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, August 25, 2019

Turbulent week ahead

Front porch flowers
My beautiful flowers are looking good for the last week in August. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy pink, but everything that is flourishing seems to be that color. It wasn't intentional: sometime in late June I realized I had some gaps in my flower beds, and I bought a few petunias to fill them in, and they have not only thrived, but in some cases taken over. I'm not at all unhappy with the results.

When I write in here next week, it will be September, ushering in my favorite time of the year. Well, fall doesn't actually begin until the end of the month, but the weather changes from our usual cloudless skies to more variety, sun mixed with gentle rain and lots of pretty fluffy clouds. I think clouds are fascinating and lovely. I'm one of the few people who can say that they know what it feels like to be inside one. When I was a skydiver, although it isn't actually legal to jump through them, it happens occasionally. There are perhaps a dozen cloud jumps that I will never forget. When you are above the cloud, you can't see the ground or what might be underneath (such as an airplane), but once you're in freefall, there's not much you can do about it, so you just go right on through. Sometimes they look solid, but they feel soft and cool in relation to the surrounding air. I love clouds.

The coming week will be rather disruptive, for several reasons. The first one, most on my mind, is a long-scheduled colonoscopy. Most of my readers will have been through at least one of these procedures. It's not the event itself that is difficult, but the preparation. Sitting on my desk are all the ingredients to get my bowels completely cleaned out: laxative pills, some kind of awful liquid that I must drink, and magnesium citrate on top of it all. And for the whole day before, I can only consume liquids, no milk in my coffee (but at least I can have coffee) until after the procedure on Wednesday morning.

It all starts with the consumption of laxative pills at 11:00am Tuesday, and from there I take a break until 5:00pm with the first drink of the mixture, then another at 8:00pm, and last of all, 4:30am the following morning. I don't expect I'll get much sleep, since I'll be up and down going from the bed to the throne. I had one of these in Colorado maybe fifteen years ago, and I thought I'd not have to have another one of these, but I actually requested it from my doctor when I went in to see her for my wellness visit. I've been having some changes in bowel habits, and figured it would be a good idea to have this uncomfortable examination one last time. At my age, unless they find some suspicious growths, it should be my final time enduring this.

And to top it off, the YMCA gym, where I've been going almost daily for the entire time I've lived in Bellingham, will be closed for the whole week, opening up again on September 3 after the Labor Day holiday closure. They will be resurfacing all the floors and making some other changes that are more easily done when the users of the facility are not there. It's a real nuisance for me, but once it's done, we should be happy with the results. Other than the smell that bothers some, the resin they coat the wood floors with, it will be nice to have it all done at once.

I decided to sign up for a week at a nearby athletic club, which cost me about as much as a nice dinner out. Other than probably not using the facility on Wednesday, I'll make use of it the rest of the time. Some friends frequent it instead of the Y, and some prefer it, but I've been going to the my favorite gym for so long that it will be a disruption. They have exercise classes, too, which I might try out, and before I know it, this turbulent week will be behind me and things will return to normal. At least I hope so. I have not been looking forward to it at all. Next week when I write my post, the colonoscopy will be a memory, but I still won't have returned to the gym. That won't happen until a week from Tuesday.

A week from this coming Monday is Labor Day, which is the unofficial end of summer in the United States. It was another Labor Day, back in 1990, when I made my first skydive, not knowing what a change it would bring to my life. It changed the entire trajectory of my life, right up to this day. My dear partner came to me through the sport; we met in 1992 and married in 1994 (in freefall), and the sheer volume of jumps I made every year after add up to more than 4,000. One year (1998) I made 401 skydives, the pinnacle of my skydiving career. That's more than one a day on average!

I just looked up that year in my logbooks, which I still keep on a nearby shelf. Every single jump is chronicled, and looking at the one covering that time period, I remembered that I also kept track of what I did on each one. Once I became an instructor, instead of paying for skydives, I made a small amount ($30) as well as the jump itself. The extra money meant that I could afford to play with my friends in the sky quite often, when I was not working as an instructor. That was more than twenty years ago now, but that period of my life is still alive in my memory. I'm glad to have the logbooks, too.

When we moved to Bellingham in 2008, I managed to keep skydiving a little, not as an instructor, but an hour-long drive to Snohomish gave me a chance to still "get my knees in the breeze." Gradually I jumped less and less, until in 2015 I made my last skydive and sold my gear. For more than 25 years, it was the center of my universe, but like almost every other part of life, one day it became time to move on.

