Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Please Stay Tuned for This Message From Our Sponsor

Demotivational image courtesy Despair, Inc.

Demotivational image courtesy Despair, Inc.

Normally, Strolling Amok is about thoughts, places, adventures and misadventures. Nothing profound – just goofin’ around. You may have noticed the recent veer toward hardware, recycled posts, and ill-considered considerations. Sorry to say, that trend will continue for awhile. As a matter of fact, the rest of this year is pretty well shot, as far as “camping the USA” articles go.

I finally got in to have a heart surgeon evaluate some new-fangled movin’ pitchers on DVD, and in trade for the next three months of my life, I’ll receive an operational circulatory system, pretty much. The proper time is right now, I’m told, not next year when delay damage would negate the benefits. All it will take is some guy on my chest with a roofing crowbar, some Gor-Tex shoelaces, and a couple feet of Gorilla tape. But, that can’t happen until late next month. After that, I won’t be able to raise my hands above my head for awhile, which will pretty much kill my ability to latch/unlatch and raise the Intrepid’s heavy-laden roof. On the plus side, I won’t have a long descent into a wheelchair with an oxygen tank, and occasional trips to the ER to look forward to anytime soon. I also won’t miss the anticipation of a game-ending artery blowout in a few years. Something else will have to kill me, hopefully well after I’ve gotten a few more misadventures under my belt. In its own way, this penchant I have for making stupid decisions and then having to deal with the results has its own addictive charm. At its foundation, isn’t all of life one big course correction, really?

However, all that will put me squarely into stationary gridlock for awhile, followed by a cold-weather beeline for my home court in Illinois and then Rancho Begley in Wellton, Arizona, none of which involves touring or finding obscure campsites. Oh, well. In the meantime I’ll do what I can here, but it won’t follow the pattern. You three readers will just have to ignore what I do post, and look as happy as you can until my inane and pointless lifestyle finally resumes. The potential upside for you of course is that you may discover that this entire blog has actually been a waste of your valuable time from the get-go, like broadcast television has been ever since Soupy Sales went off the air. Do not blame me, however. I did not put a gun to your head to make you read it. Everyone makes mistakes, and this is one of yours.

Then again, it recently occurred to me that I might be able to resume riding a conventional unassisted bicycle again. You know, one which has no motor or battery and doesn’t weigh 60 pounds. The thought of having my endurance based upon (lack of) muscle conditioning and available oxygen rather than a heart that sounds like a combination of a washing machine and a squeezed asthmatic kewpie doll just might introduce new possibilities all ’round. What a blessing that would be! Kind of hard to wrap my mind around, actually. Been living with the long slide down for way too many decades. Considering that medical advancements have since transformed a very difficult experimental procedure into a “pretty routine, in the right hands” procedure, don’t let anyone tell you that procrastination doesn’t pay off. It do.

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39 thoughts on “Please Stay Tuned for This Message From Our Sponsor

  1. Best wishes my friend and please let me know if there is anything I can do. Be well, heal fast…. and come home soon.

  2. Chris lemcke on said:

    Cant wait to see your body builder body next year!!!
    Thrilled for you and your future.Guess you will have to find something else to worry about…if you need help with that,just let me know!

    • Ummm, yeah, body builder! That’s the ticket! I’ll send you a snapshot. All I’ll have to do before then is learn how to use Photoshop.

      On worrying, my plan is to just wing it – I’m open to suggestions – until the Presidential elections, then switch to worrying about having to observe the damage to the nation and its people that will be wrought by the winner.

  3. Linda Sand on said:

    Rooting for you as you have to set some roots for awhile. Just think how exciting moving on will be when that time comes again!

  4. ouch, good luck with this latest big bump on the road and the recovery. I wish you smooth sailing as these things go, just don’t push yourself to go faster than your body will go, the setbacks are a pain.

    I look forward to your random and gear posts and updates on how things go for you.

    • Thanks, Ming. I’m happy to say that pushing my body faster than it will go is definitely not my style, no. But I will probably have to push harder than I would prefer to go, otherwise I’ll never get out of here! The doctors know how to do the procedures, while nurses know all about how to live with the aftermath in a measured recovery. They’re good gauges for finding out what’s “normal” and what to expect. Invaluable.

  5. Bob G. on said:

    I had a triple bypass in June, 2015. They can do amazing things nowadays. The sooner you get on with it, the sooner it will be behind you.

    My unsolicited advice concerns the aftermath. The operation took a lot more out of my base stamina than I expected. You need to get somewhere you have friends or family to stay with you for a couple of weeks, because the simplest sort of bend down and pick up stuff exercise will likely exhaust you and that will piss you off and perhaps make you try stupid camper tricks. You won’t be able to get up in that over the cab bed. You need to get off your high horse for a while and be humbly grateful for what help you can get. Take it easy. Recovery will come, just not as fast as you want.

