WE ARE HOME!!!!

Yesterday, Barclay had the okay to leave the Kiwanis and go home!! It was very exciting. We cleaned out the RV and had most everything ready to go for after the clinic appt.

He had to have a chimeric blood test which will tell them how many cells are the donors and how many are his. We won’t know that for about 2 weeks. But that too is exciting.

When we left Sacramento it was a pleasant 80 or so.

Home is all green and bursting with flowers so it was lovely and everything in the house looked great.

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So it’s home to rest and heal.

We are back in Sacramento on Tuesday and then again on Friday. Both appts are early so we may hit morning traffic but going home should be fine.

There are still all kinds of things we need to watch out for but I’m sure we will handle whatever comes up.

All total he was gone 37 days. 26 in the hospital and 11 at the Kiwanis.  Overall, I think that’s a great record. I’ve read about transplants for people that can go 60-90 days in. So we are very lucky.

We walked this morning a little over a mile and later we will walk around the driveway a few times.

 The Notice Board

Way back in 2013, I spent 11 days of my life in a room of great bleakness. It is difficult to conjure up the mental differences between slight and great bleakness, but  for me it was a room that encompasses everything that was bad with this word. If only it were the interior design of that room that was a problem. The centrepiece, if such a room could be deemed to have a centrepiece that was not its bed on wheels, was a grey notice board with three signs to the right hand side of the board. The biggest sign told me how to wash my hands properly (but I think I moved it there) , the second poster told me if and why I would be eligible for the Patient Transport Service and finally, there was a leaflet, that if you looked really hard at, you could see the 12pt font printed list of all the additional fatty foods I could order from from the canteen due to my not eating right and the neutropenia. I still cannot get over the fact that eating badly is considered to be better for you than a piece of fruit in any situation, but there it is. The PTS sign had some late 90s clipart on in and somebody had definitely used the ‘Tools’ section on MS Word on all the documents.  I hated that notice board. I have also realised that I still hate that notice board. 

The closer I got to April’s transplant, the most frantic I become about ensuring that I would never have to look at that grey notice board again or it’s posters. One of those things could not be achieved because all hospitals all over the land, have posters telling visitors how to wash their hands, and I currently have my sight and can pee, so put two and two together. Developing a board that would be nice to look at became almost integral to my planning. I mentioned in to friends and the importance of of was mentioned in my counselling sessions.

All in all, I think I visited four art gallery shops, the BFI shop, two Boot’s Pharmacists for printing purposes and Amazon. I had mini pegs, string two different styles of pins and just under 15 postcards to accompany my ten or so photographs. I was going to be the best notice board that had ever been nailed to a wall. 

And then, realistically being £20 lighter, it turned out that I did not need it during Transplant Number 1. I am not kidding when I say that I was slightly disappointed by this. I was disappointed that I was not become sick enough to to be admitted to hospital to see my notice board come to fruition. 

Unlike the majority of you folks out there, I realised that I would very soon be given the opportunity that did not involve committing a crime or other institutionalisation, to be in a room with a notice board. I hoped and I waited and I packed my ‘art’ with wanting. Then last Wednesay happened, I was admitted. With breath that was baited, I was taken to Room 10. I knew the word ‘room’ meant I would be in my own room, but in the few short pushes in the wheelchair I closed my eyes and touched EMan’s paw. It worked, and  because when the door opened, I saw not a notice board but a white board. I’m an artist of many a media, and just as soon as I received confirmation from three different Medically Trained People that the board was not there for medicinal reasons, it was go go. I was ready for my Art.  Given the change in background, Mamma Jones had to go out and buy scissors and tape, and given the passing of time, I misplaced a few photographs and postcards. 

In the end, not all of my support network was represented, and I had to explain to far too many people that some of the photos were not of my own (presumably failed) wedding, but it worked. I had directed a little something of my own to make what was a 7 night stay in hospital, that very bit not bearable.

  

And yes, it had fairy lights too.

