Fishing The Coast, Oregon and Washington
Feb 2nd, 2005
Who the HECK is Miss Marietta? LOL.
I'm home! I can walk!
I'm convinced now that it is not. I really am lucky to be alive. I really
do have extremely messed up, but patched together innards. I really do have
to give up salmon or sturgeon fishing, or at least find a way to hand off
anything that stresses me in the least. I have to choose life, at least
for now, when the boys are young. When they grow older, or are on their
own, I might decide differently. That I must live my life for what I love,
and that the risk will be worth it. But, for now, I am a Mother with kids
who need me, and my responsibility for all of that is very, very clear.
The plan for Stanford was to fly in last Thursday, and visit the clinic that day to meet everyone. Friday was "procedure day." I was scheduled to be "first."
Saturday I was to be released to hang out in the motel for two days. Monday I was to be checked again, and Tuesday, fly home.
Sounds almost leisurely, doesn't it?
Well, I flew in, and Thursday was as planned. The clinic visit was a little longer than I thought, and when I got back to the motel, my Dad was there, and wanted to go to dinner. I was so tired, but we went, and had a lovely time.
Friday morning, I checked into Stanford U. for the procedure at 6:30 AM. I wasn't even seen until 11:00 due to an emergency. You know, that happens, and I have to respect that. After all, when I needed emergent care, someone else was waiting in my very position. Thank you for that!
Anyhow, I finally went in. The "two hour" procedure turned to many more. I do not know how long. I was supposed to be souped up so that I could not remember, and it was supposed to be nearly painless. Well, they could not control my pain, and I remember most everything.-- From the lovely nurse Jane who was an angel, holding my hand, to watching what they were doing on the screen, to the terrible, mind twisting pain of digging in my groin and abdomin. OUCH! I'll tell you. I'll not forget that!
And then, I was checked back into my room. At first, I had a great nurse. However, when the evening shift came, "Nurse Ratchet" showed up. My gosh! I can't IMAGINE treating anyone like that! She is a "caretaker," right?
I asked 10 times for each thing I asked for. I kid you not! The doctor left, saying that I could have all the pain meds I needed, as I had been through a lot. I had to beg for them! I was in total mind boggling pain, and in tears, and I could not get any help from her at all. Finally, I began to cry. I just couldn't help it! I had to lay flat on my back, and my back was just killing me. I called for kleenex. That is a commodity that is very rare at Stanford, I have found. Kleenex are not to be found, anywhere. I asked once with the call button. I asked again. I must have asked ten times. Finally, two hours later, and totally drained of all tears, I got on the call button. I said, "I have a twenty dollar bill. May I BUY some kleenex?" My sheets were soaked with tears, and believe it or not, I never did get one darn tissue! Teri, my sister, later joked that the reason I didn't get any Kleenex, is that they were actually 50 dollars, not 20, and they were insulted.
I did, however, get a nurse with an attitude who after I told her of my Kleenex problems, came in and stated, "I have a couple of oversensitive patients tonight, and frankly, I don't care."
Now let's see... "Caretaker doesn't care..." Is that appropriate in any profession? I was dumbfounded! And, she said it in front of the head nurse, who didn't blink twice! I kept thinking, am I that difficult to be treated this way? Perhaps I was not pleasant at that point. I didn't feel good. I hurt. I was exhausted, but... can't I have a Kleenex? Please?
Anyhow, I got the heck out of there, the next day. I had pulses in my feet for the first time in seven weeks! My feet were warm! I was so tired, so exhausted, but so extremely pleased with the results!
Stay tuned for the next adventure... I have so much to do that this is all I can handle for now!
You know what I'm going to do when it gets light? I'm going to try to walk out to the river!
Kilchis is so happy to see me!
One thing I want to say before I go. Dr. Liang, Sunny, and Julie, all at the marfan clinic are some of the most wonderful people on earth. No matter what happened in the actual hospital, that crew put up with every concern, question, fear, and doubt that I had... all with more grace than I could possibly muster in any situation. I am forever thankful!
Feb 4th, 2005
I'm raggedy, trying to keep up. I do have many stories to
tell, but I just don't have the oomph, yet.
I put up Stan's new column, and it's very interesting. I love Power Pro line, so it's right up my alley. Read here.
I came home with so many goals in mind that I overdid it the first day. You know, I just had to walk to the river, and I just had to try to cook. Well, I came down with a fever, and a stern warning from my doctor. STAY DOWN. They said, "Jen, you are almost ready to do things, but not quite!" I am not very good at moderation when I want to do something... but, you know? I think I have to in order to get back to being Jennie. I'm going to give it my best.
I'm bored. :( I'm so tired of television. I've never been one to watch much!
Tomorrow... Tomorrow, or later today I will begin writing some stories of my experience. I cannot believe how often God showed me that I was not alone. It truly was miraculous. It had my sister and I in tears, many times!
Off I go... I can't be up long, yet. Patience, Jen!
Feb 5th, 2005
I don't know what's up with me. I'm just so tired!
There are three bird feeders hanging from over my bedroom deck, and I seem to be able to just lay there with no argument, watching the comings and goings of chickadees, junco, and my most special little yellow Townsend's warbler. Every time he shows up my breath sharply increases and I lay especially still. He's so beautiful, and this is the fourth year that he has visited. He has feeding characteristics so much different from the other birds. Townsend's warblers are known to love high places, and this one won't feed on the lower feeders. He perches on the edge of the roof, and waits patiently for a chickadee to knock a chunk of sticky suet down to the deck, 20 feet off the ground. If he's not that lucky, then he feeds on the suet feeder on the fly. He won't land on it, just flutters like a hummingbird, underneath, and pecks pieces from it.
Glancing through my bird calendar, I see that the first hummingbird showed up on February 24th last year, and my favorites, the Goldfinch, showed up shortly thereafter. Oh heck, what is my favorite? They all are!