    The other thing is to find some sort of mild daily exercise and stick to it. Mine was walking, starting with 5 minutes four times a day around the house. After a month I was walking for 45 minutes twice a day. After two months I was walking an hour and a half once a day, almost every day, and I’ve kept that up for over a year now. I lost 40 pounds, gained 20 of it back, and stayed right there for the last 6 months.

    After about 3 months, you will think you are all better. After 6 months you mostly will be. And after a year, I’m beginning to be quietly confident I might have a future that doesn’t lend itself to the metaphor of a ticking clock.

    The main thing is to get yourself somewhere where you won’t have to do much of anything but what the doctor explicitly orders for that first two weeks. Just when I got through that, I had an arrythmia that put me back in the hospital for 3 days. After they fixed that, everything got slowly but steadily better.

    The psychology will linger past the physical problems. I didn’t travel this summer because I just couldn’t get excited about it. Didn’t trust myself out there alone. Didn’t want to break up my hard-won habits. Now I’m ready, but the season’s about gone. Now that I feel like there’s going to be a next year, I don’t mind waiting so much.

    Good luck. You have every prospect of recovering completely. But it ain’t gonna be like taking a pill. You are gonna have to work at it. And (the hardest thing of all) be patient.

    That’s my two cents.

    • I think that’s worth $5.02, Bob. Thanks for the straight poop. My high horse isn’t nearly as high as it used to be, but that’s a different story. Fortunately, I’m mooching a very comfortable setup at my sister and brother-in-law’s place, which I chose specifically because they are able to do the close care needed after the hospital gives me the boot. I pity them. I assume I’ll be in pretty pathetic shape for awhile, and will simply stay here until I get clearance and then actually feel able.

      To accommodate my expected frailty, I have three things in mind. I’m replacing the telescoping truck bed divider pole that I have, due to wear that makes it balky. I have used that only for holding the rear of the roof up to make sure the fabric walls are tucked properly when breaking camp. It is entirely capable of raising the roof by itself with very little effort, so I won’t be loading my shoulders and rib cage. Lowering the rear will be more of an issue, but stiction in the lift struts cancels out a lot of the effort to keep the roof from simply dropping down. Lowering the roof will probably be my gauge of when I’m physically ready to hit the road. I expect to need my lightweight ladder to be able to reach the roof latches outside, or I can pick up a more compact set of low steps. I’ll be removing the height adapter from the StowAway cargo box to get its frame down, since it then provides a very nice safe step and removes much of the ordeal of hefting myself up with the current setup. All this will be taken care of before surgery.

      Technically, I will have the option to use the Intrepid merely as transport only, both to northern Illinois and all the way out to Arizona in order to further recuperate in the renowned Defiant, currently parked and waiting in a decent RV park there. That would give me until mid-March to get it together and stop whining. I tend to view the physical effects of this surgery as being like getting hit by a bus. Basically, the surgeon and his staff will do a modern variant of an ancient Mayan temple sacrifice, but will put everything back where they found it, and in better operating condition. That’s a plus in my book. After that, I’m counting on my strong desire to drive “home” to balance out with my aversion to pain and injuring myself, i.e. stupid camper tricks. Being patient has not been a problem for me. I fear that my sister will get suspicious if I’m still in bed by December, ringing a bell to ask about dinner.

      • Bob G. on said:

        If you are having open heart surgery, they are going to split your sternum from bottom to top and jack the rib cage open so they can get to everything. Then they will wire that split bone together again. That is a separate injury from the heart. Your sternum is going to hurt like hell if you try to lift something or push up the top of your camper. Or put yourself in any sort of strain.

        It took about 3 months before I could do much lifting, as in sacks of groceries and such, and I felt somewhat weird in the center of my chest for a while after that. It’s a relatively mundane matter, just a broken bone, but it will get your attention and no kidding if you try to do something you shouldn’t and put a strain on it before it knits properly. Just imagine the ends of bones grating together. Don’t do that.

        You’ve picked a strenuous form of camping, in the sense of having to climb up and down and contort yourself and push things around every day. You can forget that for at least 3 or 4 months. Hell, they wouldn’t even let me drive for 2 months. And by the way if you are being driven around, you might want to think about sitting in the back seat. Can you imagine the effect of a violently inflating airbag on your broken sternum, let alone your injured heart? Even a fender bender might put you back in the hospital for an extended stay.

        Lay in a good supply of books. I had a touch of pneumonia and had to sleep upright in a chair for the first two weeks. Tends to make a man a mite grumpy.

        Yeah, it’s all going to be a pain in the ass, and it’s going take an effort not to turn into one yourself. There were moments when I did not succeed at that. But the good news is that after a few months, if you follow orders, you may be looking at an extra 20 years or so of relatively healthy life. Plenty of time to boondock and travel. That’s worth having.

