For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

Aug 3, 2018

My Experience With Tramadol

If this bores you, at least read the fourth paragraph up from the bottom. It's important. So wind up back to 2010 when my back problems started. Excruciating pain. I pushed on until I could barely walk across a room so camping/traveling was a problem. Now, I'm not good at going back in time to exact dates, but I'll try my best.

I decided in 2012 to go to a doctor. I loved the group. They offered me Hydrocodone, but I told them pain meds didn't work so there was no sense in prescribing them. They were surprised, but they seemed happy about it. They did physical exams--I could bend and put my hands flat on the floor. It didn't affect the pain one way or another. Adding to the confusion was the absence of leg pain. I went to physical therapy in and out of water, and three courses of steroid shots. I did exercises. They did an MRI and a Myelogram and could see ruptured discs and several fractures. They decided the only course of action, as things were getting worse, was surgery.

After the surgery and six days in the hospital asleep until the last day, I think, they were very good about weaning me off within a year's time--but it was like a lost year in time. I remember very little. That was for the surgical pain. The original (same) pain as before surgery remained. My wonderful surgeon even did another MRI hoping he had missed something that he could fix. But there was no magic bullet. He said, at that time, that my back is full of arthritis. The pain was so bad I really didn't think it was arthritis, but then I'm not a doctor. He felt the best course of action was to go to a pain clinic. I tried to camp with the group of women that I had always camped with, but getting from my campsite to there's was difficult. Walking Jack was impossible.

A very nice young woman doctor asked me to explain my pain. I did, and she said, "That sounds like a text book description of S.I. joint pain. Would you mind if I changed the prescription as far as the location of the steroid shots?"

I said, "No. I don't care if you unscrew my head and put it back on if it helps the pain." It was really a diagnostic shot and for a day or so I had no pain (what a relief)--that confirmed that it was, indeed, my SI joint. I could sit or lay down and relieve the pain. The moment I stood up or walked a few steps, however, the pain would become unbearable. So she decided that an ablation to burn the nerves might help. I think I had two or three to no avail. She prescribed Tramadol to  help with the arthritis. There was a doctor in the hospital that my daughter knew and she told him about my problem and he said to tell me to let him take a stab at it. He was a partner in the same pain clinic as the young woman doctor. I continued with Tramadol more for the arthritis pain, than for the S.I. joint pain because it was not addictive and it did help the arthritis. I was given a prescription for 50 mg 4x per day which is not a heavy prescription, but I didn't want to be a vegetable with pain so I never took the full dose.

I call him "Magic Hands" to this day. The ablation worked and I felt as though I was reborn, again. I had sold my trailer, thinking, I'd never be able to use it, again. Now, though, I had a new life, but wanted to be cautious. So I enrolled in an aqua aerobics class and I don't think I've ever been in better shape in my life. NO PAIN. I continued taking two tramadol per day for the arthritic pain. I wanted another trailer so bad, but I made myself wait six months before even looking.

Fast forward six months. I decided to buy another trailer. I was in hog's heaven. I hope I have the chronology right, here. I was doing very well, then the pain returned.

By this time, the pain clinic was closed and I lost my "Magic Hands". Pain clinics cater mostly to medicare patients and you know the percentage of the charges that medicare pays--they just couldn't keep it going, financially. (He, by the way is nearing retirement). We talked a lot about traveling the country in an RV when I was seeing him and I was happy to hear that he recently bought an RV and is enjoying the summer out west with his lovely wife. He's a wonderful man and a wonderful photographer. I wrote him an email the other day encouraging him to do a blog, but I'm not sure whether he will or not. I saw some of his photographs on the walls of the pain clinic and they were spectacular. I would say they were probably the most beautiful photographs I've ever seen.

Moving on. What to do. The young doctor who discovered the SI joint problem had moved to another pain clinic. I went back to her. She did two or three more ablations to no avail. She tried to keep me comfortable with medication. Tramadol, the safe drug. I had a fall, breaking some ribs when a dog on a long lead saw a squirrel and ran--the lead flipped me upside down and I landed on my side. I managed to hitch up and make the 6 hour trip home from the campground--Now I had two places that hurt a lot for several months. Slowly, my ribs healed, but my back was no better. I had to sell my new trailer that had only been out a few times. Then, the truck. Watched my dreams go with them.

