So that’s the name of a book. Which I’m reading. For obvious reasons.
The other day, the sound of a helicopter caused me to have a panic attack.
Yes, ’twas a helicopter that airlifted me out of the desert.
But the sound of those buzzing blades takes me back to the Friday night and Saturday afternoon when a chopper flew for hours near the area where I lay. For me, it’s a noise that reminds me of how it feels to lay helpless.
Last week, Hubs and I went back. A member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Search and Rescue Team led us back out to the area where I was found.
The hike itself was empowering.
I can do this, I told myself again and again. And I did. I even found my little mesquite tree all by myself.
But the hard part is the now. Because with that trip came new pieces of knowledge.
For one — I didn’t realize how far off the trail I was. Nor did I know that I probably wouldn’t have been found if I hadn’t been able to yell for help when search teams were near. I was in a deep ravine in a cut. No way was the helicopter ever going to see me.
I also didn’t know that coyotes were gathering 200 yards downwind of where I lay unable to move.
Search-and-rescue teams had heard them yipping and howling all morning — calls from one family of coyotes to another. When I was found, a pack of half a dozen had assembled, waiting for the smell of imminent death that would let them know it was time to approach and attack.
I don’t blame them. Coyotes have survived by being opportunists.
This week, my medical records arrived in the mail. Apparently, my body was in the midst of renal failure when I was found.
So the coyotes were pretty dead-on. A few more hours, and I would have been oblivious to their attack.
Or maybe I wouldn’t have been oblivious. Maybe I would have been all too aware and yet unable to fight back.
Regardless. On the one hand, I feel good about going back. At the same time, I’m now subject to a new kind of panic attack. I feel like my body remains adrenalized, poised for a fight that’s over.
Right now, I cherish evenings, when I’m at home, snuggled up in blankets and surrounded by my children and husband.
Daytime finds me irritable. Why can’t people appreciate how good they have it? Why can’t people quit bothering me while I heal?
I’m not talking about those who want to know how I’m doing. I’m referring to those who can’t understand why I haven’t just snapped back. Why I’m not jumping when they snap their fingers or call me umpteen times a week.
I’m trying. I really am. But please. Give me a little more time to find the me that was the reporter — the me that wasn’t a victim.
Because right now, on most mornings, I would rather just stay in bed, huddled under the covers where it’s safe.
As most of you know, I’ve been struggling to remove cactus needles from my hands and mouth ever since my rescue from Big Bend Ranch State Park.
First, I want to thank all of those who have called with or emailed suggestions. I so appreciate it.
I’ve soaked my hands, used glue, Duck tape, baking soda and salve. But the needles embedded in my hands and mouth look like small, fine hairs. And they’re barbed. My last resort: hot wax, per the suggestion of websites devoted to cactus-needle removal.
Yesterday, I got another phone call, this time from a man — Terry Holler — who works at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s print shop.
Terry, it turns out, is a licensed massage therapist. But the magical words he uttered were:
“I have an industrial hot wax machine.”
I resisted the impulse to declare my love. But I was, well, rather enthusiastic in my reaction to this news.
“I can bring it tomorrow,” he told me. “It takes two or three hours to heat up.”
No problem, I assured him. Just call me when it’s ready.
The timing was perfect. You see, in the past few days, my body started to reject the needles, just as doctors said it would. This process involves raised, pus-filled blisters, which help force the needles to the surface of the skin.
Today, around 1 p.m., I headed over to the print shop.
Here’s a before photo of one of my afflicted fingers:
Now imagine those blisters all over both hands. Ugh.
Once at the print shop, I dipped each hand into hot wax. Then Terry bagged them up and stuck what appeared to be oven mitts over the bags.
And then we waited.
Once the wax cooled, he peeled it off. Now the blisters were even more prominent. And the needles were even more visible.
Terry took a pair of tweezers and set to work.
