Sunday, November 25, 2018

GammaCore and More

My own personal piece of medical trash

The good the bad and the ugly


My one-month free trial of the GammaCore medical device has highlighted both the best and the worst that our Western medical system has offered up to those of us who live with migraine disease.  It is one of three non-invasive neuromodulation devices currently on the market, approved by the FDA, for treatment of migraine and/or cluster headache.  GammaCore targets the vagus nerve.  The other devices are the SpringTMS, which targets the cortex of the brain, altering neurotransmitter release and disrupting cortical spreading depression, and the Cephaly, which targets the supraorbital nerve, a branch of the trigeminal (cranial) nerve.

The GOOD news is GammaCore works for me.  It's not a slam dunk, but sometimes it is an effective abortive when neither my oral medication, Naratriptan, nor the SpringTMS knocks out the migraine.  It is particularly useful when I have stomach or abdominal pain, a frequent symptom.

The BAD news is that my month is up, and I can't afford a "subscription" at a rate of $600.00 per month or about $7,000.00 per year, and there is no way my Regence health insurance will pay for it.  And, by the way, you can't purchase this gizmo.

The really UGLY part, aside from the fact that most people who need it can't afford it, is that for about two years, until very recently, GammaCore was designed as a single-use, throw-away piece of garbage once it expired.  At the end of one month, you were told to trash it "responsibly" like a busted cell phone.  Electrocore, the parent company, then sent you another identical device to soon trash and add to the global waste stream.  There was really nothing wrong with these expired devices.  They were designed with a timer inside to shut down after 30 days.  The batteries were still functional as were the rest of the components.


Art Outrage

On the premise that people at large should know about this kind of stuff and as a way to express my own anger and outrage, I plan to make a piece of art.  So............ PLEASE SEND ME YOUR EXPIRED GammaCore devices.  I promise to use them to make art and work to display the finished piece for public viewing.  Look for contact information at my new website below or add a comment to this blog post.


Finally - An end and a beginning

This will be the last ArtofMigraine post.  I am migrating all to a new blog and website at 
https://candymeacham.com
I hope to see you there.



Saturday, September 1, 2018

Redux

Missing Out 

There is a plan afoot to take an all-day art-viewing jaunt to Seattle with four friends.  I want to go, but this morning, waking yet again with a migraine, I turn down the invite.  I am unable to believe, imagine that I can actually pull off a day-long event without succumbing to pain and/or devastating fatigue.  Sitting at my computer I come across a piece I wrote last summer, never published, that speaks to nearly the same circumstances including the same four friends.  It helps me re-evaluate my decision in favor of a more hopeful outlook.


Saturna Island - 2017

Cortical Spreading Depression
I awake slowly, crawling reluctantly towards consciousness, resisting the pain that accompanies it. Dread and a feeling of failure, resistance and fear piggyback the dense heavy pain at the top and back of my skull, sliding down my neck, wrapping around my torso as nausea crawls into my gut. Migraine is a full-body experience.

I am spending four days with four close friends on Saturna Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands.  Taking this trip is a leap of faith for me.  The Gulf Islands are not that far from my home, but traveling, even short trips, with anyone except my husband has become problematic because migraines attack frequently with severe pain and a host of symptoms that stop me in my tracks.  Noise, fatigue, a surfeit of human energy and a shortage of down time, alone, are among the triggers.  Not only that, I am on crutches with a pulled muscle in my groin, unable to bear weight on my left leg.  It is awkward and tiring and lowers my pain threshold.  

We stay up late on Saturday night, deep in discussion about family, art, death, illness, challenges we all face as we enter our 60’s and 70’s.  I know it’s past my best bedtime, but it’s a conversation I choose not to walk away from.  It is 12:30 by the time I take my meds, brush my teeth and crawl into bed, knowing I may pay for this rich communion among loving friends.

At 5:00 am, I crawl out of bed and take a Naratriptan and my morning meds and fall back to sleep for an hour and a half, wake up again on the precipice of vomiting and diarrhea.  I use my SpringTMS electromagnetic device, take a 10 mg. Vistaril tablet and burrow back under the covers to doze fitfully for another hour. Eyes open, and I deliver another series of pulses with the SpringTMS and hope for a miracle.  Finally, at 8:00 I get up, wrung out but grateful that I may be able to take some limited part in the day before me.  Two cups of black tea and a piece of toast settle my stomach, and the mental sludge begins to clear fractionally.

