Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Vacation Notes from New Normal

We did it!

We managed our annual three night/four days vacation at Presque Isle.

If anyone had told me back in February (or March, April, or perhaps even May) that I would make it on this year's trip, I would have said there wasn't any way. That I was able to makes me feel grateful beyond imagining.

It was a lovely trip, though very tiring. Since I now dwell in the land of "new normal," there were things about the trip that were harder than I expected, or just plain different.  A sampling:

* We couldn't stay at our usual campgrounds, both because they were booked pretty solid by the time we realized we could attempt the trip, and because we weren't sure I could handle the beds and cramped accommodations of our usual trailer. We missed the rustic camp, especially the starry nights outside and the campfire we usually lit each night to roast marshmallows. I didn't have to don a long-sleeved jacket once while we were there, and nobody came home smelling like smoke.

* We stayed in a very moderate priced hotel not far from our campgrounds. While it wasn't rustic (we had wi-fi and cable, for goodness' sake) the beds turned out to be an adventure for me anyway. They were incredibly high off the ground, high enough that I had a very hard time climbing into them without leg pain. I felt like I should get a pole and vault into bed (an idea borne of the fact that we spent most of our late nights watching the Olympics on the aforementioned cable). I devised a kind of leap-into-bed-drag-your-bad-leg-behind-you style that probably would not win me many points for athletic form, but which amused my husband and daughter (and me) no end.

* Speaking of the bad leg (and I feel badly calling one leg "bad" when it's trying just as hard as the other leg that doesn't have bone cancer) the hotel had only two floors...and no elevator. And non-smoking rooms were on the second floor. Whoops. I had stairs to manage up and down whenever we left or arrived or when we went to breakfast. I got used to standing aside to let other people go ahead of me on stairs so I wouldn't hold them up. The first morning we were there, I was going down a short flight of steps toward the dining area, holding onto the railing and carefully bringing my right leg (that's the "bad" one) down to the step where I'd already placed my left leg. It's a very halting way to walk, but it's the only way for me to tackle steps responsibly right now, especially with my feet so numb from neuropathy. An elderly gentleman coming my way saw me managing the steps and called out cheerfully, "That's the way I have to do stairs! Bad knee, eh?" I just smiled and said, "Well, bad leg, anyway."

* No campfires meant no s'mores. We compensated by heading to Sara's (the beach themed hamburger/hot dog joint we love to frequent while there) for ice cream cones. More than once. Oh, okay. Pretty much every day. It was HOT, and ice cream hit the spot.

* The car wasn't as bad as I'd feared. Once upon a time, riding in a car meant pain for my hip. Now it's mostly just achey and uncomfortable but bearable. It was worse for my feet than my hip. I should have followed a friend's suggestion and taken my weight balls so I could have something to roll my feet against and keep them moving.

* Speaking of moving, movement in the car makes me really drowsy. I am more drowsy than usual because of medications, I think, but I wasn't aware how long stretches of time in the car would affect me. I basically couldn't keep my eyes open. I struggle with that at other times too -- including sometimes while I'm typing (which can make for some comical spelling errors, especially if I'm typing on the Kindle keyboard). I think the combination of medicines and deep down physical tiredness, which seemed deeper than I expected once I "let down" for vacation, kept me really sleepy much of the time we were away. I slept a lot on the beach.

* The beach! So beautiful on the peninsula, as always. So lovely to hear the waves and feel the wind and chuckle over the antics of the gulls and pick up rocks worn smooth by the lake water. I did all of those usual things, but I didn't walk much. The hot, gritty sand hurt my feet, and when I attempted to get near the water, just the waves coming in made me very unsteady. So I kept to my chair and read a lot (a reading round-up of my beach fluff probably coming soon). I slept a good deal in the sun, which made me feel a bit like a cat.

* I did have one wonderful beach walk with my dear daughter, who woke me up for the express purpose of meandering over to "our dune" -- the sand dune we have always explored together since she was very little. I'm so glad it meant enough to her to ask me to do that with her. She patiently took my arm and helped me manage the walk. I even made it up the incline to the top of the dune, where S bent down and unstrapped my sandals so I could feel the softer sand of the dune as well as I was able (not terribly well, but it was such a sweet gesture, I couldn't refuse, and I could tell, even with my neuropathied feet, that it was softer -- or perhaps my brain supplied the softer sand memory).

* I wasn't the only one who "let down" my emotions while we were there. The sweet girl discovered that trying to relax after this long, hard year meant some tears. They came at odd times (perhaps because she fights so hard to keep them in at other times, bless her heart). But they came, and I think it was good. 

* Time with friends was also lovely....it was just so good to see them and to spend time in their presence. Some parts of New Normal, thankfully, look and feel a lot like Old Normal. I'm glad, or otherwise I'm afraid I'd get lost a lot more often!

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