Venturing Out. Like Scary Stuff Maynard.

The original beatnik attributed with originating "Like" as in "Like cool, man...   Like, thank him, or hate him for that.

The original beatnik attributed with originating “Like” as in “Like cool, man…”
Also started “You Rang?”  (No, Paul does not have a bell…)

You remember Maynard G. Krebs?  He was Dobie Gillis’ sidekick.  The first hippie/beatnik on TV.  I barely remember watching the TV show, but enough to reference.  Pretty sure my dad didn’t like him.  If you want to watch clips like “WORK, man?”,  start watching links here.

Paul is chafing at the bit to do more.  There is a fine line between what he tells me he can do and what his restrictions actually are, so I’ve been known to ask for verification in writing.  He had no problem getting the order for 6 massages a day confirmed.

What He Wants To Do

Besides everything…

– Vacuum (Bless His Heart – The therapist said he could try as long as he doesn’t move the vacuum from floor to floor.  Paul assures me it is lightweight; because, yes… how would I know?)

– Drive (Not for at least 6 weeks – and when he can turn his head…)

– Water the garden.  He wants to help and I appreciate that, but am thinking this falls under pulling, such as laundry, which, no, he cannot risk.

– Use his right hand the way it should work, as in typing, writing, guitar playing, eating, etc.

What He Physically Can’t Do

– Laundry (This might be a permanent restriction in my book.)

–  Walk our 55 lb. dog who likes to pull.

–  Use a knife, or other sharp instruments.  His right hand shakes from the nerve damage and the left hand is uncoordinated and weak.  i.e., no cooking when a knife is required.

–  Ride in a car (Right, so how  can he even want to drive yet?)

–  Lift a gallon of milk.  I leave small  containers of milk and the rest of the food he wants on the lower shelves of the refrigerator .  There’s also a little stack of plastic plates and cups on the counter.

– Raise his hands above his shoulders.

– Shave.  His scar under his neck is still healing and his hand isn’t steady.  He suggested I shave him.  Really?  Seriously?  Uh, no.  I prefer my mountain man “as is” for the time being.

What He CAN Do

– Walk alone as far as he wants (as long as he calculates getting back home) without the walker,  but wearing the neck brace.

– Walk with someone who can handle ZuZu.

– Wear the neck brace at all times.  As the surgeon said, people respect people in neck braces, and Paul cannot afford or withstand the slightest hug, or misplaced touch.  The teeniest cough or sneeze sends his ribs into excruciating pain.  He also needs the brace for protection in case of a fall,  and support as his neck becomes tired.

The other thing is… it’s become his “badge” of what happened.  Yes, we have new replacement pads, but he “likes” the old ones because his blood (and who knows what else) from the surgery is  visible.  I asked the nurse in the hospital to change the pads while he was asleep and she deferred me to the physical therapist.  When I asked the physical therapist if she could change them (There are about a hundred different little pieces “to be assembled” so I couldn’t figure it out.), Paul jumped in and said he “liked” it the way it was because…  the blood, now the sweat, and the tears.  Okay, another reason not to get too close to him.

The instrument of torture and protection.

The instrument of torture and protection.

– Strum the guitar and sing.  His voice is becoming clearer and stronger.  I LOVE to hear him sing.

– Play lots of board and hand intensive games with little pieces for his right hand to use such as:

– I didn’t know there was a game called Farkle, but one of our neighbors has a                          standing date to challenge Paul. (Thank you!)

– Dominoes

– Cards

– Stacking coins (okay, not a game, but good practice)

– Marbles

– Stacking games, hmm, maybe I should get him some Legos…

– Monopoly, backgammon, checkers, chess

– Anything  else he can think of that fits his restrictions.  And he is thinking.

Besides the fact that this is Doby Gillis posing next to Rodin's Thinker, is it just me, or does it look like guys on their thrones?

Besides the fact that this is Dobie Gillis posing next to Rodin’s Thinker, is it just me, or does it look like guys on their thrones?

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, Paul’s getting there.  We continue to be blessed by the helping hands of family, friends and neighbors mowing our lawn and bringing us meals.

Something so sweet it bring tears to our eyes is a fence project which Paul was in the process of planning and “building himself” when the accident happened.  A couple of big-hearted guys have offered to provide the labor and go ahead with the project.  (Ironically… it might be completed even faster than with Paul doing it himself.)

No, the hammock is not going up this summer.

No, the hammock is not going up this summer.

We debated going forward, but at my urging, we are.  I envision our back yard garden as Paul’s sanctuary as he continues to recover this summer.   I love to garden, and when people worry I’m not taking care of myself, they should know I’m very happy planting, weeding, transplanting, and drawing energy from getting my hands in the dirt.

Paul is so touched by the cards, texts, calls, and e-mails he’s receiving.  Not to mention impromptu walk-by or drive-by visits.  If he’s sitting out on the front porch, he’s fair game.  If he starts to look tired, I step in and become Nurse Ratched.  As much progress as he’s making and how impressed people are when they see his energetic attempts, when everyone’s gone and he’s worn out or has “over-done” , he looks about 100 years old, so I am still – I know – overly protective.