And double yes, it’s back to being a white board.

EJB x

Day + 13

For 15 days and 14 nights I have ‘defied all odds’ and I have only stepped in foot of a hospital once to see the view from the 16th floor of the tower. The world I have seen has been very much restricted to half of University Street, approximately a fifth of Huntley Street, a few lifts, the Ambulatory Care, a treatment room or two and the Cotton Rooms. Most of my day, I would guess at least 90% of my day has been reserved for my bed and the room it is in.

I have saved you from the monotony of this, mainly because I have not had the energy to put words into sentences in my real life, let alone on a blog, but I have an hour to kill right now, so I thought, why not share my 200 metre in diameter bubble.

90 percent of my time on or in bed is a long old time to spend on or in a bed. We had to buy a blanket, so I could feel there was some distinction between the day and the night. I have watched, or at least listened to a lot of television. If daytime TV were not so horrific and my brain function not so limited, I could have enjoyed myself.

   

     

Anybody with a beady eye would have noticed that I swapped beds in the photos above.  There is a valid reason and that reason is because I was without a Mamma Jones or Big Sister from Monday morning and the former said I needed to be next to the emergency alarm. That was one of the most significant events over the last fortnight. Similar, but nowhere as painful as my five stools.

The Cotton Rooms, as I would have said the last time I experienced them, are more than palatable, I think they are better than anything Lenny Henry would advertise, and it has working air conditioning, which I could never not be a fan of. 

If the views from my beds were not riveting enough for you, I walked, possibly an entire cumulative mile in the same shoes, seeing and experiencing all of this, whilst feeling like there was a trout living in my skull, using all my available energy. 

             

   

           

   

   

It may cause some feelings of envy in you, for I have been told that not all Ambulatory Care ‘hotels’, are as slick as what I have had the (dis)pleasure to experience. The good old NHS, eh?

My favourite thing to look at each day is not a cold EMan ripe for sniffing, but a lone building, which reminded me half of the house in ‘batteries not included’ and half of the house in ‘Up’. It was a last building standing, for it’s immediate neighbours had been not so long demolished. My photo of it, does not do it justice.

  

Bed, wake up, force down some food and a drink, shower, walk, obs, walk, bed. Bed, wake up, force down some food and a drink, shower, walk, obs, walk, bed…. That’s been the last 14 days. 

Right now however, I have mixed things up a little and my view is this and my is it beautiful:

  

My routine will continue to be monotonous and I will continue to be weak, but I will be in my own beds, with the dog/dogs around me, in my own space with on demand television services, feeling rather smug in the knowledge that I had an autogenous stem cell transplant, without being hospitalised.  There is very little I can feel smug about, so I will embrace becoming an urban myeloma legend.

I’m home and that, on Day + 13 is bloody brilliant.

EJB x

It’s Time

How does one spend their last 30 minutes of comfort in their flat before walking out and starting what is going to be one hell of a double stem cell transplant of an ordeal? Writing a self indulgent blog of course and eating a bowl of multi grain porridge. I can multi task. 

And so, after months and months and quadruple that of treatment and mental preparation, I am finally here, at the point of no return. Well, unless I get there and they decide I have a bug, but I am not really thinking about that. Unless typing it is thinking about it, but I only have 28 minutes, so it is best to not delve any deeper into my paranoid fear.

I do not feel ready to leave my warm and cosy flat, but I never really anticipated to. I am ready for things to progress, as horrible as that progression is going to be. The last week, in particular had been quite difficult. Yesterday, I could no stand the warm and heartfelt reminders that it was my last day of freedom, that were coming through my phone, so I turned it off. I didn’t actually turn it off, I just switched it to aeroplane mode so I could still play games.

Filling up my good cylinder in readiness for today has been a task. A fun task, but also one fraught with emotion as I fought fatigue and melancholy. A lot of melancholy. Until last Monday, my social activity had destracted me so much, that I had almost forgotten that April Fool’s was looming.

