Monday, August 31, 2009

Life can be Normal

And the following years were good. Active family life centered around two great young boys. I was helping coach soccer, football and baseball teams. They both were singers so there were rehearsals and performances. Susan did graduate studies and became the first in the family to get an advanced degree. Vacations took us camping in the Rockies from the desert Southwest north to Canada. Rocky Mountain National Park became a second home. Taking the boys on an overnight hike over the Continental Divide was a spectacular highlight. It was mighty struggle getting up and over the 13,000+ mountains, but a triumphal march back into civilization. Our other destination was Manhattan where my parents had moved into a nice apartment on the Upper West Side, just across from Lincoln Center. The Big Apple became another home away from home. I did return from one vacaction to find an unexpected career change was at hand, but by the end of the summer I had a better job, so basically it just was a summer off! 

At this point PKD was an vague afterthought.  My health was great. Blood Pressure was normal. Well, I was a little overweight, but so what. And then in the mid 90's we decided to take a trip to New York. The church choir was to perform in a choral festival at Lincoln Center. Michael was a huge Civil War buff at the time so we decided to visit battlefields along the drive. The first night we drove through harrowing misty fog to stay close to Shiloh, The next morning, the visit to the battlefield was just what we had hoped it would be. As we drove on, I noticed an oily mist on the rear window. We weren't losing oil, but it was worrisome. I remember feeling nervous, antsy and edgy. It was not proving to be a relaxing trip.

Camping that night at the Cumberland Gap I stepped into a culvert and badly scraped my shin. The next morning, against my violent protests, Susan insisted we go to the emergency room in the nearest town. Leaving Susan and the boys asleep in the car, I went into the clinic where they were really not concerned with my shin, but were extremely concerned with my blood pressure which was 225/180. I had no idea of the severity of the situation. No doubt my anger was pushing it up even higher as they hooked me up to IV's and machines and worked to get things under control. Several hours later Susan came wandering in to see what's up. Thank goodness she had the sense to understand the nature of the emergency. Finally, the pressure came down enough that they would let us leave with prescriptions for medication and the understanding that we needed a cuff to monitor the blood pressure frequently and head for the nearest emergency room if the numbers got too high.

Though we didn't connect the dots at the time, PKD had struck its first blow.

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