Category Archives: Family

The Catalyst epic continues part 5

So, backtracking a tad, now that I knew what was going to happen, that things were moving along and the light was shining brighter at the end of the tunnel, Mike and I enjoyed a nice lunch together. After we finished eating, we just sort of hung out together. It was the first time we could do that. Todd was in Dallas taking care of Gavin. Mike was free and I was lucky enough to have him with me.

Mike looked uncomfortable sitting in the stiff, plastic hospital chair. I moved over and patted the bed next to me.

“Come lay next to me.”

“Can I?”

“Come on. First of all, we’re married. Second, we’re not going to do anything.   Sheez.  We’re just going to lay here.”

Mike grinned, got up and settled in next to me.

No sooner had Mike settled in when the skinny woman to transport me to the cath lab came in my room. What, so soon? I thought.  It was only three o’clock. Maybe this was too fast.

Once I was down in the cath lab, which was immense, I was wheeled in to a large area that was lined with sections that were curtained off. There was a row of curtains on one side and another set on the other. I would say at least five or six per side. It looked like the sleeping area in the Nun’s story if you ever saw that movie. Some curtains were open, some closed. Some had people lying on gurneys, some were empty. Each area had their own set of monitors and equipment. My eyes bugged out thinking about the assembly line of cardiac catheterizations that were performed here. How often? weekly, twice a week, daily?

The skinny gurney woman, more like a girl to me, wheeled me into the very last one on the right side. She backed me in. with out the beep beep, parked me and took off with a wave. Eyes wide I scanned the area. Oh, no, I thought. Oh, no.

I saw a white board on the wall to my right. Welcome to pre-procedure, it said with other pertinent data. A nurse whizzed in introduced herself, did a little prep and then rushed out. I was alone for a while. I think I was the last one of the day because they squeezed me. There was a flurry of activity all around me behind those curtains. Because they were only curtains I could hear some of what was going on in the ones closest to me. In the area across from me, a woman was kind of moaning.

“Her IV is occluded. When can we bring her up,” a nurse, I assumed, said or she said something like that into a phone.

When she hung up she went to the woman. For some reason her curtain was open and I could see all.

“You have to keep your leg still,” she said. Oh boy, I know what that meant. For some reason, they left the sheath in. Well, I guess that kind of thing isn’t unusual.

Next to me, a nurse was talking to a man, I think he was some kind of driver, who brought in a guy from a nursing home. They were discussing where the guy would go after the procedure. Was he going back or would he be admitted?

Once the driver left, the nurse was on the phone. Apparently, the guy’s labs were in and his kidney results were elevated. The procedure needed to be put on hold. She hung up called someone else, “I have to get the driver back. I don’t know where he is,” she said. “The patient needs to go back. They are going to treat him with medication and wait to do the procedure.”

I heard a new comer enter a few curtains down on my side. It sounded like this new one was a male. All the nurses and whoever who was in attendance, busied around him to get him ready. Or that was what it sounded like. I think he was going before me. I heard the sound of a razor. I knew what was going on. They shave you down there before they do the cath. I was shaved at Allen but the nurse here at Dallas freshen it up, just to make sure. Can’t have a stray hair hanging around ready to botch things up.

“I know man, I’m sorry. It has to be done,” A male voice said to the guy who was being shaved.

My eye caught a woman entering a curtained area across from me a few space to my left.

“Hi, Dad,” her voice drifted to me through the curtain. “You’re doing great. I love you. I’ll see you when you get to your room.”

Her dad mumbled something.  The curtain moved and a middle aged blonde woman left.

Wow, I thought. All these people with heart disease. All these professionals, resources, time, money. For what? I didn’t feel worthy of the expense. Even though, obviously, I wasn’t alone. I felt damaged. Like I shouldn’t deserve this treatment because I didn’t take care of myself good enough. I let myself get heart disease. I don’t know if the other the patients felt that way but that was where I went with it.

