Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Assembly Is A Bitch

This story goes way back to 1964, boys and girls, and ends... well, maybe next week sometime. So settle in, find a cozy chair with a good spot of light, feed the critters, grab a glass of whatever,  and read on.

I'll never forget the year, since my mom complained about it so frequently. That was the year a slick Kirby salesman talked her into throwing away a whole $360-something on a brand new vacuum cleaner. I reminded her years later that she'd have spent much more on replacing ordinary cleaners over the years, and she finally quit complaining. At least to me.

I had faith in that Kirby, you see. It needed a few minor repairs over the years, mostly replacing worn belts. A few bags were needed as well, but like the pink bunny with its drum, that Kirby just kept going and going and going....

I told Mom I wanted her Kirby after she died and had no further use for it. No rush. Just staking my claim. When the time came, I announced to my brother as well that the Kirby was mine. He just shrugged. Perhaps he hadn't had my years of experience replacing worn out broken vacuum cleaners, one after the next, fighting to find room in the budget for each one. Each time it happened, I reminded my mom of how well her Kirby was holding up.

We got accustomed to a certain amount of litter on the carpets.

Once Mom died, at the ripe old age of 90, the Kirby stayed with my dad. There was still a need for vacuuming, and he had hired help to assist with the machine. And for those of you who wonder, NO, that had absolutely nothing to do with my taking him into our house for his final 2 1/2 years. Absolutely nothing!

Once Dad died, and Steve and I moved to Arizona, the Kirby came along in the moving truck. With the condition my knees were in, and the fact that by then most of our floors were uncarpeted and could be swept with a broom, the few rugs in the house were very infrequently vacuumed. The Fred fur coating them was a fairly even grey, and one could willfully ignore its accumulation. Until you couldn't anymore. Then the Kirby got dragged out and used.

Fred fur filled a bag fairly quickly. There were replacement bags aplenty, but somewhere along the line, that danged spring that held them in place got so tight, and my fingers lost enough strength, that the bags ripped each time they were changed. Then the belt, like all rubber finally must, discombobulated. I looked up Kirby stores in the area, but the nearest one, far as I could figure, was 30 miles away. I didn't feel like going there. Shopping on line, I managed to find them, but only in bags of ten. Oh well, a forever vacuum cleaner could use ten belts, right?

The problem was, over the intervening years, I had forgotten how to change one. Plus there was that aforementioned finger strength issue. They finally got themselves all straightened out, and suddenly the rugs showed colors we hadn't actually seen in years! Cool!

But then... last spring... there was a little square of hard plastic, the kind that, with opening and closing the top of a daily pill box over a couple of years, gets folded a few too many times and falls of, just so it can get lost on the floor. Somewhere on the rug. Under a chair. Right where the Kirby could suck it up, emit a partial minute of high pitched squeal, and manage, somehow, what over 50 years of use had not managed to do: kill the Kirby.

I changed the bag, since that needed doing anyway. I dug deep into memory and changed the belt, leaving 8 still in the bag hanging in the closet. I grabbed a good pliers (yes, I do actually have a good one. One. Plus a whole lot of others.) and worked it in between the roller and whatever, managing to pull the green plastic piece out, this time to throw it away forever! When I plugged the Kirby back in, it hummed. When I looked where I had been, big clumps of hair had been left behind. Turning it upside down, the roller refused to roll. Nothing was getting swept up.


Since it was spring and we were about to head back north, I just left the Kirby on the kitchen floor in a spot where we wouldn't trip over it while rushing stuff to the car.

Upon return, I looked one day when I had enough energy to examine it again, thinking maybe the fairies had visited over the summer, or maybe I'd just gotten smarter (equally likely), and discovered the Kirby had disappeared. Steve had thoughtfully put it away for me. I guess I had "forgotten" to tell him it was broken.

