80 days later…

Two weeks ago, Bill was working it up on a treadmill literally wired all up for sound.

Wired all up for ultrasound that is…a stress echocardiogram along with a 48 hour monitor and cardiac labs all to determine if he was healthy enough to return to work and play and basically normal life…or at least a new normal life not smoking, taking multiple cardiac and cholesterol medications twice daily, exercising more and eating better.

And the verdict is labs are still a bit off but his heart is strong enough to return to work and ease slowly back into his Krav Maga workouts. Oh, and the cardiologist commends the wife, that’s me, because the diet changes are working. The diet changes that basically I have done all along but someone might not have been eating…AHEM!

And so 80 days later, after the STEMI, the 100% right coronary artery blockage that could have been, should have been fatal according to Bill’s cardiologist, my darling husband has been here the last three days.

Believe me, he is smiling on the inside. He’s back to work. He’s at a job site on a project that he was hoping to be working on because, like the Levi’s Stadium project that he was a part of, this is kind of cool.

At our dinner celebration last night, he shared with me just how awesome this is because back to work…and alive…and celebrating another year together…

The conversation went on as he reflected on a coworker, age 46, who died from the same type of heart attack the same week Bill had his…and an old friend the same age who also passed recently…and a younger, former colleague…and the father of someone we’ve known for the past 10 years who was not that much older than we are. I’ll confess the last one shocked me because I did not know what he died from, just that, sadly, he died very unexpectedly. But Bill is friends with our friend on Facebook so he was privy to the details. The loss of all of them was sobering, very sobering. Sitting beside my darling husband right now I can not imagine the pain and grief their families must be feeling even though we came so close…much too close 80 days ago.

Bill agrees.

So much has happened the last 80 days or so. We can’t help but think about life, fate, luck, grace and how close we came to not being here now more than 80 days later.

And what happened to these two kids from 1982 because if you look past the damaged heart and grey hair and no hair and creakier limbs and worry lines and laugh lines, they are still there…somewhere.

Thankful.

So very thankful.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Chest Discomfort- Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain

Discomfort in other areas of the Upper Body- Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

IF THESE SIGNS ARE PRESENT CALL 911!!!

Learn CPR!!!

Your actions can help save a life…perhaps the life you love most.

play it again: that’s what friends are for

originally published May 8, 2012 and because right now, my girl, Tracey is rocking her final marathon. If you’re reading this go tweet encouragement and congratulations right now to her because I said so and because she is seriously kick-asstastic and family.

You gotta love social media. Yes, I know some days you can’t help but hate it…the drama, the “vague-booking”, the time suck. But some days you just have to love social media. The last couple of days I have loved it.

My friend, Tracey, was running her very first marathon back home in Pittsburgh. She trained well for it and, thanks to Facebook, I was able to follow her in her training all along the way. I was so excited for her…her very first marathon!!! I was also a little nervous for her too…a worrisome foot injury late in her training schedule and the typical race-eve freak out…I couldn’t help but be worried a little…it’s what I do. More than anything, I wanted to be there…to cheer for her at the start, along the route and at the finish…because I know how much fun it can be…but more importantly, because Tracey is my friend and I wanted to be there just as I have felt like I have been throughout her training that she has shared. I set my alarm to remind me while at work early, early Sunday morning, west coast time, to send out a shout out wishing her luck and I began to follow her posted split times as well as #PittsburghMarathon live tweet updates.

Okay, fine. It wasn’t like I was there but then again it was…kind of sort of.

It was then on my Instagram feed I saw my friend Kim had posted an amazing shot of one of the elite runners running past her. It was a great capture indeed…air under the guy’s feet as if he was running through the air rather than on the pavement…you know, like us

mere mortals who try to run. I KNOW that it had to be exciting as I once got to see running greatness run past me…in the opposite direction…while running in the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Excited I messaged Kim and told her how Tracey was running in the same event and just might be running by her soon…okay, later…still Tracey was headed her way! Kim messaged me back asking, “How can I spot her? I’m at mile 16. Would love to cheer her on.” Kim and I send back and forth messages with me trying to describe Tracey and then I send her a screen shot of Tracey with her running bib. An hour later I receive another message, “We just saw Tracey! I think we gave her a nice boost at mile 16!“, followed by, “Wish I could have lined up a few more folks to cheer for her.

