Rima and her nut
Not many of us can say we've had the same friends through all our stages in life, so far. There are a few lucky people who connect at a very young age and don't let time, distance, change or growth tear them away from each other. There is something really special about those types of relationships. A person who grows with you who sees you change and walk through life. A person who is your buddy but not by blood but by choice. A person who can remember the funny thing that happened to you in the second grade over twenty years ago. That my friend is the type of relationship and amazingly beautiful friendship Rima shares with one special person. Olivia, is Rima's best friend since they were in kindergarten.
I grew up with Olivia and Rima play dates as a kid. She became a regular staple at our house. Through the years I've seen them grow closer when people grow apart. Even when my parents moved us north of Boston in high school their friendship did not waver. In college they had sleepovers at each other's schools. Olivia even came out to Los Angeles with Rima to visit me when I lived there. When I relocated to Brooklyn they were there again visiting me together. She has become like our sister throughout the years, I mean we did grow up with her.
When Rima would have hospital admissions through the years for clean-outs or when she got sick Olivia would always be there. Visiting her in the hospital and bringing along some of Rima's favorite treats and snacks. I always knew that Olivia would be there for Rima, that no matter what she had that strong support from her. The unwavering trust that she was her person through all of this medical drama. So, when transplant talk began Olivia was right there in the mud with us. When it came to me to step up and be Rima's caregiver, Olivia was there to support me.
Olivia had come out to visit us in October when we first arrived to Minneapolis. We had such a great time with her exploring this new city with her. Since she has visited us last a lot has happened with Rima. A pretty intense first dry run, a three-month hospitalization, a close call to relocating to North Carolina to go to Duke, and a second dry run. Olivia reached out to me at the beginning of April about coming to visit us again and to surprise Rima. We began to scheme and plan and the puzzle pieces fell into place perfectly. Last Wednesday I told a white lie to Rima and went to the airport to pick up her beautiful package. In the car ride back to the house with Olivia we were buzzing with excitement on how to have Olivia surprise Rima in the house. It turned out due to Rima being on the phone that we had to improvise and got her off the call quickly making her think I was on hold on my phone with a medical company and needed her help. She got off her call and then Olivia walked into her room and Rima was so surprised. "What's going on?" she kept saying and "whattttt are you doing here?!?" in-between squeezing Olivia.
They spent the rest of the day catching up, talking, giggling, and smiling. Thursday we went to the Mall of America. When my friend Christian was in town a few weeks ago he gave us 2 free all access passes to the Nickelodeon Universe rides at the mall. Having Rima enjoy the rides with Olivia was just what the doctor ordered. Why you may ask did Rima and I just not plan to use them ourselves? Well, I hate amusement parks and rides. No, I'm not the devil and no, I do have a soul. I have a few theories on how my disdain, distrust and disgust for these places came about. One of them have to do with going to Disney World as a kid and realizing I hate lines and understand the wait is not worth the minute or so ride. Second, I don't enjoy large groups of people all wondering around slowly with lots of kids or family members blocking the path in front so you're suck behind them for x amount of time. Third, I don't like roller coasters, in high school there was always a news blurb about some man being beheaded on one or falling off of one, no thanks, I'm good, I like my head.
So instead I let Olivia and Rima enjoy all the wonders of an amusement park. Unfortunately things did not go as planned for us. Apparently the more intense rides aka fun rides don't let you bring on any bags on the rides, naturally so there is no liability of them falling and hurting someone on the ground. That would be a publicity nightmare for Mall of America, "Man on a bench is beheaded by a backpack that fell from an above roller coaster" the headline would read, possibly. Rima can't go without oxygen so taking it off for rides was not an option. After some discussion we decided to hold off on the using the passes until after Rima gets her transplant and is all better. Instead, we ate some dippin dots and people watched.
Friday was Rima's big follow up appointment from the previous week. If her FEV1 did not go up from 15% she would probably be forced to be admitted into the hospital. We had been taking it easy all week, even with Olivia in town to set Rima up for success at her Friday PFTs. Rima was pretty nervous, I was very nervous, Olivia was also very nervous, we were all just balls of nerves. Thankfully...phewwww...Rima stepped up to the plate and delivered, 16% on her FEV1's. Listen, we will take that 1% and celebrate, small victories my friends or in this case a big one, no hospital stay! Her doctor said to keep Rima at home and out of the hospital we need to keep her FEV1 at 16% or higher. So we're going to take it more easy moving forward to make sure we do everything possible to keep her lung function up and her out of the hospital.
After the appointment, we went out to lunch and then took Olivia to the Como Observatory. She had wanted to go there since her last visit in the fall and it was finally going to happen. Rima and I love this place and are A-okay with going to it weekly. Soaking up tropical plants does something magical to the soul. Doctors should recommend that more often than not. Olivia pushed Rima around the conservatory and I got to watch them giggle at plant names or funny pictures they took together. A solid Friday in my books folks.
Saturday we went to the Saint Paul Farmers Market. It was the first day that the market was outside and I was so excited. I LOVE farmers markets, not only do you get to buy local foods and support your local community but it's also sensory paradise. So many fruits, vegetables, colors, smells, and tastes to be had! Unfortunately it's still pretty early in the season for this sensory overload to happen and we found that out while being chilled to the bone by freezing 30 degree wind on Saturday. We did get some plant babies though: chocolate mint, apple mint and orange mint. After warming up back in the car we checked out a plant nursery a little north of the city. The minute we walked into the establishment Rima was murmuring on repeat "oh boy, this is not good, turn around, turn around". She had just walked into her paradise. This place was off the charts with amazing plants, pots and garden accessories. All we walked away with was dill and mojito mint, after a solid thirty-minutes of eye googling and some drooling, mostly on Rima's part.
After pulling ourselves away from the nursery we took Olivia to one of our favorite places to eat and hangout in Minneapolis. Gyst, which has the best kombucha on tap. We all got kombucha of course and then some bites to nibble on. Olivia fell in love with the place just like us, naturally. Sunday was Olivia's last day. Thankfully she was not leaving till that night so we had the whole day with her. We took her to Young Joni, another one of our favorite restaurants in the city. To be honest it's probably the second or third best Pizza I've ever had. So it's a staple to take anyone who comes to visit us there. I mean it would be such a disservice if we did not share the pizza! Olivia loved it just like us, naturally again, to be expected she's a very bright woman and knows her stuff. After lunch, we drove to the mill ruins and showed Olivia a small part of the area, the weather was not cooperating with us again. It was cold and a bit drizzly and windy. We then finished up the visit with some dessert. Rima has recently discovered Panna Cotta, it's a thing folks.
After dessert, we unwillingly took Olivia to the airport. Seeing the two of them hug and say good bye was the sweetest/heartbreaking site. It was such an amazing visit. Full of adventures, giggles, talks, smiles, and snapchats. Olivia will be back soon after Rima gets her new lungs and we both hope that it's not too far away. As we pulled away from the terminal Rima was sad but also joyous. Her happy cup had been overflowing the last few days and her happy bank had been filled to the top. Olivia and Rima, two peas in a pod, or two nuts in a shell. They really are nutty, the best kind though!