While Fred was no longer here to shed over everything, we were. There was an amazing amount of crap on the rug that we could no longer blame on the dog(s). Plus the old stuff was still there, along with the miraculous emergence of Fred fur from all the hiding places where it had been holing up during previous sweepings and vacuumings. That, or maybe I was actually right when I claimed the stuff multiplied all by itself without the need for a dog. Hadn't we been calling those clumps of fur "Fred Bunnies"?

It was time to head to the store and find something with a HEPA filter and get rid of all those allergens ... occasionally. The model we wanted was, of course, out of stock in the store. And I, of course, was out of patience. Upon returning home, I turned to my favorite online shopping-for-everything location, eBay. First thing I found, once HEPA was one of the search words, was the model from the store. Now $80 cheaper.

SOLD! Delivery guaranteed in two more days from now. Arrived yesterday.

I let it sit in its box inside the door. I knew what was coming.

Steve was all excited to see it, cutting open 77 feet of tape first thing this morning. Then there was the box fitting snugly inside the box with several other parts boxed, and those not boxed, bagged. Some both bagged and boxed.

I actually found that kinda reassuring.

Assembly, of course, was required.

I'm still not sure what language the instruction book was printed in, but once we flipped it over, we found English. (But why combine those two in particular?)

It had the usual warnings in it about not electrocuting yourself, just in case you can actually find the plug before you've read the rest of the manual. For those unacquainted with electricity, it explained that plugs come with a narrow and a wide prong these days, and it needs to be inserted into the holes in your outlet correspondingly. No, don't file down the wide side to fit. Go hire an electrician if you don't have a wide opening in your wall socket.

I wonder how many lawsuits prompted adding that bit of wisdom.

Next, blah blah blah, blah blah blah, here is your drawing and naming of the parts. We're already in trouble. It points to a tab "A", showing it in an empty space between two other parts. We can see how those two parts fit together, after all, they are the two parts of the handle (Duh), but look as we might, there is nothing either between them or on one end or another that could be remotely considered any kind of tab.

We decided to carry on, though it'll come back to haunt us, since other directions require locating and using this same Tab A. But the next directions required removing a Phillips head screw, inserting the smaller part inside the larger (though that is not how they described it), and reinserting the screw to hold both parts of the handle together.

Bet you think that would be easy, eh? This thing had the most cockamamie design since the axolotl, and after Steve fought with it for ten minutes, then handed it to me for the same, the task finally got accomplished. And please note, no Tab A showed itself at any time during this process.

After figuring out that we couldn't find a couple of pieces that needed to be inserted inside each other because they already came packed inside each other, and unlike the advertising that the HEPA filter was easily rinsed off between uses,  unless of course it was a HEPA filter which couldn't be rinsed but needed to be bought and replaced, which was probably why we couldn't figure out how to remove it for cleaning, we both decided we'd run out of patience with it for the day. Maybe two. Even three.

That's why the story doesn't end yet. The new vacuum is sitting in an infrequently used corner of the living room waiting for us to finish figuring out which parts of its assembly are still required.

And where Tab A is.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Partial Answer

So I've been to my cardiologist 3 times now. Last week was the echo, this week the stress test one day and results and discussion the next.

First, the good news is my heart is perfectly healthy according to all the tests. There have been no A-fib episodes since late spring, and those were limited to tiny flutters of short duration.

After explaining my recent issues to him, we agreed that perhaps it's as simple as a medication change. The metoprolol slows down my heart, which is necessary when it's trying to gallop down the road three miles ahead of you. It also, however, can make it more difficult  for it to respond to increased demand. You know, like a little bit of exercise. So we're going to cut my dosage to half a tablet twice a day. (In case you were wondering, it only acts for 12 hours, so twice a day keeps it in my system.) I go back in two weeks and report the results.

A possible alternative is cutting the other one, the amiodarone, in half. Since that has worked to keep my rhythm steady for two years, that alternative scares me a bit. My cardiologist likes that alternative better because amiodarone has long term side effects. So we'll be experimenting.

