Monday, March 19, 2012

Rick And Donna's Excellent Adventure

Friday Rick and I went down to Boston for Rick's psych eval for the Temporary Disabled Retirement List.(He already had his physical eval last month) Every solider that is diagnosed with PTSD gets put on this list for a maximum of 5 years. At anytime in that 5 years,the military can send the solider to a Dr for an update,to see if that solider is getting better. It's beneficial if the solider has just been wounded and receives help right away.This is not our case,but you do what you have to do.

I cannot drive in Boston.I did it once,and almost had a nervous breakdown. If it was a matter of life and death,I would do it,but only if all other avenues were exhausted. So we decided to take the train down. It wasn't cheap ($70 round trip) but well worth it for my nerves. Plus,I knew that I would have to be the strong one,so I didn't want to be a mess for Rick when I knew he was going to be relying on me to get him from point A to B and back again.

We arrived at the Amtrak Downeaster station in Dover early enough for me to take a photo of Rick in front of the office:

Here she comes,ready to bring us to North Station in Boston:

The train ride was very comfortable,and took roughly an hour and a half. We had 5 stops before we reached North Station. One great thing was that they sold subway tickets (called the "T" in Boston) right on the train,so we didn't have to try and buy them at North Station. We each bought a "Charlie Card" with gives you a round trip on the subway. Rick was very nervous,and I was too,but not as nervous as I thought I would be. I guess the fact that Rick was depending on me pushed all that to the side. Bless his heart,I did get a bit impatient with him a few times on the way down and when we were trying to find our subway. When Rick gets overwhelmed,even if you give him correct information,he will ask questions over and over. It's not that he doesn't trust what I am saying,it's that he's trying to get everything straight and calm himself down.

It was fairly nerve racking when we got off the train at North Station.Thankfully,our train arrived there at 10:30 AM,and our appt wasn't until 3:00PM,so we had plenty of time to find where we were going. The first thing we did was look around in the station to get our bearings,then we went to find the Green Line,which,we discovered,was on the next street over. Rick was already pinging-lots of people,not being sure of where everything was. We found the Green Line,swiped our Charlie Cards to get through the turnstile,then tried to figure out where the E train was,as well as if we were going Outbound or Inbound (we were going Inbound-into the city,we figured out).Thankfully,we weren't the only people who had no clue as to what was going on,because we had people approach us asking if we knew what train to take to the Flower Show in town,and another lady was on the way to a job interview. She told me her life story as we waited for the trains.She lost her job as a dental assistant when her boss had to stop work to care for a family member who had cancer. I hope she found her interview and did well on it.

We found the E train,looked at the map in the car and found that our stop (Arlington) was the fifth stop on the way. We sat down,and that is where I made a big mistake. I should've let Rick sit by the window and put myself by the aisle. However, I did the opposite,and because the train was crowded,a lady was standing up next to Rick holding on to a pole. She was so close to him that if he turned his head to the right,his head would've been right in her cleavage. He kept muttering,"I don't like this,I don't like this,I'm ready to lose it." I put my hand his leg and told him it wouldn't be long,only a few minutes. Our stop came,and Rick was one might happy camper.(The fact that he doesn't like tunnels,and here we were in a subway,did not help matters,either). Once we got out of the station,and got our bearings,we walked down Arlington St to Melrose to find out where this Dr Ira Lable was. Rick almost got hit by a taxi...though we were in the crosswalk AND walking to the WALK light.

Bay Village (which I have no photos for because of course,my camera battery died) has lovely Federal style townhouses.Edgar Allen Poe was born there. We found the address,then tried to find a restaurant. We settled on an Italian restaurant,which,come to find out,had gluten free pasta,so Rick was quite happy. He had Shrimp Scampi,and I had Baked Ziti,Both were delicious,and it gave us time to sit and decompress a bit. Rick,of course, was still quite nervous about the Dr's appt,but he seemed in better spirits after we ate. We had plenty of time to kill,so we decided to stroll over to the Public Garden and Boston Common to walk off our pasta.

One thing that amazed us was how fast everything is down there. The traffic,the pedestrians...I couldn't live like that. All we could smell when you couldn't smell food was exhaust. Rick commented that everyone was dressed alike,and we noticed that he was the only person who was wearing plaid. Not business appropriate,I suppose :) Give me my quiet little house where I can breathe fresh air and see the milky way above my house!