I will not least everything I have done this past month, for it may sound churlish. It’s included the theatre, the seaside, food, film and Harry Potter. All rather grand and highly medicinal. Last night, at my request, I stayed in, made roast chicken with rice and sweetcorn and watched ‘batteries not included’. That’s not a grammatical error, that’s how they write it. I know I will not be able to do all that for a long wee while and that is where my melancholy takes hold, but I must be strong. I have to be strong when I know that it’ll be a while before I see this in the morning time again;

  

But that is my life and I have to be a grown up about that don’t I?

I now have 11 minutes, so I should probably wrap this up because I expect I am going to need all my energy and focus to stop me from crying in front of Housemate.

I’ll see you in a bit. In the meantime, why don’t you look at some fun?

   

         

BRING IT ON.

EJB x

Checking Out

Yesterday, the Senior Medically Trained People told me that I would be discharged by 15:00hrs. A person who had yet to complete her training told me that all being well, I should be out by 11:00hrs. Her estimate was supported by an Angel. I knew which time I would prefer, but I decided that patience was going to have to be a virtue when it came to me departing Room 7 on thirteenth floor of University College Hospital.

And boy did I need patience.

This morning, I woke up at 07:30hrs, relieved that two hours earlier my temperature had fallen to 37.0. My excitement was palpable. I just wanted to get home. I also wanted to have a shower, but there was no point in me doing that until my PICC line had been removed.

Based on what I had been told on Wednesday and yesterday, I needed to wait to see the doctors, my CNS, have my line removed and get my drugs. The latter, I was also told, were ready for me last night.

At 09:40hrs, I saw the consultant during her rounds and I was informed that I could go home. Fine. As they left five minutes later, the ward sister informed me that she would return in five minutes to get things sorted.

At 11:00hrs she reappeared to tell me that she would contact my CNS, confirm when I next needed to be in and check my blood results to confirm I did not need anything else. I said that 30 minutes before she came in, a Junior Senior Medically Trained Person had informed me of my blood results and said I would need to take some additional injections to boost my blood at home. The nurse was pleased with the news, especially when I told her I had already been in touch with my CNS and that I thought I had arranged having a blood test done in another hospital next week. The nurse left.

At 11:30hrs, I saw my CNS. Got all the information I needed and collected some blood forms. Done.

By midday, I was crying, because I literally had nothing to do, I could do nothing, until I was seen by the nurses. I may not have been doing anything for the last two weeks, but today, I had somewhere to go. Every minute dragged and dragged some more. I just wanted to get dressed. Trying to guess what time Mamma Jones should reach London Town was also proving stressful. All seemed well however because a nurse entered to give me my afternoon’s drugs and said they’d be with me in an hour. As I had a lot of time to think, I asked if they could also shave off my remaining hair.

At 13:15hrs a different nurse came in my room and I had what can only be described as a paddy, which embarrassed me because the nurse is very nice. We had a nice chat the other night and he made me think twice about a wish of mine to holiday in Moscow. Not at the moment. Anyway, he informed me that they would be with me in an hour, to shave my head and remove my line. My additional drugs had not arrived yet, so he added that even if they had removed my line, I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. I explained that I could at least shower. I just wanted to leave.

It was time for show tunes.

I phoned some people and complained. I do not know how they could be so relaxed about it. I guess it is not their life is it? When somebody told me to be patient or relax, I got angry. Nobody could possibly understand the torture that is waiting to leave hospital.

At 14:40hrs, the nice male nurse returned. He removed my PICC, which was effortless and thankfully, painless. He then shaved my head again, to try and get off as much of the hair as one can without a Bic razor. It was at this time, I found out that my blood results had shot right up and I no longer required the additional injections. Brilliant. So I would be leaving soon, yes?

By 15:25hrs, I had showered, dressed and made myself look semi normal. It was just about waiting for the drugs. I sat. I waited. I carrie on listening to show tunes.

