Missing you, Dad

I have been absent from this blog for a while as I have been going through the hardest time of my life. My family and I lost my father just after the New Year. I haven’t been able to find the words to describe the sadness, so I put off writing about it thinking that maybe it would get easier to write about in time.  It hasn’t. In fact, sometimes my brain has barely processed that he has passed away. Things happen during the day and I think, Oh … I need to tell Dad about that and then I remember he is gone.

I am grateful that—along with my brothers and mom—I was able to spend five weeks with my dad at my parents’ home in Washington before he passed away. As difficult as it was, I cherished that time. There were some good moments when we were able to talk about politics and history and some of my dad’s other favorite subjects. However, most of that time he was not very coherent—or at least it was hard to tell if he comprehended what I was saying to him. That didn’t stop me from telling him how much I loved him, or how thankful I was for his loving support, all that he had provided for our family and what a positive influence he had on me.

I still tell him those things today, hoping that somehow he can hear me.

family-portrait-for-web
My family around the year 1985.

My father wanted to be buried in his home state of Wisconsin, so my family traveled back there for the funeral. During our week there, we spent time visiting many places that were significant to us including our childhood homes, places where our relatives had lived and other favorite sites.

One of my earliest memories as a child was walking with my dad and our dog on the wooded paths and railroad trestle at the Fox River Sanctuary in my hometown. It is interesting that out of the countless memories we make throughout our lives, there are some that contain moments that we later realize are incredibly influential to who we become. Those early nature walks in that special place were of that type.

So on one blustery morning during our time in Wisconsin for the funeral, Doug and I went for a run at the sanctuary and crossed the trestle. It had long been abandoned by the railroad, but other than that it looked exactly how I remembered it. I felt happy to be in the same place where I had once stood as a four-year-old. Back then, my dad would have been around the age I am now, and I wondered what he had been thinking about and dreaming of in those days. Moreover, what had been going on in my young mind? No doubt I soaked up the colors of the leaves and the scents of blooms along the river. Maybe I noticed the sounds of birds. Holding my dad’s hand as we strolled along the railroad tracks, the seeds of my future nature-loving existence were being planted. As I jogged over the trestle in January, I whispered a thank you to him for taking me there long ago.

Running along the trestle at the Fox River Sanctuary where I used to walk with my dad.
Running along the trestle at the Fox River Sanctuary where I used to walk with my dad.

Those trestle walks were just the beginning of the adventures my dad would take me and my family on. He loved spending time with us and it was a rare weekend growing up when we weren’t visiting a historic site, taking in a local festival or fair, or going on a camping trip. Later, our family bought a small RV and took multi-week summer vacations to national parks and historic sites (and amusement parks too–he loved roller coasters).  My dad had a passion for sharing our nation’s natural and cultural heritage with us. Those trips left a lasting imprint on me and made me who I am today. They also influenced my career.

My family enjoyed visiting the many lakes found in Wisconsin, including Green Lake.
My family enjoyed visiting the many lakes in Wisconsin, including Green Lake.
My family tent camping in the Wisconsin Northwoods.
My family (minus my younger brother who is taking the photo) tent camping in the Wisconsin Northwoods.
My dad loved trains and loved sharing their history with us. Here he is on a train museum trip with my brother.

Last week I was preparing an education program in the park system where I now work as a full-time interpretive naturalist. The trails were icy so I was scoping out a route that would be safe for participants to travel on. Even though I had been to the park countless times, every visit seemed to hold something new to discover. On this trip, the frozen lake was covered by a layer of meltwater that reflected the cobalt blue sky. As I took in the breathtaking landscape, I whispered a thank you to my dad for those early experiences that led me to a job I love. Just about every day, I get to help others make meaningful connections to nature and history, just like my dad did for me.

Devil's-Lake-for-web
Hiking at Devils Lake, Wisconsin, was one of my favorite childhood adventures. Little did my dad know then, I would learn to rock climb there years later.

When I was about five years old, my mom and dad bought land, had a house built, and moved the family out to the country so that we could roam the fields and forests instead of the city sidewalks. There my brothers and I happily played on dirt piles, chased grasshoppers, camped in the backyard and picked vegetables in the garden.

Staking out the new homestead with my dad.
Staking out the new homestead with my dad.
My brothers and I (and cat) camping in the backyard.
My brothers and I (and Kitty Jean) camping in the new backyard.
Exploring the backyard on our new skis that Mom and Dad bought us.
Our backyard felt huge when we explored in on our new skis.

