like to think

Yesterday we went to the special pharmacy where E’s medications from the St. Paul’s transplant clinic are distributed. We get three month’s supply at a time. The parking lot was pretty full but there was a space available set aside for “senior citizens”. E says, “I’m almost a senior. I could park there.” I said “no!” Despite the obvious ethical reasons, and that I knew he was only joking, I felt it necessary to reiterate that I am too young to be married to a senior citizen.

Then we went to the bulk barn to buy ingredients for Christmas baking. (Stick with me, there is a point to the story)

I am quite aware that we are usually just the two of us, my children are old enough to do their own baking and that we aren’t supposed to be eating Christmas goodies. But I bake anyways. I like to. I will take the treats to Vancouver at Christmas time. Someone will eat them.

When we went to pay the cashier at the bulk barn, she asked if we were eligible for the senior rate. 10% off on Wednesdays, she said. I replied “yes, absolutely, we are seniors.” Apparently my thrift overrides my honesty as well as my vanity because I was very pleased with the $8.00 savings.

Next stop was for my haircut and the main reason why I thought I should mention the pharmacy parking lot and the bulk barn.

E had gone off to Costco while I had my hair cut. When I was finished at the hairdressers I texted him that I would wait for him in the London Drugs. He texted back that he would just be two minutes… So, I walked to the other end of the mall, past the London Drugs and straight out to the parking lot. It was cold out there and no sign yet of E. So I moved out on the median in the sunshine. I thought he wouldn’t even need to park to pick me up.

Minutes pass with no E. I zip my coat up higher and pull the attached hat over my newly shorn head. He texted me again… “where are you?”I texted back. “I’m outside the London Drugs.” Then I clarified, texting “on the sushi side.” More minutes pass. I was getting colder so turned my back to the wind only to see E directly behind me with his back to me, texting what I can only assume was “No you aren’t, cause I am here and you are not.”

We were three feet apart, with our backs to each other conversing by text that we couldn’t find each other.

I’m fairly certain that even if we don’t yet qualify for the seniors discount in actual years, those days are closer than we

like to think.

are all Piper

Twenty years ago, E sat at the head of our Thanksgiving table and gave a toast. He was a forty year old father of three and he was wearing a beeper while he waited for a heart transplant. But his toast that evening, in fact his whole demeanor was about positivity. He said, “I am grateful for all that I have and most of what I don’t”

His secret to happiness and I am sure his surprisingly good health is perspective. He keeps everything in perspective. Difficult situations are dealt with up front and honestly and then left behind him. Our family, and friends have learned so much from watching how he deals with challenges. At the end of our day, if it should be our last day we need to be able to say it wasn’t wasted.

As we head toward the twentieth anniversary of his transplant in March we wanted an opportunity to celebrate with his family. Thanksgiving weekend worked for most and we were able to have seventeen show up for turkey dinner and Prosecco. E and I will celebrate on the actual anniversary, just the two of us, somewhere outside of Singapore, but that is another story.

With our kids visiting, everyone was, as usual, put to work. My daughter ran the burn pile while the boys helped put the cedar siding up.

The crazy summer is over now. The urgency of the cabin has subsided. The guests have gone home and we have specifically not scheduled any social activities for the next two months. We are extremely grateful for all of the help we have received but we need a rest.

We are all Piper

 

wait til tomorrow

First day of Fall. What a great summer that was. Lots of welcome visits with old friends. Good food, good wine. The diet went out the window in May when the first batch of Biscotti was dipped into the first glass of red wine.

The last of our 2019 guests left yesterday. We had a long walk to the park and a whole day catching up out on the deck. The evenings lasted long into the wee hours of the mornings. It seems we had a lot to talk about!

But now, it is just the two of us and a wet dog in front of the fire. We are watching the rain pouring down outside and thrilled we have nowhere we have to be. The water tanks are filling and I am starting a new Fall to-do list with indoor chores included. I was off the island for five nights all year and yet, still I feel I haven’t got much done. The new list will be a long one.

We have one more delivery coming from the lumber store tomorrow. Certainly that should be it! It is the wood E needs to make the door jambs. Then we can get the front and back doors installed and have the cabin nicely sealed up for the winter. There is siding, plumbing, electrical and flooring still to do but getting the cabin water tight is probably the most urgent as we look out our window today.