At 16:30hrs, with my wig on and my drugs in my bag, I walked out the main entrance and into a black cab.

I’m going home.

I’m actually going home.

I believe the customary thing to say right now is that I have done it. Bugger.

EJB x

Turning The Corner

The Medically Trained People, last Friday, told me that I was about to turn the corner. I did not believe them, not really, and even when I did allow there to be a flicker of hope that I would cease to produce green lava from my bum and mouth, I could not envisage what my world looked like around that corner.

On Saturday, my bloods went up, but I still felt poorly. As I struggled to comprehend what my ‘worst’ was going to look like, I began to struggle with what my ‘better’ would mean. On Sunday, my bloods went up and then some, and I was told that based on an increase of my neutrophils from 0.02 to 0.2, the Medically Trained People thought I would be able to go home later in the week. Later in the week? But I am supposed to be in here for three to four weeks, not two.

And then strangely, I started to feel better.

On Sunday, I ate. I did not eat a lot, but I ate. I also had a blood transfusion, just thought I would slip that in because I had never had a blood transfusion before. Somebody else’s blood is in my body. Wowser. That’s Dad Science. On Monday, I was able to leave my room. Until I left my room, I had failed to realised that I had not left it for a week. That thought was quite overwhelming. Unfortunately for me on Monday, I also had to shave off my hair. I am bald once again, and this time, the patches of scalp are far more noticeable than they were before.

On Tuesday, I received my last bag of fluids, because the Medically Trained People had decided that I was now able to take my own fluids, without immediately disposing of them, for the diarrhoea and vomit stopped on Monday.

On Wednesday, I was told that I would be going home on Thursday, but probably Friday on Day+16. Not too shabby. Today, I had the magically sound of a plop instead of a shower when I visited the water closet.

All done and dusted right? Think again. We’re talking about My Myeloma here. Things are never that straightforward.

I know I am lucky to have gotten over the worst of this so quickly, and I am fortunate to be able to look forward to going home, but it all feels so strange. Beyond strange. If I have described my last 11 and a half months as twilight, I do not know what this is…. This week, I have no idea where Emma has gone, because in her place is somebody who does not know how they feel, what they want, and dare I say it, who they are. And don’t dare to try and answer those questions for me, because I am likely to shower you with expletives. I get the impression from people, that they think because the shitting is over, I should be fine, back to normal and so should my responsibilities be. A least, that is how some people have made me feel, and it almost feels like a set back. I can categorically say, with all certainty, that this is not the case. I am not back to normal. I am not healthy. I am not full of energy, the opposite is true in fact. I have not spent the last four days on my room plotting and planning my life on the outside, because I do not have the brain capacity to do that. I am fuzzy.

I have spent 16 days away from home, dressed in pyjamas, without any privacy, and all I want right now is an opportunity to be myself, in my own time. I want to wear my own clothes, I want to put my lipstick on and have a timetable of my own making, as much as I can, and not live in one created by a certain NHS trust. I want to get to midday, without having sen at least nine people, whilst I am in a state of undress. They prepare you for all the physical side effects, but they don’t really prepare you for this, not really. Well, I suppose I am fortunate, that as well as being in a place where they give me multiple bags of fluids, blood transfusions and so many drugs I hallucinated, I am also in a place that offers counselling, but that is after the fact. I am not ashamed to admit that I need counselling right now. I have been, correct, I am in the middle of a journey and I do not know what it means yet. We will not know about its success for at least three months. I am desperately trying to figure this all out, but I don’t have the energy for it. If a problem presents itself right now, I do not feel equipped to deal with it, and it would probably result in me crying on my bed or literally pulling my hair out.

Part of me feels like I need to give into it (which I do), the other part wants to go out and run down Tottenham Court Road with her tits flapping every which way, telling the world that I just had a transplant. In the last few weeks, but more so this week, my emotions have been all over the place. Happy, sad, lonely, suffocated, misunderstood, mad, angry, apathetic, hungry, unique. It goes on, and on, but one thing remains, there is one constant, no matter what my mood, I am always right. Always.

