The day came much more quickly than I had expected, in the back of my mind was the prevailing thought that it just would not happen. I had already given in to the reality that the trip was not going to be possible. There are many reasons that I thought it not possible; leaving Farmer Road while so many projects need to be completed, the ever present concerns over money, being away for 22 days and the most distressing, the oral surgery that requires such care.
My mouth was sore, a week removed from reconstructive surgery that required the rebuilding of my palette and front buckle. The surgeon, who is world class labeled the surgery a 9 out of 10. Now just a week removed the swelling had reduced but the discomfort and the concern of pain, effective healing and potential problems while out at sea were daunting. My mind told me no, my desire told me yes. My surgeon told me yes, my family told me yes. My mind told me no.
So in some sort of deep place I was actually trying to find a rational reason to call it off. I repeated to myself that there is a fine line between being adventurous and being foolish. Somehow this seemed to lean toward the latter.
I packed in the way that I do and that is so familiar. However this time it was all about medicine and treatments and first aid. Really a ridiculous and almost unbelievable behavior for me. I usually take some band aids, some aspirin and some sunscreen. Now I had medications, pills, all sorts of items to address the mouth that looked more horrible than perhaps it actually was. I was not in control of the emotions and I kept telling myself that I could have a problem, the sutures would come out, the surgery would fail, the adjacent teeth would fall out……..a drama of grand proportion in my head. The entire time my tongue kept probing and searching for a problem, something that would justify just turning around and going back home, to abandon the crazy idea of sailing across the Pacific Ocean.
My Dad arrived at 0700 and off we went to the airport, me stressing about traffic, timing, eating, not eating, money, you name it. This stress had become a theme for me over the last 6 months and the real reason all those near to me pushed me to follow through on the trip. They wanted me to take a time out, to let go of the stress and the worry that I had obviously been displaying and manifesting. There were lots of reasons it got so bad, not to be limited to a daily memoir but certainly to be worked through and reconsidered during a 20 day ocean sailing.
I flew from San Diego to San Francisco without a hitch. Then came the seven hour delay in San Francisco with a bad airplane. The entire day was spent trying to keep my mind off my mouth, I did not even want to look at it. Once we took off for Hong Kong, seven hours late, I feel fast asleep on the plane. Unusual for me but clearly a sign of my heightened stress level. When I awoke I went to the restroom and inspected the mouth. Inspection in an airplane restroom is not recommended. The lighting is antiseptic; bright, harsh and somehow seems to show each flaw no matter the scale. So the look was ghastly and the front tooth had become loose. I thought I would never be able to do this.
We landed 15 hours later in Hong Kong, at 0130. Of course all services were closed and I was forced to take a $50 cab to the hotel rather than the usual $12 train. I am tired, sore, a bout of panic and then angry over spending what small amount of money I brought on a taxi.
I took some pictures of my mouth, texted my wife Dianna that I did not think I could do this and then called my surgeon. They all told me to relax, I was going to be fine. Just don’t bite anything and keep it clean. I had to be talked off the ledge……another oddity for me. The oddities seem to be accumulating with me.
I was not comforted but rather felt that no one understood the severity of this impending decision. I was headed for a container ship in 2 days. To be on the open ocean for 20 days. There is no medical help out there. What if? So my mind was still telling me to go home, not go on an adventure I had been planning for years and so looking forward to. How could I enjoy it if I was simply trying to survive it?
I fell asleep in Hong Kong. At least I had a great view.