Last week, Nathan and I went over to Seattle.
It was the first time we'd been there since February 22, 2015.
After I found my lump, but before I saw my own doc and he ordered a few tests.....
So, we went on Thursday afternoon for an appointment with his neurologist that was scheduled for 8:45 am Friday morning.
And this trip was different. Because of cancer. And because I'm still recovering. And, because I'm sick and tired of driving south to Gig Harbor, then going east through Tacoma and finally swinging north towards Seattle...I'm tired of putting that much time and energy into a 30-minute medical appointment when I know what the outcome will be....because I'm tired of saying "we have to do it this way because of autism".......
I made a change.
We took the ferry from Bainbridge Island straight into downtown Seattle.
When the boat unloaded, it was about 3:30. And from experience, I knew that had I driven around, I would just be hitting Tacoma at that time. And the freaking bottleneck at the Tacoma Dome because there are like 15 different state highways that converge right there. It's fuggin ridiculous.
So, we got to the hotel, and we weren't in our regular room. No, really, we have a regular room. And our autism got kinda big....but we did the best we could.
Then we went to dinner at a restaurant in University Village, which is near the hotel. Then we walked--very unusual--to QFC in U. Village to get ice cream so that Nathan could take his meds that night and the next morning. It was dusk, and the trees at U. Village are lit up with white string lights. The shopping center was busy and well lit; we felt safe. It was a pleasure to walk with my son and watch the jets from SeaTac fly overhead; to interact with him in a different place; to have peaceful and pleasant exchanges with him. To watch him be silly and confident. To think of him as a "normal" kiddo for a few minutes....
We went back to the hotel and he slept. I didn't. Because when you're recovering from cancer treatment, and you're a germaphobe, and you envision germs being lit up by a black light......
Nathan woke up about 4 am, ready to get on the iPad. It wasn't time to get up, obviously, so we eventually fell back to sleep. We were up with plenty of time to get to eat breakfast, stop at Tully's for coffee (real coffee drinkers know...you stop at Tully's, not Starbuck's) and get to Children's Hospital for our 8:45 check-in.
His appointment went well. The pediatric neurologist we've been working with for the past 3-1/2 years is fantastic. He spent about 45 minutes with us--no, really, 45 MINUTES. So, in total, counting the interaction with the medical assistant who triaged him, we were in the exam room for an hour.
And Nathan made it through the ENTIRE hour with NO iGADGET!!!!
He asked for the iPad several times, but he listened and interacted with his physician, and he got the iPad when we got to the waiting room when we were finished.
And then, we loaded up in the truck and I gave him a healthy snack of carrot sticks and homemade chicken nuggets (he ate them cold--I'm not complaining!) and I said, "should we go to the Space Needle?"
And he looked up from his iPad and said, "Yes."
It wasn't a "duh Mom" type of yes. It was a casual "you don't need to ask me twice I'll totally cooperate" type of yes.
We'd talked about it a little bit. He uses the maps app on his iPod and he's been going all over the world, seeing different structures: The Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Space Needle. My only fear with this is he'll end up in the Red Light District in Amsterdam.
So we did the Space Needle. And it was fantastic!
It wasn't cheap.
But it was worth it because we rocked it. We spent time together. We laughed. We smiled. We were cold. It was a drizzly, grey, windy, Pacific Northwest day. And we loved it!
Outside, on the observation deck, there was a mom who's little girl wanted to look through the mounted binoculars that Nathan was looking though. I worked with Nathan to get him to give the little girl a turn. The mom was very kind. He didn't have a hard time, but she was patient and kind enough to know that there was something up with my son; that he has an invisible disease.
She was tall and beautiful and friendly. We started talking. She was visiting from San Francisco, up for a basketball tournament. It wasn't her
first time to Seattle. I told he we were from Port Angeles; she'd never
heard of it. I pointed down at the ferry crossing Puget Sound and said,
"We take the ferry across the Sound and then head north and then west for about an hour
and a half."After a few minutes, we ended up trading pictures--I handed her my phone and she snapped several pics of us; and then I did the same for her and her daughter.
The kindness of strangers is something that I am, and will always be, thankful for.
When we were done playing with all the interactive stuff they have at the top of the Needle on the inside, we went back down, purchased nothing in the gift shop, and went outside to find the park we'd seen from our view on the observation deck.
On the way we found Darth Vader, who was not real, but held a red light saber. And he was accompanied by a Storm Trooper, who was real, and let me take a picture with him and Nathan and Vader. While he spoke to Nathan, he pointed at me, and said, "be sure to protect the princess, Trooper." And Nathan said, "Ok." I left him a few bills. Because this is probably how he's making his living. And it was cool. And that's what you do in the city. And it's something my kid will probably--hopefully--never forget.
We found the park and he played for quite some time, it seems Northwest Kids don't really get cold. The play structure at Seattle Center was very cool. Nathan got stuck towards the top; and he's afraid of heights. It was stressful to watch, and I started to become concerned that he was going to freeze, and I was going to have to climb.
But there was a dad there with some boys about the same age as Nathan, and he encouraged his kids to help my kid; and they did. Again, the kindness of strangers. Nathan is afraid of heights, but if there's a play structure around, he's gonna climb. I know he seized while he was climbing. I can sense it. Even when he's 20 feet in the air. But I'd rather let him be a kid.
It started to rain, and I mean RAIN. Umbrellas popped open (tourists!). And so we headed towards the parking garage, loaded up in the truck. We ate more cold homemade chicken nuggets as I drove towards the downtown ferry terminal and he played iPad.
I'm glad we took time out to be with each other in a way that we hadn't in over a year.
I'm proud of both of us for doing something new.
Even though it took us two days to recover from all we did, it was totally worth it.
And I'm so thankful that we got to have a little fun in the big city.