will speak in Dutch (unless they are talking to you) and watch Dutch TV. The music helped.Books were useless, couldn’t focus. Take a diary to write in. It was great to be able to write down what you were feeling and experiencing. No one but you ever has to read it. The therapy of it the night before surgery was fantastic. My footwear the entire time consisted of slip on clogs. They were the only shoes I took and I wore them inside the hospital and out. The camera I took with me was used constantly and those pictures will always be a treasure to me. Don’t forget to ask someone to take pictures! The hospital gives you a phone card for your room, which you shove into the back of the phone and you can call straight to the USA from your room as much as you want. I had to come up out of the 24hr post-op fog to remind my husband to call home and tell our kids and parents that I was okay. Seemed like those watching me be “duh” were really worried and could hardly think. I got tired of them starring at me and sent them to the hospital cafe which has the best sandwiches and spaghetti, not to mention 2 beers on tap and wine. I think they were glad to get out of my room for a while. I was DeSmets second surgery on Feb. 25th. He told Mike and Gloria to stay at the Holiday Inn and come to see me at 4pm. That was so right, I hardly was a conversationalist when I got back from recovery. Well, more later. Better stop before this gets to big to post.More notes tomorrow. I don’t have to go to work yet~ Lovies, Lynn Dear Friends, So much for not going back to work. It was impossible to stay home. But by noon, I had my husband take me back because I suddenly was really tired. I have not been able to take a nap in the afternoon for 3 years, mostly because if I do I never sleep at night. That part of my life seems to be over. With my legs stretched out, lying on the couch, a fire roaring in the fireplace and a blizzard going on outside, I FELL ASLEEP! It was wonderful. Now back to the history of my BHR by DeSmet. Coming fully out of the anesthesia is vague to me now, 15 days later. I remember being incredibly thirsty and asking for ice cubes, which didn’t do much for the thirst. I don’t think anything does. You just live through it and forget it. I can’t remember the pain, but there must have been some. When I came around and food was put in front of me I tried a bite of bread and stopped. YUCK. Eating nothing is better then having heartburn. My husband and friend smuggled yogurt in from the Holiday Inn and I lived on that for 2 days. It didn’t take much, you aren’t really hungry. PT in Belgium is taken MOST seriously; as it should be.Fyn put my operated leg in a sling and rigged with a pulley and a weight. For 30 minutes you work that baby and if you do it right you are sweating when it is over. The best part of the whole hospital experience is that the clock never stops, it keeps right on ticking and you are closer and closer to the Holiday Inn. I celebrated my 51st birthday on Sunday in the hospital. No birthday cake but the gift of the BHR was outstanding. The next day I was up packing, the washing nurses having left me for fresh meat elsewhere. I thought the sink in the bathroom seemed loose, probably from people leaning heavily on it like I was. At 11am Hugo arrived for me, scooped up my suitcase while I eagerly put on my coat and followed him down the hall on my crutches. I was smiling from ear to ear. He brought his personal van to the door of the hospital and carefully loaded his precious cargo. There were three of us. Myself, Maureen from England and Doug from California who had developed a hemotoma. A blood vessel had burst inside and caused a huge swelling. This all happened 3 hours before he was supposed to fly home to the US. DeSmet had an ambulance pick him up at the Holiday Inn and rushed him to the hospital. Koen met him there and drained it. He stayed in the hospital and after a few days he was as good as new. It has never happened to anyone before, not in over 1800 operations. I decided there was a lot to pray about. His attitude was great though and I was impressed by that. Never let anything get you down. A positive attitude and patience are well rewarded. The Holiday Inn looked like heaven to me. I hope there is no smoking in heaven because unfortunately at the Holiday Inn, there is smoking. Be sure to book a non-smoking room if you are going there. It is the only reprieve you will have. We settled me into the room and my friend Gloria wanted to tape me to the bed to rest, but my hair was so dirty that I begged her into a shampoo in the sink. Wow did that feel good!After that I was anxious to get on the computer in the lobby and talk to my family and friends. For 12 Euros you can buy a card for 90 minutes of Internet time. I blew through 4 of those cards because the time starts when you start typing. At 7pm Jan the nurse arrived and said drop your pants please. I got so I did that for anyone who looked remotely like a doctor or a nurse. I had basketball “snap” pants. I got them at the chain store “Dicks” sporting goods before I left. I bought a child’s size large. They are slippery which helps you maneuver, plus you can stop dropping your entire pants for each examination. He took out my 4 staples and admired DeSmets work. My drain tube site was 2 inches lower then the incision. It is about 10 inches long. He cleaned it up, put steri-strips on it, applied a water proof bandage. As soon as he finished he dramatically raised his hands into the air and said,”Voila!” He