Dinner in the Vineyard has always been a magical evening. This year was the first time that Mike was not able to join us. We drank a toast to him during dinner with his favorite wine, Tres.
I learned something very important that evening. I tried not to say much about Mike’s situation because it’s a festive occasion and who wants to hear about life’s trials and tribulations? And in fact, after a difficult day, sharing another amazing dinner among the vines with our guests lifted my spirits.
But I learned something more. I was touched when Jerry, a long-time club member, who makes the trip from Rhode Island each year, took the time during the vineyard walk to quietly ask, "How is Mike?" He genuinely wanted to know and didn’t seem to want just a cavalier “he’ll be fine” response.
Later in the evening, his wife Janie told me that they like to know about us and how we’re doing. She said that they feel more a part of the Amista family when they know what’s going on behind the scenes. During the fires, they appreciated our messages describing what was happening and they were relieved to learn we were not in the path of the fire.
So, for those who want to go behind the scenes, I will share more of the details of what our year has been like. Mike is currently in a rehab facility in Santa Rosa awaiting the replacement of his artificial knee. It’s been a rough year for him – a fall in mid-December where he wounded his knee, which led to a stay in the hospital over the holidays followed by two months of recovery at home with a 24/7 caregiver who moved in with us. It was necessary and needed but difficult for two introverts to share our small home with a stranger.
Just when Mike was able to get around on his own again, the wound on the knee became infected and he returned to the hospital at the end of March. He had surgery at Healdsburg Hospital where it was confirmed that the infection had gone to the bone and the artificial knee joint.
The artificial knee was removed and replaced with something called a spacer (basically cement) at UCSF, after which he spent 8 days in ICU to manage the sepsis infection. He was delirious for a few days and over a glass of wine I can tell you some hilarious stories! He returned to Healdsburg Hospital to complete six weeks of IV antibiotics and then transferred to a care facility in Santa Rosa. He is unable to walk because he cannot put any weight on the leg with the spacer.
The process has been much longer and more difficult than either of us imagined. The good news is that he finally has surgery scheduled on September 6 to get a new knee. He continues to get physical therapy while he awaits surgery, but it is limited since he cannot put any weight on the leg. He will return to the care facility for rehab, which will take longer than a typical knee replacement given his loss of muscle strength after spending so many months in bed.
Meanwhile, I have taken over full responsibility for our business – both the winery and vineyard – and our household, plus managing Mike’s healthcare (everyone needs an advocate to navigate the healthcare system) and driving to Santa Rosa to spend time with Mike each day. A bright light is that the dogs can visit him now that Torin has recovered from surgery and Dylan is improving after an injury to his leg during a frisbee run.
I am grateful that we have an incredible team led by Brian and an amazing winemaker and vineyard manager in Ashley and wonderful girlfriends who are there whenever I need something fun to do or a shoulder to cry on. And now I realize that there is a bigger community of Amista friends who are cheering us on. I’ll keep you posted.
With deepest gratitude,
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