So, it’s been a bit, and that has to do with only one thing, which is my stomach.  Of course.

I planned this great trip for my birthday.  My parents and sister and friends were all coming down to celebrate at my favorite place, Allegany State Park!  Camping and hiking and fishing and bonfires…what could go wrong??

Friday was ok.  I did a little fishing with Mark, then Carey arrived, and we tried to make a fire but couldn’t really get it going.  We went to bed early…big day tomorrow, and all that.

Saturday. Party day, and I spent it in the back of the cabin, vomiting.  Everyone else says they had a good time, which is helpful for my depression, but not by much.  No, that took a major hit as I laid in Olean General Hospital and realized that I actually applied for a job last week.  Like an idiot.  Like an idiot with a working digestive system.

Olean Gen was adorable, by the way.  Note that I am used to a massive city hospital with a warehouse-style emergency department that has like 62 beds.  This place had probably 12 rooms and a handful or carts, and when they told me they were very busy I was worried for a six hour wait, as per usual at Mercy up by my house.  Alas, no, that just meant they were putting me in a hall bed.  I haven’t gotten so lucky as to get a hall bed at Mercy in years!

The nurses were wonderful, and the doctor was a peach.  I am used to docs who come in and say “Here’s the thing were doing,” then they do it.  This man asked me if we could do the thing…asked me.  That means a lot, really.

Anyway, after a couple of hours and a couple of bags of saline, I was back in the cabin, sleeping.  I woke up to Carey leaving and mild nausea.  I realized I lost my sunglasses, so I drove to Salamanca and bought a new pair.  We returned to the cabin and just kind of hung around…I still felt terrible, worse as the day went on.

Went home early Monday morning, felt like death.

Tuesday, back at Mercy.  The usual question presents itself: when are you getting your surgery?  Dude…I DID.

On Friday I was feeling much better and went to the doctor.  They tell me, it’s a fluke.  They tell me it was stress-induced.  Prescription:  less stress.  Ha!

I feel ok now, but it was a huge blow to my mental health, not just physical.  I am still upset, because last week I put out an application for a job, and that’s a really big deal for me.  To think that I am still battling this full-force is just not acceptable.  I have been waiting for it to be over for so long.

But maybe it is.  Maybe, doc says, when I come back in a few months I won’t have had any problems, and they will declare the surgery as working.  I just have to cut down on the stress.

Oh, if only I knew how.


Remember that day in school, when the teacher would finally open the windows while you were at lunch and you came back to the classroom to fresh warm air billowing in and it smelled like springtime and freedom?  Then you spent the whole afternoon staring out the window, just waiting for the bell to ring so you could run outside and play with your friends?  That is how today feels.

I am writing this blog, then doing some cleaning, and the truth is I just want to play hooky and go outside and play. 

I want to play in my garden.  I situated my indoor garden last week, and a couple of the friends in there need to head on out to the porch, which I intend to put together this weekend.  I also am in process of murdering some weeds in my front garden while waiting for my perennials to sprout. 

I want to go fishing.  I have been several times this year already but haven’t caught anything.  I want to go down to my favorite spot and plant my chair and cast my new pole and see if some little fishy is venturing up towards the sunlight, like me.

I want to go camping.  I am making that a reality this year.  I want it to be my birthday so we can roll off to the woods for the weekend and spend our time celebrating with family and friends.  I want to go hiking and cook my food on a campfire and lay down under the stars.

I want to have a barbeque.  This is always one of the first true signs of warmer days for me.  I want to get hot dogs and hamburgers and fire up the grill and have a cold beer.

I want to be outside.

Today it is supposed to get to a record 80 degrees here in Buffalo, and I just want to run outside and play. 

So yeah…short blog.  Go play.

Camping, Take 2…Part 2.

Well, my fears were unfounded.

Not only did I not get sick, but Mark and I barely bickered, let alone full-on fought.  No one was (massively) injured.  Everything was wonderful. 

