Friday, August 31, 2007


It gives me great pleasure to announce we are officially done with the wheelchair. I can hear the applause and whoops of glee from all of you, not to mention the gratitude of my back to no longer have to lug it in and out of the trunk of the car. For anyone who has ever doubted that physical therapy works, we are here to proclaim it does. The progress we have seen over the past 11 days has been remarkable and we are hopeful Craig won't even need the epidural shot.

Speaking of the epidural, we saw the specialist in Fresno Thursday afternoon, well actually you could call it early evening. When we arrived at 3:45 the waiting room was packed with people. I listened as names were called and watched as patient after patient either went in or came out of the inner sanctum. I evaluated each one as to their limits of mobility, and compared them to Craig as to moving better or worse. Seeing the really bad cases put it into perspective how far we have come from those first days in dreaded Fort Stockton.

When we were finally the last two people sitting in the waiting room we knew we had to be next. At 5:15 we were called and off we went into an examination room. When we saw the doctor, he did a thorough check of Craig's mobility and pain. He encouraged us to continue physical therapy until an epidural could be performed. Of course, the earliest appointment wasn't until September 26. We are hoping that within the four weeks wait for the epidural that Craig will be recovered enough to resume work and that the shot will not be needed. Until then, his new mode of transportation is the "walker". I give him another week and predict he will be walking dapper in his top hat and cane.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


With everything that has been going on the past 6 weeks, I seemed to have let myself go. Sure, I did take the time to get my hair cut and colored, but I have neglected my body by doing way too much stress eating and not exercising. That all ended on Monday, when I put on my walking shoes and took that first step out the door for a good long walk. The solitude of being alone with myself, the steady rhythm of my feet on the pavement, and the fresh air and sunshine did this body good.
Monday was also the first day of school for children in the Central Valley. Walking by several schools and seeing the array of emotions on their faces from excitement to fear of the unknown, made me think that I too would soon be facing my own new beginning. With each day we are seeing Craig improve, and even though we realize he still has a ways to go before he is ready to drive again, I thought about what our first day back on the truck will be like. Just like those children I saw, I know it too will be filled with excitement and fear, but as we have always done, we will chart those new paths together once again, carving out yet a new beginning out on the road together.
Craig armed with a new Smokey and the Bandit lunch pail, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, couldn't hurt either.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


But you got to have friends
The feeling's oh so strong
You got to have friends
To make that day last long
It's amazing how much a visit with one of your best friends will do to the spirit. After all we have been through, meeting up with my friend Cori, erased all the bad memories, and new pleasant ones were made to take me through whatever else lies ahead. It has been 5 months since we last saw each other while on vacation together with our husbands in Washington back in March. Much too long of a separation, but we made the most of it today. Craig even accompanied me on the drive into Fremont, and it was a nice change of scenery for both of us. I also think he liked showing off his newly acquired walking skills with the walker when it was time for his PT exercises. I have to say that each day we are slowly seeing some improvement.
I have a couple of more friends I will be meeting up with in the next couple of weeks, and Craig has some of his best pals at NorCal to hook up with as well. We might as well make the most of this down time and reconnect with those who mean so much to us, and offered so much support during our medical crisis. As the song says......."You've got to have friends", and I am happy to say, we have some of the best there ever were.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Anyone who has been reading this blog site for awhile, knows just how much Craig and I hate the heat. Anything above 70 is hot to us, so as luck would have it, we find ourselves stationary in the central valley of California where the temperatures hover around 100 degrees for most of the summer. With that being said, and taking into account our limitations as far as mobility, we are trying to find ways to escape from the heat.

As I mentioned in the prior post, Craig began his physical therapy Tuesday afternoon. Today, he had his second session and already we are seeing some improvement. I have found hope again, and watching Craig work hard at his therapy and seeing him walk, albeit with the help of parallel bars, allows me to think we are slowly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It also helps that the therapy building is air conditioned and a nice place for me to sit and relax for an hour.

After his session this morning, we headed to Starbucks for a celebratory drink to continue our quest for coolness. Let's just say, there is nothing better than a Frappacino to do the trick. Enjoying our time out, and with the AC on full blast in the car we headed to where we knew it would be as equally cool, the movie theater in Fresno. We decided to take in the Bourne Ultimatum and we were not disappointed. Not only was it nice and cool, but the movie was very entertaining and suspenseful.

