Although we love being reunited with our dog, Brighton, it’s put a crimp into our planned globe trotting and cycling trips. We’ve morphed travel into car trips with him. He loves being in the car, he’s mellow about different hotels every night, and he doesn’t seem to mind that we use half his car-specific dog bed (that completely fills the cargo area of our SUV) for some of our gear. We’ve already gotten in several long car trips this year, but had really planned to rev up travel this spring and summer.
Unfortunately, most of our travel has taken a hit this year due to leg injuries.
The Sad Dog Days of Spring
In April Brighton broke his left front wrist (badly enough that he now has several pins in his leg). That kept us fairly house-bound through spring and into early summer. Brighton was pretty stoic about being in a splint for eight weeks and having enforced restricted activity. Starting the week after his surgery he was allowed slow 5 minute walks (about the width of three houses and back). We slowly increased the length of his walks by 5 minutes every two weeks. We were all going a bit stir crazy by the end. We’re happy to report that Brighton seems to have recovered marvelously and only rarely limps now.
When neighbors would see us out for one of his walks and ask what had happened, we started saying, “It was a skydiving accident.” Most folks would just laugh, but every now and then, someone would ask, “Really?” And then we’d feel bad.
Even though they changed his splint every two weeks, it could get pretty dirty, so we bought him a dog bootie to keep it clean. And because he sometimes pees like a girl, we had to put English muffin bags over the splint to keep it dry.
Softball is My Achilles Heel
Joy and I had been planning a multi-month driving excursion (with Brighton) to Alaska this summer. Our plan was to drive up to Seattle, take a multi-day ferry to Anchorage, Alaska, and then drive back home to Oregon by way of lots of adventure hikes and camping. We were particularly looking forward to camping in national parks in Alaska and national forests in the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta. One of the planned highlights (besides staying in Denali National Park for several days) was a trip to Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, famous as the place where bears stand in the river and catch spawning salmon simply by opening their mouths and waiting for fish to jump in.
We’d even purchased this very cool tent that sits on the car rooftop! It’s amazingly comfortable. It literally takes no more than two minutes to set up. 2 minutes. And is just as easy to put away.
Sadly, I ruptured my Achilles tendon (playing softball) and that totally killed our planned Alaska adventure. This is the same injury that basketball superstar Kevin Durant suffered in the playoffs and will cause him to miss all of next year. His injury didn’t seem to affect his free agency, and I’m still waiting for my own $164M to play basketball over the next four years.
Sometimes, when people ask me how I hurt myself, I tell them it was a skydiving accident. They always ask, “Really?” And then I feel bad.
I started off in a splint, and now I’m wearing an orthopedic boot. I decided, at the last minute, against surgery. Even the surgeon was ambivalent about whether I should have surgery. Not too hard a call.
Obviously, our Alaska trip was off. I can’t drive, so Joy would have had to do all 3,500 miles of driving. Hiking is definitely out, as is trying to climb the ladder in and out of the tent. I’ve been wearing this boot for several weeks, and have several more weeks of the boot ahead of me. What really sucks is that the physical therapists insist that I wear the boot while sleeping. Achilles are a long rehab– about six months to get to 90+% and a full year to fully heal. I’m happy that the therapists say I’ll be able to ride a bike relatively soon. At least I’m mostly not in pain, though there are positions and movements that still make me gasp.
And in case, you’re wondering, no, I don’t pee like a girl, and we don’t have to wrap my leg in English muffin bags. On the other hand, I do slip my leg into a pillowcase at night to keep the sheets clean.
In the meantime, we’re already making plans to get to Alaska in 2021.