On Friday, we got ourselves together sometime around 9:30am and started driving.  We took my mother’s car, which was wise for when we got to the park but a mistake on the 219.  See, I am used to a digital readout of the speed, and mom’s is the dial sort.  Which was hard to see with my sunglasses on.  So, I followed the flow of traffic.  Except, I was last in the group, so when the cop pulled out, I was first to pull over.

Five strenuous minutes later in which I was fine but Hubs had a kneejerk panic attack, I had a ticket and we were back on our way.  We went to Pumpkinville, which is a farm in the town of Great Valley, NY.  I have many fond memories of this place, having been many times since it opened, mostly with Jaime and other friends and family.  It was not the same this year, because of Covid, but I got my donuts and cider and was happy. 

Next, we drove towards Allegany State Park.  Now, when I was 18, I went camping with my girlfriends from school.  My friend Jen was the only avid camper amongst us, and had spent many happy summers at Allegany, so she knew all the good places to go.  On the way there, we stopped at a farm stand and bought corn.  I was delighted to find that the stand was not only still there, but had expanded to a whole barn.  We stopped and got corn and potatoes and nectarines.  Then we went to the park.

Check in wasn’t until 5 because of Covid.  They were doing enhanced cleaning procedures.  So, we killed a little time fishing in Red House lake (no luck,) going to the gift shop, and driving around the park. At 5 we checked in and headed to our cabin.  My only frame of reference was when I went camping at 19 with Jaime and my guy friends, and we stayed in a very “rustic” cabin.  I assumed ours would be like that.

Not quite.  It not only had 4 beds as opposed to rusty cots, but it had a wood burning stove AND a regular gas stove.  So, my fear of us freezing to death (it was in the 20s at night) went out the window.  We unpacked and Mark started a fire, and I taught him how to mare spider dogs.

Now, I don’t remember which of my many Girl Scout troop leaders taught me this, but apparently, it’s a little-known technique as everyone I’ve talked to who isn’t Jaime has no idea what I mean.  You take a hot dog and cut an X in the ends, about ¼ way down the dog.  Then you stick it in the fire.  It curls up and make eight legs, like a spider.  Mark thought this whole thing was amazing, and he hates hot dogs, but he ate three.  We then roasted some marshmallows and just hung around the fire, and went to bed early. 

In the morning we drove up to Thunder Rocks.  I’m not going to talk about that, today.  That’s a story within a story, for Thursday.  For now, assume we just looked at boulders and left. Then we went fishing at Science Lake.  All we caught was a baby trout on my end and a baby sunny on Marks. 

We went back to the cabin and made breakfast…eggs and sausage and bagels.  Then we packed up a picnic lunch and headed out.  After that we headed to Quaker Lake (no luck) and then the Kinzua Dam (no luck.)  We went to the Quaker picnic area and ate lunch by the creek.  Then we were going to go hiking, but Mark’s foot was hurting him.  Truly, he needed thicker socks.  So, I instead dropped him at the cabin to take a nap while I drove to get gas.  I recalled a station right outside the park…again, knowledge I acquired from Jen…but it looked like it had been closed for about ten years.  I ended up driving all the way to Salamanca…on the upside, it was on the reservation, so gas was very cheap.

When I got back to the cabin, I let Mark rest.  I did my crossword puzzle on the porch.  I read my book.  It was peaceful.  When he got up, he made a fire and I roasted some corn.  Then we decided we weren’t going to make dinner yet, but I ate the corn anyway.  It was great, and I would never have known how to do it if it weren’t for…Jen. 

We went back to Science Lake for a bit (no luck,) and then got ice cream at the general store.  Then we went back to the cabin again to cook steaks.  I also made cherry pies in the fire, but I burned them, sadly.  The one half that wasn’t burned was tasty, though.  Mark tripped and almost burned his face off, but instead bumped his chin on a campfire rock and also split his hand open.  I stitched him up. 

We played cards for a bit, but mostly we just sat around talking.  I don’t know how it is possible, sometimes, that we never run out of things to talk about.  But we don’t.

In the morning, we packed up and headed out and drove to Derrick City, PA, and went to a diner there.  We sat at the counter, and the food was delicious.  Then we drove around Bradford for a while to kill time until 11am, when the Zippo factory opened.

