Today is Wednesday and I am on day one of my prep for my first colonoscopy. It is not until you cannot eat, that you realize how bad you want to eat. I began to analyze anything and everything edible. As I scooped out a teaspoon of “better than chicken” base, which you add to boiling water to make a chicken broth, I looked at the base and thought of hot fudge. It was the same consistency, so could I add hot fudge to water, and it is a meal? Then I remembered clear liquids meant no dairy and chocolate fudge surely had dairy in it. So that was out, but my mind did not stop reeling.
Chip made the grocery store run for me, picking up the items I had sent him on my “acceptable list.” I do not typically drink soft drinks, but was going to splurge and drink ginger ale on my liquid-only diet, so that was at the top of the list but also apple juice, white grape juice, orange Jell-O, and broth.
He bought all of the items but when he handed me two small boxes of Jell-O mix I thought what is this? When I told him, I wanted orange Jell-O, I meant those cute little individual containers. He smiled and said he did buy some of those, but they were two for five dollars, so he thought the boxes would be a better “aka” cheaper idea.
Well, I quickly learned those cute little individual containers are a waste of money. I could eat one of those containers of Jell-o in two bites, so it was a good thing he bought the boxes so I could actually make a large bowl, which I did, and sadly placed it in the refrigerator to wait it out to get firm, I was ready for it as soon as I mixed it.
I looked at everything and considered if it could be consumed. I even looked at the small packets laying on the counter from leftover Japanese and thought those are liquid, maybe I can just suck those packets dry. Well, nope it was not on the approved list either.
I thought about how much I love orange juice and thought I could definitely live off orange juice for a day. If I could have orange Jell-o and orange popsicles, then surely, I could have orange juice, since it has no other ingredients, just juice. Nope, that is not on the approved list either. According to the list, you have to be able to see through it. Well, that of course knocked out my dream of orange juice for the next 72 hours. But I gave it a lot of thought. If I added enough water to a cup of orange juice, it would probably be pretty clear. So if I drank a glass of orange juice, and chased it with several bottles of water, would that work? How does my colon know if it came in “clear” or if it was diluted in route?
It is now Thursday and surprisingly I did not wake up hungry today. But around 9:00am, though I was not feeling hungry, I was feeling weak. I thought about my bowl of orange Jell-O I had made out of the two boxes Chip had bought me. I love me some orange Jell-O, so I decided to eat a little. Well, it was so good, I ate the entire bowl, and now I have a bellyache. So, to answer my own question, I do I think you can over-do-it with Jell-O.
So I was supposed to drink my first bottle of “stuff” at 6:00pm. At 5:56pm I pull the box out of the pharmacy bag and start pulling out the bottles I am supposed to drink. I had to get Bailey to open the top of the bottle, as it was one of those adult proof bottles that you have to hold down and turn at the same time. Had Bailey not been home, it would not have been consumed on time, as those bottles are not RA friendly at all. I poured it into the container provided, added water to the line, all while reading “helpful hints” such as mixing ahead of time and getting it cold, drinking through a straw, etc. and I thought well dear Lord too late for that, as here it is 6:00pm now and needs to be drunk. Bailey was in the background cheering me on as if I was in a beer-guzzling contest, “don’t breathe, just chug it.” And when I was finished, she was like wow, you did that good. Honestly, it was not bad at all. It was kind of a sweet flavor.
I had been told by friends ahead of time, to stay close by the bathroom and be prepared for it (the bathroom) to become my “room” for the night. I am not one to just sit around so I had put off tasks that could be done while staying close to the bathroom, you know just in case.
As I sit down at my computer, with my stomach rolling, I thought maybe I should go take these too tight jeans off, just in case I need to go really fast and need elastic waist pants on. I really do not know what to expect. Will it hit me suddenly and I cannot make it? I know of people who told me they wore a diaper to their procedure so they would not poop in their pants. I had people tell me horror stories of pooping in their pants, stopping on the highway, and hitting the woods on the way, and the list goes on.
It is honestly not the procedure itself that worries me at this point, though no, I really do not want anyone looking at my pooper, but the unknown between now and then is what worries me. My allergies are bad right now, as they are every fall, and I am sneezing my head off. Do I dare stand up and walk, what if I sneeze? Will I look stupid going to the bathroom to sit on the toilet, just to sneeze?
My second bottle was scheduled for 2:15am. Yes, 2:15am, I thought this seemed a little odd, but was going to follow my instructions. I went ahead and premixed the container with water and put it in the refrigerator since some suggested it was easier to consume, plus at 2:15am I did not want to be stumbling around the kitchen. I had everything ready and went to bed, to try to get some sleep until I had to get up at 2:15am. Well, that did not happen. Not because I was running to the bathroom, but more because I was afraid, I would miss my alarms, yes multiple alarms, I had set for 2:15am. The alarm never went off because at 2:00am, I decided it was close enough, headed to the kitchen to drink my liquid, and be done for the night. Well, lesson learned for me, if I must do this again, I will never put it in the refrigerator. I could not chug it at all, as I immediately had a brain freeze. Who wants a brain freeze from their colonoscopy prep? Not me, brain freezes should be associated with milkshakes and slushes. So, I, unfortunately, had to drink the container slower, than I would have liked, the entire time kicking myself in the butt for putting it in the refrigerator. But I finally got the container of “stuff” down, and immediately consumed 2-room temperature bottles of water per instructions to drink at least 16-additional ounces. Of course, now I was running to the bathroom for the rest of the night, no it is early morning, as night had already come and gone. At 5:15am, I get up, throw on my clothes, brush my teeth, go to the bathroom one last time, with the hope it was enough to last the ride to Reidsville. Just in case though, I did pack a clean pair of underwear. Several times in route, I felt a little twinge of rumbling and wondered if perhaps I should have worn an adult diaper after all. Then I thought maybe I should have packed an extra pair of pants too. What good would a pair of underwear do without clean pants, why did I not think to pack pants?
We arrived at the hospital entrance and it had not opened yet. Who closes a hospital? Ok, so it was not the emergency room which is always open, and I guess I have never been to the hospital at 6:00am, so how was I supposed to know it would not be open. Oh lord, what if I have to go and here, we are in the parking lot, with a hospital locked up as tight as a tick. Thank goodness I saw staff starting to mill around inside right at 6:00am, cutting lights on and unlocking the door. I got in line and stood on the “X” that kept people 6-feet apart while waiting for the patients in front of me to get screened. Then it was my turn. The security guard asked, “Can I help you?” Ummm, yes, I have an appointment. An appointment for what he asked. My mind was reeling as quick as it could for a response, and of course, I thought of none, so I softly said a colonoscopy. Boastfully he shared with me “Oh, I have had one of those, it is not so bad.” Well, I really did not want to have this discussion with a perfect stranger, I just wanted to slip down the hall, unnoticed and get checked in. Unfortunately, I was quick to hear as I rounded the corner, the couple who was in front of me was told no check in’s before 6:15am to take a seat. Oh crap, I thought. I really could use a bathroom and here I must take a seat and wait with no bathroom in sight. Maybe I should go look for one I thought and headed back up the hall. Nope, there was no bathroom between me and the security guard, so now he knows I am here for a colonoscopy, and now I have to ask him for a bathroom, and of course, he will know why. And do not even ask me why that matters, “everyone has to poop” but to me, it has always been a very private event and I would prefer no one know when that is going to occur. But here we go, a stranger knows, so he directs me with a smile, and I head on my way. As I am washing my hands, I am thinking about options. Is there another way out and back where I need to go, so I do not have to go back by the security guard? Maybe it will be a crowd coming in and he will not see me. Well of course not, it is a small hospital, and it is 6:15am and of course no one is around to even have him distracted and he smiles at me as I come back by. He was probably remembering his own “thank God” I made it moments. Thankfully he did not ask me if everything came out ok.
