Pat’s Funny Bone: Striving for the mountain top


Two and a half years ago, I made a goal. I was going to climb Mt. Rubidoux by the end of the year. Not really “climb it,” but walk on the trail that goes around the mountain until you reach the top.

Not really a “mountain,” but more like a very large hill with lots of rocks. But it is named Mt. Rubidoux so for those who have never seen it or climbed it just think of it this way…a mountain consisting of terrifying cliffs, (If there are some, they are all chained off), large boulders to scale (Not really that large), streams to forge (If a couple of kids stop up a water fountain), a winding, narrow foot path (More like a one-way asphalt road on which you could drive a pickup hauling a fifth-wheeler), and weather that chills you to your bones (If you are wearing shorts and a tank top at 4 a.m. in mid-January during a rain storm.) But this is as close to climbing a mountain that I will ever get.

I should have realized when I made that goal that I was still under the effects of the sedation and pain killers that they gave for my surgery three days before. The surgery in which they removed two of the muscles in my right leg along with the ham strings. To put it in as few words as possible: My right leg had a few serious problems and if I were asked about doing a mountain climb while not under sedation, I would have certainly said “Are you crazy?!”

But who remembers what a person says when they are in a hospital bed? Pastor Pete does!! He often reminds me how unbearable I become as I am coming out from being sedated or taking pain killers. I have thrown doctors out of my room, berated the kindest nurses known to mankind and let my family know exactly what I think while sparing not one word. In others words, I become a raging lunatic! And this goes on for three days.

After one surgery, I threatened to have the KTLA news team come into the hospital to do a story on how inefficient the hospital staff was. I don’t know anyone from KTLA! It has gotten so bad that they actually have taken my cell phone away from me because I call people all hours of the night ranting about anything and everything.

Personally, it’s usually not a pretty picture except for the one time that I hallucinated that the hospital was on fire and I kept talking about how handsome the fire fighters were. That was rather pleasant!

They tried lowering the dose, but my “other self” responds just the same. The note on my chart states that I am sensitive to all sedatives, but it doesn’t make any difference. The staff attempts to calm me down by giving me something that speeds me up! So…when I made my goal of “climbing Mt. Rubidoux,” my family should have taken into consideration my mental state at that time, but they didn’t. They held me to it.

I love to take the “easy trail” around Mt. Rubidoux, but thinking about doing it six months after major surgery was not in my plans. I soon found a loophole and stood on the fact that I said “end of THE year,” not “end of THIS year.” I was safe!

Somehow, recently THIS year (2016) became THE year. I think it had much to do with the fact that Pastor Pete had an appointment in an office located at the base of Mt. Rubidoux and a true Dutchman never misses a chance to save some money by enabling himself to “kill two birds” with one tank of gas!

We arrived at the trail entrance only to discover that in the past three years, the City had restricted parking to the parking lot located a fourth of a mile down the road. Note that I said “down.” That was my first concern. My two and a half mile walk “up” had just been increased to three miles because of their “down.”

After parking our vehicle, Pastor Pete loaded his backpack, I located my camera, and we were off. The first few steps were no problem, but as we walked, it was harder and harder. My legs were aching and my breathing was shallow. By the time we reached the edge of the parking lot, I was ready to quit.

For the next hour, we walked “up.” It went rather well until we were passed by a blue-haired grandmother in a pink jogging suit and wearing a sign that said “Today is my 90th birthday!” Somehow, that didn’t encourage me to try harder.

We were almost to the top, when a 4 year-old ran past us shouting “Happy New Year.” I had now been challenged by an entire century of fellow Mt. Rubidoux pilgrims. I will make it to the top and I did!

If the walk “up” was hard, the walk “down” was interesting. It was the first time I really gave my right leg an endurance test and found that they had removed my “down muscles.” I discovered that while walking “down,” I couldn’t stop, move side to side, or make a quick adjustment with any success. I was a walking hazard to all the others on the path, especially those on a bicycle.

I would swerve and stumble as my pace became faster and faster. But it all came to a stop when I tried to avoid a “fellow walker” as he was walking up on the wrong side of the path. We had a face to face confrontation. I was walking “to my right” and he was walking “to his left.” I think he was from England.

What is my New Year’s resolution? I resolve, as I face the challenges of life, to only “walk up” and always “look up.”