I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gearing up for travel

Statue entitled "Safe Return"
While we were walking yesterday, I paused long enough to take a picture of this statue, which I've noticed each time we walk past it. It's dedicated to fishermen who went to sea and never returned. Bellingham at one time was a major fishing haven. Today, the park at Squalicum Harbor is mostly used for commercial events, such as boating celebrations, picnics, and kite flying. The paved path brings lots of people to the area, just like us, the ladies I joined yesterday for a walk in the sunshine.

I'm hoping for my own "safe return" as I gear up for travel on Tuesday. There was a time when all I needed to do in order to take a trip was to start throwing items into a corner of the living room as I would think of them, and just before leaving I'd stuff them into a suitcase and head off to the airport. That was then. Now it seems that I start the travels in my dreams, too: last night I kept trying to get somewhere and would make wrong turns and my anxiety kept growing until I finally woke up from the troubling dream. Mostly, I have happy dreams and this one reminds me that travel is not much fun any more.

I'll start my Tuesday morning on the "pajama shuttle" at 2:10am. I've done it before and find it the best way to get from Bellingham to SeaTac airport more than a hundred miles south. It takes about three hours, with all the stops to pick up riders. It's the first shuttle of the day, and I should be able to catch a little of my interrupted sleep before arriving at the airport in the dark. I hope I'll be able to get through security without much problem, since the unpaid TSA agents are calling in sick all over the country because of the government shutdown. They are considered essential personnel and are required to work even without pay. It's been three weeks now and there's no end in sight.

It was not that long ago that I traveled all over the world, many times a year, without batting an eye. When I was skydiving regularly and traveling to places like southern California for a week's worth of playing in the sky, it seemed easy. I've become a real nervous Nelly about travel and don't know why. Of course, it's never fun to fly these days, but that's nothing new. The airline seats get smaller and the travelers get bigger, it seems. I can only hope my seatmate will not be too large. On the other hand, a nice soft grandmotherly type would be a welcome seat companion. Just in case the Universe is listening, I'm putting in my request.

My fisherman friend Gene had a real scare last week. He spent two days in the hospital from an apparent allergic reaction to a blood pressure drug he's taken for nine years. There were a few times when he would come to the coffee shop with a swollen tongue and found it difficult to talk without a lisp, but he wasn't overly worried about it. I remember telling him it seemed like something he was allergic to, and I gave him a Benadryl, which helped. We didn't think much about it. But then last week his tongue and throat swelled so much he couldn't breathe. He usually lives alone, but just by chance his erstwhile girlfriend had come by on her way back from taking her daughter to the local airport, and when she saw what distress he was in, took him straightaway to the hospital.

When he came in the door, one of the nurses took a look at him and asked him if he took, by chance, lisinopril blood pressure medication. When he nodded yes, they rushed him into an admitting room and began an IV. Gene said that a technician also pumped a needle full of a deadening agent and drew a mark on his throat, readying him for a tracheotomy. Although it didn't turn out to be necessary, it sure got his attention. Before long, though, the antihistamine in the IV took effect and he could finally breathe again. He's taken this medication for years, and after considering when it first started, he'd had a similar (but not as strong) episode four years ago. I wonder why something that seems not to cause any symptoms for so long would suddenly become a problem.

Of course, I found online information that explains it all. It turns out that angioedema (what happened to Gene) is a rare side effect of ACE inhibitors used for blood pressure treatment. Gene's delayed reaction wasn't all that uncommon. This website explains it:
ACE inhibitor-related angioedema usually arises shortly after drug therapy begins, but in some cases it’s delayed for months or even years. Occasionally, it doesn’t begin until several weeks after the patient has stopped taking the drug.
Gene is taking another drug now to keep his blood pressure in the normal range. I also took a small dose of lisinopril for years, after my pelvic fracture and my subsequent desire to get off the opiates I'd become addicted to. Nobody told me how hard it would be to get off opiates, but now it's all over the news, and the drug I was taking is now strictly administered. Not so much back in 2000. I think that struggle to get off that drug is why my BP went up, because low levels of pain can increase it. I was finally able to get off both the Oxycontin and the BP medication, and now the only drug I take is a statin for my cholesterol. I'd like to get off that, but my family history of hyperlipidemia (another big word) means that my family all take statins or suffer from heart disease.