Back at registration, I was called up to be checked in and this person also shared with me about their colonoscopy experience. She thought drinking the prep drink was the worst part. I did not tell her what the worst part for me was because I was still afraid of the unknown. I am called to the back by a really nice girl (she was younger than me, so she is a girl), named Melanie. She asked a zillion questions and then gave me a gown, hospital socks, and asked if I needed to go to the bathroom. Of course, I did, and she laughed when I said, “Yep, I am not empty yet.” She said she would get me some warm blankets and come on out when I was ready. When I came out of the bathroom with my clothes and shoes in my arms, I saw that she had put down a clear plastic sheet in the middle of the bed and several warm towels beside the plastic area. I sat down on the plastic and thought, well I guess they think I may have an accident, so it was a smart thing to do, cover the area where your butt will lay, with plastic. I sat on the edge of the plastic, with my clothes still on my lap when she came in and said, your clothes for your bag is under you. Under me, I thought, and I must have looked puzzled because she said you are sitting on it. I started laughing and told her I thought it was plastic covering the bed, you know, “just in case.” We both got tickled laughing, as I stood up, and took the bag from under my bottom, put my clothes in it, and handed it to her. I did tell her that in my head I figured they would lay me out on a black trash bag because surely this was going to be a mess and I thought they should all have triple pay of anyone else, because of what their jobs entailed. Two other nice girls, Tonya and Tammy, came in assisted with various things, and headed me to the “procedure room.” I was wheeled, back, I told a poop joke, and the next thing you know I am told it is all over and asked how I feel because my blood pressure was low. I assured them I always have low blood pressure and I honestly felt fine. I was still in shock it was over because I know it had only been a few minutes since we were talking. I got dressed and she walked me to the truck where Chip was waiting with a Bojangles Chicken Biscuit. Bojangles Chicken Biscuits are not on my approved list of anti-inflammatory foods, but I had convinced myself, that this was an exception and enjoyed every bite of it.
So, when I turned 50 a few years back, I did not think it was a big deal but knew the day would come that would make this aging thing be kind of crappy. But now that I have been through it, and I am no longer afraid of the unknown, my philosophy is everyone needs a good cleaning every now and then and it really was not that bad after all.
For as long as I can remember, my family and friends would tell me, that you are so full “of it” that your eyes are brown, but here I am all cleaned out, and my eyes are still brown, so I guess it is still true, I am full of it and always will be.
My advice for others is to listen to other’s advice, and you will have to figure out what works for you. For me, if I have to do it again, the only thing I will do differently is not put my “stuff” in the refrigerator, and I will definitely pack a pair of clean underwear and an extra pair of pants, just in case.
Oregon inlet campground is one of our favorite places to stay at the Outer Banks of North Carolina aka OBX. The campground address is Nags Head, but it is located south of the town of Nags Head on the well-known highway 12. It is right before you get to the new Bonner Bridge and is across the road from the Oregon Inlet Marina and Coast Guard Station.
Each of the loops in the campground has a bath house with flush toilets, potable water, and heated outdoor showers. Each campsite has a paved parking pad, picnic table, and charcoal grill. There are limited sites with RV hook-ups. The dump station is located directly across Highway 12 at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and is free of charge for campers.
Map courtesy of National Parks
The beach is within walking distance, but make sure you take all your gear with you the first time or you will find the walk gets longer and longer. We are fortunate enough to have a four-wheel drive truck and we drive out on the beach. You will need to get a beach driving permit, but they are easy to obtain and since we typically go out several times a season it is worth the expense for an annual pass for us. We enjoy the spacious beaches, as well as the seashell hunts.
A few of my pictures from Jockey’s Ridge 2020
You have to know the story behind this picture to understand “why in the world would someone post a picture this blurry?” I was putting the camera away because we had come to the end of the road and was at the paved road, getting ready to get back onto Highway 64, when I glanced at the walking trail on my right, and right there, as big as day, was a huge bear, walking down the trail. I could not get my camera up fast enough and of course I was so excited I was shaking. So, no, the picture is awful, but it will help me remember to never put my camera away in Eastern North Carolina, because you never know when you will see a bear.
I recently had an incredible experience while visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My husband had gone fishing for the day on a charter with friends, and he left me with the truck, to spend the day on the beach. I have ridden with him on the sandy beaches for 33 years, but I had never driven on the beach and was hesitant about it, though I did not want him to know, as I had assured him multiple times that I would be fine on my own for the day and to enjoy his day.
I had dropped him off before daylight and headed out to what we call south beach in Frisco, on my own. It was early when I drove out on the beach at the ramp entrance and only a few other trucks in sight. I knew I wanted to walk to what is known as “the point” so my goal was to drive to the area where vehicles could not go any further and I would walk along the beach the rest of the way. I had not gone far at all, when the sand was not as hard, the truck felt like it was sinking in the sand and my heart began to pound thinking “what if I get stuck.” I stopped, literally right where I was. I was afraid to go any further and thought I will just walk. It was calling for rain, so I had on my rain jacket and the only bag in the truck, just in case I saw seashells along the way was one of those “give-away” bags you get at health fairs and such. I grabbed my bag and set off on my journey.
It was further than I realized to the area where vehicles were required to stop. I could see other people walking towards me from the direction of the point, with what was obviously full bags of shells, and even five-gallon buckets, filled to the brim with shells. Though my intention was to walk to the point, and just pick up a shell here and there, I did feel disappointment that there may be no shells left.
As I continued walking along, now with no one in sight, with the sun barely above the edge of the water, I was thinking about what an incredible God we have. The solitude of the beach, the sound of the waves gently breaking at the water’s edge, knowing he created all of this, gives you a lot to think about.
As I was walking along, I saw a large conch shell from a distant and thought, wow there is one someone missed, but as I got closer and picked it up, I could see that it was broken. It made me think about when my daughter was young, and how she would love to go with me looking for seashells. She would pick up random shells, scream in delight as she handed me shell after shell, usually broken, but to her they were beautiful. I thought about the shells that I was seeing and how at first glance, depending on how they were laying, they were beautiful and perfect. It made me think about life, and how we look at other peoples lives and at first glance their life does seem perfect, and how we are all like that, placing only what we want others to see, at an angle, where our life looks perfect, even though we too have “holes or imperfections” in our lives. If only others viewed life with the eye of a child, that everything is good, even when it is not perfect.
As I walked along I would pick up broken shells and think further about how I could turn them this way or that way and no one would know that it was broken.
I continued to walk along the beach, in complete awe of all the shells I was finding along my walk. I have a friend that I was texting pictures to, as she like me loves to look for seashells. She was as excited as I was, and she was not even there. But as I continued to walk, filling my bag with shells, my bag became very heavy. Like life, sometimes our burdens, become more than we can carry. I was determined to make it to the “point” and I could see so many conch shells lining the beach ahead. I cannot stop now I though, just a little further, just a few more shells. I had not looked back to see how far I had gone, only ahead and how much further to reach my destination. But as I continued to walk, I would tell myself just a little further, just a few more shells, feeling somewhat greedy that I could not stop myself from “getting them all.” It was not until I saw a family with children walking toward me, picking up shells, that I stopped, so they could share in the excitement. As I stopped to turn around and head back, one of the children ran to me with excitement to show me her shell she had found. It was beautiful and I had never seen one so beautiful. The picture does not capture the beauty and uniqueness of the shell. I told her not to miss all the conch shells she had passed by running toward me, and she said she wouldn’t and headed back up the beach.