I need to quilt four large log cabin squares for the seat covers of the oak table and chairs going into the cabin. They won’t get much wear and tear so will theoretically last at least a couple of years. If necessary I can make some more then.. after all I have nothing but time 🙂

My friend brought me some garlic to plant, so that needs to be done. I need to move the apple tree and plant some grass seed where I intend to be able to play Bocci next summer. The compost needs to be spread and layered with the sea soil we brought over and of course the flower garden needs mulching. There are still apples to be sauced and when the bulbs arrive, 400 bulbs to be planted around the new cabin. I am out of the cards I like to give as gifts, so need to make more.

We are going on a big trip in the spring. I know!!! Me …. travelling!!! We wanted to celebrate E’s twentieth anniversary of his heart transplant and cruising seemed like the way to do it. The fact that I get to go shopping in a very popular batik store in Denpasar on the trip is simply coincidental. After being off island for five nights this month I am not really sure how I am going to like being away from my window for three weeks. I am nothing if not flexible but will have to restart the diet, those cruise ships aren’t known for egg white omelettes and grapefruit.

Apparently, after a two year break, I am editing the island newsletter again so I need to start thinking about that and of course there are all the other stories I am trying to get written…..

So much to do! But for today I have put on another pot of coffee. We are tired and all of it can

wait until tomorrow

a new back

As promised, today we can get back to a discussion about off grid living, renovating, gardening, and best of all pictures from the nature channel… No more heart transplant stuff til next year’s anniversary. Onward, to happy healthy days.

We have decided that we aren’t buying anything more to update or renovate this house until everything we have already purchased is installed and used. You know, before it goes rotten, dries up or whatever else happens to unused building supplies when left to their own devices.

To that end, E has decided to use our left over fascia boards for siding on the new addition. It will be blended with the shakes we saved from the front of the original house. It was a perfect day to be working out front, not too hot, no wind.. very pleasant.

There have been a variety of whale sightings in the last week. Normally, the whales tend to hang around on the other side of the channel in front of our house. Yesterday, they were near the reef at the entrance to the cove where we keep our boat. The day before that, they were under my neighbour’s house on the west side of the island.. She thought they were rubbing on the rocks beneath her. This morning they were in front of our house around ten am. Not too close, but I was still able to get a decent group of pictures.

We finished cutting up the big tree yesterday and we got all of the rounds down to the wood pile area ready to be split. Man, they were heavy. At one point we agreed the only way we were going to get them down there was to cut them in half with the chain saw. That still wasn’t enough. We had to cut them into quarters… sigh we are old..

So today I was able to spend the morning turning soil over in the vegetable garden. I’ll try to get one bed (they are big) done a day. During the afternoon, me and Youtube tried to learn how to paper piece a cat for a quilt I am making.. It didn’t go well.. I feel that the women (you know who you are) on the island who know how to paper piece should be somewhere in the nearer vicinity when I am trying to do this.

I was asked yesterday by a friend, if she could bring me anything from Victoria… If I needed anything… All I could think of was maybe

a new back

live us all

Today, the first of spring, is the day in March when we advance the transplant milestone marker one more year. It will have been nineteen years ago tonight when E said good bye to the heart he was born with.

I blame him for being too nice. He just plain wore out his first heart in half the time most of the rest of us do. We heard this week of a third patient who had to have a second heart transplant as, and I quote “they don’t last that long.” Frankly, I’m encouraging him to try to be a bit more miserable. You know, try to make this heart last longer than his first.

I suggested to him last night that for the next two days he should do what ever he wants. No chores required. Heart transplant anniversaries are fairly rare milestones and well worth taking the time to enjoy. He wants to spend it chopping stuff up with the chain saw. Good for him. To each his own. I put champagne in the fridge and intend on breaking my wine drought with some well deserved alcohol. Diet be damned, maybe some chocolate too…

For the first time in nineteen years I didn’t go to St. Paul’s with him for his annual check up. I stayed on the island and one of our sons went with him. Our eldest was thirteen when E had his heart transplant. Now he is an adult, a father himself, keeping his Dad company through his rounds of annual testing at the transplant clinic.. I can not stress to you how unlikely I would have ever imagined such a day. Honestly, in my wildest dreams I had hoped E would live long enough to get the kids raised and out of high school. A task I seriously doubted I could have done without him.

Yet here we are thirty-seven years married, three successfully raised kids. Nineteen of our years together are post heart transplant or as we now like to think of it, seven since moving to the island.