With it getting close to the dinner hour we headed for Selma and braved the heat as we exited the car. If only the coolness of Fall would make an early appearance. I'd give up a Starbucks trip for that!

Monday, August 20, 2007


As I hear from more and more of you, our experience with the medical profession this past month is more the norm, than the exception. Wow, when did this system get so messed up, when there is more worry about paperwork than treating the actual patient? I fear those who are not as feisty or stubborn as I am, would find themselves broken souls trying to deal with these people. The one thing I always did in all my years in law enforcement and dealing with the public, was to treat them, as I would have treated one of my family members. I suspect that philosophy has been lost, at least with the medical community I have dealt with so far.

I had a melt down on Friday afternoon, when I called the doctor in Fresno to inquire as to an appointment for a consultation, since they had not called me as they had said they would. While in the middle of the conversation the phone call was disconnected. I recalled, got the answering machine saying their office was closed and felt as though I was at my lowest and wondered if we would ever get back to the life we once had. Then at 5:30pm they called to say that they could squeeze Craig in on August 30! Oh great, we have another 12 days to wait to have yet another doctor tell us that he needs treatment, then have to wait, Lord knows how long, to actually get the treatment. But hey, at least we are making some progress.

So this morning, I contacted the insurance company regarding at least getting some physical therapy started. They informed me that they had already faxed the authorization for it to the doctor in Selma. With that I started my calling and leaving my messages on their answering machine to see about scheduling some appointments. As of yet, they have not returned my phone calls and I suspect they don't want to have to deal with me. As I was just getting ready to post this entry, we received a phone call scheduling Craig's first physical therapy for tomorrow at 12:45pm. Hallelujah! We are making some progress.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I would give anything to be back out on the truck writing about life on the road and the places we see than what I have been writing about the last four weeks. I miss happily typing away about items of interest during our travels, my big always changing picture window to look out of, and I especially miss having a healthy pain free husband. That so many of you are still checking this site, gives me pleasure, and I hope you will continue and not lose interest. I promise we will have more adventures in the near future. I choose to keep a positive attitude even though it seems the forces of nature and the medical community are working against us.

I placed a few phone calls yesterday. The ones to the doctors office in Selma were not returned. I think they are tired of hearing from me. I looked up the phone number of the doctor in Fresno that we were referred to, to see if maybe they would talk to me and let me know what is going on. I of course, got an answering machine, and tried to, in the most civil of tones, explain our situation, and ask if possible to have a phone call to explain the process and how long we would have to wait to hear about even making an appointment. Around 5:30pm, I got the call, saying that before they would make an appointment, they had to reconfirm the authorization from the insurance company. Oh brother! How many confirmations do these people need? Of course, she called after 4pm for this second confirmation and no one was around to give it, which meant another day wasted waiting.

Remember how I used to complain about Customs? I'd give anything to be dealing with them instead of the medical community. Customs is kid's play compared to the paperwork, phone calls , and hoops we have had to jump through so far.

First thing this morning I called and left a message with the insurance people to confirm that they were to recontact the doctor in Fresno for the authorization. Then I went right down to the doctors office in Selma to deal with them in person. They had not heard from the doctor in Fresno yet, but I asked them to call and find out what the status was. Reluctantly they did this, and found out that they had in deed received their confirmation on the authorization and that they would be contacting us this afternoon to schedule an appointment.

It is now 3:30pm and we have yet to receive the phone call.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