As I made the turn heading back, I realized how far I had walked. I could not see my truck at all and could barely see the trucks parked along the beach where foot traffic only began. How did I go this far, what was I thinking? My bag was so heavy, and I realized how tired I truly was. It was times like this that I get frustrated with my disease of rheumatoid arthritis because my arms, hands, and even my shoulder was hurting so bad, that I had tears in my eyes and was choking back sobs. But I kept going and at times dragging my bag until I could not go any further. I knew this was impossible and I was going to have to leave some shells behind. I reluctantly I can assure you, dug through my bag, to the bottom, where I had picked up some of the first shells I had seen, shells with holes, and laid them on the beach, with sadness. I even texted my friend who like me, could not believe I was going to walk off and leave the shells behind. I did think how sad, that here I was not looking at the holes like I did earlier, the beauty of the “rest of the shell” and just like that I was quick to leave those shells behind because they were not perfect. It made me think, thank God, that our God does not leave us behind because we are not perfect.
I continued along with my shell bag, though lighter, still too heavy for me to carry much further. I had tried every position I could carry, and even thought about how I could use my raincoat to make a second bag to lighten the load on one side. I stood along the edge of the beach, looking at my bag, and at the distance ahead and I could see my footprints in the sand I had left earlier, and I thought about the popular print we have all seen, “Footprints in the Sand” where the author talks about though we only see one set of footprints, and thinking God is not with us, that in fact it is God that is carrying us, and his footprints are what we see.
In the good times he walks right beside us and in the bad he carries us. We are never left alone in this world. We may be in it but we are definitely not of it. John 15:19
I felt foolish to pray to God to help me make it back, and I knew all I had to do was put the shells down and I would be fine, but like burdens we carry, we often don’t put them down. We pray to God to help us and we do not have the faith to give the situation to God and not take it back. I had given up a “few shells” but was not willing to give it all up, like we do with our burdens.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I finally realized I really was not going to make it back to the truck with my load and gave in. Lucky for me it was a short walk to a vehicle where a young man was fishing. I asked him if I could leave my bag, that I could not go any further and he said “of course.” I can only imagine what he was thinking because trust me by now I was quite disheveled looking. I explained to him that I may not be back because I was afraid to drive that far on the sand and he told me if I got stuck, to come to get him and he would pull me out. Like life, when we get stuck, God is there to pull us out, if we only allow him.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I did make it to my truck, where I sat for a few minutes thinking about how bad I had been hurting earlier, but how once I put my bag down and walked away the pain and discomfort was left behind as well. It made me think about life and how we really do have to walk away from what is causing us pain, whether emotionally or physically and with God’s help, we can.
At more than one point on my walk, I had tears streaming down my cheeks, from the pain of the bags, as well as the pain in my heart, knowing we all carry burdens, and that we carry, and we need to trust God, and give it, whatever “it” is to him, and trust he will carry us through.
“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
So, yes I did drive the rest of the way on the sand, thanked the young man for his encouragement, and keeping my shells of course, and headed back to the camper, where I reflected on my morning.
As I am at home now, and enjoying the beautiful shells I found, I will never forget my experience and wanted to share it with others, so maybe you too can remember to:
Just like our children look to us to protect them, our God will protect us, when we accept him as our Savior and give our life to him. We are his children, and we need to have faith that he will protect us “like a parent.”
I know this and though I did not know all the scripture I have posted above by heart, like many do, though I wish I did, I am reminded daily that though I am not perfect, I am at peace walking daily with God by my side and when needed carrying me along this journey called life.
So a lot of people have asked what my surgery was back in May, and I have been super busy and just getting around to this post. This is what I had done, a Left Wrist Arthrodesis with Distal Ulna Excision and Possible Distal Radial Ulnar Joint Interpositional Arthroplasty and Open Carpal Tunnel Release and Extensor Retinacular Reconstruction with Auto Illiac Crest Bone Graft, wow that is a mouthful isn’t it. Yep, that’s what I thought too.
For the past couple of years, maybe longer, I have had a lot of pain in my left wrist, but continued to push through the pain, sometimes on my own and sometimes with a cortisone injection. But it seemed crazy to take medication for one pain that would be alleviated through a simple procedure, or so I thought. I had the right wrist done many years ago and it really was a simple procedure, with the removal of a painful thingamajig that sticks out on the outside of your wrist. But unfortunately, because I had waited so long on this one, there was a lot more damage and therefore a lot more that needed to be repaired. But I was still optimistic and ready to be pain-free. I asked my boss off for a Thursday and Friday and would be back at work on Monday.
Thursday came, and due to COVID, I was on my own once Chip kissed me bye at the door. The waiting room was set up for social distancing and I was sporting my required hospital mask. I entertained myself in the waiting room sending Chip pictures.
It was my first surgery since being married that he did not see me wheeled off from pre-op and waiting for me post-op. I had some problems post-op my last surgery, so I kept thinking what if…….and there I would be all alone with no family. But then a sweet, beautiful inside and out friend, Dana, who is a nurse, walked into my room, and I knew if anything happened she would be there and I would not be alone. Not having Chip in the room when I woke up after surgery was a hard pill to swallow, especially when I needed help getting my clothes on after surgery and had to allow someone else to help me. But it sure was nice to see Chip’s smile when I arrived back to the pick-up area, outside of course.
I was reminded to stay ahead of the pain because the nerve block would eventually wear off. I was extremely fortunate as the nerve block did not actually wear off until Friday, and because I did like I was instructed, my pain was not as bad as it could have been. The pain was excruciating at times and ice packs barely helped with the swelling, but I pushed through. I took pain medication through Saturday and had to sleep in the recliner for positioning. I then stopped everything except Tylenol and Ibuprofen on Sunday morning so I would be ready to go back to work on Monday.
This will be the only time you hear me say I was thankful for COVID but it was to my advantage that I was able to work from home. I could have done my job even if I had not been at home, but if I would have had to stay overnight, which I often did, then I would have had a huge problem being one-handed. Who would have fixed my hair? That would have been my biggest problem, as being one-handed, I could not figure out how to get a ponytail up.
Some things were easy and my surgeon had allowed me to type with my left hand, but I was in a very heavy cast which killed my shoulder and I had to use a sling, and I could not get the cast wet, therefore showers and washing my hair was a challenge, as well as a lot of other things too. I had my right elbow replaced many years ago and was one-handed for far too long, but I had forgotten how hard it was, which is probably a good thing.
So now my story begins about “who’s the mama now” as Bailey and I truly did have to change roles as I recovered from my surgery. Though she has been around during previous surgeries, she was either too young or away at college and not truly there to be “my left hand.”
If only I could have videotaped our many episodes, you would be laughing. She helped me get a shower and wash my hair using a shower chair and hand-held shower in her bathroom. I guess I was making various grunts and grimaces because she kept stopping and asking me what was wrong. She was about as wet as I was by the end and said I would be washing my hair in the kitchen sink from now on.
So, that is what we did the next time my hair needed washing. She literally had me lay, all 5’6 of me on the counter, and put my head in the sink. Getting up there was funny, as we do not have chairs, but bar height stools even for the table, so she had to pick me up and sit me on the counter. When getting my head washed I am ticklish if you get water on my forehead and once again I guess I was making noises and she was constantly asking me what was wrong, in a motherly tone, as if I had no reason to be acting the way I was.