I have just had a transplant for goodness sake. I am allowed to be right.

The toilet issues, stomach cramps, oral thrush, sore throat and sleep were difficult, but this new world, is still difficult. Everybody in my Network needs to understand that and let this play out. I am going to scream and shout and let it all out, and I am told by the Medically Trained Professionals that this is perfectly normal. I guess, that while I have turned one corner, I probably have a few more to go before I feel like I can down a pint whilst baking a cake.

My immediate recovery may have been speedy, but there is still a way to go yet. Don’t go forgetting that. Disappointed? Try living my life.

EJB x

Preparation V

I did not complete my to do list, but as a wise man once said, that does not matter today. My bag is packed, EMan is in a protective case, my work laptop has been put away, my bed is made. I guess this means I am prepared. I will be ready when I shut my front door.

I am going in for my transplant today. I am leaving my flat, leaving my bed, leaving Yoda and Bruce and my television. Today is a day.

I imagine, I may feel blue a few times over the next few weeks… It’s a given. For when that does happen, my preparation also included all of this; my cylinder is full. For everybody who did a little something towards that, I thank you. Hell, I love you.

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The next few weeks are all about me.

Game on.

Now, Emma Jane, stop crying.

A Memory Fragment

The fog horn grunted its sole note, a kind of sound that embodied warning and mourning simultaneously. The noise seemed to echo around the thick fog, giving it an indistinct direction. There was an impatient quality about the sound as well, and I wondered how someone had managed to create a single note that conveyed so much.  I sat on the cliff in front of the house and shivered. Then again, it was winter. Christmas had just fallen in behind me as I journeyed to the new year, and here it was upon me. The dank winter air was thick all over Long Island Sound, thick from the cold, thick from the moisture, thick from the fog. Thick. 

In another half hour I would hear noises in the night, looming from the fog from all directions. The sounds of people beating pots and pans, the occasional firecracker, and a chorus of hoots and hollars from the revelers celebrating the arrival of the new year or the ending of the old one. In pools of warmth created by collected bodies, sipping cocktails and laughing, dancing, and ecuding warmth like little heat engines, people would engage in new year kisses, handshakes and claps on the back. Of course, I would also hear snippets of the song sung every time the year changed. I grew up calling it Old Lang Zine and knew only the first line of it, a perplexing thing about forgetting old acquaintances. 

The Sound was fairly calm. I could hear the bell on the channel buoy give off half-hearted clanks. Below me, waves whispered up onto the sand and splashed on the rocks in a repetitious song with no lyric. It was a different way to experience the water. It’s visual presence was always assured; the water consumed 180 degrees of what I could see from our house. But blinded by the fog and fooled by the degeneralizing of sound made it somehow familiar and strange at the same time.  I shivered, feeling the chill, and gave thought to going back into the house. My family was in there, no doubt bringing out the champagne and getting ready to toast one another as midnight came. I turned in my seat, a bus bench that my mother had found in some out of the way place and had set on the cliff. Unlike the water, the house was crisp in detail. Windows cast a golden glow that was cheery and inviting, the perimeters of the windows sparkling with holidays lights that blinked their random tattoo of color. Wreaths still centered in the windows; like the holiday lights they would vanish tomorrow, finding their way into basement storage. 

I got up and walked to the back door. I paused a moment and looked back over my shoulder to where I knew the water of the Sound was hiding and listened to one more honking blatt of the horn before stepping into the warmth. In the next room I heard my family bubbling with laughter, chitter-chattering excitedly about nothing. They spied me coming into the room and smile widely, holding out their arms and beckoning to come and be embraced. It was easy to get caught up in the conversations –it was almost a surprise when we heard the clangs and booms and caucaphony of noisemaking that heralded mindnight. Champage was poured, glasses clinked and sipped.

