Another Bucket List day was provided by our friends, the Friedmanns, who formed a team to benefit the wonderful organization, Shatterproof, by rappelling down a 16-story Newport Center office building in Newport Beach, CA. Hell yes! Where do I sign? My long-time friends, Kathie and Kathleen were assigned as my co-rappellettes, and I was stoked!
We arrived at our scheduled time and were whisked up the elevator to the top floor, chatting and giggling about how our outfits were perfectly coordinated and how much fun we were going to have. We were then ushered to the equipment fitting room. As my harnesses, belts, clips, radio, widgets, straps, helmet, mechanisms, ropes, trusses, gloves, carabiners, and contraptions were positioned, I was told to place stickers with my identification number all over my torso, arms and legs. Was this to identify the various body parts splattered on the pavement below? My heart rate and sweat gland pumps were now at the intermediate level. The chatting slowed.
We waddled out to the practice area, which was on the roof, but well below the lip. We learned and then immediately forgot how to work our descender pulley thingys, how to unlock our rope if we get stuck, and how to feed the lower rope into whatever this other gizmo is hanging from our waists. Got it? Ummm.. Great! Up the scaffold you go…
Oh f*ck! Look how high we are! I think I can see Moscow. Are those tiny dots our friends? Look at those rappellers about to go. Are they crying? Is that sweat filling my gloves? My lungs, my lungs! I can’t breathe! Chatting halted. OK, Joselyn, it’s your turn 🙂 Come on out here to the edge and we’ll get you on your way. Let’s just clip you in here, hook you up like this… My rappel/coach/dude is very nice, but when he asks another guy why the rope isn’t going into my pulley thingy correctly, my heart rate and sweat gland pumps reach screaming level.
Now he’s asking me to turn around and put my heels over the edge. Um, the problem with that, you see, is that all of this f-ing equipment weighs like 300 pounds and I’m being pulled off the platform to my spectacular death. You’re fine, you’re hooked in. To what? This malfunctioning pulley thingy? Everything’s fine – just don’t look down. Damn f-ing straight I’m not looking down. Now lean back. Are you f-ing kidding me right now? Ohhh Myyy G… Oh that’s pretty cool! I’m rappelling! Look Mom, no hands! I’m just cruising down this building like it’s my bitch. I’m a rappeller! I’m – F*CK! I yell as my pulley thingy locks up and I come to an abrupt stop. I see a man sitting at his desk three inches away glaring at me from the other side of the glass. I’ve just screamed the f word and my feet are in his face. I give a little apology wave, unlock the rope and continue my descent. √
A recent Orlando visit to watch Todd play in the USA Volleyball Nationals (gold AGAIN!) provided more opportunities for YOLTing 🙂
There’s the requisite Magic Kingdom and Epcot, which we did, because… hello … we’re in f-ing Orlando, but then I came across this place called Gatorland. Now we’re talkin’. Now we’re cookin’ with gas. Now we’re gonna git down. With reptiles. It’s the stuff of my nightmares. Slithering snakes, gaping gators, and creepy crocs. Vanquishing (awesome word, I know) my fear of this loathsome animal group just happens to be on The List. We arrived at Gatorland, and Wow! Red necks galore. I’m not talking about the necks of the cold blooded creatures (isn’t a snake just one long neck?), but the necks of the human types. Not a big emphasis put on grammar (or teeth). Again, I’m talking about the humans – the critters had plenty of razor sharp teeth. You know what they say about Florida – The furthuurr nawth y’all go, the furthuurr south y’all git. Maybe it was just those attracted to Gatorland, but f-ing whoa!
I inquired as to where I could find the gator wrestling arena and was told that I orda go yonder till I seed it. Um, okay. Thanks. Then I politely mentioned how hot it was in central Florida. Hottern 2 squirrels f*ckin in a wool sock. Riiiiight. Off we went to find the gators, past all sorts of vile scaly gargoyles in their rancid enclosures along the way. Finally made it to the venue where I hoped to get on with the mission of facing my terror. The arena consisted of a circle of sand, ringed by water swarming with 7-9 foot lizards. The gator wrangler, Bubba grabbed a tail and pulled with all his hillbilly might to land an 8 footer up on the sand. After a bit of rasslin’, the lively leather settled down and ceased with all the thrashing. Bubba posishuned it just how he done wanted it, then invited me across the cute little bridge onto the IPD -Island of Possible Dismemberment. I channeled my inner Dundee, sat my ass down on the gator’s back and clamped its jaw. I could feel its teeth under my fingers. Fake confidence smile, photo snap and we’re out!
To officially check the box for conquering my reptilian fear, I felt I needed a little more interaction. Much to my delight, we came across another offering: hold a baby alligator while wearing a python necklace. Nailed it. √
And then there’s this for a little perspective: City of Hope’s 40th Annual Transplant Survivors’ Reunion was held last month, and per usual, was fantastical. Being reminded of my dire situation not too long ago always makes me so thankful for the miracles that came together to allow me to live again!
I met up with three of my absolute all-star nurses, Josetta, Lisa and Freddie 🙂 Josetta took the most amazing care of me during my transplant stay, scheming with me on how we could alter the horrific taste of my least fave med, Mepron into something tasty, like a Lemon Drop. Lisa was my bff while I was doing time during my recent shingles episode, and was an expert tummy sticker of my nightly injections. Freddie was absolutely wonderful to me and my visiting fam while I was hospitalized for ATG Horse Antibodies in an attempt to dodge a transplant, and then the ensuing fungal lung pneumonia. Unfortunately, Freddie was not around when the camera was doing its thang.
I was stoked to see Martin and Michelle, Dr. F’s superior physician assistants who make me smile throughout all appointments 🙂 Speaking of appointments, Dr. F has just pushed my AFBTs and meetings with him to every other month!
These reunions are very special for me and my family, now that we wear three buttons: one survivor and two donors. Of all of the 5,000 attendees, I did not see any other families with such button bling. I am so proud and emotional when Leason and Rex are presented with their donor buttons. They will forever be heroes! Todd’s continuing support is phenomenal and I love sharing this special day with him. My stellar parents were there once again for the celebration, which meant the world to me.
At a recent appointment with Dr. F, I shared the breathtaking trailer for Jared’s documentary, Amarrowca. After viewing the three minute preview, Dr. F turned with tears in his eyes, and said, “We’ve got to get Jared here to show this at the reunion.” City of Hope flew Jared from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles for the event, where he was introduced as the brains and legs behind the film.
Unfortunately, just before the trailer was about to roll, the heavens started dumping rain on Duarte, and they immediately dismissed all guests in the name of safety. There were many in wheelchairs, some with iv trees, most with severely compromised immune systems and many more health problems, so it was risky to keep all 5,000 huddled together during the frigid deluge. Following the event, Dr. F contacted Jared and let him know that City of Hope would gather a crowd to show the entire film when it’s completed. Hip Hip Hooray!