Day by Day

A mama blogs the journey to transplant and beyond...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Drama On The Mountain

Yesterday I picked Mom up in the new (to us) Subaru and we hit the road, destination Palo Alto. Joaquin had a VCUG study scheduled for today (Thursday, February 12th) at 9 am followed by an 11 am transplant clinic appointment. The weather report said to expect snow showers and so we were thinking that it meant we would be fine. We were not anticipating snow storm. Around 3 pm we stop by Chris's work in Truckee to say good bye and we were on our way over the pass. The clouds were ominous but were producing little to no snow so I figured we would cross the pass with ease. About half way over the pass traffic slows to a stand still. Apparently there is a major accident up ahead of us. We wait and wait - probably close to 45 minutes. The boys get restless and so we take them out of their car seats and let them play in the front. People have put their cars in park and have wandered out of them to play in the snow or converse with fellow drivers. A group of men pass our car on foot presumably to check out the cause for the back up. As they had back to their cars I ask if we will be going soon. The man replies in a thick Australian accent that they said it should be soon. I see a group of men up ahead run back to their cars and I see brake lights light up. We put the boys back in their car seats as the line starts moving.

Okay, I'm thinking, this should be so bad. We'll be two hours or so behind on our schedule, no big deal. Traffic is going slow. The truck driver who was stopped next to us on the interstate took the opportunity during the long wait to put on his chains. He says the road is, "slick as hell" as he kicks his boot into the snow. I'm not worried, we have a four wheel drive car. Not more than 15 minutes after we start driving again the traffic stops. Okay, I'm starting to get annoyed. I ask Mom if she thinks we should turn around and just reschedule the appointment. She says I should call my Dad and get a weather report. I call him and he tells me that there is a winter storm warning in effect for the Sierras and apparently we are sitting, "in the thick of it." You're telling me, Dad, I say. He laughs. He said that they anticipate the warning to cease at 4 in the morning on Thursday and be clear until the afternoon/evening of Thursday, right as we are planning to return from Palo Alto. I do not want to be stuck in traffic again. Mom thinks we are putting the boys in danger by doing this so I decide to turn around and go back to Reno. I cannot get ahold of Chris at this point because he is at the gym. So I call Joaquin's nurse and let her know we will not be coming to Reno. I see an sign announcing that the Blue Canyon exit is 3/4 of a mile ahead and I decide this is where we will turn around. About the time I get off the phone with the nurse, I notice that the car is starting to sputter like it's going to die. I tell Mom this, she looks nervous. I am nervous but I'm thinking once we get going it will be fine. Problem is that the traffic is still stop and go. About 400 yards or less from the exit the car dies. The car has a little momentum going so I pull it off to the side of the road, just barely.

I try starting it. No luck. The car is dead. I call AAA because I'm hoping that by some fluke or grace of God we still have a membership with them. No luck. The lady does give me the number to a tow company in Colfax, CA. I'm not sure we are even close to Colfax. I filled up the gas in Gold Ranch, about ten miles out of Reno and reset the odometer and when I look at it, it says we have gone 64 miles since we filled up. We call 911. The dispatcher says that no highway patrolmen can come to us since they are dealing with multiple accidents. My Mom gets a little pissy with her and says that we will be the next accident because we are not far enough off of the road. Finally she acts interested in our plight and says she will send help. At this point a man in a pick up truck pulls up next to us and asks if we are alright. Mom says no and explains that we have no heat and two babies in the back seat. He says he will stay with us until help arrives. At this point the snow is coming down, the sun is setting and our car is beginning to be buried under snow. It was a crazy situation. I had the most overwhelming sense of being helpless, of being completely isolated and at the mercy of the elements even though cars were crawling past us.

Not too much longer after that the patrolman pulls up. I have called the tow company in Colfax who says we are too far away and gives me the number to a tow company in Nyack, CA, about a 1/2 mile up the road from where we are. I call the number and the woman says someone is on their way but that they are stuck in traffic and it might be a while. I just want my boys and Mom in a warm place so we move everyone to the patrol car and I plan on staying with the Subaru until the tow truck arrives. The patrolman says he is going to find out how long I'll have to wait, if it's too long he recommends me going with them. When dispatch gets back to him she tells him that the tow truck is about 45 minutes from being there so I decide at that point to go with the patrolman. As I'm grabbing the essentials from our car the tow truck pulls up. The car won't even go into neutral so he has to drag the Subie onto the back of the truck. Mom and the boys have already left for the Nyack junction and I follow behind with the tow truck driver. Apparently, the patrolman had two little boys of his own and so he turned on the lights and the siren for Joaquin. He was thrilled!

