After getting approval for my hardware removal surgery and learning that I had 6 months to complete it; the surgeon said I could wait a little while but not too long – otherwise more infections would ensue. So, I decided to wait just a little while to enjoy the rest of the summer. I was anxiously awaiting a few more visitors and really wanted to ride with friends.
I got the chance to meet my big brother Nick’s brother. He and his girl live in SC and had their own friends from IL coming down. They were staying at the Two Wheel Inn in Robbinsville, just at the southeast end of the Tail of the Dragon and only about 20 miles from me. They arrived during a clear part of some nasty storms we had been having. They got here less than 30 minutes from another storm system coming through. Since Swain County is a dry county, the poor kids didn’t have any beer. I grabbed some brews out of my fridge and jumped in the truck to deliver a few cold ones. We sat around getting to know each other and made a plan to ride the next day.
We had such a wonderful day of riding and fabulous weather considering the non-sense that poured on this area the few days before. We got in around 200 miles and saw some delightful scenery. At each stop we chatted more, laughed together, and became friends. It was especially nice for me to meet Nick’s brother after being adopted by the family so many years ago.
I did some other rides with just the dogs and I. I really like a simple afternoon ride of going up Hwy. 28 into the Fontana Dam area, pulling into the Deal’s Gap resort, sitting around and talking with bikers that come in and out, and then taking 129 back home through Robbinsville. I’ve done that ride several times since being here in NC. It may sound repetative but as is my nature, I love to meet new people and hear their stories; so hanging out at the Deal’s Gap resort was fun. And plus… the girls really love all the attention. On one of our days out there a gentleman from NY was visiting and told me he comes here every year to photo-document bikers and their stories. He took a most excellent photo of the girls and I which he shared.
On the ride home one day, I found a fawn desserted in the middle of the road. At first I thought it had been hit, but upon inspection it got up and followed me back to the bike. I tried to pick it up and thought I could take it somewhere to get proper care, but with no way to carry it on the bike, I was stumped. It was only about 200 yards from my driveway so I went and parked the bike and brought the truck back down. Upon doing so, I couldn’t find the little baby to save my life. I could only pray it would be safe.
Glenn, one of my favorite brothers from IL came through and stayed with me a couple days on his way to a family wedding. We had a most excellent ride to Highlands, NC – waterfall territory. It was totally hot that day and Glenn wished he had trunks and I wished I had my bikini bottoms and leg cover. But we improvised the best we could to cool off at one of the waterfalls without scaring the little children. We ate at the same pizza joint I usually take visitors (Brick Oven Pizza, 423 N 4th St, Highlands, NC) and in true spirit of Glenn’s visit, we just had to get ice cream next door at Sweet Treats.
On July 17, 2015 I decided to take a grand adventure to a chapel in the mountains of northern SC to celebrate living through the crash. It was an amazing place to give thanks. I wrote about this already back when it occurred and you can read it here…
I joined with several local friends I made here to celebrate Johnny’s 50th birthday. I have been very blessed to find these folks here and that they took me in. I will surely miss these folks but I will be back for sure.
During August I was really busy sharing love with friends. Big Tom came from Florida to hang out for his second visit to the Heavenly Hill. Then I was contacted on FB by a guy named Dan from the group Motorcycling RVers that began following along back when I was traveling the country with the trailer. He and his wife were in Maggie Valley and met up for lunch. After which, they relocated to a camp south of me. It was then that the girls and I went by motorcycle to meet them and take a day trip to Highlands. Again, we enjoyed that same pizza joint. Ms. Janice really adopted me – and goodness, she gave me some of her old HD shirts so I practically have a whole new wardrobe! During this time, Eileen and Dave from Conyers Riding Association in GA were also in the area. It was a gloomy day, but Dan, Janice, Dave, and Eileen came to my home to check it out and have a BBQ.
And then I had to go… Surgery for hardware removal was scheduled for September 2nd. I headed out to stay with my grandparents for a few days and my Dad took me to and from the hospital. It was a relatively uneventful time and the surgery went well.
I took a couple days to get the heavy pain medicine out of my system so I could drive, then I headed to SC to pickup my Mom. As soon as I showed up, I let her know that I was in a lot of pain and really wanted to take my pain medicine. She loaded her bags, I took my meds, and we were off. I fell asleep in about 30 minutes and slept until about an hour from home. She stayed with me for six weeks to help since I would be in a wheelchair.
