Sunday, September 28, 2008

Medical Update

I have now gotten rid of the walker, and am just using a cane for balance. I still wear the boot when walking, and some days are better than others -- but I can definitely see progress! I can't walk far, yet, but I can, for example, walk into a store like Target or Wal-Mart, and then use the electric scooter to get around from there. My biggest problem is getting my ankle to bend far enough -- it's at about 90 degrees now, which is fine for "flat footing," but I need a bit more flexibility to really walk. I go to physical therapy twice a week -- and it can seem like torture, but it really helps -- and do my home exercises every day.

Besides the obvious desire to be back on my feet, so to speak, there is another incentive for me to work hard at my recovery -- the Colorado weather, while still hot and summery during the day, cools off at night and the feeling of fall is everywhere. Some leaves are turning, and the squirrels are madly looking for nuts. My rig, still in storage, is not winterized. So the time to make the move further south is almost here, and I want to be mobile when we go. If all goes well, the next stop will be the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque in early October.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

When Picking Up a Peanut With Your Toes Can Make You Cry

My first physical therapy appointment was Friday afternoon. My therapist, a nice lady named Lara, first showed me some exercises -- stretching, trying to flex my ankle and foot, and the like -- then gave me a foot massage and iced my ankle for 15 minutes. The worst pain was, oddly, during the foot massage when Lara flexed my big toe, a toe that really didn't want to be flexed at all -- as I discovered when she bent it at the joint, it objected, and I yelped.

One of my take-home exercises to increase flexibility is to pick up things from the floor with my toes -- ideally marbles, but I can start with a larger item, like a rock, and work my way down as my toes became more nimble. Much to my chagrin, in the therapy session I was unable to pick up anything regardless of the size. My toes just hovered, making what I sensed as clutching attempts, but in reality barely moving, and certainly not gripping.

I have done my home exercises a couple times today, and not having any marbles handy I had to improvise. What I found was peanuts in the shell -- a tad bigger, but reasonably sized with the added bonus that they contain a built-in snack for later! (please don't dwell on the fact that I am willing to eat something whose shell I have been moving around on the floor with my bare, now scaly, pale, and skin-peeling foot). At first, I couldn't do much other than wave my foot over the peanuts, making futile grasping motions and unsuccessfully willing them to levitate up to my toes. Then I got one! Some more frustrating attempts, and then another! All told, I grabbed 10 peanuts off that floor before I was done, and then started crying, relief and frustration both contending for top billing. I can see now that this recovery will be achieved by small victories -- but small victories are still victories!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back On My Feet!

My doctor's appointment didn't happen until today -- there were two bad traffic accidents yesterday, and he was in surgery all day fixing the unlucky. But today he was there -- and I went to the appointment hoping that I would be cleared to put weight on my foot, but, at the same time, afraid to get too hopeful in case the verdict was "not yet."

To my extreme joy, the X-Rays were fine and I can pretty much do anything I want, walking-wise, letting "pain be my guide." I expect to continue to use the walker until I feel steadier, but at least I don't have to hop anymore! And joy of joys -- I can sleep without the boot!!!

Here are my X-Rays -- two from the day of the accident (the first one before the dislocation was fixed), and today's:

August 3, 2008:

Click for Larger Image of X-Ray

August 3, 2008:

Click for Larger Image of X-Ray

September 17, 2008:

Click for Larger Image of X-Ray

Monday, September 15, 2008


Today marks six weeks since my accident! Tomorrow I will see my doctor, who will tell me if I can now put weight on my ankle. I'm so tired of hopping on one foot, but I'm also afraid to assume that it will be healed -- I know how disappointed I'll be if I start thinking that tomorrow is the end of the walker -- and then he says I need to give it another week.