Nineteen

At 11:25hrs this morning, I received a call from the hospital informing me that my paraprotein had reduced by four, below the halfway mark to 19. Nineteen.

Thank all the swear words for that.

I now get to have a Christmas at home with my family and I get to keep what is left of my hair for a little bit longer. Knowing that at some point in the new year, I will undergo a high dose of chemotherapy (aka The Diet), I have decided to indulge this Christmas. Cream can now be yogurt to me.

I could write reams and reams about how relieved and happy I am about the news I received this morning, but I have decided to get up and enjoy my day instead. I have chutney and scones to make.

Many thanks for all the messages this morning. I think my body heard what it had to do.

EJB x

In case you thought this was all over, I should probably warn you that I get to go through all of this again in three weeks time, just without the possibility of spending my Christmas in a hospital bed with T13′s Angels. That will be 2013′s challenge.

Dorothy said, There’s no place …

Well, well, well. Here it is, another Labor Day. Through the weekend many families have flocked to campsites, lake homes, and other recreational spots to make a last grab at summer vacation. Of course, very few of them went very far, what with gas prices so high and airline travel morale so low.  In most places the weather is cooperating by providing sunny skies and warm breezes for this last fling before the chilly breath of fall ebbs the summertime urges. I toyed with many thoughts of taking a vacation, to visit somewhere that had the three elements required to make me smile about where I am: warm turquoise water, warm open sands, and warm sunlight tempered by trade winds. The three warms of paradise.

I mulled over a few spots and began my investigation that would lead to a choice of which one I would go to, taking my first recreational trip since 2006. It was the mental image of a place just like this that kept my spirits at least a little buoyed during those dark days of chemotherapy. I would try to recall the sensation of wading while my feet screamed with the varying discomforts of peripheral neuropathy. In no particular order, the following are the places I chose and the elements that qualified them or disqualified them as my vacation destination.

Hawaii. This was the last place I went, visiting Oahu during October of 2006.  A friend lives there and owns a home right on the beach at Kailua, just across the brackish canal from Lanakai. Since I was there, Barack Obama bought a house there, just a few doors down from my friend,  and the entire island has become one great big no smoking zone.  On my last visit, I spent 80% of my daylight hours on that particular beach, staring at the waves, reading books, and smoking. I have already heard that the presence of the president’s house has put a kind of chill emanating from Secret Service in spite of their attempts to remain innocuous. This makes sense to me, as I never picture or see the Secret Service being all that innocuous. I mean, everyone remembers Clint Eastwood’s role in Line of Fire, just seeing an agent would be enough to remind one that there are a lot of people who are unhappy with the president, some enough to do something foolish. Otherwise, why would they have to protect him? Since the Kailua beach is really the only place I really like in Hawaii, and I can’t smoke there, even though I am trying to quit the habit I really don’t want to do it when I am paying so much to feel relaxed and at peace with the world as I enjoy my days in the sun. Scratch Hawaii.

Florida Keys. Now here is a place of great fascination. Both John D. MacDonald and Paul Levine have written wonderful descriptions of the gateways to the keys, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Perhaps I could even run into Travis McGee or Jake Lassiter as I moseyed about looking for US 1 to drive on down to the southernmost tip of the US. Maybe not. Stephen King told me about life in the string of islands in his book, Numa Key, and Tom Corcoran lay the real Key West open in his Alex Rutledge books. I had a tremendous number of facts about the Florida Keys, and sadly, the idea of so many dead bodies and random gunfire is kind of put offish when one is considering a place to relax in. Of course, my wife and I both know that there are a lot of bugs in the keys, both those that take flight and those that don’t. They range in size from miniscule, earning the name “noseeums,” to “Oh God, that almost shattered the windshield” gargantuan beetles and even larger moths. It seems that the bulk of information I possess about the Keys is negative, albeit for the inviting way they look as I focus Google Earth on those stepping stones to Cuba and zoom right in. The water has just the right sparkling light blue shade to it, and the photos from Google and Bing images show delectable palms, white sands and cheerful people in colorful albeit brief attire frolicking in fun filled endeavors. What to do, what to do? Actually, I have been there and I have seen and felt the bugs. I was only eight at the time I was there, standing on a beach near Hollywood, Florida. Even with a solid breeze I had been tormented to tears by the sorties of full dark clouds of them all seeking shelter in the corners of my eyes and up my nose. If I opened my mouth to call for my father or mother, they would fly in my mouth. Okay, screw this, the Keys are out. Besides, there’d probably be a hurricane.

