Haven't heard from me in a while, huh DA? I apologize for that; my health has been very bad and getting worse so its affected my life majorly.
It made my ill fated Vegas trip more difficult (I'll talk more about that in a bit; it's a really loooong story) and it's made school and life in general harder. The past three 'new' arthritis drugs haven't worked at all, and have actually made it worse in terms of pain intensity, and I'm feeling the pain in new joints; it;s in my feet, toes, ankles, right knee, left elbow, and some of my fingers. I got a hold of a new doctor and I'm going to see him in July so there's some hope of a doctor that will address my pain and try a different type of drug to help me rather than the same type/just a different brand name. I also went to see an endocrinologist because I suspected I might have Cushing's Syndrome (caused by the Prednisone I'm taking to manage my pain) and while I'm still waiting on the test results; when the doctor saw me and heard about my health and the meds I'm on and my symptoms, he was fairly certain the results would say I've got it. And he said the only way to treat it would be to get off the Prednisone and go from there. Otherwise, nothing would change. He referred me to the new rheumatologist so hopefully I can get off this stuff; it's been too long. Prednisone is a very heavy duty steroid that should only be taken a week at a time because of the severity of it's side effects; and I've been on it for a year and a half (20-25mg every day) though I started taking it in 2011. And I've experienced ALL of the serious side effects associated with it so I'm ready to get off it and get rid of all these secondary health issues it's caused.
So, that being said; I'm not attending any cons this summer. No Otakon for the first time in four years. I'm crushed by it, since I finally have a wonderful group to do con stuff with and I'm really gonna miss them. But with how bad my arthritis is and how it effects my ability to move and enjoy things, it's in everyone's best interests if I miss this year. I'd be stuck in the room all weekend. My weight gain (the prednisone's fault, and part of having Cushing's) has made it harder for me to enjoy cosplay as well because all I see is the fat and I have bad feels about myself so it's best I don't do too many pictures or be around critical people that the hobby tends to attract. But I'm planning on doing cons next year and getting back to it because I truly did enjoy the environment and my friends and cosplaying in general. I just wanna do it when I'm in less pain and feel a bit more like the old, somewhat healthier me.
I did manage to do very well in school though! Even with my arthritis acting up so badly. I got an A in Western Civilization 1 (History, I often do well with that), a B+ in the fail class, the Intro to Homeland Security class (we all called it the fail class cuz the teacher was completely incompetent, did not know the material, used someone else's lessons and lesson plan and tests, and could not answer questions.), and got a C+ in Philosophy of Religion, which was a class that pretty much shit talked religion and only had four graded assignments so one bad test grade ruined it for me. T_T But I still think I did good, especially considering I missed a few classes thanks to stupid health. I've transferred back to CCRI because my old university was not giving me a good education and would not accommodate my poor health issues; so I figured enough was enough and I'd go to a school where I'd learn something and they wouldn't fight me about my poor health. I'm keeping the General Studies major; cuz I can apply a lot of my Criminal Justice credits, and only need three classes to finish the degree (cuz the degree has so many elective slots and it can be ANY classes you want) and I'm also doing a post graduate certificate; a CyberSecurity certificate in the Homeland Security section so I'll have a degree, and a certificate in about an year and a half. I'm really happy about it.
OKAY. SO VEGAS IN JANUARY. Two words: JEEZUS FUCK. The original plan was to go to Otakon Vegas with a friend from Canada. We were scheduled to arrive at about noon-ish on the second. BIG FLYING FREAKING NOPE. *sings* NOOOOOOOO~ I spent two days living in the Chicago Midway airport instead and did not make it to Vegas till Saturday at about 2pm. Let me start from the beginning. WARNING: Long ass story coming.
So my flight was delayed in Providence when we boarded cuz the de-icer people were like an hour late to de-ice the plane. Kay, fine, not worried. We leave and head for Midway where my connecting flight is. For some ridiculous reason, the pilot circles Midway for about two hours before landing us in Cedar Rapids cuz Midway shut down due to an impending storm and being overloaded due to diversions. We sat in Cedar Falls for an additional two hours, unable to go into the airport because "Southwest didn't have gates there". We were hot and tired and cramped and only one bathroom was working. And we ran out of stuff to drink so nobody was happy. We finally leave, and instead of going to Des Mois (I know I spelled that wrong and I really don't care cuz I'm in story telling mode) where there were southwest gates and the airport was open and stuff, THE PILOT BROUGHT US BACK TO MIDWAY. WHEN IT WAS ALREADY CLOSED. I blame him for all this nonsense coming up in the story.