The Tramadol had some minor side effects, but nothing I couldn't live with until a while ago, and the best part was that it wasn't addictive. I generally took two out of the four doses per day until after the fall when I increased it to three. Then I was able to go back to two until I got the dogs so I went up to three, again, (because I wasn't laying in bed until noon) so I never took a full dose because I could get comfortable with a muscle relaxer, ice, and a heating pad and a bed or a couch.

A while ago my body just said "NO" to the Tramadol. The side effects suddenly became unbearable. I decided I would stop taking it and rely on Aleve or Advil and the muscle relaxer. After all this I'm at the topic of my post. I was like the "Woman with the Golden Arm". I can't describe how bad the withdrawal was. I couldn't look on the computer because my hands shook so bad and I had electric shocks to my brain (still have small ones) and the room would turn on it's side for a split second. There were too many other issues to bore you with; two were/are that I will often lose time for a minute or so, memory issues, etc., and I have a feeling of detachment.

Anyway, I started to do research. You can do your own and you will see what they have discovered about Tramadol and draw your own conclusions. Unlike Opioids, there's little they can do to counter the effects of withdrawal or "step" you down from it. The fact that it is addictive is recent information to the medical field.

I think what happened was when the Opioid issue became so dire in this country, the drug companies didn't miss a beat at selling doctors on this "non-addictive" drug. I hesitated writing about this, but if it makes one person ask his or her doctor about the drug before taking it, I think it's worth the embarrassment and vulnerability.

I will be going back to the doctor soon and plan to rejoin the pool even if it's just to tread water. The tough problem is getting from the car to the pool, but I'm changing from the place I was going to, to a church nearby that has aquatic facilities if the walk from the car is easier.

I have no conclusion to this post. Just, "That's all folks!"

Jul 22, 2018

All Dressed Up With No Place to Go

Beautiful day. New Car. And no where to go.

I dream of days past when Rich and I, even if we weren't going camping, would get in the car on a weekend, with or without Lizzie and Jack, and ride and talk and laugh. Sometimes, it was just to go to the foot hills, find a place to let the pups swim or take a short hike. Many times, it was just up to Dahlonega where our son, John, just bought his new home (coincidence). Rich was always so much fun to be with. I miss his laughter, of course, but I miss my laughter with him, more.


I never thought about not being able to walk. If Rich were here, we'd be taking a ride, anyway, and laughing, too. Maybe stop and get an ice cream cone--his favorite thing to do. Not much fun without him.

When we were kids, there was a lady who lived next door to us who we called Aunt Alice. In my eyes, Aunt Alice was a very, very old lady. She was probably younger than I am, today. LOL I always remember her shaking her crooked finger and saying, "Young lady, the secret to never getting old is to keep moving." I think she was a very wise lady, and she did live well into my adulthood. I passed her advice on to my kids.


I wanted to post some pictures of Jonah just so I'd remember how grown up he has gotten so quickly. I think he just turned 8 months old. Susan was lucky to get him. He's got a wonderful personality and temperament. Between him and Bogey, I'm kept busy going between our houses. Susan lives a mile away so it's no big deal. It would have been difficult for her to own a dog with the hours she works and as active as she is, they have a great time on the weekends. The first picture has a funny story. She takes him to a park somewhere every weekend and he meets up with his brother and some other dogs. They got there early and he's looking as if to say, "Hey, where is everyone." He looks like a Meer Cat! Too funny. When he and his brother, Remy, saw each other for the first time since they were with their Mother (I'm guessing at about 6 months old), they seemed to recognize each other and have become fast friends. Susan and his owners have also become friends and will help each other out, as needed. They are a young couple and feel safe leaving Remy with her (and me) when they go away on a weekend.

The pictures with the black background are taken by Steven Moore (http://thebreedproject.com/). Susan and Remy's owners took Jonah and Remy. Sure wish I had some of Lizzie and Jack. I'll see if Michael is interested in getting some of
"The Bogster".
MeerKat Looking for his Friends at the Dog Park






Looks scary to me, but they have a blast together and never hurt each other. (Remy and Jonah)



My buddy, Bogey, is a couch potato (along with me) in this hot weather. He's a cool dog.
I think Michael gets him a new collar every time he has him. 