What happened to the good old days when people actually talked to one another instead of relying on electronic devices to communicate? How hard is it for one doctor's office to pick up the phone, state they have a patient that needs a treatment their office can perform, and then set up an appointment? Instead, they only deal with one another by faxing. God forbid they should speak. So here is the situation, which to me, puts the patient in need of treatment even further within the whirlpool of medical paperwork and further delays getting the pain relief they need. Our doctor faxed Craig's medical info to a orthopedic surgeon in Fresno Wednesday morning. They informed me that they only deal with each other via fax, and that we are at the mercy of the other doctor to sometime this decade look over Craig's paperwork and fax our doctor back. Only then will they be able to schedule an appointment for a consultation. I think I'll retreat to my cave and send my smoke signals up telling them just what I think of their policy. Since we are still waiting for an appointment, it just may be faster than their fax system.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I'm beginning to think that Craig and I are players in someones sick game to see how much we can take before we just go postal. Monday rolls around and I'm on the phone calling our Workman's Comp Ins. contact person who tells me that as suspected, the doctor's office did not call her until after work hours on Friday evening. She informs me that she has all the authorizations ready to go and that she will be faxing them to the doctor. I in turn contact the doctor's office, only to find out that for some reason their office is closed. I check my calender, yes, it's Monday, no official holiday, and wait for the call to be directed to the answering service. When they answer I politely inquire, "Is the doctor's office closed today for some reason?" Yes, I am told, they are getting new carpeting installed and won't be in the office until 1:30pm. Well Whoopee Do ! You would think that could have been done on a Saturday.

I wait until 1:30pm and start my calling, and continue to call until 3:15pm when they finally answer the phone. I tell them that the insurance company has faxed the authorization to which they say, they have just now turned on the fax machine and are receiving items now. I ask to be called before the end of the business day with some information as to a doctor we can be referred to for the epidural shot. About 6:15pm I receive said phone call. I am informed that the paperwork has been faxed to a orthopedic surgeon in Visalia and that we should know in a couple of days if he will take the case. That is unacceptable to me, so I ask for the doctor's name and phone number so that I can call first thing Tuesday morning.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning, I make the phone call to the doctor, talk to the receptionist and find out that the doctor does not take workman comp cases. Feeling like Custer at the last stand, I make a phone call to the doctor again, only to get the dreaded answering machine to which I tell it that the doctor they want us to see, won't see us, and please call as soon as possible so we can find a solution. I also contact our insurance contact person to relay the latest details, and call a spine center the the Bay Area which would be happy to see Craig if the doctor would fax the information.

I'll cut to the chase here. I can not say enough about our insurance contact person, Sandra Parker. She took the bull by the horns and started calling the doctors office giving them direction and complete authorization for whatever it takes to get Craig into a doctor as soon as possible not only for a consultation, but to make an appointment for the epidural treatment at the same time. I was also in contact with the doctor's office, which by the way, I have not told you yet, the doctor is on vacation for a week, that the medication presently prescribed for Craig is not helping him. In fact, his pain was getting worse. Within a half hour I had a new prescription and the assurance that they were working on getting us an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon who would take a workman comp case. They said I should know something Wednesday.

With the way things have been going.......I'm not so sure.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I'm usually a passive person, I tend to keep my emotions safely locked inside, but it's times like this when I have reached my limit. I think we all know the health care system in this country could use some work. I experienced a bit of it 20 years ago when I had back surgery, but fast forward to today and it hasn't seem to have gotten any better.

We left the doctor's office at 9am Wednesday morning with them assuring us they would be calling for the authorization for the epidural treatment and physical therapy. Wednesday passed, Thursday arrived and we thought we would hear something. By noon I was calling and finding myself with only an answering machine to talk to. By 3pm I was calling again and getting the same answering machine and leaving the same inquiring message as to the status of the authorization. At 4:30 we finally get a callback. Lots of excuses, the person who does the calling was off Wednesday, they were shorthanded on Thursday, but with the assurance that first thing Friday morning the calls would be made.

Friday comes, we wait for the phone to ring, and wait and wait. I call at 3pm and once again get the answering machine. Leave a stern message and receive a phone call back a little over an hour later. From what I can get her to admit, she had just called to get the authorization and had to leave a message. I told her that the insurance people leave at 4pm, so no one would get the message until Monday morning. Thanks for all your help......NOT. I place a quick phone call to our insurance contact person, leaving a message telling her that we desperately need this treatment to get Craig back to being pain free and please call us Monday morning.

