On Wednesday, June 9th, I departed on a 2-day road trip to travel to Interlaken, New York for a 2-week house/pet sit at the lovely A Stone’s Throw Bed & Breakfast. I traveled a fairly straightforward route through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and stopped for the night in Fairview, Pennsylvania. I got a leisurely start the next day as I made my way a couple more hours to Niagara Falls State Park.
After finding a place to park and making my way to the park, I noticed that there were a lot of people lined up for the boat tour and since I did not have a lot of time in my schedule to explore, I decided to enjoy and photograph the falls from one scenic overlook before making my way to Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York. I took a little more time there to explore the park from several different points of interest. I saw several waterfalls, one of which had a seemingly permanent rainbow hovering by it, as well as enjoyed watching birds float beside the high cliff walls at the other end of the park.
I arrived in Interlaken, New York in the early evening, just in time to meet the homeowners and chat a bit before we went out to dinner at a charming Italian restaurant called Little Venice in the nearby town of Trumansburg. Over dinner, I enjoyed getting to know both of them more and found them to be really fun and pleasant people. I felt good about this house sit when we had our initial call but the ease of our in-person meeting solidified those first impressions. Upon returning to the house after dinner, I retired to my room in the guest area of the house. I was given the option to choose one of three rooms when we first made the house sitting arrangements. I selected the La Buon’ Amore (Good Love) room which was elegantly decorated with a luxurious feel of burgundy and tan decor. It included a boudoir dressing table behind a silk curtain, comfy bed with pillow top mattress, as well as a whirlpool tub which provided several nights of much needed soaks.
My original plan was to spend the first few days getting acclimated to my new surroundings, finding my rhythm with the animal care routine of three indoor cats and two outdoor feral cats before determining what I was going to explore and when during my two week stay. Unfortunately, things did not quite unfold as planned. I had been having some stomach issues for a week or two before I left on the trip and they were just getting worse as the first week in New York went on. I started to get worried that there might be something really wrong. I had another house/pet sit lined up in Austin, Texas when I was done in New York and I was concerned whether or not I would be able to wait another few weeks before getting home to Wisconsin to see my own doctors so I opted to go to the ER in Ithaca to have things checked out.
My first attempt to be seen at the ER did not go well as I waited 4-hours while more and more people kept flooding into the waiting room. I suspected it was going to be many more hours before I could see a doctor that day so after checking with the triage nurse, they recommended that I come back the following day no later than 7:00 AM so I left with that being the plan. That second day things went much better. I was checked in, triaged, and taken back to an exam room right away as no one else was waiting in the waiting room. The nurse started an IV to give me fluids, took some blood, and then took me back for a CT scan. The CT scan did not find anything that explained my stomach issues but it did find a small lesion on my pancreas that they urged me to have checked out when I got back to Wisconsin. This was concerning news, especially considering I’m only three years into my five year monitoring phase from my kidney cancer in 2018.
I contacted the home owner in Austin and explained the situation and we both agreed that I should go home and that they would get another house sitter lined up to cover for me. When I explained to the New York homeowner that I needed to leave a day early in order to get back home for my doctor appointment there, they offered to have another person fill in so I could leave even sooner which allowed me to get in to see my doctor three days sooner. That was a huge relief but did mean cutting short my available time to explore the area before I headed home.
On my way out of town, I stopped at Taughannock Falls to snap some photos and then went to Watkins Glen State Park and hiked the Gorge Trail to do more photography. Both places were very beautiful and I’m so glad that I opted to take the time to see a little more of New York before I left. Unfortunately, I did not get to see all the places on my list but some places are better than none so I am grateful for that opportunity. As I made my way back to Wisconsin through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, I stayed the night at a surprisingly overpriced hotel in Fremont, Indiana. The next morning, I traveled the remaining handful of hours through Illinois, slugging through the always hectic Chicago traffic, and finally arrived home in Wisconsin in the early afternoon. I did the usual unloading of the car and unpacking of my things, looked through my mail that had gathered while I was gone and reacclimatized to my space.
The next morning, I drove to Madison for my appointment with my primary care physician. After reviewing my records from New York and doing an exam, my doctor made the following determinations. First, he suspects my stomach issues are an H. pylori infection, something likely picked up from my travels. There is a test that will need to be done but I have to wait two weeks for the acid-reducing medication that the ER prescribed me to get out of my system. Second, he confirmed that an MRI is the next best step with my pancreas lesion and I have an MRI scheduled for July 9th and a referral to the pancreatic clinic to get a better idea on what is going on with that. Finally, while I was there, I pointed out a concerning spot of skin on my forearm and they want to do a biopsy which is now scheduled for July 12th.
In the coming weeks, there will be plenty of visits with a variety of doctors. I’m trying my best to stay positive, not worry too much (easier said than done), and deal with the discomfort my stomach provides on a daily basis as best I can. In the meantime, I am in the process of planning several hikes over the next few weeks to keep myself active, focus on my passion for photography, and spend lots of time with the healing benefits of nature and friends.