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The Air That I Breathe

Yesterday morning leaving at five am I drove to the East Kootenays, to stay at my nieces for a few days. The decision came when we were given an evacuation alert and knowing that waiting until a full order came would not serve me well. 

My health has been in decline, since June 21 being hit with the never before heat dome, followed by the smoke and fires, too much stress and strain on my heart and lungs, which really is causing harm to my whole system. I likely should have gone a lot sooner, but home is home and we always think tomorrow will be better, but the air quality being so so poor, I needed to give my system a reprieve from it, a compromised system will only manage being compromised for so long before it goes into a full crisis or worse.  I’m monitoring things from a distance know and will make a decision over the next couple days about when it’s ok for me to go home. 

Yesterday’s drive was truly unforgettable, when I left home at five a.m. it was still dark, a few blocks from home driving up the hill past the hospital, it started to rain, it hadn’t been raining at my house, just a light rain. Driving I was thinking I hope it rains the whole time I’m away, I hope it pours down on the fires. An hour later I was out of the rain and within another half hour I was pulling into a rest area to see the sun coming up and to hug a tree.  The air was clear, no smoke, the sky a pretty blue, I walked about with Pheobe just taking I. The fact that I could breathe, without it causing chest pain. The air felt so amazing. 

I drove with all the windows open listening to my music, the air feeling so good, as I drove I practiced taking intentional breaths. About 4 hours into my drive I suddenly realized that the headache that was having me eat extra strength Tylenol daily and effecting my vision it was so bad, suddenly was not nearly as bad, the true impacts of how much my system was being impacted. I had made the right decision for me.
For so many the impacts of the heat and fires was losing their homes, devasting losses, for me I was losing my health, the loss of my already compromised health doesn’t mean my loss was more than theirs, I am and have been heartbroken watching the destruction these fires are doing to people to communities to livestock, to wildlife. I have shed so many tears. I do not know of anyone in my area who is not traumatized be the events that have been unfolding. But for me the impacts on my health become and are much more important than than the possible loss of my home.
Once leaving Christina lake and heading up the blueberry polson pass ( you can tell how old I am I’m not sure they even call it that anymore), it started to rain, not a sprinkle but heavy heavy rain, the kind where your windshield wipers on high speed aren’t enough, where there is so much water running, you can feel your vehicle wanting to hydroplane. I turned my music off and enjoyed listening to the rain pound on my car as I slowly drove along. Driving was slow, then the thunder and lighting started, I was watching eyes peeled expecting the hillside to light up with fire, I have not checked today to see if any started, but I thankfully did not see any. Stopping in Castlegar to fuel up, I stood in the rain, just to feel and my oh my the air was fresh. I just stood there, looking up hoping and praying it would last for days and that it would travel to my area. Another 3/4 of an hour and I was out of it, I saw the blue skies again, then another surprise going over the kootenay pass, a hail storm, huge hail balls, oh what a drive this was turning out to be. The temperature were ranging from 9 Celsius to 18 as the day progressed, the cooling off was also making my body happy, and my headache progressively was dissipating. Coming down the other side of the pass again the blue skies and sunshine appeared and just in time. I wanted to stop for a rest and walk a little with Pheobe, one of my favorite little spots was closed for a long time for a flood that pretty much destroyed it but I was hoping it was reopened. I was thrilled to see it was. It was a beautiful and well cared for by locals spot, that was always so peaceful, it had changed immensely, still good energy ran through it, the floods had created a whole new creek bed, what was there gone, but what was now was beautiful the regrowth of plants and trees and the people who had and do stop had transformed it into a magical place, a healing place, filled with rocks, painted with positive messages, a healing heart area, remembering people who they have lost, it continues to grow.


Walking through it enjoying the smell of the cedar trees, the freshness of the water in the creek, all the positive energy flowing, I gathered rocks at the creek side, I will do a couple special rocks for placement there on my way home. Pheobe to felt it she was suddenly energized, I think the good air was starting to make her feel better as well.

This drive was turning out to be a much needed escape from the stress of fires, from the strain of all the isolation. I’m truly grateful to all my friends, my hot mess group, for it is all of them who encouraged me not to wait, to take of myself. I’m grateful to my niece for opening her home to Pheobe and I so we had a safe place to land, I’m grateful to my sister and her family for all they are doing to ensure I can rest and recoup.
My landlady called me about 7 last night to say she needed access to my place she had to keep all plants and outside of the building wet, it was hot and dry there, when I arrived at my sisters it was pouring rain and last night I feel asleep at my nieces with the window open the fresh rain air coming in, I was feeling a deep sense of gratitude and praying that all this rain moves to my area, although hot and dry is expected.
I will monitor and decide how soon I can or should go home, and be praying everyone there stays safe.

By Chrissy's Journey

I am an advocate for people with dementia in Canada and globally, having been diagnosed with younger onset dementia myself a few years ago.

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