Today, I walked all the way down the path to the upper fast flowing hole on the river, and made my way carefully across the rocks to the flat sand that graces the fast flowing water, mid stream. Once there, the walking was easier until I got to my duck chair. I have it stashed in the brush at the quiet, wide flowing spread of water, where Kilchis can "dig dig" in the sand, and I can rest until I'm able to make it back to the house.
It's a little scary, especially going alone. I purchased some two way radios, just in case, but I haven't needed them, except to exclaim my excitement over the findings of beautiful agates, or to giggle to people in the house that, "I'm still standing!"
Life is different for me, now. So many, many changes. I was so close to death, and I know that with my condition, I continue to be precarious. How many people do you know, though, that get two chances at life?
I'm lucky, and I am thankful.
I'm doing things differently now. I'm taking things slower, especially for now. I look at my kids longer. I take the time to talk to them. I mean, really, really talk to them.
I can't do everything I'd like, so those things that I choose to do are going to be done with all the love and attention and passion that I possess.
After my walk, I painted my toenails and fingernails, and then spent most of my day laying on my bed, reading Dave Hughes, "Angler's Astoria" for the billionth time. I have more fun imagining where he is fishing, as he writes. The exact spots! The feelings that it brings him, and likewise, the feelings that I have felt, fishing where his very footsteps slogged into the muddy banks.
In between chapters, I dozed and dreamed, and woke to start where I had left off.
I can't imagine when last I spent a Saturday in bed doing this type of thing, and it felt warm, and good, and right.
Kilchis cuddled up by my side, and my cat, Molly, purred as she snuggled between my feet.
I am alive, and I need not be in a hurry. I don't want this "second" part of my life to be frantic. I don't want to race.
I just want to feel this feeling of contentment for as long as I can. I know that life will pick up pace, and there will be times when it all catches up with me. But just for today, just for now... I can pretend that life will be full of slow Saturday's, walking on the river, and reading my favorite fishing books.
Feb 7th, 2005
Looking back, I almost didn't do it. I was really very afraid.
Besides, people are nice to you when you are in a wheelchair! I was also
getting pretty good at wheeling around.
San Francisco seemed scary, and far away. Another surgery seemed too much to endure. The thought of hospitals, again, was awful. I was feeling better by the day, or so I thought. I didn't realize that my feet were dying, or that I was headed towards disaster with my lower extremities, if something weren't done.
I didn't want to do it. God, on the other hand, had other plans. Everything just kept pushing me forward. Plane tickets magically fell into my hands, thanks to Angel Flight, the money needed for hotels was sent to me by loving ifishers, my sister donated her time to take care of me, and said she'd accompany me there! The folks at Stanford Marfan Clinic called me several times a day, prior to the procedure. Now, that's odd! I mean, they actually kept calling, reassuring, pushing me forward, encouraging, tempting me into legs that might be able to walk!
I really had no choice but to go with the flow... and I was so scared. People kept telling me how tough they thought I was. Nope. Not tough at all. I was just doing what I had to do. What choice did I have?
It was all so "handled" for me, that it's not even on my calendar! The whole week is blank! It wasn't scheduled by me, nor handled by me. I really feel that God scheduled it, and held me by the hand, as he led me through everything that had to be done.
I simply "left" ifish, my kids, my dog, my entire life, entrusted in those who love me, and surround me. Those people given to me, by God.
On January 27th, I found myself in the car with Bill, driving across the coastal pass to the airport at 6 in the morning. I had barely slept the night before, and man, oh man, had I cried most of the night! I threatened that I was staying home, that I was going to run away! (wheel away?)
The timing forced me to give myself a lovenox shot in my stomach the day before, twice, and at 5 in the morning, before I left. I certainly didn't want to play "shot nurse" in the airport bathrooms! I was getting better at the shots, but that was a learning experience in itself!
At the airport, Pete and Maddy Morris met us, as did my sister Linda, and of course my sister Teri, who was going with me.
At the check in, I wheeled up in my wheelchair, and tried for the millionth time to use my first class upgrade coupon that I got with a credit card. They took it! YAY! We were going first class! I had never done that, and neither had Teri. Now, looking back, I wonder how I'll ever fly cabin, again! It's so fun! It's so luxurious and the leg room is wonderful!
When they served our breakfast, Teri and I were stunned to find a little piece of paper on our trays. We picked it up. It was a prayer! We couldn't believe it! It was the start of a long, long list of huge reminders of who was in charge of this adventure. I mean, how can a major business put Christian prayers on their trays, and not offend anyone? I would think they'd have trouble with that! But, it caused Teri and I to well up with tears, and me to have that much more trust that I was doing the right thing.
We took off in the airport gracefully, and landed, just the same. Everything so far was going smoothly.
Even though I have trouble "going back" to recount this adventure, I think I also need to write it out to again be amazed by God's role in my life. I also need to share the miracles that I experienced, with others.
I am getting a little better, day by day. Actually, I have bad days, and good days. But, I think I can tell that I am getting a bit better, day by day. Sleeping is difficult for me, and I cried my eyes out last night when I realized that my hair is falling out, in back. I love my hair, and have always thought it one of my best features. It will come back, right?
Sometimes I feel oddly broken inside, and the doctor's words, "Jennie, your plumbing is not normal, now, but it works!" echoes in my mind.
I'm not normal inside, and it's hard to know what to expect, or how far I can press things, or when I'll get well.
All I can do is be optimistic, work on being fearless, and sigh with gratitude as the morning's light falls across the Kilchis canyon, as I open my eyes to each new day.
More on the trip, later.
Feb 8th, 2005
Where was I? Oh yeah, landing in California. I was able to
walk off the jet way myself. I was met with a wheelchair at the bottom,
and thank God for that!
Off we headed, to find our motel. We found our shuttle, checked into our room, and settled in, all without incident.
