Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Camping, coughing, and all that jazz

Well, it's been a while since my last post. Life gets so busy. And then I put off posting because I don't have access to the pictures I'd like to include...and days just keep ticking by.
I've decided to loosen up a bit an just write when I have the time. I can always add the pictures later if I feel the need to jazz up the posts.
We went to our annual camping spot for 2 weeks earlier this month. We always used to go there for 2 weeks when I was growing up, and we've reinstated it a few years ago for the sake of our kids. With all the stuff we bring, it's good to set it all out and then not to have to clean it all up for a while. But now that I'm all grown up, I think 7-10 days is plenty of time to live in a tent, without a shower (OK, there are showers available, but for $5 for an 8 minute shower, I'd rather wash in a cold spicate or jump in the lake), and having to rummage daily through a soggy ice chest where things are always moving and floating around in melted ice. My sisters and their families came up also, but just stayed 5 and 10 days. My brother rode up with dad in the VW vanagon and stayed the whole 2 weeks with us. It's unusual because he's sort shuns family events in general, but being unemployed for the last few months, he's got time and apparently will to hang with family. Plus he LOVES fishing and probably sees this an excellent opportunity to catch lots of trout--which he did! And we ate it up, cooked over the camp fire, YUM! The bad part was from the very first day, he was sick with a bad head ache that progressed into a big nasty cough that just worsened the head aches. By the end of the 2 weeks, he was barely able to breathe. (And T and L's niece also caught the bug by the trip's end) I gave him inhalers (that I brought for T, who thankfully didn't need them) for the 3 hour ride home, but it only helped minimally. The day after we got home (of course he refused to go to the county hospital right away), my mom took him to the emergency room at the county hospital (no job, no health insurance!). They diagnosed him with pneumonia. But not just any pneumonia--something much worse from the way the Xray of his lungs looked. He was put in isolation for a few days while the IV meds did their magic. R (my brother) felt incarcerated. Nothing on TV (they only get a few channels and they rest is educational video loops in several languages), no other patients in his room and no access to all the comforts of home. Mom came to visit a couple of times to bring him "real food" but then she fell ill with the same crap R was dealing with. The doctors were also very interested in a bite he got on his ankle the first day of camping. They suspected it was a tick that might have added to the severity of the illness. Who knows for sure. After 5 days in the hospital they discharged him. I picked him up (mom wanted to but was unable to stand without feeling dizzy at that point). T and I went to pick him up and I've never seen him happier to see us! He kept breathing in the "fresh air" and was truly appreciative of the trees and breeze around him. Wow. Must have been torture in that hospital. And I bet it was with all the TESTS they ran. Including a lumbar spinal puncture. Yikes. As far as I can tell from the info R tells me, all was clear except for the lung issue, his thyroid being a bit off (not a surprise since he's always has a goiter) and of course being terribly over weight. And his BP was elevated too (but that can be reversed once the excess weight is shed). One of the big reasons he was willing to see the doctor and go through all of these tests was because on coming home from camping his room mate's 2 year old son was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. And he showed no symptoms aside from a slight grunting noise and the lump on his body they thought was a fire ant bite. If that kid had cancer with just those symptoms, what god-awful thing might he have with all the symptoms he was dealing with??!
The little boy is on chemo and with lots of luck and prayers we hope he will be fine after treatment. Man, life can change in an instant. It's good to be reminded of that from time to time.
L came up again with her girls and this year she also brought her niece too. This year she brought her brand new canvas tent. It was really nice and just the right size for her family. (As opposed to my giant tent that I brought for just T and I. I love that L comes with her girls because it's a great chance for the kids to play together and feel more like family members. And L is great company and a stellar camper.
There were some troubles though. It's always something. This year, dad picked a few fights with my sister, S and also a bit with each brother in law. Dad has become so stressed at the tiniest thing. He used to be able to just let it slide off but now everything winds him up. Perhaps he never really did let things slide but just tucked all aggravations away until the next time he was aggravated so that he could throw up all kinds of irritating past issues to fight dirty with. Nothing ever gets resolved. It just festers. And he's always right. And will never apologize. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the decline in the state of his marriage to mom, but I can't be the marriage counselor. Even though I see both sides clearly, I can't be the mediator for them. They won't go to a counselor because that would cost money. They just want the other to bend to their way of thinking--and all would be fine. But that's not going to happen. They've both grown in different directions over the last 40+ years. It didn't help that dad worked 7 days a week and left most of the child rearing and other household duties to mom. Which suited mom fine--she's great at that. But it did put the two of them out of touch with good communication with each other. Dad's a wonderful "provider" but as a result of sitting behind that drafting table so much, he's much more comfortable there than most anywhere else. Well, his second favorite comfort spot is in his chair reading all the newspapers, snail mail and gobs of recipes he'd like to try. Nothing can be thrown out until he's read it, and then it's got to be cut out and saved. It's a growing pile of stuff (with more coming in every day!) and doesn't add to any semblance of cleanliness or organization (like my mom appreciates). I could go on and on, but no. Enough on that already.
Overall, the camping trip was a nice detour from the rest of life and I got some really nice shots of family enjoying themselves. And R is recovering, as are mom and dad. Mom more slowly, but that's generally they way it goes. (I didn't get the dreaded disease and T just got a nasty cough that doesn't seem to bother him a bit).

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