PS:  I played a nurse in our high school play, Hip Hippie Hooray.  How’s that for weird Karma.  When I find my “publicity shot” I will add it here.

So, this is my weekly update.  Hard to believe it will be a month on Tuesday since his accident occurred (original 5-6-14 details here), and I’m still learning exactly what happened.  One chilling, freaky, and overly scary detail that reminds me how lucky we truly are.  I overheard him telling a close friend that after the impact when he saw stars, he looked over and saw his right hand and arm twitching and moving of its own accord.  He couldn’t control the “flopping” around and realized there might be a problem.  Hello Houston.

houston

That man.  So glad he’s here.  And so glad for your support.  Thank you.  Love you, P & G

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Everything Changes – Let the Sunshine In.

This Memorial Day weekend, we stayed home.  (Paul’s original accident details from 5-6-14 here.)  (The first update on his condition here.)  Knowing Paul was on the screened-in porch most of the time, I was happy to work in our backyard as much as possible, unplugged from everything and everyone except him and nature.

First the ferns...

First the ferns…

Over the past fifteen years, a giant maple tree on the right side of this photo towards the back, shaded our yard so well, it was like a forest glade.

That tree slowly and sadly died; then had to be removed.  Many things in our backyard are seeing sunlight for the first time in at least twenty-five years (my guess).

In the first rays of spring, the ferns and hostas have done exceptionally well this season. However… they will soon burn up as spring light turns to summer heat.  One of my projects over the weekend was moving as many ferns to the safety of the shade from our other maple (way in the back) as I could.  I trust they will adjust.

I also trust Paul will adjust.  He is getting strong enough to talk more –  in spurts, and assert his independence.

Based on his therapists’ recommendations, we had an agreement.  He can walk by himself if he’s wearing his neck brace and using his walker.  (I added cell phone, (baseball cap if it’s hot), and water bottle to his basket.)  Or… he can walk wearing his brace without his walker if he’s with me or another trusted, capable, and approved (by me) companion.

However, as we hashed out yesterday, NO, he cannot walk without his walker if the companion is also walking our rambunctious 55 lb dog, ZuZu.  He put me on the spot and I suggested he make a choice; the walker and the dog (being handled by the companion), or no walker/no dog.  Ultimately, he chose the former.  No, I don’t care if I appear to be Nurse Ratched.  We’re talking safety first.

Daddy's girl, sure, but also capable of knocking a grown man over.

Daddy’s girl, sure, but also capable of knocking a grown man over.

So you see, I’m catching him pushing the boundaries.  Which is a good thing, yet…

En Garde, I say, Mr. Betts.  En Garde.

Happy Tuesday after Memorial Day and have a great week.  Thank you for your continued prayers ~ P & G

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Mrs. Knievel? I don’t think so.

It’s been an interesting week.  Paul’s had two more sets of x-rays, seen two doctors, and had 6 total visits from  home health care nursing, plus occupational and physical therapists (2 each).  They all agree.  He’s doing better and has a long road ahead of him.

The original accident details are here.

The Facts

Paul’s lungs are clearing, but he was told not expect the pain to go away for at least 12 more weeks.  That’s 3 months…  He doesn’t complain a lot about the broken ribs, but the broken sternum has a huge hematoma (big bump with lots of swelling) on top of it that makes him cringe if people looking like “huggers” get too close.

Not today.

Not today.

He still has the blood clot behind the sternum, but it’s dissolving slowly.  He sees the lung doctor again in two more weeks and continues to use his respirator tool as much as possible to build up his breathing force and keep his lungs clear.

Coughing is his biggest challenge which brings on pain, so he has to be careful not to eat too much at one sitting, or to talk too long, and to drink lots of water.  Oh, and while laughter is generally good medicine… it hurts too.

His neck x-ray also showed he’s healing as he should.  He must continue to use his brace if he’s not sleeping or stationary/sitting in a chair.  I’ve caught him a couple of times “forgetting” to put it on to move across a room and we’ve had words about this.

He cannot drive yet, and actually said to me later that if he’d known when the doctor asked him to turn his head that she was assessing his ability to drive, he’d have made more effort. Uh, huh.  Like I’m getting in a car with him.  Another 6 weeks at least.

He was having trouble sleeping so we talked to both doctors about him getting off the pain meds and muscle relaxers (Some are narcotics which can affect his ability to sleep; seems like a dichotomy to me…), so he’s switching to a combo of regular strength Tylenol and Aleve.  I bought a bottle of each and then Paul informed me we already had two bottles of Tylenol (from 2009; that’s how often we use pain meds…) – those have been pitched.  We also clarified he could not have alcohol while taking narcotic RX’s as the combination is counter-productive to healing.