The good folks at Stanford University Marfan Clinic wanted to meet up with me later in the day, so we took a taxi. Thanks to Teri, we were able to find our way quite easily, and made our appointment in time. The welcome there was wonderful, and they had plenty of time to explain the procedure.
(Whoops! Had to run, will finish tomorrow! LOL!)
OK-- I'm back. It's actually the 9th, now.
Yesterday, on the 8th, I had quite an active day. It was beautifully sunny out. Pete came over to collect the Kwikfish orders, and we went for a walk on the river. The sunshine on the sand was delightful. The water is crystal clear, and it's refreshing just to stare into it. Even if there are no fish, you can almost imagine them!
Kilchis did his wonderfully talented "dig-digs" and we all soaked up the sunshine.
Later, we met David Johnson for lunch at Bay City, and he later shuttled the ifish gear to the Sportsman Show. If you'd like to pick up a decal or a hat to show your ifish support, they will be at booth #060, at the entrance to building E. This is the south building (main entrance) right before you walk in the show. Click here for more. I'm so sorry I cannot be there. We are still talking about showing up one day, but I'm just not certain.
Today is another beautiful sunny day, and I just returned again, from walking Kilchis beside the river. I tell ya, it is very, very disturbing to walk just the least little bit and have your pulse go sky high! I am so out of shape! Not only that, but my artificial valve is so noisy that it will NOT let you forget it! I keep wanting to dislike my new valve, and all that it brings, but I must remember that this is what is keeping me alive! I must learn to love it!
Back to Stanford, now...
After my appointment, we were literally exhausted. However, my Dad and his friend Art is had driven up from Palm Springs to be there for me, during the procedure, and they wanted to go out to dinner. We didn't get home from our appointment until 6 or so, and dinnertime was fast approaching. I had to decide whether I was too tired to go, but darn! They had driven so far, and I wasn't about to miss my last chance to eat before surgery!
I laughed as my Dad wheeled my wheelchair down the hallway to the restaurant, and he sang something silly about this being fun. I replied back to him as we whirred along, "Not bad on this end, either." He got a kick out of that!
We had a lovely dinner, although I pooped out early, and asked my Dad to take me back to my room. He reluctantly did so, and hugged me goodbye.
Alright... It was just me and a cold, empty motel room, facing a procedure I wasn't at all sure of, in a place I was not familiar with, far, far from home! Yikes! The terror set in, and my pulse quickened.
I want to go home!!! What am I DOING here?
Plans were made for Teri and I to be at the hospital the next morning by 6:30 AM.
Well, maybe Teri was going to go, but "Miss Marietta" sure wasn't!
Feb 12th, 2005
Returning to the river...
Good Saturday Morning to you! I have a friend coming to help
me clean house, today. It's Tuna Tom's wife, off the ifish board. I can't
wait! I just can't seem to get anywhere, doing it alone. Maybe that means
I'm normal? Tee hee. I cannot believe that someone would so unselfishly
volunteer such an unpleasant task!
I'm finding that I am not looking forward to writing, since I started writing about my health drama. You know, I find it depressing, and I don't think I'm ready to do it. I should do it, because I don't want to forget, but it is not a good way to start the day. Therefore, I am going to play it by ear. If I feel like writing about it, I will. When I don't, I won't! When I finish the story, I'll put it all together. There! I feel better just deciding that!
The other night when I was really, really tired, I reached to open a small Fed Ex package. It was a medical transcription dated Feb 2nd, and a CD. I've yet to look at the CD, but the medical transcription is extremely distressing and depressing. I don't know if I just don't understand it, or if it is what it seems to be. If it is what it seems, they are suggesting more surgery! I have called the doctor's to ask them to explain, but have not heard back.
It says my right carotid is dissected, and my spleen is abnormal and I have emphysema! All of these things I did not know! Is this report even about me?
I don't think that suggesting by mail that someone have yet another serious heart surgery is a good idea. Do you? Ever since, I've been a bit down. I am so not ready for more hospitals! But, of course, if it will save my life, I'll be there. If I have to go, I'm going to Stanford, again.
I just wish someone would call me to let me know! Please? Someone?
Well, I'll tell you. Spring is in the air, and that is helping me tremendously. I have daffodils in bloom! My raspberries are starting to bud. My daphne has tiny pink flowers poking out, and they already smell wonderful!
The birds are thicker in the air, and when I cook dinner at night, it's still light out! Mid day, I can sit on the back porch and enjoy some warmth. I have it timed perfectly, but it keeps getting earlier! Yesterday, precisely at 12:30 PM, I caught the sunshine on the back porch. It stays later and later!
I can wander down to the river with my walking stick in hand, and sit in the warmth of the gravel, while watching Kilchis chase dippers, or "dig dig." I love life in the thick of spring. The air gets heavy and moist and everything around me slows to a lush, relaxed pace. Wet, thick greens slap me in the face while I make my way through the trails in the woods, and the warm sunshine is almost able to dry it, but not quite! I still return to the house with a shiver, and the roaring fire is oh so welcome!
I've heard that North of here, the steelhead fishing is picking up a bit, but there sure is no sign of them on the Kilchis. It's just been a very poor year. I certainly hope this is not a sign of ocean conditions turning bad. I'm not ready to give up yet, but my, oh my, it's been a good couple of years!
Life on the coast... It's so much better than life in the hospital, and I don't want to go back! But, like I said, if it will enable me to come back here, and enjoy yet more "life on the coast"... I'm on my way!
Feb 13th, 2005
I feel a glimmer of hope! I am feeling so differently than
I did before, in so many ways. Sure, I still have pain, but that's beside
the point. I just have so little enthusiasm and energy. Today I couldn't
get out of bed! It just felt right to stay put, motionless, and enjoy the
feeling of my new foam mattress pad, the down comforter, and the pillows
that supported my lazy head!
