Sunday, September 11, 2016

Life happens

I look back on the last six weeks and in many ways, wish I could have a "do over".  But life isn't like that, and this blog is a chronicle of our lives, so I will forge ahead.

In late July our friends, Kathy and Randy Cardon, visited us with their son, his girlfriend and their two dogs.  Kathy and Randy got hooked on the boating bug like we did 20 years ago and have bought increasingly larger boats.  They loved their Bayliner 3055 which is the same model as ours, and had moored it at Dover, near Sandpoint for the past two summers.  Randy wanted to practice cruising on Lake Pend O'Reille and install new electronics before taking it out to the coast, and had successfully cruised home in the dark from our place just two weeks before.

With all accidents, there are usually many factors that if you took away just one - the accident may never have happened.  That is true here as well, but this time, an accident did happen.

The group left around 9 p.m.  The water was like glass and the stars were shining.  Less than 15 minutes later, Kathy texted that they had hit a channel marker but everyone was o.k. and they were continuing to Dover.  We urged them to turn around and come to our dock.  They were on their way back to us, and sent another text saying they were now taking on water.  Roger advised them to go directly to the Priest River boat ramp and we would meet them there.

As they pulled into the dock, we were horrified at the gaping hole in the bow with the spotlight eerily dangling down and lighting the pitch dark night.  Everyone was shaken but o.k. and we all set out to empty the boat while Roger drove Randy to Dover to pick up his truck and trailer so they could haul the boat out.  It was a long night but they were able to sleep a bit in our clubhouse.  

Proof that boating isn't all fun in the sun
We are grateful they hit the channel marker because if they hadn't,
chances are they would have hit land which would have had a far more devastating effect
No charges were laid, and Randy and Kathy are taking some time to consider whether they continue boating or not.  Sadly, their beautiful boat was written off but the main thing is everyone was safe.

In July, Roger and I both came to the decision it was time to sell our share of the Idaho property.  It's been our anchor for so many years and a place where we reconnected with family and friends while we were gallivanting around the world.  Two years ago I couldn't have envisioned not having Idaho - but now we have our place on beautiful Vancouver Island, with a boat we rarely use in Sidney, and our feeling of wanderlust has returned so we'd like to explore more of the country.

We asked our partners if they were interested, and they agreed to buy us out.  Their daughter and her family love spending time there and we're glad the Moes will enjoy it for years to come.  We still plan on visiting the area around Festival time in early August and revisit all of our favourite places and people.

It wouldn't be summer in Idaho without going to the Festival at Sandpoint, or having a visit from Annette and Dwayne Majcher.  Put those two things together, add Paddy and Dave Carlson --- and well, you have a fabulous evening.  This year we listened to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band -- still going strong after 50 years.
Kinleys, Carlsons and Majchers
Before deciding to sell our share of the property, we had a garage pad poured.  Roger was still game to build the garage, so set out single handedly erecting it.  Using pulleys, brackets and sheer manpower, he hoisted 13 trusses himself and kept telling me as I worried about him: "It's fun -- it's just like a building a giant Lego set!"

Brad, Anette and Magnus came for a few days, and as always we had a ball.

Our favourite family 
Magnus loves being on anything that floats

Magnus and I making a quick getaway with an ice cream cone after dinner at Willow Bay
My yearly knee boarding venture -- heaps of fun but Advil was needed to smooth out the aches
Roger's dad and his wife came for the weekend and enjoyed spending time with the family --- especially Magnus.
Magnus taking Papa John for a walk on the dock
Four generations - pretty special picture
John and Zunny gamely braved the choppy water on the way to Willow Bay for dinner.
A game of football with Papa John although Obi was hoping someone would throw her frisbee!
One of our few regrets about selling the property is not being able to hang out with the good friends we've made in the area but we will make a point of keeping in touch.  

On August 28th our friends Jim and Kerri Martin invited us to a wonderful afternoon get together  hosted by Jim and Margie Stevens, who live on a beautiful piece of land up a mountain near Priest River.  They are wine and food connoisseurs and are gracious hosts.  The party included a wine tasting and homemade pizzas made in a wood burning stove imported from Portugal.  We spent the afternoon meeting interesting people, drinking great wine, and eating delicious pizza. 

Jim Martin helped man the pizza oven
Roger enjoying the pizza and view
And now I'm going to do what I do when reading a very scary book.  I go to the last chapter to see who survived the boogey man.

Roger is o.k.  

Now to the beginning.

Shortly after we got home from the party around 9 p.m., he started having terrible indigestion.  I feel awful, but admit to asking him to keep his belching down as I googled home remedies.  When I went into the bedroom, I could see the pain wasn't from eating too much pizza.

I got Roger into the car and we decided to head to the closest hospital in Newport, Washington which was six miles away.  Roger was in excruciating pain so when I saw a police car when flashing lights in our town's grocery store parking lot, I pulled in and jumped out and asked the officer to help.  We've called it divine intervention.