A guy came in, he looked Hawaiian. His long jet black hair was tied in a pony tail that went down the middle of his back. He was tall and athletic looking.

“Hi, my name is, (insert name here, I don’t remember it). “I am one of the technicians taking care of you today. We will be bringing you back in a bit. Is anyone here with you?”

“Yeah, my husband. He is up in my room. Can he come down here?” I am sure I must have looked distressed because I was feeling stressed.  My eyes wide like a deer in highlights.

“Not a problem, I’ll go get him for you. What’s your room number.”

I told him and he turned on his heel and left. Shortly he was back with Mike in tow. Oh was I glad to see my Mikey.

“Mike,” I said.

Mr. Hawaiian guy left us. I think that guy smokes, I whispered to Mike once Hawaiian guy was gone. “I can smell it on him. How is it that some people can smoke, drink in excess, eat in excess do whatever in excess and yet here I am and there he is looking healthier than health.”

“It’s not your fault, Baby,” he said and patted my arm.

I smiled up at Mike and to change the subject I proceeded to fill him in on all the goings on.

The curtains emptied, the place became cavernous. I, the lone survivor,  with my partner in crime, Mike, was waiting to be picked up. Before long, Mr. Hawaiian came over to do just that. He instructed Mike as to where to wait and off we went.

The cath lab. I remember this cath lab. First, I was not given any Benadryl or Valium to pre sedate me so I was completely aware. And let me tell you it was scary.  The picture below is more or less what I saw.

A Cath lab

I think there should be a part six, hey?  So…

Part four of the epic catalyst for change

The bumpy, ride over to Dallas in the ambulance was uneventful but odd. It was odd being strapped and bundled up on a gurney in the back of an ambulance facing the door.  One EMT, the woman, rode in back with me but I couldn’t see her, after all I was facing the door.

“Do you mind if I put the oxygen cannula under your nose.  We like to keep the oxygen level at 98%”.  The EMT said from somewhere over my right ear.

I could see the monitor on my left with all my readouts: BP, heart rate, o2 level.  My o2 was at 96.  I shrugged  “Sure, go ahead.”  Couldn’t  hurt anything but I thought my oxygen level was fine.

An hour after I got to Dallas, admitted and settled in my room when it was safe for me to move around, I wasted no time in getting up to use the bathroom. What a luxury. This had to be a harbinger of things to come.

Although Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas are in the same family they were worlds apart. Allen has 48 beds while Dallas beds are over 600. Allen has maybe 2 floors whereas Dallas is basically a highrise. This all makes a difference in the care I received.

I was still getting the shot in my stomach and the nitro patch. After all, nothing really had changed. All I had done was the cardiac cath, there was no intervention such a stent. When the nurses at Allen injected the blood thinner into my stomach the needle slid into my flesh with ease and I felt next to nothing, that is until the medicine started to spread, then there was burning for a while, like getting a bee sting if you are not allergic.

The trick with giving that shot is to bunch the skin and just go for the jab as if you are stabbing some one. I know because when my brother was hospitalized a couple of years ago I was recruited to administer these shots to him so he could go home. It was very uncomfortable to stand over my brother with a syringe getting ready to jab. But jab I must because that was how I was instructed to do it so there would be minimal discomfort. My brother told me I did good. Was he being nice? I couldn’t tell. But now that I got pay back by getting my own shots I think maybe I did do good.

The nurses at Allen did that but this one nurse at Dallas put the needle in slowly, as in s-l-o-w-l-y. It burned going in, it burned when the medicine spread. I had to get those shots twice a day. I knew in the morning she would be back for another go at it but I said nothing to her. I endured it. Ach! What can I say?

I guess it was because I liked her. She was from Africa, tall, beautiful and had the most amazing accent. I could listen to her for hours. The thing is I felt she was lacking in self-confidence. I don’t know just a gut feeling. The way she held herself and seemed worried that she was doing things wrong. She was knowledgeable but I think she was worried about hurting me. She seemed hesitant before injecting me.