I managed not to yelp too often. But my sighs, heavy, “relaxed” breathing and various panicked noises indicated my, er, wussiness.
Bearing in mind that needle removal in the hospital involved a hefty dose of morphine, I thought I was rather restrained, however. At least I didn’t sound like a woman in labor.
Each time Terry plucked out a needle, he held up his magnifying glass so that I could get a good look at it.
And, wow. No wonder I’ve been in pain.
Some of the needles fell to the floor before Terry could lay them on one of the oven mitts. But of those he saved, we counted 11.
So yeah. He managed to get more than 11 teensy little hairlike needles out of my hands and fingers.
The man deserves a medal.
I can’t thank him enough.
Really, I feel as though I was prayed home. My parents and sisters prayed. The congregation at First Presbyterian in Argenta — our church — prayed. And so did countless other churches and prayer groups and, well, people all over this state, many of whom have never even met me.
Several people have noted the timing of my rescue: 12:45 p.m. Central Time on Sunday, pretty much right after church services concluded.
I did a lot of praying myself, granted. But there’s something about knowing that others out there are doing a little chatting-up with God on your behalf.
My mom prayed that I wasn’t scared in Rick’s absence. And you know, I wasn’t. Once he left, I actually felt relieved, because we’d finally made the decision that we both knew was inevitable.
Mainly, I focused on the stars that first night. Out in that part of Texas, where it’s so desolate that there just isn’t light anywhere, the night sky is magnificent.
The Friday after we returned to Arkansas, Rick and I went to our primary-care doctor for follow-up care. He ordered some lab work, which worried me a bit. At the hospital, I had four different IV sites during my time there. And there were a couple of failed attempts to find veins on my hands. I wasn’t confident that there was much left for the lab technician to work with.
“Sorry,” I said, as she poked around for something usable. “I’ve been in the hospital. I’m the one who was lost in the desert.”
She stopped, looked up and grinned.
“I’m one of the Prayer Warriors who prayed for you,” she said.
“Thank you,” I said. “Tell the others it worked.”
I also need to thank the many people who brought over food — first for my parents and kids, and then for Rick and me.
We’re fortunate to know some really talented cooks, so not only are we not in the kitchen, we’re eating food that’s better than we would normally make!
Lastly, there are our many friends who sought to help my parents, who were trying to shield the children from what was happening even as they took calls from Rick and remained in constant communication with sheriff’s dispatchers in the area.
They visited my folks at our house, handled all of the media calls and kept the kids distracted.
Which brings me to one of the little miracles that occurred in our absence.
The Sunday that we were due to return, my parents knew that they would have to tell the children that we weren’t coming home and why. At that point, I remained missing. One of my sisters drove up here and prepared to explain — or to try to explain — everything to our kids.
But that day, just before she sat down with them, one of my friends (Moody Mom, in fact), arrived at the house and offered to take the children over to her place for awhile.
As the kids played over at Kristina’s house, the call came: I had been found. Alive.
That means that when my sister had to tell the children that we wouldn’t be home that night because I had been lost, she also could quickly add that I had been found.
It was only one instance of divine timing.
On Saturday, my dad opened a bottle of champagne he had bought to celebrate our return.
My mom wanted to offer a toast to someone she thought needed toasting. She spoke briefly.
And then, as our glasses clinked together, she mused, “I bet that’s the first time someone made a toast to God.”
First, a big thanks to my fellow Little Rock Mamas for their love and support.
I return to work tomorrow, and can’t wait to see them and the rest of my newsroom family.
As for my rather harrowing adventure — yes, I was found naked. I’ve been giggling like a a teenage boy over all of the media accounts of my nudity when rescuers stumbled across me. London’s Daily Mail account is by far my favorite. It manages to use “naked” four times in the top third of the story.
(Yeah, humor is my favorite coping mechanism.)
I will be writing a story about everything that happened out there. Because, yes — writing also is a form a therapy for me.