did that every time he changed my bandage. A call to the front desk for a bathtub bench was our next move. They brought that and a raised toilet seat right away. They had already made my bed 2 mattresses high. Jan opened a big bag of various drugs and offered me anything I needed. Eventually I couldn’t take the codeine anymore. I didn’t really need it as the surgical pain was gone so I returned most of that to him before I left. He snapped me back up and we were on our way down stairs for the best meal I had the entire time I was there. The restaurant is expensive but worth it for convenient and 5 star gourmet quality. Pray no one is smoking ~ of course unless you smoke. The choices were far out, not like America. Lamb, mackerel, rabbit,etc. Stuffed for the first time in 3 days I was worn out. I was glad my room was only one floor away. The next morning Marc the best PT in the universe arrived. Snap pants quickly revealed what he had come to work on. I memorized every movement he made so I could teach it to my husband when I got home. For 7 days he worked on me 45 min to an hour each day. He patiently answered questions along the way. It is because of him that my recovery was so fast. He was a drillmaster. “Be straight Lynn! one- tooc, one-tooc, one-tooc. Lock your knee, it hasn’t been locked for 3 years. When you step use the operated leg first, lock your knee. He explained that to accommodate the hip I was forced to unlock my knee, throwing it out to the side. No more. Be straight, walk like a soldier, and lock your knee. Operated leg and crutches went first followed by the other leg. At the end of the hall were the stairs. They loomed in front of me. No matter, he made it a piece of cake. I was up and down with 2 crutches, then with one. Comes in handy later at curbs and restaurants, knowing to go up on the other leg and down on the operated leg. That mans voice will stay with me forever. After he visited everyone and spent an hour with each of us; he left the Holiday Inn. Another hippy, Maureen from England was there with her husband and a CAR! We were off! Plastic bags placed on our seats we each took a spot that accommodated our un-infiltrated bum. Crutches in the trunk we were off to downtown. We had to keep asking people if they spoke English to ask our questions. We found a parking place that looked to good to be true. It was a good thing we asked, we were right outside some government building and the place belonged to a senator or something. We had to find wool socks, Maureen didn’t like the look of her white TEDS with her skirts and I was freezing. The next stop was the first of many chocolate shops, then back in the car to the GB grocery store. We found The Lunch Garden first though and ate a wonderful lunch for about 7 Euros; one of the best food deals there is that cafeteria. They had great French fries and salads. After that we went home for a rest and the 7 pm nurse appointment. Make sure you have your helper poised with a camera for this moment. I have a day-by-day collection of photos of the battleground of my butt and I will treasure them forever. Digital is great because then you can see it. It is a little hard to view yourself, as it is so “behind” you! Truely, it is the pain and suffering that is behind you. As soon as Jan pronounced everything wonderful and gave us new bandages we were off again in the car. I am 4 days post-op! We went down the street to a Chinese restaurant called “Keep Wokking” which I took as a prophetic word! It was delicious. The owner is from Hong Kong and he and his family live upstairs. They were so kind and the food so good that we went back our last night there. I better stop there. I’ll write Belgium 3 soon. Keep Wokking! Lovies, Lynn Dear Friends, Dr. DeSmet comes to the Holiday Inn after he is done with surgery to sit and talk with YOU! Wednesday night he arrived at 6pm to see me. I had a swollen ankle. I confessed the shopping trip on the 4th day after surgery. His response,” If you vant to have an embolism, go shopping again tomorrow!” YIKES! he gives you a choice doesn’t he? No matter what you ask him, if you can not take the little yellow pills or not wear the TEDS, the reply is the same. If you vant an embolism, do what ever you vant. I figured out early on that the Belgium choice and the payment of it includes many many things. If you chose to not do them, it’s your loss and believe me you paid for it already! From the awesome crutches called VilGo, to the one pair of TEDS that you wash out at night and return to the next morning, to the faithful PT care and nurse, it is all part of the package. I thought to myself, I am going to get it all. Wednesday I stayed in bed with my swollen ankle up on two pillows, dreaming about going out again on Thursday- can you believe it! The rest paid off and I wasn’t swollen in the morning. By the time I had worked with Marc and rested it was noon. Maureen’s husband Glen pulled up the car and we swiveled into the seat on our plastic bags for an hour ride to the city of Bruge. It had snowed there which was a big bad “no-no” for surface hippy’s on crutches. We drove through the city, touring by car what we couldn’t do in the snow. Cobblestones and street grates gobble up crutches. We did get out once to eat at Dollie Dries a quaint pub that served us warm soup, bread and beer. I asked to buy a beer glass for our oldest son and was told he couldn’t spare any. A few minutes later he returned saying he had a present for me! He opened a tiny door and disappeared into