I was sent to Dallas to be seen by a specific cardiologist and surgeon team. Dr. Park, a cardiologist, Dr. Pool, a cardiac-thoracic surgeon and their physician’s assistant, Peter, the three P’s All three of the P’s came to see me in my hospital room to discuss my treatment.

Peter showed up first. When he walked into my room, Mike, my loving, supportive, husband of 37 years was with me. It has been rough on Mike these past five days. He couldn’t visit me as much as he wanted because he needed to be with Gavin, the adorable doted-on grandson. My son Joe, his wife, Min, not Gavin’s parents, and Mike took a team approach with Gavin. Mike took him swimming at Joe and Min’s pool one day. Another day, Min took him swimming at the pool of a friend of hers. By the time Tuesday rolled around Gavin’s father flew down from Milwaukee to fly Gavin back home. So, Mike was freed to spend the whole day with me. I am glad he was there when the team showed up.

 

After introductions, Peter told me I was famous, that they, the three P’s (he didn’t refer to their team as the P’s. To him they were the team) had been discussing me these past two days quite a bit. I was dead pan when he told me that. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I wasn’t sure what that meant. Was it a good thing or a bad thing? Peter proceeded to fill me in on some of what they discussed.

“The cardiologist over at Allen thought that your aortic valve stenosis was severe. Because of that, you were sent here because we have a great team that works on valves. There is a new procedure that is being used to repair valves. It’s called TAVR, that’s a transcatheter aortic valve repair. TAVR is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that repairs your aortic valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, a replacement valve is wedged into the old one. It is less invasive because a catheter is threaded into your artery instead of opening up your chest.”

“Well, that’s good,” I said. I didn’t want to be sliced open again. Shudder.

“But we don’t really know how we’re going to proceed yet. Dr. Pool will discuss that with you. This is a good place to be, however. Dr. Pool has done many TAVR procedures. He’s top in his field. So is Dr. Park.

Peter left and sure enough a couple of hours later enter, Dr. Pool. Dr. Pool was tall, maybe in his late forties with short-cropped, dishwater blonde hair.

“Ms. Roberts. I’m Dr. Pool.”

“Hi, this is Mike,” I gestured over to where Mike was sitting by the window.

“We were looking at the reports that came over from Allen. You had three blockages. One of your grafts was 100% blocked, the other was 98% blocked. The 3rd blockage was in your right coronary artery. It looks like your heart was hanging on by a thread. As for your valve. I’m not sure that it is severe. We are going to do our own echo cardiogram and then make a determination on that.”

“Oh,” was all I could spit out.

“You see, we do a math equation taking into account the amount of blood in your heart before it is pumped out and the amount of blood that left the chamber. In the echo you had done at Allen, the numbers for that math didn’t add up. We will do our own test and if it is as I suspect and not severe we can go ahead and fix your blockages with stents.

“OK, I like that.”

“We’ll get that done right away and get you into the cath lab this afternoon.”

“Oh, that’s going to be awhile.” I looked at the clock. It was 10:00 am. “Can I eat. They put me on NPO (nothing by mouth) last night and I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday. I am really hungry.”

“Yes, you can eat. But eat before noon. Then nothing after that.”

I looked at Mike and we smiled at each other. “Thanks.”

Dr. Pool left and Mike and I pursued the menu. We didn’t discuss what we had learned much. I mean, I think we were in a state of shock about the whole thing.

Anyway, the echo was done. The technician just wheeled the whole machine into the room and did it right there. The same happened with an x-ray I had. No more having to be brought done to these departments to get tests done. Very convenient, very efficient.

Just as Dr. Pool thought it was not severe.