Now, one time, I was in Bradford after an Allegany day trip with my friend Steve.  We drove by the factory, and I wanted to go in but it was late and they were closed.  Ever since I have wanted to go.  Then I find out Mark has always wanted to go, too.  So of course.  It was so cool.  They have a museum and store, and Mark bought his first very own Zippo.  They also gave me a free replacement inside for mine, even though I had no proof that I owned one!  I left mine at home and was upset I couldn’t get it fixed, but now it works like new. 

We then left PA and drove to Scoby Dam in Springville.  Again…no luck.  Then, it was time to head home.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend.  I had so much fun with Mark.  He said it best this morning as I drove him to work: “It’s like I remembered why we got married.”  I mean, you know why you got married, but when you’re in a long-term relationship, there are times when you get stuck in a daily routine, and you need to recharge your batteries.  This was a perfect weekend for that. 

!0 years together.  4 years married, on Thursday.  And through it all, we are not only partners, but we are friends, which has always been important to me.

Anyhoo.  Sorry for the long post, I just was to remember it, is all.  And I want to give a shout out to not only my former Girl Scout leaders, but my old friend Jen-I don’t know if you’re reading this, but your expertise kept us alive this weekend.

Happy Monday.

Camping, Take 2

Last year, we took a family camping trip.  Me, Hubs, the kiddos, and my parents.  My mother fell down a slope and broke her ankle.  This resulted in her and Dad heading to the hospital, while Mark and I patrolled four kids who were detoxing from electronics.  It was…rough.  So initially when I got the idea to go camping again, I was a little wary.  This time it would be just me and Mark…what if something goes wrong?

I pushed this thought out of my head with other thoughts, like “you have done nothing this horrible boring summer” and “the nearest hospital is only 19 minutes away-you can drive that while sick.” 

And so, I planned a camping trip for the two of us for our anniversary.  We are very excited.  We have never gone anywhere together.  10 years.  Nowhere.

We have been across state to visit his family a few times, but all our time was spent with them.  We had no honeymoon, no vacations, no weekend getaways.  This will be our very first, and here’s hoping it’s not one of those things we probably should have done before we got married.

I have two worries.  One is that I will get sick.  The other is that I will fight with Mark.

Now, sick or injured, I have an emergency plan, and a backup emergency plan, and I am confident in my current health.  No flareups for six days now, and that’s a very good sign. 

But, Hubs…

I love my husband, but he has a frustration issue.  Even small frustrations have triggered anger and rage.  He works on it, so now it’s mostly just big things that set him off (well, and video games…though we could debate whether that’s a “big thing.”)  The problem is, I have a rage issue myself, so when he gets frustrated by, say, A VIDEO GAME, and yells and throws a controller, my initial reaction is to throw something as well because I am angry that he is throwing things.  Yes, I see the insanity in that, but it is what it is.

I am afraid we will, say, set up an air mattress, and one or both of us will get frustrated, then enrage the other somehow, resulting in me throwing his belongings into a creek.  Or vice versa.

We rarely fight, but this is the one thing that makes us blow: both being frustrated at once.  It is rarely the other person, it is almost always the situation, but then we of course turn on each other like wild wolves.

But I have high hopes, because mostly this does not happen at the same time.  I can talk him off a ledge.  He can talk me off one, too.  But if we’re both pissed, just stand back.  And hope we’re not pissed at you.

So I’m going to be well and I’m going to have no relationship worries because I’m going to have a perfect trip because we deserve it, damnit.  10 years with this guy!  A miracle, I tell you.  I will be sure to tell you about it when I get back.

Here’s hoping no one falls down a slope. 

(That last lines for you, Ma.)

Hubs and me, doing what we plan to do all weekend…only not in the middle of the city.

Big Shoes to Fill

This past weekend my family went on a camping trip.  I intended to write about what a great time we had, but that didn’t happen, exactly.  It seems like one thing went wrong after another.  The big thing, however, was that my mother fell down a hill.