We had to wait 45 minutes on the Tarmac for a gate to open and when we got out; there was literally so many people in the airport that it was hard to stand or walk; and forget finding a place to sit. I HAULED ASS (I can be quite fast at hobbling for an arthritic fat person, I've learned how to work around not being able to walk normally) to my gate cuz my connecting flight was not scheduled to leave for 20 minutes and I thought I'd make it. I got to the gate and was informed the plane just took off minutes prior. I JUST MISSED IT. So I was a little scared and emotional and called my mom and asked what to do; and she sent me to talk to a customer service person...where everyone else who missed their flight was going. And Southwest saw it fit to only have each four person service desk outfitted with one or two people. Good job guys. That's not even half of it though. I stood in line for about four hours waiting to see someone,and when I did they were absolutely ZERO help; telling me there were no more flights scheduled, they didn't do displaced traveler deals with nearby hotels, and did not partner with other airlines so they couldn't get us out. The line complained in unison.
I met a very nice family that was also stranded trying to get to Vegas, and they helped me find a spot to sit and helped me get answers from customer service people as they updated us on flights. (The husband also had arthritis so he was very adamant that I sit and get out of my shoes; and his wife was lovely about going up to the service desk and getting updates, and his daughter loved me for some reason so they both liked that there was someone else for their kid to talk to so she wasn't bored.) Eventually, we five (the husband, wife, their daughter, and her grandmother and me) got on a short list for the last flight out at midnight. We loaded onto the plane, and the pilot, who was very kind to all of us, promised he wold get us to Vegas and apologized for what we went through. And basically blamed the airline and I thought that was hilarious. He validated our complaints. However, he timed out while waiting for the baggage people to show up outside and load the luggage (they literally stood outside and loitered while the bags sat there and we on the plane waited an hour and a half to go. So they removed our pilot (he wouldn't leave and they had to send security into the plane to get him) and we got booted and told to wait some more. Everyone on that plane was so pissed I was worried they'd riot. We all went and complained at the desk again, cuz it was about 2am and we were tired and sore and hungry and wanted answers. I actually had to calm down the wife I was hanging with cuz she completely lost it on the service rep and they called security on her. Now me, my feet were so bad (in sneakers so add that pressure to being squished in airplane seats for about six hours and on my feet for about six after that before I found a seat) that I finally decided I needed an EMT or something because I couldn't stand or walk without crying at that point. They called me a police officer, who asked what was wrong and if I wanted medical attention. I asked if they could treat me in the terminal since I was scared if I left I couldn't get back in (I no longer had a boarding pass and I was in a strange dangerous city so I was iffy) He took one look at my feet and said: "I think you should go to the hospital; you need some help with that." So I agreed with him and the paramedics came and got me and brought me to what I could only describe as a "ghetto hospital". You should not feel dirtier IN a hospital than outside it. I was worried I'd get shot there, or contact something. I walked to the bathroom about thirty feet away at one point and my feet were black when I got back to the bed. It took forever for someone to see me, and I couldn't contact my mom or my friend while there (no service), but they drugged me up with Morphine and for the first time in YEARS, I was pain free. I cried when I stood for the first time after the drugs kicked in. I then called three cabs, one showed, and got back to the airport. That was the bright spot in this hell trip. I'd completely forgotten what it was like not to feel pain and pressure in my feet and ankles 24-7.
Little did I know that all that shit I talked about previously was the easiest the Midway story would get. I had to find out what line to wait in when I got back in; and was put in the wrong one for two hours (there was a line for those who needed a boarding pass, and those who needed to check their bags...I just needed a pass and that line was shorter.) And then spent about three to four hours in the line for the boarding pass. I did meet a very nice gentleman in line who was also stranded on his way to Vegas. He offered to hold my backpack for me while we stood in line; the morphine was wearing off and I didn't have a drink to take my prednisone so I was getting uncomfortable and "weaving" again. (Weaving is something horses do when they're bored, they sway back and forth and I do that when my feet are bad so I can ease the pressure when I'm forced to stand still.) We got our passes from one of two helpful service people I encountered the whole ordeal, and went through security downstairs; passing news cameras and reporters on our way. It made national news for a few days, but they never got the whole story unfortunately. Ya know what's interesting? You don't have to take your shoes off in Midway!
