This is it
Nothing happens next. This is it. Zen saying
I actually have a chapter in our book, Running All Over the World, Our Race Against Early Onset Alzheimer’s, called, This is it or is it. I am not going to give away the story line in that chapter but obviously it wasn’t. Since that chapter was written we are still nomads moving about every 4 or so days. This blog post, however is going to give you some insight on where Catherine and I are going from here.
Once again we are getting on a shiny Delta jet headed across the pond to Berlin with a 2 plus hour layover first in Paris. My sister, Gwen is meeting us there, so that will be a big help. I was able to use our global upgrades to get First Class, ie, Delta One, but not quite sure how this is exactly going to work out.
In a previous blog post, The road to recovery, I talked about the importance of deep, restorative sleep, for people with ALZ and Catherine has been getting 8-9 and sometimes as many as 10 hours of restorative sleep a night thanks to Mind Restore by Alchemy. I am an affiliate so if you use code RESTORE you get a 15% discount and I get a small reward. They offer a 100% Satisfaction Money Back Guarantee, applicable up to 60 days following your purchase. Trust me it works.
Unfortunately I don’t think it would be such a great idea to give it to her for our flight since it leaves at 5pm and at regular bed time we would only have 3 hours left in our flight. She is hard to get going with less than 6 hours, any how, I probably will just let her nap for a few hours and then wake her with breakfast on the descent.
I did discuss this trip with her Nurse Practitioner at the Integrated Mind Center and her response was simply, “of course you are.” She did give me some great tips for the flight over and back and also in general moving forward. She also gave us some cards to give to the flight attendants of the long haul flights simply saying that my companion has Alzheimer’s. It bought Catherine and I much joy to give her an autographed copy of our book and we all shed a tear or two.
As you can already see I am planning this whole trip out just like I was flying the plane overseas myself. Back when I did that, we always had contingency plans laid out throughout the flight with the goal of getting to the destination safely and on time. In this case this 14 day trip to both Berlin and Scotland are chalked full of tours with the Lock Ness 10k in Scotland.
With no race in Berlin some might be already wondering why we are even going in the first place. There are actually several very good reasons. 7 years this past June I had open heart surgery to replace my leaky aortic valve. Three months later I ran the Berlin Marathon so this race and place hold so many special memories.
We don’t do marathons much anymore so I figured it would be great to just sit back and cheer others on. We were to do a breakfast run but due to Covid it was canceled. Speaking of Covid for a minute, Germany and Scotland are not playing around when it comes to allowing foreigners in their country. I don’t plan on giving many details but no telling as this plan unfolds.
Another reason is that this trip was about 5 months after Catherine was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s and just 1 month prior to her retirement. I followed suit 3 months later and as they say the rest is history. Catherine has been looking forward to seeing all her buddies that work for Marathon Tours and Travel along with the dozen or so new best friends we have met touring and running with them over the last 10 years.
Lastly, I was asked to speak during one of their dinners. Actually three times since the group of 500 can only seat 150 or so at a time. If that generates any book sales that is win-win. More importantly I do love talking about our experience and hope maybe I can inspire others to look at life just a bit differently. Especially if they are ever faced with a life altering ailment like ALZ. Unfortunately unless a miracle happens this will be our last trip to Europe.
Over the last month I have done about a dozen podcast interviews. Most, not specifically about ALZ but more about our attitude toward life in general and our counter intuitive approach towards the disease. Several suggested that I start my own podcast but that sounds too much like work
I try my best not to go into many details when it comes to Catherine’s health. It has always been a sine wave in decline with some days being better than others but still in a slow decline. On the positive note she is usually very cooperative, loves to go for a run, race or long walk and ask me several times a day, “ Did I tell you today that I love you?” So all is good from my perspective.
While we were in Atlanta prior to this trip we did go up to Roswell, Ga to run the Team Maggie’s Dream 10k. and had a fabulous time running along the Chattahoochee river. They have running, walking and biking paths all along it. As always we crossed the finish hand and hand and I even came in second in my age group. Granted there were only two of us but thousands my age did not even bother to try so all is good in my book.
The flight over went better than I could hope but the transition to the six hour time change was an entirely different story. It took three days for Catherine’s circadian rhythm to switch over and since we were doing a lot of tours during that time we were not able to get our usual dose of endorphins from our exercise routine.