Several years ago, I found a book of nature quotes on my dad’s bookshelf that had been published years before my brothers and I were born. In it, my dad had circled a quote by famed naturalist Richard Jeffries. It summed up so well the gifts that my father had had given me over the years.

“If you wish your children to think deep thoughts, to know the holiest emotions, take them to the woods and hills, and give them the freedom of the meadows, the hills purify those who walk upon them.”

Dad, I miss you dearly. I will always think of you when I am in the mountains, meadows and forests. You will travel with me always.

Hartman-Creek-for-web
My dad always sought out new and exciting experiences for weekend family trips–including a wade in Wisconsin’s Hartman Creek.

A Litany of Remembrance

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

-Poem by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

Dad-with-dogs-for-web
My dad enjoying the great outdoors with his dogs as a youngster.

Birds and birthday cake

I turned 43 years old this month and brought in my next year with an overnight camping trip on the wide-open expanses of the Pawnee National Grassland in northeastern Colorado. Unlike last year when I was too stressed out to even celebrate, this birthday was full of calmness (other than the wind which nearly blew us off the prairie.)

All year, I worked hard to re-prioritize various aspects of my life so that I could stop feeling so overwhelmed. This meant saying no to a lot of projects and requests and sometimes disappointing people. It meant spending less time on activities I enjoyed a little in order to make room for things I loved a lot. It meant that, yes, I would miss out on some opportunities and activities, but the reward would be a life that felt closer to my heart and less stressful. Activities like yoga, art and adequate sleep were back in my weekly routine. Pulling into our campsite, I felt light and free knowing that I had rid my life of many of the distractions that had been weighing me down. How wonderful it felt to have no agenda other than to relax and take in this new place with Doug.

We pitched our tent, set up camp and drove the desolate dirt roads that make up the Pawnee’s  21-mile birding tour. With no agenda, we let curiosity be our guide–stopping our car and getting out to explore whenever we saw something that caught our eye. We watched horned larks and McCown’s longspurs devour huge meaty grasshoppers and a saw a green, algae-filled pond that bubbled with squirming salamander tadpoles in its soon-to-evaporate water. Doug took photos of windmills and the landscape while I stopped to sketch.

Windmill-for-webPawnee-Grasslands-journal-pWhen we returned to the campground, the winds died down and we made madras lentils from scratch on the camp stove, ate birthday cake and watched the abundant bird life singing from the cottonwoods around our site. As the temperatures tanked, we burrowed into our sleeping bags in the tent, but not before gazing into the vast night sky. With little light pollution, the stars were so bright that it was hard to pick out some of the usually prominent constellations.

Cooking-web-version
I crush some garlic for a tasty meal of homemade madras lentils.
Binoculars-and-Birthday-cak
I watch the bird life while eating birthday cake at the campfire.

The blazing morning sun belied how cold it was when we woke up the next morning, but soon hot drinks were on the stove and we were ready to start the day. After packing up camp, we drove to the popular Pawnee Buttes hiking trail. On the way there, we stopped to scan a prairie dog town along the road for burrowing owls. Much to our amazement, we spotted one in less than a minute! I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to see one of these birds. It was a first sighting for us and a big birthday treat for sure!

Buttes-jumping-for-web
Hooray! Let’s celebrate Heidi’s birthday!!!

Though I will always be a mountain girl, it was wonderful to be visiting the plains for a change. When I was a child, I was captivated with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie books. My family went on many a road to trip to visit the places she lived. It had been a long time since I had been back to exploring a prairie landscape and the wide-open spaces surrounding the Pawnee Buttes Trail were awe-inspiring.

Buttes-hiking
Little hiker on the prairie.

When we reached the trail’s terminus, Doug spotted a horned lizard at the side of the path. I took out my sketchbook and sat down to record the shape of its head, curves of its tail and spiny body.  Had the creature not run off after ten minutes, I could have drawn it for hours. Here I was taking this little moment to sketch this little lizard, yet the peace I felt was as boundless as the prairie surrounding me. I could not think of one thing that would have made my birthday more special. I was in heaven.

Prairie-for-web
Enjoying the moment as I sketch a tiny lizard in an immense landscape.

It was time to head back to the city. We bounced down the washboard dirt roads and then finally made it to the smooth pavement of bigger highways. Soon we saw the familiar cityscape of Denver. It was hard to believe we had only traveled 100 miles to get home–the grassland was a different world.