Australia. I figured that any place that required $2000 tickets and 28 hours of flight time from Spokane had better be a place we really, really wanted to go. I looked at my wife and said “Hey, we could go to Cairns, Australia and dive on the Great Barrier Reef!”

“I suppose. Yes. We could do that. I guess.” said my wife with all the verve of an undertaker. I looked at her deadpan face. Okay, next destination?

Whoops. There isn’t another on the list. So I take a review of the places I’d just dismissed due to one reason or another, and yep, I still feel the same way I did before, so I figure that perhaps I should set my sights a bit lower. I figured that perhaps Cancun might be nice, but I don’t speak Spanish and I like Mexican food only occasionally, usually centering around Velveeta and Chili without beans and chips to make Nachos, or the ever popular Taco Bell beef taco. Not Taco Time, Taco Bell. There’s a big difference. I didn’t even have to ask my wife how’d she like to eat nothing but Taco Bell for a full week, three times a day, so I went ahead and crossed it off the list. Then I thought that maybe somewhere a bit closer to home would be in order. So I checked out San Diego. Those egotists have the gall to cost the exact same as an equal trip to Hawaii, for crying out loud. I gave them points for not being a no smoking town (pardon the double negative) but it just wasn’t sufficient to make me feel it was worth the expense, what with paying all that and not even getting Don Ho. Plus that, the place isn’t all that different from Cancun; everything nearby had similar sorts of names.

Resigning myself to merely a small change in scenery, I turned to neighboring Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It’s only 40 minutes to their most famous resort hotel and boatramp, and the hotel had some pretty amazing views of Lake Coeur d’Alene which, I do admit, is highly picturesque. From the resort hotel, it’s a mere hour or so up the highway to Silverwood, the areas theme park boasting a train, a wooden roller coaster and s few of the other attractions found in theme parks.  It’s very nice and all, I guess. Maybe. But even closer to the resort is Wild waters. It’s a waterslide park with a number of slides which are great fun to slide on. Of course, the steep walk back to the crest of the man-made hill that supports the slides is sufficiently aerobic as to summon cardiac arrest and possible stroke. But then, half the medications I take have warning labels that say the same thing. Also, back in the early days when I’d first met the lady I married, she burned like a lobster in boiling water and turned a similar color over most of her fair skin. We washed her over with white vinegar, giving her some relief after the agonizing ride home with the kids all noisy and active in the back seat. Her burn hurt too. As a matter of fact, her primary memory of that day has tunnel-visioned itself to that sole memory, which she speaks of almost every time someone uses the word “sun.” So all in all I figure that a trip to Coeur d’Alene is probably not all that great an idea, but check on their package prices anyway. What is with this? Their prices equal out to what I’d pay to go to, yes, Hawaii. What is it with that figure? Have all of the possible destinations conspired to charge exactly the same in some kind of level playing field agreement? Is NAFTA to blame?

Here it is Labor Day and I am in the back yard, having a coke pop and playing with my Parrot A.R.Drone. In the house, my wife is cooking hamburgers for our dinner. Our choice for a vacation spot, our back yard, appeared to be the best choice in the end. I wouldn’t have to spend six grand of my hard and long saved nest egg, the people nearby all speak english and our street names are regular nouns with no south of the border flair. There are no lines in the kitchen or to the bathroom, and the hospitality is so nice it feels just like home.

And that’s what we want in a vacation, right?