Well, aside from everything thinking I as was a funny as all get out, the airport security was a breeze. The woman laughed when I said her patting me down may make me pass out…till it did. I took of picture of myself having cleared security, with my new oxygen concentrator on my lap (something I have used FAR too often for one day which isn’t over yet.)
On board the plane we took the wheelchair to pieces and they could get everything in the closet for wheelchairs EXCEPT the casters sticking out which meant the frame went down to the hold while assorted bits stayed up with me. I took another zopiclone on the hopes that it was a miracle drug that would get me 6 hours sleep. It wasn’t. Maybe that is because I wasn’t in business class, or in the front row, or any row that seemed a good place to put someone in a wheelchair with extreme heat intolerance and oxygen issues. It was row 18 or something, just another row. After I turned from funny colours they did offer Linda a seat across the aisle which allowed me to “kinda” lie down (me 6’3”, two airplane seats equals about 4 feet). It seems that if I can’t lie down, I can’t sleep, sitting upright, I just slowly get more and more taxed – I don’t know if this is heart or respiration or both. Anyway, that is a big change from before. Also new is how now every time I need to pee we had to page Dawn who was my designated aisle chair person. The aisle chair is about 18 inches wide, I shit you not. Dawn was saying how GREAT it was this wasn’td a blah blah plane which had even narrower aisles (what 12 inches? Anyway, every trip to pee make me a STAR!). Well, I slept and peed and then started to overheat (what, put hundreds of people on a plane and it gets warm?).
First we went through our first emergency break back and a neck band that Linda soaked in ice (oh, those fever breaking memories started coming back). Linda took a pic of me with my eye covering pushing my hair up in a truly anime hairstyle (wild and red). Things got a bit dodgy and we used one the airplanes’ cold break packs and using Cheryl’s and Maggie’s EMT advice applied a ziplock bag of ice water to my vagina (THEY were the ones saying put it on groin or armpit – here I could at least throw a cloth over the groin). Yeah, that fact that applying ice and water in a bad to my vagina didn’t do anything except make me go, “uhhhh?” indicates how bad it was. The stewardess came by offering to refill people’s classes of ice water. “More ice water?” she asked and mildly confused I pulled back the cotton cloth covering my waist and showed her the baggie of ice and water saying, “No, I think I’ve got enough” (and you thought I was trained enough to go into public – wrong!).
I also met a woman who is singing this summer in Victoria backed by a choir, it was her 44th trip to Japan as a singer and she said to tell people I am on a “Dai Boken!” or it sounded like that, it means, “Big Adventure.” I was trying to practice my Japanese and was going Watashi wa….Dai Boken!” And she said that saying that I AM the big adventure might not be the right concept to get across. I said it probably would get me some action in front of the love hotels, then I told her how Linda was a wimp for not photographing my mons. After that, the woman said, on second though, go ahead and tell you you ARE the big adventure, because I don’t think Japan knows what is about to hit it.
Well, 10.5 hours is a long flight and the last 40 minutes or so, with the change in altitude or whatever, I was pretty much either moaning, passed out or WISHED I was passed out (even with pain pills). The woman who was coming to sing (44th tour) for the Cherry Festivals was holding my head, and Linda my hand and I think Dawn was there at some point since I woke up with a DD bust due to ANOTHER emergency break pack.
We made it thought customs quickly and I used a Japanese disability toilet which scared the hell out of me as there was a button showing water going up your butt, a button showing how to make hot water go up your butt, actually about four buttons involving water up the butt, which made me scared to sit down. I got off that thing as soon as possible (there was a button for fan blowing hot air up the butt too!) to find after washing hands that….there were no towels. I pointed this out to the airport English speaking aide and she seemed flummoxed (I later read in a guide book that often Japanese people use handkerchiefs to dry hands). I will say it was the most advanced toilet where I left with dripping hands (like the half functioning ones in north America).
