One day she was overseeing the Durango city pool and, when not working, taking care of two little kids.
The next day, the 31-year-old was lying comatose in a Denver hospital with clotted blood vessels in the brain.
And if we’d forgotten, we learned again: Jarring life changes don’t always come with a warning.
Lindsay Bathke, director of aquatics at the Durango Community Recreation Center, unknowingly carried around a golf ball-sized mass in her head. On July 11, it finally put so much pressure on her brain that it rendered her speechless and then unconscious. She was raced by air to Denver for treatment. Two months later, she’s talking, out of a wheelchair and moving around on her own. Still, small tasks don’t come easily, and she’s just starting a long road to recovery.
For husband Dutch Bathke, a firefighter in Farmington, the financial and child care challenges are stiff. Sons Jackson and Blair are 3 and 1, respectively.
That’s where friends come in, says Megan Smith, who has known the Bathkes for about three years. Smith met Lindsay Bathke through mutual friends. They bonded during Tuesday girls nights out.
“We hit it off. She became my best friend,” Smith said. “Our kids play together. ... They are a big part of my life.”
So when her friend suffered a devastating setback, Smith saw just one option: Help out.
“I would never in a million years think this would happen to her or somebody as young as her,” Smith said.
A single mom and full-time college student, Smith doesn’t keep a schedule that bubbles over with spare time. Yet she and several friends – including Kim Ebner, Hope Tyler and Jamie Gustine – have put together a fundraiser for the Bathkes. Although the Bathkes have insurance, medical bills still accrue.
A dinner and silent auction will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Ska Brewing Co. Mike Beck & the Bohemian Saints, a Bay Area band, will provide musical entertainment.
Lindsay Bathke had a few symptoms but little warning before she collapsed. She spent three weeks at Swedish Medical Center in Denver, the first several days in a coma. She was transferred to San Juan Regional rehab center in Farmington for another three weeks, and about two weeks ago, she returned home.
The Bathkes traveled last week to Denver, where doctors decided that the mass, called a cavernous malformation, was in an area too sensitive to repair with surgery. The mass has already shrunk and is expected to dissolve over time, said Dutch Bathke.
Lindsay’s recovery is a step-by-step process.
“We’re getting through it, and she’s getting better,” Dutch Bathke said Friday.
Friends have been gracious in watching the children so Dutch can run errands. He was grateful when his fellow workers at the Farmington Fire Department came to the house and built a ramp to make it easier for Lindsay to get in and out of the house.
And he’s grateful for friends such as Smith for setting up the fundraiser with virtually no help from him: “She’s a little worker bee,” Dutch Bathke said.
The hope is for a couple hundred people to attend the fundraiser. Putting it together is a big chore, but despite the fact she’s never done it before, Smith is fine with that.
“It’s funny, many people have applauded me lately for organizing this and helping them, but I think that’s weird,” she wrote in an e-mail, in response to a question earlier during a phone interview. “Wouldn’t you help your closest friends through a tragedy?”
Both the swim club in Steamboat Springs, where Lindsay grew up, and lifeguards at the Durango pool held smaller fundraisers the weekend before last.
“I love them, they are part of my family here in Durango,” Smith wrote. “I would hope that all people have circles of friends that would do these things and step up in life when you are called upon.”
Easy to say, but it’s an interesting question for us all to ponder.
firstname.lastname@example.org. John Peel writes a weekly human-interest column.