She was going to the bathroom Saturday morning and tripped and fell, and broke her ankle in three places.  She was taken to a nearby hospital then transported back to Buffalo and is now at Erie County Medical Center, where she had surgery yesterday to fix her ankle as it would not stay in place with traditional methods.  Dad tells me she is fine, though I wasn’t able to see her afterwards despite spending the entire day at the hospital. 

The next three days will be rough.  My father is receiving radiation treatment and will literally be radioactive while my mother is in rehab for her ankle.  My sister has to work so I am in charge of taking care of my parents, something I haven’t ever really had to do.  It strikes me that this is likely how life will go from now on, as they are both in their 60s and have health issues.  It also strikes me that I am not ready.

When my grandmother died, I froze my parents.  The running joke is that my mother is 35 and my father is 40, the ages they were when she passed.  Of course, I’m not a child anymore and I understand the aging process, but I do still picture them at those ages, when I was a kid and they were able to do everything that I wanted.  Now I see that some things are harder for them, and it breaks my heart.  I have an amazing relationship with my parents, better than most people I know, and I would do anything for them.  I think of my grandparents on dad’s side, both alive and kicking in their late 80s, and I suppose I figured the failing health was at least another few years off.  Alas, no. 

I have my own health issues, so taking care of other people when they are sick has not been something I have done a lot.  Usually it’s the other way around-me having a gastro or panic attack and my parents taking care of me.  That’s what I know.  Now, things are changing, and as scared as I am, I also feel like I can handle it, despite my own failings.  As I said I would do anything for my parents, because they have done everything for me.  Still, I remain worried, and scared, and unsure of what to do.  I will just have to roll with the punches, and take care of them the way that they have taken care of me. 

Today I saw mom, which made me feel a lot better.  I took dad to his doctor appointment.  Next I have to run errands then return to the hospital with mom’s insulin pump supplies.  I feel good, so I was able to do these things without too much stress.  Still, I worry that I won’t be well-that I will get sick at some point over the next few days, or that I will have some massive panic attack over all of this.  I have Mark of course to help me deal, but still I worry.

I suppose that when it comes to one’s parents, you’re never ready to see them sick.  You’re never ready to consider that they have truly aged, no longer the people you knew in your youth that seemed so vibrant and invincible.  I don’t think there’s really a way to prepare yourself for that, so instead you have to treasure your moments and do your best to deal with what gets thrown your way.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself today.

Into the Woods

When Mark brought up the idea of a family camping trip, I was firmly against it.  That’s a two on four situation and we would be in the woods with no electricity.  Hard pass.  He suggested we ask my parents.

I asked my parents to take me camping all the time when I was a kid and it never happened once.  My mother did accompany me to Girl Scout camp one year, which was nice of her, and another time we went hiking at Allegany, which was fun but would have been better if we had brought a tent.

So, when I was in the hospital, I thought long and hard about the camping idea.  I was a Girl Scout for my entire young life, and Mark spent his weekend roaming the woods as a child, so we have no problem with the scenario at all.  We’d go camping at any opportunity, if we had a tent.  As for my parents, people tend to go the extra mile for their grandkids, so I don’t know why I was surprised when my mom was all in on the idea.   Now were at a 4:4 ratio, 5:4 if my sister can get off work.  That’s doable.  That’s achievable.  That doesn’t leave me and Mark searching the woods because M wandered off the beaten path.

And so, we’re going camping.  The first task has been to find a cabin, which I have, and am just waiting to book until later today after my mother checks her work schedule.  It has no electricity, which means the children will have to detox.  (And, lets be real, the adults.  We’ve already discussed whether to get a power bank for our phones.)  It is, in fact, the exact same cabin I stayed in during my last camping trip when I was 19.  My mother wanted electricity at first, but booking of those cabins happens a year in advance, and the only available ones I found were outrageously priced.  Instead we will haul out lanterns and flashlights and find a way to make it all work.  The kids will learn new skills that will help them someday, and they will have the experience of camping for the first time.  We will go hiking and fishing and swimming, and we will enjoy our summer days and our time together.

I’m really looking forward to camping.  Which is surprising considering how against it I was in the first place.  Now, though, it seems like a celebration of my family, and that is what I’m really anticipating.