I flew over to Honolulu on Wednesday morning to meet with a trauma specialist in order for him to evaluate my leg. One of the quirks about living on Maui is that sometimes you have to leave the “country” and visit the “big city” over on O’ahu. Fortunately the health insurance company pays for the flight since they cannot provide the particular service here on Maui. Although it never states it in the tour guides, you do not want to get severely injured while visiting the Valley Isle. If the injury is critical you will be flown over to Honolulu, where they can provide more comprehensive care. It really is an amazing way to live.
Not really knowing what to expect from a day of travelling, my adventure began at 5:30am. I woke up, had breakfast and was out the door shortly after 6. I parked at the airport around 6:30 and, while checking in at the ticket counter, I requested a wheelchair. A porter came and whisked me to the front of the security checkpoint. I was wheeled to the side and was made to stand like a flamingo as I was patted down. Standing in an airport, on one leg, while an older gentleman explains how he is going to touch your body, then proceeds to do so, while wearing latex gloves is certainly a more exciting start to my day than most.
The flight itself is a twenty-minute flight. If you have checked bags, you might spend more time at the luggage carousel than in the air. Upon arriving in Honolulu I skipped the wheelchair service and headed outside to find my ride. Earlier in the week I had called a shuttle service for a ride to the doctor’s office. Reliable Shuttle was courteous on the phone and prompt in their pick up. I hadn’t been waiting 5 minutes since calling when the van arrived. The shuttle driver was a large, older Hawaiian gentleman who went by the name Kahu. Kahu was pleasant, informative and just a pleasure to listen to. We talked story the entire 20 minutes it took to get to the doctor’s office. We said our goodbyes; I thanked him for everything, asked for a receipt and took care of him. It wasn’t until much later that I looked at the receipt and found out he gave me a pre-paid return voucher. I called the dispatcher and told her to let Kahu know that the extra money was a gratuity for his service, not the fare for a return trip (although I did still intend to use them). She said she would contact him and let him know.
The doctor’s office was very crowded, something I usually try to avoid. I always schedule doctors and dentist visits first thing in the morning in order to be taken right away and avoid the coughing, sneezing and interactions with other people. Since that was not possible for this visit I found the only empty seat and tried to get comfortable. After a few minutes I was shown to an examination room. It was your typical doctor’s office room; padded raised table, roll of paper covering the top, x-ray viewing board and a few cabinets with medical supplies.
Doctor Harpstrite came in, we talked, he gave his opinion, and then we discussed my future. Although I was looking for a miracle diagnosis or an instant cure, the doctor explained what the pros and cons are between the two schools of thought regarding my healing process.
At this time it seems wise to continue on our current course of action (or non-action) and continue using the bone stimulator, continue eating right, attempt to put partial weight of the leg and try very hard to get a good night’s rest (easier said than done).
I left the doctor’s office disappointed, but satisfied. Disappointed that I hadn’t been healed, but satisfied that I’ve been doing all I can do to get healthy as quick as possible.
Before I flew over to O’ahu I had looked on google maps to see what was around the doctor’s office building. According to the map the state capitol building and Queen ‘Iolani’s Palace were less than three blocks away. As I walked out of the Queen’s Physicians Office I snugged up my backpack, put my cap and sunglasses on and began my adventure.
After a block and a bit, I came upon a monument dedicated to all the veterans who have served in the armed forces who were from Hawaii. It was an eternal flame monument standing about 10 feet tall and made of metal. As I took a breather and tried to take a few pictures I noticed across the street stood the capitol building and through that stood Queen ‘Iolani’s Palace and grounds. I crossed the four-lane road illegally (the crosswalk was a long way away) and wandered around the capitol building for a while. In the center of the courtyard they have a circular mosaic on the ground. The mosaic is made up of thousands of blue colored tiles and has all the different shades of blue represented. Where I was standing I looked down and notice one lone red tile surrounded by a sea of blue. I wanted to get an up close picture of this unique dynamic, but was unable to get down on the ground to take the picture I wanted. Immediately I began to get upset, frustrated I could not get the shot I imagined in my head. This is the same frustration I had felt back on Memorial Day while sitting in my wheelchair. I put the camera away and headed towards the Queen’s palace.
The architecture of the Queen’s palace is beautiful, especially with the backdrop of Honolulu’s modern skyline all around it. I spent a few brief moments looking at the grounds, then made my way across the street to take a few pictures of the King Kamehameha statue. I began to realize how physically tired I was becoming from moving around all day on the crutches, so I found a bench and called Reliable Shuttle to return to the airport.
As luck would have it, Kahu was my driver again. I took this fortunate coincidence to let him know about the gratuity miscommunication from earlier and made sure I paid for the return trip. He couldn’t believe I had made it as far as I had on crutches and gave me a verbal pat on the back for being so adventurous. He and I agreed that being stubborn and not asking for help in certain situations will help the healing process. He told me how his mother only had the use of one arm, but she used to sew all of his family’s clothes. We talked story for a bit more and finally arrived at the airport. We parted ways again and I headed inside to check in. I asked the attendant for a wheelchair and, after going to the head of the security checkpoint, was made to flamingo again whilst being patted down.
As I waited for the plane to begin boarding an older couple began asking me about my leg. After being very vague we moved onto talking about their vacation to Maui. It was nice to listen and give my opinion on some of their planned activities. It was as if I was at work again. I boarded the plane first and could barely keep my eyes open during the safety speech given by the flight attendants. As we took off I shook off my heavy eyelids and enjoyed looking at O’ahu from the air. I was seated on the left side of the plane, so as we came over Maui I was able to the 20 windmills and noticed they have made bases for 14 more.
There is something to be said for landing on Maui. I’m not referring to the wind, which can make landings a bit…interesting. I’m talking about flying over this vast expanse of deep blue water and white clouds to come upon an oasis of rugged mountains, sandy coastlines and green landscape that covers every square inch. It is a special place to be and I acknowledge that I am fortunate to live Hawaii.