My friends are up, rattling around, chatting and making breakfast, french toast and bacon.  I am barely able to tolerate the clatter of cooking and conversation, much less contribute to the making or even the eating. My circuits are fried.  The volume and energy of breakfast conversation plows into me with the force of a bulldozer.  I retrieve my earplugs from the bedroom and retreat to the couch, across the room, to give myself a buffer, space to wake up and recover.  I am limp, overwhelmed and sad.  By 10:30, I am in no pain, but my nervous system is blasted, capable only of beginning to resurrect my body in relative isolation. I would be better off in a cave this morning.

Paddy throws open the doors and lets the lovely cool morning air off Fulford Harbor drift into the room. Instantly chilled, I cocoon myself in a couch blanket.  Prefering the difficulties of participating to the isolation of comfortable retreat, I settle in with everyone else to begin our ritual sharing of adventures and art work we have each engaged in over the past two months.  Our time together is precious and infrequent these days, so I hang in there, listen, look at samples and images and make an occasional comment.  When my turn comes, I have trouble with the simple functions of my iPad I usually navigate with ease.  Word finding and putting my thoughts together are a struggle.  I stumble through a narrative about my recent travels and some photos that are important to me, that represent both the places I’ve been and the path I’ve walked getting there and returning home.  

We break for lunch. By 3:00 pm I have recovered from the worst of this neurological storm that manifested itself approximately twelve hours earlier.  I am fatigued and drained, tapped out and a little depressed but on my way back to the surface, to light and life after near drowning.  We sit in lawn chairs reading and watching draggon flies flit through the late afternoon light.  

After dinner the plan is to take a drive up island and a short hike down to the water on the Straits of Georgia.  I pile into the car, dragging my crutches awkwardly behind me.  By the time we arrive at our parking place, I am feeling mildly nauseated and ill from too much too soon after my morning migraine. Telling my friends to go on without me, I crawl into the back seat and lie down.  While grateful for the sudden quiet solitude, I am also sad that I’m missing out on an evening of stupendous beauty as the sun sets over the water of the Salish Sea.  Seals, oyster catchers and other shore birds swim and wander the rocks at the water’s edge.


Listening

As I lie quietly in the backseat, door open, I listen to the leafy branches of the madrone trees sway and rustle in the wind.  Silence.  A lull as I doze.  Then something stirs.  I hear the soft crunch and crackle of a creature - or a spirit.  Moving through the duff of leaves and shore pine needles, feeding on grass or shrubs, uprooting small plants, an animal grazes very close by.  Breathing. Chewing.  I don’t get up or look. I just listen enjoying the priviledge of close proximity to something wild, quietly sharing a little piece of forest. 


Restoration

My stomach begins to settle along with my frayed nervous system.  My friends return, and we drive back to the house along the glassy-smooth water lit orange by the ball of sun dropping into liquid. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Dreaming of Deliverance

prayer flags

Something is not right


For months and months now I have been feeling ugly.  In spite of chronic migraine, I have an active, fulfilling life with a supportive husband, kids I'm proud of, friends I love and activities I'm devoted to.  But as the months passed, starting last summer or fall, I began to have progressively more trouble showing up, doing my usual household chores, taking care of my grandchildren, writing, making art .  Last December we had to cancel our annual trip to Mexico, a huge disappointment.  I cooked and then couldn't eat Christmas dinner.  When we took a spring road trip to California to visit my son and daughter-in-law, unable to tolerate the return drive, I had to fly home.

Symptoms are hard to sort, but this was/is on beyond chronic migraine, which is saying something since I usually attribute nearly all my aches and pains to migraine.  I was in constant pain, my gut totally messed up, my energy and strength way down, my anxiety way up, I lost 25 lbs. and the migraines assaulted me daily without respite instead of 3 or 4 times weekly.  Repeated trips to my primary care doctor and lots of blood work revealed nothing except her lack of concern.  I made an appointment, with a two month wait, for an endoscopy/colonoscopy, which was thankfully negative.

In desperation I switched doctors, finally finding a guy who took an 18% weight loss and my other complaints seriously.  I endured all kinds of imaging, again showing nothing amiss.  Over several weeks, my doctor re-adjusted my thyroid medication.  I went to a nutritionist, who put me on a low fodmap diet.  My weight loss stabilized, and the gut pain faded away as long as I didn't cheat by eating forbidden foods.  The goal is to eventually wean myself slowly and methodically from food restrictions while pinpointing those that continue to cause symptoms.