Even though I take few prescription drugs, I also take an enormous number of vitamins for my health, and for my age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there is no treatment for dry AMD, doctors think that there are some vitamins that can help, so I take them all. And I did have some good news when I saw the retina specialist last week. He looked into my dilated eyes and said that, although there was some small progression, mostly it's all quiet in there. I don't need to see him again until next year, which made me really happy. Slow progression means I won't be going blind in the near future, hopefully.

All in all, I feel pretty fortunate. I'm quite well enough myself to travel relatively safely to the other side of the country, a welcome reunion with my sister and, hopefully, her son Peter. He might be traveling while I'm there, but I hope not, since he's such a great cook and I enjoy his company. In any event, I'll be swimming alongside my sister, swimming laps for the first time since I visited her last year. Even though we have a pool at our local YMCA, it's nothing like hers. For one thing, our indoor pool is overly chlorinated. Being outside in a lovely pool when the sun comes up is sublime, especially when you have your sweet sister in the next lane.

I found this quote from Albert Einstein that summarizes what I intend to be doing next week: "Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life." That is not to say that my dear partner is not family, he is. But there is something special about the bond that I share with Norma Jean. She has been my companion since before I could appreciate her. I'm older than her by a couple years, but we played together as we grew up, and she still populates my dreams. But next week, she'll be right there! It's worth the trip, and perhaps getting there will be an adventure I can tell you about.

Well, that's it for today. Next week I'll be writing this post from Florida, where it's three hours later, and I'll be enjoying the sunshine and change of venue. Until we meet again next week, I am wishing all good things to come your way. Be well and remember that you are loved and appreciated.


Marie Smith said...

Safe travels this week as you journey to your dear sister. Enjoy!

Linda Reeder said...

Interesting information about blood pressure meds. Tom takes one, so I will be aware.
Wishing you safe and smooth travels.

Gigi said...

How awful to hear what happened to Gene! I am so glad he is doing better! Safe travels, DJan and enjoy the sunshine and warmth!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am glad Gene is okay, I take lisinopril also. Scary for sure. I bid you Godspeed on your trip! Have fun and enjoy your sister. After 5 flights in the past two weeks I don't want to see the inside of an airplane for awhile. Take your ear plugs so you can watch a movie...I watched Chef, The Book Club which was so funny and then I watched episodes of Superstore and fell asleep during Frozen...oh and Crikey the Erwins...I really liked their new series. Movies make the time go faster! :)

William Kendall said...

Yikes for Gene!

Bonnie said...

Have a safe trip and enjoy the time with your sister!

Elephant's Child said...

I am glad that Gene is ok. How lucky that he had a visitor at just the right time.
Safe (and happy) travels dear DJan.

Red said...

Drug related reactions can be very scary. Have a great trip.

Hilary said...

Lisinopril is an awful drug........as are statins.

Linda Myers said...

Ah, another lovely visit with your sister. Safe journey, friend.

Rian said...

Hopefully the airport won't be too much of a hassle. Getting 'TSA Preboarding' on your boarding pass is always a good start. And have a wonderful visit with your family! Can't wait to hear all about it.

Laurie Larson-Doornbos said...

Anyone who can use the word 'erstwhile' so seamlessly has got to be a friend of mine 😃

Arkansas Patti said...

I recently heard that Tuesday was one of the best days for air travel. Hope that is true.
Weird about the delayed reaction that drug can cause. Sure hate meds but some we have to take.
Congrats on the positive news about your eyesight.
Have a quick, safe trip and enjoy that pool and hopefully Peter's great cooking. Have a fun, warm and a delightful visit with your sister.
Looking forward to how the visit goes.

Trish MacGregor said...

Have a wonderful and safe trip!

Annsterw said...

Have a wonderful trip!!! I am so happy I found your blog!!! I am now following - you can follow back if you wish at Annster's Domain