Monthly Archives: April 2014

Here’s to Your Health!

Here’s to Your Health!.

Here’s to Your Health!

imagesOne of the things that is so easy to take for granted is good health. We don’t appreciate it when we feel healthy—we don’t even notice. This past six weeks has been an eye opener for me. I went into my knee surgery with a blithe arrogance. I’d worked on keeping my quads strong before the surgery and knew that I would follow the doctor’s and physical therapist’s advice to the letter. There’d be no problems, I was sure of it.

What’s that expression? Woman plans and God laughs. Yep, all my plans went up in smoke.

I hadn’t had as much as a cold for four years before I was hit with a tough virus in November.

“Did you have a flu shot?” our daughter asked.

“I don’t believe in them, “ I said after I’d worked through a coughing spell.

“I never get sick.”

I don’t believe in antibiotics either, but I ended up with walking pneumonia that time so I had no choice. Then I coughed so hard I threw my back out—painful.

Fast forward to March. Surgery went super and my knee was healing well. Then we flew to Seattle. I was careful, using a cane to negotiate rain-slicked streets. We loved seeing our grandson play his trumpet in a concert and visited with family. My husband and I both had headaches the last day, but didn’t think much of it.

The morning we left, our headaches had moved to body aches, but we thought it was just the rain making us achy. We thought we were so tired because of jet lag. We thought our sore throats were allergy related. We were wrong—we were both sick and getting sicker.

“Well,” our daughter said when I told her, “at least you had the flu shot, so it won’t be as bad as November.”

I didn’t answer right away. It was that role reversal thing—I felt like I was the kid and she was the mother whose I advice I hadn’t followed.

“Actually, we didn’t get the shots. We thought we didn’t need them,” I said. “And I’m sure it’s just a cold.”

Even though we were on the phone, I could sense my daughter rolling her eyes.

After a few days of fevers, chills, cough and excessive nose blowing, we called the doctor.

“It’s a virus going around. Cancel everything for the next two or three weeks at least. If you start to feel better and go out, you risk getting a relapse,” he said.

What? Two or three weeks? That seemed crazy. How could that be? Even though I developed laryngitis, I still taught my class—then I was in bed for three days. My husband tried playing golf, but lasted only nine holes. And then was in bed for three days.

But I didn’t give up planning. Our children and grandchildren were coming for Spring Break and I made a list of all the things we were going to do—the Living Desert, the air museum, the art museum, the water park…Ha, Ha, Ha!!! I didn’t leave the house.

Then I coughed so hard, I threw my back out again. This time, my back went into spasm. It felt like my back was being torn apart if I moved the wrong way–I was deathly afraid of coughing or sneezing. No exaggeration. I was in a constant state of fear. No matter how I tried to relax, I was gripped with apprehension. None of my stress reduction methods worked. I was afraid to lie down in bed because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get up. I couldn’t turn over without a spasm contracting my lower back. I had to crawl off the bed on my stomach and then grip the bedside dresser to work my way to standing.

This morning I woke up and tried moving from my back to my side. Easy-squeezy! For the fun of it, I reversed the move and it worked! I realized that before I’d believed this was a basic entitlement in life—that you could move freely and comfortably in bed. Now, I know not to take it for granted.

Nor will I take feeling healthy for granted. I know this month has been just a window into the lives of so many who are suffering ill health. I am so appreciative to becoming out of my own little hell.

As for my knee? It became the step-child. Physical Therapy wouldn’t see me while I had a fever, and then they couldn’t work with my knee while my back was in spasm. So, basically, my plans to be perfect got blown out of the water. Ha, Ha, Ha!!!

Do you think I can learn something from all this?


The Palm Springs Airport: A Beauty in the Desert


The  mountains can cause turbulence.

The mountains can cause turbulence.

Taking off from PS airport last week reminded me of the first time I did it 44 years ago.

I was eight months pregnant with my son and flying on my own for the first time. All was well until we hit the thermals. Then things went sideways fast.

I was so superstitious in those days, I’m surprised I took the chance to go with my parents down to Palm Springs at all. I’d had the Hong Kong flu, though, and couldn’t get rid of the racking cough. The doctors thought being in the dry desert air would do the trick so I went down with my parents for a week. Dad had had a small heart attack six weeks earlier so he was following doctor’s orders to rest in the sunny clime.

We stayed at the Ocotillo Lodge on 111. There was absolutely nothing around it in 1970. You had to go into town to get something to eat. Elmer’s didn’t arrive for another seven years.

One evening, Dad, Mom and I ate dinner downtown and then joined the promenade along Indian Canyon. That’s what people would do in those days–stroll after dinner up Palm Canyon, then back around on Indian Canyon. My mother kept looking into shop windows so Dad and I, arm in arm, got way ahead of her. I turned to see where she was and then turned back and we continued on.

The two women behind us were soon gossiping. “Look at that couple ahead of us. This town is full of sugar daddies and their young things,” one said.

“It’s disgusting. See, that one is even pregnant,” the other said.

I started laughing to myself and then couldn’t resist. “Dad,” I said turning back again and facing the women, “Do you think Mother is going to look in every window?”

I thought I was so smart, blowing up their stereotype, but later I realized they probably thought I was a pregnant, unwed teenager instead. Though I was 24, I looked like I was seventeen.

It rained that whole week so my cough never got a chance to dry up, but I had a great time with my parents. Both of them were the most relaxed I’d ever seen them. And I had their undivided attention! A rare occurrence. Sid Caesar was staying at the Ocotillo also. I think he’d had a nervous breakdown and was recovering there after the hospital. We were told not to look at him or bother him.

It was a special time, but I also missed my husband and was thrilled to get on the plane to go home. I was so nervous that something bad might happen on the flight—that I’d never get home. I’d convinced myself my fears were a premonition.

Often when you take off in Palm Springs, the thermals will grab the plane and give it a good shaking. This is what happened that day. I looked down as the plane bucked and dipped—the craggy, barren peaks looked close enough to touch. It’s all over, I thought. I’ll never be a mother. We’re going to crash into a mountainside.

But the flight path smoothed out and I began to breathe again. That’s when the shouting began. “I’ll get you, you little commies,” a man yelled. I turned and saw a crazy looking guy running up the aisle.

A flight attendant tried to constrain him, but the man flailed his arms and got away. He ran right towards me. Oh my God, I thought. This is how I’m going to die.

But three rows down, a passenger stood up and grabbed him. The flight attendant caught up and the two of them wrestled him to the floor. Somehow they restrained him until his companion could get to them. I’m not sure if this person was a nurse or family member, but he had medication that calmed the guy down after about ten minutes. The man had been in Vietnam and got flashbacks was what we were told. The turbulence had set him off.

His fit gave me post traumatic stress syndrome too. It was a long time before I flew again.