Saturday, April 10, 2021

Novel Anniversary Gift

April 9th was our 6th wedding anniversary, on which I got my COVID-19 vaccine.  In Oregon, I was only eligible for a vaccine, right now, through the Veterans Administration, and I was eligible through them only because I am married to Jay, a vet.  Hence, I considered the vaccine an anniversary gift from Jay!  Lucky me!

Below, Jay is pointing to the bandaid over the vaccine site, during our daily walk:

May you get a novel gift, that isn’t the novel coronavirus. . .

leora

Monday, April 20, 2020

My Dad's passing


A week has passed since my Dad passed away, and I think that it might be time to admit to myself that he’s gone.   Yes, with my family I wrote an obituary, and emailed it out, and wrote out the details (see below) of the slideshow that my sister-in-law so kindly put together, but stuff like this, I seem to sort of compartmentalize, and I think that by sending this out to you all, it will be a true acknowledgement (emotionally) that he’s no longer here.
 
Memories from the far past continually pour into my mind:
  • the time when we were creating portmanteaus (one word from two) (a local Detroit weatherman, Sonny Elliot, was always doing that with weather words), so we were doing simple ones like breakfast + lunch becomes brunch!  And then my Dad said, “how about ‘sharp’ and ‘witty’”, and before we could say the obvious, he said “warp”!  Somehow, that was hysterically funny, and that memory, created while we were in the car, going south on Van Dyke (at the time, M-53), near Rapp’s Orchard in Romeo, just sticks in my head and pops out at random times
  • my Dad teaching my brother and me how to replace a window pane after we broke one while playing with each other
  • my Dad working on his PhD:
    • building models of molecules,
    • building and then using dark rooms for developing photos of I don’t remember what (in addition to developing black and white family portraits)
    • taking the bus with him to go to ballet class while he went to class, during the part of his PhD that required classes
    • the one time I went with him to one of the classes, and thinking that I understood something because they said the word “nylon” and I knew what nylons were!  Except, of course, I didn’t. 
    • him coming home and making a “poor man’s cake”, because he saw the eggless chocolate cake recipe on the bus.  Many of my friends are quite familiar with it, because that’s pretty much the only cake that I make.
    • my coming to the conclusion that I never wanted to get a PhD because I didn’t want to have to work as hard as my Dad did to get it.  I didn’t realize, at the time, that he did it in record time, even though he had us (his family) sapping some of his time and energy.
  • Fun and work at our farm:
    • Cutting down trees
    • Planting trees
    • Boating, fishing, swimming – sometimes with friends and relatives, sometimes with just us
    • Gardening
    • Dealing with grapes – I found them yummy, but my folks used most of them to make wine
    • Having roast corn on the cob, fresh from the garden with lots of relatives
  • Dad playing chess  (I learned to play, but was no match for him)
  • The early adopter:
    • Dad loved taking photos, and he was always adopting the latest technologies:
      • Instamatics
      • Videos
      • Videos with SOUND!
    • Dad built a heathkit computer long before the IBM PC came around AND wrote all of the programs to do whatever was needed, because things like Microsoft Word and Excel didn’t exist, yet.
Then there are the memories from the not-so-far past:
  • My parents' visits to my houses in New Jersey or Oregon were rare, and always involved some big project.  In New Jersey, it was fixing the front walk, and in Oregon, it was building bookshelves.
  • All of our travel vacations – there were very few of them, since the farm was the normal place for vacations:
    • Yellowstone and Craters of the Moon when we were kids
    • Israel, visiting sites and relatives, after my first year of college
    • A cruise up the inside passage of Alaska in the late summer, after I graduated from college (we figured that it would be our last family vacation – my brother was also available for this one)
    • A trip to England and Scotland – I particularly remember a chance walking “tour” that we took with a bunch of walkers in England who were getting a chance to visit a bunch of farms.  When I mistook them for a group touring a castle ruin, they invited us along.  The fellow who invited us was 84, so my Dad wanted a picture of him, as his Dad was the same age at the time.  A sort of a “you don’t *have* to be “old” at 84” kind of picture.  And now, that’s as long as he, himself, lasted. . .
    • And finally, a cruise around New Zealand, ending up in Sydney, Australia, before heading home.  By then, he was already having memory creation issues, and when I asked him to say one thing, specifically, that he remembered from the trip, he finally came up with “flying monkeys”.  I wracked my brain, trying to think of what he could possibly have meant, and finally, I realized that he was remembering the “flying foxes” as they are called in Australia, or: fruit bats.  They are HUGE.  And they were everywhere in the botanical park that I encouraged my parents to go and see before we returned to the US.
I also remember that he loaned me his SLR camera, after teaching me how to use it, so that I could take pictures when my girlfriend, Jeannie, and I made a trip to Taiwan to visit her family.  My parents wanted me to take pictures since they knew that they would never go, but were still interested to see what I saw, there.

