Tag Archives: Irony

The One Day Fishin’ Expedition

Note – I wrote this 8 years ago for my father… thought maybe to submit  it to a fishing magazine… but  it was lost… luckily Dad printed and saved a hard copy. 

Yesterday went fishin’ with Dad… a lifelong  fishing enthusiast/fanatic… building his own fly fishing poles and  tying every one of his own flies. He taught me how to fish when I was a mere 3 years old and to tie flies at 6. A few years ago Dad presented me with a box of flies tagged with dates, that I had tied at 4 – 6 years old. Even with that beginning, I  wish I could say I shared his dedication to fishing.

At 50 something, I am not even remotely a dedicated fisherman… picking up a fishing pole once or maybe twice a year to spend time with my Dad. I would not know the difference between a “rapalla”, “spoon” or “red devil”… that they are all fishing lures is all I can say. I know the difference between a “dry” and a “wet” fly but, other than that I would not know how to even begin to guess what kind of, color of, or size of lure or fly to tie on my line. I count on Dad for that important information.. that is until the time comes for me to change, mostly because I have “lost” the fly or lure due to a mishap like… well, read on…

When I need another fly, I rely on my time tested (but not too successful) method of looking in the box of flies and asking, “If I were a fish today what would look yummy?” It never ceases to make me chuckle … but also seldom results in the catching of a fish. Nope, fishing for me is a way to spend time with the man who did so much (and still does) for me… doing the thing he loves best. As for me I can take or leave the sport … which may explain my very low “catch rate”. I often quip to Dad and anyone else who will listen… that MY definition of a successful day fishing is one in which the fish leave me alone. I am sure I stole that line from someone…

DADFISHIN

So, the One Day Fishing Expedition story begins… 8 am and we are on the road… of course the requisite sandwiches, snacks and day ending beers are packed in the cooler. We head to the Sweetwater River, although from my parents’ house it is a fifteen minute drive to the Popo Agie River and a 30 – 40 minute drive to Louis Lake in the mountains … from either place we could jump out of the truck and in 5 minutes “drop “ a line and start fishin’… NOPE! … in my family the “DAD (and all my uncles) Way” is to have a few “SECRET” fishing spots that only privileged friends and relatives are taken to. It is to one of these spots we go today… as he and I do every year when I visit. We drive 40 miles over South Pass and then 15-20 miles on an ever-worsening dirt road to a dead end on the banks of the Sweetwater River arriving an hour and a half after our departure from home.  We don our fishing gear… hats, waders vests, creels, etc. set up our poles and then set out hiking yet another 1/2 hour up to the “secret” spot.

Finally Dad says, “You start here, I ‘m goin’ up stream a bit”… and off he plods another few hundred meters. The plan is: we will fish our way back to the truck.

As soon as Dad is out of sight I am transformed into the little kid who wants only to “catch the big one” and garner my father’s approval…but I expect that as usual I will have no better luck at this spot any more than all the other “SECRET” spots visited over the years… which means my luck is usually “NO LUCK”… translated that means that the “strike” ( where a fish tries to bite the fly) is rare and me actually hooking , fighting and landing the fish is akin to winning the lottery.

So it is with surprise that after the third or fourth cast I watch a fish dart out from under the bank and “strike” my fly… so unprepared for that rare event I react too slowly and the fish returns to his repose under the bank (after figuring out that what he was biting was not healthy for him). He learned quicker than I, and would not rise to my  repeated offers of the same fly… and so it went from there…

For the next hour and a half I spent 2/3’s of my time engaged in my “favorite” fishing activity… disentangling my line and fly from various trees, bushes, underwater snags and rocks that have been unfortunate enough to be near me and my casts. Usually I lose 2 or 3 of dad’s flies every time we fish… and I end up feeling like I did as a kid… hopeless, helpless and raging with embarrassment. No wonder dad ties flies all winter long… building up stock for me to lose. I vow “TODAY I may not catch a fish BUT, I will NOT lose a fly!” I carefully sort out the snags, wade the river back and forth to recover the fly, time and time again.

