Two New Hampshire girls hike the 500-mile Camino de Santiago to raise money for women around the world.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Miscellaneous but Important Last Minute Items

Good Lord, we leave tomorrow.

First, we will go to services at Starr King Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  Then we will walk to the Plymouth bus station and catch a ride to Boston Logan Airport.

Did all the very-last-minute things today.  I cleaned the house, went over everything with our house/pet sitter (she's living here while we're away), put our liquids in plastic bags (airport requirements), did a final load of laundry, took one last six mile training hike, and made sure we do indeed have everything we need in our backpacks.


Last week, Sarah Stewart, the minister at Starr King, blessed us in front of the congregation and wished us well.  We appreciated that.  I'm agnostic, but one can still feel the power of a group's good vibes even if one doesn't quite believe in any specific religion.


MadRiver came over this morning to wish us well.  It was good to see him.  We will always have a soft spot in our hearts for MadRiver -- he was such a wonderful part of both Alex and Sage's first round of the New Hampshire 48, and I'm happy to have been able to immortalize him in Up.  :)


I've decided that every post I write from here on out will have a brief "thank you" section, for so many of you have donated to Global Fund for Women and/or GirlVentures, and so many have donated items to our raffle and/or bake sale.

Today's thank-you goes to the folks who signed my guestbook at  I have an account over there (my trail name is Blackbird).  Juanita Hall, Rocky & Swamp Fox, Jack Frost, "A Friend," and Ned the Fed, thank you so much for all your well-wishes!  Ned, yes, we will definitely encounter snow, especially during our first few days from SJPP to Pamplona, but the girls and I are experienced winter mountain hikers and we are used to hiking 10-18 miles at a time in subzero (F) temperatures.  That being said, I highly doubt we'll go over the Napoleon Route.  I don't know that mountain at all and I won't have my usual winter sleeping bag and bivy for just-in-case scenarios.  Also, the weather forecast calls for cloudy skies and snow all day so I doubt we'd have decent visibility anyway.  We don't mind, though.  We have mountains where we live and we don't feel any burning desire to go the Napoleon way.  We'll follow Charlemagne's tracks instead and be happy with Valcarlos.   


For those who'd like to know, the following's a brief account of my last-minute medical scare.

Last Tuesday, after a scheduled ultrasound, I was told I might have a new clot in my leg and pelvic region.  Since I was already on blood thinners, that news shocked and frightened me.  Blood thinners are supposed to prevent people from getting new clots.

I'm no stranger to blood clots, having had an extensive one ten years ago while I was pregnant with Alex.  Turns out I have a genetic disposition to blood clotting (MTHFR C677T mutation).  That clot dissolved as best it could; what's left of it is now a permanent part of my veins and presents no danger of embolism.  A new clot -- especially one that forms while on a person is on therapeutic levels of blood thinners -- can mean something nasty.  A common cause of new clots while on blood thinners is hidden, late-stage cancer.  As in, less-than-a-few-months-to-live cancer.  I'm 42 years old.  All five of my mother's brothers died of cancer in their 50s and 60s.  My grandmother had ovarian cancer.  My cousins have had breast cancer.  Needless to say, I was worried.

My primary care physician, Dr. Leigh Firn at MIT Medical, got me an appointment with Dr. Samuel Goldhaber, a leading hematologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital.  Dr. Goldhaber thought that perhaps the remaining pieces of my tamed old clot were attempting to impersonate a new one..the good folks who read ultrasound images can sometimes mistake old clot for new.  He scheduled a MRV (magnetic resonance venography), which is similar to an MRI.  MRVs can determine the age of a clot.  The problem was, the earliest day they could do this test was yesterday.

I spent all last week preparing for the worst -- I made my will, I inquired about last-minute flight cancellations, and I thought long and hard about the possibilities of late-stage cancer.  I learned that I am not afraid of death -- but I do not want my children to go through the trauma of losing a parent.  I learned that when the chips are down regarding my health or the children, Hugh always comes through.  I learned that there are a lot of wonderful and kind people out there who are free with their positive messages and warm wishes.  Thank you, friends.  I kept all that uncertainty off this blog and off my author Facebook account because I did not want to introduce a last-minute element of drama to this true story unless I absolutely had to.  On my personal Facebook account, however, I posted what was going on because I needed the emotional support.  All last week, I went through the motions of getting ready for the Camino but I did not really believe we were going to be able to go after all.

The test was done yesterday morning at 7am.  We drove through a snowstorm to get there, and when it was over I found out that all three of the doctors who are associated with me and this test were not going to be in their offices that day to let me know of the results!  Thankfully, the secretary of one of those doctors (Susanna -- she's an angel) asked another specialist (Dr. Pende) to talk with the radiologist and call me with the results.  A few hours later, I was told that the clot was old, there was no new clot, and that I could go ahead with the Camino without worry or fear for my health.

So there you have it.

Shoot, one thing we didn't do was the last-minute hair trim.  Ah well, we'll have to start our Camino scraggly.  :)

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Oh, my, that is a scare! I'm so relieved to hear that everything is OK.

It does seem like there are so many details to attend to when we're getting ready to leave on a trip. I hope the rest of the last minute preparations go smoothly.