I had my surgery on 05/28/20 and on 06/08/20, was so glad to have the cast that was up above my elbow removed. I knew life could only get better. I know it sounds crazy but I was getting very claustrophobic in the cast and begged for a splint, which he obliged, and I promised I would not take it off unless I was sitting down and in a safe situation. I kept my promise but continued to be one-handed as I was not to use the hand at all, not even to scratch my nose.
Life was incredibly challenging being one-handed and I cannot even imagine if I had to live that way forever and admire those that have accomplished this every day of their life.
There were funny times, like wetting my pants because I could not get my pants down fast enough with one-hand. We decided dresses were the best attire for me, and even then sometimes pulling my dress up to bite the hem in my mouth to hold it, while then pulling down the drawers, did not always go so smoothly, and off to change clothes, once again I would go. At least I did laugh at myself as my family shook their heads.
There were also a lot of tears because I cannot stand being dependent on anyone, yet there were things I could not figure out how to do myself. Bailey consoled me and told me it would be alright, and at least I had her and Chip because there were people that had no one.
Little things like opening a pill bottle, or even hooking my bra, were major challenges. Simple tasks became major struggles. I could not put earring backs on with one hand, as the earring would fall back out. Trust me I tried to figure this one out but stuck to wearing earrings that did not have backs, but even then there were times I could not get them off one-handed and had to ask for help. Childproof lighters, well that was very frustrating, but I was bound and determined to light a candle one day, and with much frustration, I finally accomplished being able to one-handed light a flame stick. I had to ask for help to put eye drops in my eyes, which I have to do a lot because of dry eyes. A year ago it took two hands to even hold my eye open to insert the drops and was usually quite comical. The entire time Chip would be telling me to open my eyes not my mouth and I would respond with “I am trying.” Eyes seem to have a mind of their own. Get near my eyes and eyes close and the mouth opens. I had finally learned to do eye drops by myself, but this task was definitely a two-handed job, one to hold the eye open and one to squeeze the eye drops. I could open a lot of things by placing them between my knees or under my arm and using my good hand to open, even though I often spilled some of the contents on me, but a lot of things I simply could not do, no matter how hard I tried. I used my teeth to open some things, like my eye drops, just to prove to myself I could. That was infuriating to Bailey as she would constantly ask why I had to prove anything to anyone, and I should just allow them to help. It was usually in a motherly tone, a frustrated motherly tone that is.
I tried to continue to do what I could but was often scolded by Bailey, you know the mama now. I was perfectly capable of putting clothes in the washer and into the dryer, but I admit folding clothes was a challenging chore and very time consuming with only one hand, so I reluctantly allowed others to take on that task.
I eventually was released on 07/06/20 to be able to pull up my pants, as long as they were not tight, he said, too late for that thanks to COVID. I could push a door closed, but no lifting or pulling of anything more than a few pounds. I could use my hand to hold my hair in place while using the other to secure it in a ponytail holder. By then I had managed doing most things one-handed and could out type a lot of people with one hand.
On 08/03/20, I could start doing as much as I tolerated with my left hand with a restriction of no more than 5-pounds and do not rotate the arm.
On 09/14/20, I was told I was doing remarkably well and would not need to return unless I needed to and had no restrictions, or at least that is what I remember.
I still find myself occasionally doing things one-handed and remind myself that I am no longer restricted and how beyond blessed I am that I had a great surgeon and wonderful family and friends who were with me on this journey.
The scars are barely noticeable, the memory of the pain and discomfort has faded, but the memories made by my daughter being my mother will always warm my heart.
When I thought of this blog, I thought of a lot of different titles, Why the Tears, When Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and the list goes on, but I decided on simplicity and therefore this is all about my journey with my Rheumatologist past and present. I only know how perfect my Rheumatologist is and over the years, have talked about him to so many people and was surprised when people would not have positive experiences with their Rheumatologist. Even now with social media, I am on several group pages for people with auto-immune diseases, and time after time see people post terrible experiences with their Rheumatologist and I thank God time and time again for the wonderful Rheumatologist I was blessed with at a very young age.
When I think about my Rheumatologist over this past year, I cannot do so without tears. See, I have seen my Rheumatologist since I was 15-years old. That is 38 years give or take about right now, I think. He has been my lifeline for my Rheumatoid Arthritis for a very long time. He saw me through my high school years, and graduation, attend college, get married, college graduation, all my various employments (he always showed a generous interest in my personal life), the birth of my daughter, too many surgeries to name, and too many hospitalizations due to flare-ups than I care to remember. I knew he was always just a phone call away and his right hand, Dawn, was the familiar voice I remember always hearing when I needed him. I saw him in my hometown at a local orthopedic office, Dr. Ogden, who was awesome as well. Then when I went moved away, I traveled to Duke for visits. When I returned to the Danville area, I was able to see him in a local clinic. But then the day came, where like many offices, the one he practiced in was bought out and he was no longer seeing patients in Danville. I know I am not the only one who felt the loss, but it was a huge loss for me. But on the bright side, he was willing to see me in the clinic at Duke, where he would be working with fellows in the Rheumatology program. He would pop his head in for a visit, and that gave me comfort as I knew he was still there if I ever needed anything. I may have seen a “Fellow,” but he was my Doctor and in mind always would be. That is until I received my last bill, and it was so high I had to do a double-take. I called my insurance company and discovered it was the way it was billed, something to the effect of being hospital-based and a lot of other insurance jargon. I then called the hospital clinic to see if it could be billed differently and they said it could not. With sympathy for my situation, they at least did alter the bill for that visit and encouraged me to find another doctor to see as they would not be able to alter another bill. So I decided I just wouldn’t see anyone because all I needed was prescriptions to be renewed every now and then and I knew “my” Rheumatologist would do that for me even if I was not seeing him in the clinic, or at least I thought he would. I did reach out to him to let him know I would not be able to see him because of the cost and he understood and recommended seeing a Rheumatologist where I was currently going for a hand/wrist surgery. I also found out he would be retiring in July 2021 so eventually, I would need to see someone new anyway. I asked someone, I can’t say who, as they probably should not have given me their opinion, but I asked “if I was your Mother, who would you refer me to?” and they named a female physician. I went on the company’s webpage and read all about her and knew she had been trained at Duke, and knowing my current Duke Rheumatologist knew her and recommended her, I decided it was a good choice. But even then, I just did not want to see anyone else. It was complicated to get an appointment, they insisted they needed my Duke record. I asked the young man in appointments was that absolutely necessary as my record was most likely larger than a set of encyclopedias. Yes, I know things are now digital, but I recalled many years ago going to Duke for an appointment and the lady checking me in said she could not find my folder as she glanced around the desk. There was a folder, that was at least, 6-inches thick, if not 8, sitting in the rack, and when she pulled it out, she looked at it and looked at me and said, “wow, you are too young for a record this thick, I didn’t think this would be yours.” Yes, I, unfortunately, had a lot of visits and hospitalizations, way too young for someone my age at that time, but thank God, I had a wonderful rheumatologist. I was defeated when I tried multiple times to try to get my medical record and gave up on a new rheumatologist. I did figure out through trial and error how to at least print out my last 2 visit notes and took them with me on a follow-up appointment with my hand surgeon. I explained my dilemma to him, and he assisted me with making an appointment and here we are today.