At the JR rail station is seemed that the fax from New York had arrived but we couldn’t know that until we had our passes accepted, transferred and stamped and THEN we could go to the window (next one over) where the person sitting next to the person we were talking to could tell us if the reservations were available. They were. Then we asked if we could get the 3:45 train. It was 3:15. That seemed less possible. Because it seemed that every reservation for the ENTIRE two weeks needed to be hand written and confirmed against the email. Then I brought out the email from the disability organization about how JR officials would call ahead and have officials waiting with ramps to get OFF the train (the doors require a hefty step up). Well that caused such a panic that someone simply left the JR office entirely. They returned many minutes later with a man in blue who seemed to have the authority, presence and erect stature of something higher than police, perhaps some sort of elite military. It was the JR man. Who with his white gloves, guided us to the train and to our seats. As I write this, the conductor who has a habit of bowing to us every time the door opens (it is automatic so he bows, I bow), is standing guard over my wheelchair for reasons I am unclear about. I have not asked him to stand guard over it, but perhaps the pride of the JR line rests on this duty.
We got to Tokyo, or the SUB-basement platform of sub level 5 to be meet by two Oriental Rail Security people who are somehow taken over/part of JR now. Anyway, the guy who had a name starting with F (By the way, Elizabeth is as hard to remember or say as I am having with their names so I while Linda is “Linda”, I am “E.K.” or EiKay” I suppose. I hope that doesn’t mean some bottom feeding fish. The younger trainee was a female name H. – sadly every female we have met so far is either Hiso…, Hirioshi…, etc. This is sort of like when we first went to Ireland or Wales and there was 16 Wyn’s and 12 Gwen’s.
Well, I have to say of the Tokyo train station which has about 18 levels so far as I can tell that having two security people to guide you through the MANY levels including ramps and MANY elevators is the only way. And I don’t mean that like there is another choice, often the space the wheelchair goes through is LOCKED so unless you HAVE a JR official to unlock the lock, you aren’t getting to the next level. Actually, after being to Tokyo Station, I can understand a lot better why first person shooters are so popular because that is exactly what it was except you don’t actually shoot the people, just try to avoid them and keep saying sumi-mesen (excuse me) and Domo Arigato (thank you) a thousands times. You wouldn’t know we were off a 10.5 hour flight after being up for 5 hours. ARG, we are both nauseous and still 1.5 hours and one train transfer from Nikko. Boy, that sword dance better kick ass.
Everyone guiding us wants to know what we will see in Japan so reeling out this litany of places, with mostly correct pronunciation and “important Japanese Sites” instead of like, “Where-ever I can get that porn manga” is winning us big points. Because it is cold and there are waits, I was parked into a waiting room for about 20 kids to come and stare at me, to which I waved and said “Konnichi Wa” which made the eyes get even bigger or they ran off so I could say “Sayonara” and freak them out further. These are really cute kids with girls with pig tails and all sorts of cute stuff holding them out just like the anime. One guy little stayed to stare at me but more up at Linda which was like some Nordic goddess now that she has her blonde hair. Of course Linda has pictures of about 20 trains, which I hope she knows what they are because I don’t!
The sun is setting now as we leave Tokyo and I guess this means I am really here. All the houses have the little balconies just like on Strawberry Marshmallow (is it so geek that I get excited to see things from anime). I also notice that rural roads and any roads outside of a city centre have NO sidewalks and you really do have to walk that little path between the farm paddies. Yeah, would last at least 10 seconds in a wheelchair in the country.
I have seen some of the Tokyo cherry trees in bloom and they look a lot like the ones in Victoria, which must mean I haven’t been drinking enough sake to notice the magnificent difference. This is the first time during my travels (except to Malaysia, Singapore, etc) I have not been able to follow a conversation when we travel as with a smattering of French, German and my latin, I can usually have SOME idea what people are talking about. While here, nothing, well except for some surreal English signs like TOKYOPET for what appeared to be a gas/petrol station. I, being me, spend 10 minutes in the waiting room learning a few phrases like “No namea wa” (which you build to make “my name is EK, what is your name?” and of course I am ignored in the same level as I am ignored when I am speaking English too quickly or using words that the person doesn’t know. I haven’t determined whether this is because my pronunciation is crap or they are just unused to girls in wheelchairs going around asking every JR official in sight, “What is your name?” “Hello! My name is…” which is as usually as far as I get before they cut me off and point me back to where I am supposed to be waiting. Oh well, more time at the next train transfer to learn some more phrases (I found the “My name is” in the “business section” next to “I feel somewhat ill” and “Our business in the UK is doing well.” This is some wack phrasebook.
Well, out of batter power so till tomorrow! Linda and Elizabeth signing out from Japan (Tomorrow Sword Maidens and POSTCARDS!)
2 hours ago