At 3:00 a very, young woman, she looked to me to be a teenager, took me, bed and all, down to the cath lab, talking all the way down about how skinny she was and how she should eat more.  She was skinny.  Her yammering did take my mind off what lay ahead.  I got involved in telling her to be herself.

The cath lab and the aftermath I will save for another day.  There was a lot going on that day, the day of my second catheterization.  Frankly, I didn’t want to have another hole poked in my femoral artery.  It was still bruised.  I just got the dang sheath from Monday’s pulled out.  What’s a woman to do?  When’s it all going to end?   Tomorrow hopefully.

Catalyst for Change Part 2

On to part 2 of Catalyst for Change…

Well, after the chest pain I felt when Mike, Gavin and I were walking the dogs at the park, somewhere in my consciousness there was concern. I wasn’t thinking about it actively but it must have been there because otherwise why would I do what I did next.

We went for the walk in the morning. All day I was feeling discomfort and breathlessness. Not overly so. Not where I would grab my chest. But yes, I felt something.

Finally, that evening when everyone was there: Mike, Gavin, Joe, his wife Min and of course the dogs, I went up to the room we were staying in to lie down. Joe was doing his homework, he went back to school to get an engineering degree and was always swamped in school work. Gavin was playing games on the computer. Mike was reading. Min was chillaxin after working all day. I laid on the bed thinking, was something wrong, should I do something, what was there to do. Finally, I called Mike and Joe into the room. I told them about how I was feeling.

“Maybe we should cut the trip early and head back home,” Mike said.

“Whoa, that means you think this is something. If this is something should I be driving 1,000 miles.”

“No, Mom, you shouldn’t. You should go to the emergency room.”

“I don’t know.” I looked over at Mike. He looked overwhelmed.

“Mom, if it is something then you don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere and have to find a hospital.”

“That’s true,” Mike said.

“Listen why don’t I take you to the hospital now. Get it checked out. If its nothing then you will have peace of mind.”

“Yeah, okay.” I looked at Mike again. He was nodding.

“Where would you like to go. There is a hospital up the street. It will take us about 10 minutes. Or there is a heart hospital about a half hour away.”

I thought a minute. “Let’s go to the one close by. I’m sure it is nothing and then we don’t have to be driving so far.”

“I’ll go tell Min.”

Joe turned and hurried out of the room. I wanted to reach out and grab him back. Tell him maybe it was all a mistake. Maybe I shouldn’t go.

I turned my attention back to Mike. He was looking at the floor, his mouth tightened to a thin line.

“Maybe you should stay here with Gavin. He’s going to need you.”

He nodded.

Next thing I knew there was a flurry of activity. Min was gathering up stuff for the what was anticipated as a long wait in a waiting room. Joe was grabbing his phone, keys, wallet and whatever else is on his five list. Has five things he needs to leave the house. If you only counts four he missed something and has to figure out what it is.

I came down stairs to talk to Gavin.

“Hey, Gavin,”

He pulled his eyes away from the screen.

“Listen, Uncle Joe and Aunt Min are going to take me to the hospital to have that pain in my chest looked at. Grampy’s going to stay here with you. We shouldn’t be gone to long.” Gavin was with me when I had the chest pains so he knew there was something.

Gavin swiveled in his chair to face me. “Are you going to be okay, Grammy. Are you going to die?”

“No, no, honey. I’m not going to die. Come here.” I walked towards him and he stood up from the chair. I gathered him in an embrace. “I’m going to be okay. We just want to get it checked out. I love you. Grampy’s going to take good care of you.” I kissed the top of his head.

“I love you too, Grammy.” I kissed his check and he sat back down to play his game. His latest was Captain Underpants.

Before I knew it Joe, Min and I were in his car headed for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen.

It was a small hospital, easy to get around. We found the emergency room in no time and all three of us walked up to the desk. A woman at the desk looked up. Joe and Min stood to the side clearly not about to let me have them take over. Tentatively, I stepped closer to the desk

“Can I help you,” the woman asked.