There was more than once that I questioned if I was making the right decision, maybe I should just see a different rheumatologist at Duke, at least my record was there and I didn’t have to completely start over, but I kept going back to how nice everyone was that I had met at what was once Triangle Orthopedics, now known as EmergeOrtho, and my heart just kept telling me it was the right decision.
So today was the day that I made the drive to Durham to meet my new Rheumatologist. I was not committed and if I did not like her, I would just not go back, simple as that. As I drove down, I prayed I had made the right decision and as I sat in the waiting room, I was second-guessing myself, you know 5-minutes in the waiting room seems like 30. I was then called back and the lady who looked vaguely familiar, said I am Joyce. It was not until she pulled her mask down and smiled, that I realized no wonder she looked familiar, it was “my Joyce.” We went to high school; had sleepovers and she even sang at my wedding. A sigh of relief came over me as this was a sign, I had made the right decision, as I immediately felt at ease, even though I sure hated she had to know my weight. But the icing on the cake was when I met my new Rheumatologist. She handed me a tissue as I shed tears telling her the story of why I had to change rheumatologist, she was sincere, asked about my journey, laughed at my jokes, and though stricter in her expectations of me than my Rheumatologist, I could tell beyond a reasonable doubt I had made the right decision. I will miss “my” Dr. Caldwell and even as think about this, the tears flow again, but I know I am in great hands with my care, for years to come.
If you don’t have the perfect Rheumatologist, don’t give up, pray about it and ask for recommendations from others as I can assure you they are out there, I have been truly blessed, and I pray you will be too!
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We have all heard the saying smoke follows beauty as the wind direction changes and everyone shuffles to move out of the way of the smoke billowing from the fire pit. If you camp, as we do, you enjoy sitting outside at night enjoying the glow from the fire, as you strive to toast the perfect marshmallow, only to find you wrench of smoke at bedtime.
What if I told you I have found a product that will change the way you feel about having a fire outside. After a lot of research, and I mean a lot of research, Chip purchased a Solo Stove for us to take on our camping trips. He had a lot of criteria he was looking at, but for me I just had to be able to roast a marshmallow over it. Even though we had read the reviews, we were still apprehensive if the Solo Stove worked as well as presented. Well I can tell you without a doubt, it was well worth the cost, so much so that we purchased one to replace our chiminea on our patio.
There have been a lot of times we really wanted to have a fire at our home at family gatherings, but we knew my mom would not be able to tolerate the smoke, as she has a lot of breathing problems. We have found that once you get the Solo Stove good and hot, there is no smell of smoke. When you first start a fire in the Solo Stove it will have a little bit of smoke, but it does not smell like your typical wood fire. I know that sounds crazy, but it really does not to me. I have not smelled like smoke after sitting by our Solo Stove for hours.
There are a lot of things we really liked about the Solo Stove on our camping trip and I will share some of those with you.
You can have the same wonderful experience with your own Solo Stove, whether you take it with you camping, tailgating, on your patio, or even on your boat dock, the possibilities are limitless.
Check out the Solo Stove using this link, and if you decide to purchase one, please use this link as well, as I will get a small token of appreciation from Solo Stove with each purchase made by my friends. Please let me know if you purchased one and what you think of it. If you know me, you know I would never promote something that I do not totally believe in and use for myself. If you live close by and would like for us to demonstrate our Solo Stove for you, just drop me a note and we would be glad to fire the Solo Stove up!
Who would have ever thought we would have ever experienced anything like this in our lifetime? For some, there seem to be no worries, and for others, they are stressed to the point of fear. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I am worried, not only for myself and my family but for everyone. I know we are all going to die at some point, but I hate when there is a disease such as this that is quickly taking people all around us, young and old and in-between. Some are more at risk than others, like me, and does that worry me more? I know it should be it does not. When God calls me home, I am ready, I just pray it is no time soon and I will do all I can to take care of myself until then.
I do have a triple whammy as I have an auto-immune disease, I take an immunosuppressant medication as well as a chemotherapy medication and I have asthma. Wow, I think the only thing I am missing is heart disease and diabetes from the high-risk categories. I am taking the same precautions I would whether I was at high risk or not. But what has really frustrated me is the media. Imagine that. But really, every time someone dies from this virus, and they point out, “they had an underlying condition”, “their immune system was compromised”, “they were old.”Really, does that make them any less of a person? Does that make it less of a concern because of what? They were a person, and they had a family, there are people that are broken-hearted because they died. I am sure there have been some media who have talked about people who were not high risk, but I personally have not seen it. I do not watch a lot of news, typically I watch the news before I get out of the bed in the am, and then I may catch a glimpse of it one evening a week.
I know I personally love living and enjoying life but work hard to try to live longer. I know my medications and my disease will attempt to cut my life short, but I am determined to outlive any predictions that have been set for people like me who are “compromised.” I eat healthily, I avoid food that causes me pain, I walk, I try to get a good night’s rest, though I rarely sleep more than four hours. I try not to stress over things and have a Polly Anna attitude about life, always trying to find the best in every situation. So, what can I find positive in the media always making to me what makes it seem less important than someone died because they had an underlying condition? Maybe they think they will lessen everyone’s fears. But have they really, over half of my family, cousins, aunts, mother, siblings, children, etc., have underlying conditions that make us more at risk whether it be diabetes, heart disease, asthma, have taken chemotherapy and beat cancer, and auto-immune diseases and every time they remind us that the person that died was “compromised” does nothing but add fear to those who are in the high risk categories.
So enough about my frustrations with the media as I refuse to allow them to bring me down, I will continue to shake my head when they point out the “underlying reasons” the people are dying and will continue to say a prayer for all of those who have lost a loved one through this pandemic. Because no matter what the reason was that contributed to their death, they deserve nothing but honoring the person that they were.
So, for my family, we are practicing social distancing. We do have family and friends that have come to our home, but not inside. We even moved our car off the carport to be able to place chairs apart, where we can visit safely. We have gone into town to pick up things that are needed, but I usually sit in the car and Chip, who is the healthiest in the family, goes in to get what we need, and no more, and comes back to the car and sanitizes, sanitizes and sanitizes some more.
I feel we have plenty of food, it may not be what we would choose to eat, but I can assure you we will not go hungry. Thank goodness both Chip and Bailey shot a deer this year as we are well stocked on venison. We probably do not have as much canned food as we should, but we will make do. I always have had Clorox wipes in every bathroom in the house as well as extras here and there. We buy our paper products from Sam’s club and had just recently stocked on that as well. I worry more about running out of toilet paper than I do food, for real.
Social distancing has definitely changed some of our plans. We were going on our first ever truck camper rally with D&H Campers. It was a camping event specifically for truck campers.
We had been planning on this trip for months and even had Rebekah and Bailey make us some cool shirts to wear on our adventure. Kind of nerdy to dress alike right? I think so too, but we were going to do it anyway. You will have to wait to see our beautiful, creative, shirts. So the truck rally was cancelled, and we were disappointed. I am so ready to go camping that my next post may be a staycation in my front yard. Maybe we will wear our matching shirts.
I have been using so much hand sanitizer that I was afraid I was going to ruin my rings, so I took them off and have placed them in the safe until all this is over. I have always used a lot of hand sanitizer. For my work I even kept a container of hand sanitizer clipped to my name badge and used it a lot. I always washed my hands often and used hand sanitizer but not to the point that I am doing so now. I read an article years ago when I taught about germs and hand washing that was about the research showing that bacterial colonization was much greater on ringed than bare hands. A lot of infection control nurses discourage staff to wear anything but a wedding band. This is because rings can’t be thoroughly cleaned by even diligent hand hygiene, nor can the skin beneath them, especially rings with a lot of nooks and crannies. So right now, with this virus I felt it was a good idea to keep my hands as clean as possible, plus I did not want to ruin my rings.
