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Emigrant, Heart of the Valley...if you ask me!

by Joyce Johnson

Many folks strive to focus on the positive, to just blaze out of and over the stress or fear that lurks under the surface, like black ice,... and get through the day,...not hard to do around Paradise Valley, so rich we are in well just everything except recent winter issues and again a swelling river possible. But me? I now jump for joy because we are finally in early spring—I saw little green-grass babies growing under the muddy schlop of melted snow in the same place that was the ice that I slipped on and did a belly flop some weeks ago. But we shall now pivot to the new season….and pray the river doesn’t flood again. We are never done are we?

Let the yard sales begin.

But my column this issue is a Retro story: It was a year & a half ago, a few months after this Journal went on covid “vacation,” that the older of the two ambulances from Livingston Health Care came shrieking up the hill here in Emigrant because I was not getting better from covid, and a friend, an RN, blew the whistle on my condition and told Ron to call 911,... and I still say likely saved my life, or near ‘bouts.

Even though it had been 7 or 8 years since I had the flu, or even a cold, me?, a health-conscious, strong immunity claiming…slightly smug walker/ swimmer...has Covid? Pshaw! And, I didn’t, as it turned out, have that easy 2-3 week covid gig many of my friends came down with. 2 weeks after onset, I had subtly worsened. Couldn’t breathe enough or move much that last day. The emergency responders must have slipped me a mickey because I can’t remember being carried into an ambulance but I do remember bouncing some as it galloped, and it’s instruments and stuff rattled loudly on the bumpy gravel road...seemed like forever. I was dreaming that I was in the midst of rolling chariots with draft horses pulling them over crunching rocky dusty terrain, and soldiers marched along in short pleated skirts showing powerful muscled legs. Romans? Or Scots? (in sturdy lace-up sandals I noticed). Horses and men with armor marching to war; wheels crunching over the gravel as it were —Big strong seriously intimidatingly warriors. (Phew! Just sharing, thanks.)

Who’s the president of the USA? The emergency responders asked me things to find out if my brain was ok, I think. Who is the pres? I clearly answered the first time, “Donald J.Trump.” (it was Biden). He said, “no, I mean who is the real pres?” I repeated “Trump.” I heard a multi-meaning chuckle. My next memory was when I woke up in Livingston Health Care Pre- ICU or someplace because people were wrapping themselves head to toe in blue plastic or so it appeared through a glass door. Later I awakened to serious oxygen detail, and a variety of electrodes so they could monitor my vitals with lots of buttons, keyboard, lights and beeps. Acute CV Pneumonia was the diagnosis and Ron said afterwards that he was told I had a

50/50 chance. Gulp! Wha? But I laid there for 12 days, no visitors allowed, even if wrapped in plastic, other than the double masked, blue plastic-wrapped nurses and docs attended me very kindly. I had a big TV screen a few yards away, but when in curiosity I asked it to be turned on once, just once, a screaming news report of rioting demonstrators came on, and after exactly two seconds I asked her to turn it off. I preferred the friendly clank and tumbling noise of a trash chute nearby and the low growl of the air conditioner to TV noise. There was a small painting of a moose in autumn colors on the wall, and a plant sitting in the window’s sun, sent by a friend. Out that window I watched the sun come in and out of the passing clouds every afternoon, which like a goldfish bowl, was mesmerizing, calming, amusing, and,

…. as though I was watching God play hide and seek.

One day I found several of the nurses and 2 doctors gathered around and they asked me what had happened because my color was back. I shyly mentioned that I had a lot of faith. What else could I say? I must have had good numbers on the monitor too. It’s true I was sitting up and felt better. I later told a doctor and others that it was the love and care of the nurses and techs that helped maintain that fine will to live. I always try to praise where it is due. A favored attendant one day, early on, played “up-para scope” when he had to wake me: Slowly his head appeared above the railing of my bedside and he whispered, “it’s me,” and his name. I remember I smiled a little for the first time. Maybe he was an angel. I didn’t see him again. Another time they asked if I was okay... mentally, (nobody is really, if you ask me). I was depressed and crying some. I confess I felt like I was not going to ever go home. Sometime after a while they added steroids to my IV. Soon my appetite came back and I perked up. [Note: but oddly, a few months later in the hot springs, I chatted about my covid ICU stay with a nurse soaking near me who said, “Steroids are miraculous in my experience with covid patients,” and my jaw dropped.

Soon as I was strong enough to use a walker I was being released. Ron came and took me and some oxygen tanks and tubing home. The hospital was almost empty of patients I was told and I felt as though I was the last to leave. The parking lot had hardly any cars for a Sunday during visiting hours. Maybe the many prayers of friends and kin had spilled and got all over everyone. Well a good guess.

Reborn - I cannot express the joy I felt in simply being again home with Ron and our dogs. Period. I still have souvenirs like frequent tiredness, and breath challenge after I pick a dog up off the floor to hug, but I am greatly fortunate. Many people of all ages have in one way or another lost to covid all over the world. And I leave it at that. On the shelf wisely, and in personal peace for now.

I am awake today, along with millions who are on a path of happiness, or even joy, despite it all. I’m obligated because joy is in my name already. Dad insisted his baby girl be named after the artist (Joyce something, probably a former girlfriend!) who painted a monumental sized picture of a leaping trout that hung above his display cases and chopping table at Louisiana Fish House/Grocery for 50+ years in downtown Los Angeles. You think he should have named me Troutina, I suppose? But it was an obvious prophecy of my surprising future home in the Rockies, next to the famous, trout-full, and playful, but mighty Yellowstone River… which we all by the way are watching again now—as flood plain residents sigh and fill sandbags...[don’t worry we got your back]... But everyone please simply just step outside and enjoy the warm up, and clear big sky sun for a few moments. The dead yellow grass fields are exposed but have green roots, and the creek behind my home is finally thawed on top and running high, sparkling, energetic, and free. What will our next challenge be? Gardens,

friends, kids, yard sales, new projects and jobs ye all!

[always happy to get your input, and contributions. And even donations. Write to the Editor at, or me at]


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