I spoke with a friend of mine, and she told me that she was on the same medications that I am on, and she found herself lacking motivation, too! Maybe? Sure enough, now I remember! I have read others on the marfan support group who have taken this and lost energy, too! It's a beta blocker. I am taking Toprol-- 150 mg of it, and that's quite a bit. It is doing it's function by making my heart work less vigorously, but I think it's also robbing me of my energy! There are different beta blockers. I'm going to report this to my doctor, and maybe we can try another one that will motivate me to get out of bed, and get with it, again! I miss the old five in the morning Jennie, that wanted to take Kilchis on a walk!
I'm sure it will take lots of time to iron out my medications, and get back to myself. I wish I'd just realize this and not become so frustrated with it. I have been torn apart, re plumbed and sewn back together. It will take time to heal!
Yesterday I was absolutely floored by the gift that was given me. I honestly do not think I have ever had anyone give me such a gift. Kelly, "Tuna Tom's" wife, arrived at my home before 8 in the morning, and began to scrub my kitchen! She was an amazing whirling dervish of cleaning charm in my household! She can come to stay, anytime! I was amazed, both by her bubbling spirit, and her willingness to do such a thing! I couldn't believe her stamina, either! She just kept going and going! I offered her food, tea, coffee, something to drink, and she refused, and just kept cleaning! I want what she is having, doc! I want that beta blocker!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Kelly! I finally feel like I have a leg up on getting back into being in line on cleaning, here! I had that feeling that I'd never catch up!
I'm having a friend over, today, and we are going to run our dogs on the river. Perhaps get some lunch from town, and have a picnic down there. It's partly sunny out, and although it's a bit chilly, I think it will be a wonderful way to spend a lazy Sunday.
The kids just left to go with their Dad overnight, so I have the place to myself. Oh... Peace and quiet on the Kilchis river!
and all the love in the world, to all of you!
Feb 15th, 2005
It's a lovely, freezing cold day in the neighborhood. Man,
is it scary, or what... all the nice weather we are having? It's just not
right, and I worry for my rivers, my streams, my ocean, and my fishes! Notice,
they are mine, all mine! They are yours, too, but they are mine! I think
that's a great way to look at it, because, truly, if we take ownership,
we are more likely to take an active part in taking care of them. Each fish,
each bird that lands on my back deck, each river that flows to the ocean.
They are ours!
But what in the world can we do to do our part in taking care of them where global warming is concerned? Get educated! It is a complicated science, isn't it? I'll never forget the first time I started reading about it. I was absolutely lost. Well, let me tell you. I'm still not very far in understanding, still, but as I learn, I will let you know what I learn!
I know that listening to popular fisheries expert, Jim Martin gets me all revved up and ready to do something about this issue. At the end of his speeches, I'm always all 'rah! rah!' passionate about what he is trying to push us to do. After listening to him speak about global warming, I find myself shouting, "Yeah, preacher Jim! That's right!" and then I think... "What is right? What in the world did he just say?" I'm going to learn to understand it, by golly! Is there something we can do??
I'm looking forward to the sun kissing the frost off of the lawn this morning, until it's warm, melty, and inviting on the river beach. As soon as the top layer of sand is dry, I'll be there!
I'm going to spend the morning writing thank you notes to the people who helped me get to Stanford University, so that I can walk to the river, again. Then, I'm going to spend the afternoon doing just that. I'm going to lounge on the river beach, searching out agates, thanking God for his many wonders, and watching the river birds.
I'm worried about global warming and the affects it will have on the river, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the rays of the sun.
Yesterday I went to the dentist and to the doctor, all by myself. That sounds weird, but going places myself is still a bit scary! Then, I even went to Fred Meyers to get Valentine's for the boys, and a few groceries. I DID NOT use the little electric cart! I didn't realize that it would be so busy there, due to Valentine's Day, and I had trouble waiting in line. Panic set in. My legs were giving out! I had to leave the line, and go sit on a bench for a bit. I barely made it! Finally, I found a line that was less busy, and made it through, and out to the car. Whew!
Record: I was gone, out of the house for four hours, by myself! I'm getting better, right?
Feb 16th, 2005
Two weeks ago, when the wheels of the jet liner hit the ground
in Portland, Oregon, I turned to my sister Teri, and exclaimed with excitement,
"I just LOVE HIM!"
I was talking, of course, about God.
Teri giggled, knowing full well who I was referring to, but I'm sure the passengers around me were in the dark. It isn't often, I'm certain, that God is referred to in such a personal way.
I was lacking confidence that day. I was afraid. I was totally without faith! I had suffered a large hematoma in my groin twice in the past 24 hours that required ER visits to Stanford Hospital, and compresses that were so painful that I wanted to physically stop the nurses that were applying the pressure.
I was doubtful that I would successfully make a trip home, via air flight, without incident. I was really fearing a hematoma, mid air. Wouldn't that be lovely? Visions of me laying in the aisle, with some stranger compressing the wound, while the pilots decided where to land for me. I would have died of embarrassment before I would have died of internal bleeding!
I said a very sincere prayer before, and almost constantly during the flight.
At the first vibration of the tires contact with the ground, I was overcome with emotion. Gratitude, love, pride... so many feelings that I'd ordinarily reserve for my "bestest" boyfriend or something!
I was home! I felt a closeness to God that I hadn't felt in a long time.
"I just LOVE HIM!" rang through my heart and mind, all the way down the jetway ramp!
What a friend I have! What a wonderful feeling to know that someone loves me so much that He would forgive all of my weaknesses and doubt! What a wonder it is to be able to talk privately with someone who will listen to all of my troubles, all of my fears, all of my uncertainties and listen with love and understanding, no matter what!
During the week long stay at Stanford, my sister Teri and I giggled over the realization that both of us tend to turn nearly every line of conversation into song. We decided we learned this tendency from our Mother.