In the days of bucket-lists full of exotic trips, it is easy to think you aren’t living life to the fullest if you aren’t voyaging to far-off locales. It’s not that one shouldn’t dream large, but family needs, lack of money, medical issues– including surgery recovery– and other things can make that safari to Africa or a climb of a Mexican volcano hard to manage.

Instead of feeling bad about what you are unable to do at a certain time, make it a priority to get out on some local excursions. Who’s to say that living fully has to happen in distant lands? I found a treasured moment hiding in six square inches of grass on a vast prairie only two hours from my home. I wonder what other incredible things are to be found right outside my front door?

Lizard-for-web
“Find pleasure in the simple things,” says the wise lizard.

 

A tough start to 2015

Welcome to 2015 everyone! While in past years I might have celebrated with a big hike, this year I felt a strong yearning to stay at home and relax, so that is what I did. Also, this year I am trying a different approach to the New Year by not setting any big goals for the upcoming 365 days. In fact, I want to do less in 2015. The pace of life lately has felt far too overwhelming for me. I want to ease up and take each day as it comes, filling it with things I enjoy without focusing so much on accomplishing x, y or z.

Part of that plan has to do with a rough end to 2014. My Dad’s health took a turn for the worse in the autumn. It is still hard for me to grasp, as Doug and I went on a trip with my parents to Portland and the Oregon Coast in August and my Dad was doing well. We toured museums, took in the gorgeous oceanfront scenery, visited brew pubs and all seemed fine. However, within a month’s time things changed unexpectedly and his health spiraled downward. I flew out for a visit in the end of October and it was heartbreaking to see the illness take such a toll. My mom has been trying her best to care for him and his doctors are working hard to find a treatment that works. My brothers and I all live far away making it hard to help day-to-day. I wish we were closer to provide more support.

I don’t know what to expect going into the next 365 days, but do any of us really? I do know that finding happiness in the present moment, taking things day-by-day and leaning on others for support is a good way to live in general and has gotten me through other hard times. This seems like a good approach as I head into 2015.

Touring Portland with my parents in August.
Touring Portland with my parents in August.

A big city adventure

Usually when Doug and I head out on vacation, it involves traveling into some remote wilderness or challenging ourselves on rock faces. However, this April, we embarked on a different type of adventure as we made a trip to New York City to visit my brothers. Instead of hiking to backcountry lakes and peaks, we walked to different neighborhoods. From Manahattan’s Greenwich Village to Brooklyn’s DUMBO, we enjoyed taking in the unique character of each place. We also strolled through many of the city’s green spaces including Central Park, Prospect Park and the Highline, and visited the Gugenheim, Museum of Modern Art and the Natural History Museum.

On top of the Rock
On top of the Rock
Central-park-sketching
Sketching in Central Park
Exploring Brooklyn on Citibikes
Exploring Brooklyn on Citibikes

Usually on our wilderness trips, I have questions about routefinding, which layers to wear and whether or not the cloud build-up might lead to a storm.  However, on this vacation my queries were of a different sort–  and some of them became relevant when dealing with my ostomy on the trip:

Do New Yorkers ever get tired of being in small, crowded places?
I marveled over how many people lived in the NYC area and how crowded things were. On the L-train that led to my brothers’ neighborhoods in Brooklyn, I often felt like a pickle in a jar–we were packed into the subway so tightly, yet more and more people would cram in at the next stop. If  you lost your balance when the train came to a fast stop, it didn’t matter because there was no room to fall over.

I also couldn’t believe how tiny some of the restaurants we visited were and how we were often eating shoulder to shoulder with the party at the next table. The restrooms in these little establishments were also itty-bitty compared to the multi-stall bathrooms found in most Colorado restaurants.The square footage of the typical New York apartment is also on the small side making for tight quarters when we were staying with my brothers. I loved having ostomy deodorizer along on the trip so I didn’t have to worry about stinking up these small spaces when emptying or changing my appliance. A dozen drops of Hollister’s M9 drops in my pouch completely eliminated any odor. It is pretty darn cool being able to make your poo not stink on command– something that isn’t an option for those with colons!

