impromptu travels, parts 1 and 2

Well, May was just too much fun.

Part 1: not  much fun. So, back on the 6th I had to go for some routine blood work, and a strange thing happened. Actually, strange things have been happening for a while now. I’ve been having sudden episodes of hypo tension…rapid drop in blood pressure. We’ve been trying to figure out what the problem was, but couldn’t find anything obvious. Sooooo, there I am, in the Outpatient clinic at the local hospital getting routine blood work done. Unfortunately, my veins didn’t feel like cooperating. No big deal, happens every now and then and they just try again. We’re discussing this, the nurses and I, and I feel it coming….the BP drop. I remember telling the nurses I didn’t feel well, at all. I remember someone saying they needed a BP monitor, NOW, and I remember them checking it: 60/30, pulse rate 50-something. A wheelchair appeared out of nowhere, and I was hauled down the hall to ER where things started happening very fast. IV: not going the first time, and I still have the knot in my arm to prove it. Second IV: much better. Nurse calling Hubby and telling him he might want to high-tail it down the road to Lexington. Several very nice ER gentlemen helping me w/ IVs, blood samples, morphine for some chest pain that decided to show up in the middle of all this. (Why anyone would deliberately take morphine is a complete mystery to me….it felt AWFUL.)

Things started to calm down a bit, a really nice CNA helped me get out of my soaked clothes and into a dry gown, complete w/ rear end hanging out. Sigh. My family history with respect to cardiac problems is less than stellar, resulting in a 24 hours stay in cardiac ICU. People should not be allowed to have that much fun all at once. Chest x-ray (still in ER); cardiac sonogram (some nice respiratory therapy volunteer came in during the sonogram and asked me what was on the TV!), a very nice doctor that explained vasovagal syncope and the fact that I probably shouldn’t be on a diuretic for high blood pressure, and since I just finished an Anatomy and Physiology class, I understood what he was saying. Another very nice cardiologist came by and explained the same thing about the syncope and the BP medication. The two of them agreed to change the BP med, and keep me overnight.

Cardiac ICU is NOT  a place where you get any rest. I remember my dad saying that very thing every time he was in there, which was more times than I’d like to count. The next morning I had a cardiac CT scan, complete with contrast die that makes a hot flash feel like a spring breeze. No coronary issues. So they sent me home, wearing a heart monitor for 48 hours, just to make sure nothing was going on that they missed.

Long story short: I’m fine, I just shouldn’t have been on HCTZ (I can spell that word out if you’d like to be impressed, but that would just be showing off!) So far I don’t show any signs of inheriting any of my dad’s cardiac problems, which is a relief to know.

I also learned just how much hell my dad went through every time he was hospitalized. And my respect for his ability to remain positive in the midst of  each escalating crisis grew ten-fold. He was always in good spirits, at least when we were there to visit. He loved to chat w/ the nurses and doctors who cared for him throughout his illness, and even went so far as to construct a stained glass piece of a broken and reassembled heart to give to his cardiologist, the man he called the “heart mender.”

Part 2: Last Sunday Hubby and I ran away from home for the day to Oak Island. For the unenlightened, Oak Island is probably the least developed of North Carolina’s coastal islands. It runs east to west, and sits south west of Wilmington, between Bald Head Island and Holden Beach, the next island to the south. There’s nothing much there except houses, a few condos, a U.S. Coast Guard station, the Oak Island lighthouse, Fort Caswell (a Southern Baptist retreat), 2 piers and one golf course. Maybe a couple of cheesy motels, and local restaurants. No fancy hotels, no 5-star restaurants (although there are a few very good local ones), no amusement parks. In other words, nothing but beach. We left home at 6 AM, gassed up the car, stopped about halfway there, in Laurinburg, and were on the island at 10. We drove up to Caswell, then back down to 59th Street  North, turned left and drove the 2 blocks to ocean front, parked the car, and hit the beach. It was the most crowded day we’ve ever seen on Oak Island, and we’ve been going there since 1993. And it was wonderful! Warm water, plenty of sand, calm surf….heaven. The SPF 30 didn’t quite do the trick, and we didn’t take an umbrella, so there was some sunburn to contend with, small price to pay as far as I’m concerned. Lunch came from the Food Lion back up the 2 blocks from ocean front. Hubby napped, I read a book. We left at 4 PM and were home at 8. Something we will definitely do again. Soon.

So, last weekend I’m sitting on the beach at Oak Island, a place my dad dearly loved, and thinking about everything he went through, all while watching a man surf fishing, just like daddy used to do, not really catching anything, or caring that nothing was biting (except for sea skates), and wishing he was there to share the day with me. And I suppose he was. The tears were there, at least a few, and I felt better knowing that, in some small way, he was there with me.

For Daddy:

I see you everywhere.

You are in Southport, on the waterfront–watching the fishermen on the pier, the boats coming in and going out; walking the pier, checking everyone’s catch, and finding someone you  knew thirty years ago.

You are walking the beach at low tide, looking for sand dollars in the surf, and finding “sand quarters.” You pick up driftwood.

You are fishing at sunset–one of the kids in your lap. When nothing is biting, you reel in the line and hold my son until he falls asleep in your arms.

You are chatting with the waitress at Edna’s (now Beana’s, but the food is just as good), teasing her about the check: “You can keep that!”, you say.

You are salty, unshaven, the tops of your feet sunburned and peeling. You bury them in the sand.

You are Daddy, and you are here.

I remember REALLY listening to this song one summer at Oak Island. It meant a lot to me then. It means so much more to me now, for many reasons. Maybe I’ll explain them eventually. But, for now, just listening to the words and being comforted by them, rather than pained, is enough:


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