My son, David, often shakes his head and teases me, "Mother, does everything need to turn to song?" When I told Teri this, she laughed with familiarity. "My kids say that, too!"
When I came from the coffee maker in the motel room one morning, with a fresh cup of Starbucks, I sang loudly, (to the tune of "Standing on the Promises of God") "Satan tried to kill me but the Lord showed up!"
This brought out a burst of laughter from both of us. I mean, where do these songs come from??? I was as surprised as she was by my outburst. It was just playing in my mind, and simply had to come out!
As I remember these special times from our trip, I look out on the awesome sun as it hits the side of the mountain this morning. It slices an abrupt line separating the large stands of trees into two parts. One half is golden and most brilliantly lit by the sunshine, and one half lies gray, in the still darkness of it's shadow.
I can see myself reflected in that mountain. I can see the times when I've been "lit up" and warmed by God's presence, and the times when I've been lost and alone, standing in fear and darkness, not realizing how close I was to his warming love and friendship.
There are still too frequently days I refuse to budge from that darkness, as I work to overcome the stress of what my body has gone through. Depression hits me like a cold, gray shadow.
How reassuring it is to know how close and accessible God's warmth and sunshine is. All I have to do is ask, and the sun slides down and catches me in it's comforting rays.
I have a friend that will do that.
Did I tell you? I just LOVE HIM!!!!!!!!!!
Feb 18th, 2005
Things seem really blurry after my surgery up until my second
surgery. I vaguely remember people coming to bring food. I vaguely remember
phone calls from folks I hadn't spoken to in ages. Even the feeling of numbness
in my legs and feet are fading from memory. What did that feel like?
I vaguely remembered Mrs. Postlewait calling, also. She was my neighbor lady when I was very young. She had a daughter that I played with, by the name of Cindy. Mrs. Postlewait babysat me after kindergarten when my Mom was busy teaching piano, or volunteering at the school. She holds a permanent and endearing place in my childhood memories.
The other morning, I gave her a call on the telephone. Can you believe, after all of these years, I still remembered her phone number?!?
We talked for almost an hour! I can't believe the things she remembers. Things I hadn't thought of for years!
She remembers the field across the street from us on Locust Street, where our first neighboring houses were. She recalls laughing at us, as we'd lay on our backs in the tall grass, so that only our feet would stick out. Cars would pass on the road, and nearly come to a halt, as they noticed 6 sets of small feet, sticking out of the tall grass! What a hoot! I'd forgotten that!
I also asked her if she remembered when I was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome.
She said that I used to play alone in the driveway, while all the other kids would be playing in the field. One day Mrs. Postlewait and my Mother came to visit me, while I played alone in the driveway. They asked, "Jennie, why don't you play with the other kids, in the field?" I answered that I could not see the cars coming on the road, to cross the street."
AHA! They took me to the eye doctor at Oregon City Eye Clinic, who diagnosed me with marfan due to my dislocated lenses. I was also promptly fitted with glasses. Cool! Now I could play with the other kids!
Anyhow, it was fun talking to her, and I am so glad I called. It's not good to lose track of people. Life is so short! Call an old friend or neighbor, today!
We had our first hummingbird, yesterday! Bill and I were sitting outside at the picnic table. He had been working in the garden, and I had been keeping him company. I heard that familiar buzzing! I looked up, and was flashed by the bright neon orange of a male hummy! My intake of breath was so sharp that I could barely speak! B...B... BILL!
We both raced into action! I put on the sugar syrup to boil, and Bill got the feeders. He made up an emergency batch and put it out. I can't wait for today! I hope he'll be back! It was so funny, because while we were in the kitchen cooking their dinner, he came back, and stared into the window! I just wonder what they are thinking! I wonder if they remember?
I think I'll just pretend that they do!
Off I go! Yes, it's another beautiful day in the Kilchis Canyon. I hate to tell you, but I think this drought is brought on by medical necessity. I need sunshine to get well. I'm getting there, so the rain will be back, soon! I promise!
Feb 19th 2005
Ever since my first heart "sploded" as Andrew puts
it, on December 9th of 2004, I'd not glanced at my rod rack, once.
Bill had tried to get me to do fishing related things like rearrange my spinners. He bought me new tackle boxes to encourage me to get involved. I flatly refused, and pushed them aside. My spinners and Kwikfish remained an unpolished, tangled mass of confusion.
I've been through so many stages. Laying in bed hurting badly, to at best, sitting idle in a wheelchair.
I constantly pleaded with Bill or the kids to take Kilchis to the river. I felt so guilty, having Kilchis just lay by my side, matching my stillness.
I'd watch them head out together time after time, just as I used to do.
Kilchis would whine and bark and act obnoxious with excitement over Bill or the kids, and yes, I felt jealous and envious and sad and mad. But all at the same time, I was happy for my dog. I felt happy imagining him "dig digging" and racing to chase the dippers.
I can't tell you the times I smiled at them as they headed out, thankful for the time they spent with Kilchis, only to turn that smile upside down after they left. I'd sit in the kitchen and pour the tears. Heaven forbid anyone know that I was crying!
I urged Kilchis on, knowing full well that I couldn't take care of him, nor satisfy his ever growing need to run, play, and bark! Plus, I needed to know that Kilchis would have a special place in someone's heart, should something awful happen to mine, again.
I'd no longer ask him, "Kilchy, want to go fishing?" but, "Kilchis! Where's Bill? Go find Bill!" He'd wag his tail and reluctantly obey.
I can walk now. By golly, I'm getting better at it every day. Thanks to several of you, I went to Stanford Medical University and they practiced a little voodoo-- and performed a flat out miracle!
I can walk!
Since then, I've increased my strength enough to make it out to the river. I didn't fish on the river, though. It was hard enough just to walk there. Hard enough physically, and to tell the flat out truth, very difficult emotionally, too.
During a routine exam, my doctor noted to me, "Jennie, you are not one to put up with life, halfway, and that's good! But, you've got a long road ahead of you, for you to be satisfied."