We're now back in the Denver area, after touring southern Colorado while my bones quietly knitted and purled. Here's another image of one of those Colorado highways, as seen from my perch in the front of the motorhome:

Click for Larger Image of My View

Sunday, September 14, 2008

San Luis State Park

Location: San Luis State Park, Colorado

Click for Larger Image of the Sangre De Cristo MountainsAs we have been traveling throughout Colorado, we have had the pleasure of staying in several state parks, and found them all to be wonderful. The only negative is their pricing policy -- in addition to the campsite fee, each vehicle must either have a yearly pass or pay a daily fee of $6-7, depending on the park and season. The daily fee is assessed, in our case, on both the motorhome and the toad (the car in tow). It applies for non-motorized RVs, too -- so a pickup pulling a trailer or fifth wheel would also get charged twice. They don't state this policy very clearly on their literature or website, so a lot of RVers get upset when the check in only to find their daily fee is $14 more than they expected.

We stayed last night in the San Luis State Park in southern Colorado, and the picture above shows the view from the RV window. The mountains are the Sangre de Cristo Range, meaning "Blood of Christ," a name given to them because they sometimes turn reddish at sunrise or sunset. We can also see two of Colorado's "fourteeners" from here (mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet), and the Great Sand Dunes on Pinyon Flats at the foot of the mountains across the lake (visible in this photo).

If you look at brochures for RVs, you will often see beautiful vistas out each window -- canyons, rivers, or forests are popular. In reality, the usual view one has is the RV next door! This park gives you the real thing, however -- a beautiful view along with quiet, spacious sites.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mesa Verde

Location: Mesa Verde, Southwest Colorado

They were mysterious and enigmatic. They lived here hundreds of years ago, in a sophisticated, permanent society that existed for 700 years. Then they vanished without a trace, for no reason we can discern from the archaeological sites we have explored, and we have no idea where they went.

At least that's the story we have always heard of the Anasazi, who lived throughout the southwest. It turns out not to be true.

Mesa Verde, a huge flat mesa about 2000 feet above the valley floor, was home to a huge population of Anasazi from about A.D. 550 to 1300. Mesa Verde means "Green Table," and there was enough water and good soil for them to grow corn, beans, and squash. They lived at the top of the mesa for 600 years, and then started to built the dwellings Mesa Verde is best known for -- the cliff dwellings. These sandstone, mortar, and wood-beam structures were built inside caves on the steep walls of canyons, cut eons ago by rivers as they sliced through the previously flat land to create the mesas. In addition to living at top of the mesa and in the cliff dwellings, they also lived in the valley -- thousands of sites are now being identified and excavated.

While the cliff dwellings were abandoned, it turns out the Anasazi never left the area -- their descendants have always occupied this land. The Anasazi are now called "Ancestral Puebloans" in an attempt to connect the living descendants with their ancestors and to counter the myth that there was a mysterious disappearance.

One of the most famous cliff dwellings is called "Cliff Palace," a structure with 150 rooms that includes over 20 kivas, living quarters, and storage rooms. 100 to 120 people lived there at any given time. Most cliff dwellings here contain 1-5 rooms each, so the enormity of Cliff Palace may indicate social and/or ceremonial significance.

Click for Larger Image of Cliff Palace

Click for Larger Image of Cliff Palace-Closer View

Click for Larger Image of Cliff Palace-Detail

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ouray to Silverton

The road from Ouray, Colorado to Silverton, Colorado, also named the "Million Dollar Highway," will take you across the San Juan Mountains' Red Mountain Pass and through amazing mountain scenery. The twenty-some miles will take about an hour -- and that's without the photo stops! In addition to the fabulous mountain views, groves of quaking aspens are everywhere, and they must be breathtaking when their leaves have turned to gold in the fall.

Both towns still show evidence of their mining past -- Ouray at it's peak had 30 silver and gold mines, while Silverton was a silver mining camp.

