A major decision was made this weekend, and today I feel so relieved.  My awareness often surprises me lately,  but I am on a journey of self-discovery  with no compass to guide me.   I came to the realization that I cannot do the bike trip on the White Rim Trail, and, instead, must have the feeding tube placed.  I have been concerned about my ability to successfully complete the trip, even if I rode in the sag wagon most of the time.

It is unforgiving country in the Canyonlands; just being out there is challenging.  I remember well the experience I had two years ago.  I was so proud of my strength and endurance.  Even though I suffered a terrible fall at the end of the trip, I was undeterred.  Each day, a new landscape of deep red rock and blue sky was everywhere.  We hiked near the top of a great rock formation; we collected colorful shards of flint left by native Americans as they whittled their arrowheads.  The gorgeous river running through the canyon, a brilliant green meandering slowly around each bend, with lush trees and growth on the banks.   I know now what people mean when they refer to a place as “God’s country.”  To me, the Canyonlands are like heaven on earth.

And so, I wanted so to return there with my beloved Chris, Kim and Mike, and our friends to soak it into my memory again.  But that is not to be.  After riding my bike with my girl friend last week left me depleted and weak, I was forced to face the inevitable.  I can no longer take in enough nutrients through eating alone.   I need help.  A trip that requires stamina and physical tenacity is no longer possible for me.

I’m remembering how many years I’ve spent gazing at my body in the mirror.  Always disappointed at the curves I detested.  Looking at myself, I criticized each one thinking, if only “this” were smaller, and “that” was flatter.  I never looked upon myself lovingly, appreciatively thanking God for the strength I had and the athletic ability I enjoyed.  (I did do this in prayer, and every time I rode my bike I felt gratitude,  but not when looking at myself).

And so it is rather comical now to jump on the scale every morning, praying that it won’t read any lower than yesterday!  I look at my thin body in the mirror and I think, “this is what I always wanted to look like, with the exception of the wrinkles on my upper arms!”  The joke is on me.

My neurologist will arrange my appointment with the gastroenterologist.  I have requested a “button” type of feeding tube, in keeping with my vanity.  Even now, as I contemplate a life prolonging method of obtaining nutrition, I cannot imagine a tube extending from my belly.  Apparently, the button cover is removed, a feeding tube is attached, and when the process is complete the button is screwed back on.  Neat and tidy, I  can only hope.  This type of “peg” as they call it, will be much less obtrusive, I think, than the tube.

I pray that with the appropriate nutrition I will regain some of my stamina.  While I know that this disease robs its victims of strength, I believe that I CAN be stronger than I am, for a while.  I look forward to that possibility.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I have energy, I feel “brand new.”

There is much to look forward to.  I won’t have to fear riding my bike on nice days because it will be so much easier to supplement calories expended through this exercise.  I am also hoping that I’ll be able to lift weights a bit to keep some of my muscle tone, as long as I’m able.  The focus will be on maintaining strength, not physical beauty.

By getting the tube put in earlier rather than later, I’ll be feeling well when I go to visit Dad at the end of October.  I’ve already told him that we must go to New Hampshire for the weekend to be with Shaun, Nancy and my wonderful grandboys.

The week of Thanksgiving, Quinn, Sarah and sweet Kila will be with us.  We’ll go to the mountains to enjoy a Daily family celebration with daughter Andrea and Bill.

Yesterday, we booked a trip to Puerto Vallarta with daughter Kim, Mike, Katie and Christopher the week before Christmas!  This, instead of Christmas gifts, forgotten quickly after opening, will serve to make the Christmas season not only easier, but one with lasting family memories.

And so, as I contemplate the loss of the trip to the Canyonlands, I know that I can vividly re-experience that trip of two years ago in my mind.  It remains there, alive and well and so beautiful.  I know that with every loss there is also so much gratitude.  Family is THE most important gift and, in that, I am truly blessed.