Things are looking up, but it has been a huge challenge.  In June I took my first dose of Aimovig, which cut migraine frequency to nearly zero for three or four weeks.  Then, as the dosage of my thyroid medication decreased, the migraines increased to daily events once again.

Dreaming


Technicolor

I rarely remember my dreams, but a few weeks ago during the worst of my trials, I had a stunning breakthrough dream.

I am pushed out of an airliner, wearing a cowl or perhaps a shroud.  In alarm, free falling, looking for a way out, knowing there is none, I begin to enjoy the ride, marveling in weightless ease at magnificent stars in the black night sky.  I splash down in a wine-dark sea.  Floundering in my heavy garment, I slip out of it and swim gleefully free.  I am plucked from Mexican waters by a dark-haired, local woman in traditional dress.

It is a lovely dream, arriving when I need it most.  I spend satisfying days drawing and coloring my vision, finally tacking it up on the wall where I rely on it to help me keep the faith.  On a recent weekday morning, I make hotel and airline reservations for our annual December trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

  

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bottling Sonshine

It's mid October now, and I've been struggling, in a downward spiral from one or two migraines per week to daily pain and all the symptoms that go with it.  But that's not what I want to write about. I've been here before, and hopefully this will pass.

We've just returned from a quick trip to California to spend a few days with my son and daughter-in-law.

When we arrive at their beautiful, small home in sunny Santa Cruz, I am dogged by pain as well as steady, low-grade anxiety, one of my least favorite symptoms.   Our mini vacation is full of hard-to-manage triggers from air travel to the noise of intense, people-filled dinners and days.  My Santa Cruz family are hard-workers, involved in the marine sciences and the restaurant biz, impacted by the current politics and environmental issues like all of us.  Our conversation ranges from their recent African travels, national divisiveness, backyard projects, alternative energy, writing, work, family and friends to what to cook for dinner and the horrific California wildfires that burst into flame 100 miles north of us during our stay.

Monday morning.  The sound of my son grinding his morning coffee wakes me from a horrific nightmare.  I pull myself together, wash my face and go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.  Settling into a chair at a quiet end of the living room, I struggle to shake off the hangover from my ugly dream.  With a sixth sense, Andrew moseys over and sits next to me, beginning a quiet morning chat that draws me out of my low-down funk.  In immense relief, I surface from dark, sticky horror into the daylight land of the living.

On Wednesday, as we leave the cool, clear air of Santa Cruz for the San Jose airport, a pall of smoke drifts in, a few miles out of town and thickens as we crest the mountain on Hwy 17.  Visibility drops to a mile or two, and the air wreaks of smoke.  My headaches don't go away nor reduce in intensity or frequency during our mini vacation.

It takes me three days to unpack, do the wash and stow my travel belongings.  On Saturday morning, I am in the shower when the phone rings.  There is a message from my hometown son announcing an imminent visit with grandsons in tow.  Fifteen minutes later the kids, age 3 and 7, burst through the front door full of noisy, good-natured energy.  Popping half a pain pill, I sit down on the couch to play tinker toys with Lucas.  Later I wander into the kitchen to talk to my son, never short on conversation or opinions.  With a few kind words, Ben dispels my mounting worries over some disturbing medical findings.  

Over the next week or two my migraines begin to space out to every other day, then every third day,  as my pain and anxiety level drops.  So why do I feel better, more grounded emotionally since our trip and return home?  Here's what comes to mind, a steady dose of all of the following.

Love
Connection
Conversation
Humor
Hospitality
Inclusion
Openness
Hugs
Acceptance
Understanding
Change of scene
Sun, beach, redwoods, campfire, hammock, biking, walking





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Visitations

Migraine madness

The plan was to get out of town, take Sunday and Monday off and head to Port Townsend, spend time with Cousin Carl, walk the beach and then revisit the beautiful Elwha River unleashed by the removal of 2 dams in 2014.  After weeks of work on writing projects and a difficult, headachy month, we were both ready for a break. 

Sunday morning, and I'm moving slow, in a fowl mood with a foggy brain.  It feels like a monumental effort to pull myself and all my medical needs together to pack for a couple of days away.  We pull out of the driveway in our electric Nissan Leaf at about 11:00 am.  Heading south out of town, I remember too late that neither of us has thought to make a Keystone ferry reservation, a serious oversight in the summer, on a weekend, with one of two ferries out of commission.  We decide to hope for the best, knowing that if we're willing to hang on the beach for a couple of hours, we'll eventually get on.  Loaded with all kinds of snack and lunch food, we can eat our way through the wait time.