The best part of this is I trust him, unlike my "regard" for my primary physician.  That is in the process of being corrected.

Another possible sign of progress, not fully tested yet, is that I've gotten back behind the wheel again. It's just short stints, but it was me. The one possible glitch seems to be I can't be chatting away and drive at the same time. Maybe that's the slower heartbeat. Maybe I just can't talk and drive. Hey, I've never tested whether I can walk and chew gum either, so who knows where all my limitations lie? Maybe it's all still to be determined. So far Steve still comes along with me, in case.

We'll see what the pulmonologist has to say later this month. Meanwhile I moved some furniture this evening.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Reflexes - Or Not So Much

This happened at another birthday dinner some good friends treated us to, the day before the main event as Steve and I actually had already made plans for The Day.

What drove it home for me was the discussion Steve and I had just that morning. A TV commercial showed a man in his doctor's office, the hammer to the knee, and reflexes so strong his shoe was kicked high into the air. It's not about how stupid the commercial was. It was trying to remember how long it had  been since a doctor had actually checked our reflexes that way.

Years, for both of us. We'd both had no knee reflexes since long before our osteoarthritis had seriously set in. How did they know? And why had they stopped trying?

Back to the restaurant:

Sitting down at the table, the person carrying the tray of beverages made the tiniest of miscalculations and bumped the edge of the table rather than setting the tray on the table. Hey, no blame to him, embarrassed as he was. It happens to all of us. I can personally vouch for that on my own behalf.

What registered for me were my own reactions to the event. Imagine, first, how speedily this all happened in real time. Now imagine me reacting in about the time it takes to read the rest of this.

Oh, I heard a noise. Hmm, I guess the tray bumped the table. Hey, there are a couple tall cups tilting my way. They're probably cokes, knowing what this group likes. Oh, look, there are ice cubes floating across the table towards me on top of the coke. Hey look, it's starting to spill over the table top. The ice cubes are hitting the floor going all over. That coke is hitting my lap. Oooh, it's cold! Hmm, I didn't grab enough napkins to stop the flood. Hey, I guess I could push my chair back and stand up to stem the flow a bit. Yep, it's still cold. Look at that pattern of wet and dry on the front of my shorts. Ooh, I feel it on my ankles too. Let's see, we're not home so there are no towels to take care of this. Oh wait, there are a whole lot of napkins back where we grabbed our forks and, oh yeah, our first batch of napkins, maybe two per each of us, because who thought we'd need more? I guess I could head over there like everybody else and go grab some. Let's scoot some of these ice cubes on the floor out of the way first so nobody falls on them. Like me while I get ready to stand up. Good thing they let you refill your cups here so the two people with cokes don't have to pay for more. Oh yeah, remind the person who spilled the cokes that it's no big deal. It easily could have been me. And has. Plus I'll be dry again before we leave here.

Which I was.

And dinner was great, so an extra "Thank You" to my friends.

Pulling a Trump

I've been raised not to create a scene, particularly in a public place. Sometimes I regret that.

It was the one thing that spoiled a very nice birthday dinner that Steve took me out to on Sunday. It was our current favorite restaurant and the food, as usual was fantastic. Our server was absolutely perfect, plenty of attention without being intrusive, knowing what we needed almost before we did.

In the direction I was facing, I had a complete view of a foursome halfway across the room. My guess is they were about our ages. The meal was over, and after sitting for over half an hour, it can be difficult to get knees and hips working again, not to mention with anything resembling grace.

We know about that. That's us too.

The presumed husband of the 1st pair slid out of their booth first, waiting for his female partner to work her way across the seat, stand securely, and start walking towards the restroom. Needless to say, there was none of the fluidity of a 20-year-old in her movements.

He let her precede him down the aisle, ostensibly a show of good manners. But there it ended. As he followed, by exaggerating her movements, he mocked her every infirmity, eyes on his male tablemate who was his primary audience. He apparently thought he was hilarious, and his cohort did nothing to disabuse him of this idea. He reminded me of nothing more than Trump's mocking of the disabled reporter during his campaign.

