Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Certainly Uncertain

Sample image from

Sample image from

I’m glad to announce that I’m back, and I’m bad. Okay, I’m not bad. I’m harmless, actually.  Executive Summary: My plans to return to the Yuma, AZ area via Montana and Wyoming this year on a 4-month boondock camping extravaganza ran into a snag when my annual physical checkup threw a flag. A wad of follow-up tests quantified its degree of seriousness, and also spotted something else, the doomsday machine of the cardiac world. This has been mentioned in previous posts.

Though not an experience I’d care to repeat on a dare, the end results have been largely per plan. One oddity remains unresolved. I’m told that surgery screws up the electrical heartbeat signals about a third of the time, disrupting things. This normally recovers in a week or less. Mine became more notable for its day-to-day inconsistency – never having been great coming in through the doors. When the question was “will this system return to normal, or will a pacemaker be needed?” my heart monitor answered “blue rooster”. A crew of electrical specialists was brought in, thought it notable, and after a few days of in-hospital monitoring, decided that the only real option was to hang a wireless heart monitor on my neck and turn me loose for a couple of weeks. That’s where I am now. A pacemaker may or may not result. My only real care is to be able to keep driving.

This is one of those things where laying back and doing nothing in order to let your body recuperate on its own can quickly result in more trouble than you know what to do with. The body has helpful automatic responses to minor and serious injuries, but those automatic, system-wide responses are rightly not designed to deal with being poisoned to death, getting Sawz-All’ed open and having several parts sewn into your heart. That’s asking a lot, since the old school “Non-Recoverable Injury” bar was passed long ago. Seems odd, but I’m getting much more sleep than normal despite waking every few hours. If I’m not asleep, then I’m out of bed and sitting upright, eating, or getting spans of low-intensity exercise. Or working on things like this. And, trying real hard not to do/get anything that will make me have to cough.

So, while they monitor my heart on the hoof, the main emphasis is on small but frequent walks, exercising the lungs to ward off pneumonia, and keeping one eye out for signs of infection, hemorrhage, and a host of other problems common to this type of surgery. “Okay to drive” is estimated to be just over 4 weeks – assuming that the electrical situation resolves. There is a physical stress limit of 10 pounds, whether it’s lifted, pushed or pulled, and that lasts for 6 weeks. This has little to do with the heart and everything to do with loading the sternum. After that it’s my call, and I was informed that breaking the healing sternum is not at all unusual, but that it will not simply re-knit back together again – it must be operated on to stabilize and immobilize it.

Also according to staff, cautious 95% functionality may be around the 6-month mark (mid-March for me), when raising and carefully lowering the Intrepid’s roof in a controlled crash becomes a probability. Full functionality appears to vary depending on what you’re referring to, and it can take a year to get back to everyday normal. Speaking of crashing, the shock loads of off-roading in a manner violent enough to snap the F-250’s diagonal shoulder strap into action should obviously be avoided. The long-term requirement for using the anti-clotting agent Coumadin typically ends at 6 months as well.

The bad side of all this is that the Intrepid camper may well remain essentially unusable to me from last week until my annual departure from Yuma AZ in March 2017. All travel from here to there will have to be as prompt as possible, to pretend that I’m managing expenses during cross-country travel. Hard to say whether the ground panel solar system will be fixed by mid-March. Merely unloading the e-bike may be an issue, as well as riding on much more than minor shopping errands over the winter.

The good side of all this is that I’ve had today, and things are looking very good for tomorrow. I’ve got a couple of half-mile walks under my belt today, the total seeming to hold no matter how I break it up. That’s pretty good, considering. The Intrepid’s maiden voyage did not go as planned this Spring, but it did distinguish itself with adaptability to varying circumstances. Anyway, on with more normal postings…


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32 thoughts on “Certainly Uncertain

  1. Hang in there, man. Thank goodness you got it dealt with in time. I’ve been sidelined for 2+ years (3 full summers) with health issues, so I understand what a pain in the ass it all is. It will be a boring six months, but it will pass.

  2. Swankir on said:

    Dang, your marching orders are almost the same as mine for 3 cracked ribs… six weeks for pain to stop, six to heal, ten point lifting limit, cough to keep lungs working, and stay active. I could come camp nearby and assist? Be well.

    • Honestly, Swankster! I assume you lost your footing and fell? Sorry to hear this. No need to come by – we can trade sound files of our wheezing as email attachments. 😉

  3. Hey! Good to hear you’re still kickin’, cautiously of course

  4. Dennis on said:

    Good to hear from you Douglas!! Good that it has been taken care of. You will be back at it before you know it. Let us know if you need anything!


  5. Good thoughts going your way!

  6. Norman Bjornstad on said:

    A major PITA to grow old, isn’t it? I’ll be sending good thoughts your way.

  7. Chey thurman on said:

    Hello Doug,
    My left leg was amputated January if this year (DVT) while I had been planning to go full-time. I’m learning to walk on a prosthetic and am searching for a small bus with a w/c lift. I’m off the cumiden that requires constant blood draws and on warfarin so that I can travel. Getting the many medications I’m on is a puzzle for me. Any ideas how to do that while traveling? I’m on medicare & medicaid . I’m a 61 yo woman.

    • PS, love the penguin poster, too right.