Oh yeah, Kim is good people. She even came to my aid during BlogHer 11 with a dose of Tylenol…yes, it was part of her calling card but it helped me out and how can one ever forget that…oh, and I enjoyed sitting with her and sharing during a session or two. Even better, thanks to social media, I get to enjoy Kim’s company a lot and get to remind myself of the wonderful things that I miss about back home in Pittsburgh and that which makes Pittsburgh Someplace Special. Some pretty good people live there…like Tracey…like Kim.

It was after the race that I saw a posting on her Facebook wall from Tracey:

I’m home, icing every part of my body, reflecting on the day. A marathon isn’t fun or easy but parts of it did rock…My teammates, friends, fellow athletes! Laura Scarborough Setting up a surprise cheering section from 3000 miles away! The band at mile 9.29 playing Take the Skin Heads Bowling! Getting hosed down by a hot fireman in E Liberty! Knowing my Dad was with me every step of the way! My coaches Phil Thompson & Drew McCabe crossing the finish line with me! Best running partner Kathie O’Donnell finishing the last mile together!

Reading that made me cry…cry happy tears because although we can’t be face to face every day and we can’t just hop in a car and drive on over to be there for one another, I have some pretty amazing friends out there and thanks to the interwebs and a whole lot of social media I know that we can and are there for each other to support and encourage each other…to cry together…to pray together…to laugh together…tell me how and where to bury a body, you know, if I had to…to just be there for each other. It’s a small circle still it is a circle that has expanded my world in a way that I could never imagine…even when I am feeling alone here in Manteca. I have some pretty awesome friends…friends like Tracey, like Ann, like Kim, like Kari, like Kale, like Jenn, like Bill…I am so lucky…even if you all aren’t physically just around the corner.

Love you Tracey! Love you Kim! I hope that someday I can hook you two up…perhaps while taking in a game at PNC Park.

And one more time, congratulations Tracey!!! I am thrilled and honored to have cheered you on this weekend. You. Are. Awesome.

final marathon

When accomplishing something pretty amazing, most everyone can name at least one person who inspired them. When it comes to running and who inspires me two people immediately come to mind. There’s Kari, whom I hold personally responsible for the fact that I do run no matter how slow I go; and there is Tracey, a high school classmate and dear friend who remains my touchstone and connection to my “back home“…and because she pretty much adopted me into the Baker clan, my sister. Tracey can and will run in almost any crazy condition and considering the winter that was this past winter, I know she did while training for this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. It’s kind of hard to whine about your running conditions in the Central Valley California when your friend is talking about ice and snow and freezing rain and freaking wind chill factors when sharing her running updates on Facebook.

Then there is the fact that she looks so damn good while running and looking like she is having a great time.

Apologies, Tracey, for snagging this picture from your Facebook wall. I couldn’t help myself because, yes, you look so damn good and like you are having fun. I would be the runner soaked in sweat with sweat drying so I look like a salt lick…a salt lick with a beet red face which would likely scare you and any spectators. I blame the ginger gene for the red face.

But look at her!

I’m inspired to run right now; except for the fact that it is nearing midnight and the Big Top is slumbering.

I received a text from Tracey early Friday morning that made me smile and cry sad and happy tears. This Sunday in Pittsburgh will be Tracey’s last marathon.

No, not her last run.

Thank goodness!

But, for so many reasons, it will be her last 26.2 mile race. And I was sad. Then she told me how she has read and re-read this particular blog post…and then the tears were happy tears filled with so much love.  I’ll be at work, again, but I am looking forward to following my dear friend and running crush via text alerts as she rocks this marathon in the ‘burgh. If I had the power and influence, I would make sure that all the hot firemen were all along the route cheering her on. I don’t have that influence and power…alas.

But I will be cheering my dear friend on 3,000 miles away in spirit, in my heart and via text messages because that’s what friends are for.

You’ve got this girlfriend!

overdoing

The Big Top Spring Break plans had to be shelved…for obvious reasons…womp, womp. Bill is still waiting on his cardiologist to sign off on his disability insurance and, well, the savings for Spring Break Week in Monterey had to be redirected because clowns need to be fed and bills need to be paid.

