I'm dating myself a bit here, but I remember hearing Carly Simon singing "These are the good old days" when I was a kid. At the time, I wondered what she meant.
Now I know.
It means we need to be aware of our blessings and thankful for today. For me, that means being glad that I can still walk on the treadmill, to be grateful to live at a time when I have the right meds to help keep my condition stable and to bless God for "Herkimer," my faithful oxygen concentrator. That little machine on wheels keeps my world from collapsing on itself.
And speaking of my world, I'm about to see a whole lot more of it. Last week--and I'm still trying to wrap my head around this--my DH and I booked a world cruise. I kid you not. We're going all the way around the earth.
We've been toying with the idea for a while, especially since I did well on our 30 day cruise to Tahiti last year. But we didn't think we'd be able to do a world cruise till about 2021.
That didn't stop me from dreaming. And planning. And lurking on cruise line websites, comparing itineraries, prices, number of days...
Then when Princess had a sudden drop in their fares, we decided to not to wait any more.
We had to do some fancy financial footwork, but this is the right time to go for lots of reasons:
- We got a great price on our fares.
- We have the money to pay for it now. (I heard one horror story about a couple who MORTGAGED THEIR HOUSE to pay for a world cruise. They'd never even been on a 7 day voyage before and they were miserable the whole time. So sad...)
- My parents are in excellent health, our grown children well and employed, and the dogs are both fine and will be well cared for by one of our daughters.
- Probably the most compelling reason to go now is that my NSIP seems to be stable.
My lung function was the same or slightly better the last time I was tested at Mayo Clinic. With supplemental O2, I'm able to walk a mile on the treadmill in less than 30 minutes. When I'm at home, I can often move slowly around the house to cook, do laundry, etc without needing Herkimer. If I'm seated, my O2 sats are in the high 90's just like everybody else.
But NSIP is considered a progressive condition with a life expectancy of 5-13 years after diagnosis.
I'm on year 7.
Now, don't feel sorry for me. I'm not. I live a blessed life and I know it. Besides, I fully intend on breaking through that 13 year statistic and skewing the curve all to pieces, but the truth is now is all any of us have. And I'm determined to keep my now as active and adventurous as I can for as long as I can.
When I was in my twenties, my DH had to take a business trip to Honolulu. Of course, I tagged along. We visited the Polynesian Cultural Center and snorkeled in lovely Hanuama Bay. When I rode the public bus all over Honolulu, the locals on the seat beside me were happy to point out the sights--like their uncle's house or where they went to church. I learned to surf at Waikiki.
And while 20-something me was having a ball on the beach, I happened to see a couple at the edge of the sand. She was in a wheel chair and he was wearing an oxygen cannula as he pushed her along. I felt so sad for them. To be in such a beautiful place and not to be able to do all the things my young healthy body could do struck me as almost cruel.
I think about it a little differently now. Even with their obvious health challenges, they were still on the beach. They were still going, albeit much slower. They were still exploring, still venturing out of their comfort zone to see what's out there.
That nameless couple are kind of my heroes.
Next January, when I feel the sands of Waikiki between my toes again, I'll be thinking of them.
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