I run through the excuses in my mind: I was too far away. I wasn't spry enough to get up quickly and and approach him to chew him out, something starting with, "Hey, Asshole!" or similar. I wasn't skilled enough to lay him out on the floor - a major temptation, let me tell you. The restaurant was too noisy for yelling my contempt across to where he could hear it. Same with yelling over to his compatriot challenging him as to whether he actually thought his "friend" was funny.

I do feel fairly confident that, had I been the woman mocked and caught him at it, I could have turned around and "accidentally" stumbled into slamming a knee into the "wrong" location. After all, none of those parts were anything he was likely to get to use in the near future.

Feel free to define "near" as anywhere from 6 months to ever. And I could easily blame it on the clumsiness he'd been demonstrating to the world so entertainingly on my behalf.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Still Waiting

Still waiting... like many parts of the world. Not for earthquake reports, nor strength and paths of 4 sequential hurricaines, nor body counts of any of them, though I'm waiting for those too, and they help me keep perspective. It's not even that I'm waiting for some actual rain, especially when most nights we get spectacular lightning shows, haboob warnings, and watch weather pass on every side of us but overhead.

I'm waiting for my stress test Monday, of which I won't get the results until Tuesday. Still waiting for the results from my new, local pulmonologist, whom I don't even meet till the end of the month. Then again, that's pretty quick for getting in to see a specialist, unless it's one you meet in the hospital. I've already done that. Not too satisfied with, "We can't find anything to treat you for so go home."

I'm waiting to meet my new primary physician, after the former one (who still thinks he's my current one) excuses failing to refill my prescriptions by laughing it all off with - and I quote - "Do you have any idea how many faxes we get in here each day?" Let me give you a tip, Doc: it's about to become a bunch fewer!

I'm still waiting for some way to do a little exercise - and I do mean little - without running short of breath. And still waiting to feel secure enough to get back behind the wheel again without fear of getting ready to black out. Yep, that's still happening. It's not an altitude thing. I made it two miles last time, before deciding that Steve is our driver for now.

And he's still waiting to get his appointment with his new spinal surgeon for what is likely to be fusion of a couple of discs so he can get off the drugs which make it illegal to drive, without really knocking out the pain, especially when he hits the meerest bump in the road.

So good thing there's great TV on right now to help us distract ourselves... oh wait, there's not. Well, then, good thing there are so many books to read in the house to distract us from, say, worrying about getting to appointments safely and legally, and we're not taking so many pills that we can't concentrate on the words on the page.  Oh, wait, Steve can't do that either right now. I can, and just finished that oh-so-cheery book about a Jewish woman hiding her identity to survive in Germany during WWII. Great book but now I need something a little less edifying, like, say, Judge Judy, where the idiots do a little less harm to each other. After that last book, it gains a certain appeal.

Hey, it's something, while we're still waiting....

Then there's still waiting for the first great-grandchild. Her pictures are adorable. Where does her tiny Mama find all that room?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

So Many Harvey Stories

There are so many different Harvey stories. There were the ones showing the cute little tropical depression in the gulf, along with vague promises that it would grow. And land.  And leave, and land again. There are the stories of rainfall records, from bad to what seemed like bragging rights for who got the most water. Ever. There are the folks who left and the folks who stayed, the mandatory evacuations and the idiots who never ordered any because, hey, Texas!

Somehow being bigger magically meant disasters could only be small. You know: Texas!

Cameras had a field day, starting with the obligatory let's-stand-out-in-the-wind-and-water-along-the-beach-and-prove-how-tough-reporters-are-in-the-face-of-Mother-Nature. Because, hey, egos. Because, hey, stupid and unoriginal.