I have not had any problems with my hands drying out even though I am constantly washing my hands and using hand sanitize because every winter Chip and I both had been experiencing dry cracked hands and we started using Mary Kay Satin Hands and are a firm believer how well it works. If you have not tried it you are in luck, Bailey is a Mary Kay Consultant and if you send me a message and mention this blog she will give you a 25% off discount.
On a bright note, I hope that all this social distancing is good for my hair. I know that sounds crazy but think about it. When we work or even go out in public, we typically have done something to our hair. Mousse, hair spray and even some shampoos and conditioners leave a residue on our hair that builds up over time. The residue can weigh your hair down and dry it out, making your hair more susceptible to breakage. Heat we know can damage hair, especially if you are using a hair dryer and then a high heat straightener, which I do because it is hard to straighten my hair. So, for the past 3 weeks, I have done nothing to my hair but wash it. I have allowed it do dry naturally and have used no heat source at all. Now in saying that I will admit it is a hot mess. But that’s okay as I am not trying to impress anyone, and I avoid looking in the mirrors anyway. My favorite hat is “Camping Hair, Don’t Care” so you may see me sporting around town when I do go out in that hat.
“Camping Hair Don’t Care” check it out here without leaving home
We had a friend make us each a face mask, just in case we go out. Chip worked on making liners for the face masks to give it an extra layer of protection using 3-M’s household filters.
Check out your filter options here without leaving home..3-M Filters
I loved how Hobby Lobby was working to make shopping a safe trip for everyone. I do not understand why they closed as this seem to be working well. I had gone in search of elastic, and though they did not have any, the lady showed me a good alternative that worked for our masks. Now our town is very limited on supplies to make masks so you may have to order something creative like we used because even elastic is on short supply when ordering. I would share with you a link on how you could order what we used, but honestly I have looked at Amazon and Hobby Lobby and every brand is out of stock.
Like everyone has been posting on Facebook, Easter is not cancelled. Our faith remains that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. Christ has and will continue to be with us in our homes, along the journey of our lives and will always be with us during this greatest challenge of our life, COVID 19. But, with that being said, I am bummed about the Easter get-together that our family has had for as long as I have been alive. Our entire family, aunts, cousins, siblings, in-laws, and friends get together at my grandfather’s home place. When we were young it was so much fun to see your cousins and play in the yard, hiding eggs over and over again, and showing off your Easter dress that your mom had made. Today it is just as much fun hiding the eggs for all the children that have come along over the years, catch up with family and friends, and of course, eat. This year there will be none of that on Easter Sunday but at some point, we will all get together and will be blessed to do so and I pray no one will have had to go through any suffering with the coronavirus other than financially which is inevitable.
We like so many of our friends are enjoying family time, playing board games our favorite go to games are
Yahtzee and Cardinal Mexican Train Domino Game with Aluminum Case. We keep the Yahtzee game in our truck camper for rainy days.
We have enjoyed long walks, a lot of patio talks, and less television than I would have ever expected. We have reenacted other quarantine posts from Facebook and laughed until our sides hurt.
I personally have enjoyed sending snap chats to my family and friends and hope they laughed as much as I did. I would be laughing so hard I could not even finish my message many times and would have to start over. Chip usually knows what I am doing and is shaking is head reminding me that I am “not right.” Laughter is good medicine, so maybe that is why I am doing so well.
My favorite are the voice changers, but here are a few funnies as well.
We have watched a movie on Friday or Saturday night with me usually dozing off about halfway through. My husband recently commented that I had never watched an entire movie and he is correct, for as long as I can remember anyway. I remembered years ago taking my daughter and some of her cousins to see Shark Tales and I must have dozed off as I heard them giggling and discussing me being asleep. I told them I was just resting my eyes. I told my preacher once that if he saw me with my eyes closed, I was not sleeping, that I hear better with my eyes closed. I do not think he believed me. On that note, it is time for me to close my eyes and get my usual four hours sleep, and then watch old episodes of Chicago PD or Law and Order. Luckily for me, though I have seen many of them before, I never remember the outcome, so it is like watching it for the first time. That CRS disease is for real, “can’t remember stuff.”
Our dogs have loved having us home all the time. Ginger has loved being under my desk as I work from home.
All the dogs have enjoyed the evenings spent sitting on the carport, and they have been practicing social distancing as well.
But not always as they seem to enjoying drinking together…..I prefer to not drink alone either, but that is another story.
We have all enjoyed our long walks. We are truly blessed to live out in the country and have amazing trails to walk on our own land. No dog leashes and no picking up poop.
The only downfall of walking trails is the end result when you return home after a rainy day. I guess I should have worn my old shoes. I would rather walk ten miles on a muddy trail than one mile on a treadmill any day.
Stay home as much as you can, wash your hands often, and your hair not so much, be safe and continue to pray for everyone who has been affected by this pandemic.
Happy Easter from this Krazy Bunny!
I think I noted in one of my previous posts that I will just about try anything that anyone suggests that might help with my RA and inflammation. As you all know I have changed my diet and mostly eat food that is considered anti-inflammatory and stay away from foods, for the most part, that is known to cause inflammation. Sometimes that is easier said than done. On Sunday, Chip cooked a pot of spaghetti sauce, and I had a container of gluten-free noodles, so I was excited. See, I can be with my family when they get cook-out milkshakes or dairy queen blizzards, but I have a hard time not eating Chip’s venison spaghetti sauce and chili too.
As usual, his venison spaghetti sauce was delicious, and I was a happy girl, that is until the wee hours of Monday when I woke up with my hands hurting so badly that I could hardly move them, must less pull the covers up over me. Ugh, I thought, I know what did this. The spaghetti sauce was the culprit! Though it was made with venison which I can have, it had tomatoes and sugar, peppers and such in it, things I know I am not supposed to have. Was it worth this pain, it was at the time, now I am not so sure.
I had read a lot about celery juice and all the benefits about 6 weeks ago and decided to give it a try. Everything I read suggested drinking the celery juice for 7-days. Most people reported after 7-days they continued to drink the celery juice because they felt better. So, I am not a huge fan of celery. Now that is not saying that I don’t like it, but if I am going to eat celery, I prefer it to be with chicken salad on it or pimento cheese back when I was eating cheese. But to just eat a stalk of celery, not me, but Chip loves to shake salt on it and crunch away.
I did not have a juicer and read that you could “juice” using a powerful blender and then drain the pulp off. I have a ninja blender which is super powerful, so I elected to not spend money before knowing if I was going to stick to this or not. So, for 7-days, every morning, I would spend time blending my celery, draining it through a fine-mesh strainer, then pushing on the pulp left behind to get more juice out. The key is to have your pulp almost dry. This was doable but time-consuming. I had read about a nut milk bag when I was doing my research, so I thought I would give this a try. I googled to see if any store in town had one and they did not, so I ordered a nut milk bag off Amazon and was eager to give it a try. It was definitely worth the few bucks that it cost me. I would recommend this over the strainer anyway. You literally pour everything out of the blender into the nut milk bag and squeeze all the juice out. It was not as messy as it may sound. I am not sure if my hands had been hurting like they did today that I could have squeezed the bag, though.
