Life is funny how it jerks you around, but when I look back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are fantastic things I’ve experienced that would have never happened if circumstances hadn’t pushed me. Until several years ago, I was comfortably ensconced in a beautiful little mountain town, raising my children, spending wonderful times with SO, cooking a lot and sometimes inviting the whole town to my house to laugh and eat or to mourn if the occasion warranted, and always having an open door to whomever may need to unburden themselves.
SO and I, who grew up in the city and came from corporate culture, had more or less become part of a family in this little town, and we were loving it. It was the realization of a dream that started when we were both busting our backsides in our 20s and 30s. The plan had been to build a business and make enough money that we could then go and freely do what we wanted. There were two things we wanted: to serve a community and to spend a lot of time with our kids and not necessarily in that order.
Things were humming along nicely in the little town. We had learned to live way below our means in order for our savings to stretch and keep us in “retirement.” We also had a wonderful relationship with our kids and each other (despite our sometimes tempestuous interactions). Two of the kids were successfully doing college with another one getting ready to go. They had also enjoyed running and excelled at it. SO being a running coach was helpful, and we spent considerable time going to meets. It was at one such meet where our son was doing really well when something happened. SO had a pain, and it was bad enough he had to go to the car. This was the guy who usually ran all over a 5K course to keep up with the progress of a race and no obstacle ever got in his way. When he slunked off toward the car, I knew something was seriously wrong. A few moments later I jogged over to see what was going on. His face was deathly white, but he almost threw his stop watch at me and was adamant I watch the finish line.
I reluctantly went back to watch, and as I turned around, he was behind me. Still looking like a ghost and not able to walk so vigorously but trying to make it near the finish line. He didn’t quite make it and had to watch from afar as our son easily came in first. When I turned to say we should go to the hospital, he was stubborn about just going home. Home was 20 minutes away, so we went there quickly. All the way home, I was trying to get him to call an ambulance, but he refused (yep, he’s a typical male). Then as we walked into the house, he stopped and said, “Please call 911!” Thankfully, I had already called them, and they were on their way. SO sat on the local Fire and Rescue Board at the time, and I had actually called the fire chief’s house first, and then 911. They were there lickety split and SO was so anxious to see them that he stumbled into the front yard toward the ambulance.
At the hospital, we of course learned from tests that he had had a heart attack, and they were discussing care flight options with me. Such is the price of living in the boonies — anything really serious goes wrong, and you’re on a plane or helicopter heading for the city. Thankfully, SO’s situation stabilized and he was able to be taken by car to the other side of the mountain. They ran even more tests on him at the big city hospital, and we learned he would not be needing bypass surgery as there was no blockage or even damage to his heart. A miracle. But we also had a bomb dropped on us. We learned he had kidney disease and was a few steps away from dialysis.
We were quickly hooked up with a nephrologist, and a month later, SO was told to get a living donor or get on the kidney transplant deceased donor list. We started the process, and I was not a match, his sister was not a match, his parents were too old, several friends were not a match. Our children volunteered to give their kidneys, but considering the family history, we told them it was best to hang onto theirs — they may need them! The work began to get him on the deceased donor list. This took a year and was quite a roller coaster ride. But even while this was being done, I and other family were working to find him a living donor. Meanwhile, his doctors had told him to do everything possible to stay off of dialysis, and as a result, he became too weak to do much of anything.
All of this was going on a few months after I started this blog. Tomorrow night I’ll continue the story.