A viking woman peers through a spyglass in a storm

My Brave Viking

Sometimes it’s easy to take our caregivers for granted. My leukemia is in the wait-and-watch stage, so my caregiver, my wife, doesn’t have to do any direct care. But she does provide stability in my life. She gives me purpose. She keeps me anchored. And, somehow, she stays positive and hopeful. She is the strongest woman I’ve ever known.

Recently I had what we like to call an “episode.” It isn’t anything connected to my leukemia, but yet another “fun” issue I get from time to time. It doesn’t happen very often, just once every couple of years.

If I go too long without sleep I run the risk of having an “aura.” It actually is a low-grade seizure. I have pills I can take to keep it from turning into a major full-on event called a Grand Mal. But, this aura affects my hand-eye coordination and I don’t mentally “track” too well. My thinking and reasoning capabilities still function but are slowed down. And my motor skills get screwed up.

"I wasn’t even able to tie a knot let alone get us back home"

A while back we were boating in Puget Sound. It’s a beautiful inland sea in Washington State with lots of islands. We stayed overnight at Sucia, one of our favorites. All went well until the next morning when the aura hit.

We waited until the afternoon, hoping the episode would go away. It didn’t.

I knew I couldn’t handle the boat safely. I wasn’t even able to tie a knot let alone get us back home.

My wife had very little experience handling the boat, but because of my condition, we knew she would have to drive it the whole way home, starting with getting out of the island’s harbor and ending with landing at the dock in town—two things she had never done.

The harbor at Sucia Island is a long, narrow inlet congested with many boats. She had to work her way around and between each one as I sat beside her giving instructions.

She would be navigating the waters of Puget Sound in a boat she’d seldom handled, with a sick husband, and a one-hour trip ahead of her. She was nervous, even a bit scared, but her Icelandic heritage kicked in. Like her ancient Viking relatives, she gathered up her courage and headed out to open water.

I'm never taking my wife for granted again

We made it home that day. Luckily, by the time she got us past the breakwater and into the harbor, I was feeling better and able to dock the boat. She helped unload our gear, pack the car, and drive us home.

Sometimes I have taken my wife for granted. My leukemia, at this stage anyway, is mostly hidden. And that other condition of mine seldom happens. So it’s easy to forget how the disease and other issues might be affecting her.

But that day, on the waters of beautiful Puget Sound, when I had to rely completely on my caregiver, I learned to never take her for granted again.

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