We arrive at the ferry, buy our tickets and wander through the campground down to the beach.  I'm still cranky and low.  Sitting on the rocky beach of Admiralty Bay, I begin to idly pick through the stones, running my thumb over the surface of each one, selecting for flat and smooth.  As I start building a tower, I wonder about the meditative practice of stacking rocks.  I recall making trail markers long ago, in my Girl Scout days.  I remember sitting on the river bank constructing small rock and stick houses with my mother on family camping trips while my father and sister were fly fishing down stream.  Looking carefully, I see symbols and images in the irregular patterns and colors on the surface of each rock.  I think it would be an interesting practice to sketch what I'm seeing in each hard, smooth piece of mother earth.


The inbound ferry rounds the point, and we wander back to the car.  Suddenly I am struck with the sure knowledge that I have forgotten to pack my preventative meds.  My heart sinks as I share this bleak omission with my husband, knowing we will have to turn around and head home.  He is sympathetic and understanding, but I am embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed.  I am a careful planner, and I know that my slip of mind is due to cloudy thinking that comes with migraines, but negative self blame still sticks to me like glue.

We pull out of line and head toward home facing yet another miscalculation.  We have only 11 miles left before we need to recharge the car, and the next charge point is 10 miles north, a nerve-rackingly skinny margin of error.  We are so relieved when we arrive at the Penn Cove plug-in, that high-volume hydroplane races taking place nearby become a joke rather than yet another fowl play.


Eclipse

Feeling better the next morning, I begin to bake my husband a long-overdue birthday cake.  The sun is shinning through the kitchen window, and I'm enjoying this simple, methodical process and the taste of chocolate batter as I lick it my fingers.  It is August 21st, the day of a total solar eclipse if you happen to be in just the right location in Oregon or Washington State.  We will see the sun about 93% eclipsed by the shadow of the moon.  We made no special preparations, but as the hour arrives, about 9:30 am, and the sky turns dusky, we wander outside with a hastily-made, pin-hole camera.  We hold our paper up to the wall across the street, and there it is, the sun turned into a half-moon reflection on the garage door.  I return to my cake making with a smile on my face.  Looking down on the kitchen counter, I see a tiny refraction of the eclipse as the image passes through the window pane.  With a thrill of wonder, I call my husband in to look.  I want to take a picture, but it's gone before I can grab my camera.  After a hard, painful yesterday, the cake and the eclipse are redemptive.  They arrive as gifts that help me regain my equilibrium and make my day.


Hummingbird

Lately, the migraines have been an unrelenting, daily occurrence.  The SpringTMS keeps the head-pain level down but doesn't eliminate the muscle spasms in my shoulders and back nor reduce the accompanying mood dips, lethargy or foggy thinking.  Finally facing my slump, I'm taking the afternoon off.  On our small deck in the sun, I sit reading and listening to bird calls in our park-like back yard.  I sit for a long time, soaking in the colors and patterns of the trees and the movement of the leaves, and slowly, I begin feeling better.  Hearing an unmistakable bird call, I look up from my book to see a hummingbird hovering 18 inches from my face, his beak pointing right at me.  His tiny wings whir as he pauses in place for 10 seconds, then moves to my left a couple of inches and hovers again.  He moves left yet again and hovers one more time before a quick dash off into the big, old, transparent apple tree.  I am entranced with this little interspecies communication and know, without a doubt, I'm being upbraided for neglecting the hummingbird feeder, which has lain empty and dirty for months immediately behind the chair I'm sitting in.  I get up, collect the feeder and go inside to wash and fill it.  Delighted and renewed by my encounter, I gather my gear and put on my shorty wetsuit for what may be my last salt-water swim of the season.  The migraine waxes and wanes all day long and into the evening, but my mood has lifted, and by the time I hit the sack, I can relax into sleep. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Calm Before the Storm

Smoke

After a cold wet spring, it has been a warm, very dry summer in the Pacific Northwest.  Being a sun worshiper, I'm ordinarily good with that, but this summer has been a killer.  To the north of us, 163 wild fires burn in the interior of British Columbia, Canada.  Dense smoke has drifted south and blanketed our region with a persistent dirty haze.  Around midsummer the winds that normally blow cool marine air in off the Pacific die and we enjoy incredibly beautiful long, clear days as the sun drops slowly towards the horizon, twilight lasting until around 10:00 pm.

