Friday, March 18, 2016

Another Step in the Journey

Well, the day’s journeys are over, and we are back in the burg.

The details of Cindy’s surgery have been explained, tweaked and finalized.

In a week, we begin prep as Cindy starts taking Plavix and aspirin to thin her blood, in preparation for the procedure, known as a pipeline embolization. An incision is made in the femoral artery, a sleeve is installed and a catheter is inserted into this. A stent is then moved up through the artery to eventually reach the carotid artery inside her skull, where the stent or sleeve will reduce blood pressure and flow from the inside, reducing pressure on the base of her brain and returning blood flow through the brain to normal.

This should take care of the double vision, headaches, and speech difficulties from which Cindy has suffered since the aneurysm two weeks ago. It will also greatly reduce the likelihood of a rupture and stroke at the sight of the aneurysm.

We’ll check into the Doorways at VCU (kind of like a Ronald McDonald House for patient’s families from out of town) on Wednesday, March 30th, and sometime that evening, the staff will confirm the exact time of Cindy’s procedure on Thursday, the 31st.

We’ll hang around for a day or two after the surgery, until such time as the doctors get sick of her sass and wacky sense of humor and decide Cindy can recover just as well at home. After that two week recovery, if all goes as planned, we’ll be hosting a trail work weekend in WV before casting off for Colorado, where we plan to attend a fantastic June wedding, a Greek festival, and several other events during yet another incredible season as campground hosts in Colorado.

Thanks to my family, to Joyce and Gilbert Gray for meals and wheels, beds and a roof over our heads,; to Mathea, Marty and Diana Breeden for their comfort and prayers, and to all the friends who have sent prayers, positive vibrations, good energies, well-wishes, messages, texts and an outpouring of love our way over the last couple weeks.

Finally, hats off to my girl, Cindy; you are my inspiration and my strength. I stand in constant wonder and awe at your patience, endurance, good humor, love and calm acceptance.

Thanks for making me the luckiest man alive, Miss Pink Pants.

If I had it all to do again, I would, in a heartbeat.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Things Change

Life is funny, ya know?

A week ago, my life was fairly normal; laundry, dishes, cleaning up after cats and kids, reading posts on Facebook and the internet, watching the debacle of the election cycle, trying to finish some anchor replacement at the older crags in WV and making plans to hit the road for Colorado the day after tomorrow, to begin another season as staff in Pike National Forest's 11 Mile Canyon.

An hour later, I was in an ambulance with a wife who I did not know would live to see another day, holding her hand as EMTs worked on her, my heart in my throat and all plans for the future annihilated and scattered to the winds.

Late that night, the doctors at RMH told us their diagnosis; not the worst, but not the best, not by a long shot.

Cindy, a fourteen year stroke survivor and Multiple Sclerosis fighter, had suffered a brain aneurysm; a massive swelling in the carotid artery just inside her skull, like a loaded cannon pointed directly at the base of her brain. She was transferred to Richmond's Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center for more tests and scans, her condition analyzed by some of the leading neurosurgeons in the country.

On Saturday, her pain was minimal, her condition stable, and we came back to the Shenandoah Valley.

Eight years ago, I met a funny, beautiful lady with a heart of gold; taught her to climb, shared her battle with Multiple Sclerosis, supported her fight to stop using the medications that were killing her, and listened as she fought with the darkness that had been poured into her soul by demons in human form at such an early age.

In turn, she accepted me for the bipolar, sardonic, irascible, irreverent fool that I am; reached down into my well of isolation and self-pity and drew out the very best of me. If I have failed to live up to that ideal, the fault is mine; Cindy has always believed in me, no matter how badly or how often I have failed.

We have traveled the country from coast to coast, climbed and hiked, laughed and cried at the folly and loss of friends and family, celebrated victories and struggled to find a silver lining surrounding the storm clouds of our occasional defeats. We've learned more about friendship, hardship, love and life in the last few years than either of us suspected could be known in a lifetime.

Today, Cindy and I have a slightly clearer picture of a much different future, and in the light of that knowledge, we are living each day to the fullest, loving and appreciating each other, so thankful for the family and friends who have put aside their own burdens and reached out to support us in our darkest hours of need.

The Road ahead is uncertain; there are trials and storms on our horizons, without a doubt, as there are for every person living in this consensual illusion of reality that we share. But for now, we are holding each other in this safe haven, cherishing each touch, each kiss, each word, and together, we will get through whatever may come.

No matter what may transpire, each of us knows the other will be waiting, there in that forest meadow at the end of the Road; waiting and calling, "Come home".

You and me, kid; forever.

And, for now, that is more than enough.