The 19 staples in the back of his neck were removed in less than a minute (I did leave the room in case of male screaming…) and his scar will soon not show when his hair grows back. (Did I tell you they called him Sasquatch in the hospital?)  I see there is a Sasquatch Music Festival on the Gorge River in Washington (the state) for Memorial Day Weekend; one of his target windsurfing destinations – maybe next year…

Yes, my guy is one hairy dude.

Yes, my guy is one hairy dude.

He was given the green light to shave the area around the front neck surgery.  His beard had grown in so thick (and white) during the past two weeks, the assistant doctor didn’t recognize him.

One of Paul’s biggest concerns is the nerve damage to his right (dominant) hand.  He’s has about 4 hours of exercises prescribed every day which he’s being pretty diligent (and motivated) about doing.

The neurologist gave us an excellent analogy.  Imagine your thumb being smashed in the car door (Who never had that happen?).  The door can be opened, and the pressure removed, but the thumb still has to heal on its own.  The surgery opened up the nerve passages at his neck (C7, I think), but nerves grow at the rate of 1 mm per day, so… we have to be patient and keep working.  It could be six weeks before he sees any significant improvement in his hand.

Six weeks seems to be a magic number as that’s when improvement in his raspy voice should also happen.

The neurologist emphasized that while Paul is recovering as well as he is for what happened to him, he’s not to lose sight of how serious his injuries ARE (She stressed the present tense, not the past tense.) and that she was very happy not to be looking at a patient permanently in a wheelchair.  She sees him again in 3 weeks (halfway to six…).

The Rest of the Story

So… a few other tidbits.

His mind is working.

My dear husband got one of the therapists to write a note that he’s to have as many mini-massages as he wants, whenever he wants.  He forgot to have her write that I’m to drop whatever I’m doing, even if I’m in the bathroom.  Sorry honey.

He told me I was the best nurse ever.  Then he told me when he called the nurse about switching the pain meds, she said (upon his asking) that,  yes, he may have an “occasional” beer or glass of wine if he’s only taking Tylenol or Aleve.  He then informed me he was ready for his beer as it was Friday night and I was home from work for the weekend.  When I calculated it hadn’t been 24 hours for the narcotic to be out of his system, so he couldn’t have a beer until Saturday, he told me I was the worst nurse ever…

Speaking of nurses, he got a new nurse this week, Ed, who spotted Paul’s guitar and made him play – a bit.  Apparently Ed plays exceptionally well and Paul loves it when Ed comes to the house.  He most recently played Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven”.  When Paul said he also sang to him, I asked if he was cute… Natural question, right?  One question that always stumps my guy.

Eric Claption, Circa 1973.  For some reason, this is how I imagine Ed, the nurse.

Eric Clapton, Circa 1973. For some reason, this is how I imagine Ed, the nurse.

We think getting off the narcotics will help him sleep.  I hope.  He was starting to walk around the house in the middle of the night with his neck brace on and sooner or later I would wake to see him looming over me in the dark.  Asking if I was awake?  Like a Zombie with broken body parts, shuffling and swaying and mumbling.  Considering all the drugs pumped into him in the hospital, we have a plan to detox and fill him full of good stuff.

Once Paul was allowed to eat in the hospital, nothing appealed to him, but he needed to regain his strength.  I ran home to make a smoothie only to discover our 19 year old VitaMix was kaput (Oh, yes, long story there but the final analysis proved that Moi did not cause the damage…), so I contacted the company and made the best deal possible and our newly refurbished VitaMix is ready to use.  Today’s the day we’re adding smoothies full of greens and health back into both our diets.

Dark Thoughts

I can’t imagine being in Paul’s shoes.  He was way more active than most people I know.  He is seldom content to sit and veg. He is more restricted than he’s ever been, and his will is not overcoming his physical limitations.  Think Alpha Male.  He also has a total klutz for a wife who is also super slow at doing certain things.  Imagine his frustration at watching me open (for example) the cap on a ketchup jar and seeing it fly across the room, accompanied by my usual “Darn it.”

So, when I (and others) tell him how lucky he is to be as incapacitated as he is, he doesn’t necessarily feel that way.  He said “lucky” would be to have walked away from the accident with a few scrapes and bruises…  Well, I let this sink in as I pondered how to answer.  Everyone is entitled to feel overwhelmed and “Why me?”  for awhile.

So, I changed the subject and asked him to list 10 things he was grateful for.  He gave me 5.   The next day, I asked for 5 new ones.  He easily answered.  We are counting our blessings every day.

Bright Thoughts

His occupational therapist asked if he knew any five-year olds.  By chance, why yes, we have a special five-year old, J– , right next door.  If you’ve ever seen Paul around children, you know they get along so well because Paul has that eternal childlike enthusiasm and wonder that makes the kids tell their parents “Paul’s the fun one!”  (Guess who I am; the one who makes them take their meds and stop jumping on the bed with Paul…)

Apparently five-year olds have these games that are perfect to hone Paul’s fine motor skills.  J– generously and proudly brought over a crate of his games/toys to share with Paul, and he’s been put in charge of making sure Paul wears his neck brace when they walk.