And then there are the memories of the very, very recent past.  Thankfully, I was in Michigan for the month of February, so I got to see him every day.  Whenever we did a transfer from his wheelchair to anything other than the walker, we got to dance, together – something that my brother had suggested worked really well.  Indeed, it did work well – as we’d rock side to side and I’d “lead” him to the destination.

While he lost his ability to make memories, he never lost his ability to make jokes.  He was constantly saying things that would make us laugh.  He always had a quip for the doctors. For example, one day, a doctor came in and asked him how he was doing, and his response was "I was hoping that you would tell me!"  But, alas, no more quips.  

I think that this may be what memorial services are for – for everyone to get together and go through their memories, and send their loved one on, in their mind, as well as in fact.  However, I’ve always hated memorial services.  Probably because I’m an introvert, and having so many people in one place at one time just saps the energy out of me, even if I really enjoy each individual conversation that I have with everyone.  So maybe it’s fitting that I don’t have to deal with a formal memorial service at this exact time?  Or maybe I’m just searching for that silver lining in what is really a dreadful situation.  I’m very sorry that I can’t be together with my Mom, and help her with the myriad of end of life duties that she’s stuck with.  It’s easier to divvy all of those up if we’re together.  FaceTime is great for “seeing” one another, but we don’t have the remote hug perfected, yet. . .

So Dad, I’m glad that your suffering (from Covid-19) is over, but I’m so sorry that it had to be in this way.  You survived heart attacks and strokes and a cardiac arrest, kidney issues and more, but the virus is the thing that finally took the wind out of you, most literally.  Yes, please, rest in peace.

We do still intend to have a proper memorial service after all of -this- is over.  I know that no one is really totally unaffected by the coronavirus, and many are suffering in unfathomable ways.  Love to all, and virtual hugs to you all.

Here’s the detail of the slideshow.  You can click on the gear (settings) on the lower right hand corner of the video and make it “HD” (for High definition):
and you can go to full screen by clicking on that “expansion” box, right next to it.  (This is in Facebook - you don’t need a Facebook account to see it, but you might need to press “not right now” if it asks you if you want to go to Leslie Gregory’s page.)  The slideshow is also on the FischerFuneral site, as well, but the quality of the one on Facebook is better.

Others included in the video include Trudy, Leslie and wife Sherri, and Leora and husband Jay; good friend, Evelyn Raiter; Evelyn’s parents; Ralph’s brothers Ron & Bob; Bob’s family (Nancy, Allison, Daniel); Ralph’s parents (Tillie and Leonard); and Family dogs: Prometheus, Orion, and Hestia

If not specified, below, then the photo contains Ralph, and one or more of: Trudy, Leslie, Leora