At least Dad is upstream far enough so as not to see my antics… UNTIL a particularly MEAN and NASTY willow bush grabs up my line. Dad comes around the river bend as I am peering to see where my fine monofilament line is going in the bush. From the other side of the river he yells, “HERE, USE THIS” and tosses something across to my side of the river. It is a gadget that he has made that attaches to the end of a fishing pole with a large triple hook attached to some heavy nylon string… it looks like a grappling hook… AHA! I put the device on the pole … grapple the  branch …use the nylon line to pull it down … untangle the fly line and fly. “NEAT device”… worked like a charm”, I yell. But, dad has moved downstream ahead of me. I admire his ingenuity… and suddenly realize that in all the (50 some) years I have gone fishing with Dad, he has always had the tool, device, gadget to get me out of trouble every time I got in… AND not one of those things looked new or unused. In a flash of insight I realize that Dad has had to contend with all the same situations too… ONLY after years and years of practice he avoids most of the embarrassing situations without a thought… Maybe there was hope for me yet.

I had been two hours on the river and yet to lose a fly… even though a breeze was blowing (a breeze can feel like a gale when you are trying to cast a 1/4 oz fly on a hair thin monofilament line , 25 feet across a river) I seemed to be getting the fly to go where I wanted. I saw a likely looking hole near a semi submerged bush (a potential snag). “There must be a nice fish in that hole” I thought and decided to try and entice him out… the first cast hit the water perfectly upstream where I wanted and floated just in front of the snag and across the hole… WOW!… second cast and again the cast hit the water perfectly upstream and floated just in front of the snag and across the hole… DOUBLE WOW!… a third cast … the same. Maybe there wasn’t a fish in that hole … but one more cast … just to make sure. I was feeling smug.  As I wound up for the cast, dad rounded the corner … I let loose and ZAP… snagged! My face flushing with embarrassment, anger and frustration, I cussed as I waded the river once more. The fly was snagged under the bush so I delicately balanced and reached under, using the line to guide my hand to the fly… and the line broke. MY first fly of the day LOST! … SH…ugar! Thankfully Dad had, by then, moved on.

I sat down and used my time honored/not too successful fly selection method… “WHAT looks YUMMY?”… The new fly performed as usual as an hour passed without a nibble… I decided to select another tempting treat from the box of flies. Dad once again emerged from around the bend… so I asked what he would try… “This one”, he said and moved on.

30 minutes passed and having once again leap-frogged dad, I spied a snag and a hole right behind it… I could almost imagine a neon arrow point to the hole flashing “FISH…FISH…FISH” . I set up and casted between the snag and the hole… the fly landed perfectly, drifted to the hole … SURE ENOUGH.. a medium sized brown trout darted out and hit the fly… I jerked the pole to set the fly and the line flopped back to me… without the trout or the FLY!

DOUBLE SH…ugar!

The fish was still there … I  could see  him under the bank… I glanced around … dad was still up river… I quickly opened the fly box, selected the most “YUMMY” fly, quickly tied it on and got ready to cast, when dad poped around the corner, again.

“Any luck?” he asked. “We’ll see”, I replied. I cast in front of the hole… nothing …I cast again… nothing… Dad moved behind me … a third cast and the trout hit the fly…  BUT this time, I was ready… a flick of the wrist and the hook was set.

For the next few minutes the trout and I fought it out as dad watched… I slowly worked the fish to the bank, to my hand, unhooked and released the trout back to his lair. Dad had already caught more than enough fish for a nice dinner. No need to keep this fish.

Dad said, “Well done.” … I grinned and replied, “You know what I have just done don’t you?”

Dad looked puzzled and I added, “ I have just ruined my “successful” day fishing.” We both laughed…

The rest of the way back to the truck was devoid of any strikes or catches and soon we were sitting on the tailgate of the truck sipping beer, munching potato chips, eating our sandwiches and laughing about this day, other days and memories of past fishing trips.

As we departed  the river on our way home, I was feeling satisfied, contented…

As I said earlier… for me, fishing has never been about catching a fish … it is about the best catch of all … a day spent with my DAD.

Husband for SALE… My Perspective

My newsletter to friends and family… From My point of view – Tilster

For Sale: One Husband

Recently reconditioned but with a few parts missing, fully functioning with some tender care & maintenance!

January 22, 2014   Just look at those legs!!

PRICELESS!!!

Before I begin our saga, know that we are well. I had to think long and hard, procrastinating about how and when to share with you our latest adventure and how it has played itself out.