    • Oh my, Chey. I am glad that you are persisting in finding ways to make your dream work. This is my first go with anything medically challenging, so others will be able to offer better answers. My own understanding is that you must be on something newer than Warfarin, which is the generic name for Coumadin. Same thing. In that, you are fortunate – Warfarin and its frequent monitoring is not practical for travelers on the road for less than a year. Up until now, I’ve only been on one Rx and have been using CVS for refills as I travel, on a Medicare Rx add-on. I’m told that there are shipping restrictions on some types of meds now, and I would expect problems in trying to get Medicaid to chip in for much of anything obtained out of state, due to the paperwork mountain. The pain killers aren’t helping my thought processes these days. Short of hoping that someone chimes in here, about all I can recommend is researching Medicare and Medicaid on their respective sites, and asking the billing staff at one or more of your doctors. Personally, I find them the most helpful as to finding out how things work.

  8. OH no sidelined! So sorry. I’m sidelined also. Take care of yourself!

  9. Gee Whiz, Doug. So sorry to hear you have to go to a Plan B. I sure hope it turns out ok – that this is just a slight delay. We, your readers, really care about how you’re doing. -PamP

  10. rickowens on said:

    Thanks for the update. I look forward to your posts but this was not expected.

    We are all on the same road….. but reading about health issues of others has a predictable effect on how one immediately begins thinking on their own health status.

    You write very well. Hopefully writing about your health issues will keep you on track to doing what the Dr’s ordered. Being forced or scared into compliance is often what it takes for me. Health is all we have. May you return to normal vibrant take it for granted health very soon. Write and walk…..often.

    Rick Owens

    Las Cruces NM


    • Thank you, Rick. Unless something interesting comes up that somebody else might be able to use, I don’t plan on writing much about my own health issues in themselves. That strikes me as more of a social snore thing than a blog thing. Plus, then I can show off my new pirate scars. I assume I will change, but right now, my most effective motivator seems to be walking past the Intrepid every day. The travel prep checklist immediately starts rattling on down. Take care.

  11. DOUG!!!!! So happy to hear you’re on the mend. Maybe I’ll see you in AZ this winter, still not sure but it’s looking more and more like I’ll be taking up residence in the little RV by Nov 4. Congratulations on the successful surgery. Recovery sounds like a PITA process, but it’s better than the alternative. Best, Dawn

    • Thanks, Dawn. I be crankin’! Good news you have there. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to research the LTVAs around Quartzsite AZ and Winterhaven, CA. $180 for up to 7 months, which gets mighty toasty around the edges. No power other than what you bring, though.

  12. Rod Duell on said:

    Dude, congratulations on success and thank God you’re back. I’m hoping you’ll bounce back at least as quickly if not more so than prognosticated. Plus, as you recover the improvements in cardiopulminary function from this undertaking will give you even greater degrees of freedom. Keep on pushing, just not too hard!

    • Thank you, Rod. I step out with a spring, and shuffle back after a quarter mile, just to fall asleep, shot. Then repeat 2-3 hours later. It’s weird. But after that rest, you’re ready to go again.

  13. Linda Sand on said:

    Now go get a flu shot! You don’t need to get the pulmonary flu I got last winter. That one resulted in my first inhaler at age 68. Maybe ask your doctor before getting the shot, though, since it might be contraindicated in your case. We all want you better; not worse.

  14. shadowmoss on said:

    Welcome back!

  15. welcome back! It’s great to hear that you made it through step one with flying colors and are now moving on to getting back out there.

    I hope your heart electricals settle down so you don’t have to go the pacemaker way.

    You’re doing pretty well with your being able to walk a mile a day, I was walking around inside the house for a week after surgery. It took a few weeks before I was able to make it the 4 blocks to the park.

    My truck bed is all cleaned out after its last trip with the canopy, air bags installed, deep cycle battery under the hood, and just biding its time until the Tufport gets loaded on this Friday. Wish I could lend it to you for your trip back to Arizona. Will you be sleeping in the Intrepid with the top down on your way back?

    • Thanks, Ming! Much as I prize individuality, heart rhythm is one thing where I’d like to be just like everybody else. Mind you, they kept me in the hospital for a full week, during which I was grateful to manage walking totals measuring just a few hundred feet. Once I was out, they told me to go for more walks of shorter duration to get the same daily total, which makes sense (and goes against my natural inclination). Early on, my surgeon claimed I’d be making 3 miles/day by week three, which would be a trick since I could manage just 2 before all this. With the weak link in the chain now fixed, it’s hard to tell what will will tend to be the limiter (apart from laziness).

      Boy, you must be excited! Photos! Photos! Those air bags should make a big difference in daily handling, from what I hear. Technically, the FWC front dinette can overnight with the top down, with the bed and toilet functions intact. But that’s it. After a long day of driving, crawling around in the semi-dark does not appeal. If I am able, my goal is to mimic a car-based commute, moteling it with as few stops as possible. Being on Warfarin (unmonitored) makes this a potentially dangerous time, so the Indiana-Illinois-Arizona trip needs to be completed as quickly and with as few “lifestyle” alterations as possible.

      • I’ll see what I can do about photos, I’m chilling out at the nearby park as it’s being installed right now! I had a look inside and it looks great, the mods I asked for really add to how nice it is, bright and airy. And they did a special stiffening job for the roof using something like cardboard honeycomb soaked with resin that adds an air space, so it’s like they insulated the top half of the unit for me, leaving me just the straight sides to deal with.

        Yes, unmonitored rat poison is scary stuff. Even monitored it’s scary stuff.

        • That is exciting! I recall seeing “new” honeycomb slabs like that in college and after – extremely strong for their weight. Made very stiff, thin platforms. Good deal.

          My B-in-law, a retired chemist, told me of Warfarin’s origins. While ya really don’t want blood clots looking for a home (thanks to the surgery itself), you really don’t want overly-thinned blood finding its own paths out, either. Hopefully, the unmonitored trip out west won’t offer too much of an adventure there. A lab here is trying to find my current baseline dosage now.

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