Then photos switched to flooding, how deep the water was compared to cars, street signs, roofs. And how many reporters in waders could step out in a foot of water and pretend bravery. After that, out came the kayaks, the flat-bottomed boats, the huge boats with fans on the back. Then helicopter baskets full of the rescued, dump trucks hauling the hapless around, the overcrowding in shelters and a certain televangelist who refused to open up his massive facility until shamed into it. He even got air time to repeat his defense of how Christian he really was, because, hey, excuse.

Lest you think Mr. Osteen was the only show of selfishness in this saga, note the stories of price gouging. Gasoline in certain stations jumped to $8 a gallon because some folks leave their churches on Sunday and return to worship at the altar of supply and demand all week long. Similar reports filtered in on water and food prices while they could, until free supplies could finally be delivered despite closed highways.

The maps got full play, showing the red bands of heavy rain whirling off the core of Harvey, except that the ones which crossed the border to dump their deluges on Louisiana got no mention because, hey, not Texas.

The rich and famous got their time to shine in the headlines, promising a million dollars here, a half million there, another million and another million from their invulnerable and perfectly coifed photo shoots because they had to be part of the story too. They couldn't just give the funding because it was needed, but likely had their publicists in the background poking them forward for the reflected fame of the biggest story of the week. (Yes, my cynical imagination provides the image of little red tridents. How did you guess?)  Even Trump pledged his million, but with his track record, it either won't arrive or will be other people's money: keep your eye out, folks.

There are still stories to be told. What happens to all those made homeless and destitute next week, next month, once the cameras have turned away to the next big story? There will be a next story, and a next. We as a nation will sit with our eyes glued to our screens, marveling at all the unexpected, horrible things displayed there. Unexpected, because the biggest part of the Harvey and all the other shocking extreme weather stories is simply not being told. The Harveys will keep coming, along with the droughts, the fires, the floods, the mudlslides, rising sea levels, vanishing permafrost, disappearing glaciers, species extinctions... because, hey, climate change!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chapter 3: Journey Home... Interrupted

We started out from Salt Lake City, bright and early, before breakfast, not even waking the family if we could help it. Our eldest nephew was up, and willingly carried our stuff up from the basement and out to the car. Our plan was home before bedtime, grabbing a hamburger or such on the way as needed. We thought it feasible, having done it once before. But our plans hadn't been implemented too well thus far in the vacation.

Did we foresee even a hint of trouble? Of course not!

Our first stop, shortly before we ran out of Salt Lack City suburbs and hit actual open spaces, was breakfast sandwiches at the golden arches. Plus the usual potty stop. Once again, by the time I returned to the car, I was a little short of breath.

Oh well.

Further down the road, after a lunchtime and pit stop, I was again short of breath, this time taking five or so to really get back to normal. Feeling secure, finally, I drove off again. Steve and I were deep in conversation about ten minutes later, when suddenly I got light-headed, that feeling you get just before you start to black out and faint. Luckily there was no traffic preventing me from hitting the right lane and then the wide-enough shoulder as quickly as was safe.

When I explained what was going on, Steve and I both agreed he was going to drive. His back had been seriously bothering him and he'd taken a morning pain pill. The legal time hadn't elapsed, but his "goofy" stage was over. I trusted his driving way more than mine, and we were our two choices. I opened my door and bent over for a bit until I felt capable of walking around the car to switch places. Once in the passenger seat, I stayed bent over with the door open for a while longer before feeling ready for Steve to take off. Note that there was no shortness of breath at the time of the light - headedness.

We passed an exit for a small town with a freeway sign, "No Services". And another. And another. By then I asked Steve when we finally hit a town big enough to have the blue sign with the big H on it, to exit and take me to their ER. Our next town was St. George, UT, big enough for 6 exits and a hospital. Steve drove right up to the Emergency entrance valet parking station, ran inside for help, and ran out again with staff pushing a wheelchair for me. At that moment I was seriously more concerned for his knees than I was for myself. I had never seen him move so fast.

