For years Patrick has owned a satellite phone to call with when he is out in the field. There have been many times when this has brought me significant peace of mind--knowing that he could be in the middle of nowhere and get help if needed.
There have been downsides to the sat phone which I never would have anticipated. For one, if he says he will be back at 4 pm and hes not home, then I worry. Significantly. This is because Patrick is almost NEVER late, so when he is and the sun has set, AND I know he has the sat phone on him, I worry.
Granted, this doesn't happen often, perhaps once every few years. Twice, I've put a call out the search and rescue team. Pete C. from Kodiak Search and rescue has had to "talk me off the ledge" so to speak, with being overly worried about Patrick lost in the wilderness. Pete consoles me by saying, "Zoya, I know what happened. They're probably getting to the car right about now and working on warming up and the sun just went down-maybe a few minutes sooner than they anticipated." And sure enough-after I get off the phone, Patrick pulls up in the driveway or calls.
The other caveat of the sat phone is if I"m terribly sick, then he needs to come home. This occurred when I had my severe bout of vertigo for a week. I was down and out, recovering from the virus which caused the vertigo, taking care of sick Nora on top of it. Patrick called and asked how things were-he was on a goat hunt. I told him I wasn't pregnant (we had been a bit concerned about that before he left-because I didn't know what was causing the lightheadedness). He was so relieved to hear this, that he didn't hear that I was quite sick and exhausted, taking care of the kids. And I needed him.
When he got home from the hunt, I asked him, "If you didn't come home then, when would you come home? Would you come home if I was dying?". This wasn't really a fair question of me to ask him, as I know he would. But I needed to know deep down inside that if I was quite sick and needed him home for a hunt or trip, that he would come. He understood and we came to an agreement--He would come home if I needed him, and I agreed to not "cry wolf" and ask him to come home soon. (Admittedly, I"ve done this a few times in the past---especially on elk hunts. When I'm more at wits end with him being gone on hunting trips all fall.)
In the end I"m glad the sat phone is in his back pack, but I think perhaps it will be used a little less to check in, then it used to. Which is ok with me. I know that its there in case of an emergency.