At this point I can no longer take watching my husband be in the pain he is in when the muscles spasm and the nerve pain shoots through his body. It is taking a toll on me and my well being. I'm exhausted and we are now heading into our fourth week of dealing with this with no long term relief from the pain. I now officially declare war on the system that has let us down so many times during the past weeks. I will be calling the insurance people in Washington Monday, and will continue to call until we hear something. If need be, I will park my butt in the doctor's office until they do something. At this point, I don't care if every cent we own is used and we go into bankruptcy I will find a doctor and pay for treatment myself.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007


First the good news. Saw the doctor this morning and the MRI did not show any major disc herniation or nerves being pinched. It did show what the back of a 52 year old man looks like. Some arthritis setting in, the discs starting to shrink, and the ligaments enlarged. He said it should get better on it's own, but since there has been no significant improvement since the injury, and Craig is still in the wheelchair, he will be seeking authorization from the insurance company for an epidural treatment. Of course now we are in the holding pattern waiting for the doctor's office to call the insurance company for approval, then trying to get in with an orthopedic specialist to get this treatment administered. But, at least there is no need for surgery and the recovery should be a short 4-6 weeks with physical therapy before Craig can be back in the truck.

So now the bad news. This has been a trying three weeks for us. With all that we went through in Texas, to be able to get back to California, where the weather is way too hot for our liking, it has probably taken with it a bit of our sense of humor. Craig doesn't sit well. He is one to be active all the time and to sit still, even for a movie is asking a lot of him. He is antsy, on edge, and in pain anytime he tries to move. I'm trying with all my might to have the patience of Job, and deal as best as I can with the situation. Craig's parents and my Mom have been a tremendous help to us, to which we could never thank them enough. But as soon as we know when this epidural treatment is schedule, and we have a window of opportunity to get out of the house, I think a trip to the coast will be in store for us. Ahhhhhh, I can almost feel the cool ocean breezes now.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Yes, that's right, we are in the raisin capital of the world, Selma, California. And what do you do when you are? You head to the Sun-Maid Raisin plant and visit their gift shop. While enjoying the many samples of every kind of sugar coated, chocolate covered raisins they had on the counter, we browsed the aisles for goodies we just couldn't ignore and that magically jumped from the shelves to our hands to take home. This was a very nice little side trip to take on our way home from our appointment this morning for Craig's MRI.

I have been very apprehensive about this MRI because I knew that Craig would have to lie flat, something he has been unable to do since his injury. I always knew that if he was unable to endure the pain and lie flat, that we would have to reschedule once again, hence prolonging treatment to help him recover.

About three hours prior to the appointment time I start with his medications and followed up with more when we arrived at the imaging center. After registering at the front desk, we only had a short wait before we were called. I was able to accompany Craig as they wheeled him into one of the rooms. Right away I recognized that it was not a MRI, but an x-ray machine. After a bit of a struggle to get Craig up on the table, I went into the other room with the technician. I asked her why they were taking x-rays when the doctor had ordered a MRI. She looked through the paperwork and saw that they had marked the wrong box and that yes, a MRI was in deed ordered. Can you say Murphy's Law?

Now we have to get Craig up off the x-ray table, back to his wheelchair, and then down to the MRI room where I slipped him another Valium and hoped for the best. Once again, it was a struggle to get Craig up on the MRI table, let alone in a position for the MRI to be performed and for the least amount of pain for Craig. As they slowly slid the table into the machine I said a little prayer and waited around the corner until he was done. I was so thankful and relieved when the technician came out and said they were done and that he was able to get a good picture to send to the doctor for our Wednesday appointment. At this point I think Craig was just as relieved as I was that it was over and that we were one step closer to getting back on the road again.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


If you don't think stress, lack of sleep, and worry doesn't effect your outer appearance, take a look, if you dare, at this photo. I always have felt like I am 25 years old, but honestly, these last two weeks have taken a toll I didn't want to admit until I really looked into the mirror. What I saw scared me. I knew I had to take the time to do something for me, and so I did. I ventured down to my stylist, who has been taking care of all my hair needs for the past 28 years. I trust this person, so when I called her and said I'm coming in, and that she could do whatever she wanted to my hair, she more than welcomed the challenge.

Craig, in his drug induced stupor even accompanied me along on this little adventure. Midway through doing my hair, she even gave Craig a proper haircut. This past year we bought a clipper and Craig, putting his own personal appearance in my hands, allowed me to attempt to keep his hair looking somewhat presentable. So three hours after we arrived, which was filled with many stories of our travels, I left the salon feeling once again like I just might be 25 years old again. After all, as they say, you're only as old as you feel, and today I can say I feel pretty darn good. I'm ready to take on this new week and get Craig onto the super highway of recovery, and actually, it was nice to write about something other than doctors and hospitals for a change.