Jul 14, 2018

My First Visit to John and Lisa's New Home

John called the other day and wanted me to come up. I'm always up for a ride to the mountains so I got Susan to look in on Bogey for me. To my surprise when I came home, she had Bogey and Jonah over at her house getting along like two peas in a pod. I'm hoping that soon they can both stay over here so I can stay in one place. I felt for her. She was on call yesterday. She went in at 11 a.m. and a brain surgery and another emergency came in last night so she worked until 7 a.m. I couldn't reach her by phone so I went over a 5 a.m. to make sure Jonah was okay, put him out and fed him. I had gone over during the night to make sure he was okay with the thunder storms that were rolling through, and he was fine--sleeping like a baby. Bogey was fast asleep at my house--the big bangs don't bother him a bit.

John and Lisa's home is exactly an hour and 1 minute from mine, yet it is a world away in the foothills. I took pictures of every room in the house--just charming. I'll show only the outside, now. I called their last home "The Happy House" and I know this one is going to be just as happy.

We had hamburgers, hotdogs, and all the fixings and a surprise birthday cake! John's birthday and mine are close together. They think of everything. Kellie, their youngest daughter was there. She is the sweetest thing. I call her my animal girl because she's an animal lover like me. I think she opens the doors to let mosquitoes out because she wouldn't hurt another creature.

Bogey is lying next to me sound asleep. Jonah tired him out, I'm sure, but I'm so happy to see them getting along. I'll sign off with a few pictures I wanted to keep as a memory of driving up to the house for the first time.

The country road they live on




Beautiful views and lots of privacy. They said their neighbors are very nice.

They have already been enjoying their porch. This is one half. I could see myself enjoying it, as well. I always wanted a porch. If the bugs get back, they have a screened in porch. What a life!


I was thinking while at John and Lisa's house how I wish Rich was here to see it and to see how happy his kids and grandkids are. When I got home and unloaded my pictures I held my breath because either the camera or my computer has been acting flaky when downloading pictures, lately. To my surprise, this picture was in the middle of everything. It's a picture of Rich and me with the boys (many years ago). Susan wasn't among us yet. I'm putting it here just for my memory. It's not very clear, but I remember the day well. It was in my sister's and brother-in-laws first yard.

Jul 12, 2018

Amish Country with Sister, Judy

I'm a little late with this blog as I've been home for five days, but better late than never. The ride up to Pennsylvania was LONG, but the car was easier on my back than the truck was. Going up, I hit no traffic whatsoever; a few wrong turns, but nothing catastrophic. I was hoping to leave only a two or three hour drive for Sunday, but it wound up being about an hour longer because the GPS directed me onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The best part of the trip was seeing Judy. We are good travel companions because neither of us can walk, but we were on every road there is in the Amish country. It's so incredibly clean--makes me wonder what's wrong with the rest of the country. There's a glaring difference once you leave the area. We also took a ride up to Jim Thorpe.

Other than the scenery (I've got a few pictures), we gabbed and gabbed and laughed and laughed all day and into the night. Judy and maybe her husband, Frank, are coming down in August to see us. My kids are very excited, and can't wait to see them.

I could have sworn I got a picture of the whole tower.
I took this off the web so you could see it. We came across it by accident.
One thing I found in Kentucky horse country and in the Amish country is that there are not a lot of opportunities for good photos because the roads are narrow and there's no place to pull over. My pictures may be a little out of order--blogger is not letting me put them where I wanted, so--don't know what I'm doing wrong, and I'm sure it must be me.

Every where we went, it was clear that patriotism is important in Pennsylvania. It was Independence day, but still...so much effort is put forth. In the town of Litzit, early morning on the fourth people were putting chairs and blankets out along the streets where the parade was to be. It amazed us because, sadly, where we live--they would be gone way before the parade took place.

I couldn't find the name of this covered bridge and I was trying (knowing I was illegally parked) to get a picture of just the bridge, but this lady decided she wanted to be in the picture and walked right by me. I couldn't wait for her to go through.
We took a ride to Jim Thorpe and took the "scenic" train ride. Not so much. This is the only pretty place we saw and it's blocked by a fence. I had passed through Jim Thorpe many years ago with Rich and I thought I remembered it differently than it is. Of course, that was back in the days when we could walk so Judy and I just saw the very minimal sights to be seen.

One thing we noticed was that Monday is laundry day in the Amish country. Every farm we came across had a clothes line. It brought back memories for me as I had no dryer when my kids were little and remember hanging wash in the coldest and hottest of weather.
And the very old big and little houses along the narrow streets are so pretty.






 
The farms are so pristine and beautiful
I'm hoping to take some weekend trips; probably in the fall. I love meandering through the back roads. I really miss the truck when I come to the dirt roads that call me, but there's still a lot to see.

Jun 25, 2018

Quick Blog About an Important Milestone

My eldest son, John, retired after over 35 years at Kimberly Clark. Then, within a month, he and his wife, Lisa, bought a new home and sold their old home. These two don't fool around when it comes to getting things done!!

I can't believe how fast life goes by. It seems like yesterday that he was born. I am so proud of him, and so happy that he found the love of his life and has three beautiful daughters. Retirement will be good for John because he has so many hobbies and interests. He's so likable that the house surveyor offered him a job, if he wanted to work. Lisa has two years to go, as a teacher, then on to more beautiful times, together. They are a one of a kind couple. Sorry. Had to brag a bit.

Just a few pictures to mark this wonderful time in their lives. The last one, in my eyes, tells the story of their life together=happiness. I'm so grateful.







This picture and the next are at our little retirement celebration dinner together as a family. Unfortunately, I was the photographer and didn't get great pictures, but we all had a wonderful time.



This picture says it all!

Jun 22, 2018

Off to Pennsylvania Next Week (and Dogs)

Well, "the dog room" didn't quite work out. Jonah was a little too spunky for Bogey (who looks like two, but is eight years old). So, my house was left with an empty room. Do I want to spend a lot of money furnishing it, again, at my age? No. Would the kids/grandkids want any of the furniture when I am gone? No. So, I bought a cheap cover for the old couch. (It's grey stretchy fabric, the same color as Bogey), and I bought three anti gravity chairs. I brought the TV in and voila I call it the "theater room". Bogey likes to be on the couch with me, and when the kids come over they have comfortable chairs that anyone will want when I no longer need them. It's sparse, but who cares--everything can be used when I don't need it any longer. (Jim, you can relax and watch NASCAR when you are here) I could have at least straightened it up before taking a picture, huh? Susan lives just a mile away so I split my time between Bogey and Jonah on the days and nights that she works.
The other lounge chair is next to the one with the green throw (literally thrown) on the chair.
I tried to get a picture of Bogey on the couch, but every time I got up, he got up so this is one that Laura, my daughter-in-law, took yesterday. Handsome fella, huh? He's become so calm since he first started to stay with me. He's a great dog. I just have to watch that he doesn't catch any wildlife outside.

And, this is Jonah--I believe at 7 months. I think he's 8 months, now. He's almost bigger than Susan, but he is the most laid back puppy I have ever known. He doesn't chew. When I'm with him, he'll play and then spread out on the couch with me. He's turning out to be a great dog, and Susan is so happy to have him.
These are two very loyal dogs. Bogey goes crazy when he sees, Michael. When he takes him for a walk or to his house for a couple of days, he never looks back at me to say, "See ya!" I guess I should be insulted for all I do for him. Jonah is not any different. I do for him all day, too, but when Susan walks in, he could care less about me. I've come to love both of them, but I'm just the dog sitter.

Now, some exciting news. I'm driving up to Pennsylvania next week to meet my sister, Judy, again. I can't wait not just to see her, but to be on the road in some form. I've had my new car since January (I think), took one trip to NC and put 500 miles on it and only have 1200 total miles. Cabin fever, ya think? It's got all the bells and whistles--don't even need a key to start it, but I miss my truck and I miss my trailer. All good things come to an end, and we still have to go forward for those around us. I'll make a note here that one of my favorite people died, yesterday--Charles Krauthammer. He was one of a kind, and there won't be anyone to come close to him in my lifetime.


Judy and I had such a great time the last time we did this trip. We are staying in Lancaster, again, but we'll explore a little further away. I was in Jim Thorpe with Rich many years ago and I want to go back to see if it is as I remember it.

