Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sometimes you just don't know.

We were taking a nice walk the other day. Not exactly here; but in a beautiful surrounding nevertheless, in Eugene, Oregon, the Willamette River on one side, runners, bikers and mothers with strollers passing us on the other side.

We  were following the river from our parking place by the Mall at Valley River Center to McGrath's Restaurant.

We got to lunch and gloated.

Yes, we had walked almost a mile from our car to the restaurant, on a pedestrian path with a beautiful view. We ate well, a salad, a piece of fish. We talked about how well the doctor's visit had gone earlier in the morning, and how our lives had been  so blessed. Imagine, we said, six months ago we had had to park close to any place, especially a restaurant. Six months ago we could not walk far without a long stop.  Yes, we kept saying, our lives are finally easing up.

We walked back to the car through the parking area until a few yards before we reached the car, when we crossed the parking area and walked toward the river path.  Hubby slipped going up a small dirt bank separating the parking area from the river path. He struggled a bit to get his balance and fell head down, wounding the top of his head. By the time he was up on his two feet the wound had opened and rivulets of blood and dirt made their way down his face.

I had nothing with me to stop the blood, to wipe his face off. The car now appeared miles away. I debated what to do: call emergency, leave him there and go for the car...
He insisted he was fine and we walked to the car among the usual crowd of runners, mothers in strollers, bikers.

Nobody looked at us.

A few minutes later, washed and wiped, we drove to our second doctor's appointment for the day where Hubby was reviewed for his usual conditions, and then the doctor decided that he needed to be assessed by the emergency personnel. Hubby insisted he felt fine, but his doctor insisted and Hubby was  wheeled to the Emergency Room and taken right in.

Head traumas are never easy to assess.
Vascular problems, internal bleeding can occur without the patient showing signs, Doctor Pacini, Hubby's Heart and Vascular Specialist advised.

Hubby was treated and released with four pages of instructions  for follow up care  that specify symptoms may appear even a year later.

After a head injury, here are signs to look for:

`decreased concentration
`difficulty learning
`memory problems
`vision changes
`headaches-especially with stress or physical activity
`mood changes
`increased sensitivity to noise
`difficulty with relationships
`decreased interest in sex
`increased susceptibility to alcohol( becoming intoxicated more easily)

If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
For more information related to head injuries, contact the Brain Injury Association of America

Friday, August 23, 2013

Is your life a closed loop?

This video could have been taken any sunny day on this beach, any time during these last ten years of retirement. Hubby would drive to the parking area about 200 yards from this spot and wait for me to walk from our house and join him for a walk on the beach. Usually, after a few yards, he would park himself down as I walked the length of this beach, a half a mile to the mouth of the outflow of the lake, the direction I'm walking now, on easy terrain most of the way. He would then leave for home as I walked four miles the opposite direction, toward the lighthouse, then up to Paradise Point and another couple of miles on a paved road back home.

We did this routine for many years. Just the idea that we were so close to these walks buoyed us.

(I no longer walk the opposite direction toward Paradise Point. After a bad fall, my ankle and knees scream to go home soon after the short walk.)

He usually takes pictures of the waves, the marine life, the big panorama all around. On this day, he  pointed his phone camera my direction for a good length of time. Not at all his style.

How predictable we are.
How unpredictable we can be.

There is really a big tug of war in our lives: the need for comfort and routine versus the need for adventure and surprise.

I'm in need of adventure at the moment. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How baby boomers choose to retire.

We watched baby boomers for decades, as they changed rules, moved to suburbia, drove SUV's, made shopping a sport. They knew quality, demanded respect, were bold in their lifestyle choices.

None of them anticipated a major recession just before retiring. Yet, their spirit and creativity are breaking ground again, in the way many of them choose to spend their  retirement years.

We are meeting many new retirees who choose to be full time RV residents, moving around, volunteering a few months at campgrounds or at State Parks, visiting relatives and friends they might not otherwise see often. Their goal is to the see the fifty states or as many of the fifty states while their health is good.

Just yesterday, as we were hiking along the Elk River,  we met a couple from Iowa volunteering at the Elk River Hatchery. They described the work they do and how much they enjoy staying in different places, learning the lay of the land, the history of the people they meet, trying new skills and new hobbies and how they could continue this lifestyle for many more years.

They have few possessions except for the RV. They do not shop at Nordstrom or any other name store. They have stopped shopping altogether. They now collect stories and hints of what's beyond the horizon for their next adventure. They are not afraid to stop and talk to strangers, to share their background and lifestyle with anyone who is willing to listen.

We exchanged phone numbers and facebook info; should they need to evacuate in a hurry, they know a friendly face a few miles from their campground.