the cellar. Before I knew it he popped out again with a gift box that had two glasses in it and 4 bottles of beer! I was constantly delighted at the sweetness of the people there. After our thankful goodbyes we inched our way though the snow to the car. I was glad when we were all loaded up and on our way back. I have never seen bicycles with snow on them before, but they were everywhere, propped up against buildings. We went around and around trying to find our way out and back to the Holiday Inn. It was definitely nap time. After we had our bandages checked and changed we were rested up enough to think about going out for dinner. We went back through the car routine. I have to applaud our helpers, Glen and Gloria. They would get us settled in our seats, shut the door, put the crutches in the trunk and repeat the whole process three more times before we were home! The Pizza Hut in Gent makes excellent pizza, the cheese runneth over. I never did get into the pool at the Holiday Inn. There was never time to do something as mundane as swimming when there was so much to be explored. But remember, I am the one who needed to be taped to the bed to get some rest! Friday after PT we were off again but it was a windy cold day and we about froze. We went inside the big cathedral with the famous picture in it and saw that. It was worth it, Van Ecke and his brother really could paint. The church is a monument made of somebody’s money and alot of it. The square where this is located is full of chocolate stores, places to eat and more beautiful stores then you can possibly find time to go in. It started to snow and we hurried back to our car in time to get stuck in a traffic jam. We were back in time for Jan to check our incisions. After that big day we settled for a bowl of soup in the bar and a beer. Your bed never fails to look good at night. All the fresh air and exercise really makes you sleep well. We said goodbye to Maureen and Glen. They were leaving at 3am for their ferry ride back across the English Channel. Lots of pictures were taken and promises made to keep in touch. By Saturday morning I am functioning with one crutch, and occasionally forgetting that in the bathroom! We had to have a packing run through to see if all the beer and chocolate would fit in the suitcases. At the end of that we realized there would be no more shopping. Hugo arrived at 11am with my documents and x-rays. There were receipts for everything. He answered questions patiently. He reached into his pocket and came out with the Birmingham Resurfacing Prosthesis! I held it in one hand and spun it with the other. It whirrrrrrred like a top. Gloria took pictures of my amazement. How could that be in me? It was a miracle. It carried my weight; it turned for me as if it had always been there. Best of all it had taken away my pain. As soon as he left I looked at my x-rays yes, it was really in there! I felt like the most blessed person on earth. Back from Belgium4 soon Lovies, Lynn Beyler Dear Friends, Saturday morning at 8:30 there came a knock on our door. I opened it and there stood Dr. DeSmet. He hadn’t come the night before at 6:30 because he had a difficult surgery. He stood there explaining while I told him I understood perfectly. If that man doesn’t show up you know something of utmost importance has his attention. He looked at my ankle and declared,” Too much!” I was back on the bed, op leg on a pillow until 4pm. I decided 7 hours was enough. The swelling had gone down considerably (according to me) so off we went to downtown Gent. There is a fantastic taxi driver in Gent named Marc. Take your cell phone with you, if it is a world phone or GSM you can use it there. I never was able to get it to call home, but it was helpful to have it for taxis. Here is TAXI MARC’s number. It is 0475-67-37-33. Tell him you are at the Holiday Inn and had hip surgery. He will drive up in his black Mercedes station wagon and take you anywhere. He took us to the hospital were he got out of the taxi and came in to help us check into the hospital! We had no idea we had to push a computer screen and take a number! Saturday night when we needed to know where Amadeus Rib Restaurant was he drove us there to show us how to find it, then took us over the bridge to the main street. I was 8 days post-op. Before I knew it I was standing on cobblestones eating a Belgian waffle covered with cinnamon sugar and loaded with whipped cream! I didn’t know what to do with my crutches! Then there was a huge olive stand across the street. I bet there were olives 50 different ways there. There was another stand of just sausages. I could have eaten more, but we had dinner reservations at 6. Never think you are going to Amadeus without reservations. Have someone at the desk at the Holiday Inn make them for you; they are more than happy to. After eating and shopping my new leg and old one (still needing a resurf) were starting to tire. My friend Gloria could shop so much more effectively then I could with the two crutches. She had to carry everything. We started walking to where the restaurant was. I was wondering how I would ever make it. When you crutch around in Gent you mostly look at the cobblestones and look out for grates that would be the end of you. I didn’t see him right away but when we got to the end of the street there sat TAXI MARC in the familiar black station wagon. At that point I was sure he was an angel! We got in and he wove back and forth through the narrow streets to The Amadeus. I tried to pay him and he