I get cabin fever rather quick and so does Mom. We didn’t have any huge great adventures but we got out a couple times a week and tried to enjoy ourselves. It was not only a huge help but mentally it was great to have company during the challenge. She was especially in charge of a few things:
- filling ice trays because that’s a huge pain with crutches or wheelchair,
- washing dishes because it exacerbates the swelling in the left leg just dangling, and
- sweeping and vacuuming because that’s a real funny thing to watch when done from a wheelchair.
During Mom’s stay we went to WalMart one day and stopped in the parking lot to see some puppies that were for sale. Mom and Steve lost both their dogs in the past 1.5 years and were really missing having furbabies. Those puppies were rather expensive so we continued on to do our shopping. I was going down an aisle in the electric cart when a lady passed me with the most adorable puppy. I asked her about the puppy and where she got it. She said she just bought it in the Dollar Tree parking lot for $25. Holy cow… I called my Mom on the cell and told her to get to checkout immediately, we had to go. I took her over to the Dollar Tree lot and there was one puppy left. She was adorable and she was sold. Dottie as she quickly was named, is a Chinese Crested Pomeranian mixed with Chihuahua. We began her potty training right away and Sportster sure did love having a play friend. Mom did a fair amount of cooking, especially comfort treats. She did some quilting and I worked. We did get the chance to see a crazy collection of extreme kayakers one weekend. The river was bombarded and we even picked up a hitchhiker – haha, it was a young man that needed a ride back up the mountain a mile or so to the launch spot.
Throughout her visit she helped me pack up my trailer and begin to get ready to move out. I was still determined to get back on the road full-time come January/February. (But, I had resolved myself to the fact that if I wasn’t able to get back on the road, I at least would have to move closer to my doctors and to folks that could help me. The last two incidents proved that my independence was cool, but my distance was not.)
At two weeks visiting we had to go back to GA to have stitches removed. Unfortunately, I was on pain meds and I was throwing up for half of the ride. Yuck. Mom was a trooper driving. At six weeks we went back to GA for a follow-up appointment. It seemed that all was going well and though I was able to wear my leg off and on a bit, I was only able to bare partial weight while using crutches. We stayed at my grandparents again and then I took Mom home.
On the way home, I stopped to see a guy named Frank from a biker garage sale group on FB. He sold me a new windshield for my bike at a seriously great price. I didn’t get a photo with Frank but we are now FB friends. I made the day a little tiny bit fun by making a stop at a cotton patch and a farmers market where I got some great organic veggies.
I was walking fairly well for about 2.5 weeks when it happened… I was running errands on Halloween day – Thrift Store, Dollar General, Ingles, and then the gas station. All day my leg was hurting more and more; worse than it had in days past. At the last stop for gas, I stepped out of my truck and heard a crunch and felt a snap. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened but it hurt like hell. I made it home but was unable to walk into the house. I didn’t have the crutches in the truck, so I grabbed my few bags, finagled my way out of the truck and scooted about 30 yards into the house on my butt. I was crying and scared. I immediately went to my room to remove my prosthetic. Upon doing so, another crunch occurred and I felt my femur give way. I put an Ace on my leg, tried to get my brain together, called my insurance to find out about an emergency visit, and contacted my local friend Janice to let her know I could use help in letting the dogs out if the hospital kept me overnight. I was intending to drive to the hospital but during all of this the pain got worse, as if that were possible. After a couple of hours, I wasn’t even able to stand up on crutches. The femur had fully broken in half and so the weight of the dangling leg pulled the two femur pieces apart. I certainly could not drive if I couldn’t even stand up. I called 911, took some pain meds, and contacted Janice again. The challenge of the EMTs to get me out of the house was interesting since they couldn’t get the gurney into my room. One supported my leg in front of me as he walked backwards and the other carried me from behind around my chest. The ER took x-rays and confirmed the break. The ortho surgeon on-call reviewed my films and heard me history; he suggested that I get back to my original surgeon immediately.
UGH… here we go again I thought; having to battle the insurance company. Janice and Johnny came to the hospital to take me home; bless them for helping me at 3:00 AM. The next day my Aunt Donna and Uncle Charlie drove to NC to get me since I was on drugs. I had a half cast to support my leg, so I was able to crutch around very slowly. I found that if I didn’t let the leg move much, the bone pieces wouldn’t touch and hurt quite so bad. As is the case for me, the drugs make me sick and I threw up half the trip again. Donna and Charlie also took me to Dr. Ogburn for review. It was determined that the man-made portion of femur didn’t fuse to the real piece in the two years it was installed. So it would be necessary to put a titanium rod through the entire femur. After a few more days of insurance and hospital coordination, I was finally able to have surgery on day 7 after the break. This was far worse than the hardware removal surgery.
