Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Travel stories’

Four weeks ago Charlize and I embarked on a new, a different kind of trip. This trip requires new and different skills. Both of us need to learn to be patient and to find ways to control the way we handle day-to-day emotions and frustrations.

Over three years ago the arthritis in my left ankle started to limit my physical activity and ability to get around pain free. Rosalie and I investigated what could be done. The options, after consulting experts, were to either replace the ankle joint with a prosthetic or fuse the joint. The advice from the surgeon was to continue to use the ankle brace I had been using for over a year at that point and a cane. We were told that when the pain became unbearable I would know it was time to do something.

About a year later, we started thinking surgery was a reasonable option. Then Rosalie was diagnosed with stage four-lung cancer and everything else was put on hold. After she passed, exactly to the day, one year after the diagnosis, I was incapable of making almost any kind of decision regarding my own health.

Six months or so later l I was no longer able to walk Charlize for more than four or five blocks without intense pain. After our morning walk I had to ice the ankle and rest it for more than an hour to be able to take her for another walk. She was good about it though, somehow sensing about how long I could manage, turning back toward home after a couple of blocks. She even took care of her business early in the process so as not to prolong my discomfort.

So back to the surgeon and re-evaluation of the ankle.  New radiographs and a CT scan showed significant progression with loss of almost all cartilage and bone loss of the distal end of the tibia, the long bone of the leg that forms the first portion of the ankle joint. After more research and discussion with the surgeon we decided the best option was to fuse the joint and not rely on a mechanical device that doesn’t have the same level of success, as do the artificial knee and hip joints.

Four weeks ago almost three hours of surgery was completed to the satisfaction of the surgeon. After two nights in the hospital I was home with a cast and facing twelve weeks of recovery with no weight bearing on my left leg. So this is the new journey Charlize and I share. We are coping and I will share with you the new challenges, the new friends, new helpers and new strengths we discover on this continuing journey through life. 

Read Full Post »

Charlize and I stopped at yet another vista, this one full of cars, trucks, campers, RVs and a lot of folks. The signs for the place identified it as Elephant Seal Beach and the attraction was a lot of Elephant seals sunning themselves on the sand and a few frolicking in the water just off shore.

DSCN0550

 

They aren’t dead but are mostly motionless. Every now and then one of them digs up some sand with a flipper and flings the grains up into the breeze, covering its body with a thin crust. I have no idea what that accomplishes, maybe the action distracts some biting flies or other pests. I’m certain they wouldn’t do it unless it accomplished something, and all of them seem to participate from time to time.

The water was an unbelievable blue and, despite all the people, it was another amazing experience to add to my journal.  Many of the folks stopped to chat and pet Charlize. I never cease to be surprised about how easy it is to open a conversation with strangers using her as the “ice-breaker”.

These seals are the Northern Elephant Seal, sea mammals that spend from eight to ten months per year out in the open sea. While out and about, so to speak, they are able to dive from a thousand to as much as five thousand feet down searching for a meal. That is an amazing statistic, as any scuba diver will tell you. Each sixty-three feet below the surface of the water is equal to one atmosphere of pressure.  That means they can withstand almost 80 atmospheres of pressure, enough to crush almost anything made by man and they can stay down for as long as two hours.

Only about one out of six of the seals manage to survive to adulthood. The pups, especially, are vulnerable to a variety of predators, including man. They were hunted almost to extinction, their oil being second in quality to only that of the sperm whale. By the early 1970’s there were only about a hundred of these animals breeding on Guadalupe Island off Baja. Before the U.S. government did anything the small colony was protected by the Mexican government. Our then functional government finally managed to pass the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. By 1999 the total population of these amazing creatures was estimated to be about 150,000 with the Piedras Blancas rookery home to about 18,000. Every now and again we do manage to do something right.

Heading north again we went past Tomales Bay State Park and any number of small towns with somehow familiar names; Cypress Grove, Ocean Roar, Valley Ford, Bodega Bay (something out of a Steinbeck book?), Jenner, then an extremely winding road and passing the Salt Point State Park campground where we spent a night in Frog on our first trip. Eventually we made it to Gualala and checked into the Whale Watch Inn, a charming place with a charming hostess, a great view of the water from my room and Charlize was welcomed and allowed to stay in the room with me. We both prefer that!

 

Read Full Post »