said, no, it was his pleasure! Where did these people come from? We got out telling him we would call again for the ride back to the Holiday Inn. We were early and the door was locked. We knocked on the windows until someone came to the door and took pity on us. The crutches go a long way, almost as far as your American accent. The whole place looked like a fairy tale. There were wine bottles on the table that were compliments of the house. I didn’t know that I would not be charged for the two small glasses I served myself. It said that somewhere in Dutch, but it was Greek to me! After you are stuffed with ribs and baked potatoes they come around with seconds. Left and right people tried to walk in for dinner and there was no room. Make sure you save this til the last day or two you are there, but don’t miss it! I can’t wait to go back. Taxi Marc came and picked us up and returned us to the Holiday Inn. We asked him about church tomorrow. He said, “Sunday in Belgium is like any other day of the week.” I never saw one church unless it was open as a historical place. Instead he advised us to go to the flower market and the bird market. He was willing to pick us up but Marc the PT doctor was coming at 11am. By now there was nothing that would make me miss those appointments, so we politely turned him down. It would have been beautiful though. Every Friday the Holiday Inn has a change of flowers. They are nothing short of incredible and they are everywhere, even by the elevator! Sunday was another slow, down day. The nurse, Jan doesn’t come during the weekend, but Marc came everyday. We read and rested as a snowstorm blew outside the window. I was tired from the night before and my ankle needed another day of rest. We decide to eat at Chess Café, the Chinese restaurant one more time. One of the desk staff knew us really well by now and actually offered us a ride in her own car. When we were finished the owner of the Chinese restaurant where their motto is “Keep Woking”, gave us a ride back. These people made it all so easy for us. We will be forever grateful. Monday arrived. I thought I was tired of the breakfast at the Holiday Inn but somehow I managed to be ready for it every morning. I decided crutching was a work-out. I was always hungry. Maybe it was those little yellow pills you have to take a gazillion of. I am still hungry! I lost 8 lbs there in 2 weeks! When I go back for the right hip I am taking a carrot peeler with me. At the grocery store you can buy huge bags of the most beautiful carrots you have ever seen. They sold leeks 25 to a bag! I have never bought more then one leek at a time in my life so I was curious as to what one would do with 25 of them at once! After Marc came and gave me my last physical therapy he asked me if I had any questions. I didn’t but I wanted a photo with the man who had taught me to walk again. We packed after he left, trying to fit all our purchases in our suitcases and trying to imagine how we were going to get it all home without my husband Mike. Jan arrived and changed my dressing for the last time. We had more pictures and good-byes. We went to the restaurant in the Holiday Inn for our last dinner there. I don’t know what made me think I was going to be able to sleep that night. My friend Gloria who was my “hippy servant” always said, “If you don’t sleep, I don’t sleep. Neither of us slept that night. We were so excited about flying home. Jan had given me 3 super shots of the heparin, which were double doses. Gloria gave me the first of the doubles, with instructions to give me the second one half way during the flight and the last one when I arrived home. Getting from the Holiday Inn to the airport and the ride home is worthy of another post. Back from Belgium 5 coming up! Lovies, Lynn Beyler Dear Friends, The night before we left seemed like it would never end. I had no idea how apprehensive I was about the whole thing. We had asked at the front desk a few days ago for a V-Taxi to pick us up at 6:30am. They ordered it and received a fax saying they would be there. We should have left a half an hour earlier. The rush hour traffic was terrible. During the whole time there Gloria and I had lovingly referred to the hotel cleaning staff as the “Flying Wallenda’s” Never had we ever seen anyone make a bed or clean a bathroom that fast! Since we were often in the room when they came, it was all we could do to get out of their way! If you don’t put DO NOT DISTURB on your door they will practically yank the chain off the door at 8 am and scare you half to death. We learned this early on. As we watched the nurses at the hospital fly in and out of the room we decided that they too were “Flying Wallenda’s” For those of you who don’t know who the Wallenda’s are; they are a trapeze act in the Barnum and Bailey Circus. They really fly through the air on their trapeze. These girls reminded us of them. Come on, you get really bored in that room sometimes. You won’t believe the stuff you and your Servant Hippy find to talk about. So, the taxi driver arrives and he is as nice as can be, sorta looks like Johnny Depp with a ponytail. He is wearing a suit like they all do. He puts all our stuff in the back and we settle in for the ride. It wasn’t too long and I was asking him about his family. He said he had a girlfriend but wasn’t going to ever marry her so he wouldn’t have to divorce her. I sat on that one for a while, and then asked if they had any children. He said, one on the way, due in October. I told him it was a shame that he didn’t