Sometimes I miss it, but having moved to the Pacific Northwest from Colorado was the beginning of learning about wonderful hikes and trails, and the enjoyment of being outdoors in the wilderness has not yet worn off. It was an old skydiving injury in 2000 that still reverberates through to today, and I am still in recovery from a fall I took more than a month ago. One day I will have to stop my current level of activity, but I feel quite confident that I will find a way to enjoy every single day until then. And the next phase will open up. Who knows what the future holds? It's an exciting prospect to consider.
Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it. —Oprah Winfrey
I remember when I was learning to skydive, and then to teach, that I felt I would never achieve my goals. And now here I am, looking for the next thing to attempt and conquer. I've been on the high wire, and I have survived to this day. My dear partner still sleeps next to me, and I know my day today will take me out into the world to find new adventures, and I will hopefully be with you, my dear readers, again next week. Until then, I wish you all good things.


Marie Smith said...

Life is about transitions, moving from one adventure to another. It can be exciting to explore new areas of interest as the door to one part of your life closes. You made the transition from sky diving quite well, Jan.

gigi-hawaii said...

I drove through the clouds near the pinnacle of Mt. Haleakala on Maui several times. It was misty. Then at the pinnacle, we looked down and saw the clouds we had driven through. Awesome.

Linda Reeder said...

I like clouds too. They add interest to the sky, make for beautiful sunsets, and add coolness on a hot day.
I am on a ten year rotation for colonoscopies, so I have had multiple procedures already. The prep is bad, the not eating is worse! But this too shall pass, and a change in gym for the week might even open up new opportunities. Buck up, Jan. In the big world picture, this disruption is not much. :-)

Elephant's Child said...

I find your attitude inspirational.
I hope that your turbulent week is over, and that the colonoscopy goes well.
I love clouds and admire and marvel at them daily. It has to be very low cloud for me to be inside it though.

Gigi said...

Your flowers are beautiful! Good luck with the week ahead. You'll be back to your old activities/routines in no time.

troutbirder said...

Not to sound too critical but I do believe you understated the uncomfortableness of this whole yucky procedure. Then at Mayo Clinic they turn the TV on and you get to watch the whole procedure. The last time I went through that I asked the doctor in charge if he could change the channel so I could watch something more pleasant.

Red said...

When we look back we see what shapes us. Skydiving gave you confidence and adventure. It was success. We can get these through many activities in life. I know you'll find it.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I hope you have good results with the prep! Far Guy has to do the four day prep because he cannot drink everything because his lungs and stomach vie for space. I just did the Cologuard...it catches 95% of colon cancer...my results were negative! Yeah me! It was quite simple.
Hope you have some good books for your potty time! A turbulent week for sure nothing upsets you more than a disrupted schedule. But what can you do about it all except make the best of it!!!

Trish MacGregor said...

Good luck this week!

Rita said...

Best of luck this week. At least this will be your last one.
Let us know how the gyms compare. :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Hoping your purging is uneventful and quickly forgettable with great results.
You have enjoyed some things some of us only think about but never do. You will always find a challenge and conquer it. I have no doubts.

Tabor said...

What a lovely post and so in sync with me right now. I used to ski and then moved away from the mountains and learned SCUBA which I continued for 7 years, even when pregnant. Then I moved away from tropical waters and did hiking and walking. I have osteoporosis and must be careful with my activities. I have less regrets when I move on toward elder activities, but I wish I was more courageous in doing stuff that is more helpful to others.

William Kendall said...

Never a procedure that one looks forward to.

Galen Pearl said...

I so loved your description of falling through the clouds and what they felt like. When I was a child looking out of an airplane window, I thought if I jumped out of the airplane, I could jump around on them like giant cotton balls.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I hope all went well yesterday with your colonoscopy. I've had only one--when I was 70. I was told I didn't need another for 10 years and then, when I celebrated my 80th birthday, I discovered that after a certain time, they aren't recommended by th skin has thinned and there's the possibility of tearing it while doing the procedure. You are so right that the procedure itself
is nothing compared to that prep time!

Your journey in the last twenty-five years or so has been one that had kept you happily pursing good health. I am so grateful that you share with us the ways in which you do that. Peace.