In fact, the day Paul was having his darkest thoughts (above), he took a nap and when I told him J– was looking for him to walk, but it was too late, Paul was stricken that he’d let a five-year old down and vowed not to do that again.

Thank you, Mr. J–!  We love you.

Final Thoughts

Um, I might have to amend some of these comments/descriptions as Paul has already pointed out discrepancies in my last entry.  Like, he walked 100 yards before the guys who found him got their vehicle.  (Ok…)  I suggested he is free to write his own guest post.

But here goes.

We are touched by the generosity of our friends, family, and neighbors, even those who do not know us so well.

Our yard is being magically mowed. (Yes, I do know who’s taking charge of that and THANK YOU!)   By the time I get home from work, our trash cans have been whisked back into place, the dog has been walked, and let me not forget the food.

Omg, people tell me I’m close to describing food porn when I list the wonderful things people are bringing to us.  I admit, since Paul took over the cooking (Hey, I used to like to cook, but why?  Paul loved to cook and I had other things to do.), I haven’t cooked beyond salads and brownies for the past 20 or so years…

It’s a huge help on weeknights especially, but I think I might have to start running again pretty soon as I am an eating machine. While Paul’s appetite has returned, he is proud to say he’s reached his formerly elusive goal weight (What is it about guys and their high school weights?) which he has been trying to do these past 20+ years, but never thought he’d attain it this way.

Since we’ve been married, Paul has grown into a bit of a curmudgeon as far as inviting people (No honey, you need more people than me…), but is now opening up and enjoying visits from our sweet friends and neighbors who bring him Sleepytime Tea, and books on tape, and politely sense when it’s time to leave.  (Coughing and waning voice is a good cue.)

We’ve also reconnected with many friends and co-workers we haven’t seen in years and it brings tears to both our eyes when Paul gets a touching card or message.  Why haven’t we stayed in better touch?

Paul’s also starting to get feisty about riding his mountain bike again.  I say no.  He says yes.  I say… we’ll talk about it (way) down the road.

I’ll end with this quote from one of our 7 nephews (who asked not to be named in front of his mother) that made Paul – painfully – laugh:  Injuries heal, but being a bad ***bad words*** lives forever.  Something like that.  (Any guesses which nephew?)

Apparently someone told Paul he sustained more injures than Evel Knievel when he jumped the Grand Canyon.  I checked when looking for this pic… Evel did a lot of other things, but he never actually jumped the Grand Canyon.  Sorry honey.  You will never be Evel Knievel because I am not going to be Mrs. Knievel.

Ack - Evel and his bike.  Please don't give Paul a shirt like this.

Ack – Evel and his bike. Please don’t give Paul a shirt like this.

Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.  I intend to get a bit more centered (code for organized), work on my screenwriting/marketing, garden, give mini-massages, and breathe the fresh air sitting on the back porch with Paul.

THANK YOU  again to ALL our angels out there.  We appreciate  you more than you know.  P & G

PS:  I hear Paul playing his guitar as I write this and although it’s not quite his usual…. it sounds great to me.  Ed, I owe you!

 

 

 

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The New Normal – A Change In Perspective

My guy likes to have fun.

My guy likes to have fun.

My husband, Paul, is almost two weeks post mountain-bike accident.  During that first week while he was in the hospital, I had a bit of time.  Time to pray – cry – hope – reflect – give thanks – and time to text, e-mail, and call the first wave of family, friends, and neighbors.

Then he was released and ever since, I’ve barely kept ahead of the snowball of communication as word spreads.  Thank goodness for those family, friends, and neighbors who are keeping us afloat as my time vanishes.  I’ve decided (upon the advice of good friends who’ve been there before) to communicate most of our future news and developments via blog posts which I will simply categorize under “All About Paul”.

In this post, I’ll try to summarize what happened and bring our situation up to date.

The Accident:

Imagine a sunny spring Tuesday afternoon (May 6, 2014).  My athletic, outdoors-loving, husband lets me know he’s going mountain biking at Comlara Park at Lake Evergreen, where there is no mountain, but lots of trails specifically designed for people like him.  People like me look at the obstacles and decide—maybe not.

Seriously?

Seriously?

I arrive home from work before 5 pm to find our dog, ZuZu, ready for her walk and dinner.  No Paul, but it’s a beautiful day, so I know what he’s still doing.  By 6 pm, I’m settled in a chair with my laptop, preparing for my weekly teleclass for my master screenwriting program (one of my favorite times of the week).

Daddy's girl

Daddy’s girl

The phone rings.  It’s Paul’s cell.

Me:      “Hi Honey, where are you?”

Him:    “BroMenn ER.  Can you come?”

My heart does a little flip.  But then… my husband has a history of being a bit of a trickster.

Me:      “Right.”

Him:    “I’m serious.”

Me:      “What’s wrong?”

Him:    “I don’t know.  I can’t get out of the car.  Will you just come?”

There’s something in his voice that makes my heart flip once more.  But—again, he likes to tease me.

