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.

Mar 24, 2014

No Back Problems? Pass This Post Up!

I had my second set of shots, today. The doctor is hoping but did not sound optimistic that these will last much longer than the first ones. I already have an appointment in April for a more involved procedure so that alone tells me something. If that procedure doesn't work, then I'll be referred back to the surgeon for SI joint surgery. It won't be as invasive as the back surgery, but it's not a walk in the park, either. They will put implants or screws through my pelvis on each side and anchor my pelvis to my spine (the way it's supposed to be). I'm beginning to wonder if everything about me is unstable.

I'm disappointed and I'm very tired of pain. I'm tired of medications and I'm tired of limitations. I'm just tired of it all. The thought of surgery (if it will stop the pain) doesn't scare me. However, the recuperation is long. At least six weeks no weight bearing, four weeks partial weight bearing, and back to regular routine twelve weeks. I haven't given up hope that the shots won't last, but I didn't feel any encouragement from the doctor.

I'm writing this because I know of at least two people who are having back problems who drop by here. If my experience can help just one person, it's worth posting. For anyone now or in the future who is a candidate for back surgery, INSIST that they check your SI joints along with all the other testing. The best way to diagnose the problem is to have a lidocaine shot(s) into the joint. (The first shots I had were diagnostic as well as treatment). If it relieves the pain for a short while, then they know that in about 25% of people with back pain at least part or all of the pain originates from the SI joint(s), not the back. What confused everyone about my back was the lack of leg pain and that the pain was on both sides.

I don't regret having the back surgery because in my case there were so many things wrong and it was so unstable that I couldn't not have it. I just wish they could have combined the two and then maybe the recuperation times could have been combined not to mention the months of pain that could have been eliminated.

Some might find they are in the 25% who are mis-diagnosed and the SI surgery is the only surgery they need. That's why as much as I hate writing about this stuff, I feel it might help someone to avoid a mis-diagnosis. According to everything I've heard and read, it is very often missed and goes totally undiagnosed.

So, my fingers are still crossed, with a little less confidence, but I've not given up. I sometimes want to scream, "Hey, look at this white hair! How much time do you think I have to waste on this?" And, I wonder. Will I ever be able to set out to explore, again? Will I ever get my Jack out camping, again?

Except for Susan, he'd be bored to death. She has kept him exercised and in good shape. I love being at campsite with him. If I do get some pain relief with the shots, I may take him to some state or COE parks in Georgia before my next appointment. I can take my time hitching up and just stay hitched up while at the campground. We'll see. 

Mar 21, 2014

A Relaxing Last Day

Today was another beautiful, sunny day. Nancy and I decided we wanted to lay around outside on our campsite. She put my blanket out and she sat in her chair to read. Susie was going into Charleston. Every now and then Nancy would stop reading and she would take me for a walk around a circle in the campground. It was such a pleasant day. Ahhh...this is the life.

A man came over to ask Nancy about her trailer. He was a very friendly man. He was riding a bike and had the tiniest little dog in the basket. She was very cute. He said he and his wife were traveling in a van. She wanted a bathroom and he wanted a comfortable bed. He though our trailer would be a good option because even though it's only 22 foot, it has both.

The phone rang and it was Susie. She sounded upset. Parking is a very big problem in Charleston which is one reason Nancy can't go into downtown because to get anywhere from a parking garage is too long of a walk. Susie said she knocked the cover of the hub cap off the wheel. She had found a space but the meter didn't work so she was changing spots when she hit something. Nancy said not to worry, the truck can always be fixed. As long as she was okay. When she pulled in, we discovered that the paint had been scraped off the side of the truck, too. Susie drives an Acura, which is a little car so driving a big truck is very different especially in parking decks that seem to be made for compact cars not big trucks. Susie insisted that she will get it all fixed, but Nancy said that she would take care of it because sooner or later she would have done the same thing.
It looks worse than it is. It feels to me like only the paint was scraped off. Still, body work is expensive so Susan and a friend of hers are going to shop around. He'll know whether they give fair estimates. I don't even know where I'd go for a wheel hub and hope it's okay to drive home without it.
Nancy and Susie sat and talked for a while as I laid enjoying the sun. Then they decided we should take a ride to the beach. We went to a less populated area, and it was nice just listening to the water. I really didn't want to go in the water. I was limping a little--think I did too much yesterday. But who can't be happy at the beach? Susie took me down by the water, but I wanted to go back to Nancy. So, I ran back to her. Then, I went back to get Susie. I like them to be together. Just the smell of the salt water was exhilarating. Nancy finally saw some wildlife! Pelicans. Compared to the mansions in Isle of Palms, even the huge houses lining Folly Beach are small in comparison.