Right now, however, I want to thank the many people who worked tirelessly to make sure that I was found.
Tucked under my little shade-tree/bush, I felt so tiny in that vast desert.
I yelled at the helicopter each time it flew over me. I periodically called out for help, just in case any search-and-rescue teams might be nearby.
And then, Sunday, that team of men and women rushed down into the arroyo where I had drifted in and out of consciousness.
I was stunned by the number of people who had been looking for me. And I was even more stunned when I found out that my searchers included not only those in the air and on the ground, but also Arkansas State Police, politicians in Arkansas and Texas, and federal authorities working from both states.
I was not, however, surprised to learn of my newsroom family’s efforts. I knew my friends and bosses would be making calls and hounding anyone they thought might be able to help. So even while lost in the desert, I comforted myself with two facts:
My husband, if he was still alive, wouldn’t quit until I was found.
My newsroom friends would be just as tenacious.
When I refer to those friends, I am including those who used to work at the paper before changing careers, by the way. You can take a journalist out of a newsroom, but …
Anyway, thank you, ALL of you.
I’m on the mend. Recovery is quite a bit slower than I’d like, but I’m trying to be patient. Right now, most of the pain comes from my knee — which may mean yet another doctor’s visit — and from the cactus thorns that remain in my hands and mouth.
(Mouth? Uh. Yeah. I ate a lot of cactus out there. Turns out that even the pulp contains tiny, hairlike needles. Ow.)
I leave you with a photo of my poor, battered, scratched-up legs. (Hubs took this picture in the hospital.)
Yes, they look pretty awful. But those legs served me well. And I have a new appreciation for my body — for both its strengths AND its limits. I would, however, prefer not to put them to the test again anytime soon!
Wishing Cathy a speedy recovery today as she heals from the dehydration, bruises, thorns and needles that have been abusing her for days out in the desert of Texas’ Big Bend State Park. And much love to her family and friends, too.
She’s clearly the toughest mama I know!
For those who have missed it, click here for a much abbreviated version of what happened to our Arkie Mama.
Cathy, better known here at Little Rock Mamas as Arkie Mama, has been found after spending several days in Big Bend Ranch State Park lost and with minimal provisions. She is severely dehydrated, but seems to be doing well.
This story at Arkansas Online has the details as we know them at this time.
We will continue to update this post as we get developments. In the meantime, please send up prayers or good thoughts on Cathy and her family’s behalf. This has been a beyond harrowing experience for everyone involved.
And feel free to leave well wishes on this post for Cathy. We’ll make sure she sees them!
– The rest of the Little Rock Mamas! We love you, Cathy!
Always on the lookout for new dinner options, I subscribe to several recipe websites. Lately, all seem to feature salmon.
Now I have nothing against salmon. But salmon clearly has something against Hubs, which is why it is now banned from our home.
I refer to an incident that occurred several months ago — one that took about 10 years off of my life.
Hubs and I were eating a late dinner — salmon with a crusty dill topping — asparagus and corn. One minute we were conversing and having a perfectly pleasant meal and the next … well, Hubs lurched forward, hit the floor on all fours and started wheezing.
At first, I thought he was choking. So I whacked him sharply on the back and prepared to attempt the Heimlich.
But after I hit him, he waved me away.
And then he continued to wheeze and gasp. The children, who were getting ready for bed at the time, rushed into the living room.
“What is Daddy doing?” the eldest asked.
“Dad, why are you on the floor?” the younger chimed in.
And then I helpfully added my input: “If you don’t stop that right now, I am calling 911!”
That’s right, folks. I actually thought I could threaten Hubs back into good health. Or at least an upright position.
In response, he merely wheezed.
So I called 911.
When the dispatcher answered, the conversation went something like this:
Me: “Uh. Yeah. I think my husband is having some sort of allergic reaction to the salmon we were eating for dinner —”
Dispatcher: “Is he choking?”