“Well, ah, yes, um, I have been having this sort of chest pain for the last couple of days.”

The woman pushed back from her chair and called into the back room. “Chest pain.”

I felt stunned by her words, taken aback.

Someone immediately came out and took me to the rooms in a wheel chair.

I was ushered into a room and instantly people were around me hooked me up to EKG leads, starting an iv, wrapping a blood pressure cuff around my arm, placing my finger in the O2 lead. Blood was withdrawn from my IV to do a blood test.

Once my vitals were up on the monitor it became clear that something was up. My blood pressure was 201/102. or roughly thereabouts. My heart rate was slow, about 66.

“Mom, you need to relax.” Joe said.

“I don’t feel nervous.”

Min pulled out a small fleece blanked, the kind that you make by tying a bunch of ends. She covered me up. “Thank you Min.” I smiled at her.

“Mum, this keep you warm. This for you.” She patted the blanket. I didn’t know at the time but this was a gift that she was giving me to take home. “This is nice.” She busied her self straightening it out making sure I was good and covered.

Min is from China and speaks pretty good English for the most part. Joe and Min have been married almost three years now. She is a blessing to our family and I am delighted that Joe finally found a woman who is as giving to him as he is to her. She is loving, generous, warm and giving to all. It’s just her nature. She even made a big hit with Gavin by getting him Skylander sheets.

Before long a doctor came in and asked me to tell him what happened. I went through the spiel of the last couple of days. I told him my history of a CABG. I told him about the stress test a year and a half ago, that I had a murmur which was the result of an aortic valve stenosis. The doctor listened and nodded along.

“Well, your cardiac enzymes are elevated. That is indicating that there was some heart muscle damage.”

He went on to tell me that I would be admitted, that I would have to stay till Monday when a cardiologist would do a catheterization. I asked him why I couldn’t go home and come back on Monday.  He said it was because I had unstable angina.  Meaning with unstable angina you never know what will happen.

“Yes, Mom, this is where you need to be,”  Joe chimed in.In the mean time

In the mean time the doctor ordered a nitroglycerin patch. He explained it would deliver a continuous amount of low dose nitroglycerin and needed to be kept on. He ordered some sort of blood thinning shot that had to be delivered in my stomach. “Because of your traveling,” he said. “Just to make sure no clots develop.” In addition, he ordered a baby aspirin and a statin.

All of this was indicated that there was some serious trouble. Truthfully, none of this was sinking in. I wasn’t getting it. None of this was wasted on Joe, however.

‘Aren’t you glad we came, Mom. You didn’t even want to come. “ Concern showed on his face. Joe’s face is very expressive. All of what he is feeling is there on display. He looked up at my blood pressure reading. It was still up there. “Mom try and relax.”

“I am. I don’t understand it.”

Finally, because I was going to be admitted I convinced Joe and Min to go home. I would be fine. “Go tell Mike what is happening.” We weren’t getting cell coverage in the room.

Before I could go up to my room a nurse had to deliver an intravenous push of some blood pressure medication. I say push because she had to insert a syringe into my iv and slowly push in the medicine over a five-minute period.

While waiting for my room I think the whole hospital came in to ask me what brought me in. I had to repeat myself a bazillion time.

My blood pressure was a nice respectable 120/80 so I was taken up to my room.

For the weekend I mostly just laid in bed playing the Wizard of OZ Magic Match game on my phone, getting my stomach shots and nitro patches, having my blood drawn. I had an echocardiogram and x-ray. I didn’t really watch TV. I had a book but didn’t really read. I just laid there calmly playing my games. Mike came for a few brief visits. He brought Gavin a couple of times. Joe and Min came. They brought flowers, chocolate, fruit. I tell you, those two! Anyway, for the most part it was just me and my phone.

So yes, my thought is that there was some part of me, some aware tuned in part that allowed this whole thing to be set in motion. Retrospectively, I would say this part was orchestrating to save my life.