In the meantime, I went into one of my favorite thrift stores in Danville, Helping Hands in the Sherwood Shopping Center. This is a 100% volunteer ran Thrift Store as all the profits go back into the community. I love this thrift store. Anyway, I found a juicer for $8.00. The volunteer clerk at the store helped me check to make sure it ran, and it did, so I bought it. I washed it up, which took a while as I don’t think whoever donated it had done so, it was pretty nasty. It was so easy to use and has definitely made my life easier. I always wash my celery, cut the top off first, a close cut to not waste any, just enough to trim off the browning edges and then the bottom.
Then you simply add it to the juicer. My used juicer did not come with a container, but a measuring cup works just fine.
Here are the pictures to show how messy the machine is afterward, but as long as you clean it up as soon as you are finished it is easy peasy.
I give the left overs to the chickens, they like the cut parts, but not so much the pulp. I guess I have already got the good stuff out.
I had watched a video on the juicer and new of its shortcomings, but it was worth it for me. Since then I have reviewed other machines and honestly, at the end of using them, they are all a hot mess too, so I will keep mine for now. It took me exactly 20 minutes from beginning to end, that includes taking my celery out of the refrigerator, washing, cutting, juicing, pouring into containers and then cleaning all the parts. During that time, I also had to let the dogs in the house, which means I had to re-wash my hands.
So does the celery juice work. My honest opinion is it does for me. When I started the day, I was in a lot of pain in my hands. Once I drank my juice while working in my home office, I was busy, so I did not time how long it took to work or anything but a couple of hours later I realized my hands were not hurting. Now, I think that is a combination of things. First, I did not take any medication at all, but I believe “working” through pain as for me it loosens up my joints and they do feel better. So, a combination of the celery juice and working helped. Could just working have been enough? I do not know the answer to this, but I am not willing to give up my celery juice to try it.
So, in this time of the Covid-19, I was not worried at all that I would be able to get enough celery, as who in their right mind would want to hoard celery. That is until we went to Sam’s Club on a Sunday, like we usually do and attempted to buy, four packs like I always do. When we tried to check out on our telephone, like we always do, it would not let us. We thought perhaps it was because I was buying two boxes of Mucinex (I have a lot of allergy issues), so I took one of the boxes of Mucinex through the checkout and it still would not let Chip check out with his telephone. One of the super nice Sam’s club employees came over to help us out. We basically had to take everything out of the buggy, go through the self-checkout to discover it was the celery holding us up. What? Celery? Yes, we were only allowed to buy one package of celery as there was a limit on all vegetables. So now I have become a little more panicky about getting my celery. What if they restrict leaving your home as they did in China? How would I make it without my celery juice?
Well, I happen to put this concern out on Facebook, and a friend came to the rescue. She told me about using Celery Powder that is made from just that Celery Powder. She mixes it up in a glass of water and drinks it every day. I decided to do a little research and lo and behold the Celery Powder she uses comes from a company that I was already very familiar with and love a lot of their products. I had not purchased anything in a while and did not know about some of the new products such as the Celery Powder. The company is called “It Works.” You may have heard of “that crazy wrap thing” that was popular a few years ago. It still is, and a lot of people use the wraps, it is just not front-page news right now. But their products are amazing. I swear by their hair and nails supplement. It literally helped my widows peak I was forming, grow back in. I probably have a before and after pictures, but I hate pictures of me so I will refrain from sharing. I still had an account with the It Works company that I had set up with another friend years ago and was able to order the Celery Powder.
My Celery Powder actually came in the mail today, but I am not going to use it until I either run out of celery or until we are able to start back camping or me traveling for my work. The Celery Powder will work great for me being on the road because otherwise, I would have to do a lot of juicing ahead of time. For me after the second day, my celery juice is not quite as good as the first day, I would not want to have celery juice that was as much as 3-4 days because sometimes I am gone from home that long. I already look like a gypsy dragging my suitcase, work bags, and a cooler of food into the hotel, so I surely do not want to drag a juicer along with me. My juicer is pretty loud so I am sure the person next door would not appreciate my juicing in my hotel room at 6:00am. Therefore, Celery Powder is going to work perfectly for me. I hope it tastes just like my celery juice. I will let you know once I have tried it out.
If you would like more information on the Celery Juice, or all the amazing products the company has to offer, contact https://www.facebook.com/diane.robinson.108889, she will tell you all about how these products have helped her family for years improve their health.
Will I eat Chip’s venison spaghetti sauce and his amazing chili again, yes, I probably will, but I will continue to counter it with a big old glass of celery juice.
There are a lot of things I love about truck campers, but the one that comes to mind at the moment is the ability for us to pick up and go on a whim. We have two plans for this year. The first is to visit as many North Carolina State Parks as possible and secondly, we want to camp 40 nights in our camper this year. To accomplish both of these things, we are going to have a lot of spur of the moments get-a-ways when we can.
We knew earlier in the week we wanted to go camping over the weekend, it was just a matter of where. We thought about going west because there are several nice state parks we want to visit. We really wanted to do some walking and since it was calling for the weather to be a little colder west we headed east. I do not like to walk outside when it is cold.
We arrived at Medoc Mountain State Park in Hollister, North Carolina. https://www.ncparks.gov/medoc-mountain-state-park/home
We stopped by the park office and were directed to pick out our camping spot and then we could go back to the park office to pay. We circled the park twice and settled on #34. They have a lot of really nice camping spots and I honestly do not think any of them would be a bad choice. Ours was not close to the bathhouse but we did not plan on using the bathhouse anyway since our truck camper has a full bath with all the amenities one would need. But for anyone who is interested, the bathhouse is nice. It is heated which is very important this time of the year. It had 3-bathroom stalls and 3-shower stalls.
It was a gorgeous evening and we decided to take a quick hike before dinner. We decided to do the Bluff Loop Trail which was 3 miles long. It was labeled as easy to moderate. Because it was going to be a quick walk, and I was in my tennis shoes, which are so comfortable to walk in, I did not see the need to change shoes. We had not gone too far before we came upon our first very wet area. After the second mud hole and me trying to figure out how to dodge the mud, Chip asked why would I wear my best tennis shoes into the woods anyway. He knew I had hiking boots in the camper and asked why I did not wear them. Other than being lazy, I had no other response. The trail had a lot of wet areas, from all the recent rain.
It was very windy so a little cooler than expected but we were prepared with scarfs and gloves, for me anyway, Chip thinks I am crazy until he holds my cold hands and quickly understands how cold natured I am.
The trail was beautiful. It went down by the creek and back up the hill overlooking the creek. The pine trees were huge, and not just one or two, but a lot of huge trees. I am sure Chip was thinking cha-ching, as he looks at trees differently than we do. He looks at trees as the value, how many board feet, and other “forester” kind of thoughts. Overall, I think I would consider the trail more moderate than easy, not that it was hard by any means, but it did have hills and steps, which would make it a little more difficult for anyone with knees or hip problems.
As we walked, we, of course, talk non-stop, about everything from the beautiful area to what we are going to have for dinner. I usually get quizzed during the walk, about trees. Here is how our discussion usually goes.
Chip: What kind of tree is that?
Chip: What kind of oak?
Me: I do not know because it does not have any leaves right now.
Chip: You should be able to tell from its bark.
Me: Sorry I do not remember that one. I take a picture of the tree.
Chip: Why are you taking a picture of it?
Me: So, I pass the test the next time. Heck, I was impressed I even knew it was an oak.
In the course of the walk, I mentioned I was looking forward to the appetizers and Chip asked what appetizers. I smiled and said roasted marshmallows. He didn’t think much of my appetizers but said he would start a fire as soon as we got back to the camper.