The number on the left is the video time marker visible when your mouse hovers over the video timeline. (You can drag the marker to specific positions).
0:33 Ralph & Bob after successfully felling a tree AWAY from their farmhouse.    
1:06 Evelyn Raiter’s parents and Trudy and Ralph (in Nebraska)
1:52 Ralph with Evelyn Raiter to his right (folkdancing at Detroit’s Meadowbrook)
2:32 Prometheus & Ralph
2:38 Ralph and his parents (Tillie and Leonard)
2:40 Ralph and Trudy, standing; and down in front: Sherri, Allison, Daniel, Leslie
2:45 Ralph on the roof and Ron (standing on scaffolding)
2:48 Ralph and Orion
2:54 Leslie & Sherri’s wedding: Back row: Leora, Bob, Nancy; Middle Row: Trudy, Ralph; Front: Sherri, Leslie
2:57 Ron, Bob, Ralph
3:01 Standing: Sherri, Leslie, Leora, Jay; Seated Trudy, Ralph
3:04 Standing: Jay, Leora, Trudy, Sherri, Leslie;  Recovering from Heart surgery: Ralph
3:08 Bob, Ralph, Ron
3:13 Bob, Nancy, Trudy, Ralph, Ron, Alice
3:17 Jay, Leora, Ralph, Trudy, Sherri, Leslie
3:21 Jay in the background; Ralph and Bob
3:29 L to R around table: Leslie, Ralph, Trudy, Jay, Leora, Sherri
3:33 Standing: Sherri, Leslie, Leora, Jay;  Seated:Trudy and Ralph
3:38 Leora, Leslie, Trudy, Ralph in sweaters we’ve all had for about 40 years
3:50 Hestia and Ralph having a conversation
3:58 Sherri, Leslie, Trudy, and Ralph at the memory care facility where Ralph had lived since November of 2017
4:02 Ralph getting a visit from Hestia and Trudy (2/28/2020)
4:05 Ralph and Leora (2/16/2020)
4:10 Last documented hug and kiss. . .  The memory care facility lockdown hoping to avoid the spread of COVID-19 happened just a few weeks after this.  Alas, the lockdown was not enough to stop the spread of the virus.

And, finally, this is the obituary that also appears on the Fischer Funeral website:
Ralph Lawrence Gregory, age 84, of Saginaw, passed away Sunday, April 12, 2020, at Covenant HealthCare from complications due to Covid-19.
The son of Leonard Joseph and Tillie Gregory, Ralph was born on September 7, 1935, in Detroit, Michigan.
Ralph was a devoted husband, first and foremost, and all of his hobbies complemented Trudy’s.  For example, he liked to build things and she liked to grow cacti, so he built a greenhouse for her.  He loved to photograph, so took pictures of all of her plants as well as family portraits and vacation photos.  He had a great sense of humor that made the whole family laugh.
Ralph graduated from Utica High School in 1953.  He finished his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Michigan after his January 20, 1957 marriage to Trudy, and then supported her, and subsequently, two kids, while Trudy went to medical school.  After she became a physician, and was secure in a job, Ralph went back to school and, after only three years, earned his PhD in Chemistry, at Wayne State University.  The research prompted him to create a darkroom at home where he became adept at developing micrographs and photographs (well before the time of digital photos!), and there-after he became the family photographer.
Ralph’s career was predominantly working at Ford Paint and Vinyl Plant where he developed various materials/fabrics and bonded materials for the interiors and exteriors of vehicles.  He worked there until 1991, after 32 years.  In 1993, he moved on to TV production where he and Trudy produced 12 episodes of Bloomtime and a program describing the work of Master Gardeners. 
As they were both retired, they figured they’d spend more time on their farm. There they planted a chestnut orchard in 2003, at the beginning of the chestnut industry in Michigan and wound up in the chestnut business!  It produced hundreds of pounds of chestnuts yearly, which they picked, processed, and sold, until 2013.  Following serious health issues, they moved to Saginaw to live closer to their son and daughter-in-law.
Ralph’s hobbies and talents were numerous: building furniture, model airplanes, cars, and ships; stamp and coin collecting; baking and cooking; playing chess; swimming, boating, shooting; photography; doing major landscaping, including a waterfall and pond at the Romeo home with in-situ boulders. In 1979, he built his own computer from a kit which now resides in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI.  Ralph wrote his own programs, using one to produce Macomb Audubon’s Earthstar newsletter, of which he was the editor for nine years.  He seemed to know how to maintain and fix anything and everything.  A real Whiz-kid, even in his later years, and all with his punster humor.
Ralph is survived by his beloved wife, Gertrude “Trudy” Gregory; dear children, Leslie (Sherri) Gregory and Leora (Jay Avery) Gregory; brothers, Leonard Ronald “Ronnie” Gregory and Robert (Nancy) Gregory, and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Beatrice Milne, and his parents.
Out of concern for the health and well-being of those family and friends who wish to pay their respects and celebrate a life well-lived, Ralph’s family plans to hold a memorial service at a later date to be announced.   Meanwhile, all are encouraged to leave a tribute and/or your favorite photo by going to this page. In lieu of flowers, please consider giving donations in Ralph’s memory to The Nature Conservancy (https://nature.org), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (https://www.pcrm.org), or Action on Smoking and Health (https://ash.org/).
Dad was cremated.  The burial of the urn will take place at a future date.
We are truly thankful for the wonderful and courageous doctors, nurses, and aides who took care of Ralph.  Their care was thoughtful, and extraordinary, with numerous video calls that allowed us some semblance of closeness, without actually being in the room.
To express your condolences, or add to the photo collection, please visit www.fischerfuneral.com, or go directly to my Dad's page
May your fond memories be many,
leora