We saw a beautiful big bluish-grey bird as we came back into the park, but he flew away before Nancy could even get her camera out. She was so disappointed. Maybe when she can walk further, she'll be able to see more wildlife.

Nancy and Susie have another restaurant recommendation. It's called Mondo's - delicious Italian food and it's only about a mile from the campground.

When we got back to the trailer Nancy decided to back into our site so that hitching up will be easier, tomorrow morning. We all wish we didn't have to go home, but Susie has to work and Nancy gets her shots on Monday. I'm the only one who can relax. It's a long drive back to Atlanta but I sleep most of the way so it doesn't bother me. Nancy said she's half thinking of leaving the trailer hitched up and head back out on Tuesday. She gets her shots on Monday, but her good friend, Gail, will drive her because they insist that Nancy have a driver. So other than laundry it might be possible to head back out! We'll see. 

Mar 20, 2014

A Full Day

The weather was wonderful, today. 70 degrees...just right. I started my day with a walk with Susie after her run. We came back and did one of my favorite things. We sat at the camp site and relaxed. Well, for a little while. Susie can't sit still for very long--not like Nancy. So, they decided they would eat lunch and take a ride to Isle of Palms, Sullivan Island, and Mt. Pleasant. Sounds like a long drive but they are close together. Nancy took several pictures, but I'll just post a couple.

We had a pleasant drive, then decided we would come back and relax at the campground for a while before we went to Folly Beach. I didn't feel like going in the water, but I sure enjoyed the walks.

Looks like Jack grew an extra leg/foot!

I made a friend. Her name is Sloopy. Nancy took this picture from way far away, but somehow Sloopy just knew that Nancy would want to meet her so over she went and we went after her. Nancy fell in love with her--Sloopy loves to be petted and cuddled. I let Nancy rave about her for a few minutes, but then enough was enough so I did my most annoying bark. So long, nice to know you, Sloopy.

Now, are you ready for the wildlife Nancy has been looking for all this week?
Yep, this is it. He's cute, but Nancy had other ideas and thought she'd get some good pictures of exotic birds and maybe deer and raccoon, or maybe even some bison. ::Oh, all right Nancy, I was just joking. A little exaggeration never hurt anyone.::

Yesterday we saw some poor guy who either went under a bridge or under a tree limb and practically sheared his roof off. Sad to see things like that--disheartening. I always remember seeing a highway out west that was being repaved on one side--it had to be a whole foot higher than the side that was yet to be done. That makes all the bridges on that highway a foot shorter. Good to have a way to measure if unsure. PVC pipe with heights written in magic marker.

Nancy and Susie ate at Smokey Oaks, tonight. The place was jam packed. The place was noisy and they disturbed my sleep. It's a very popular local place. Another restaurant to keep in mind. It's on Camp Road across the other side of Folly Road leaving the park.

I'll leave you with something that left me without words. Maybe some of you have seen rigs as big as this one, but I'm thinking this is the biggest I've ever seen. I can't imagine trying to get into many parks with it, and there aren't many boondocking opportunities in the east. Here goes. See if your jaw drops as mine did!

Well, I'm pooped and ready for bed. We're going back to the beach, tomorrow. Only one day left. We leave Saturday.

Mar 19, 2014

Hello, Sun!

While we have enjoyed our time in Charleston, the rain was getting "old". Today Nancy told Susan, after she took me for a very long walk, that she should go into the city and do her "thing" (shopping for the most part). First we took a ride to Folly Beach. They are putting a pipeline in on part of the beach. There was all kinds of equipment, and an oil rig way out in the distance.

Nancy and I laid back and watched a movie when we got back to the trailer, took a couple of short walks, and napped. The sun came out shortly after Susan got home. It seemed like months since we had seen it.

Nancy and I did fine in the trailer when we went west for 6 months, but it's just not big enough for two people and me, especially trying to dry things, get sand out, and really just have room to move around. We make do, but not having the outdoors to use makes it difficult. At least then I can people watch and Nancy can sit with me and read a book. All was not lost, though because I got to go on another walk and to the fishing pier.