I can see this is going to be a multi part story. I’ll stop here. What happened on Monday was a trip in itself.

Collecting experiences on the trail in Menomonee Park

The long journey to change.

A Catalyst for Change

So, why, you, the vast and expansive void, may ask, why return to your blog after more than four years of silence. What was the catalyst? Because more often than not there is a catalyst when someone decides to make a big change, move forward on something that was pushed to the side, all but forgotten, shunned even. Well, as it so happens there was a catalyst. And it has a story. A three-part story, actually. So for part 1.

This last June, Mike and I decided to take a nice little road trip in our brand new Jayco, Jayfeather 7 hybrid camper, which I absolutely adore by the way. We were going to head south to the Dallas, Texas area to visit our oldest son and family. We decided it would be fun to take our six-year-old grandson with us. The one we have been helping to take care of since he was born. When we went to Texas last winter for an extended period of time, Gavin, the said grandson, said he wanted to come with us. We promised him we would take him when he was on summer break. It was June, the time had come to make good on our promise. We made our plans and set out on our trip leaving on a Sunday.

To make it easier on Gavin we stopped to camp three times along the way  allowing for downtime and swimming, which Gavin could do all day, every day. There were some challenges, Gavin didn’t like the bugs, didn’t like the dark, at one place there was no swimming but we worked through them.

Finally, on Wednesday we were in Dallas. We were later than expected and the RV storage Joe, the oldest son, picked for us to park our camper for a week was closing at 3. He called the storage place and got them to wait a half an hour.

I was driving. Joe was watching us on Life360, a phone app that allows friends and family, using GPS, to track their whereabouts. While tracking us on the app Joe was also on the phone directing us to where we needed to go.

“Turn right at the next light,” Joe’s voice blasted from our radio. We have a Honda Pilot with blue tooth capabilities.

I glanced at the clock on the console.  3:15  “We’re not going to make it”, I cried.

“Mom, you’ll make it. I have the best route for you. The next intersection is University Dr. Turn left then stay on that and you’ll see it. It’s about five miles ahead.”

Well, we did make it five minutes too late but the lady was still there waiting for us. I’ll tell you it was a white knuckle experience. I was frazzled.

We finally got to Joe’s condo. I was still shaking from the adrenaline of the drive to the storage place. At Joe,s I jumped out of the car and pulled some luggage out of the back. I dashed to the house, Gavin close on my heels. I opened the door and burst in. Joe was in the bathroom off the living room area. I could tell because the door to the bathroom was closed. I raced with my bag up two flights of stairs to the bedrooms. I hoisted the bag,  plopped it on the bed and spun around to go get more. I met Gavin on the stairs. All of a sudden I stopped dean in my tracks.  I grabbed my chest panting. I bent over. “Oh, my god,” I said.

“What’s wrong Grammy,” Gavin said.

“My chest hurts,” I told him.

Joe came out of the bathroom. “Why does your chest hurt Mom,” he said.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

I didn’t know then, but now I know, I was a having a small heart attack. I didn’t realize that then because, once I stopped for a minute the pain subsided and my breathing eased. There was still some pain but I thought, ah, maybe acid reflux. Oh, I had some discomfort on and off for the next couple of days but nothing to speak of.

On Friday,  we took Gavin for a walk with our dogs at the park. It was a large park with many paved and dirt trails. It was morning and aleady starting to heat up. The dogs wanted the water they saw at the bottom of this very deep ravine. It looked like there was a sort of trail going down so I told the dogs to go ahead. We, Gavin, Mike and I, watched from the top as the dogs splashed in the water and had a drink. The younger dog made it back up with no problem but our older dog Angie who is 12 looked up at me pleading.

“Help me, I can’t get back up,” her eyes seemed to say.

“Oh, jeez,” I remarked. “Fine.”