Problem with Nyack is that it does not have anything except a gas station and a Burger King. No lodging, no car mechanics. At this point we are about equal distance from Auburn, CA and Truckee. I really, really, really do not want to go to Auburn because it's about 100 miles from Reno and all I want to do is get closer to home. So I convince the tow truck driver to drive us back to Truckee, where our car repair man is at anyway. It going to cost us, he tells me. $280 an hour. We really have no other option at this point. He's a little hesitant to put us all in the cab of the truck but I explain that we are all rather small and that we'll fit. He says we could call a cab but I ask if we could even get one at this point because apparently the interstate is closed due to white out conditions. He agrees that we probably can't. I just want to go to Truckee. So we load up everyone in the truck, the Subie sitting on the bed of the truck and we hit the road again, back towards Reno.

Mick, the tow truck driver, figures it will be about an hour to Truckee from Nyack because of the roads. The conditions are pretty much white out blizzard but I feel oddly safe in this huge truck and this burly truck driver. He begins to talk and says he's been doing this for a long time and he's used to driving in this kind of weather. He's a mountain man. He drives tow trucks, used to drive school buses, and also plays drums in a band. Sage pretty much immediately wants to nurse, he's tired, and falls asleep. Joaquin's eyes are wide and he's retelling the story of how the car stopped and Mom couldn't start it again to Mick. He's loving every minute of this adventure. My Mom and I were both scared at first but while I was on the phone with my Dad he basically told me I needed to remain calm otherwise the boys would get scared, so I think that helped me to remain rational about the situation.

We pull into Truckee. Chris had told me that my Dad was on his way to Truckee to pick us up but apparently there is another accident right outside of Gold Ranch and because of that and the weather, they were not letting anyone who did not have proof of Truckee residence through. Right next door to the car mechanic was a hotel that we had planned on staying in. Mick thinks that problem with the car, based on what I told him, was the alternator had burned out. I ask Mick if he thinks I could jump the car and drive it to Reno. He thinks I would probably get half way and it would die. But our car mechanic is in Truckee anyway. So at the gas station we square away the payment - it ends up costing us $560 to get the car towed to Truckee. Mick turns out to be a real nice guy. He could have charged us much more but he was just going to charge us what he could get away with. I wasn't looking for any deals. I knew he needed to get paid and I needed to get closer to Reno.

Chris tells me that our friends are coming to pick us up. They are going to let us stay with them. While we are waiting in the gas station the attendant asks me if we want him to start working on the car in the morning. I tell him that I need to speak to my husband first and that we have a mechanic we would like to take the car to. I can immediately sense his attitude shift. That does not make him happy and he grumbles something about possibly having to charge us $30 to store it overnight. My Mom turns to me and says, "Get some jumper cables, jump the car, and we'll drive it over to the mechanics." Another customer in the gas station hears and says he has some that we can borrow. Mom thinks the gas station attendant probably would have tried to charge us to use the jumper cables too. So when our friend, C, arrives we are able to jump the car and drive it over to the mechanics. We arrive to our friends' house around 8 pm, 5 hours after our ordeal started.

Oh, but the drama does not stop there. After we arrive, Joaquin is excited to be playing with his friends. They have a wood burning stove. Sage was wondering around and ended up walking up to the stove and burning the pads of his four fingers, the only one without burns was his little thumb. Poor little dude. They have no aloe vera. The only thing that ended up making him feel better was sticking his whole hand in a glass of cold water. He was up screaming well after everyone had gone to bed. I finally had to give him a dose of Tylenol. He fell asleep with his hand in the water. I just prayed that he would sleep alright and he did.

This morning my Dad came and picked us up. Chris called not too long after had left and said the mechanic said the alternator looked fine and that it was the battery. So it will end up being cheaper than we thought, thankfully. For some reason or another we were not meant to go to Palo Alto. We have rescheduled the VCUG for the 26th of February, the day before the follow up biopsy. I don't know why we didn't just plan the VCUG and biopsy in the same trip. But anyway, we are home now and happy. And we have quite the story to tell.


Blogger Kelly Deneen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Kelly Deneen said...

I'm so sorry, Meghan! What a terrible day! I'm glad you are all home safe and sound.

(My previous comment was deleted because I can't spell/type this morning. heh.)

6:24 AM  
Blogger Shevisyrfriend said...

That's one high-frenzied 'adventure'..I'm very happy you're all okay. Poor Sage! Hope his fingies are okay after that :-(

Hope you all are doing well....You're all in my thoughts-sendin' you healing healing vibes...hope you can feel 'em all the way over there!

6:01 AM  
Blogger said...

Meghan, that sounds like such an awful time! I hope the next appt goes better.

9:59 PM  

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