I was worried since my feet were so swollen I might not get them back on if I took them off, but the TSA guy was chill as hell and was all "Nah, go on through mama." I didn't need to take my computer out of my bag either. It was a lot faster. Why don't we do that in other airports? (I can actually answer that, HOMELAND SECURITY and putting on a show to make it look like
we're safe and know what we're doing to dissuade terrorism.)
So I go to where my next flight is supposed to take off. It gets cancelled. (This would become the norm for the next day and a half; in total I was put on six or seven flights that were all cancelled) EVERY flight following that I was scheduled on got canceled from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon. At this point, I hadn't slept in two days, hadn't eaten in as long, and was hobbling all over the damn airport to different gates and service desks. Friday evening I was charging my phone and i-pod (the phone was vital since it was the only way to get internet, no wi-fi in the airport and I needed to check flight status and stay connected with my friend, who was in Vegas the whole time, and my mom) and I was falling asleep sitting up. I was sitting on my stuff actually so it wouldn't get stolen. Someone tapped me while I was dozing and told me they finally set up cots for people stranded there to sleep in one of the terminals; so I moseyed on over there; found a cot, and slept on top of my bag for about four hours. I woke with the sun (lol! I usually sleep to the sun) and went back in line for another flight. I was in that line from about 4:30am saturday morning till about 8-9am. She sent me to another flight that was full, and I didn't get a seat. (They put you on standby instead of issuing a new ticket so you're never guaranteed to leave which I feel is shit since we've been sitting there for DAYS, but I digress.)
I feel like I should mention, Delta and Unites Airlines both got their stranded travelers out Thursday night and early Friday. Southwest was last and latest to get us out. And I asked if they could put us on a Delta flight or other airline, or refund us so we could do it ourselves, but they don't partner with airlines so the answer was no. Of course. OH! I should also mention, nobody working there knew if there were flights or when they were, you had to find out for yourself and use the app to show them. So I was actively stalking the boards for flights for two days. I memorized those lists and told other people who were wondering where to go.
SO. I moved to another gate to Vegas, I located all these gates myself for the exception of maybe one or two, and I was in line again (If a cosplayer EVER TALKS TO ME ABOUT LINE CON AGAIN.....I collectively probably spent 20 hours in lines) I get up to the desk, and lean heavily on it, all the running back and forth and being stuck in shoes and having stupid swollen feet was making standing and moving almost impossible at this point; and this is with shoes my stupid doctor recommended that only made it worse. -_- (I've since found better shoes on my own) This woman at the desk was a godsend. She was my angel. She took one look at me, I imagine I looked haggard as hell, and asked: "Are you in pain, honey?" I told her yes, I have arthritis and it's acting up. She asked how long I'd been on my feet and I told her "About two days." and she knew right away I'd been stuck there since Thursday morning. She reached over, patted my hand and told me: "I'm bumping you to the top of the standby list. I will try my best to get you out of here. Now go sit down. I'll bring you your ticket when they board." I cried. I legit cried and thanked her about thirty times.
So I went and got breakfast from McDonalds, the closest food place to the gate, and sat down. I ended up sitting with four people, a man and his son going to a football game I believe, and a husband and his wife going on a celebratory vacation to Vegas (She'd just beaten Cancer and that was how she wanted to celebrate) We spoke about the people being stranded situation, and found out I'd been there the longest.
The others had gotten delayed Friday evening. When we finished complaining, they were pleasant company, talking about their stories and vacations and such. The flight we were waiting on had multiple delays, waiting on the plane to get there, waiting for a gate, waiting for a co-pilot, waiting for a stewardess. Everyone thought they'd get delayed again, and I was having anxiety all the fuck over cuz I was worried I'd spend my weekend in that god forsaken airport. We all applauded when the pilot and stewardess got there and they loved that. The flight finally started boarding, and we all waited to see if I'd make it (everyone else had new tickets and knew they were going) That wonderful customer service woman came up to me and handed me a ticket for C60 (literally the LAST seat available on Southwest flights) and our little section cheered. And I hugged the woman and thanked her. The husband and wife couple I was chatting with told me "If she didn't get you on we would've bought you a ticket because you've been here too long." It's amazing the kind of people you'll meet traveling; sometimes they'll turn your whole perspective about the human race around.