In the Beginning

How could you know that a simple blood test and a trip to Starbucks right after, would be the entrance into a dark tunnel filled with fear, doubt, anger, hope and recovery? Now, ten days after entering that black tunnel, we are re-emerging into the light.

As many of you are aware, Mike hasn’t been feeling his normal self lately. We put this down to the turbulence of retirement, allergies, changes of climate and country ….. never thinking it might be anything serious. At the end of September, we returned to Bahrain in response to an urgent plea from our former school; they were seriously short of teachers. Retirement not being quite what we thought it would be, it didn’t take us long to consider the offer and to accept. Within weeks, we were in Bahrain, happy to be back. Mike kept complaining about cold/flu – like symptoms and a burning in his chest so in November, we went to the ENT (ear/nose/throat) who did indeed find severe allergies and treated Mike for them. We decided to holiday in California for the winter break during the last two weeks of December, returning to Bahrain January 1st. While in California, we went on a hike with our good friends Shelley and Bernard but after the first 15 minutes, we had to turn back as Mike couldn’t make it.

We have a favorite place we like to go walking here, called Arad. It is a 3km walkway around a man made bay where the sea water fills the bay during high tide and leaves a mud flat during low. It is a beautiful place to walk, populated with flamingoes in ever-growing numbers, newly sprouting mangrove trees and all kinds of herons attracted by the multitude of fish. Usually, I have to stretch my legs to keep up with Mike but in the first week  back, it was Mike who couldn’t keep up with me, having to stop often to allow him to catch his breath and to allow the burning in his chest to subside. After that walk, we stopped by the hospital to make a follow up appointment with the same ENT. He checked Mike, said all was fine and escorted us up to the cardiologist. Immediately, the cardiologist took an ECG, sent Mike off for a chest X-ray and ordered blood tests, a stress test and a heart ultrasound. However, we had to wait a day for the last three tests as insurance had to okay it first. A few days later we had the okay from insurance to go ahead. Between fasting and working Mike eventually went in early on Jan. 13th which happened to be a holiday for us. You know what it’s like when you have to fast for a blood test …. you want a coffee and some food right after so off we went to Starbucks. We were just ordering our coffee when we received an emergency call from the technician at the lab, pleading/insisting that we come back for a re-test of Mike’s hemoglobin. We asked if we could finish our coffees – she said yes but to come as soon as possible. Still, we weren’t all that worried….what were we thinking??

Mike’s hemoglobin level turned out to be at “a panic level” of 4.9 (normal for males is 13 – 17). We found out later from doctors that anyone having this level is usually unconscious but because Mike’s body had adapted to this, he was still able to function. (Mike says it’s because he never uses his brain LOL!!)  We were next escorted to the ER. They wouldn’t let him leave. The task? To find out why his hemoglobin was so low.

Days of Discovery and Doubt

So …. an internist was called in who explained that given Mike’s age and symptoms, the most likely cause was internal bleeding in the gastric department. He was scheduled for an emergency endoscopy and colonoscopy. You all know about the preparation for that!! In addition he was given three units of packed red blood cells within the first night and day of being admitted. After that, he was feeling pretty good, other than the fact he couldn’t eat anything. The procedures showed a bleeding lesion and a tumor in an area of the colon called the ‘hepatic flex’ the bend of colon that passes in front of the liver on it’s way to join the small intestine. That’s important because of it’s proximity to the liver. Mike was still recovering from the sedative when the Doctor called me in to talk to her. She showed the pictures, explained that what I was seeing was a tumor …. and there my mind stopped working on anything other than the “C” word. “Yes” she said in response to my query, “99.9% sure! It is cancer!” She went on to explain and tell me what the next steps would be … a CT scan to see how much of the area was affected (we learned later that if the CT scan had shown any involvement of the liver or other surrounding tissues, they would not have done surgery right away. It was a good sign, not that we knew it at the time). The CT scan came back clear which meant that the liver appeared not to be involved. The procedures and the results of the procedures and CT scan were on Wednesday, Jan.15; surgery was scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 18. That whole time, Mike felt great (thanks to more RBCs) even though his favorite pastime (eating) was limited to clear liquids. On Saturday, the day of his surgery, we found out that our doctor here had arranged for a laparoscopic specialist to be flown in from Muscat, Dr. Lada. He was delightful….born and educated in Belgium….came to see us beforehand, drew us pictures and told us that he came just for us….that he wasn’t going to be in a hurry….so he inspired confidence. The surgery took three and a half hours ….doctors were pleased with how it went. They took out half the colon and a bit of the small intestine for re-attachment purposes as well as all of the associated lymph glands. Needless to say, for the first 24 hours Mike was in excruciating pain. Since then, we have come to learn more about what happened and what the tumor is. But first, let me delve into the anger part of our adventure.