Which brings us to organ donation.. Imagine the power to give life. You have it. Sign your donor card. Encourage your friends and family to sign theirs.

We wrote a thank you letter to our donor family on the one year anniversary of the transplant and I think maybe we will write again on the 20th anniversary.. Twenty!! Good grief I cannot believe we are almost there… Those of you reading who went through 1999/2000 with us, probably are as incredulous as we are. Those who we have just met probably find it hard to believe E was ever “that sick”, but his heart had hours left. The pathologist told me, maybe 48 hours. How do you say thank you to someone for giving your husband life. It isn’t easy, but I practice the words every night in my head.

Living on this island, with the attitude he carries with him every day, there is no stopping E. He is likely to out

live us all.

back to sleep

E takes fourteen pills a day. Eight in the morning and six at night. These aren’t drugs which treat symptoms like arthritic stiffness or iron poor blood. If he doesn’t take these pills as prescribed, his body will reject his new heart. Toss it out like the town drunk at last call. In addition to the normal risk of rejection for transplant patients, the disease which killed his first heart has a 25% chance of sneaking in and getting this one. It can’t be given even the smallest window of opportunity. 

There are items E can’t consume like grapefruit juice and pomegranates because they conflict with the medications. Years ago when he returned to rec hockey after his transplant, he began drinking Five Alive juice post game in the locker room instead of beer. We noticed his stamina started to weaken and his health worsened. We figured out that one of the juices in the Five of Five Alive, was grapefruit. He went back to beer.

These pills don’t go through our extended health plan they come directly from the pharmacy at the hospital every three months. We keep them in a plastic case which could be transported easily if there is a earthquake or zombie apocalypse. If we had to bug out, I wouldn’t care so much about passports or papers, we would be grabbing that case of drugs.

Probably four or five times a week, I ask E if he has taken his pills. It’s a force of habit. He usually assures me that he has. On occasion we have broken our routine, maybe gone to town early or stayed out late with friends and he has forgotten to take his pills. We keep a three day supply in the car just in case.  

 We have three down quilts of varying quality and in graduating weights. The heaviest and best is on the bed now. Even  half price at a black Friday sale we paid a couple of hundred dollars for it. This morning we can see the first snow on the mountains across from our window. The winds are howling and the rain is falling. The wood fire is out and the house is cold. But we are warm and snug in our bed under this amazing quilt.

We were out late last night and I didn’t see E take his 9 PM pills. At five am when I woke up, my first thought was to ask him if he took his pills. Behind the pillows and under the flannel sheets and giant down comforter I heard his muffled response ” hmph, I don’t remember” and he rolled over back to sleep.

 I thought that was a fairly casual attitude towards the regimen which keeps him alive.  After a couple of minutes reality had kicked in and I heard him get up to go and check. He returned with a “Yes, I took them”. We both snuggled deeper under the heavenly quilt and went

back to sleep

science, who knew?

Yet another gorgeous sunny day today. Not sure how much longer they will continue but I’m not complaining. My body is unable to accept daylight savings so I am up very early..

I am reminded of all those years struggling to get to work for my 7 am shifts. Admittedly a lot of those nights we had been up with a sick kid or any of the myriad of other reasons we never slept when the kids were young. But still.. it’s ironic. We have all the time in the world to stay in bed til noon but haven’t slept past 7 AM in twenty years.. I can barely sleep til day break…

Up early, our coffee finished we were off in the truck to go fetch some more wood. E runs the chain saw. I throw the rounds into the back of the pick up truck and back out again to a pile on our driveway. We didn’t buck trees for too long.. Again, just a little bit every day to protect E’s back. 

One of the trips earned our truck a flat tire and no matter what E did the bolts would not come off the useless thing… . So the truck is not going any where, anytime soon. Fortunately we found ourselves with a second truck this summer and are rewarded for the decision to keep both.

There were more leaves to rake and an excuse for another burn pile. I imagine I will be raking again tomorrow. The trees are slow to give up their loot and just when I think I have cleaned the driveway, the wind forces them to drop. I haven’t even started on the upper driveway.

So with my shoulder replacement two years ago I am now able to help E with a little bit of the harder physical work. Wouldn’t know that I couldn’t brush my teeth with my right hand for years.

Come to think of it to see how E spends his days on this island you wouldn’t think, well there is a guy who had a heart transplant. Huh, medical science… who knew?