I should have, planned to, fully expected to be writing about the great time I had at the Wisconsin Moto Guzzi Rally. Had I been there, I know I would have had another full weekend. I believe this would have been year 9 for me attending that outstanding event but it didn't happen.
The Himalaya has been 75% loaded for a few weeks, my last rally the Iowa Guzzi rally in mid-July. 75% loaded is about where my gear loading consistently maintains between events. The tightly compressed tent, Exped and sleeping bag remain fluffed in a big plastic tub, but most everything else seems to hang in one saddlebag, H2W, MotoFizz, tankbag or another. By Thursday afternoon when I got home from work, the typical sandals and my "Electronics Bag" were all that needed to be packed.
Home from work, I couldn't wait. After my sandwich, checking the mail and a quick page through a recent magazine, I got up and walked outside. Before I was even out to the garage, what I would have described as a sore throat kind of feeling over the last couple of hours suddenly got very uncomfortable. I was quickly discovering that I didn't feel very well.
Back in the house to lie down a bit on the couch, my prone position never missed by Claudio, our 12 year old "acts like a kitten" cat immediately climbed up on my chest, something we normally both enjoy.
Not this time; he needed to get off my chest, way too heavy.
It didn't take long for me to figure out that lying down wasn't accomplishing anything and certainly didn't make me feel any better. I got up, went back outside and on the deck, hoping my short rest would get me to the garage. Suddenly I got sweaty and the 5 out of 10 dull armpit pain began to take over. I went downstairs, put my jeans back on, grabbed my wallet and drove to the ER in Red Wing (I know, I've been sufficiently scolded believe you me).
Within 30 minutes once there, I was on my very first helicopter ride. Doing everything I knew how, I was offering all sorts of alternatives to flying to Mayo in Rochester. I knew people.....The ER nurse told me that if I was her dad, I'd be on the 'copter, taking the ride to Rochester. I guess she decided that I could be her dad for the next short while because the next thing I heard while everyone was scurrying around, "....arriving in 9 minutes....". All 3 of them in bright blue suits, cooler helmets than any of the ones I have, I was soon pronely wheeled outside to a very noisy set of open doors. Barely inside, muffs were placed on my head, absolutely necessary. He told me that it would be a good flight, the nurse sitting next to me pulled one muff away from my head and yelled because she had to, "you OK?"
A lovely day for a flight, I was flat on my back but next to a nice big window. I was straining to look outside, recognizing some if not most of the roads.....they looked just like the ones on my maps, some very familiar and ridden not all that long ago. Belted down, I couldn't do much about it. Then another muff pull, "want me to raise you up?" It was a lot easier after that.
Thursday evening, 20 times answering the same 200 questions which seemed to go on into the next day. Thursday night was a long one; Friday morning no more chest pain but I felt exhausted. Friday afternoon I had my coronary angiogram, the stent was placed. There was lots of reading material, which normally I would have found relaxing but I was too wiped out to do much more than lie there. Finally there was coffee.
I was in the brand new East Wing. I wasn't really very comfortable but it was.
By Saturday afternoon, I was out and on my way home. Mark told me about his 52 hours in coronary care; I manged to make mine last only 46. From the time I walked in to the Red Wing ER and quietly declared, "I'm pretty sure that I'm having a heart attack" to the time Lauren picked me up at Reception in Rochester, less than 2 full days.
"Treat your wrist as though it was broken, no lifting of anything more than 5 lbs" to make sure the artery access point didn't cause any further trouble.
Before all of this started, I received a call on Thursday that my dad's sister (I've got POA and provide care) needed to be moved to hospice care. Telling them that I would be out of town all weekend, I wondered if Monday would be acceptable. Begrudgingly it was. Friday around noon while anxiously waiting to be wheeled down to surgery, the nursing home called requesting a bunch of forms that needed signing. I told them that I was in sort of a tough place to be of much help but that my lovely bride was very nearby and that if they could please speak with her, hopefully we'd find a way to take care of whatever needed taking care of. Thanks to both Peg and especially nurse Zach, forms were signed and faxed.
Saturday evening, so good to be home and feeling great, no chest pain although exhausted. Up early as usual Sunday, for some coffee and the first audiobook in the series that Peg had loaded onto my phone. I had barely sat down when the call came.
"Douglas, your aunt has passed away this morning.......we have nothing on record as to where she is supposed to be taken." All previously taken care of, or supposedly at least, I felt there was no option but to head up to St. Paul with paperwork and confirmation. Peg woke up startled, hoping that my haste was for one of two things and she'd guessed correctly, it wasn't me.
So off to the nursing home with a folder full of paper. Within 11 blocks of the nursing home, a loud and abrupt CLUNK from the transmission and I was coasting, coasting to within 10 blocks of the nursing home and rolling to a stop. Luckily, the van was over against the curb. The last 10 blocks gave me a chance to begin my exercise regimen that I'd been hearing so much about the last couple of days. Details sorted, I was stuck without a way to clean out auntie's room and without a way to get home. Lots of commotion and hustle, a couple of trips back and forth to Red Wing, Peg's rescue mission with me, my coming back to clean out the room and then a 2 hour wait for AAA to haul the van to its final resting place. After all that, a stop at my mom's place to explain that her sister in law has passed away early that Sunday morning. Home by 8, a long day.
I joked with Peg that normally by that time on a Sunday evening, I'm in full coast mode, coming down/trying to find strength for another work week. Last weekend an outlier, there was still plenty of time for all kinds of things to happen based on recent events. Then I remembered, my glasses somehow through all that had gone on, had broken; the screw stripped. Emergency Room glue repair was in order, hopefully to top everything off and close the chapter.
I honestly struggled with (and still am) letting people know. Peg was the first one I called and her attempt to get to the hospital in Red Wing before the helicopter left was in vain. She and Lauren did manage to get the van home and then zip down to Rochester meeting me afterwards.
There were many that deserved to know right away but I kept coming back to the folks that I'd absolutely committed to meeting at the rally. Maybe 150 potential attendees tops, I've come to know many of them but we're a bunch of intersecting groups and not everyone mingles with everyone else. I texted a couple of people, my hope that at least a few would know that I wasn't lying in a ditch somewhere not completing my ride to Lake Joy. This entire event happened over one of my long 3 day weekends and at this point, there are still many people that have no idea any of it occurred. If you can, keep it among yourselves please.
If you remember, Peg advised long ago that if I left on 2 wheels, no helicopter rides or 4 wheel rides home. I have strong incentive for no MORE helicopter rides; one was enough.....though it was pretty cool.
I took the sidecar to Red Wing this evening to pick up the last of my meds and to check on some new eyeglasses. Really nice to be home and on the wheels again.
Irene Joyce Cooper - 5/26/30 - 8/5/18 Rest in peace Aunt Irene