Thursday, April 09, 2020

Official 5th anniversary photo

Our official 5th anniversary photo.  For the future, so that we remember why we weren't on Mt. Hood for this anniversary. . .  The 5th anniversary is the "wooden" anniversary, something I learned after we took the picture (Jay knew, though, and hence his suggestion of this background!).



Thursday, May 24, 2018

Milestones attained, in spite of struggles


I had the fortune of hitting nice round number milestones, completely by happenstance: my 60th successful summit of Mt. Hood on my 200th successful summit of *any* mountain out of 250 attempts on *any* mountain (92 of which have included Jay!).  Jay “merely” attained his 98th successful summit of Mt. Hood (out of who knows how many hundreds of climbs!):
(click on any picture to enlarge)

We’re shown above with the shadow of Mt. Hood stretched out on the clouds, below, and the early morning sunshine (barely ½ hour after sunrise) catching one of the outcroppings near the summit.  I love the texture of the clouds, center left of the photo – see that bit of a swirl in there?

Jay is clutching his trademark drink.  If we just go on a one-day climb, there’s always the sound of pssssssssfffffftttttttt, as he opens the bottle in the low pressure atmosphere as we climb higher, which tends to make everyone laugh after they whip their heads around, trying to figure out where that sound is coming from.

So, what’s this about struggles?

After our success on Mauna Kea, marking the end to our 50 state highest points project, we climbed Mauna Loa, also on the Big Island in Hawaii.  On the way down off of Mauna Kea, and then, again, down off of Mauna Loa, I not only suffered from altitude sickness, but my left knee hurt terribly by the end of each climb.  I figured that I’d get it looked into, after I got back home.  Well, the very next hike that we did, now on the island of Kauai, resulted in a slip of some sort on the rain-slicked mud, and me tearing the meniscus of my left knee.  After a torturous 4 hour descent of only 2500ft, and about 2.5 miles, which normally would have taken us less than 2 hours, if that, we made it to the car, but we were unable to do any more climbing or any significant hiking, after that, for the rest of the month that we were in Hawaii.  That meant that the long-planned-for Na Pali coastal hike was out (for which we’d bought a relatively expensive permit), as was all of the other hiking we’d planned or anticipated while there.  We consoled ourselves with snorkeling a good deal, instead, which was also gentle on my knee.

After we returned home, I got the meniscus tear diagnosed and started up on physical therapy.  We then took off on a trip to Germany to visit Jay’s sister and her husband, and took in Iceland using Icelandic Air’s generous no-extra-airfare-fee long lay-overs in Iceland enroute.  And then, after getting home, and both of us dealing with a cold for about 3 weeks, went off on a trip to Michigan, where the flat landscape turned out beneficial for allowing me to finally go on long walks. 

I brought with me to Michigan (where my family still resides), a sweater that my immediate family all had acquired some 40 or so years, prior, and we took this photo to celebrate my parents’ 61st wedding anniversary:
Too bad we never took a similar picture 40 years ago!  That would have been pretty funny!