This has been a smoke-filled month.  Reports claim we have had the worst air pollution in the Country, on a par with Beiping, China, with extraordinarily high levels of particulates in the air, ozone and radioactivity.  
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2017/08/wildfire-smoke-brought-enhanced.html

While missing the clear, clean air, I was feeling pretty good - until I wasn't.  Five or six days into the bad air, I started to cough and hack, first in the morning, then at night too.  My headaches began to amp up to near daily events although my SpringTMS continued to minimize my pain levels.  This last week our weather shifted as cool, moist air cleared out the smoke.  Still, each day is once again a struggle with daily pain, constant fatigue, cloudy thinking, low energy and all the rest.

Refractory period

This is a pattern for me.  Give me a cold or the flu, an emotional upset, bad air, and I'm okay for a week or 10 days.  My body takes care of the infection or the assault.  Then, just when I think I've dodged the bullet, trouble sets in.  Migraines increase in frequency, duration and severity.  All those little associated symptoms like muscle spasms in my shoulders and upper back, terrific ear aches, tinnitus, depressed mood, anxiety and more begin to plague me anew.  Our weather pattern began to change for the better on August 11th, a welcome birthday present, but I'm still suffering the effects.  Probably in another week or two, if the smoke doesn't return, I'll begin to feel better.  In the meantime, I have to work hard to be happy and productive.


The Old Question

Yesterday was Monday, my usual day for taking care of business:  paying bills, battling with the insurance company, mapping out my week, making contact with people I want to see, making appointments.  I also try to get a couple of hours of writing in during the morning.  Yesterday, I just couldn't do it.  So I resorted to my tried and true inquiry, "What can I do to help myself feel better?" 
Remembering to ask the question gave me a little breathing room.  The answers, my answers?
  • Start a blog post and write only until I run out of juice
  • Retreat to the window seat in my studio to drink a cup of tea and write in my journal, read, look at children's books and illustrations
  • Work on my art
  • Take a nap
  • Drive down to the water, sit on the beach and look for a rock ("Everybody Needs a Rock" by Byrd Baylor)
  • Buy some flamingly magnificent dahlias from the itinerant vendor parked on the Boulevard on my way home from the store.  This was not a plan, just a brilliant impulse!
  • Go for a short walk after dinner, anything to get outside
  • Early to bed

It worked.  I did feel better, not over my funk, but the day got a bit brighter and less fraught.  


The Flower Vendor

An added lift came from Ricky, the dahlia guy.  For a couple of months every summer and into the fall, he parks his van on a major thoroughfare and sits there most of the day selling his lovely flowers.  He has a boom box and listens to music, jazzy, bluesy stuff, and he has a camp chair or rather a camp rocking chair pulled up behind table that holds buckets of red, white, yellow, pink, purple, orange and variegated dahlias.  I've bought flowers from him every year but never really had a conversation.  Yesterday was different.

"Do you grow all your flowers?"  I asked.  "Oh yeah," he said.  "They're all mine - until they're yours!"  "You must have a pretty big garden."  "Wanna see a picture of it?"  "Sure," I answered.  He hauled out his cell phone and fiddled around for a moment and found photos of a large, maybe quarter-acre plot.  At the bottom of the photo, at the end of a row of flowers was a white stool, like a shower stool out of a medical equipment catalog.  "They're just coming on.  They'll get better in a week or two."  I was seriously impressed.  Ricky looks to be about my age, which is to say not young.  He's quite heavy, wears support stockings, and when he moves around his mobile flower stand, showing off his wares and bundling up my favorite picks, he hobbles as if his hips or knees hurt.  I drove away with my flowers, new respect for Ricky and a feeling of, perhaps, solidarity.

The next day, on the way home from my physical therapy appointment, I stopped by again.  I had a low grade headache, building as the day wore on, and a knot in my left shoulder.  "Ricky, I have a question for you."  "What's that?" he said.  "Could I take your picture?  I have a lot of headaches, and those flowers made me feel better yesterday."  "Sure, you can take my picture any time you want."  I shot three or four photos and thanked him.  He picked up a bucket from the table, "You want some yellow plums?  They're super ripe.  Picked them this morning 'cause they were gonna rot if I didn't.  Take as many as you want."  I took three.  He made sure I got the ones that didn't have a split.  "I like your camp rocker."  "Yeah, it's good.  I got it at Fred Meyers, pistons and all."  I bid him good by and headed home to cook dinner.  My headache had disappeared.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Miles for Migraine

June challenge

Miles for Migraine <http://milesformigraine.org> is a non-profit organized to improve the lives of migraine patients and their families by raising money and public awareness and helping find a cure for migraine.  The June Challenge is a virtual event.  Participants from anywhere and everywhere run (or walk) to raise money for sorely-needed research.