Again, I waited a couple days to rid myself of the drugs so I could drive home. If I had a whole leg, I would have been up and walking the next day. With sutures and swelling, I would be unable to wear my prosthetic for an undetermined amount of time. During the second week I was able to wear my old prosthetic for a couple hours at a time. (It is larger to accommodate the swelling.) After just two hours or so, I was in bad pain so I took it slow. My neighbor Fly Wheel came to help me with manual stuff and helped me finish packing up the house. Luckily, I had done most of the trailer preparations during the 2.5 weeks I was able to walk before the break. I had to go back to my surgeon for follow-up and then to Mom’s for Thanksgiving. Fly Wheel supervised while I loaded the bike in the trailer; it would stay at Mom’s for the winter. I wasn’t able to do much and for long, but I have learned ways around things and how to improvise.
The dogs and I left NC and camped just outside Athens for two nights for my surgical follow-up. Pine Lake Campground in Bishop, GA is certainly a great RV park and I will surely look forward to visiting there again if needed. My girls were both sick the first night and none of us slept. I think it was the Wendy’s chicken nuggets. Usually they get Burger King nuggets but at our stop there was no BK Lounge. Heatherly at the park office was super helpful and kind to me and the pups. (Oh and by the way, I learned that if my vegetables get loose while driving the trailer along, I should look harder or I could run them over when taking the bike out… hahaha – squished a tomato on my floor.)
Once at Mom’s, we got the bike unloaded and I setup the trailer. I was exhausted and in pain. I took my meds and crashed out. I spent the rest of the week working, Mom and I had lunch with Aunt Beverly, and we found some jeans at Plato’s Closet for my “wider load”; no thanks to Mom’s good cooking while she stayed with me previously. We also went to the cemetery to see my baby brother. Mom got him a tree and I bought him a Alfa Romeo (hey, he got a motorcycle last time.) Mom made a lot of candy and a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. Sportster and Dottie sure had a fun reunion. I setup the dog fencing along side my Mom’s fence, so the girls could all come and go freely. (Mom said after I left for a couple days, Dottie kept going to the gate looking for us.) It was a relaxing time. I love you Mom and Steve.
When I got home, I plugged in the trailer, crawled inside with the girls, and slept hard. The next day I tried on my newer prosthetic and it fit. I was still only wearing it a couple hours at a time, but I was feeling better. I spent time working of course, but also I finished packing up the house.
My friend Bill from IL stopped here on his way to Florida. He helped me move my belongings into a storage unit and we took a quick lunch trip to Bryson City for pizza at Anthony’s. Bill didn’t stay long, but he busted butt and was a tremendous help.
After Bill left, I cleaned up the house for the landlord’s inspection and spent the week living in my trailer. Even with nightly lows of 25-31 degrees, we were quite comfy. In fact, my little heater does too well sometimes and I had to shut it off. The trailer holds the warmth fairly well, but it’s a homemade deal so there are some air leaks. It’s a fine art to live in this little thing but I do enjoy the simplicity of it.
As of this post, I’m finally starting to see the calluses from crutches starting to dissipate on my hands. The landlord Tom and his wife Shirley came to inspect the house. I will miss them and the care they have taken of me; and of course my beautiful life on the Heavenly Hill. It has been amazing to live in such a beautiful place and to have friends from around the country come to stay with me.
I have one more day until I leave for IL to spend the holidays with my son and friends. I’m really hoping and praying that I get to see my granddaughter; here’s hoping that works out because I miss her so much. It’s heartbreaking to watch her grow via photos on FB. I think it’s hard for some folks, including my son, to understanding why living in IL would be so hard for me physically right now and being even much much farther from my surgeon that I trust implicitly and that has built my leg. My son wants me back in IL and says if I was closer he could be the one helping me with stuff. I don’t live there for my own legitimate good reasons; God knows I wish I was closer to them. If all goes well after the holiday and I am able to get back on the road, that would mean I could go back to IL in the nicer months and spend time with people that love me, while not having to live in the frozen tundra.
With this post, I wish you all a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate and a fantastic successful New Year. My next follow-up appointment will be January 12 in GA; more to come on if the pups and I get to hit the road…
Stay Tuned and Live Life to its Fullest while you still can.