Days of Anger

I slept on the couch in Mike’s room that first night. (I have spent most of every day in the hospital with Mike.) Willing as I was to do that the next night as well, Mike insisted I sleep at home in my own bed. His insistence, in addition to the associated aches and pains of sleeping on the couch, convinced me, so off I went – home. I was exhausted so by 830 pm I was in my PJs, ready for bed when Mike called, in an overpowering fit of rage. He had been in a deep sleep, full of pain meds and every and anything else they could pump him full of. The hospital admissions called him on the phone, out of this deep sleep, to tell him that insurance wouldn’t cover his hospital stay and that he had to pay 7500 BD or $20,000 USD!!! At 830 at night, the day after surgery!! Everything had been pre-approved! On came my clothes, up went my heart rate, into high alert, adrenalin on!!!! Raced over to the hospital to find Mike, so angry that pain was sidelined, stomping around the room hanging on to his drain (abdominal drain to collect blood and fluids from the surgery site), trying to call, threatening the nurses he would check out of the hospital, blood pressure up “higher than a cat’s back” and everyone around him scurrying around, trying to calm him down. Into that mess, I stepped. Tried more or less successfully to calm Mike down, put him into a wheel chair and wheeled him down to admissions (the phone in our room wouldn’t work) to call the insurance office in Dubai….. of course, there couldn’t be a solution….but they could at least have waited until morning for this bombshell. Put him back into bed and stayed until midnight. Then I went home to a more or less sleepless night. Next day, we went into action, making calls, writing letters, threatening the school, talking to the hospital admissions, doctors rallying fully behind us, and meanwhile having everyone reassure us that all would be well etc etc.  The insurance company did what all insurance companies do….they find any reason possible not to pay. Here were theirs:

Cancer is chronic – they don’t cover it.

It’s a pre-existing condition – they don’t cover pre-existing conditions.

We came back to Bahrain, late in the school year, just so Mike could get treatment!!

Our responses?? Thanks to the encouragement of our dear friend Carol, Mike went to my doctor in Kamloops while we were taking care of Peaceful Cove Resort and had a blood test. Thanks again to Carol’s coaching, Mike had it done at Life Labs and so was able to access the results online here and thus be able to prove that 10 months prior, his hemoglobin was normal as were the markers for cancer. That took care of number 1 and number 2. As far as coming back – Nargis, our HR person at the school,  took care of that by telling them she is the one who asked us to come back and teach. Mike wrote a scathingly brilliant letter to the insurance company, outlining our point of view, a copy of the blood tests with the added threat that should it be necessary, a court of law would most likely see it our way. Then, it became a waiting game. We didn’t have long to wait….yesterday, Jan. 22, we were informed by the insurance company themselves, via     e mail, that they would cover us 100%!

Days of Recovery and Hope

Now, it is today, Thursday, January 23rd. Mike is still in hospital, continuing his recovery. Today, we learned from the oncologist that the preliminary pathology indicates that he will NOT need chemo or radiation treatment. He has what is called an adenocarcinoma….slow growing….they think they have gotten it all. The lymph nodes have been pronounced clear as have the surrounding organs, and the tumor did not penetrate the outer wall of the colon. It has been there for a while so we consider ourselves lucky. In fact, we are filled with gratitude for the way everything has turned out. It could have been so much worse…! Apparently, if it had been known Mike had such a tumor, he would not have been permitted to fly because of the high risk of it bursting in midair. It is anticipated that Mike will be allowed to go home in a few more days.