Friday, August 03, 2007


I've thought about this. I must be an experiment in how much one can take before you crack. But I've decided, instead of cracking, I'll just crack up and laugh about it. It's really the only thing one can do under the circumstances. Craig and I were relaxing this morning, thinking about getting ready for his MRI appointment and the electricity goes out. First thought that comes to my mind was that a circuit breaker went out. Then Craig, always thinking says, all areas of the house would not be out, so it must be something with the electric company. Okay, I'll buy that. From my past history dealing with these things, they only last a few minutes, maybe an hour and then, PRESTO, the power comes back on.

We relax a bit, confident in our assumption that the electricity would be on forth coming. Craig, again with the electronic toys, turns on his scanner, and we hear from the police dispatcher that the power was out citywide and the estimate for the power to return is at 10:30am. Okay, no problem, the appointment isn't until 12:30. Should still have plenty of time. The appointed time comes and goes and still no power. I start thinking of Plan B as the house slowly starts to heat up as the sun rises higher in the sky. We quickly get dressed and then I realize that the garage door opener would not be working. Hoping that the house key also opened up the side garage door, I ventured out into the heat with my fingers crossed. Hurrah! It opened, and I disengage the door from the opener and open up the garage door and move the car out so that I can load Craig and his wheelchair.

My first stop was at the doctor's office where I was to pick up the paperwork for the MRI. Of course their office was dark, and the receptionists were on cell phones calling patients telling them not to come in. I ask for the paperwork, they hand it to me, and calmly inform me that they may not be able to perform the MRI due to the power outage. Not to be sidetracked from my ultimate goal, I take the paperwork and head toward the hospital. Upon entering the darkened hospital and going to the registration desk, they apologetically inform me that the MRI is not operational and that I could reschedule. They had been informed that the best guess for the power to come back on was approximately 2pm. Again, like a mother bear protecting her cub, I informed her that we would like to wait and see if the power returned. I would not be denied this opportunity to get this elusive MRI performed.

As more people arrived for their MRI's and were informed of the circumstances, I was happy to see them leave with a number to call on Monday to reschedule, after all, the computers were also down so no one was able to get another appointment. After waiting 90 minutes, I see the lights come on and my spirits are lifted. Craig's spirits had been pretty high as I was steadily supplying him with his pain medication in anticipation of the MRI being performed. We get called to the desk and informed that yes, the power had been restored, but that the MRI machine could not be calibrated and that we would not be able to have a MRI. On top of that, we would not be able to reschedule at the hospital until next week Friday!

As calmly as I can, and taking into account what we have been through the past two weeks, I beg with the clerk to get us an appointment as soon as possible. Again, as with others I have pleaded with, she came to our aid and called a nearby imaging center in Hanford to pull in a favor. Within minutes we were given a Monday morning appointment. Only one more stop, back at the doctor to confirm that we would still be able to keep the appointment for Wednesday, and that the preliminary MRI report would be available for the doctor, to which they said it would. At last, although it didn't go as planned, we at least were not going to lose any time before treatment could be started.

Looking back over this little adventure we are on, you really have to laugh, because ultimately we really don't much control over the events, and as Craig always says..."It is what it is."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


We finally got the phone call we have been waiting for. The MRI was authorized and is scheduled for Friday, August 3, at 1pm. We are hopeful this will take us on the road to getting Craig the treatment he needs for a full recovery. He has had increased pain the last couple of days as well. I placed a call into the doctor to see if he couldn't be put back on a medication he was prescribed while in the ER in Odessda. He was able to tolerate a 26 hour car ride while on it, and now that he is no longer on it, he is unable to even sit in his wheelchair. He has become a permanent fixture in the recliner which seems to be his best location to get some comfort and lessen the pain which shoots down his legs.

We have adapted well in Selma with his parents, whom we will be forever grateful to for allowing us to invade their home, bringing with us as much from the truck as we could. We even have our satellite dish hooked up and have managed to have the before mentioned recliner moved to the room we are staying in. So we will count down the hours until the MRI as I continue to keep Craig on his pain medication and as comfortable as I possibly can. I'll update again as soon as we have any news to share.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin