Living in Hawaii was blissful and our memories created a powerful draw for us after Andy’s Parkinson’s symptoms were controlled through DBS (deep brain stimulation) surgery.
Hawaii has a lot of meaning for many people. For Andy and me, it was a place we called home off and on over many years and where we found out of the ordinary happiness.
We trained for the Ironman Triathlon- Andy succeeded and I crashed my bike, left my body and came back.
We conceived our first child there and we lived there again after our second child was born. Living in Hawaii was blissful and our memories created a powerful draw for us after Andy’s Parkinson’s symptoms were controlled through DBS (deep brain stimulation) surgery.
We had both always carried on a love affair with the ocean. Our mountain forest was home but the ocean always called us to her shores. Hawaii was far away so we tried going to California and Mexico. They were nice places to visit but never felt like home the way we remembered the Big Island of Hawaii. Swimming in the ocean was something we both missed and craved.
I had the idea to join a company called Home Exchange, an online business that helps homeowners live in each other’s homes without exchanging money. I found a place in Hawaii that was located in the neighborhood where we used to live and we agreed on dates and made an agreement with the owners.
Parkinson’s compromises some patient’s ability to swim and the surgery Andy received to alleviate his symptoms has also been known as a detriment for swimming. Some Parkinson’s patients had drowned because they were unaware they were no longer able to swim.
We started in a pool that was never over our heads. Andy began a breast stroke and I walked next to him in the pool as he swam 2 laps. We were overjoyed. We continued going to pools for the next couple of months and Andy got stronger and was able to swim farther.
Eventually, we bought him a neoprene life vest, recommended by my brother, and a nose breathing snorkel we had seen a woman at the pool using. I continued to walk by his side and he continued to improve until one day we flew to Hawaii.
That first morning we were up early and drove the 5 minutes to Koana Oa beach. It was calm and the sun was just getting high enough to shine on us. We set up our stuff and holding hands we walked the 15 feet from our towels to the water. I watched Andy’s face as the first wavelet washed onto our feet. He smiled with an expression of pure wonder and laughing quietly said, “It’s so warm.”
It was that perfect temperature we remembered. We could see the sand bottom clearly and walked in together.
Andy swam half of the bay that day and I walked alongside him in the salty sea. We were in heaven. When he finished he’d dry off in the early morning sun and I’d go for my swim. We did this every day for 25 days before we returned to our home in the mountain forest.
We have found life to be the best when we live what is true now and find ways to do what we love. This goes for living with disease, accidents, aging, and all sorts of changes we face in our lives.