        • Well, that’s cheery news. I figured that the hacksawed sternum would be the main debilitator, and that a pop-up truck camper is not the optimum choice for recovering from that type of carnage. There’s nothing to do but take things a day at a time, see how things wind out, and adjust accordingly. Realistically, there should be other issues cutting in to trim that 20 years to size, but if I can get in another 8-10, that would be more than enough, I think. Physical aging is kind of a good news/bad news process, and as I often hear, it’s not for the faint of heart. I see the main benefit of this ordeal as more of a quality of life issue than an outright extender, and that is my main interest. To me, less time spent living well is more valuable than more time spent living.

          • Bob G. on said:

            I didn’t mean to dwell on the negative. My point was meant to be that the negative is entirely temporary if you can be patient. I had this procedure, or something like it, a little more than 14 months ago. For the last 10 months I have been working out and walking five miles a day. I’ve lost weight. I’m in better shape than I was 10 years ago. If I hadn’t had the operation I’d probably be sitting around lethargically watching television, getting fat, bored out of my mind, and stupidly wondering why I was so damned tired all the time.

            This operation is going to make a real improvement how you feel and get around… after 3 or 4 months. It is a temporary annoyance all dressed up as a catastrophe for Halloween. You are going to be fine. Think of it as a tuneup involving a little unavoidable downtime while your body’s in the shop. The good news is that you will be allowed to camp out in it in the parking lot while improvements are being completed.

            • A little actual experience never hurts, unless maybe it fell way outside the norm either way, which I doubt yours does. The only bummer I have with it is that I was hoping for 2 months to be gimpy but operational, and you didn’t get your driving clearance until that point. All I can really do is hope for a little better and try not to screw up my sternum’s reknitting. Leaving Indy in late December or late January in barely-operating shape would be a problem in several ways, but I’ll deal with it as it comes. Waiting to reschedule for a better 4-month time slot next year is not an option. The main source of problems has actually been blowing more than two months getting in to get the evaluation done and then get to the table. Then again, a cardiac surgeon recognized as a first pick among peers is going to be more backlogged than somebody who does 5 a year.

              • Bob G. on said:

                Your experience so far is somewhat different than mine. I had been feeling tired and under the weather for months. Nonetheless I was all set to strike out for Idaho that very week when I started having mild chest pains and shortness of breath after walking around the block. Took nitro but it didn’t go away much. Went to the cardiologist next day and he put me in for an angioplasty 3 days later. That was on Monday. When he got in there he backed right out again and had me talking to a surgeon right there in the recovery room while I was still woozy from the Dr. Feelgood stuff. Next time I saw that surgeon was on Wed., as I was being wheeled into surgery.

                I did no vetting and very little consulting with anyone. Left all that up to the cardiologist. There was no time, as the blood flow to my heart was 80% occluded. 90% in one place. I guess the surgeon I got was good enough, as here I am now still causing trouble.

                If I had managed to get off to Idaho like I planned that week, I’d probably have ended up in a ditch somewhere near a small clearing in the national forest. Miles from anything like a surgeon, or even an undertaker. Maybe a taxidermist. That would be ironic. People have been telling me to get stuffed for years.

                I am a terrible patient, as my personality won’t allow me to be sick. Just won’t put up with that nonsense. My remarks about developing patience probably don’t even apply to you, but that was a major part of my recovery.

                I only had in-home help for about 10 days. I was reasonably fit to cook and get around the house and go for short walks after that. I hired people to clean the house and mow the lawn. That was no time to pinch pennies. I took a taxi to the grocery store and subsequent doctor’s appointments, and even to the emergency room when that arrythmia showed up. Then there was a church group I discovered called “Faith in Action” with volunteers who were good for rides a couple of times a week. They would even wait while I shopped or visited the doctor. Probably something like that where you are.

                I learned later that some people are driving again in 30 days. Some doctors are more conservative than others. But then again, 30 days after the operation I was just out of the hospital for the second time.

  6. Cool that you are getting fixed up. Your other 2 readers will have to speak for themselves, but I’m content to read the mundane while you recover. Godspeed.

  7. Roger Mounger on said:

    Karen and I will be in Yuma in mid Nov. Please let us know if we can help you with anything. God bless.

  8. Doug, I hope your Cone of Silence will not be long. You’re one of the few bloggers I like to pester on a regular basis. Besides, there’s an unending list of vintage cars to talk about (I believe we left off at T, for Toronado).

    The offer for a grand breakfast still stands. Though instead of biscuits and gravy, it may well be kale and egg whites. 🙂

    To add to the choir of good thoughts and wishes, I will rely on a long forgotten recitation by a certain watch company. Be the Timex, Doug. Looking forward to future posts.


