Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Our Mexican Adventure, Part Five: It’s What We Do

I give myself permission to fully experience whatever comes up during this trip, knowing I am safe.—Martin Baker

Fran has been in Mexico for a month, for dental treatment. I kept a journal throughout the trip, and compiled my day-by-day notes into a series of weekly blog posts.

This fifth post covers Fran’s final week in the town of Ajijic in the State of Jalisco, on the north shore of Lake Chapala.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Our Mexican Adventure, Part Five: It’s What We Do

Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 7:30 a.m. UK time

Yesterday (Tuesday) was Shrove Tuesday here in the UK, and Mardi Gras Carnival in Mexico. Fran went out in Ajijic and found a great spot to watch the parade and festivities. She talked with local folk, including the children of one family who were sitting close by.

It wasn’t a situation Fran feels comfortable in (“I hate parades. I hate crowds. But this is as close as I’ll get to Mardi Gras.”) but she wanted the experience. And it certainly was an experience! People, colour, noise—and lots of flour!

“Me and my stuff are covered. Dammit. How can anyone think this is fun? It’s in my phone, hair, purse, shoes, jacket, etc. But I made some nice connections. I’m finally using my iTranslate app to talk to people!”

We caught up properly back at her apartment, after she’d had a (hot!) shower and washed out all the flour. We were on for a couple of hours and were able to properly catch up on what’s been going on for each of us. We sat on the veranda, shared a beer, and took in the evening. I also got to meet Felix and Don who own the place. I really loved Felix’s NYC shirt! Seeing and hearing how Fran interacts with the people around her, especially those she connects well with, helps me “place” her better in her environment and get a better handle on how she is doing. It’s also a lot of fun for me!

Thursday, February 15, 2018, 7:30 a.m. UK time

We didn’t get to have any Skype calls yesterday (Wednesday). I was really busy at work and Fran had a full day too. After her massage session, she went with a friend to the hot springs.

“Just finished hot tubs:

I can’t wait to hear about it all!

Friday, February 16, 2018, 7:30 a.m. UK time

Fran went for what was supposed to be her final dental appointment yesterday (Thursday) but it turns out they couldn’t do the crowns, so she will go back on Saturday. Other than that, it went well.

We had two or three short calls in the evening. There were a few technical difficulties, but we stayed calm and tried again later. I was able to catch Fran up on some of what has been going on for me here. She isn’t allowed solid food now until her crowns are done. She invited me to join her. So today (Friday), I’ll not have any solid food until dinner this evening.

Other than that, I followed up on the new blogging opportunity I mentioned the other day. It sounds really exciting if it comes off. I also asked Laura Marchildon who runs the Our Bipolar Family website if she would like to review our book. (Thanks, Laura!) It feels good, in the midst of other stuff that is going on for me right now, to be progressing things in our mental health work. I took some me-time too, including time away from the PC. I also did a Loving Kindness meditation for the first time in ages. It helped, on a number of levels.

Saturday, February 17, 2018, 10:30 a.m. UK time

I’m sitting at a corner table in Porter’s café in Tynemouth, beneath a big poster of the US flag. I’m maintaining my partial fast in support of Fran, which is a real pity because they have some amazing cakes and tray-bakes here, not to mention porridge! On the other hand, my weight dropped 2 lbs yesterday after my first day of partial fasting, so that’s something!

Fran struggled quite a bit yesterday with not being able to eat. She made up for it with plenty of liquids, including a margarita in the afternoon and a large glass of red wine when we met on Skype in the evening. It’s fair to say she was a bit tiddly! She’d had a grand day out, though, visiting the island fort of Mezcala on Lake Chapala. She posted a great photo on Facebook from the fort. She was really sleepy from her day out and drinking on an otherwise empty stomach. After talking for a little while she went for a lie down and fell asleep to me reading from Outlander.

We may or may not get to have a call tonight (Saturday night) but if not, last evening’s call was a great way to round out our shared trip to Mexico. We’ve stayed in touch well, and if there have been times when I’ve got irritable and grumpy (which there have!) or Fran has (ditto!) then we have moved through them easily.

Last night Fran said she hoped I wasn’t cross she’d been less present for me, with being away. It’s true that I’ve had stuff going on, and had Fran been at home I probably would have explored it with her more than I’ve been able to. But she has been there for me—more than on previous trips in fact—and has been very supportive. And I’ve been blessed to find caring support in other places. (You know who you are. Thank you.)

I’ve used my Wellness Plan (today’s trip to Tynemouth and the coast is a part of my self-care strategy) and moved through things as they have come up. I am proud of how Fran and I have each handled things.

Sunday, February 18, 2018, 10:25 a.m. UK time

I really enjoyed my day at the coast yesterday (Saturday). It gave me space to think—and not think. A pause in the pace and intensity of this past week or so. Fran’s dental work—her four crowns—went well. (“Done. I’ve been crowned!”) Afterwards, she met up with a friend for a meal—filet mignon and mashed potatoes—at Los Telares.