After returning to Oregon, I finally was able to see an orthopedist, who seemed to think that my time was up – no more backpacking/hiking/climbing  - I needed to think about winding down, he seemed to indicate.  Even though I *knew* that that should not be the outcome, it made me afraid to do more because of either re-injury or worse outcomes.  I kept telling him that’s not an acceptable response to my situation (it turns out that I have some osteoarthritis in my knee), until he eventually offered that an off-loading brace might help me out.  The osteoarthritis is affecting the cartilage in the inside part of my knee, so the brace makes it so that when I walk, the force is transferred to the outside (good) part of my knee.  That seemed to make long, hilly walks doable.  My physical therapist suggested other providers for me to talk to.  I talked to them, and wound up getting a cortisone shot in my knee, which seems to have made some things better.

Jay and I decided that I should try a previously planned climb of Mt. St. Helens.  To reduce the descent, Jay and I packed in and stayed overnight partway up the mountain.  Here’s our mountain home, with the clouds rolling in the background:

We were joined, the next day, by the rest of the team.  After getting to the summit (Mt. Adams in the distance, and the northeastern part of the St. Helens crater rim, behind us – Photo Credit: Teresa Redman):
we glissaded (sat on our butts and slid down) a good part of the upper mountain.  But, alas, the snow got so soft, that we would sink into the snow faster than we could slide down it!  So, we had to do a bunch of walking to get back to camp.  I used the brace for the descent, and it seemed effective. 

When we got to our camp, it was a mess.  We’d specifically left the tent open, so that if a rodent or creature wanted to get in, they wouldn’t have to chew holes into it.  Well, the ravens tore through it, anyway – pulling a sleeping bag out of one hole that they made, puncturing the air mattress (still working on repairing that!), and taking off with all of Jay’s food (including the freezed dried stuff!).  This meant that we had to pack out that night – thus negating the whole point of packing in – which was to avoid doing the complete descent in one day. . . 

Fortunately, my knee stayed relatively happy that whole climb, and the next day, and even the following day, until the end of our daily walk, and then wow-eee!  A new hurt came on strong in a new place.  I could barely walk for several days.  Fortunately, the pain subsided, and I was able to start walking again.  We decided to risk another climb when the weather and conditions appeared to be favorable for the Hood climb.

Again, after getting to the summit, I donned my brace, and headed down.  This climb, however, was more technical, and I had to do a maneuver that I’d not needed to do on any of the previous hikes or climbs, and searing pain ran through the back of my knee.  Here I was, in the crux of the climb, and in a tight spot that everyone going up or down needed to go through, and I just wanted to stop.  I realized that I had to get through it, so, I just cringed and bore it until I got to a flat spot, which fortunately wasn’t too far away.  

The brace is bulky, so I can’t just put it on my skin, and put tights, long johns, or even some pants on top of it, I have to put it on top of them, but each bit of apparel is a different thickness, and it turns out that what I wore seemed to be too thick for the current adjustment of the brace, so it was over-correcting.  I decided to take it off before doing the rest of the descent, in hopes that the pain would ease.  It did.  Alas, we were on the mountain so early in the morning, that at that elevation, the snow was quite crusty, so we couldn’t glissade (thus saving my knee) until we got much further down.  I worried that I would pound my knee too much, so I glissaded in spite of the poor conditions, until the lack of steepness forced me to walk, again.  We took it much slower than we normally do, so that the knee wouldn’t be pounding so much.  It must have made a difference, because I didn’t suffer major pain in the following days.

I did, however, talk to my physical therapist, Lynne, who patiently explained what the “new hurt” was that I had experienced a couple of days after the St. Helens descent, and kindly informed me that likely my muscles were not really in condition for climbing.  I went in to see her shortly thereafter, and she confirmed that I wasn’t up to snuff, and has given me a ton of exercises to do to strengthen the muscles that should help to put less strain on my knee.  Oh, for the days when all of this stuff was easy – and just doing what I wanted to do was enough to ready all of my muscles. . .

May your “easy” days last as long as possible. . .

leora

Saturday, September 09, 2017

We completed our 50 state highest points project!