How can New Yorkers eat dinner so late on a regular basis?
At home, I often run or go to the gym when I get home from work which sometimes has me eating at 8 p.m. It isn’t a problem for me and I don’t notice a difference in my overnight output schedule whether I eat early or late. Still, in NYC we pushed my eating schedule to the max and we sometimes at dinner as late as 9 or 1o p.m. I wondered at first if this would have me emptying all night. Fortunately it didn’t and most nights I was able to sleep tight until morning. Even if I would have had to get up, the inconvenience would have been totally worth the experience of visiting so many fun bars and dining on everything from tasty Thai food to hearty Italian fare, spicy Mexican dishes and New York pizza (gluten free of course!)

Fabiane's Cafe in Brooklyn had the best gluten-free pastries!
Fabiane’s Cafe in Brooklyn had the best gluten-free pastries!

Where do people with IBD find bathrooms in this town?
In the woods, it is easy to find a bathroom anywhere. If you duck behind a tree and dig a hole you are pretty much set to go. In the suburbs, you can often drive to a fast-food restaurant or gas station and easily use the facilities. In New York City, we were always traveling by foot or subway, and it wasn’t easy to find public bathrooms that weren’t reserved for customers. I drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration with my ostomy and I end up urinating a lot. There were many times I thought my bladder was about to burst when I managed to find a restroom in the nick of time. (Thank you, Trump Tower!) Though BM urgency isn’t as much of an issue with my ostomy because I have a lot of control over when I empty, the lack of public restrooms would be incredibly hard during an IBD flare.

Though thoughts about my ostomy did pop into my head a few times on the trip, the vast majority of the time it was at the back of my mind. I was left to focus on fully enjoying the big city adventure and trying to figure out another perplexing question:  how the heck do women cover such long distances in the city in high heels! I have hiked miles and miles on wilderness trails, yet my feet and legs never get so tired as when I visit New York City. People there walk everywhere. Fast. And often in fashionable footwear that doesn’t look very comfortable. I have no idea how they do it. After five days of walking around the city visiting parks and museums, I could barely lift my legs.

My feet feel happy on our initial day of sightseeing in NYC as brothers and I walk across the Williamsburg Bridge. From there we walked to China Town, Little Italy and eventually Lower Manhattan. After five days of pounding concrete on such adventures, I can barely walk!
My feet feel happy on our initial day of sightseeing in NYC as brothers and I walk across the Williamsburg Bridge. From there we walked to Chinatown, Little Italy and eventually Lower Manhattan. After five days of pounding concrete on such adventures, I can barely walk!
Resting my feet on the rooftop after a long day of sightseeing
Resting my feet on the rooftop after a long day of sightseeing

Doug and I had loads of fun visiting the Big Apple, but after six days there, we were ready to return to the wide open spaces and slower pace of Colorado. In the weeks ahead, we look forward to returning to many of our favorite summertime sports in the wilds.

Prayers for a friend

I had been planning all week to write a post today about a great product I tried out, but my mind isn’t in it. Yesterday, I found out some devastating news. One of our friends, who happens to be my age, is battling brain cancer.  In a matter of 24 hours, he went from thinking he just wasn’t feeling well to being rushed off to emergency surgery and getting the shocking diagnosis.

After finding this out, Doug and I drove to a quiet place to talk and reflect on it all. We cried for the unimaginable fear and uncertainty my friend and his wife and young daughter are facing right now. We reflected on how strong our friends are and how much we love and care about them. Doug and I talked about our own love and life together, knowing full well that what is happening to our friends can happen to anyone. There are simply no guarantees. I spent last night in a strange swirl of vivid dreams featuring my friend and his family, doctors, and my own family. I woke up knowing that my mind is going to be struggling with all of this for a long, long time. I am sad, angry at the unfairness of life and hopeful that my friend will recover.

It is strange how life seems to “package” experiences sometimes. I have been thinking so much about uncertainty lately due to my own health issues (which now seem like a minor inconvenience compared to what my friend is going through).  I have been thinking about how necessary it is to live in the moment and take things day by day. Last week, my employer brought in an amazing speaker at one of our annual staff meetings. He talked about leading an authentic life and the things that make us happy.  I had been reflecting a lot on the message of that talk since hearing it—trying to figure out how his words fit into my own experiences and what they meant to me. It just became more clear. One of his key points was how important relationships and people are in our lives. More and more I am coming to the realization, that for me at least, life isn’t about getting off to exotic locales, or climbing this peak, or hiking that trail. Sure those things are fun, but when it comes down to it, the things that give me the most joy in life are spending time with those I love and helping other people in the ways I am able.  I feel that I am in the beginning stages of shifting my life to better reflect these priorities.