Me:      “Okay, but you better be there.”

I fly out the door, hoping he’s playing his game.  I race the five blocks from our house to the hospital ER, my heart beating faster the closer I get.  I turn the corner, and there’s his car.  He looks sick, green.  I don’t see any blood — no bones sticking out of him.  Maybe he’s okay.

After a brief Q & A, he grows testy and I can feel the fear from inside him because he can barely move his right hand.  At his insistence, I remove his shin guards and tell him to stay put while I get the ER staff to come out.  He argues and insists on walking to the entrance about 50 yards away.  When I suggest he at least let me grab a wheelchair, he unsteadily starts lurching by himself.  I do what I can to support him, knowing I will have no effect at keeping him still now that he’s decided to move.

I learn a few details and as soon as we walk in the door, I say he’s had a bicycle accident, was thrown on his head, feels nauseous, and he’s whisked into a wheelchair into Trauma One, where a neck brace is applied and it all begins.

Before fast-forwarding to the injuries, this is what happened; pieced together from what he said during the time in ER and after his surgery.

He was riding (alone) on Trail #3, and approached a ramp, which consisted of a series of planks over a tree stump in the middle of the trail. I believe this one rose up 3’- 4’ in the air, leveled out, and ramped down.   (See Paul’s comments for the bike group on FB here.)

As Paul ascended, something (his pedal?) caught on the ramp, and pitched him forward off the bike, over the handlebars.  He probably did a somersault, landing on his back, shoulders, neck, and head.  The bike followed and bounced off his chest.  Yes, he was wearing his helmet.

He says the one he used was shorter and a bit steeper, but same concept.

He says the one he used was shorter and a bit steeper, but same concept.

We’re not sure if he lost consciousness for a short time, but when he realized what happened, he lay in the grass knowing he couldn’t get up immediately.  He couldn’t feel his right arm, which scared him.  He said he knew he’d “really jacked up his body”.  He tried to get up, but felt nauseous, so he stayed down.  Sometime later – 20  to 40 minutes, another mountain biker came along, followed by two more.  They debated helping him up.  (Paul had his cell on him, and could’ve called 911 or me at any time, but didn’t think it was that serious.)

Ultimately, and I’m sure at my husband’s insistence, they got him up, and started walking.  I think he was a bit shaky, because one of them got his truck and drove back into the area where they loaded Paul and his bike (which was undamaged – let’s get our priorities straight here; we’re talking mountain-bikers) into the vehicle.  They took him to his car and helped him in, again questioning whether he should drive.

Not his exact bike, but an example:  Specialized Carve 29'er SS Rigid - I'd like to say it's for sale.

Not his exact bike, but an example: Specialized Carve 29’er SS Rigid – I’d like to say it’s for sale.

Hindsight is not a luxury during a time of crisis, and although some have second-guessed the decision to get him up and let him drive, I know my husband, and I am confident he insisted on helping himself.  Also, we are truly thankful someone found him at all and at that point, he was in God’s hands.

The Injuries:

After x-rays, CT scans (with thousands of views), MRI’s (one botched thanks to Paul’s claustrophobia), blood tests, urine tests, and I frankly don’t know what else, we were told Paul suffered the following:

– 15 fractures total

– Basically, he had a broken neck;  3 cervical vertebrae, 3 thoracic vertebrae

– 8 ribs (2 floating which means they broke from the sternum), and a broken sternum/breastbone

– Concussion

– Punctured lung

– Nerve damage to his right arm/hand

– Hematoma/collected blood behind the sternum which had to be monitored and is still there

– Various “minor” injuries including abrasions, black eyes, severely bitten tongue.

I’ll spare the details leading up to surgery including a day and a half in ICU, the evaluation, the repeat tests, his pain, and the agony of realizing how serious his injuries were.

Basically, Paul’s vertebrae were fractured on both sides of his spine which put his spinal cord in a very precarious position of being compromised at anytime.  His skull and upper seven vertebrae were literally not attached or anchored any longer to the rest of his spinal column, as I understood it.   Fifteen years ago, his head would have been screwed into a Halo brace.

The doctors were serious when they said it was a miracle he lived, not to mention not being paralyzed, as a result of the accident and his movement afterward.

The Surgery:

His surgery lasted over seven hours, partly because the surgical team constructed a special table to “flip” him over once the first part of the operation – inserting a plate with four screws through the front of his neck, was completed, so six more screws and four rods could be attached through the back of his neck/nape area, and he had to be painstakingly positioned because of the precariousness of his fractures shifting.

I was blessed to have the company of family and friends, plus many texts, calls, and e-mails, during that time, plus updates from the surgical team, as his surgery progressed.

The Aftermath:

I won’t go into all the nitty-gritty (not yet anyway…) of his six nights in the hospital, and observing his excruciating slow progress (which frankly hurt to watch), but ultimately, he was released to come home just shy of a week.

Today is his sixth day home, and again with the help and support of friends and the hospital’s home program, we are adjusting and making it work.