As usual, click for a larger image:

The City of Ouray, located in a box canyon of the San Juan Mountains -- also called "The Switzerland of America:"Click for Larger Image of Ouray Box Canyon
Contemporary Ouray solution to living on the hillside:Click for Larger Image of Two Story House
The Red Mountains (two of three peaks):Click for Larger Image of Red Mountains
Mountain scenery near the pass:Click for Larger Image of Mountain Pass
Abandoned mining house with curtains painted on the window covers:Click for Larger Image of House With Painted Windows
Downtown Silverton, Colorado:Click for Larger Image of Silverton

Friday, September 05, 2008

Colorado Scenery

With a couple weeks to go before my next doctor's appointment, we decided to go on a mini-tour of the Colorado mountains. Heading south from the Denver area, we ended up on highway 50 going west, and found a lovely campsite by a lake at the Curecanti National Recreation area:

Click for Larger Image of Curecanti RV Park Click for Larger Image of Curecanti RV Park

We left there the next day, intending to go as far as Ouray, CO, but stopped for a break at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We liked it so much that we spent the night there -- a day's traveling of about 40 miles!

The Canyon is deep and narrow, with sheer walls that only allow a glimpse of the Gunnison River some 2000 feet below. In 48 miles, the river loses more elevation than the Mississippi River does from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The power of this fast-moving water began carving the canyon about two million years ago, but has since hit extremely hard rock that has slowed the erosion to an inch per century.

Click for Larger Image of Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Taken By John

 Click for Larger Image of Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Colorado scenery is magnificent -- just driving down the roads and highways is amazing -- every curve gives new views of mountains, valleys, lakes and streams. Not being able to hike down trails, or walk easily to viewpoints is frustrating -- but I make progress every day, and soon I'll be able to get rid of my walker/chair and boot!

Click for Larger Image of Colorado Scenery

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


(The visit to the BROADMOOR, outside Colorado Springs, actually happened August 30 -- I have been in the Colorado mountains for two days, without phone or Internet access! Those of you who know me understand what a trial this has been.)

Click for Larger Image of Me and my New WheelsI Have Wheels!

Up until now, my range of mobility has been to and from the places I could get to with my walker -- bedroom to bathroom, infrequently to the car for medical appointments, and, in John's rig, anywhere from the bedroom to the front seat to a short trip to the patio. But I now have a transport chair -- sort of like a wheel chair, except the back wheels are small, just like the front wheels. But now I can go out with John, who seems happy to push me around (at least physically), and I can get to all those wheelchair accessible places!

Click for Larger Image of Front of the BroadmoorFor my first outing, John took me to BROADMOOR, a fabulous 5-star resort just outside of Colorado Springs. He wheeled me around the lake, where we saw a wedding
in progress, swans and other waterfowl on the lake, and lots of rich folks on vacation. There is a huge swimming pool next to the lake, for members and guest only. It started to sprinkle while were there, and -- I am not making this up -- a woman and her daughter left the pool, in their bathing suits, an umbrella carefully held over their heads to keep all the "bad" rainwater off their suits!

Click for Larger Image of Broadmoor GroundsThe current BROADMOOR was built in 1918, and was a destination resort for the upper class, the access provided primarily by the railroad. Its facilities have always been first class-- for example, it once had an ice arena that hosted the World Figure Skating Championship five times between 1959 and 1975. It now has 700 rooms, 15 restaurants and cafes, a world-class spa, three 18-hole golf courses and the third-highest rated tennis facility in the nation. We took in the celebrity wall, and believe me -- everyone who is/was anyone has stayed here.

Click for Larger Image of Broadmoor InsideSo what's with that little A in their name? Depends on who you ask. Their website says, "The raised "A" in The BROADMOOR name came about in order to render the name unique, since it has been in use since the late 1800s and therefore could not be copyrighted." The unofficial rumor explains it this way: When the resort was built, its biggest rival and competitor, although in a friendly way, was a resort named The Antlers. Just to provide a bit of 'gotcha,' the owner of the BROADMOOR made sure that the "A" in Broadmoor would always be smaller than the other letters. You decide which explanation you like better.

We also had lunch at the BROADMOOR, my first restaurant outing that did not involve a drive through and the option to supersize. I had a Cobb Salad, and yes, it was wonderful!

Click for Larger Image of John's New RideAs we walked the grounds, we came upon this Bentley. I had to take this photo of John next to his "new ride," but --- don't tell him I told you -- the car was for sale, and his body is covering the sticker which was $250,000. We would have had to turn it down, anyway -- I doubt it can be towed behind his motorhome!