I didn't relax till the plane took off though. I was waiting to get booted off again. But at about noon-ish I was in the air and on my way, finally, to Vegas. I laughed like a crazy woman when I saw that airport disappear in the window. They handed out a ton of snacks and drinks, telling us to take however much we wanted (delay apology?) so I stretched out in my empty back row of seats, nomed on cheese nips, listened to music, and read Red Dragon and Good Omens on my tablet until I got to Vegas four hours later.
I texted my friend, we met up in the airport, and got the fuck to our hotel. Even though I was days late, Planet Hollywood still honored my reservation and modified it for me. By far the nicest place I've ever stayed, with the most pleasant staff. We did touristy things as much as I could while there, we missed most of the con so didn't bother to go. We went on a food tour and just hung out and enjoyed the company and atmosphere. I hung out in Heart Bar (Remind me to take a selfie next time!), shopped in the mall, ate at the Gordon Ramsay Burgr place (my friend and I are big fans of him, and now, his food) and got my industrial pierced to commemorate finally making it to Vegas.
Later, on Monday I had to spend two hours on hold with Southwest to change my flight, since they had me booked to go home to Providence Monday night from Chicago and I wouldn't be doing that. So I had to explicitly state: "ANYWHERE BUT CHICAGO. I'M NOT CONNECTING THERE AGAIN." And got a flight Wednesday with a connection in Baltimore, which is good cuz they don't suck. My friend had to phone United cuz his original flight on Tuesday was cancelled due to weather, but could't get anyone to answer, so we went on a field trip to the airport to talk to someone. We were there for a while, but he got a flight on Thursday morning and we went to a shooting range after. I FIRED GUNZ. AND IT WAS EPIC. I'm a hell of a shot with anything that's not a handgun. And that was before my glasses. I can't wait to see how much better I'll be next time ow that I can seeeee. However I think nerves had a lot to do with my shaky handgun action. AND I HELD THEM ALL RIGHT. Thank you cosplay with gun props. The dude laughed when I told him how I knew.
There was a lot more I wanted to do in Vegas that I didn't get to cuz of my feet being wrecked to all hell. But I loved it. I do still have nightmares about being stuck in Midway Airport though. I learned, go with another airline for Vegas trips, or pay more to connect in Baltimore. Cuz FUCK THAT CHICAGO NOISE. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NOPE, NOPE.gif, ALL ABOARD THE NOPE TRAIN TO FUCKTHATVILLE. Those are my feels. My return flight was much smoother, no delays at all. And lemmie tell ya, I don't think I've ever been so happy to see my mom or to be in Rhode Island of all places. And I was happy to see my bbys (I had just gotten my bby rat Cecil a few weeks before I left, and Pumpkin the evil guinea pig was also there, and so was Nissan, my old curmudgeon of a cat.) It always feels good to come home to people and animals who missed you. And my mom, Cecil, and Nissan definitely showed they missed me so it was a nice homecoming.
So that's my long-ass tale of how I lived in an airport for two days, dealt with incompetence, met some nice people, and shot zombie papers in Vegas. I've learned a few things: 1.) NEVER GO TO CHICAGO. It's scary and you stand a great chance of getting stuck there in the winter. 2.) Morphine is your besty-best friend if you have really bad chronic pain diseases. 3.) Southwest can't handle their shit, it may have started as a weather problem, but after that, and before, it was a Southwest not thinking problem. 4.) Portable Power Banks saved my everything, always have a high capacity one when traveling. 5.) If you must go to Vegas from the northeast in January, do not fly Southwest, have an emergency plan, and pay more for nonstop flights if available or connections close to home so there's less chance of being stranded. 6.) Planet Hollywood is totally worth the money and has awesome beds. Go there. GO THERE.
Okay, I'm done. This is the first time I've really spoken at length about Chicago, and maybe I'll be able to sleep now and not have nightmares about it.