His progress is slow, but I see some sort of improvement every day.  The doctors are optimistic he will have a full recovery, although I believe patience will become a learned trait for my normally kinetic husband.

Right now, I want to combine communication of what’s going on with Paul to this central place for those I cannot reach out to as often as I’d like.  I will continue to post as developments progress.  He sees two of his doctors next Tuesday, so we are looking forward to hearing what they think.

We are both grateful for everything that has transpired in the way it was meant to happen.  While there may be some dark moments, we know they could be darker, and we are thankful to be where we are.  It was an accident and it has re-prioritized what’s important and how we spend our time.

We are especially thankful, again to the guys who came to his rescue, and the medical staff at BroMenn, from the fast-acting emergency care to the nurses who kept him in line to the many doctors and surgeons who all had an amazing impact on his recovery.

There will  be touching moments, frustrating moments, learning moments, retrospective moments, humorous moments, and insightful moments.  Having a 2 lb. lifting restriction opens a whole new world of what can and can’t be done, for example.

I know I will be sharing and am hopeful Paul will choose to be a “guest” blogger when he wants.  As he gets better, I will let you know.  I’ve been very protective to let him heal, and will always err on the side of being overly cautious.  He is beginning to reach out as he feels more able, although I’ve noticed his progress ebbs and flows when he’s over-reached, something I try to make him aware of.

A different type of biking - Paul is the guy in the white shirt in the middle.

A different type of biking – Paul is the guy in the white shirt in the middle.

It is our new normal and we will adapt.

Thank you for your support and prayers.  ~ P & G

 

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Things I Learned About Myself From A Semester Abroad

Very proud of my niece. Glad to hear she “apparently” likes tomatoes!

morganjuraco

bunkers2

When I moved to Spain for a semester, I knew no one. No one. It was scary and intimidating, and at first, lonely. I’ve always been someone who has enjoyed being alone. But it took studying abroad to realize that while I may like to be alone sometimes, to watch tv or read a book, I didn’t know how to actually be alone. Studying abroad has been an amazing experience: I’ve seen incredible places, met great people from across the world, and eaten some delicious food. Despite all of that though, the most valuable thing I have gained from this trip is confidence.

Three months ago I thought I was confident. I had jobs and leadership positions on campus, great friends, and belonged to a sorority who promoted confidence more than anything. By second semester of junior year I actually felt like I was getting my life together and…

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Karma’s a Bat.

bat silhouetteIt’s been over a week since my husband high-tailed it away from the bat situation on a loosely scheduled trip to visit an old friend combined with three days of windsurfing and camping on the way home.

(Please see Living With A Bat and The only thing worse than a bat in the house is an angry bat in the house. for full history.)

I’m not giving away any secrets when I mention my husband is weak-kneed and chicken-livered when dealing with critters.

This guy can run, can't he?

This guy can run, can’t he?

While he’s been gone, my routine consisted of work, added dog-walking, and trying to exercise—I ran once.  As I fought off a nasty cold, commenced a rigorous screenwriting commitment, and met with the bat guy expert who had bat-proofed our home a year earlier, yet couldn’t explain how this bat got in nor was he able to find it to remove it…

I also had to squeeze the rest of the hours in the week to deal with the bat myself.

Yes, I know I looked like a nervous Nelly crazy woman to the neighbors and I owe at least three of them a great big party.

They’ve come to my rescue when I needed help inspecting the sticky traps, as I shivered with fear in the background.

Is it there, or isn't it?

Is he there, or isn’t he?

They’ve checked on me when I sat in my car in the late night and wee morning hours with the door to my house wide open after I jerry-rigged a path from the basement and opened all the ceiling tiles to lure the bat to come out.

That plan was aborted when two curious raccoons started sniffing their way inside.

Sorry, one bat is enough.

Sorry, one bat is enough.

The neighbors gave my car battery a jump when it wouldn’t start because I finally turned on the radio during those combined 6 hours of open-door vigilance and listened to a wonderful NPR program, “For Love of the Game” which ironically featured a spot about a 34 ton BAT.

Hey - I've been there!  Yes, I've seen this bat!

Hey – I’ve been there! Yes, I’ve seen this bat! Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, KY

The tenseness mounted all week:  Is the bat in the house?  Did it get out?  Did it get caught (again) in the sticky traps?  Did it shut down and die?  Was it now flying loose somewhere in the rest of the house?  Does it have rabies like the last bat?  Where IS it?  Popular opinion among those who don’t live and walk around my home with permanent baseball cap hair, is that the bat got out and I missed seeing it.  Dare I hope?

Meanwhile, my husband offered suggestions and critiques, and sent me photos of the beautiful sunsets and sunrises he was enjoying.  Yaay for you, honey.  I rather un-gently suggested he not quarterback me from 3 states away and one particular morning when I received his splendorous  sunrise photo, my knee-jerk reaction was to send back my sunrise photo; our dog pooping.

One of his sunrise photos.  I won't show you mine.

