Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hotter than . . . : Day 45

Due to nonexistant wifi last night, this is going up today – but Day 45 was July 30, 2015.

We are working our way up central California, but it seems slow going.  We didn’t launch out of Modesto until 10:00 and when we stopped for a bite to eat in Red Bluff, we just stopped.  We found a Comfort Inn and escaped into the shade of a cool air conditioned room.


The temperature today in Red Bluff reached an all time high – 113 degrees.  Every time we opened the car door it felt like crawling into the oven with the turkey on Thanksgiving.

We passed many produce trucks again today – another double wagon filled to the brim with tomatoes and a flat bed filled with crates of pomegranates.  They had “Pom Wonderful” printed on each crate.



In the hottest part of the day we were driving through olive groves.  I don’t ever remember seeing olives ripening on trees before.  The trunks of some of the older trees were beautiful.


There was also a rest stop along I-5 that was populated with beautiful trees.  I asked someone what kind of trees they were and she said “We call them Paper Trees.” I’m not sure if that is correct or not, but in searching a little I thought they may be eucalyptus.  Beautiful, whatever they are.

Just rested and read through the evening.  It was good to have a short day in this heat.

Chocolate Melting Hot: Day 44

2015-07-29 11.40.43Driving across the Mojave Desert and up the central valley of California today we learned something interesting.  M&M’s – the candy that “melts in your mouth and not in your hand” – actually explodes and breaks that protective “candy coating” at about 109 degrees.

That was the air temperature today! And the hottest temperature I think I’ve ever been in – except for the 115 degree “heat index” in St. Augustine, FL. But on that day the air temperature was only 95.

2015-07-29 13.08.07We drove through the San Bernadino Mountains; through the Mojave Desert; through Edwards Air Force Base where the Space Shuttle landed several times; and turned north on good old highway 99 to make our way home.  2015-07-29 13.42.34We saw orchards and trucks and trucks and trucks – several filled with boxes of grapes and one double truck bed filled with tomatoes.  I could only imagine what the tomatoes at the bottom of all that looked like!

2015-07-29 20.32.25We are resting in Modesto tonight.  Jacob is doing well and told us he took a short walk today with a friend.  Each time I think of what the alternative could have been I say another prayer of gratitude.

Day 42 and Day 43

Day 42: Monday

Yesterday began at 5:00 a.m. so we could intercept Jacob’s doctors and see if he was able to be released. It was three days since his surgery.  When all assembled, we were there, too, to receive the news.  He could go home.

However, that little action took most of the day.  It took 4 hours just for his meds to get ordered and IV taken out.  Then we had to get his clothes and get down to Medical Records so we had a record of everything to take in hand with us to Seattle.  That was more complicated.  The system they used to copy digital images was broken, and even though we stood in line and paid for the CD they would put it on – they couldn’t do it.  But, they assured us, they would call us as soon as it was done.  The day ended without a call.

But we moved forward anyway and got Jacob packed up and out of the hospital.  We stopped for a pizza for late lunch and while there his father made arrangements for a flight to Seattle for him leaving Santa Anna at 5:50 and arriving in Seattle at 8:00.

Jacob was moving slowly, but I think he wanted to be home.  We certainly wanted him to be home.  And his brother was planning to be waiting for him at the airport in Seattle when he arrived.

2015-07-27 15.03.54We watched as he painfully went through security – it was difficult to take off his shoes and get them back on – and then he was walking slowly out to his gate.  We waved to each other and his father and I heaved a huge sigh of relief.  The past 17 days had been an ordeal the likes of which no parent ever wants to even imagine.  But, it was a miracle to see our youngest son WALK out to the gate unattended after all he had been through.  Nothing short of a miracle.  Nothing but sheer grace.

2015-07-27 19.23.52Knowing his brother would meet him in Seattle, we could relax enough to think of something else for the first time in 17 days.  So, we drove straight West from our hotel and stopped when we came to Redondo Beach.  The sun was sinking on the horizon and a few clouds were forming.  Surfers were riding the waves and bikers were riding the boardwalk.  It was beautiful.  It was even cool. And it felt so good to be outside of a hospital room.  We ate at a little pub on the beach and then went back and fell into bed.  I’m sure it will take us a few days to recover some of the lost sleep!

Day 43: Today, Tuesday

2015-07-25 19.17.50Now for the return trip to Seattle.  We packed out of our hotel where we had been for the past 8 days and resumed some hint of normalcy.  But wait!  We had to return to the hospital one more time to get the digital imaging that went with all Jacob’s medical records.  As we went through the hospital security I prayed this would really be the LAST time we needed to be there!

