|By Koconnorc - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69832417|
The 2022 installment of the GWO Tour has started off a bit different than in years passed. The tone is a bit less jovial, the excitement overshadowed and the uncertainty of the near future is a new unwelcome companion.
Starting around mid May I contracted what I thought was for sure Covid-19, with all the coughing and congestion. It was so bad at one point, I had to sleep on the couch so Ryan could get some shut eye. But after a couple home tests and a trip to urgent care (my 88 yr old dad was coming within days) my tests were all negative and seemed to be a case of bronchitis. Fluids and rest meant no bike riding for me. I couldn't even go to the gym for all the coughing. My symptoms started to improve and continued that way during my dad's visit and we had a great time. Ryan, however, begun to battle something similar and it was all we could do to keep Dad from catching it. Soon after Dad left, my ailment returned with a vengeance. A second trip to urgent care forced another Covid test (negative) and a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. I received a script for some real meds and I doubled-down on immunity supplements (the kind people take during chemo) and hoped for the best. I felt fine other than the congestion and the constant nasal drip. Forcing all the air out of my lungs, I could hear all the mucus bubbles popping. One could have assumed I smoked a pack a day! Eventually, I made my way back into the gym only a few weeks before heading north. I had been working out since January, having finally committed to a routine for my sport as a New Year's resolution, and I didn't want to lose any more fitness. By the time we left Florida on July 1, we were more or less over the worst of whatever it was but hadn't ridden a single pedal stroke in over two months. We were hoping a change in environment would further assist in our recovery.
Driving home to Nebraska takes two solid 12-hours days. On the second day, less than two hours from home, I got a call from my brother, Jay, telling me Mom was in the hospital, suffering from a fall. We didn't know the extent of it as she had just been taken by ambulance, and even by the time we arrived, she was being told she didn't have a break. But she was in severe pain and couldn't move her right leg. Another set of x-rays the next day revealed a fracture in her femur and she was to have surgery on July 4. The surgery went great and she was told she'd be up walking in a few days. Well, when you're 82, that's not totally accurate. The reality was mom ended up going to a rehab facility and is still there, three weeks later. I was happy to be home to help with the transition and leaving her was excruciating. My siblings are there and her husband of course but mom's not an easy customer. She didn't like it and was scared, as anyone would be and I felt terrible for heading off to play. It didn't seem fair. Almost three weeks in and it's all hands on deck to get her through this. It's been challenging for all involved and we've only just started. My mom is one of the toughest women I know but age does something to people sometimes that erodes the confidence thought to be impenetrable. Doubt and shame creep in like an unwanted guest. I worry that they're here to stay.
As I write this, I feel a pull towards home. My real home. Not where all my crap is but where all my familial connections lye. I've been back once already since heading west, to help relieve my brothers and step-dad, by hanging out with Mom; trying to make her laugh and forget her situation. Sometimes it works.
It's weird becoming the caregiver to a parent but also the most natural thing in the world. I love my mom and will do all I can to assure her return to normal.
My head is in the mountains, but my heart is home.