Perhaps next year!

But, we are excellent punters…any family with more than 1-2 children is because it is part of basic family survival.

My darling husband is recuperating well but he is growing more restless and bored as each day goes by. His son in law comes over to mow the lawn. The wife is taking out the trash, along with everything else she juggles. He can’t vacuum. He can’t haul the laundry up and down the stairs or the groceries out of the mom car. He can’t walk the dog…no matter how much Betty begs. So he walks in the morning and the afternoon and the evening. And he putters around the Big Top feeling incredibly restless and bored.

A beach vacation would have been perfect right about now….yes.

Maybe a day in San Francisco is what we all need. Nothing ambitious…no big shopping trips or crossing bridges. Perhaps a day visiting a dear, old friend and lunch and some walks around a very small part of The City.

The most delicious, cup of Swiss chocolate made perfect while enjoying the company of a dear, old friend who made it for us.

Strolling through the Yerba Buena Gardens, enjoying the water falls…

and perhaps reflecting a little on the fail that is your Mima and Papa not having any spare change to toss into the fountain so that you can make a wish. Absolute fail!

A fail soon forgotten as you try to shake Shaking Man‘s hand(s).

Oh Art!

Onward to the Zeum Carousel…renamed recently the Leroy King Carousel

Whatever the name, it is a good place to ride a dragon

or a beautiful, white horse.

Absolute fun!

Lunch followed up with a short walkabout around Union Square complete with an encounter with a Buddhist monk offering prayer beads for Hazel and me along with a blessing…for 20 bucks.

Yeah.

Hazel and I accepted the beads and the blessings giving 4 bucks because that was all that we had. The beads are cute though.

A good day…a great day…a day where perhaps Bill might have overdid it.

Looking at her, exhausted, he agrees that yes, he overdid it. But he smiles when he states this.

Tomorrow he rests,

I promise.

He promises too.

catching up, investing in female research solving the world’s greatest challenges and (maybe) doing my taxes

It’s been awhile since I posted, hasn’t it? I have a pretty good reason/distraction/excuse as I’m sure most of you all know. Follow me or lurk anywhere else where I am online I know that you know. Or you could just ask me…or call…or text…or “Facebook” me…or tweet at me. Updates are out there for sure. So while the family circus catches up on sleep and adjusts to a new normal life under The Big Top, we find we must catch up on a lot of other things like bills, my getting back to work (to pay those bills since Bill will be out for the foreseeable future), teacher conferences and report cards, changing Spring Break plans (because Bill is not able to work for the weeks to come), getting taxes done for kids’ FAFSAs, birthdays…

OH CRAP! I forgot my baby sister’s birthday! I swear family health crises that distract me always seem to happen when important things are happening in her life. Clearly I suck as a sister. Excuse me while I send her a card and an apology…

And then I remember something I recently promised to do for another sister…the sister who is taller than me and definitely smarter than me and asked me to be the oldest first-time bridesmaid ever. Oh, who am I kidding, they all are smarter than me! But back to Ange…

Remember when mountain lions came to Modesto and Turlock? There was much talk of the serious drought and suburban sprawl of our growing Central Valley communities increasing the likelihood of seeing these carnivores. It’s a real thing.

And my sister is devoting her doctoral studies on just that: Carnivore conservation in an era of rapid development.

The Southwestern U.S. has the most diverse assemblage of carnivores anywhere in the U.S., ranging from mountain lions and black bears to kit foxes and spotted skunks. It also has the fastest growing population in the U.S. The population of Arizona grew nearly 584% between 1950 and 2000. As the population of southern Arizona grows, annual visitation rates to its protected areas also grow, resulting in greater impacts on the areas’ wildlife. To adequately manage and conserve carnivore species within protected areas, information on how they may respond to different levels of human disturbance is essential.

Your donations will fund a project that will not only help her in completing her PhD, but also help collect valuable information on the impacts of human disturbance on carnivore communities.

If you can, please helping fund this project. Donate what you can, if you can. But donate soon because she now has less than 13 days left in her fundraising effort.

Thanks!