Sometimes I'd make it all the way out to the river, and my heart would pound so hard! I was totally out of shape and so afraid that my heart would just come bursting out of my sweatshirt and no one would be around to save me! My artificial valve sometimes feels like a wild, untamed beast that wants out of it's rib cage.
I'd hurry back to home and shout, "I made it!" as if it were a race!
Occasionally I would get Bill to go to the river with me. There were times I even watched him fish. I'd bring along a chair and listen to the rhythm of his cast. He asked me if I'd like to cast. Nope. I don't know why. I just couldn't, wouldn't, didn't want to or something! If I couldn't do the whole thing, I didn't want to even go there.
Two days ago, I bought my Fishing license, and tucked it neatly away in my purse. Someday...
"Someday" turned out to be yesterday.
I was headed to the Post Office. The day was sunny and bright and warm and beautiful! I woke up that morning and for the first time felt pretty darn normal! I shook here. I shook there. I didn't hurt! Cool! I didn't feel like a truck ran over me! I wasn't totally exhausted! I had slept most of the night, too!
Anyway, purse in hand, I headed for the car. I had errands to do. This time, though, I stopped short of the car door. I stopped just where my rods hung on the garage rack and looked up.
Brightly colored lures hung abandoned, and hap hazardly entwined from different lines. Jigs, plugs, flies, all hanging from lines of pink, green floating fly lines, and clear mono.
Those are... MINE! What a mess! They looked vaguely familiar, but from a long ago life, so different from my life, now! Memories of how casually I used to grab a rod, daily, and make my way to the river, without thought! Daily! Without thought! That was my life!
I gingerly reached up with a shaking hand, and brought down my jig rod. It was cold and unfamiliar. There was still a dead shrimp on the jig from nearly three months ago! YUCK!
I picked the carcass off and placed it back on the rack. No, that won't do.
I grabbed my 6 weight fly rod. It fit my hand like a glove. You know... this might be perfect! The water is so low! A reverse spider in pink and white! A steelhead might take that, you know!!!! Can you imagine a steelie on a 6 weight? My heartbeat began to quicken.
I'm not supposed to fish for steelhead. I'm not supposed to fish for salmon. I'm "allowed" to fish for little fish! The doctor even suggested bass.
Never mind, and no comment, but I was insulted by the "b" word. I have nothing against bass fishing. I've done it. It's fun. It's just... not me.
I began to feel a little mounting rebellion, standing in the garage. It felt like me! It felt like the "old" me!
I put down my purse and with a shaking hand, gingerly brought out my license. Then, I showed Kilchis the rod. "Kilchy, look!"
He went NUTS! It was like he was proud of me, like he knew it was hard for me to take that first step. He wagged his tail in excitement and ran wild in the yard, barking.
I was all alone on the Kilchis river that day. Should I really go fishing.... BY MYSELF?
At the very thought of it, my heart pounded inside my sweatshirt like after no amount of exercise had yet produced. I mean, my sweatshirt was bopping! I could see that artificial valve go nuts. I could hear myself tick!
I was petrified to fish, but I was going to DO IT! There was no going back, now! I had that rod gripped in my hand, and it wasn't coming loose!
I carefully picked my way over the rocks, and out to the river, and I DID IT! I fly fished! My cast was still there! I remembered all my old holes, all the old rocks and where to step and where to cast, and where the fish might be!
There were no fish, but that isn't the point. I fished! For the first time in over three months! I don't think I've gone that long since I was a teen!
Part of me is ticked off at the doctors for thinking I have to give up salmon and steelhead.
Sorry, folks, NO CAN DO!
The entire experience felt so victorious!
An eagle flew over and said, "Pheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuu!"
( That's eagle for "Good for you!")
A log truck honked at me, and I waved and smiled like never before! I was fishing...again!!
This morning, as I was having coffee, I turned to Kilchis and I said to him in an excited voice,
"Kilchis! Wanna go fishing?!"
I cannot tell you how thankful I am to all of the people who helped me get to this point. Without your love and your generosity, I may not be feeling the way I feel, today. And darn, I feel proud.
I still don't know what I'd do if I hooked into a big springer. Could I hand it off, once I felt the bite, or would I stubbornly hang onto it, and take the chance that it would do me in? I can think of no better way to go, really... and I bet you can't, either-- but I also want to stay around for my kids.
I guess no one will know, till it happens. But I know one thing for sure. I'm going to find out. I will be fishing for springers. I have to.
Feb 21st 2005
I'm getting a real itch to fish... for springers. The doc
says no fishing till summer. It's feeling like summer to me. Doesn't it
I don't know what I'd do, should I hook a springer. I know that I should hand it off. I wonder if I could. I wonder if I'd throw all caution to the wind and decide the risk is worth it, or if I'd freak out and hand it off. I know that "the bite" is my favorite part, and handing it off for the work part doesn't sound all bad. I love the bite! I love that first take. I think that's why I fish. I hope so! But, I do know that as I sit at the kitchen table thinking about playing a springer, fits of giggles come over me.
I am so used to going wild, jumping up and down in the boat with excitement... what am I going to do with all of that energy? Can I turn into Andrew, who is known to lift his head only barely to say without expression, "Uh... I think I have another fish on?"
There are things that really bother me, since my surgery. I tend to get really dark and depressed in the evening. I think scary thoughts, and I have trouble sleeping. It is at those times that I worry about my spirit being robbed from me. They say that being on the heart and lung machine can do that to you. That it can bring on depression. The doctors have offered anti depressants, but I am hesitant to go there. I think I can get over this, myself. I hope I'm right.
I watched Grant McOmie's special on sturgeon fishing last night, and sadly realized that I won't be doing that, again. It's all pure muscle, from setting the hook, to pulling them in. Nope, no sturgeon fishing for this girl, again.