Me: “Umm… well, no, I don’t think so. He can talk and wave his arm…”
Hubs: “Hang” — gasp, wheeze — “up” – wheeze — “the phone.”
Me, cheerily: “Never mind!”
Hubs lurched to his feet and staggered off to the bathroom, where he continued to wheeze while I forced Benedryl and a glass of water down him.
The Benedryl, of course, knocked him out, which left me awake and alone and constantly checking to make sure that Hubs was still breathing. I also did a little Googling and decided that Hubs had developed an adult allergy to salmon.
The next morning, Hubs’ face was swollen — so much so that his eyes resembled mere slits, supported by two very puffy cheeks.
“You are allergic to salmon,” I declared.
“I am not,” Hubs replied indignantly.
(Because, really, this rugged deer hunter and carnivore is made of sterner stuff. How dare I suggest he was overcome by a mere slab of fish?)
But when he went in to the newsroom, even those unaware of the salmon incident remarked upon his appearance.
“What’s wrong with your face?” Moody Mom asked as Hubs slunk through the photo department.
I pestered Hubs into going to the doctor. Unfortunately, our regular doc wasn’t in, so Hubs saw some dude who declared that Hubs had merely choked on the fish.
“Did you show him your face?” I inquired incredulously.
“Well, given he was looking at me during the exam, I’m sure he couldn’t help but see my face,” Hubs replied dryly.
“Did you tell him you don’t usually” — I pushed up my cheeks and slitted my eyes for effect — “look like that? Does he really think you look like that all of the time? Seriously?”
“Well,” Hubs said, “it’s not like he’s seen me before. How would he know what my face usually looks like?”
“But did you tell him that you don’t normally resemble a puffer fish?”
“He says I’m not allergic to salmon,” Hubs persisted.
“You’re not a wuss if you’re allergic to salmon,” I reassured him, patting his arm.
“But I’m NOT allergic to salmon!”
“OK, fine. You’re not. But if you ever decide to eat it again, you will do so while sitting outside of the ER.”
So yes. My husband’s vanity supercedes all common sense. Meanwhile, I’m not even buying a bag of cat food that contains even a hint of salmon because I’m worried that Hubs might end up collapsing in a helpless heap whilst simply trying to feed the cat.
So, thoughts? I still worry that he might be tempted to prove me wrong at some point. And if he does so, I will NOT cancel that 911 call.
For me, the most remarkable discovery upon enrolling my first child in elementary school was the bizarre expectation that ALL parents would attend ALL class parties. Christmas, Valentine’s, you name it.
I grew up in the ’70s. Back then, the only mom who showed up at class parties was the room mom, who passed out cupcakes and helped the teacher ensure that a classroom of sugar-fueled kids didn’t wreak too much havoc before the final bell rang.
But these days, everyone — from working parents to those who stay at home — attends all class parties. Most of the parents stand around awkwardly, hovering over their kids’ crafts with fake enthusiasm or texting desperately on their smart phones.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need for a couple of volunteers. But to have every parent in attendance, watching as their children make reindeer ornaments or open Valentine’s Day cards? Er, no. Not so much.
My mom didn’t show up at all of my elementary school parties. Neither did my friends’ moms. Because that would have been, like, totally freaking WEIRD.
These days, classroom parties involve a bunch of parents pretending to be enthused by second-grade arts & crafts and kids who are all too aware of this strange, icky over-awareness of every little thing they’re doing.
Which brings me to my point: Let your kids have their own lives. At school. At camp.
Yes, camp. As in sleep-away camp, far away from today’s helicopter parents.
For a kid, nothing is more liberating, more confidence-building, more independence-instilling than a week away from home, a week away from — GASP! — his or her parents.
Seriously. You can see and hear the difference when they come back. They’re full of stories, memories and a sense of accomplishment.
I say this as a kid who went to sleep-away camp every summer. Sure I was homesick. Sure I had to figure out new friendships, try new things, pretend to not be afraid when it was lights out and I went to sleep in a strange, new place.