We recently purchased a portable stove/fire pit. We purchased this stove for many reasons. These are in no particular order, but were selling points, and we have truly fallen in love with our solo stove. It is an “almost” smokeless stove. Wow, that is definitely a selling point, because I always smell like smoke at bedtime when camping, which then means my pillowcase smelled like smoke and even after washing my hair several times, I could still smell smoke. Another reason is that when we are boondocking we wanted to be able to have a fire. You cannot just build a fire on open grass, so you would need to build a rock ring, etc., and we did not want to have to spend time looking for rocks and having to create a fire ring. Another reason why we love our solo-stove is when you have an open fire you have to really pay attention to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand, especially on a windy evening, and you then have to pour water on it if you decide to call it an early evening. With the solo stove, though it was very windy, it was not a problem at all. We were able to enjoy a nice warm fire with no worries. Another reason we love our solo stove is we could use many different things to burn. Though we could get plenty of firewood from home, because of insects, parks no longer allow you to bring wood into their parks, so you must buy the wood at the park. It is not that expensive, usually 5.00 a bundle, but I do not like to spend the money, especially when I usually am picking up small sticks around the campsite to use for “starter” wood. With the solo stove, you can pick up all kinds of sticks and have a fire. It was so easy to pick up a lot of twigs and keep it going.
But Chip did bring his portable DeWalt chainsaw and was able to cut up a lot of trees that had fallen from storms around our campsite. It was a win-win. We cleaned up the dead-tree limbs and we had wood. The size of wood we needed was easy to cut-up to fit the solo stove perfectly. The DeWalt is small enough to travel with us in the truck camper and it uses the same battery that we use in our vacuum cleaner, so we always have a battery charger and can easily recharge if we needed to. The chainsaw worked without any re-charges the entire weekend.
The solo-stove was hot enough in no time to roast my appetizers for dinner. We safely left the fire outside unattended while we ate a quick dinner inside. Of course, we then sat outside for dessert, more roasted marshmallows of course. It was a perfect evening, but what was even more perfect is we went to bed without smelling like smoke.
Saturday morning was cool and windy, again. After eating breakfast, it was too cool to going walking, so we drove to Weldon, NC.
As we were driving into Weldon, I noticed in front of a motel a large colorful fish “yard decoration” and thought how odd. It was not something you would typically see in front of a hotel of all things. We went a little further and there was another large fish and I made a comment about it and Chip said, “oh Weldon is the rockfish capital” and I bet that is why there are fish yard decorations around town. Of course, I wanted to ride around and see all of them, but he did not seem interested. I was able to get him to slow down enough for me to capture a few pictures.
We rode around town and down by the river. We read about the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail.
We took a short walk to see some of the canals. The section we chose was unfortunately by the local sanitation department and for the first part of the walk, it was not very pleasant. It may have been because it was so windy. Neck gators came in very handy to help filter the smell.
Nature test. What is that tree with all the bumps on it? I did not even have a good guess. It was a Hackberry tree. I should remember this one, or at least I hope I do.
We then went to the museum which was a wonderful “find.” It was so interesting to see how they used the river to transport their goods “back in the day.” It was not as easy as it is today and was a lot of work. Even to build the canal, the work that went into cutting rocks to even build a wall was a monumental task.
Another great find at the museum was the Bicycle Loaner Program. We were able to use two bicycles to take a ride on another part of the canal trail. Greg, who was working at the museum during our visit, told us about the bike program and completed the paperwork for us to borrow the bikes. It was very simple and took no more than a couple of minutes. Greg told us our trail options, we could go down the canal and it is easy riding until you have to come back, and it is uphill the entire way or we could go up the canal and there would be a few hills, but overall a better ride. We put on our helmets, which was a requirement and hit the trail. For a short distance, it was easy riding, and then we came to our first hill. Though it was not a big hill by any means, I was not able to make it up and had to push my bike while Chip waited for me at the top. Let’s just say I lost count on how many hills I had to push my bike up. The trail ended at the power plant. There were large signs displaying the area was under constant surveillance. I am sure I was someone’s entertainment as by the time we reached the end, and of course another small incline, I was tired. Chip turned around and asked, “did you say something” and of course I had not said anything, what he heard was me grunting trying to muster up the strength to make it to the end. My Deddie always called me granny grunt, and I lived up to my name. The ride was wonderful and though at times it took a little more strength than I had to give, I was glad we did it and would definitely do it again. I thanked Greg that we went the direction we went because I sure would have hated to have pushed my bike all the way back had we went the other direction.
We grabbed a snack out of the camper (an advantage to carrying your home away from home with you) and ate as we drove. We arrived back to the campground shortly after lunch and we hit the trails. I already had my hiking boots on, and we had our walking sticks ready to go. We purchased our walking sticks at Lidl a couple of years ago and have they been perfect. They are well-built and have withstood a lot of hikes. https://www.lidl.com/
We decided on a long walk today which was going to be five miles long. It was beautiful as you can see in the pictures. And yes, thank goodness I had on my hiking boots today, as we crossed a lot of muddy areas.
When we started out it was cold to me, so I had on my puffy jacket, my neck gator and gloves. We, of course, had not walked far before I had gotten hot, so lucky, for me, Chip had room in his backpack for my coat. After further hiking, I was able to use my neck gator as a headband. When one trail would end, we would decide to take another one. In the end, we rode the bike for 3 miles and walked 7 miles. If it was the summertime, we could have gone for a swim in the river and made it a triathlon for us.
Today’s nature test was a large tree with carvings. I made a wild guess but was wrong. But what I did learn is most of the time when you see a tree with carvings it is an American Beech. People are drawn to carve on the beech tree because of its smooth bark. It is harmful to the tree though and people should not do it, as tempting as it may be.
My second nature question was turkey poop. Did you know you could determine the sex of a turkey based on the shape of its poop? That’s right, a male turkey’s poop is male produce spiral-shaped poop and females’ poop is shaped like the letter J. Yep, I flunked that one too. I did not take a picture, but here is one from the internet that will show you what I am talking about.
We got back to camp early enough to gather up firewood and get the solo stove fired up and ready for more appetizers, aka roasted marshmallows. Chip cooked a wonderful dinner of tuna, lime-cilantro rice, and salads. We enjoyed more roasted marshmallows. Another wonderful night by the fire, without smelling smokey at bedtime.
Sunday morning was so easy to pack up and leave the campground. One of the many things we love about the truck camper. We explored the Bridle Camping section and trails. The campsites there are for campers with horses and are beautiful and private. The area would be perfect for a group of campers with horses as the picnic shelter had a large grill and the riding trails had multiple benches. We walked the trail because there was no one around and we wanted to do some walking before we headed home. I would definitely recommend this area for anyone with horses looking for somewhere to ride.
Our last stop was at the main office to see the exhibits they had and to talk a walk on the Habitat Adventure Trail. The exhibits are a great learning experience for all ages, and the trail is perfect for a family as you can see from the pictures and videos. It is also wonderful for those that are kids at heart.
These are the inside exhibits.
A lot of interactive areas to give the children hands-on learning.
Me being interactive with the trail, but Chip told me I wasn’t doing it right, that I was supposed to do it fast like a squirrel. His version of pretending to be a squirrel. He is so funny when he is playing around because he is usually a pretty serious person.
I could not help but think this would be a wonderful idea for my Rotary Club to do in our hometown of Danville, Virginia, in collaboration with the parks and recreation department. I will make sure I pass the idea onto my fellow Rotarians.
Medoc Mountain was the perfect weekend get-away, and we will most definitely visit there again someday.