The funny thing is we were all strangers before this conversation.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How much planning do you do?

(The Coquille Valley, a traveling route to and from the coast from I-5 Oregon's biggest thoroughfare.)

Most of Oregon is this pastoral! We can stop and count cows, or elks, or sheep many times on the hour and a half windy road that takes us from our coastal village to the big (ger) towns dotting the I-5 up and down the length of the state. Once we get inland, the weather changes, and the sights change too. By the time we reach our doctors, 150 miles later in Eugene, the second big town in Oregon with @ 150.000 people, we are beat. No way we can then turn around and return home the same day.

For visits that are planned, we take an overnight bag with enough clothes and meds for a couple of days.

Many people end up in emergency rooms in Eugene because the doctors on this coast do not possess all the various specialties and surgical expertise for all cases. So, in case of an emergency, we may end up 150 miles from home in a hospital, accompanying a relative who is being transferred unexpectedly all the way to the Riverbend Hospital in Eugene.

Fortunately, Riverbend Hospital has a guest bed in each patient's room.  All patients' rooms are private with beautiful views of the tended grounds and the Willamette flowing down river. I've spent days and nights in the hospital, and their food and hospitality resemble those of an elegant lodge. The grounds are great for solitary walks too, and stopping under a thick canopy of pines on a river's edge is the best medicine for a worried soul.

You can't plan for all emergencies; but, you should be able to survive if you are away from home for a few nights unexpectedly. 

With so much wildness surrounding us, we could be stranded without any way of getting a message out  mere miles from home, on a wet and windy night when the cell phone and the battery are both dead and we end up in a ditch or off road to no fault of our own.

This is what we keep in our car at all times:
a first-aid kit, water, paper towels, a colorful tea towel, blankets, coats, sturdy shoes, meds, snacks, a change of clothes, big flash lights and a lot of change.

If you are stranded, stay in or close to your vehicle!
If you can't be seen from the street, drop coins from the street to your car and tie your tea towel to your mirror.
Portion your water and snacks to last at least three days.

Better than anything, tell someone where you are going and when you're coming back so they can alert emergency personnel if they don't hear from you.


Monday, August 5, 2013

A continental and intercontinental challenge.

This is the view from our house. While it is peaceful and lovely to look at, it is also a lonely place.

We have been house-bound for the last couple of years and are beginning to wish for a change. Any change.  Do any of you out there swap your houses?

How is it done?
What precautions do you take?
What insurances do you carry?
How does it all work?

My husband doesn't think anyone would want to spend time here, too remote he says.
I think anyone who lives in a city would love to spend time on a remote beach.

What do you think?
A swap with an apartment dweller in Philadelphia? Or a villa in Italy? How about a farm house outside of Melbourne?

We are open to possibilities, for one or two weeks, or.....

Friday, August 2, 2013

Have you noticed how you have grown?

No, this sideways picture is here to show you the way we grow after we have grown! You might think I mean this in a physical way. Yes, but also in many unanticipated ways.

When I first retired, years ago, I was desperate to find a new pace, a new passion that would make me get out of bed and jump into an activity that would keep me focused for hours and hours. I knew I would enjoy combing the beaches, and that reason alone, plus the fact that these beaches are for the most part easy to walk, made us move here to Oregon.

But one cannot walk all day.

I knew I liked gardening, and my new place had plenty of space and new challenges to keep me busy and contented for hours. But I needed more. Especially for those long winter months when both walking and gardening were not possible. Whenever I heard of an opportunity to volunteer for this or that, I eagerly jumped in. Soon, I was  busy everyday, my calendar as full as the time I worked.

When you retire, you will start with a few hobbies, perhaps traveling, reading...
Then, because you want to stay in touch with friends, or make new friends, you'll join a variety of civic clubs, and soon you begin to volunteer to take leadership roles in as many groups as you can fit in. When you talk to your children or old friends, you'll list all the stuff you are doing as though this new resume will keep your reputation intact.

The truth is that we feel good when we're active, when we have a purpose.

But your life will change dramatically before you know it. A fall, an illness, a debilitating change in your lifestyle will rob you of that get-up and go self you used to be. Anticipate that you will change, that change is inevitable; anticipate that your resources will also change as you begin to hire people to do things you used to do for yourself.

But you will still have a wealth of experiences and opportunities in front of you at this time of your life.

Dive in! Everything you ever wanted to do before can be done now. Sleep late so you can go out dancing after dark. Learn a new hobby, even if you suck at it. Join groups, even if you know nobody else. If you don't like doing something, fine, don't do it. Nobody can force you; you can quit when you want.

Best of all, this "Goldergarten" experience  is free.