Things are never really going to be the same, again. That's alright. I just need to realize that, and move on. My new life can be as good or better than my old. Just different...
After I returned blood flow to my legs, the skin on my feet peeled off in almost perfectly shaped whole feet shapes! It was really thick, dried skin. But underneath was soft, new skin. My feet and legs were dying! As I look at my soft feet now, I get a little freaked out thinking that I could have lost my legs and feet. I was well on the way. That's a weird thought. I just keep thinking how lucky I am, to be alive-- and for my feet to be alive, too!
The weather is so odd, isn't it? Usually this time of year things are soppy wet if it is a sunny day. Lately, it's been as dry as summer. I can walk out to the river in my sheepskin slippers, without getting them wet, at all. I do that, often.
I even dragged out my chaise lounge chairs and have been enjoying long soaks in the sun. When I get tired of being there, I wander out to the river, where Kilchis digs, and I search the river banks for lost lures from fishing seasons past. Somehow steelhead season was just lost, this year. There are no corkies or special finds of steelhead plugs, like I usually find. Steelhead season simply didn't happen this year.
I sat at the last run on the river, yesterday, feeling the sun beat on my shoulders. I stared into the crystal clear water, thinking of all the activity it has seen in the last year.
From kids playing in the summer riffles with rafts and inner tubes... to the Fall frolic of drift boats anchored in that very hole, now beating with heavy current. Fishermen pulling huge, forty pound salmon against the raging flow!
At that time, I'd sit and watch my bobber, while the heavy waters swirled in front of me. The grass was wet and my feet sunk into the mud on the river bank. Bank anglers fought for their own piece of water, across the river, and boat anglers had to make their way around them.
Then came the quiet of steelhead season. This season, as I said earlier, was especially and oddly quiet. Not only due to my absence, but the steelhead just didn't show in numbers at all, this year.
Yesterday I sat in awe at the total peace and quiet that the river had become. There were no cars on the road above. No signs of fishermen coming round the drift. No abandoned corkies, no litter, no signs of fish past. In front of me stood one stick pegged into the ground that some angler had left there. He must have given up hope on drifting, and decided to rest his rod as he, too, perhaps sat in awe in the silence.
The river sang a mysterious and lonely song, yet it was welcome to me. I had trouble getting up, to leave. Not only because of the pain I feel since surgery, but because I was just plain glued to my spot.
I know that I'm at risk of losing some of my spirit due to some of the things that I have been through. I know, too, that without the feelings of sadness, loss or depression, we wouldn't know to recognize the true feelings of joy and wonder.
I am filled with hope that any feelings of loss, fear, boredom or sadness are but stages that I will go through.
Added experience to deepen my appreciation for the wonderful things in life!
Just like the river goes through stages, soon my life will be filled with frolic, and that heavy pulsing of life's current will again flow through me.
Like the river, I just need to be quiet, for now.
Feb 23rd 2005
Welcome to ifish, Jacks
Snack N Tackle!
I have been putting off bringing new folks to ifish for so long that it feels good to have someone new around! I have been talking to Rob for quite some time about adding his tackle shop. If you recall, this is Jack Glass's old shop, conveniently located on the Sandy River, next to the Troutdale bridge.
They carry all kinds of cool things, including First Bite™Jigs LLC, and Amerman Eggs. We'll all feel right at home, there!
Coming soon, also, is Andrew Lewis, who will be hosting the Salty Dog page. He's offering financial planning to all of the ifishers at a great price!
I'm off to enjoy my 45th Birthday! I think that pancakes at Bay City seems like the way to go. I just adore their pancakes! After that, perhaps a troll across Cape Meares for some giggle fish. (Trouts!) I must fulfill my doctors wishes by fishing for "little" fish, and then work my way up! :)
Have a glorious day! I know I will!
Feb 25th 2005
Thwump, thwump, thwump, thwump.
Sometimes it's louder than others. Sometimes it's stronger. Sometimes it makes my sweater shiver with its constant (thank God) beat.
It's my heart valve. It saved my life, but darnit anyway, it drives me crazy. I long for the days when I could sleep on my side. Sometimes, for as long as I can take it, I lie on my side anyway. Then I have to stop. My shoulders quake at the chaos inside me. Back to a semi reclined position to snooze off into a fitful sleep...
I haven't had a full night's sleep since my surgery. I miss that so much! Now, I take naps all night. Mornings are just not the same. It's not unusual to find me at 2:30 AM, jostled awake by the constant "thwump" of my valve. I read a book, or watch a little late night TV until sleep takes over, once again. Five O' clock comes way too early! I hobble a bit in the morning. I hobble a bit all day long!
I have a dear friend whom I've known for quite some time. He has marfan syndrome and a St. Jude's valve, too. He is an amazing musician and I'm very honored to know him. His name is Richard Mikuls, and he has a web site, here.
I was so relieved to connect with him after my procedure. He calmed me and reassured me. He is someone who has been through alot of what I have been through. What a comfort that is! Not only has he helped me through this, but his sense of humor can't keeps me going.
I asked him about his valve.
"...I never got used to the thumping. It's always going to bug me. It just sounds and feels like chaos inside my chest. I hate waking up in the middle of the night
hearing and feeling a little alien creature with a tambourine trying to bust through my
I have not met one doctor who can explain this to me. They always say, "You're just more aware of your heart beat now than before your surgery. You're simply more sensitive now." I'm also more sensitive to b.s. now. Why can't they just
admit they have no idea and this does merit some study? They do of course say, "Be happy when
you hear the sound of your valve clinking away, it means your valve is clean and working well!" Ok, I can live with the valve clink, but the thumping?
