My family doctor took Roger on as a patient, and she was very surprised to meet such a healthy looking man who less than two weeks before had suffered a major heart attack. She referred Roger to a cardiologist but a couple of weeks later, Roger experienced slight chest pains so I rushed him to Nanaimo General Hospital.
I went armed with his discharge papers from Idaho and they took excellent care of him while running a multitude of tests. Fortunately it was determined he hadn't had another heart attack (the pain was residual pain from the heart attack around the heart's sac), and that the echo cardiogram showed that the heart was working well and another stent was not needed. The cardiologist reviewed everything then told Roger to go live his life, and see him in a year. It was like a "Get out of Jail Free" card. We both started breathing easier.
The two of us made a conscious effort to eat better by loosely following the principles of the Mediterranean diet which focuses on fish, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, using herbs instead of salt, and getting lots of exercise. Within 3 months Roger is down 30 pounds, and I am down 10. The best part is it is a lifestyle change not a strict diet with lots of rules that are hard to maintain. We still periodically splurge on some foods, but we're feeling so good that it is making it easier to stick with what's working.
We had lots of company this fall that came to see how Roger was doing, but I was lax in getting everyone's picture. We welcomed Laurel and John MacPhail and his parents visiting from PEI; Roger's mom and sister; and Dwayne Majcher from Calgary who spent several weeks renovating a condo he and Annette recently purchased in Victoria. As well, Roger's brother Jack, and his wife Siu, from San Diego were in Vancouver for a convention so we went over by ferry to spend a few hours with them.
|We spent a sunny day in Vancouver with Roger's brother Jack and his wife, Siu.|
Left to right: Roger, Siu, Jack and Heather
|Driftwood on the beach|
|Left to right: Victoria, Bernadette, Michelle and me.|
Our aquasize group is named "MOA" which stands for Michelle Obama Arms!
|Tired after playing frisbee, Obi plopped herself into a puddle to cool off|
|Clockwise from bottom left: Roger's sister Rhonda, their mom, Heather and Roger at Cuckoo's - one of our favourite restaurants in nearby Coombs.|
A big question we had was "would Roger be able to get travel insurance so he can continue working"? Roger decided to find out, so called Pacific Blue Cross who had covered us so well. We were relieved to find out that they would continue to cover him for 30 days at a time with a rider on the current policy. It is as simple as calling before each trip, answering a few questions on his medical status, and letting them know what country(s) he would be going to. (We've since found the same coverage through BCAA that allows for longer stretches out of the country and as long as we sign up before we turn 60, no medical questionnaire is required since Roger has been stable for more than 3 months).
It didn't take long until the phone rang with a consulting job for him. This time it was Jack, his brother who works for a geotechnical company in the States who asked if Roger could go to Costa Rica to help on a project that was having some challenges. I was anxious saying goodbye to him, but knew I had to let him go. It helped knowing Jack's son, Chris, was also working on the project, and that he would keep an eye on him. He's spent a few weeks there are he is scheduled to return in February.
|Roger on the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica|
|Magnus did a fabulous job of introducing me to his teacher and classmates|
|Love this little boy to bits|
I had a great weekend hanging out with Colin and Karen. Cooper is attending University of Kansas but was able to spend part of the weekend at home. He's come a long way from being a two year old who thought it was funny to silently hide behind curtains while I was babysitting him. I was frantic that I had lost him and spent the longest 20 minutes of my life running through the house looking for him! I've never let him forget it!
|Left to right: Cooper, Colin, Karen and me|
Roger dodged Hurricane Otto and flew out of Costa Rica before it reached land. While he was home we flew to Calgary for the Kinley Boomer --- a Christmas gathering that has happened for 131 years.
We rented a car through Hertz on points. We couldn't believe it when the agent gave us the option of paying an additional $20 a day to have winter tires put on the 4X4 we rented. Roger said, "It's Calgary and it's winter - and you charge for winter tires?" In addition they charge $13.95 a day to add me as a second driver and then when we wanted to extend by one day, it was going to be $132! We declined everything and have vowed not to use Hertz again.
It was a whirlwind five days in Calgary, and while we couldn't see everyone we wanted to, we were glad to be able to have visits with: Paul and Paula Williams, John and Laurel MacPhail, Colleen and Ed Walsh, Peggy and Bob Campbell, Kathy and Randy Cardon, my brother Russ and his wife Margaret, and two of my Auntie Elaine's best friends who I met for lunch along with Margaret.
We stayed at Dwayne and Annette Majcher's home and had a blast. We made plans to have them spend Christmas night with us, and for us to go to Victoria for New Years Eve. Love having them spending more time on the island.
That weekend, we were reminded what Alberta winters are like when we drove home from the Boomer. Luckily we left Calgary before the temperatures plummeted to the minus 20C range for two weeks.
The day after I got home from Calgary, winter came to Vancouver Island and it stayed for a couple of weeks which locals swear is unheard of. It was hard finding a shovel to buy -- it is my third winter on the island and the first time I've needed to buy winter supplies.
|The heavy, wet snow broke my beautiful magnolia tree -- I'm hoping it recovers in the spring.|
|Ready for Christmas!|
|Left to right: Nicole, Heather, Roger, Annette, Dwayne|
|Toasting each other and so damn glad to be together|
|A first: martinis on the beach on Christmas Day with good friends!|
We started off visiting Craigdarroch Castle built in 1890's for coal magnate Robert Dunsmuir. The architecture is incredible and there are 32 of the original 47 stained glass windows in place. It was well worth the visit.
|Photo of Craigdarroch Castle|
Courtesy: Craigdarroch Castle website
|The castle was beautifully decorated for Christmas|
After a feast of oysters back at the condo, we headed down to the Harbour for the New Years Eve celebration. There were lots of people but it was a great vibe and the lights were spectacular. It makes us look forward to bringing our boat back to the Harbour when the weather warms up.
|Good friends Annette and Dwayne Majcher|
|We found a great outdoor patio with heaters, blankets and Spanish Coffees --- plus a ring side seat to the fireworks|
Back at the condo, we had more seafood and "warmed up" by the fire. It was a great end to our holiday season with friends who are like family to us.
We are excited to head to Bothell on January 11th to celebrate Christmas again with Brad, Anette and Magnus. A few days later we are flying out of Seattle to Belize to reconnect with friends, soak up some sunshine and do some snorkeling. Hopefully Roger will get a good break before returning to work in Costa Rica.
While there was definitely a few rough patches and stresses in 2016, we are so very lucky to be well and happy as we usher in 2017. The friends and family that shared the tough times with us are also there to share the good, and we count our lucky stars for that.
We're a bit older, a whole lot stronger and ready. Bring it on.
"Life is like a camera. Focus on what's important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negative, and if things don't turn out right - take another shot."