The speeches were well received and I only choked up three times during the first one and only once during the last one. I did have a line about how Catherine and I always finish hand and hand but every time I tried to go there I could feel myself ready to out right cry. I am sure most got the sentiment of my speech anyhow.
After Berlin we flew over to Edinburg, Scotland for more tours for two days and then on to Inverness by bus for the Lock Ness 10K on Sunday with more tours prior. To be able to stay in Scotland you have to test within two days of arrival and the form they had you fill out was one that you really have to be motivated to be there to complete in entirely.
Catherine and I had been to Edinburg before and it is part of chapter 35 In our book so I won’t go into details here. It is a bit chillier than I expected so it is once again a layer up type of trip.
Right before we left our book was recommended by ALZAuthors.com. That is a big deal for me since it is the only site that vets books about Alzheimer’s. I wrote a blog post for their site and it will be published when their actual recommendation is announced around the first of next year. I, until then can proudly display this meme on all postings that I do concerning our book this day forward.
We took a leisurely bus ride from Edinburg to Inverness stopping multiple times along the way which included a very nice stop for lunch in Pitlochry. The little town was very quaint. The walk along the River that they had damned but provided a Salmon Walk so the Salmon could make their way around the damn to their spawning area was pretty cool.
Once in Inverness we had two full days of tours which included multiple tours of Castles. We even took an hour long tour of the Lake/ Lock Ness. Unfortunately no Nessie sightings. I gave another speech to the 40 of us in this tour extension and several came up to tell us their own stories.
One gentleman had just had brain surgery to remove a tumor. His chances of living through the operation was less than 50/50 and they doubted his chances of talking, walking and zero chance of completing a marathon which he did. He starts Chemo next week.
Another world traveler, Cyrus, which we had been to Madagascar together completed his 50th marathon in a different country for a total of over 200. His wife, Ardie joined him on this trip and I followed her successful battle with cancer through Cyrus’s posts. As I mentioned during my speech everyone has a story and many you can not tell what they might be by simply looking at them.
The 10k race was mostly, slightly, downhill and the Sun Gods were out the entire time for us. I understand the Marathoners were not so lucky. Our time was 20 seconds faster than the last 10K in Georgia but we were not there for the time. It was the scenery and the people that brought us to this neck of the woods. I just wish it had been a tad warmer and sunnier but when you travel the world you really have no control of the weather.
We are now starting our trek back to the states. Our route has us overnighting in Amsterdam so not only did we have to provide a negative Covid test 72 hours prior to departure to get back in the states but also we had to use the same test to overnight in the Netherlands 48 hours prior to departure.
Overall it was well worth all the paperwork, multiple testing and vaccination requirements because at heart Catherine and I were born to roam. But I do have to admit having to wear our masks for 17 plus hours there and back was a bit nerve racking. However Catherine handled it like the true trooper she is.
It is interesting that when I started this blog entry I was certain this would be our last trip overseas but now as I reflect on the last two weeks now I am more prone to take a never say never type attitude. It would definitely be with a group including tours and most likely to someplace new.
We have a trip planned to Costa Rica for a week in the middle of January with Marathon Expeditions so for now it is a go as we take it one day at a time. There will be plenty of running on that trip. In retrospect I probably should have planned better so we could get more exercise in but deep down I did not want to miss anything on the many tours. I will make sure to make up for it when we get back to Atlanta.
We usually have an easier time transitioning when we get back to the states but this will be a very long day with the stop in JFK. I had to go this route to ensure we both got the upgrades so it is well worth the extra few hours of travel time.
It only took Catherine one day to transition her body clock but on night two I still have a ways to go. We did get in a good hard 4 mile run yesterday and we are off to our all time favorite place to run, The Silver Comet.
Since we don’t drink Alcohol anymore we traded that vice for a Mocha Green Tea for Catherine and Pumpkin Spice Latte for me. I know the perfect place near the Silver Comet to enjoy on the way back to the hotel after another not so hard 5 mile run/walk.
The other indulgence is dessert but I figure with us running or walking just about every day we deserve it. Calories in equals calories out.
i have our schedule planned out through Thanksgiving with trips to Connecticut, Kentucky, Indiana, Oregon, California, Washington and another Half Marathon in New Mexico. I pretty much decided to take December and parts of January to get our Motor Home, “The Crib”, back up running. It has been sitting up now for several years in Fort Myers, Florida so no telling what I am in store for.
As they say in the movie Nomadland, see you down the road.