So give those you love a big hug today. Call that friend. Write that letter. Help out another person. And if you are willing, please say a prayer for my friend and his family.

A new year!

Happy New Year everyone!

Ouch! It has been an achy start to the New Year for me. No, not because of avascular necrosis (AVN), but because I went sledding yesterday. Doug and I are up in Wyoming visiting his brother and family for the New Year holiday. Even though there is not much snow, we took our sleds out to the local hill and tried to make the best of it. On my second trip down the hill, I spun out of control and hit a rock with my shoulder and twisted my back. Fortunately it wasn’t my bad shoulder. After taking a little break, we all found a better hill and spent the afternoon building jumps and zooming down the slope. I am sure I could have found a more gentle activity, but I hadn’t been sledding in years and it was so fun. And the doctor did say I shouldn’t sit on the couch waiting for things to get worse, right? I hardly thought about AVN all day and that was a blessing.

In between fun activities up in Wyoming, I had some time to look back and reflect on 2012. Other than the bad news at the end of the year, 2012 was simply amazing. It was the first year I really got into the swing of things with my ostomy. Having one now feel so routine that I barely even think about it most of the time. I also thought about the goals I had set for this past year. I was successful in reaching some of them and was unable to attain others. Here is a summary of those goals:

  • I want to do a better job of keeping in touch with my friends and family.
    I worked hard on this one, but there is always room for improvement. Having a more introverted personality, I am not much of a phone-talker. In keeping with my love of writing, I usually prefer to email and write long letters to those closest to me, but when I do call my family and friends, I always feel so uplifted. I need to add more phone calls into 2013.
  • I want to continue sharing my thoughts on this site.
    When I started this blog in the spring of 2011, I had no idea how large a part of my life it would become. The comments and emails I get from everyone mean so much to me. You are all so inspirational! I also could not foresee how important this blog is to my own emotional health. Writing here helps me process the events in my journey with IBD, my ostomy and now AVN.
  • I want to get back into working on art.
    This is an area where I fell short. I LOVE doing art,  yet there was seldom time this year to squeeze it in between work, my outdoor and fitness endeavors and blogging. On the bright side, I did write and sketch in my nature journal quite a bit this year. Seeing that this is my favorite activity of all my art-related pastimes, I am super psyched that I was at least able to do this.
  • I want to go on a climbing road trip.
    Doug and I did go on a two-week-long rock climbing trip, and it was the highlight of my year. I have trouble finding the words to describe how amazing it was to be out on the rock again with Doug day after day. Memories of that trip are going to fuel me through any hard times that lie ahead with AVN.
  • I want to run in the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s Team Challenge Half Marathon next December.
    When I developed hip pain in the spring, I took this goal off my list. I didn’t feel that my body was up for it. Though this was very disappointing, I was happy to follow the Team Challenge adventures of several of my fellow bloggers. To all of those who participated this year: Good job! I loved reading about your Team Challenge successes.

So what is on the goal list for this year?

I have only one: to try to live in the moment as much as possible each day. I know goals are supposed to be more specific than this, but being in the moment is one of my biggest challenges. I am a person who has always planned for the future and worked hard to achieve the things I longed for in life. It seemed reasonable that if I did a and b it would at least somewhat lead to c. Barring a few surmountable obstacles, life felt like it was in my control. Lately, things feel a little different. With a chronic health condition, there are so many more variables involved. It can really make it hard to visualize the future.

In light of this, I decided that the perfect goal for the upcoming year is to focus on the present. There are so many beautiful moments in each and every day. In fact, this trip to Wyoming has been full of them:

  • Sitting down yesterday afternoon to write stories with Doug and his brother and then hearing my niece read them out loud, carefully sounding out each new word.
  • Taking a nap and having a contentedly purring cat curled up next to my chest.
  • Flying over sledding jumps and giggling like a little kid.
  • Dancing with my niece in the kitchen to Katy Perry tunes.

So here is to a great 2013! I may not know what the year will bring but I do know that by focusing on the present, I won’t let any of the joy it holds slip by unnoticed.

Catching air on the sled hill.
Catching air on the sledding hill.

Reversing roles

Today, I saw my colorectal surgeon, Dr. Craig Brown, for the first time in almost a year. Only this time, I wasn’t the one lying in the bed in a hospital gown. That was Doug’s role! No need to worry however… Doug was in to see Dr. Brown for a routine colonoscopy, not for something more serious.