At Medical Records we took our place in line and waited and waited and while standing there we saw the person we had dealt with yesterday walk by.  Randy said, “Good.  At least it’s the same person. I’m sure she remembers us.”  And then we waited some more.  A few minutes later a man came out and called our name.  He explained that the system for transferring the digital images was broken yesterday and they were still trying to get it fixed. But he was sure it would only take 30 or 40 more minutes.  I asked if we could just have someone put the files on a thumb drive.  “That only takes a second.  I have a thumb drive in my pocket.”  No, that was not possible.  The hospital installed a new system in November (NOVEMBER!!!!) and they were still having difficulties.  But it would only be about 30 minutes more.  I was not going to hold my breath on that one!

To my utter amazement, thirty minutes later the Medical Records clerk came out to the waiting room and had a CD with all Jacob’s images on it.  Minor miracle, that one!  We thanked her profusely and left the hospital – hopefully forever.

Back on the road again.  While we were in the area we had driven by 3 homes where I had lived as a child and Randy wanted to find the place where his great grandparents had a chicken farm in the 1930’s.  We found the area and even the street, but of course, there are no chicken farms there today!

2015-07-28 15.04.08And while we were west of LA, we drove out to Chino to the Planes of Fame Museum.  This had been a stop on our tour of museums last year, but we missed this one because we arrived too late in the day.  So, today, we visited, but it was almost too hot to enjoy it.  The hangars were filled with beautifully restored planes, but it was 100 degrees out and I think even hotter than that in the hangars.

And then we headed north.  Tonight we are in Hesperia.  And we are planning to take our time.  No more 500 miles a day.  We are back to enjoying the view.

The Twilight Zone: Day 40

We feel like we lost 5 days!  But really, it feels like one long day that has lasted a year!

2015-07-25 15.34.26The good news first: Jacob finally had surgery to fuse his C-5 vertebra to C-4 and C-6 to stabilize everything.  It was successful and he is slowly recovering.  He was able to get out of bed today and sit up for most of the afternoon as well as take his first walk around the nurse’s station.

It’s impossible to go back and recover all the drama involved in getting Jacob to the OR, but we finally managed to get him there at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening!  The lack of communication in the whole hospital system is a nightmare and he kept getting moved from “first thing in the morning” to “sometime today, we hope.”  And there was much excusing and blaming and explaining who was at fault . . . until his mother responded with “I understand there are  difficult cases. I understand there are emergencies. But I want to know when my son gets to be the emergency.  He’s been in the hospital for two weeks tomorrow and nothing has happened to move him up the list?”  At the same time, his father was up in the Patient Advocate’s office and lining up the next course of action.

Well, miracles do happen as about thirty minutes later, Jacob got called to surgery. And the surgery that they told us would take about 2 hours, actually took 6.  Nothing was wrong . . . “The surgeons always underestimate their timing.”

So, at 11:30 p.m., the security guard in the waiting room called for “Mr. Andrew’s family.”  (That’s Jacob Andrew Borkowski . . . or, if you can’t read the patient’s records correctly, that’s Borkowski, Jacob Andrew.)  They would only let one of us go back to be with him in recovery. When I asked if it was OK for his dad to come back, too, they said, “No, he can only have one visitor at a time.”  I laughed and said, “Oh, this is way past visiting!”  So, we traded off until Jacob was assigned a room on a post op floor, and we went with him to help him settle in.  We left the hospital 22 hours after we had arrived the morning before!  I do not recommend it to anyone, but I’m so grateful we stayed with him every minute of the day or he may still be awaiting surgery!

There are many stories and they would fill a book.  But, the surgery was successful (we learned the next day when the trauma team showed up to check on Jacob) and he is slowly recovering now.  It may take US even longer to recover!

Thanks for all your concern and prayers.

First full day in LA: Day 35

We began the day with a very, very kind hotel manager helping us to cancel our reservations at his hotel so we might be able to be closer to the hospital.  He could not have been more compassionate, and we are so grateful for his consideration of our predicament.  2015-07-20 19.27.32We packed up all our stuff and moved to another hotel in Gardena, quite a bit closer to Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.  I guess one really needs to know the distinctive neighborhoods of L.A. to make plans, not to mention the multiple crazy freeways and how to avoid them!

2015-07-20 12.44.24By the time we reached the hospital Jacob was tired and had a head ache, so I stayed with him for about an hour and then, after he fell asleep, I joined his brother and dad at a nearby Starbucks for some cool drinks and lunch.

By early afternoon, Jacob’s girl-friend from Seattle had arrived and was with Jacob, so we went back to the hotel and rested.  I think we are suffering from a little “car-lag.”  That’s when we heard the news that yesterday the I-10 bridge in Desert Center – which we had just driven over three hours earlier – was washed out from flood waters.  The list of things to be grateful for grows steadily.

About 6:00 p.m. we got a call from Jacob informing us that he had been moved into a new room.  This was good news because it was a move from the “trauma” area to a more “normal” area where he did not have to be hooked up to blood pressure and heart monitors around the clock.  2015-07-20 19.02.38But, in the process of the move, he wanted to inform us, they had lost his dinner.  Could we get him something . . . like a pizza?  I can only imagine what life would be like for over a week with only hospital food and no “Vitamin P”  So, “Parental Pizza Pick-up and Packing” to the rescue.  Everyone in the elevator wanted to know where we were going so they could come and share a piece of that delicious smelling pizza!  Yes, it did smell much better than the usual smells around the hospital!

