Monday, July 9, 2012

Stairway to Heaven

Last week I went on a mini vacation up the coast to Cambria. Cambria is a quaint little seaside town with little artsy shops, bakeries and small mom and pop restaurants. The beach is nestled with pine trees on one side and vineyards on the other. A perfect retreat for this California POTSy.

Just a few mile North of Cambria is Hearst Castle. A tour of this hilltop mansion is always a must see for me whenever I'm in the area. The last time I took the tour was 27 years ago, way before my POTSy days. All I remember of my last visit was the amazing art, antique furniture and unbelievable architectural details. For this visit I booked a main tour of the castle and a tour of the upstairs bathroom (upstairs, I know, what was I thinking!).

I was so excited to share the Hearst Castle experience with my daughter Megan. We begin the tour and the first thing I see is a huge staircase leading to the pool and main entrance. I'm thinking to myself "were these stairs always here, I don't remember a single stair". As I'm standing on the bottom of the never ending stairway to begin my trek I begin humming the Pink Floyd song "Stairway to Heaven". Because surely I'm going to die before I make it to the top! I stop at about the 10th step to catch my breath and I'm joined by a few elderly comrades. By the 20th step I'm out of breath and have to sit down, my elderly comrades have just passed me up and I begin to giggle as they pass me up. By the 40th or so step, I'm ready to curl up on my step and take a dirt nap. I finally make it to the top and as I'm climbing I pray for a fainting couch to collapse on when I get to the top. To my surprise, at the top of the stairs there are a few rattan loungers completely empty that I'm sure God has placed there in answer to my prayer. As I lay there catching my breath I catch the gloating stair of one of my elderly comrades, I'm glad I made someone happy that day. Lucky for me the tour guide is rambling about the details of the construction of the castle, which gives me just enough time to catch my breath and hopefully rejoin the tour. I'm happy to see my beautiful daughter flitting around taking pictures and I'm grateful she is use to my POTSy self and can enjoy the tour. The rest of the tour continues into the house and about 50 of us are herded like cattle from one room to another.  I'm pleased to find chairs throughout the tour for those who can't stand in one place for long and I'm able to enjoy the tour. The tour ends and we have a 30 minute break before the next tour. I plop down on the rattan lounge chair and my daughter takes off for more picture opportunities  (she's quite talented in taking her own picture at key poolside spots).

The next tour begins for the upstairs bedroom and I'm thinking "what was I thinking when I booked a tour that had the word upstairs in it?" I go to the end of the tour group, which has only about 10 people in it, trying not to hold anyone up as I slowly head up the circular staircase. I reach the top of the stairs and I'm exhausted. I'm tempted to plop myself on one of the beds in the room I'm viewing and I remember that I'll set off a million alarms if I step off the designated indoor outdoor strip of carpet we are required to stay on throughout the tour. Since I cannot lay on the bed my eyes begin to search for a chair, and I sadly realize they don't have chairs on this part of the tour. I slowly trudge through the rest of the tour with occasional evil stares from the tour guide who can't begin his spiel until everyone is together in the room with him. When the tour is complete I head for my favorite rattan lounge chair and take a long rest, thankfully the garden area is beautiful and Megan enthusiastically takes more breathtaking pictures. After a well earned rest we catch a tour bus back to the bottom of the hill and enjoy a delicious lunch made with happy cows from the ranch owned by the Hearst family and head back to Cambria.

Sometimes I forget I have POTS, which can be a good thing. When I forget I often do things I wouldn't normally do out of fear of having a POTS episode. The tour was difficult, but it was worth the difficulty seeing my daughters eyes light up in every room we entered.


Psalm 111:4
He has made His wonders to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and compassionate.