He had said the magic words: breathing problems and he believed it was altitude sickness. We were whisked to the check-in station for about a half minute triage, then in back to a bed in the ER. They needed my ID. I tried to give them my insurance cards too, but they weren't interested until later.

In a way, I found that very reassuring: patient before payment. Had I thought a little deeper, I would have worried just how sick they thought I might be.

While they were hooking me up to O2 and cardiac monitors, a range of questions was asked. Listening to my lungs they detected rales, or crackling sounds. I've heard them myself on occasion, usually when I'm just nodding off, the house is dead silent, and my breathing is slow and an exhale empties the last bit of air. They've been interesting, not alarming, usually happening at the very tail end of a cold. The most interesting thing about them this day was the ER staff called them "rahls" while the nurses upstairs called them "rails". I've heard the first pronunciation on TV, never the other. Either way, the crackling meant wet lungs.

Since I wasn't coughing, had heard rales before, was now comfortably breathing due to lack of movement, and wasn't feeling like I might pass out, I was starting to think I'd been crying "wolf", except for one thing. The blood pressure registered 210 over ... well, I didn't really hear any other numbers after that because who the hell cares when that's your starting number? I can't even tell you if I was given a pill or a shot to start trying to bring those numbers down. My brain just sort of stuck right there.

When a CAT scan, both with and without dye, showed an "opacity" in the lower corner of an upper lobe of my lung, they did a couple more tests, and came with "maybe" news. Maybe it wasn't cancer, not looking like that usually does. Maybe it wasn't an embolus, because somehow a bi-pap machine was supposed to definitely rule that out while it was simply making me miserable, being totally incapable of breathing at my speed. Try it sometime. Just as the incoming pressure gets you inhaling and you're ready to continue, the air shuts off. It takes a second for your diaphram to reverse course, and before you can comfortably finish exhaling, it's trying another burst of pressurized air in. When I would resist that, it would stop for a second before sending another burst, which I still wasn't ready for, so when my body started to inhale there was again nothing coming through the mask.

Breathing was work!

The doc who set it up even suggested I might try napping while I was hooked up! HA!

When I complained that the machine breathed much faster than I did, he fiddled with some controls but never got it to slow down. I was informed by other medical staff that I had the right to refuse to use the machine any more, which right I immediately exercised. Anyway, something in that misery indicated to them there was no embolus. Since the heart was in normal sinus rhythm the whole time, and the labs came back with "no heart attack", they tentatively diagnosed pneumonia and admitted me, ordering antibiotics, and blood thinners since I was going to be bed-ridden.

By the time I was given a room, hooked up to everything, drained of everything they wanted, tested six ways from Sunday, Steve had returned from their wonderful cafeteria raving about their wonderful grilled salmon steak and its sauce, making me hungry. Unfortunately, the clock said it was well after when any other hospital's food service had shut down, but I inquired anyway. Some hospitals kept pudding cups or something similar.

Let me just say, if you have a choice of where you want to get stuck in a hospital, go for St. George, UT. I was brought in a laminated tri-fold menu, and their room service could bring me whatever and as much as I wanted any time, except limited hours for breakfast dishes. Since I'd been drooling over Steve's salmon, I ordered my own. Everything was marked on the menu with both calories and carbs, so I could, that first night, have my salmon, delightful perfectly steamed broccoli, cottage cheese, and the most wonderful chocolate cake/pudding/whipped cream concoction.


The next morning I was NPO, because the staff cardiologist wanted to see my echo (think cardiac ultrasound, and I told the guy doing it that if he found a fetus in one of those chambers I'd be royally pissed!) before deciding if he wanted to do "another procedure", not explained until later as an angioplasty or angio-whatever, i.e. surgery. The echo showed no cause for one, so I got to order lunch. Mmmm. And supper. Mmmmm. And breakfast. Mmmm.