We did it!!!  Just a little over a year ago, when we completed 49 out of the 50 highest points in each state, I did a write-up: 49 continental state highest points complete.  We still had the highest point of one last state to attain: Hawai’i!  And, at last, we did it!

Two days ago, we first attained it when the grandson of my now former neighbor, Cathy, drove us nearly to the top, and we all sauntered over to the true summit.  Knowing how this would engender ridicule and scorn from our hiking and climbing buddies, we then went back, yesterday, and hiked the 6-plus miles (9.6km) and 4,800 ft (1463 meters) to the summit from the Visitor Center.  The weather, yesterday, wasn’t as ideal as the previous day, so we couldn’t see as much.  Here are the two “couple” summit photos from each day.  This first one is from September 6th (when we had Mark to take our photo!) – Mauna Loa is the mountain in the distance:
And then this one from September 7th – since we arrived later in the day, we had to change the background, so that the sun’s direction would be more favorable to the photo, so you can see some of the many buildings that litter the summit area (besides, Mauna Loa wasn’t visible, due to the clouds):


And, as many of you know, I’ve been using our state highest point achievements to bring awareness to Juvenile Myositis (a sometimes fatal autoimmune disease affecting children) by taking a photo of a Cure JM banner supplied years ago by a friend whose son had the disease and has since passed away due to it.  Photos with the banner at all of the highpoints can be seen here (this is public, you don’t have to belong to Facebook to see it).  Here is the Hawai’i Cure JM photo:

A fascinating thing about this state high point is the myriad of antennas, arrays of antennas, telescopes, and observatories that are on the top of this mountain.  These buildings are all HUGE.  The mountain is also HUGE!  Note the red color:

From the summit (on the 6th, when it was clearer!), we could see Maui!  (I’m assuming that it’s actually the top of Haleakala’s crater):
The following is typical scenery for the whole top 1000 ft or so of the mountain:
This was near Lake Waiau at 13,020ft, one of the highest lakes in the US – what I found fascinating is that there was still flora up here:

I’m including this photo because it shows some of the trail we took to the summit.  In the distance, you can see the road to the summit:

Almost all of the signs on the mountain have these holes in them – presumably so that the wind doesn’t blow them over:


May you succeed in your long term goals/projects!

Leora

Friday, April 28, 2017

Patience with injury



I’ve discovered that my patience with an injury to me is almost non-existent.  On March 8th, we were happily hiking with friends in the local Columbia Gorge, where it tends to be easy to get multiple thousands of feet of elevation in, in a reasonable hike.  We were headed back down the trail, when I managed to lose my balance and do a face-first dive into some rocks.  When I stopped, I became acutely aware that while I hadn’t smashed my face, something was very wrong.  I’m not sure if it was the searing pain or what, but I became aware that I’d likely dislocated my right shoulder.

Jay was able to remove my backpack, somehow, and began to wonder how he’d stabilize my arm for the couple of miles that we had left to return to the cars.  I decided to try to sit up, and as I did so, my shoulder popped back into place!  I still remember the wave of relief that washed over me.  The extreme pain had disappeared, and left behind extreme apprehension of a reoccurrence.  In addition, I discovered that not ALL of the pain had disappeared.  There still was quite a bit, and my right arm wasn’t exactly mobile.  I descended the trail with Jay carrying both of our backpacks, Dyanne carrying my 2nd pole, and with my right arm at my side.  When we finished the rest of the descent, I finally remembered that I could use my jacket as a sling, and put my right arm inside of my jacket and zipped it up.  That made me much more comfortable.  When we went by a patch of snow, Gary suggested that we make an ice pack.  Mark whipped out a zip-lock bag, and someone filled it with snow, and that was placed inside my jacket on my shoulder. 

After dumping off the crew at our carpool location, Jay and I went on to urgent care, where they took x-rays, told me that I’d not broken anything, gave me a sling, and sent me on my way.

I found out that the pain was lessened by sometimes hanging my arm at my side, so I did that.  Since it was my dominant arm, I re-discovered how useful that arm and hand tends to be in daily life, and how useful having a shoulder is, as well.  Putting on or taking off *any* clothes or shoes; brushing teeth, flossing; eating; closing car doors; putting on seat belts; etc.  I was happy that within a week I’d gained some use of my arm. 

