No time for sadness

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-55-01-pmNoah and I went back to the very spot we got married in Yosemite National Park to mark our 5-year wedding anniversary. When taking trips, I constantly hope that my health will cooperate and I won’t have any medical “hiccups” that will alter our plans. I’m sure other patients share the same sentiments. However, I will never live in a bubble—my desire to experience and soak in life as much as possible is far too strong for that.

Yosemite is one of those places where its beauty is hard to describe and, I believe, can only be felt. It is our favorite place. Its gigantic granite cliffs are awe-inspiring. Once you are in it, the park completely engulfs you in a surreal world of peace and inspiration. There were many times when we had trouble taking in the magnificent beauty before us.


The first evening we arrived, there was a full moon. We stood in the valley of Yosemite and watched the moon rise. The moonbeams shone bright upon El Capitan, a vertical rock formation that extends about 3,000 feet from base to summit. It is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers. We saw lights sparkling on El Capitan from the rock climber’s headlights. It was magical as it looked like there were stars on the granite rock. When the moon was in full sight, the entire valley lit up. It was incredible.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-55-48-pmThe next day was our anniversary and we went to Glacier Point, where Noah and I got married. It was really special to return to this spot five years after exchanging vows there. I treasure experiences like these because I know that with the good days, come the challenging ones.

The following day we were walking around the perimeter of the Ahwahnee Hotel, now named Majestic Yosemite Hotel, where we had dinner the evening we got married. I was feeling fine and enjoying the delightful day when all of a sudden I became very dizzy and had trouble breathing. I sat on the nearest rock and told Noah how I was feeling. My symptoms quickly worsened and I moved to a sitting position on the ground with my back against a tree. I kept feeling worse and then got a sensation that I was either going to pass out or have a seizure. I immediately laid flat on the ground. Noah kept encouraging me to take good, deep breaths. He later told me that during this time period I had lost all color in my face and my lips and eyelids were blue. My body must have given me a good dose of adrenaline to keep me awake, and soon I started to catch my breath.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-56-12-pmAt this point, I was quite scared and lying on the ground wondering what had just happened. Did I have a seizure? Did I pass out? What was going on? I tried to sit up and again lost all color in my face. Noah helped move me off the dirt ground onto the grass. I had to stay lying down because of how dizzy and disoriented I was. Eventually, once I was somewhat comfortable, Noah left to get a soda, salted peanuts and a chocolate bar. We wanted to get salt and sugar in me in hopes of helping me feel better. This wound up helping a bit, enough for Noah to go get the car. We went back to our hotel room and rested the remainder of the day, as I didn’t feel like myself. Noah and I are questioning if it was a combination of my side effects from my blood pressure meds, combined with being at a higher elevation, low blood sugar from not eating enough and maybe a little dehydration. Regardless, this health hiccup happened abruptly and gave us a reality check.

In a second our day changed. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me at a less than ideal time. However, as always, we made the best of it. I commented that if I were to pass out or have a seizure and have to lie flat on my back for a while, I couldn’t have picked a better location. I was in the valley of Yosemite, which has an elevation of about 4,000 feet, looking up at the granite cliffs and gorgeous surroundings. We went back to the hotel, had some great conversations, ordered dinner in and ate on our patio overlooking the Merced River.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-55-13-pmHow do I stay positive when my health changes in a second? I focus on the positives of the day. One of my favorite parts was thanks to Noah. When Noah went to get me snacks to help with my blood sugar level, there were three chocolate bars at the counter: one said “happy,” another said “blah,” and the last one said, “sad.” He bought the “blah” chocolate bar to be ironic and hopefully make me smile and it sure did. While eating the chocolate bar, Noah said, “We don’t have time for sadness.” I said, “You are so right, no we don’t.”

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-55-37-pmThe following morning, I was so grateful when I woke up. I went out on our patio, looked at the picturesque Merced River, listened to the soothing water, felt the warm sun on my face and was ready to fight and face whatever the new day would bring.

Have you ever had a health hiccup while traveling? If so, how did you try to handle it positively?



  1. Karyn Waxman

    Ah yes…the traveling health ‘hiccup’ is such a sweet polite way of putting things! Last year I wrapped up a beautiful vacation in AZ with a kidney cyst rupture that hospitalized me for 3 days immediately upon my return home…..and this summer it was a liver cyst rupture that threatened to interfere with our granddaughter’s first birthday in NJ! Those plane rides home are never easy while you’re ill and hurting, but they can never remove the joy of occasion or beauty of the experience prior to that darn ‘hiccup!’ While traveling continues to be a challenge for many of us and makes our significant others uncomfortable with worry at times, I’m all for ‘going for it’…..we’ve just one life to live so living it as best that we can to the fullest is never going to be a poor option in my book.

    • Valen Keefer

      My exact sentiments and outlook on life dearest Karyn! Thank you for sharing your zest for life and encouraging all of us to embrace PKD and keep on living the best lives possible. Big hugs! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your beautiful family. xoxo

  2. Sharon

    How scared you must have been. On our last adventure I too felt the same way. We were on a beautiful walking trail in lake of the ozarks caves when I suddenly felt dizzy, light headed and funny. Since we were out of water in our jugs my hubby left me in the cool dirt to go get me something to drink as I could no longer even walk. As I sat off the trail in the dirt I still felt blessed that I have someone you loves me does not judge me or feel inconvenienced when I have my hiccups in life. He truly his my hero. A bit of gaderade and sitting still for almost 1 hour did the trick so we could drive back to our hotel.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Sharon,
      It sounds like we had quite a similar experience on several levels, physically and emotionally. We were both in nature while waiting for our husbands, who unconditionally love us. While waiting for Noah to return with some nutrition and fluids, although it was scary, I still felt grateful knowing I had him and his love. Thank you for sharing your episode. We sure aren’t alone in this journey and it is good for others to know that. Take good care. Hugs!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email