2015-07-20 20.02.21As the sun was setting, we met up with Jared and his friend (who had come with Jacob’s girl-friend) and found a traditional California “Frosty Freeze” for a hamburger and a malt.  We sat in the dark at the picnic tables outside the little burger stand and talked and laughed and relaxed for the first time all week.

Arriving in LA: Day 34

We have arrived. It was a race, but we are grateful to be here without further incident.


We picked up our other son who has been on hospital duty and went to find nourishment while Jacob was having his bed changed. 


By the time we returned, Jacob was sleeping and we decided not to wake him. So we are in the cafeteria chatting and recovering the news of the week – for both of us.

We are staying tonight in the town of my birth, a place I never knew and cannot identify with.  Perhaps I will get to know it some while we are here.

Feeling grateful this evening for so many things, not the least of which is Jacob is fine with some surgery.  For children who care for each other. For so many friends and so many prayers.  All are grace.

Deming to Blythe: Day 33

That’s Deming, New Mexico to Blythe, California and about another 500 miles.  We are finally in the state of our destination. 2015-07-18 11.59.29-1 But along the way, around Tucson, AZ we received word that our son’s surgery is now scheduled for Thursday and not Monday.  I think this has put everyone into a dive, although we all knew it was a possibility.  He is doing well despite this news and I guess can afford to be bumped for more serious cases.

2015-07-18 17.24.25Our day was mostly a mad drive through the desert and, if you can believe, desert rain storms.  There was no rain today in Seattle – because all the rain was falling in New Mexico and Arizona.  I can’t tell you how beautiful it was, not to mention how much cooler it certainly it was than if the sun had been shinning.  It was a cool 88 degrees most of the day.  When we got out at rest stops along the way we got both wet and then dried off immediately.

2015-07-18 14.55.07-2Some pictures to tell the rest of the story.

We are in Blythe, CA for the night and have about three and a half hours of driving tomorrow.2015-07-18 19.36.42



Abilene to Deming: Day 32

That’s Abilene, Texas to Deming, New Mexico, and just so you know, that’s a good long way!  Another 570 miles.  And, again, not much of interest to report.  Although we did drive through many variations of landscape that were quite beautiful.  2015-07-17 09.50.24There were wind farms outside of Abilene; 2015-07-17 15.09.19
and Frosty malts that weren’t frosty at a truck stop in 97 degree weather along Interstate 20;  2015-07-17 17.16.40The Guadalupe Mountains around El Paso 2015-07-17 19.44.38and the comforting welcome of a Comfort Inn in Deming, NM.

But the most exciting stop of all was a lonely little rest stop about 200 miles west of Abilene.  When we got out of the car I said to Randy “That looks like a flight tower.  And those look like Quonset huts.”  And they did.  2015-07-17 13.03.41But, it was just a rest stop along I-20 in the West Texas desert.  When we went inside to find the bathrooms we discovered that the rest stop was built to resemble and commemorate an old Army air field that had existed in that area and was a major training center during WWII.  Thousands of pilots had their advanced flight training in this area before being stationed overseas in both Europe and the Pacific.  2015-07-17 12.52.42The field was affectionately known as “Rattlesnake Bomber Base” because of the thousands of rattlesnake nests that were disturbed while building the field.  Officially, it was Pyote Army Airfield. It was a little surprise of history that we would have never known about if we hadn’t needed to stop and “rest” while racing to California.

Surgery is still on schedule for Monday.  We hope to be in LA by Sunday afternoon.

Vicksburg to Abilene: Day 31

A long day of driving, just trying to make tracks. If you ever wanted to know, its 560 miles from Vicksburg, MS to Abilene, TX.

We decided to be methodical and planned to stop every 100 miles for a “P&I break.” Use your imagination to figure what the “P” is for and the “I” means to rest our eyes from the road.  At our 300 mile break we also had the special of the day at the Cracker Barrel for lunch and trucked out again.

I wish I could have stolen a picture of the stunning Texas prairie sunset tonight, but by the time we got to the hotel it was passed.

So, for your pleasure, here are the sights from 3 Texas rest stops.




Our son is doing well but anxious for this all to be over.  So say we all!

To the Mississippi River: Day 30

It’s quite amazing to realize how different the country looks as we are only concerned about making time and streaming along the interstate.

We left Atlanta, hoping to make it to the Mississippi River. And we just arrived in Vicksburg.

With so many thoughts and concerns, it is such a grace to know so many people care. Our son is being buoyed up by the whole village – and we are grateful.

This kind of travel does not allow for many pictures of grace, but here is the Mississippi sun setting on the South’s response to “home cooking”, at a Cracker Barrel.  Think Denny’s, but much better.