And then, I finally got to see an orthopedic guy.  He broke the news to me that I did, in fact, have a broken bone (a little chip off of the glenoid – part of the socket that head of the upper arm bone (humerus) sits in), and that I also had a dent in the humerus head (also known as a Hill-Sachs lesion), and that I’d likely have to have surgery to fix those things resulting in many months of rehab.  But the good news, he thought, was that everything else seemed to be ok, but just to check, he sent me off to have an MRI and gave me some exercises to do.  The MRI wasn’t able to happen until a while later, so about 3 weeks after the accident, I learned that I also had a little tear in one of my rotator cuff muscles, but the suggestion was that that was no big deal, as it would heal.  I was referred to a surgeon and after a lot of miscommunication, finally got to see one, yesterday. 

By now, with help from my physical therapist who is also a climbing friend, my shoulder was starting to feel MUCH better, my range of motion was good, and I was getting stronger.  She kept telling me that I wasn’t ready to climb, though, and that I needed to have patience – these things take a while to heal.  I was still teaching mountaineering, and, last weekend, unthinkingly started digging with my ice-axe and noticed that I could feel my shoulder.  That made me realize that it wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but I still was under the illusion that just another week or so, and I’d be able to climb, again.

Anyway, it was with this mindset that I saw the surgeon, who specializes in shoulders.  She listened to me tell her what I do, and that it is important that it not re-occur, she felt my shoulder, and had me do a number of things, and then we looked at the x-rays and MRIs, together, while she explained to me what she saw.  She thought that the bones all looked very good, that the little dent was not too concerning because of how small it is, and that the little chip was so tiny, that it, too, did not merit surgery.  She pointed out that just going in there, moving around the muscle to try to find that little chip, which is so small that she wouldn’t even be able to put a screw in it, would cause way more damage than currently existed.  When we looked at the MRIs, she showed me that even though my humerus head wasn’t broken, it did get badly “shaken up” and that the blood was rushing in there to try to fix the damage.  And she showed me all of the damage that the various muscles had, but that, given what happened, that I really lucked out.  The damage was quite minimal.  However, it WAS damaged.  And. . . that damage takes a while to heal.  When I told her what I’d done with the digging, she cringed.  When, in conversation, I waved my arm back, she cringed, again.  She told me that I was doing too much, too fast.  When I told her that I thought that the bone would heal in what, two weeks or so, so that by now, 7 weeks later, surely it was fine?, she cringed, yet again, and told me no – it takes a long time.  That, really, while it should all heal with rest, if I do too much, too fast, that I’ll cause it to take longer to heal in the long run.  When I pressed her for how much longer I should expect it to take, she said at *least* another 6 weeks.  I can’t remember what I said, exactly, but I happened to mention “a year”, and when I did, she nodded her head and said, “yes, that is typically how long it takes for it to be all better”. . .

So, the good news is. . . it *should* all heal, and it *should* all heal without surgery.  And I don’t know what in the heck I did, yesterday, but I seem to have delivered a little set-back, because today, it actually hurts.

The other good news is that I *can* hike, but I do need to be careful in that, and in everyday activities, to avoid re-damaging or annoying the whole shoulder.  I think that I’m going to have to just assume that I won’t be able to climb for a year, and concentrate on rehabilitating the shoulder during that whole time.

I was upset that we couldn’t do our annual wedding anniversary climb in April, but I know that there are far worse things that could have happened, so I’m going to TRY to be patient. . .

Because I can still hike, we should be able to finish up our little project of getting to the highest (natural) point in each of the 50 states when we go to Hawaii in September and October.  (Of course, given that there is a road to the highest point in Hawaii, Muana Kea, we should be able to succeed no matter what, but our preference is to hike up it.)

I’ve also discovered that apparently about 50% of my friends have dislocated or damaged their shoulder, or know someone who has.   I’ve appreciated hearing all of the stories.

May you have good health AND be injury-free!

leora