Days of Learning

God, the Universe, the Fates, Karma, Entities or Deities of choice……keep trying to teach us the lesson of living in the moment. And so….in contradiction of the lesson we have just learned…..we are busy trying to plan how and when we want to return to Canada LOL! The real lesson is to take every day as it is offered and to cherish every moment you have with your loved ones. This latest episode of life has clearly shown us that there are no guarantees…Mike says, the Germans have a saying…..”Der mensch denkt, Gott lenkt.” Roughly translated it means “Man pleads, God leads!” When will we ever learn to let God lead?

PS: Bidding starts at all the money in the world……not enough!!!

Love & hugs

Tilly & Mike

Healthy as a Horse… “Dear God…”

5  February 2014

Only 3 weeks ago my tumor was discovered and my journey as a colon cancer patient began.

Today I am as though I had never been ill. I still have a bandage covering the still slightly tender incisions required for surgery.  But, other than that I feel so much better… it is at times difficult for me to remember that I was sick, much less that I was life-threatening sick.

As I reflect on the last three weeks, I am filled with an intense gratitude … for the doctors… for the nurses… for the staff of the hospital…. for the “universe”.

I laugh to myself as I think of an atheist’s prayer … “Dear God, I don’t really believe in you BUT thanks anyway.”

My cancer was a Stage II Grade 2 Adenocarcinoma… technical jargon a T3 N0 M0 …. All that stuff means is that it was a slow growing cancer that had not spread beyond the colon… had no lymph nodes involved and no spread to other parts of the body … IN SHORT … the surgery appears to have successfully removed all of the tumor. There are no HIGH RISK factors for recurrence. But that does not mean I can relax … still have tests every 3 months and a yearly colonoscopy… small price to pay to prevent another emergency surgery.

So, what am I? A cancer survivor? Cured? A statistic? Or am I just one very lucky victim who escaped the onslaught of a monstrous giant seeking to devour all who come within its shadow?

No I am just a guy in whose body some cells had their software go haywire and grow crazily. Luckily it was discovered in time and the mal-programmed cells were removed before they could spread their bad programming  elsewhere.

Til and I are now walking between 3 & 6km every day. We shopped for running shoes. I now hope to do some long distance running again. My first goal… 10k…. then maybe a half-marathon. Never thought I would run ANY distance again.

So I am on the mend… PHYSICALLY

Flashback to 28 January…

I just finished a call with Chris ( my son)… my world has been rocked with a 9.5 emotional earthquake. Chris has been fighting an infection in his jaw…. now after a biopsy the preliminary diagnosis is CANCER. The doctors are planning a second biopsy to confirm the result but his primary doctor is not holding out much hope. How I pray it will turn out negative.

“Dear God… I know what I said about believing in in you BUT can you do a repeat for Chris? Thanks in advance.” and I try to chuckle again…

how do I deal with this? It was easy when I was sick… but this is my son! My eyes keep watering up… i really feel… NO it is too early …have to wait for the 2nd biopsy results… there is always a chance… i am almost afraid to say “a mistake” because I might jinx it.  And my mind fills with images and memories… Chris at 3 wearing his bear claw slippers kicking a football around the living room… his best imitation of Rich Karlis… Bronco barefoot kicker (Chris heard BEARfoot) I smile and then the eyes water again…

Flash forward to yesterday… 4 February

This may be the worst day of my life so far… Chris called early. the 2nd biopsy confirms… Cancer. Surgical removal of part of his jaw will be required. Then, reconstruction of his jaw with bone taken from his leg bone(s)… then chemo and radiation therapy.

I am in a state of shock, astonished, gob-smacked, stunned, … my first thought turn skyward… “WHY?… WHY Chris? …. “ I want to rage, rail and scream…

Then the eyes water up again… I see the little boy running ….with his football, not a care… tossing a baseball to me and catching the return throw… I want to grab him up & run like hell to safety. ONLY the little boy is a grown man now AND  there is nothing I can do… I can’t even take on his burden and pain as every parent wishes they could for their suffering children.

My God, how the emotions flow… alternating between profound sadness and rage… I want to cry one minute and scream the next…

Two things occur to me simultaneously… One: none of my emotional drama has any effect on Chris or his condition… Two: this emotional drama is not conducive to my own health and well being … SO NOW that I am back to NORMAL (as normal as I can be),  it is time to focus all my thought and concern on Chris. And keep sending my positive vibes to him.

“Dear God …