What day is it? What’s today’s date? Is it June yet? Most importantly…what time is it? Because, it is STILL daylight outside!! You’d think that once I was outside the confines of the hospital, I would have a much better grip on the minute details of day-to-day life…not so much. I’m in a foreign country, different time zone, different sun time (it stays daylight until about 10:00 p.m. and starts getting daylight around 3:00 a.m.). All the while, this chemo-battered body is trying to play catch up and keep up. I must tell you, it takes careful planning and the willingness to be flexible (not my strong suit), but it can be done. Yesterday, was a perfect example of that. I had already enjoyed two days of rest and only short treks in and out of the hotel. But, yesterday, I was on a mission to finally be able to safely navigate across the plaza, up and down many unrailed steps, and across the street to the mall that held most of the souvenirs that I had on my wish list of gifts for family members as well as a nice selection of scarves to feed my addiction, which now includes using those scarves (inset pic, top left) to cover my newly bald head. Mom and I started out at 10:00 a.m., me promising myself, that it didn’t matter how long it took to cross the great divide, as long as I made it…and I did. Once inside the mall, there were escalators and elevators that made navigation much simpler, but I’m convinced that they must have some kind of ban on benches in malls. because there are none. This mall (AST Mall), though rather lackluster, was air-conditioned, 3 stories high and included a food court, complete with a KFC and plenty of tables for resting in between souvenir runs. And, let’s not forget, one of the food vendors served fountain Cokes. This food court served as my Pit Stop for the course of the day and was the perfect venue for this recovering HSCTr to reach all of retail therapy goals. Well, after about 3 hours of shop, rest, Coke, repeat, all of the boxes had been checked off my list and we had only one more thing left to do at this mall…a visit to the grocery store that mom had been going to for the last month. It is in the bottom floor of the mall and has everything soup to nuts to liquor…lots and lots of liquor (see pics below). We finally decide to make the trek back to the hotel. As we leave, we realize that it’s raining outside and we have no umbrellas. Rain has never felt so good on a body that felt like it was wilting from the humidity. As soon as you exit the mall and cross over toward the hotel, you are met with obstacle after obstacle in the way of uneven surfaces and large stone steps. So, one large stone step at a time we went. You might be thinking by now “What’s the damn big deal about the uneven surfaces and the steps, Brooke? Aren’t you all fixed now?” “When you had your transplant, didn’t somebody wave some kind of magic wand and everything is 100%?” Unfortunately, that’s not how this gig works. For at least the first 3-6 months on average, your MS symptoms worsen before they begin to improve, and then an additional average of 2 years, possible up to 5 to see the maximum reversal/stabilization of symptoms. That’s right. You know that wobbly, off-base, limpy, foot-droppy Brooke you always see? Well, turn her disability dial up about 4 notches, and that’s what we’re dealing with right now. Is that going to stop me? No. But, it is going to slow me down, considerably, and it makes me have to be incredibly careful with every step that I take, so as to avoid a tumble that could lead to injury. IMPORTANT! Let us not forget, that the MS has been HALTED. I simply need time to heal.
This was just the first half of the day. We get back to the hotel, and I receive a message from my friend, Kristy Cruise, from Australia, who is also here in Moscow for her HSCT pre-testing. She says that she’s done with all of her testing for the day, and that she’s going to see if the doctor will spring her from the hospital in order to have dinner out. You see, yesterday was her birthday, she was half a world away from family and friends and alone in a hospital room. There was just no way we were going to let that happen. Several hours, a few tactical moves and one female Candy Crushing taxi driver later, and Special Agent Koala Bear, mom and I were sitting at the loungy, white and linen themed, couch-laden restaurant enjoying the best beef stroganoff and Tiramasu that I’ve ever had. Kristy opted for ice cream in lieu of birthday cake. When all was said and done, Kristy was securely delivered back to the hospital (after mom threatened the cab driver that he had to stay with her until the guards let her back into the hospital!), and it was around midnight when we made it back to our room and promptly collapsed onto our beds. Today, we had an early breakfast at the buffet here in the hotel, and I plan on spending the remainder of the day resting, reading, napping, blogging and arranging my belongings for our departure on Friday. On tomorrow’s agenda? Red Square, and the GUM Mall. This mall is as much about the architecture as it is about the shopping and I can’t wait to see it. In the meantime, here are some pics from yesterday’s adventure.
SHOP, BUT DON’T DROP!!
IT’S TIME FOR A BIRTHDAY PARTY!!
Another day down, and two days until we lift off for the States.
Peace, love and scarves…from Moscow.