I wasn’t at all sure we would get to talk, but she called me as she walked back to the apartment from the restaurant. Voice only, but it was good to hear in person how she was feeling after the dental work, and at the end of her time in Ajijic. I also got the—now familiar to me—sounds of the town. Kids playing in the street. Snatches of Spanish from people as we passed by. And the dreadfully busy street Fran has christened “Butchers’ Boulevard.” I was genuinely relieved to make it safely across! I walked Fran back to the apartment, then said goodnight. It was close to one in the morning here in the UK, 7 p.m. in Mexico.

Today Fran will finish packing. She has a ride booked from Ajijic to the airport at Guadalajara. Then three flights and a bus ride home. Houston. Chicago. Boston. Portland. I will keep an eye on things for any delays or other changes. Hopefully it will be more straightforward than it was on the way out. As I posted on Fran’s Facebook wall: “Safe and sure on your journey home!”

Monday, February 19, 2018, 7:35 a.m. UK time

Well, as the changes to the flights/times in my journal show, things didn’t exactly go according to plan yesterday (Sunday)!

The flight from Guadalajara to Houston went fine, but there were delays with the flight to Chicago which threatened her final connection. So… Plan B! Fran rearranged her tickets so she would overnight at the airport and catch an early direct flight to Boston. I updated the flights in my calendar, and the details I’d stored in my United Airways and Flight Hero apps so I could keep an eye on any delays. We checked to see if her bus ticket from Boston to Portland would still be valid (it would). It looked workable, apart from the fourteen or so hours Fran would have to spend at the airport. (“You can’t drink beer all night!” “I won’t!”)

Then Fran saw there was a better way. Plan C! More rearrangements and updates, but there was a flight from Houston to Newark within the hour, arriving just after midnight local time. That’s where she is now. Her final flight, to Boston, is scheduled for 6 a.m. her time (my 11 a.m., we are back to five hours apart again—yay!) So, still quite a wait for her, but the end is in sight.

Traveling long distances like this is mentally and physically brutal, but once she is home later today there’s not a lot she needs to do for at least a couple of days. R&R is definitely in order!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 7:30 a.m. UK time

I wrote yesterday (Monday) morning that travel can be brutal for Fran, physically and mentally, and this journey home from Mexico has certainly been that. She caught her final flight from Newark to Boston fine, but it was a scramble to make her bus connection.

”Welcome to Boston, Fran!”

”On plane. Stopped on runway. Hope we move fast. I really really want to get that bus but we’re not moving. God damn. I am so sick of everything going wrong for me. I won’t make it.”

”It was always going to be close, but I did think we would make the bus.”

”Those two hours until the next bus are gonna kill me.”

”It might be delayed departing. When you do get off, you need exit door B115. The bus stop is right outside.”

We did make the bus, just, but Fran had no time to look for her luggage. It turned out her suitcase was in Chicago anyway. Fran arranged for it to be sent on. I think it was delivered to her late evening. The two hour journey passed without incident (“Yay Maine. The bus was comfortable.”) and a friend met Fran and drove her back to her apartment, stopping off for groceries on the way. Fran was finally home.

I was expecting exhaustion but Fran also had bad neck pain, a headache and nausea which progressed to vomiting. I encouraged her to stay hydrated but she could keep nothing down.

”I’m wasted. My head is pounding. My neck is killing me. When will it stop.”

”Did you get any sleep at all, overnight or today?”

”Spotty. I won’t Skype at 2. Maybe 6 for a little bit.”

”That’s fine, Fran. You in bed?”

”On couch.”

”Bed might be better for your back/neck.”

Twenty minutes later: “I’m in bed.” We Skyped at 6 p.m. (my 11 p.m.) but not for long. I left her to rest, but we chatted on and off for a couple of hours.

”I feel so sick I’m crying. Headache. Neck ache. Shivering. Nauseous.”

”I didn’t realise it was this bad. Just so I’m sure, you did take your regular meds yesterday/today with all the traveling?”


”Thanks. You’re doing the right things. Do we need to think about seeing if someone can come sit with you?”

”Hold my hair.”

”Holding it back”

”I’m so glad I am home dealing with this rather than traveling.”

”Omg yes. This would have been a nightmare overnight at the airport.”

It was getting late.

”I’m going to bed. How are you feeling now? Still being sick?”

”A little better. I hope to sleep now.”

There were no further messages overnight so, fingers crossed, Fran is sleeping. She doesn’t need to be up early, or leave the apartment today. Extreme self-care. Back to basics. Pick up gently with things over the next few days. We will keep a watchful eye on her state of being as she emerges from this crash fatigue.

There will be time enough to look back over the past four weeks in Mexico. Unpack. Sort through photos. Engage, gradually, with friends both at home and online.

And, no doubt, there will be other trips to think about, though we don’t have any planned for this year. Travel is in Fran’s bones, and I will support her as best I can. I will be here for her, as she is here for me.

It’s what we do.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five


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