But the benefits? Life-lasting.
As a Girl Scout leader, I teach my girls to think for themselves, to be leaders, to be willing to try new things. And as a leader, I encourage parents to send their girls to camp each summer. Because I know first-hand what those girls get out of camp.
As a parent, I also advocate strongly for sending kids off on adventures that DON’T include their parents. That’s why the E-man headed off to his first sleep-away camp this summer. Because it was time for him to try out a life without mom or dad in the midst of it. And he had a blast.
I hear so many parents today saying they can’t possibly send their kids off to camp. They don’t trust the counselors. They don’t trust the nurses. Or my favorite: “My little Sally could never spend five nights away from me!”
Actually, little Sally would probably do just fine. It’s the parents’ fears that dictate whether Sally gets to ever to go camp or not.
Today’s children grow up with so few opportunities to make their own decisions or try things on their own. We’re at their schools, their class parties, etc… They have very few activities to call their own.
Let the kids be kids without parents looking over their shoulders. Quit going to their parties. Send them to camp. Teach them how to believe in themselves and their decision-making abilities.
Because by the time they arrive at the nursing home, you likely won’t be around to help make the doilies or serve tea & cake.
Need more evidence?
This is on my reading list. (Thanks, Leigh!)
Or, alternate title: How did a marble get in the toilet?
I was reminded of this mystery when reading a Facebook post today by a mother who had found a random piece of poop in her kid’s bedroom. For her sake, I hope she figures it out.
I say this because I’m still perplexed — a year later — as to how a marble ended up in our potty.
At first, I thought maybe one of the kids dropped it in there. Or maybe it fell out of a pocket. Thing is, we didn’t have any marbles at the time. OK, so many one of them found it somewhere and kept it.
Initial line of questioning:
Me: So, which one of you lost a marble lately? Ha-ha!
Blank stares. They clearly don’t appreciate my stab at humor.
Me: OK. So, I found a marble in the toilet. I’ve done the honor of washing it. Who does it belong to?
More blank stares.
Me: You’re not in trouble! One of you, take the marble.
Both children: Ewww!!!
At which point a couple of disturbing thoughts slid through my mind:
Could one of them have … ? No, surely not… That would require eating a marble for THAT to happen, and first- and third-graders don’t do that. ……………. Or do they?
Yes, people, I actually accused the kids of ingesting and then pooping out a marble. They merely looked at me like I was an absolute idiot.
Hubs did the same when I tried — subtly, I thought — asking him if he knew how a marble ended up in the toilet.
“Surely you are NOT asking me if I did what I think you’re suggesting, right?” he asked incredulously.
Me: Blank stare.
He denied it. Of course.
Perhaps one of the dogs…???
Well you can add me to the list of ladies who had a great time Friday night during The Promenade at Chenal‘s Ladies Night Out!
I headed over to the Promenade right after work. Margarita Mama (Heidi) and I met up with Moody Mom (Kristina) and some of her friends at Crazy 8. I had never been in Crazy 8 before — but I’m thinking I’ll be going back. I got the cutest outfits for Alaina — and it was really inexpensive. By the time I was done, I picked up a dress, a pair of shorts, a pair of pants and six shirts for Alaina for $42. That is seriously getting into consignment shop prices — whoo hoo!
Next up, Heidi and I headed over to Bravo! Cucina Italiana to meet Arkie Mama (Cathy) for drinks and dinner. For ladies night, some of Bravo!’s drinks were $5. Cathy and I both opted for the Flirtini, while Heidi felt she must sample a pomegranate margarita.
All three of us went for Bravo!s flatbreads and salads. Then I coaxed Heidi into splitting a piece of their “light” cheesecake, which was made with Greek yogurt. Delicious!
Yup, all in all it qualified as a fun evening for this mama!
*Note, while this is a compensated post, all opinions expressed belong to me.