I was able to demonstrate valve thumping to a doctor and others using some sophisticated lab equipment:
1. 1 small plastic trash bag (the kind you use in the bathroom)
2. Air (the kind that comes from your lungs, which is actually Co2 I guess)
3. A thumb and index finger (I used mine for obvious reasons)
4. Something to keep the air inside the plastic bag (rubber band, or your other hand).
Fully inflate the plastic bag. Make sure the air (or Co2),
can't escape. Using your thumb and index finger, flick the bag as you would
when you are trying flick a bug, or a crumb off of your kitchen table.
Practice this until you get the right thumping technique. (approx 1 minute).
When you are ready, hold the bag against the upper chest of someone you want to impress and start thumping. Move the bag back and fourth slowly
from the upper chest and neck (thumping like your heart), to the left ear and then the right ear. This way they can get the full effect.
You'll have to improvise the 'waking up at 2am in terror feeling', with threats, or foul language. I guess this depends on how well you know the person you're
thumping. If nothing else, doing this made me feel better. I think I'll go do it for fun right now!Remember, I'm always up at 2 or 3am with a thumping bag in my chest, so don't hesitate to call. If you're worried about your phone bill, I will call you back.
I don't know. He has had his valve for many years. Even though
his valve bugs him, the fact that he is able to laugh at it gives me hope
and makes me smile.
Well, it's another beautiful day on the Kilchis river. The sun is shining, the air is unusually warm. Think I'll go for a walk. (I can do that, now, you know!) Maybe later, fishing with Jim Erickson.
Thwump, thwump, thwump..
Feb 27th 2005
I've always held to the belief that summer's sea run cutthroat
show up about the same time as the wild blackberries ripen on the vine.
This year, my first hummingbird showed up the same day that Bill Monroe landed his first spring chinook of the year. Could it be a sign?
Isn't it funny how seriously we take fishing? From moon phases to the direction of wind... to bananas? Oh brother. And I'm involved in this!?!
Finally, a day that is clouded over! There is actually moisture on the ground! The agates on the river bed sparkle and catch my eye. They have been there for days, (weeks?) yet I didn't spot them. All of the rocks on the river bed were dry, dusted over and dulled in the sunshine. Today, with the rain they glisten, and yell out to me-- "Over here! Here I am!" Wow, they are everywhere! It's like an Easter Egg hunt!
With the return of the rain, my kids finally dragged their sleepy heads from their friends cars, and into the door. It seems they have been gone as long as the sun has been out!
They are so busy, lately! David, with school activities and appropriate after and overnight celebrations with friends. Andrew, with a group of new friends he has met, and all of the activities that go along with celebrating a senior year at high school.
Paintball parties, movies, independence...
It's hard for me to get used to the fact that he is nearly 18. I'm working on letting go, and it's not easy for me. In fact, it's downright traumatic. One year he is under normal parental restrictions and the next, almost free to do as he pleases? Come on! I don't know who it is a bigger change for. Him, or me?
Life has been so odd, lately. So many, many changes in my life, and to go along with it, summer time in February! Day after day, the sun has continuously beat down on the Kilchis river valley.
Lazing along with the sunshine, I am moving much slower than I used to. But contrary to that, the kids are moving faster, sprouting as fast as my spring bulbs are leaping out of the ground! They are growing to the age where they are most often not at home.
Things just seem out of sync.
Last week, I finally gave up hope on the rain. I dragged my chaise lounge out of the shed and dusted it off. I just lay there and watch the kids as they hastily kiss me on the cheek and say goodbye time after time. I collected phone numbers as they left, trying to keep track of them.
I now have a list of friends numbers on my refrigerator that is longer than my ever shortening grocery list.
I spend countless hours laying in the sun. I read, enjoy morning coffee, or a refreshing glass of lemonaid mixed with Gingerale. It has been so wonderful to feel the sunshine. I parked myself very close to a flowering Daphne bush, and I'm crazed over the smell of it! It's nice to have company, if only the smell of the Daphne bush!
I force myself to take several walks around the field or down to the river, trying to get my body used to moving, again. I count my steps and try to go further, each day. My dog, Kilchis, loves these walks! Still, pieces of my body ache from where they cut into me. They do remind me that I'm alive, though!
Sometimes I take along a rod and practice casting. I can see every rock clear across the low, clear waters. Twelve feet deep in the deepest hole, I can still see the entire structure of the river bed. There are no fish that I can see, but the very act of fishing feels good to me.
On my return to the back deck, I hear an unfamiliar voice, shout out from a bedroom window. "Hey there!"
It's Andrew! He's home! I didn't see he and his friends pull up in the driveway.
It feels good to me that he sees me active and fishing again. It feels like old times, and I'm glad he caught me in the act, instead of parked lazily in my lounge chair.
"Hi, Roo!" I shout excitedly. I put my rod on the rack, and go to his bedroom to chat and catch up, just like old times. I think the best part of exercise to me lately, is that when I stop and sit down, it feels so darn good!
Outside, the rain falls without much energy. But the moisture in the air feels good-- like all the other winters we have spent in this house by the river. It feels welcome, and like family.
I wonder what it will be like without him, next winter. Andrew loves the first storm after summer. We both do, and we often comment on it. Finally, a chance to pull on warm clothes and fuzzy socks and cozy up, by the fire!
As I looked out my window just now, a hummingbird flitted around the feeder. The sky is clearing, again. Signs of spring! Signs of Spring... CHINOOK!
I have to go fishing for them... at least once!
And then, when the rain comes again, we can all gather in the house, put on warm cozy socks and sit by the fire.
I like that everyone comes home when it rains and I think it should always be that way. I think that's why I love Oregon. It rains alot, and everyone gathers inside. It brings us all home.
I simply can't imagine next winter, when Andrew will be away from home. Two years from now, they'll both be away from home!
Just as the cutts arrive when the blackberries ripen. Just as the spring chinook return with the first hummingbird...
So, everyone should be home for the rain! That's just the way it should be.
Now, the kids have to get ready to go, again. Their Dad is picking them up for overnight. It'd better not rain!
A journal of my adventures.
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