A few months ago, Doug turned 40. Because he has risk factors for colon cancer on both sides of his family, including relatives with colon polyps and others with cancer (including a couple of relatives who had colostomies), it was recommended that he go in for a colon cancer screening beginning at age 40 instead of the standard age 50. A couple of months ago, we were really happy to discover that Dr. Brown preformed routine colonoscopies, as well as surgeries. There is no physician on the planet who we are more comfortable with or have more trust in. We knew Doug would be in good hands for his very first scope.

So we drove to the surgical center at 6:30 a.m. for Doug’s colonoscopy, which was scheduled for 8 a.m. On the drive we chatted about the upcoming procedure. We talked about how when you are scared about something, all the other little things you might normally be worried about, such as work projects or errands or little disagreements you might have had with others, no longer matter. We reminisced about driving the same road at the exact same time of day for my surgery over a year ago and how, though on a different scale, the nervousness and worry of the unknown was similar.

Once we got to the surgical center, Doug did some paperwork, and was taken back to the prep area where I soon joined him. It was bizarre seeing Doug there in a hospital gown with his very first IV ever. He was chilled and wanted my down jacket to wrap around his legs. I was instantly taken back to that well-known feeling of being cold from IV fluids. I looked around at all the medical instruments on the wall and of Doug’s clothing packed neatly into a plastic bag with his name on it. The scene was familiar but also felt a little foreign now from this new perspective of not being the patient. Doug and I joked around a bit and did a mock artist critique of the kid-friendly castle-and-unicorn mural on the wall. Then suddenly the nurse came in and told Doug it was time for me to go. It all happened so quickly, I didn’t even have a chance to give him a good luck smooch… something that made me sad as I headed to the waiting room.

Doug's first experience with hospital gowns and IVs.
A fanciful mural on the pre-op wall, complete with elves, fairies, a unicorn, knights and a castle!

Since I had always been the patient, leaving Doug in the lobby, it was weird for me to be the one left behind in the waiting room this time — and I was only there for 30 minutes during a routine procedure. I kept trying to picture what it had been like for him to be hanging out in the waiting room for four hours during a major surgery. I couldn’t imagine going through that and was reminded of the difficult times Doug had gone through during my illness.

Before I even had to time to become fully immersed in my book, I heard a nurse call my name, and I was summoned back to meet Doug. Thinking back to my own post-scope experiences, I was fully expecting Doug to be loopy and drugged when I saw him. Instead, he was amazingly coherent, had a pretty good memory of what happened and did not ask the same questions over and over. Turns out he was somewhat resistant to the conscious sedation drugs even at the high dosage that was administered. For his next scheduled scope, Dr. Brown will be calling in an anesthesiologist and putting Doug completely under to make things more comfortable. Other than that, Doug had a great scope with no polyps or signs of cancer. Due to his family history of these things, he will be getting a colonoscopy every 5 years. That way, if any polyps do develop in the future, they will be removed in a timely manner, hopefully before they get a chance to become cancerous.

After the scope, Doug was hungry (24 hours of fasting) so we went to a neat little eatery that Dr. Brown had recommended. It was amazing (they even had chocolate chip gluten-free pancakes!!!) and Doug perked up a bit after getting some food in his belly.

Enjoying a post-scope breakfast at the amazing "Snooze" restaurant in Denver.

One of the hardest things for me about Doug’s colonoscopy scheduling, prep and procedure was putting my own experiences aside and letting Doug deal with things in his own way. I have been through 7 bowel preps, 6 colonoscopies and countless IVs in my life. These things had become so routine for me, but I had to remember that they were entirely new for Doug. So often I wanted to say don’t worry, that is normal, or this is what happened to me or here is what you will likely experience.  But that isn’t always what someone who is anxious wants to hear. Sometimes they just want you to listen and not say anything at all. Just as Doug learned he needs general anesthesia for his next colonoscopy, I have learned how to be a better partner by having our patient/caregiver roles reversed for a little while.

And now for my public service announcement. I talk a lot on this blog about conquering fears and being proactive with one’s health. I was really proud of Doug for doing both of these things today. Getting a colonoscopy is something a lot of people put off due to being uncomfortable with the idea or because they are scared of the procedure or preparation. Some even avoid colonoscopies because they are afraid of what might be found. However, Doug overcame such trepidations and sifted through his family history, talked to his regular doctor and got scheduled for the procedure at the correct time based on his risk factors. I encourage anyone who still has a colon and is reading this to do the same.