believe in the covenant of marriage and told him that was the kind of covenant that God kept with us. That was when the ride got kind of wild. He said I am from the Circus. I said, “The what?” He said,” My family is the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Every Circus has a priest, I believe in God.” I was struggling to grasp why a taxi driver was from a Circus when he said,” I am a Flying Wallenda!” I wish you could have seen Gloria and my face. It was all we could do not to laugh out loud. Here we had been joking about the Flying Wallenda’s all week. Now one was driving us to the airport! I asked him why he was driving a cab if he was a trapeze artist. He said that he was working in LasVegas and in the process of trying to catch his partner he fell and landed on a slot machine. He broke his back in 8 places. Wow, and I thought hip surgery was a biggie! We were stuck in traffic long enough to share more with him. He insisted that the circus priest and believing in God was enough to go to heaven, to which I said,” NO.” Then he rephrased it and again I said,” No”. Finally I said, “Shasha, you have to believe in Jesus to be saved and live in heaven with Him. God wants you to know His Son.” We were just turning into the airport. Gloria had a DVD about it all in Dutch, thanks to her husband Frank who is a pathologist/missionary. She handed it to him and he was so excited to watch it I thought he was going to dump us right there and not take out our suitcases. He kind of found his head and started to help us, going all the way into the airport with us and kept going til he had us at the British Midland desk. He said, “Thank-you thank-you thank-you and poof, the Flying Wallenda disappeared into the crowd. Gloria and I looked at each other and all the stuff piled in front of us raised our eyebrows and smiled. There was nothing dull about Belgium. We started to check into our flights. The fact was we took to much stuff and now we had to haul it home ~ 2 girls one on 2 crutches. I thought, well, I’ve ordered a wheel chair everywhere, it will be all right. As soon as I sit in it, Gloria can put my carry-one and the bag with all the beer in it on my lap. It would have worked great if there had “been a wheelchair. There seemed to be a big controversy concerning who was responsible for wheel chairs, the plane I was getting off of or the one I was getting onto. BMI had no wheel chair for me. When we got off in London Heathrow we walked and walked. No matter, I could crutch it quite well. We had to take a bus and the wheel chair didn’t go on the bus, so I was on my own again. I feel like my boobs are going to fall off from the use of my pectoral muscles. We got off the bus, and there was no wheelchair. Two airport helper people in green coats tried to get us a wheelchair and never did. One man came by pushing one and had pity on me. He worked for another airline but it didn’t seem to stop him from coming to the rescue. I about fell into that wheelchair I was so exhausted. I gave him $20 when he landed me at the United terminal. I crutched again until we got to our gate. I was so glad it was after surgery instead of before. I would have never been able to do it. The plane ride was perfect until it was time to administer the double dose of heparin in flight. Gloria had given me one the night before and now it was about 24 hours later. Since she is a nurse and did it so professionally we didn’t even worry about anyone looking at us. We didn’t plan on the turbulence though. The whole flight had been smooth until the moment that she took the cap off that shot and was aiming it for my tummy. The whole plane lurched and I wondered where the needle was going to land. She was great though, after a quiet, “oh, no, not now!” she threw the needle like a dart into my stomach and pushed the heparin into me. That was as much excitement as we had on the airplane. When we landed the aircrew had been in touch with ground and told them about our wheelchair need. A wheel chair was waiting for me at O’Hare. He took me off the plane and through customs, thank God because that is quite a trek. I walked with no pain, but we had flown all day light hours and not slept. I was 12 days post op and I was way tired. He helped us get through customs and rechecked our luggage, only to be told our flight had been canceled. They booked us on an earlier one and he took us there. I really needed a stop at the bathroom. He took me there and I was so sick of holding the tip money I gave it to him before I went into the bathroom. Never ever do that, never tip them before you are where you want to be. He was gone when I came out. To get to our flight to Madison I went down two flights of stairs, crossed the tarmack and up more stairs into the plane. Poor Gloria was hauling 4 carry-ons, most of which were full of beer from Belgium. When she told the man in front of her it was beer, he offered to carry it for her. After all we were going to Wisconsin. Beer is valuable. We arrived in Madison on time, just on time. Mike and Frank were waiting for us ~ two happy men smiling from ear to ear. Franks mom had taken sick while we were gone so they went straight to the hospital. Gloria was able to tell her mother-in-law that she was back from Belgium just in time. She took 5 breaths and died. It was amazing that she hung on, but she did, just long enough to have her last good-bye. That is the end of the Home from Belgium saga. I have learned so much. I will post soon on what it is like to be home. Lovies, Lynn