    • Well, there’s no accounting for taste, is there, Jim? 😉 At least one of the regurgitated articles will be automotive-related, anyway. Whenever I find myself wanting to post an off-topic car article on my “travel blog”, I know you’re out there and so use you as the excuse. I’m keeping your kind offer in mind and will email you when the time seems workable. I used to actually look forward to the next Timex torture commercial. Hopefully, the medical staff here will not strap me to an outboard boat propeller, though it will probably feel like they did.

  9. Earl Wedl on said:

    Earl w ACE Mc Henry
    Always enjoy your articles .
    ACE was sold in april to Round Lake ACE they have 8 other total now 9.
    Good luck keep bloging.

    • Wow. Thanks for letting me know, Earl! Unexpected. I hope they don’t thin down the ranks. (For readers, I worked there for less than a year as my last job until my personal life went down the toilet and I selected Option A.)

  10. Dennis on said:

    Good luck Douglas…and wish you a speedy recovery!!

    • Thanks, Dennis! Since the medicos currently figure they can repair rather than replace the valve, I guess I won’t be able to take advantage of that “best value” papier-mâché replacement you and Ben offered me. Sorry.

      • Bob G. on said:

        I am sure you have discussed this with your surgeon, but just in case I thought I’d mention that a friend of mine had his heart valve replaced through a tiny slit in his chest. Much less invasive, and much faster recovery. The downside is that you wouldn’t be permitted to join the split sternum club.

        But you probably already know this.

        • They would also take that tack with my valve repair, but since they must also fix an aneurysm at the same time, they’re going in the old school way to take care of both.

          • Bob G. on said:

            Aha! A twofer! I do love a bargain.

            • Absolutely! There is an additional handling fee on the aorta, but it’s nominal. I wouldn’t be doing them both without a big discount. I really lucked out! If it turns out well, I’m going to set the doc up on Amazon, put an affiliate link here, and recommend that everybody get these things done… 😉

  11. Soupy Sales? I loved the Soupy Sales show, especially White Tooth and Black Fang. Your sense of humor will go a long way in helping you to recover.

    Hope you are feeling well soon Doug. Maybe you will be feeling well enough to drive the Mighty Furd down here to Argentina!

    • Now Michael, let’s take this seriously and Identify them as White Fang & Black Tooth. 😉

      As for Argentina, besides my basic cowardice and hatred of paperwork, bureaucracy and “unofficial fees”, the availability of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel outside of Mexico City and Mexico state is nearly nonexistent as of now, making the point moot. (I assume this status applies to other countries along the way as well. The Ford’s 6.4L would need to be retrofitted here specifically for high sulfur fuel, without which I could expect a host of problems with the emissions system, and fuel-diluted crankcase oil. That first one starts triggering sensors that will begin chopping engine power in an attempt to limit the bad effects on it from a stuffed exhaust system. I have enough problems right here finding pure diesel and biodiesel that does not exceed the 6.4’s limit of 5%. Many pumps here list 5-20% biodiesel, which has the potential to speed up problems all the way from the fuel tank to the injectors. By the way, the earlier 6.0L has zero issues with high sulfur diesel, and I believe none with biodiesel.) This is all fascinating, I’m sure. In short, I’ll dream about such a trip, but between my wallet, temperament and the Mighty Furd, that little overland excursion is not real likely. But thanks for the well wishes! Continue to dine well for ridiculously low prices!

  12. Rod Duell on said:

    I’m so glad to read that you’re going to be getting a tuneup on the old pipes and valves. I feel sure you’ll uncover thereby vast new resources of energy and well being!

    I’m hoping though that you’ll continue blogging throughout this travel hiatus when you feel up to it. You’re both a wise observer of the human experience and a damn good writer, so lack of motion in no way constrains the value of your reflections.

    In any case, all the best for this next chapter!

    • Thanks for all the compliments and well wishes, Rod, but oh boy, you may regret urging a cranky, depressed shut-in to keep blogging! Actually, I’m sorry now that I didn’t pack my stash of humorous faxes from the 1970s. You know, when office people spammed each other’s places of work with stupid, faded 10th-generation forwarded faxes or mimeographs of typed jokes, and passed them around. Some are snapshots of the culture and concerns of the time. I was saving that stash for when I’d be back at the ranch Nov 1, and be relatively inactive over the winter. Oh, well! Still, apart from the first few weeks after The Event, I hope to be able to cough up something better than, “Dear diary, today a bird flew into the bedroom window, but was okay and flew off. I wish I could do that, the fly off part, I mean. Hitting the window would probably hurt. Speaking of pain, I lifted a can of soup today, but it was one of those smaller condensed ones, not the ready-to-serve ones…”

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