Do you remember the Push Me Pull You two headed llama from Dr. Doolittle? If you do, you must be close to my age! I don’t think the Eddie Murphy Doolittle had the llama. Anyway, that llama is a good image for how I feel much of the time.
Learning to be flexible in this crazy world is a must, but I have to confess, it can be tougher than I thought. I would never have anticipated that my husband, who has always been perfectly healthy, would have faced death 18 months ago, or that our lives could have changed to such an extent. (Randy suffered a sudden respiratory failure and ended up with a double lung transplant from a disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. I blogged about there experience under Our Transplant Journey. Go to the very last page for the beginning of our very unexpected journey).
Randy and I had planned an empty nest life of travel, much of it adventure travel and diving. We also wanted to spend time on a lake here and there, or a river, kayaking or rafting or paddle boarding. A lung transplant brought complications to our plans. Lakes and rivers are no longer allowed…you can imagine the bacteria, right? Last summer we went to Lake Tahoe and rafted in the Truckee and boated in Lake Tahoe because these are alpine lakes and rivers, crystal clear and cold, without the risk inherent in the rivers and lakes of Texas. I wanted to go to a friend’s lakehouse this weekend, but Randy was uncertain…I understand it, he cannot go in the lake. I could paddle or kayak or swim, but Randy couldn’t do any of that. We ended up not going. It’s okay, like I said, I understand it would not be much fun for him.
While he has been cleared to dive in easy environments, like most Cozumel dives, he cannot do any type of “challenge” diving. Truthfully, he won’t be able to do some of the Cozumel dives, and I worry about it…what if he gets stung by a jelly, or scrapes against coral? He hates to wear wetsuits, but he is going to have to, just for protection, even when snorkeling. Randy has always been a sun worshipper, staying dark and laying in the sun for hours. He is no longer allowed in the sun without hats and sunscreen…he is 50 times more likely to get melanoma than the average person because of the anti rejection drugs he is on. Yes, life is different, and there is a lot to consider when making any kind of plans.
We are planning to go to Cozumel, where we have a second home, in 3 weeks. They do have medical flights, and Houston is only an hour or so away, but the medical care on the island is bare basics. Yes, that worries me. A trip to Vienna, Prague and Budapest has been planned for December so we can see the Christmas markets and displays. Again, one has to plan: The Department of Thoracic Surgery at the Medical University of Vienna runs a high volume lung transplant program with more than 100 transplantations per year. So, Randy will never be more than an hour’s flight from Vienna while we are traveling. It is doubtful we will ever travel to Africa (except perhaps South Africa) or Asia again, or remote locations like Antarctica. He has to be within a reasonable distance of a transplant hospital.
I am a passionate scuba diver, and I want to volunteer for scientific trips and go on trips to review dive services all over the world. I don’t feel too guilty about the science trips as Randy wouldn’t want to do volunteer diving anyway, but I am torn on other travels. However, I have made the decision to go on these trips, and to fulfill my aspiration to make a difference in ocean conservation. Randy supports that decision, he does not want me to give up the trips I have wanted to go on since our kids flew the nest. I appreciate that support, because I feel compelled to do as much as I can, as long as I can. I have a two week trip the end of July with the Marine Megafauna Foundations’s Ray of Hope to help with ID of mantas and whale sharks. These trips mean so much to me.
Many of the activities Randy loves will have to be curtailed, or stopped completely. I encourage him to find other things to try…there are many things he can still do. He has had two serious illnesses this year, for both he spent weeks in the hospital. Randy is doing great right now. I am so looking forward to his first trip to Cozumel in 2 years, but I will take him to get a wetsuit. Safety first.