Another Amazing Year

Sadie and I pause on a snowy trail, both feeling positive after a challenging year healthwise

As the end of the year fast approaches, I wanted to look back on a year that was filled both with challenges and even more blessings. Almost exactly one year ago today I was with my 13 year old dog Sadie at the Veterinarian’s office listening in stunned silence as he explained that the test results indicated that Sadie had polycythemia vera, a slow growing blood cancer. The prognosis was bleak, although there was a chance that medication given to human patients with the same disease could provide some relief. We decided it was worth a try. And so far it has helped more than we could have hoped. She still is able to enjoy our once a week Rubi on the road adventures, daily walks, and being an active dog. Just when I was feeliing comfortable with my pups prognosis, I was taking her out for a winter walk less than two months later when she suddenly pulled hard on the leash, causing me to slip and fall awkwardly on my elbow. I knew immediately that my elbow was broken. A trip to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bangor confirmed what I already knew. A few days later I had surgery which included a metal plate and 9 screws to hold it all together. An inauspicious start to the year indeed.

Both Sadie and I are doing much better as we look forward to the new year which begins in just 12 hours. Although I later had to have nerve release surgery to try and correct some lingering caple tunnel complications, it has been a year filled with amazing adventures as I quickly approach the milestone of qualifying for Medicare in just over 2 weeks. Between the two surgeries I traveled with a group from Maine Public Radio to Sicily for a tour of the Italian Island. In fact, we were in the shadow of Mt. Etna just a week before it’s most resent eruption. Two months after the surgery, I flew to Minneapolis and met up with my brother Mark. We drove north seven hours to the small town of Roseau to vistit my two remaining aunts (both in their 90s) and several cousins I don’t get to see nearly often enough. In August, Don and I traveled to Oregon to visit our son and his wife at his new duty station in North Bend, Oregon. Sadie stayed with her friends in the kennel, the first time following her cancer diagnosis, and she did just fine.  Later that summer I took a three day Italian cooking class in Camden, Maine camping with Don and my pup Sadie in the nearby State Park.

As summer turned to fall, Don helped me to process and can over two dozen pints of pickles (from cucumbers he had grown in “Earth Boxes” on the deck) and a like number of jars of pasta sauce from a combination of our home-grown tomatoes supplemented with some we received from our farm share. Linda, a friend from high school, and her husband Mark were taking a “fall-color” cruise up the coast with a port stop in Bar Harbor in October. I offered to meet them at the harbor and give them a personal tour of Mt. Desert Island, a destination for many of our Rubi on the Road adventures. It is always fun to reconnect with old friends. As my busy and eventful year comes to an end, we are juts a few days removed from our best adventure of the year. We are just a few days back from spending the Christmas holiday with our daughter in San Diego. To make it even better, our son and his wife drove down from Oregon to join us. We also were able to meet up with one of Don’s childhood friends and the grandson of a summer neighbor at the lake.

All-in-all it has been an amazing year. I’ve had lots of great adventures, learned new things (not the least of which were patience and perseverance), and taken over 2,500 photographs. I am still learning to live with the carpal tunnel problems that the surgery failed to adrress (yet anyway, there is always hope) and reduced range of motion. But I feel incredibly blessed to be able to get out and explore this wonderful world we live in and for being able to get together with people I love and don’t get to see as often as I would like. I look forward to more of the same in the new decade.

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