The last time we had a whole week, but this time we only have five days, together. I'm hoping (and so are my kids who adore her) that she will come down for a visit later in the summer. We were so busy having fun the last time that I didn't take very many pictures. I'll try to do better this time. My little camera is on its last legs, and I hate carrying the big one. I don't like taking pictures with my phone, but that's an alternative. Well, I'm starting to waste space for lack of anything to say so that tells me it's time to get off.


Mar 31, 2018

A Very Sad Time

My dear friend and my eldest Son's Mother-in-Law has passed into peace. I spoke of her husband not too long ago. They were a wonderful couple--married over 65 years and as in love as the day they met.

Martha, quite often when Rich was alive, used to say how lucky our grandchildren were because they had all four of their grandparents. She and I bragged about them so often. When Martha lost Jim, I tried to help her as she helped me when Rich passed. She always knew what to say and what not to say. I tried to be what she had been to me, but nobody could be like Martha. Two weeks after she lost Jim, she lost her identical twin, Mary. What a brave lady to face such heartbreak with such grace and dignity.

I will miss her forever. Fortunately, for her children, Martha was a talented artist so they have so much to remember her by, in physical form. I hurt so much for my Daughter-in-Law, Lisa, but I know only time is the great healer. She and my Son are a model of Jim and Martha's marriage so I know she's in good hands. He loves her with all his heart, as do their three daughters, Amanda, Missy, and Kellie.

I will miss laughing with Martha as I did laughing with she and Jim when we went out for dinner at what we called "The Haunt". It was the old Hickory House--torn down just recently. Sort of symbolic to me.

I don't know that there is much more to say through my tears, but I couldn't let this important time in my life go without writing.

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

Henry VanDyke


Feb 3, 2018

Just a Catch Up

I sold the truck in 1/2 hour. I had 27 responses to one ad. I told the first caller I'd give him first right of refusal at full price. The second man that called told me he'd give me $500 more sight unseen, money in hand if I would take his offer. Of course I couldn't, I had given my word to the first couple who were very nice people and I'm happy to say they bought it and--they are campers! I feel good that they will pull their camper more safely with the truck.

So the chapter ends. I miss the truck with all it's noise and lack of bells and whistles, but there are advantages to my new car. Getting in and out for one thing. When I'm at a light I wonder if I stalled (never experienced that with my truck.)

As far as new things:
I got a CRV XL

I had a dogless (rainy) weekend last week and I took advantage of it and drove up to wander around south North Carolina. I stayed in Waynesville at a Best Western. It's about 45 miles from Asheville. I can't say enough about this place. Squeaky, squeaky, clean, plush towels and enough of them, quiet, very large screen TV, Cable, Wifi, and a to go gift bag with two bottles of water, cookies and other treats. All for $89.99. Any one wanting to travel to Asheville would save money and stay at a lovely place if they chose this place.

Unfortunately, it was raining Friday and Saturday so I couldn't take many pictures, but I got a few between the raindrops. I decided to return home on Saturday afternoon. Of course, Sunday was bright and sunny.

When I left, my goal was to see Maysville where a good friend and neighbor was raised. She passed away several years ago and talked so much about the farm, etc., and the businesses that her family owned in town. Not knowing where the farm was, I just kind of rode around, but as I said I couldn't take many pictures. I did get the court house.






Guess they didn't have time to take Christmas Decorations down, yet. Again, from the window of the car. :(

I tried a few back roads in the mountains, but came to signs that said, "Pavement Ends". That would not have stopped me in the truck, but it did stop me a in the CRV. I'm not happy about that, but all good things come to an end.

Before my short sabbatical, I had Bogey and Jonah (during Susan's work hours). Quite a challenge. In anticipation of the mayhem that was to be, I emptied out a room and made it the "dog room". I only left an old couch, put the TV in it, and a time out pen for Jonah (has come in most handy). My house is topsy turvey, but that will pass. It has been a challenge. This week Susan has been in Jamaica so I only had Jonah because Michael and Laura took Bogey. Monday, the rubber meets the road, again. I'll have the two of them. I wonder how many times a day I say, "No!"
Tough Life

Bogey Always Happy to Go with Michael.

Michael had Bogey's Portrait done using the picture (below) that he had taken. I thought it was very well done. Sure wish I had done this with Jack and Lizzie.


In Just a Few short Weeks
A "Rare Moment of Brother Love"

The "Dog Room"


I took this today. Not a very good picture, but look at those paws. Lawd help me.