One of his sunrise photos. I won’t show you mine.

When I have that thank you party, I will also invite all our friends who listened and offered support, advice, and a place to stay during this latest bat drama.

It’s becoming anticlimactic, but last night, after almost 24 hours of silence, I heard the bat in the drop ceiling.

He was doing laps over the sticky tape obstacle course.  All my efforts to free him had been for naught.   I can’t decide if he’s super smart not to get caught or super stupid not to go free when I rolled out the red carpet?  I imagine a little bat smile, but don’t know if it’s idiotic or smug.

Maybe it's not a smile.

Maybe it’s not a smile.

It’s Sunday and my husband should be on his way home.  It’s getting too cold to continue camping.

Upon his arrival, I’ll hug him and kiss him and tell him how much I’ve missed him.  So will the dog.  (The cat; not so much.)

Glad you’re home, honey.  That bat you thought I’d take care of while you were gone?           He’s all yours.

Yep, he's just hanging in there.  Somewhere.

Yep, he’s just hanging in there. Somewhere.

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The only thing worse than a bat in the house is an angry bat in the house.

Down and dirty, this is what happened when the bat guy came out today (for full history, see Living With A Bat).  Yes, I’m afraid of bats.

I just watch you while you sleep.

I just watch you while you sleep.

He confirmed my intruder was a bat–not a mouse or any other critter.  Because only bats run circles around the drop-ceiling.  After much conversation and exploring other options such as building an elaborate tunnel out of special netting to release the bat outside the house (if the bat deigned to be part of that plan), I reluctantly said yes to BatGuy’s best recommendation to place those horrid glue-paper traps over what I thought was Mr. Bat’s regular route when he made his nightly patrols.  Via long distance, my husband agreed.

Right on cue, when the sun set the sound of Mr. Bat grabbed my attention as he raced overhead; his usual gait; run, run, run, stop; run, run, run, stop until he reached the corner where I knew the first sticky trap had been placed.  His impending doom made me nervous.

As BatGuy predicted, as soon as the bat touched the glue, he was stuck.  I heard him squirm.

I cringed.  He fought to get free; his wings fluttered.  It was horrible.  Intermittent silence with desperate struggling.  Little by little he quieted as I remembered what BatGuy had said; the more the bat struggled, the more he would adhere and would eventually give up as he wouldn’t be able to move.

Since my husband is on an inconveniently timed trip, my neighbor volunteered her gallant husband.  So, I called him when the noise from the bat stopped.

Equipped with a flashlight strapped to his head and a garbage bag, my neighbor prepared to transport the bat outside and end its suffering.  (I didn’t ask questions.)

I waited upstairs with his young son and our dog and cat; feeling guilty about the bat’s demise, but also relieved the ordeal was over.

My mouth dropped when my neighbor informed me that not only had the bat gotten UNSTUCK, it also left the glue paper stuck to the side of the wall.

So, take that I guess:  Bat one–Me zero.

Take THAT!

Take THAT!

The bat got stuck at 7 PM.  My neighbor discovered he’d escaped the trap at 7:30.  At 8, I heard a tentative pass by the bat as if it were able to see exactly where the other glue-paper traps were placed and was skipping over them.

So, that leaves me exactly–where?  It’s now 9:45 PM, and I haven’t heard another rustle.

I have a tendency to anthropomorphize, so really is the bat thinking about anything?  He took an unfortunate turn when he came into our house (like those before him…), but he can’t stay here.  I don’t know if the bat is worn out, injured, or just plain PO’d.

Not the outcome I’d hoped for or expected.  Already feeling guilty for choosing to eliminate this bat because the last bat in our house was rabid, and I can’t deal with flying rodents, I feel even worse because I admire the tenacity of this bat to keep looking for a way out.

On a typical night, he usually runs his laps around 10:30, so… the night is way too young.

bat silhouette

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Living With A Bat

It’s been a while (over a year), but I remember.  Oh, how I remember.  My heart stops at every creak, odd noise, and unusual silhouette on the wall.

While not our exact bat... you get the picture.

While not our exact bat… you get the picture.

Once again, I wear a baseball cap throughout the house, there is a coffee can (and lid) in every room (lovely décor—not), and I’d like to say I sleep with one eye open, but I don’t. really. sleep.

Which means I’m edgy, nervous, tense, and grouchy when I creep out of bed in the morning.

Also immediately vigilant, switching on every light in the house like a Christmas tree for the neighbors’ amusement. (Oh, weren’t those my dad’s words when I had too many lights on?)

Like a hawk, I watch the dog and cat for any trace of recognition of that dark erratic shadow.

Even the dog is starting to look like a bat.

Even the dog is starting to look like a bat.

I try to goad my husband into acts of bravery he has yet to imagine.  Actually, I’m still trying to get him to acknowledge he hears “it” scrabbling above the drop ceiling in the basement where we watch TV, where I do the laundry, where I have my art studio, where I do my exercise routine.

Any one of these Bat-Guys could appear.