I went down the slippery, muddy path. I got about half way down and pointed to where there was an easier way for Angie to get out of the little creek. “Over there,” I said. “Go over there.”

She saw where I was pointing and made it up the hill. Now, I had to get up. It was rough going. Nothing to grab onto. I took a step and slipped trying to catch myself from tumbling to the bottom.  I landed on my butt and got mud on the seat of my nice green Capris. I found some vegetation to step on to get some footing.  I was practically on all fours. I reached out for a spindly little branch to use to pull myself up.

Finally, I got close enough to Mike  and reached out his hand. I stretched my arm and was able to grasp his hand. We clasped each other and he tugged me up. Once I was at the top, the hard pain and breathlessness hit me smack dab in the chest, again. I grabbed my chest instinctively and waited for it to subside. Which it did. I didn’t know what to make of this.

I should have had an idea. I mean 14 years ago I had a triple Coronary Artery Bypass Graft or CABG, pronounced cabbage by the medical community. However, because I had 14 years without an incident, I thought I healed myself. I made sure to watch my diet; I followed weight watchers. I exercised, walking over an hour a day, racking up to 18,000 steps altogether. I thought I managed my stress levels, although Mike will tell you not too well. So, you could say I was in denial, I would like to all it hope.

Getting ready for the catalyst, for the transformation.

To my credit I did think something wasn’t quite right and a year and a half ago I told my cardiologist. He did a stress test and echo cardiogram and proclaimed me just fine. So, I was just fine. Why would I think something was wrong? Ah, maybe because I should be the one paying attention to my own body. Sigh, that’s another story

I did eventually go get it looked at, in Texas and that is the second part of my catalyst So, to be continued…

Nothing beats the love and support of a good partner.

It is Sunday, September 30th and I am writing this at Governor Dodge State Park campsite 349 in our dark green 1999 Dodge Ram conversion van. I backed up the van to the electrical hookup just like a huge RV instead of this little van and pushed the cord to my lap top out the little pop out window. The back bench seat folds down to create a bed big enough for Mike and I to lay side by side. I am lying here on top of the sleeping bags which are zipped together to create a sleeping bag for two, typing. I am not really comfortable but not uncomfortable either. I’m alone expect for the dogs. One dog, Angie is on the floor by the bed sprawled on her pet bed. Dean-o, the other dog, is up here with me. It was a trip getting here I’ll say that, deciding whether to come here or not. First it was yes, then no, then yes again.

A few days earlier.

The Love and Support of a Good Partner

the support of a good partner“Mike I want to drive up to Governor Dodge and hike. The fall colors are so beautiful. I can leave Sunday. Spend the night and come back Monday. That will give me two days of hiking. What do you think?”

“I think that would be great.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Of course he thinks it would be great. He knows I love to hike. He knows I love Governor Dodge. He knows I am enthralled with the fall colors this year. And most importantly, he wants me to do what gives me joy. We could have come together. We could have left on Saturday and returned on Sunday because he would need to be back for work but since his health issues of arthritis and gout in his big toe he doesn’t enjoy hiking much anymore. Plus he’s not too big on driving even if it is only two hours. So I came up with this big bright idea all on my own for myself.

Saturday night, the night before I was to leave while lying next to Mike who was also reading, I set my book down and looked over at him. I realized I didn’t want to leave him. Yes, I love hiking and Governor Dodge but I don’t like leaving Mike.

“Mike, I’m not going,” I announced out of the blue.

“Why,” he asked turning to me placing his book spread open on his chest.

“Well, this book I’m reading is too scary. It’s about a woman who survives this rapist murderer and she helps get him sent to prison. He is getting out of prison and now he is going to be after her. It’s going to be one of those on-the-edge books where she is on step away from danger. I’m sure she will come out OK but the book is just too dark for me. And it’s scaring me now. Anyway, I don’t want to leave you.”

“You’re an independent woman. You can do this.” Mike picked up right away that the book wasn’t the real reason.