The officer, who I've since found out is Dan Burkey, called the ambulance who were there in minutes.  He kept Roger calm, and his actions were pivotal to Roger's survival.  All the First Responders were skilled and amazing --- but seeing Officer Burkey in the parking lot really was a miracle.

After what seemed like an eternity a paramedic jumped out and said they were calling Life Flight so we all headed to the small Priest River airport.  My heart sank as I called Brad, and I felt like the nightmare was never going to end.

Twenty five minutes later Roger was flying off, Brad was tearing down the highway from Seattle, and I was driving to Coeur d'Alene about an hour away.  Midway there, the Life Flight paramedic called me to say Roger was already in the Cath Lab which made the night drive easier.
One of the first things Roger asked me was, "Did you get a picture of the chopper for the blog?"  Well no, I didn't.  I wasn't sure if you were going to be alive when you reached the hospital and thought it was too macabre to photograph.
This is from the Life Flight website.
The cardiologist explained to us he had a major blockage called "the widow maker" and had suffered a massive heart attack.  He put two stents in and they are thankfully, working well.  There is another blockage that will have to be stented as well, but we were told it wasn't critical to do it now.  Roger looked and felt so much better after the procedure and it was a relief to see him, hold his hand and give him a kiss.
Cardiac ICU
Catching a quick nap.  Kind of a pathetic picture but it captured the lack of sleep and stress that enveloped me.
The hospital had hotel aspects such as phoning for Room Service, and a Guest Services department.  
A relief to have a photo with the 3 of us
Roger's brother, Colin, flew in from Kansas for a visit.  He brought a gift for Roger:  
A bottle of Baileys, a jar of peanut butter, and some jumper cables.  Brothers.......
The following few days were a roller coaster with complications:  another trip to the Cath Lab, more tests and a call for the Rapid Response Team (along with a crash cart and minister).

Roger was discharged on Friday, Sept 2nd and we stayed at a condo near the hospital for the weekend.  Brad was a huge support -- he stayed until Wednesday and then returned on the weekend to help me pack up things at our property (our partner, Don Moe was down to pull the boat and jet skis out of the water so he came down to Coeur d'Alene to hang out with Roger).

On Sunday, September 4th, I drove Roger to Brad and Anette's home in Bothell (near Seattle) with Brad driving close behind us.  An hour later, Anette drove me to the airport because in the morning we got word my Godmother, Auntie Elaine, was very ill and failing quickly.  My Auntie Elaine and Uncle John (who passed away in 2001) were there the night I was born and were given the role of my Godparents.  I adored both of them.

I had 2-1/2 hours with her on Monday morning, and while it broke my heart, we held hands and said how much we loved each other.  We laughed at some of the things we did together:  drinking Irish coffees at 10 a.m. while we traveled through Ireland...singing songs in Irish pubs...and eating a gourmet picnic I brought to the day surgery suite last year while she spent the day having biopsies taken.  I told her it was o.k. to let go --- that no one would think she had given up.  I begged her not to be stoic and to accept all the good drugs the hospital offered.  
Our trip to Ireland in 2008 was filled with laughter and made memories that will last my lifetime
We made a party of hanging out in the clinic waiting for her biopsies to be taken
Magnus said he would look after RaRa while I was gone, and he did by taking him for little walks and playing really well.  He knew he couldn't jump on him like he usually does, and it was sweet seeing them together.  I flew back Monday afternoon as Blue Cross had given us until Tuesday to get out of the States.  
Our sweet Magnus knew RaRa wasn't up to snuff, and was gentle and caring.
I'm always happy to return to Canada - but never more so than this trip.
Our good friend, Jodi Ikert, prepared dinner for our first night home and strung a "Welcome Home" banner for us.
It was so good to be back home.  My family doctor took Roger on as a patient, and when they met on Friday she was surprised to see him looking so fit.  Dr. Tram put in an urgent request for a cardiologist, and we are hoping to see one in the next week or so.  We are both at our "wedding weight" from 38 years ago, and are committed to eating better.  Reading labels, choosing less processed foods, and wearing Fitbits to track our activity and heart rates are all becoming part of our "new normal".  

We have been so touched by the many phone calls, texts and emails we've received over the past two weeks.  The 3 wavy dots signifying someone was sending a text to me was like a life line and I didn't feel so alone -- even when I was.  We are so very grateful to our friends and the first responders....medical staff at Kootenai Medical Center...and to Blue Cross for the excellent service they gave us.

The man I fell in love with 41 years ago is strong and I know he will get better so we can grow old together.  

I received word early this morning that my Auntie Elaine passed away at 5:30 a.m. MST, just 19 days after turning 96.  She loved and was loved.  What an amazing force she was with a memory that put mine to shame.

Over the years she had always taken me by the hand.  But on Monday, I held hers.

Rest in peace, Auntie Elaine.  Rest in Peace.

"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise."
Les Miserables

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