Any one of these Bat-Guys could appear.  Think I would prefer George.

But even when the clawing, fluttering, sudden stops and starts of “it” and my heart synchronize, what does my Man of Men say?

“It doesn’t matter if I don’t hear it, honey, all that matters is that you hear it.  I believe you.”

Somehow, he also manages not to see the heads of our pets twisting to follow the path of the unseen (as of yet) critter.

Nothing freezes my blood more than the sleeping cat on my lap suddenly raises her head to stare behind me with big alert eyes while I rotate so slowly–like a praying mantis in slower motion until I see nothing except the wall.  She’s heard it, but she can’t see it.  Or has she?  Has it already flown away?

It could be a mouse, I guess, but here’s the thing.  In 14 years, we’ve never seen a mouse, and each time I’ve heard that tell-tell sound (at least 7 separate incidents now; I’m losing count), a bat has sooner or later appeared, swooping to its heart’s content trying to find a pathway out of the house.

Our first bat was quite a surprise.

Our first bat was quite a surprise.

Because, at any moment… and since I’ve been hearing this intermittent sound for almost two weeks, I know, the bat knows, and everyone reading this post knows—the bat’s emergence is imminent.

I mean what does my husband think it’s going to do?  Where does he think it’s going to go?  I’ll tell you where he went; my guy.  On a week-long man-trek to visit an old friend.

The most recent bat my husband captured, sort of.

The most recent bat my husband captured, sort of.

So, not only am I living with a bat I urgently fear is rabid as was the last bat, but I am home alone.

The cat and dog do not count as they’ve had their rabies shots and a foreign creature in their home = high amusement.

Halloween is about three weeks away.  I may have to make a preemptive strike.

Creepy

Creepy to think “this” can squeeze through a quarter-inch opening…

PS:  If you haven’t been aware of our past bat antics, you can catch up here in reverse-chronological order:  Holy Bat Guano!, Coyotes & Possums & Bats – Oh. No.

PPS:  Yes, after the rabid bat, we did pay a tidy sum to bat-proof our home.  The “Critter Control” people are now on speed dial, and I am waiting for a return phone call.

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Sometimes I feel like a nut; sometimes…

If I were a nut, I'd like to be here.

If I were a nut, I’d like to be here.

I still feel like a nut.  Most of all I feel thankful.

Yesterday I saw my doctor for the final evaluation to discuss test results.  (This post is a follow up to I never said I was Popeye.)

In a nutshell (ha), I passed everything with flying colors.  My doctor wants me to work out as hard as I can to try to get beyond the pain.  (As you might guess, he’s a very athletic guy.)

The original cause?  Probable viral infection compounded by scar tissue which formed over a tear to my muscles/ligaments in the sternum and vertebral body joint (Who knew?) brought on by severe coughing or working out.  Which continues to gets agitated and painful when I work out.

Whew.  I’m to think of it like arthritis, even subject to weather conditions.

So, no definitive answer (except what’s been ruled out) without doing a cardio/pulmonary stress test usually reserved for Olympic athletes, which still might not yield concrete answers.  The test involves riding a bike to exhaustion.  My doctor didn’t recommend it which is okay by me.

I’m leaving out a few micro-details, but bottom line:  I’m happy to be released to exercise again, knowing I’m not damaging anything further, and I’m thankful for the chance to get back into shape.  Body and mind overhaul:  Lose the 25 lbs. I accumulated while not working out, and lose the apathetic mindset/personality accumulated while not working out.  Receiving the green light is over half the battle.  I ran 1.35 miles as soon as I got out of my appointment.

Speaking of personalities and nuts, there’s a plethora of quizzes to determine what kind of nut you are.  If you’re curious, Go HERE.

First question:  “You are walking along on the sidewalk when suddenly a squirrel darts in front of you. It stops and gives you the evil eye. What do you do?

What would you do?

What would you do?

So, back to me.  Arrgh.  I don’t particularly like peanuts,but guess what my result said?

Apparently this is me.

Apparently this is me.

“YOU are a peanut.  You have your moments of being crazy, but you are surprisingly well-adjusted.  You go well with any other type of nut.”

Think about that, my friends and loved-ones,  and have a wonderful kind of day!

PS:  If you take the quiz, I’d like to know what kind of nuts I’m hanging out with.  🙂

PPS:  Finally activated my screenwriting website  and am open for comments and/or suggestions.  www.gaylabetts.com 

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I never said I was Popeye.

popeye1At least I don’t think I did.

Sure, I’ve been showing off with all my triathlons.  I mean, wouldn’t you if you did five triathlons and got four medals?  (Even if they were basically for showing up because there’s almost no competition in your age group.)

My last tri was an Olympic version, double the distances for the previous sprints.  Two weeks later, I felt like I was in the Psycho movie when I woke up with stabbing chest pain.  (I should probably insert a movie clip here, but since I’ve never had the stomach to watch the shower scene, it’s not fair to subject you to it and I think we all know the screeching music.) Continue reading

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