Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - Departure

On our last day, we woke up at around 7 o'clock and joined the family for breakfast at 8 o'clock. Then we went back to our room to get packed up. Craig was feeling pretty dizzy, so he napped while I packed. We had hoped that his health would continue to improve, but today he was already feeling worse than yesterday. We wondered how we would ever get him home.

I helped Antonio and Aida clean the party chairs while Craig rested. Sisa arrived home at 11:45. She had cried at school because her Achi Taita was sick. The family soon got out the remainder of Yupanqui's birthday cake, put a candle shaped like a 3 on top, and lit the candle. Aida pushed Yupanqui's face down in the frosting. Then the kids basically stripped the cake of frosting.

Craig had to eat his lunch in our room; he was too dizzy to get up. The kids kept coming into the room to play with Craig. Aida and Tayanta took the 2:30 p.m. bus. We didn't know where they were going, but we hoped they would be back before our van came at 6:30. Rosa took my new blouse, ripped out the seams, added a ribbon accent, and tailored it for me.

We were scheduled to fly on a red-eye tonight. Craig's condition had persisted long enough that we were now pretty sure it was an MS thing rather than simply dehydration, or a reaction to something he had eaten or drunk. We thought back to his unsteadiness at the airport before we had even left the United States. We had mistaken it for an ear problem, but it seemed to be more than that. Though Craig was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 3 years ago, he has never suffered an actual "attack" until now. We knew that we needed to get him home to see his neurologist. But it was a long way home, and we didn't know how well his body would tolerate the trip. Would he continue to be motion sick?

Aida and Tayanta arrived home, and the whole family gathered at Craig's bedside. Antonio explained that Aida had gone all the way to Otavalo to pray for Craig in a specific church. The family was worried about him and wanted to do everything they could to try to make him well.

Just before 6:30 p.m., the van arrived. The family walked Craig to the car, holding him up. We got settled and took the 2 hour ride to the airport. We were thankful that the new airport is now closer to their house than the prior airport had been. Craig was afraid that he would get motion sickness on the drive, but he managed to keep it under control for the duration of the ride.

When we arrived at the airport, I got a cart for our bags. We would be checking both big duffel bags on the way home; there was no way that I could manage both of them with Craig out of commission. Craig was barely talking or able to function; he was in a mode of just doing his best to get through the journey home. Meanwhile I had to be "on", and manage to get him home in his current state.

Aida and Antonio got on either side of Craig and held him up, helping him walk inside the terminal. I asked someone for a wheelchair, and he said it would be about 5 minutes. We found a place for Craig to wait, and sure enough, the wheelchair soon appeared.

The ticket counter was just opening for our flight, and when the wheelchair arrived, a man motioned for us to come up to the counter. Goodbyes are always too rushed at airports, and this was no exception. We could tell how worried the family was about Craig, and I'm sure that they were doubtful that we would make it all the way home, as he was still so sick.

I asked the guy at the counter whether I could pre-order wheelchairs to meet us in Houston and Boston. He entered it into the computer and gave me a receipt. If this actually worked like it was supposed to, it would be a major help.

A man was assigned to Craig's wheelchair, and he wheeled Craig through immigration and security, right to the gate. He even waited with us until the flight boarded, and he wheeled Craig to the bathroom, which was quite convenient. We were able to board early, and the man wheeled him down the gangway right to the door of the plane. Craig was able to walk to his seat by holding on to seats as he passed them.

The flight took off on schedule at 11:55 p.m.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - Arrival at Home

Though he was uncomfortable on the plane, he managed to just relax for the duration of the flight. We waited until everyone else had deplaned in Houston. When we got off the plane, there was a cheerful man with a wheelchair waiting for us. He brought us through immigration, baggage, and security. We re-checked our bags and then he brought us to the gate. One more leg to go! Craig was allowed to board early again. We were amazed at how smoothly it had all worked. Everyone was so kind and helpful. This was our first experience traveling with a real handicap, and we are greateful to all who made it a less painful experience than it already was.

Everything was on our side. We took off on time at 7:35 a.m., and the flight was uneventful.

When we arrived in Boston at 12:30 p.m., another wheelchair was ready for us. The wheelchair attendant helped us to get our bags and then took us outside, where Steve picked us up. From door to door, our house in Ecuador to our house in Massachusetts, 18 hours had elapsed. Craig had never been so happy to sleep in his own bed.

As soon as we got home I called his neurologist and made an appointment for the next day. When his neurologist saw him, she was shocked that he was in a wheelchair. But after talking to him she said that this was a textbook MS presentation. She admitted him to the hospital for 5 days, followed by 8 days of rehab and physical therapy. He was unable to work for seven weeks. He has made a wonderful recovery from this attack, though he continues to suffer from extreme fatigue.

Yupanqui and his birthday cake

Yupanqui and his birthday cake

Returning the party chairs

Returning the party chairs

Rosa altering my blouse

Rosa altering my blouse

Rosa, Yupanqui, Sisa, Antonio, Aida

Rosa, Yupanqui, Sisa, Antonio, Aida

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