I kept hearing reports of what wasn't wrong with me. No heart irregularities, no blood clots, no fever, white cell count, or coughing to indicate pneumonia, etc., etc. I was to continue the course of antibiotics because you just do after you have started. They were assured that I peed enough, and finally pulled out the catch cup so I could be totally on my own in there. My blood pressure came back down, so that extra medication was discontinued. I was moving around my room, even up and down the hall, without being hooked up to O2, so even with panting on the longer trek, since my blood oxygen didn't drop, there was, ultimately, nothing they could treat. The only lab result not back because it takes a few extra days was one for Valley Fever. They will let us know.

So go home, check in with your own docs. We can't figure out what to do for you.

Lest Steve get lost in all this, he got to stay two nights in Jubilee House, their equivalent of Ronald McDonald house, but for family of out-of-towners while they had to stay in the hospital. He loved it, having two comfy beds in a good sized room. The cost to him was a mere $25/night, and pulling the dirty linen off his bed after those two nights. I tried to get him extra food off my tray, since we couldn't order a second tray, but my carbs limit wasn't helpful. He ate either in the cafeteria while visiting me, or whatever from a local fast food or convenience joint.

With both his knees doing their usual to plague him, plus his back acting up, he was very appreciative of both their valet parking and the golf carts with which they chauffered him to his parked car or back and forth to Jubilee House. I was assigned a room at the other side of the hospital from emergency, fairly close to the front door, so that helped when he visited me.

They sent me home with a stack full of orders and prescriptions, plus a verbal prohibition against driving. So Steve drove. It meant he couldn't take the "good stuff" for pain, settling on 4 ibuprofin while we both kept our fingers crossed. It also meant he had to drive freeways through Las Vegas, and if you don't know how much he hates city driving, you haven't met Steve. I promised to navigate.

We spent an hour in backed up traffic before reaching Vegas for what we finally found out was three lanes squishing to one for the exit ramp, competing with cross traffic on that busy highway to make a couple turns to get onto the 6-mile-long frontage road before returning to the freeway. We did get a glimpse about the third mile along the frontage road of the rolled over semi and the four tow trucks that weren't seeming to have any success righting it. While in our back-up, a few motorcycles passed us on the shoulder, then a couple cars, until both in front of us and behind us there were semis pulled partly out on to the shoulder to keep any other greedy idiots from trying the same thing.

Thanks, guys. If we gotta suffer, everybody's gotta suffer!

Once we approached Hoover Dam, another pit stop did nothing to make me out of breath, so I offered to try driving for a bit. We switched, and made it a mile before I was again light headed and needed to pull over. Dang! I hadn't been light headed once yet this leg of the trip till I got behind the wheel, and Steve was starting to need a break. On the plus side, for a while the scenery I got to study instead of the road was breathtaking, like it had been at the start of the day's journey through the Virgin River canyon. There were distinct advantages to being in the passenger seat.

Once we'd hit Kingman, we stopped for a sit-down in a restaurant and a short nap in the shade of a sign. Then I tried driving again. This time I made it 30 miles before needing to turn the wheel back over to Steve. But the combined rests had refreshed him enough to finish the way home.

We were both too tired by then to do anything besides airing out the house of leftover noxious fumes after removing the no-pest strips and one found cockroach, bring a few bags in so we'd have PJs and pills. Electricity had to be turned on, fans blowing, and once the house was closed up again, the AC turned back on. There was agreement not to bother with filling prescriptions or stop to buy food until morning. We each had the last bits of an MRE to scavenge, and chairs to put our feet up and lean back in. No Wi-Fi yet, no TV, no gas. The fridge could start to chill some bottles of water, and be ready for filling on the morrow. We had shelter, comfort, water and food.

Other things got taken care of in the next days. We even heard there was an eclipse out there somewhere, though our safety glasses were tucked away somewhere. As far as we knew, it happened while I was in the post office, picking up our held mail and restarting delivery, evidenced by it seeming just a shade dimmer outside than usual. The TV coverage on PBS was great. After everything else, I guess that was OK.

We Were Home!