This year I decide to take the challenge.  I set out to walk almost every day, both to contribute and as a personal challenge, to explore my own ability to set one foot in front of another and day after day make a personal commitment.

Path

Backstory

In 2012 I tripped and fell going down the steps to the basement.  It was a hard landing that resulted in a soft-tissue, foot injury, and subsequent re-injuries requiring physical therapy, orthotics, crutches and five years to heal.  It's a long story on its own, with many frustrating setbacks.  I love to walk, and it has been a harsh blow, added to incessant migraines, to be deprived of such a simple pleasure and a means of coping with chronic pain.  Finally, this spiring, after several more months dedicated to exercises by Eric Miller, my superb physical therapist, my feet began to take me further and further without protest.  I was ready for a challenge, excited to have a goal and make a contribution.


Walkin' to New Orleans 

A superb old Fats Domino tune, title above, shows up, his voice and superlative piano play accompaniment to my walks.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-eWAuFmjN0
On June 1st my husband joins me in my mini crusade, and we begin to walk everyday around our neighborhood, down to the Bay, the library, around town (to New Orleans).  It feels great although migraines and subsequent fatigue continue to limit the miles I clock via Strava, an ap that not only counts your miles and route but also feeds the information to Miles for Migraine and to followers.

June 5th my husband and I set out on our annual road trip to California to visit our son in Santa Cruz. First night in a yurt at Champoeg State Park south of Portland, Oregon, a big, expansive, rolling green park on the Willamette River.  We clock 2 miles through oak and maple woods, along the river.  Second night, Crescent City, California, a favorite stop for us.  We log 3.2 miles walking the lovely, long beach across Hwy 101 from the Curley Redwood Inn, where all the awesome woodwork (doors, paneling, trim, tables, headboard on the bed) was milled from one giant California curly redwood tree.  Third night we are home-away-from-home free in Santa Cruz.  Every day for a week we walk beachside West Cliff Drive to the lighthouse, to Natural Bridges Park, the neighborhood taqueria, a woodsy trail to the old lime works above Felton, around wildlife refuge Neary Lagoon, to Vasilis Greek Restaurant.  My mileage climbs from 1 or 2 to 4 or 5 miles at a whack.  I am feeling good!  

I am - a Tiny figure in blue
After a week with Andrew and Jenny we head over to Pinnacles National Park on the San Andreas fault, scene of spectacular, craggy red rock, sprawling old oak trees and abundant wildlife. We pick out a campsite and set up our brand-new, spacious tent.  The next morning, on a short hike, we head up a rocky trail, strewn with boulders and cave-like rock falls to a gem of a reservoir where we lay eyes on brilliant red and blue dragon flies flitting the surface, water snakes, frogs and Easter Island-like rocky heads.  On the way down, I take a short hop off a rock and feel a little twinge in my left groin area.  "Hm, I won't do that again," I think.  After a late afternoon swim in the campground pool, we have chicken salads and Andrew's home-baked sour dough bread for dinner.  We watch the sun go down and the stars come out and turn in early.


Waterloo

The next morning I get up with pain in my hip crease every time I take a step, so we abandon our morning walk and hit the road, driving north on 101, heading toward home.  It is a long, stop-and-go day as we battle traffic jams from Watsonville all the way through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge at rush hour.  We finally throw in the towel in Petaluma and get a hotel for the night.  Over the next few days, with a sinking heart, I quit walking as the pain in my hip grows progressively worse.  We skip stops at favorite swimming holes on the Eel and Smith Rivers.  Arriving home, I have my husband dig my crutches out of the basement and schedule a doctor's appointment for the next morning.  Diagnosis, soft tissue injury requiring at least 6 weeks to heal.  This is all too familiar territory.  When the doctor says 6 weeks, I hear 5 years and an end to my newly acquired walking ability, a summer without swimming or bike riding.  I have a major meltdown.


Let it Be

We are now almost a week into our return home, and I am still on crutches.  Once again, a song rises from the depths to give me a hand up, the tune, the lyrics playing background music to my days as I cope with this new, old reality.  "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.  And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, Speaking words of wisdom, let it be........"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6T5C-jzSH0
Thank you, Paul McCartney.
Crutches