Tonight, Nancy and Susie went back to "The Brick House" for dinner. They highly recommend it. If you ever stay at James Island, it's just a couple of miles up toward Folly Beach on the right. The food is exceptional, and the house is charming. Put together, cleverly, Nancy told me, with things probably from flea markets and goodwill stores. This is the first time she ever took a picture of a plate of food--she was going to take one of mine, but it doesn't look very appetizing (Ah, that's a dog's life). Susan had a lovely looking salad--Nancy said she didn't think to take a picture until she was half through. Nancy had she crab soup and crab cakes with grilled sweet potatoes.
Half Finished Salad

View from our table. We think it must have been the Parlor when it was a house and maybe the other room was a music room.
Delicious Crab Cakes and Grilled Sweet Potatoes
After dinner we headed back to our campsite, then over to the fishing pier. Last year Nancy got beautiful pictures. We weren't as lucky with the sunset this time. The mosquitoes were ready for a feast! I played around with Susie. Nancy took movies of us--she said it was a good thing no one was fishing because I scared all the fish away with my big mouth! I was just having fun.

I think Mr. Dixon might enjoy fishing here except for the mosquitoes!

There's something very peaceful about the marshes in the low country.

I think Ms. Sherry and Mr. David would be paddling here.

My Susie

Too Many Pictures to Choose From

This morning it drizzled a little, but we knew it was supposed to clear up by early afternoon. First Nancy took me for a walk. We made it around one loop of the campground and that's all she could do, but I had fun anyway splashing through the puddles and smelling all the new smells.

When we got back to the camper, Susie took me out, again, and we went all around the lake. Then she and Nancy decided to grab Chic-fil-A and head toward downtown Charleston. Susan had an early dinner date with some college friends (she attended MUSC to become a nurse anesthetist) so we knew we were only going to spend a couple of hours in the city.

The sailboats are gone, but the geese and ducks were at the lake. All of our blogger friends get great pictures of wild life. I sure hope we find some this week.

Once again, Nancy didn't want to take pictures of "Rainbow Row" as those pictures can be seen on any blog that's about Charleston and most places on the web. You watch, she won't be able to resist before the week is out. She took far too many pictures as it is to even try to post, here, but some she couldn't resist. I think she took most of them except the ones of the geese and ducks in the space of a block and a half and couldn't walk any more. Susie stayed with me in the truck. It wasn't long before she came limping back.
oooohhh...I love when Susie scratches me like that.
Yes, that is my hair. My vet said she's never seen a thicker coat on a Lab. Nancy just had the truck detailed not long ago. My hair "weaves" its way into the fabric. There aren't any covers that fit the truck when the back seats are up.

Nancy thinks she misinformed you about the earthquake bolts in one of her pictures, yesterday. She thinks they may have been something else. Today, we saw a variety of them in various shapes and forms--she took pictures of most of them, but I decided to post these four. She got a close up of the cross but I wanted you to see part of the building, too.

We came across trees that didn't have any bark. To the touch they were very smooth. We wondered what kind of trees they are. Nancy will have to google. There's also a picture of some sort of vine or unusual bush lining the fence in one yard.

Charleston has many churches. Unfortunately to see many of them up close requires parking in a parking deck and walking to them. We already have those kinds of pictures so Nancy thought it might be nice to capture what she could from a distance--the steeples. The statue of Charles C. Calhoun was in a park--didn't have much time because there was no place to park, but Nancy looked it up when we got back to the trailer.

The first picture shows that no matter where you are in Charleston, you are not far from the water. The others are pictures of houses and gardens that Nancy thinks she doesn't have pictures of even after all our trips here.

Small House, Huh?
Nope, this is the rest of it. The 1st picture may have been the servants quarters at one time.

Too bad it was garbage day.


There are those trees, again!

Well, if you got this far, there isn't much left to tell. Susie went shopping for a little bit, then we headed back so she could get ready to go out. Nancy and I laid down for a minute and slept for two of hours.

I have some trouble with my back legs, now. Not when I'm walking, but I can't jump up onto the bed any more. The first time I tried and fell, it scared me. But, Nancy and Susie helped me up the next time. Now I just to put my two front feet up and they give me the heave ho from behind. I'll have them fully trained before the week is out.

I'm too tired to proof so I'm going to hope for the best. My eyes are closing and Nancy is half asleep. Susie has been snoozing for a while, now. She said she's going to take me for a nice long walk in the morning. Yipee!!!