Friday, February 12, 2010

LOFT LIFE: Finding my way

I figured since my alveoli have to re-puff, and since that happens with activity, I needed to get going. In my usual extremism, I planned a trip to the Holyoke Mall, 16 miles away, to begin my Apple workshops, where, in my fantasy life, I pictured myself becoming proficient, and even creative, thanks to my new MacBook Pro. But, 16 miles stood between me and my fantasy. 

Why is 16 miles extreme? Harrowing?
Well, for starters, I don’t do Interstates. I only see out of one eye at a time, and don’t process visual information very quickly, i.e. I enter an Interstate ramp, turn my head left to peruse oncoming traffic, turn my head back to the road (ramp) in front of me, and don’t really know what lane I'm accelerating into for a few seconds. Doing this with oncoming traffic isn't a good thing. 
Try it. Something, possibly less life-threatening. Cover one eye as softball flies at your face. Switch eyes. You won’t know where the ball is exactly. You get close. But, traffic isn’t softball. This is semis and fast cars. Close may not be good enough.
Suffice to say that the seconds finding out what lane oncoming traffic is in, and whether I will collide with them or not, isn't my idea of a good time.
Once I came to a dead stop, on I-57 in California, in front of a Greyhound bus. It was then, around 1981, I realized I didn’t belong on Interstates. The other convincing came on another ramp, with traffic chomping at my rear bumper and semis wheeling their 18 toward me. I stepped on the gas, lunged into traffic and somehow didn’t die.
When I told my husband I'd actually closed my eyes and accelerated, he said, “Well, you do everything that way. And. some people have skill, others angels. Either will work if you stick to your system.”
I take surface streets.
Heading for Holyoke Mall, I got to West Springfield, slowly realizing that New England roads are not perpendicular. It isn’t always clear where to turn. And, they don’t believe in signs. That street name on the Google map is not posted on the road, meaning at that bear left thing, you’re not sure it’s the road on the map. Mostly likely, it’s not.
And, rotary circles. If you haven’t experienced these, you must come visit Massachusetts. One cannot live a full life without this adventure. If you think ramps and accelerating onto Interstates were challenges please picture me circling the rotary, reading signs for multiple spoke-exits, then crossing over four rotary lanes when I do finally locate the exit. 

On this Holyoke Mall trip, it was raining; I had to circle twice before I ventured across the four lanes, and before seeing where the  5 N exit was; I couldn’t see signs very well in the rain.
I arrived at the mall, rattled, ten minutes late for my 10:30 a.m. workshop. It had taken me an hour and 20 minutes for the 16 miles. 
I was there for the “Marketing Your Business” training. The tech tried to volley between me and the other participant, but since I had arrived late, they were at work on her personal project. 
I thought I could work on beautifying my blog, since she was working on her blog. I also wanted to learn how to plug in my new microphone, turn it on, and record something. 
My microphone didn’t record, had to be replaced, and tapping on the mike, trying to make it work, pretty much took up the last 20 minutes of my time.
What I ended up learning was how to find the place on my blog to add pictures. Not sure that was worth the hour and 20-minute road trip. And, that was only one way.
By the time I got my microphone replaced, packed my things, and looked apprehensively toward the door, one of the lovely Apple techs decided he had better walk me to my car. I wasn’t positive where I had parked it. Armed with a return trip Google map, where I had made clear I needed a route with NO Interstates, and preferably smaller bridges. Gavin walked me to the elevator in the JC Penny store, and attempted to explain to me as we rode the elevator down and then up and then down again, that even though it looked different, this had to be the right elevator. Once he finally realized I had used an outside elevator in the parking structure, before walking across the parking lot to JC Penny, I realized I had forgotten that small walk outside, in the rain.  
“Oh yeah,” I confirmed. “Now I remember.”
I felt old; I felt blind; I felt handicapped. But, I felt cherished by this sweet man who implied I reminded him of his grandmother. That’s okay. 
It was about 2:30 p.m., the rainstorm worse, the sky dark with black clouds. I was not feeling confident at all.
My return trip involved some surface streets; I got lost and ended up crossing the BIG BRIDGE in Springfield, After a DIFFERENT ROTARY, which dumped me onto I-91, IN THE RAIN, where I almost had heart failure. Thankfully, Highway 5 was only a few feet to the right off the Interstate.
Not the right route at all. I did the whole accelerate without looking--didn’t close my eyes this time, but might as well have. I really don’t know how I did it, but at least they had lights on, so I could gauge car-length margin a bit better to jump into traffic.
Constant prayer, I arrived back in my own parking lot at 4:00 p.m. I had not shortened the trip and had not shortened my life. 
All I can say is those alveoli had better be re-puffing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

LOFT LIFE: Getting back to normal

Saw Dr. G last week, and expected him to tell me about the 2cm and 3cm nodules, and had rehearsed my “so what” speech. I was thrown a curve when he told me I had a partially collapsed lung! I really was speechless--not breathless, mind you.
So, of course, I had more questions--but not many, because, as I said, I was taken by surprise. In general, this thing should self-correct.
It is a blessing to have friends, and especially smart friends like Matt, who is an EMT. I gave him the scoop about how the radiologist found “ground glass opacity” on my CAT scan. I asked him what in the world that meant. I should have asked Dr. G. but in some ways Matt was better--more detailed. He guessed from my description that I do not really have a true pnuemothorax--collapsed lung, but the deflation of some alveoli, which he explained are the grape-like clusters (alveoli) of air in the lungs. Some of my grapes lost their puff. No problem, most likely. As I begin more normal life--instead of the cushy bedridden Mac-world I have been living in for 2 months, I am likely to have them re-inflate. I just love Matt. He turned around my fear in a second. I can just see those little alveoli puffing as I walk around the loft, to the mail box, around the mall, etc.
Matt says that saying I have a partially collapsed lung is like telling me I have a hemorrhage when it is a nosebleed. Isn’t that just like the medical community to put it the most terrifying language they can find. Collapsed alveoli are NOT the same thing as a collapsed LUNG.
In any case, I am now arising at 6:30 a.m. and going pretty strong till 10 p.m., with just a bit of congestion left, which Matt says getting rid of will dramatically speed up recovery. Coughing is good.
So for all you sweet friend who keep telling me to rest--the rest happened, and now I have to go, go, go--till right BEFORE I am short of breath. That is something like the directions I was given which told me to turn a block before the movie theatre. Think about it.
So our loft life continues, and believe me, I am grateful that my most challenging task is cooking. I am also back to “work” which amounts to writing, interviewing, and, of course, starting up as many new businesses as I can dream up. The most current is networking consulting I've wanted to continue from my workshops in 1981, after I wrote an article for Toastmaster Magazine on networking. It got some acclaim; I was still being asked for reprinting rights FOUR YEARS later--from Taiwan. No kidding. So I was ahead of my time--and am now behind the 8-ball to do something concrete with my ideas. Met this morning with a business owner and we will meet with some in the MA/CT stateline area to help each other learn about this. 
Thanks again to you all for your encouragement, comments and love during my two months of recovery from--well, let’s just say,  respiratory challenges.