“Maybe, but it’s my choice not to leave you. So, you don’t have to think I’m not going because you are making me.”

“OK,” he said knowing full well it is of little use to argue with me.

With that I toss my book on the floor vowing silently to myself not to finish it and turn off my bedside light.

The next morning at around nine o’clock all of a sudden going to Governor Dodge didn’t seem like a bad idea. The sun was up and the scary thoughts and the sadness about leaving Mike have vanished with the night. After all I have to walk the dogs anyway and the fall colors are not going to be around much longer. All we need is one strong wind storm and they will all be knocked to the ground. What the heck I should go.

“Mike, I think. I’m going to go after all.”

“OK.” and with that he immediately sets out to get things ready for me. He remembered I wanted to take my hiking boots which were out in the shed. He got those and put them in the van. He got together the sleeping bags, a folding chair, flashlights, lighters and fire starters so I could start a fire. The day before when he thought it was a go, he went to the store and bought me some red grapes, pineapple, bananas and strawberries. Now that it’s on again he cut up the pineapple and strawberries, put them in containers along with the grapes and set them in the cooler he dragged out. He packed in some bottles of water.

“Do you want your salsa and chips,” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said not giving them a thought till he mentioned it.

“What about a Coke.” I looked at him quizzically wondering, should I?. I don’t drink soda at all but once a week we have a Coca Cola in little glass bottles made in Mexico with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. They are more expensive than regular Coke but worth it.

“Go ahead. Treat yourself.” I grinned.

“OK.”

I gathered together some clothes and put them in a backpack. I packed up my laptop and some books. Mike got the dogs food, their bowls and leashes. He put all this in the van. We were rushing around in a flurry to get me on my way. Within the hour I was draped over him in an embracing hug saying good-bye.

“I don’t like leaving you,” I said into his neck.

“You’ll be fine. You’ll be hiking,” he said squeezing me tighter.

As long as I thought I was just going for a hike it felt OK, but camping over night. I don’t know. We broke apart and looked each other in the eye.

“I could always come back after I hike,” I said with a sheepish grin. “Not even stay over night.”

“Just let me know so I can get my girlfriends out of the house,” he said. I punched him in the arm. “No, really, Janice, you’ll have a good time.”

“Well, you know I’ll be calling you.” I said as I got into the van.

So, I drove two hours to go hiking feeling apprehensive, selfish, guilty, silly. Many people do this kind of thing, I thought. They drive hours somewhere to do something they love to do. I don’t know why I should feel like I’m doing something so weird and crazy, so wrong.

About halfway there I smiled to myself thinking about the last-minute running around we both did just so I could go for a little trip out hiking in nature. How blessed I am. I am with a man who goes out of his way to help me get what I want out of life. I feel a fullness in my chest that spreads upward causing my scalp to tingle realizing what Mike did to help me get on my way. This is what a marriage, a partnership, is all about, isn’t it? Being a support, a catalyst for the other to ‘go for it’. Our marriage has had its ups but it is times like this that I understand how truly blessed I am. Nothing beats the love support of a good partner which colors my world as brightly as the fall colors.  My partner, my husband meets the seven qualities of an ideal partner that I found on Psychalive.    I just hope I do the same for him.  I hope I am an ideal partner for him.

And so I hiked for two days, four hours a day. I snapped pictures every step of the way. And, as it turned out, I had cell phone coverage even on the trails and called Mike often sharing little adventures with him. The first thing I did, after hugging Mike, was sit down and show him my pictures. I don’t know if they captured the beauty of what I was seeing. Being there and seeing the colors, inhaling the fall aroma and listening to the birds can’t be totally captured. I put a little slide show together adding some word values to a few of the pictures. Values that being on my hike, admiring the colors and having the support of Mike inspired. It took me quite awhile to put it together which is the reason for the lateness of the post. I hope you enjoy what I put together.