Tom walked into the hospital room around 3pm. He was pulling his lightly loaded carry-on suitcase behind him. It was great to see his smiling face. The preparation for my departure from the hospital moved into higher gear. By this time Tobi had started her evening shift, and she also moved into action to get me on my way.
As I mentioned before, the original goal was to see how I felt at the time of my discharge and plan what happened next accordingly. Tom let me know that there was a train (The Canadian) leaving around midnight from Edmonton to Toronto, and that the next train was only on Saturday. I decided that we should try to get on this train. There still appeared to be seats available. We were going to try to get a private sleeper cabin for the three day trip. This reservation would include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in the dining car. That was the tentative plan.
After Tom’s arrival, the first thing I did was to have my first real bath after the crash. A nurse then arrived to put new dressings on my wounds. As she was working on the wounds, she told me that there still appeared to be gravel in the crater behind my shoulder where flesh had been lost. I gave her permission to use as much force as needed to try to get out the dirt. It did not hurt. After the cleaning and bandaging, we gathered some of the left-over dressings as supplies for the journey. I got fully dressed.
The doctors had a prescription ready for me for pain medication to take during the travels home, and we needed to get to the pharmacy before closing time to fill it.I walked through the hospital for the first time. Having spent the last few days staring at other hospital buildings from my hospital bed, I had been oblivious to its nice location. You could see the city out of its windows. It was a revelation. We went down the elevator a few floors, and then from out of the McCaig Tower into the main building. We walked past the cafeteria area, past the signs of people going about their “normal” lives, something that I had not seen for a few days, and finally found the pharmacy. I submitted the prescription and we then returned to my room to complete the packing and other formalities.
Tobi had finally received the discharge documentation to take with me. It included electronic copies of the X-rays and CT Scans. I wished my ex-roommate goodbye and good luck with his daughter’s wedding, wished Tobi well, and then walked out of the trauma center with Tom for the last time.
I was able to move along at a decent speed to get to places. I was feeling good. Tom was helping with my luggage. We made it to the pharmacy before it closed with 3 minutes to spare.
We had a plan of action that required precise timing in its execution for us to be able to successfully catch the train from Edmonton to Toronto that night. Part on the plan depended on our ability to get automobile transportation promptly when needed. Fortunately, Tom had the Uber application on his smartphone to summon car rides, and the system worked exactly the way it was supposed to. Another element of the plan was the ability to take action to book reservations while traveling by bus. The bus was supposed to have wi-fi.
Within a few minutes of picking up the prescription, we were out the front door of the hospital. Our only chance of catching the train was to get on the 6:30pm Red Arrow bus to Edmonton and it was already past 6pm. Would we make it? Tom came up with the idea of intercepting the bus on its way north at Red Arrow’s Calgary North ticket office, where the bus was supposed to depart from at 6:45pm. We made it there with 15 minutes to spare, and they did also have seats on the bus available for us.Great – so far, so good!
They did also have snacks and water on the bus. There was no time for a proper dinner.
Once on the bus, we connected to its wi-fi system and got on the Via Rail website in order to buy the tickets for our onward journey. Fortunately there were tickets available. Our effort to buy the tickets online was however foiled by an irritating software bug that required that we enter some sort of discount code that did not exist! Ughhhh, software!!! Tom had to call Via Rail directly, and after overcoming a credit card glitch, we managed to reserve places on the Canadian that night. The boarding passes were issued electronically, and Tom had to send mine to me via email.We were all set, and there was nothing more to do on the bus until we got to Edmonton, which would happen after 10pm.
I felt a little out-of-sorts without my camera, which I had asked Bob to take it home after the crash. I did not think that the camera on the smartphone was any good, but I had no choice but to start experimenting with it. The sun was setting as we rolled north.We arrived in downtown Edmonton as scheduled, and immediately caught an Uber to the Via Rail train station. The station was located further away from downtown and closer to the outskirts of the city than I expected. We arrived at a building that had signs for both Via Rail train and Greyhound bus services.
The waiting room was packed with people in spite of the late hour. There were all kinds of people waiting to travel, young and old, and families with kids, couples, and single people. Children ran around in spite of the late hour. A sort of dull chaos prevailed. Most folks were slumped in seats or wherever else they could find some space, trying to get some rest. People were tired. It felt a bit dreary.
At that point, we had been on the move for a long time. I was still feeling OK, even though the body was somewhat stiff. We found a place to park ourselves and our luggage. Our train was supposed to arrive at 11pm and depart at 11:55pm. The only announcements we were hearing were for the departure of Greyhound buses, There were vending machines in front of us with food and drinks, but it all looked unappetizing. 11pm came and went without any sign of the train.