The weather was gray and bit raw,which was too bad,but we still enjoyed ourselves.The first thing Rick noticed was all the squirrels in the Public Garden-gray ones,blondish ones,even an white Albino one.There were hundreds!They weren't shy either. They would a come up to us,get on their hind legs,and beg. I missed this little guy begging, but I still took his photo nonetheless. Rick joked,"We could eat for a year in a this place!!!"  There was herds of them. I've never seen anything like it.

After we walked the Public Garden,we went across the street to Boston Common:

I thought that the view of the park with the skyscrapers in the background made an interesting photo:

We found the cemetery with no problem. I had also read that the Central Burying Ground was home to a mass grave of British soldiers who were killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill,but when we walked around in the cemetery,we couldn't find any mention of it:

We did find some interesting tombstones,however:
Many tombstones had been worn by time and were illegible. Some were broken,either by age or vandals. Quite a few were for children,which was very sad. This one caught the eye of Rick:

It's hard to read,but it's in memory of a 19 year old Chinese boy who died when he fell from the mast of the ship Mae that he was working on in 1709. His master had the stone erected .

Then,this stone caught our eye:

It reads "Here lies the body of Fanny Webster,daughter of Josiah and Sarah Webster of Rye NH,died October 16,1805,16 yrs." Why would this catch our eye? Rick is related to Daniel Webster,and the Websters were from Rye,NH. I wrote down the info to do some research on later.

We still had lots of time to kill,so we walked back to the Public Garden and saw this iconic image of Boston:

Many folks have seen this before,and I always thought that it was an homage to Paul Revere and his famous ride. It's not. It's George Washington. You learn something new everyday.

At this point,it's 1:30,and it's starting to get real raw out. After sitting on a park bench for a few minutes,we decided to hit Finale,which is a place that has desserts.(And gluten free ones!) I had some chocolate type thing,and Rick had raspberry cheesecake (no crust). We each enjoyed a hot cup of coffee and warmed up a bit. At 2:15,we decided to go to the Dr's office.

Dr Lable is an older gentlemen,I would say in his sixties or seventies,and he had about 15 pages of questions that the military sent for him to fill out. He also read through the reports that the VA sent him. He was very nice,and we answered the questions easily : Do you get confused? Do you do things repetitively? Do you have nightmares?  etc,etc. At the end,the Dr said to Rick "Well, you certainly have been through a lot. I agree with the assessment that you have full blown PTSD and a moderate Brain Injury. I'll write up my report and send it out. I wish you the best of luck.The military should put you on full retirement." We thanked him for his time and walked back to the Arlington train station,hopped on the Green Line yet again (we waited for the least full train) and arrived at North Station,breathing sighs of relief that this was finally over. On the Amtrak back to Dover,I was wiped out-I snoozed a tiny bit while Rick played Solitaire on my Kindle. Any game like that is good for his brain function.It helped him decompress a bit. I was quite happy to arrive in Dover,get in the car,and drive back home.

So...we did it! We survived our Excellent Adventure. Now we wait to see what the military will say.

By the way...Fanny Webster is related to Rick.She is his third cousin 6 generations removed.


  1. Donna - i am so glad that even though the trip wasn't entirely and completely enjoyable - that you both made the best of it! i have found that since being here in the wide-open Manor, that when we have to go in to town, which is only every 3 weeks or so, and the town has only 5,000 people - every hair on the back of my neck stays standing up until i leave. and my nerves are shot. so i can only imagine how it must be for Rick, since he suffers from full-blown PTSD. i am glad that he has you and i am glad that you take that role seriously. however, i do know that it puts unneccessary stress on you.

    all in all, you guys did great on your excellent adventure. can't wait to hear what the military says. i think it is pretty clear, though!

    your friend,

  2. Donna - I visited Boston only once, but it's the worst city I've ever been in for driving. I still don't know how it is I wasn't hit. I thought Detroit was bad, but I now see it as the 2nd worst. You BOTH should be proud of how you navigated a stressful day. You both worked together to get Rick through it. I have to say, I admire how you both just get on with life, and navigate the tremendous challenges in a matter-of-fact and practical way, and with a lot of love. Thankfully, he had a doctor who's paying attention. I hope you get the results you want to hear. It's the least you deserve.Take care, and relax!- Julie
    PS - How cool is that to happened upon the grave of an ancestor!

  3. Thank you,ladies for you kind words,as always! We were determined to make it fun,and all in all,we did have a nice time,nerves aside!