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My Life in the Pain Lane–Further (Mis)Adventures in Medical Care

Anyway, life in the pain lane refers to the not quite 3 months I have been dealing with a painful leg. On October 1 2011 I fell and banged the living daylights out of my right knee. I’ve referred to this earlier, specifically in these posts: and

Over the last three months, my leg has gotten worse and worse to the point I actually asked my doctor to authorize a wheelchair (for those of you that care, he refused to authorize a wheelchair –he said that people who start using a wheelchair rarely if ever get out of it once they start using it and that they generally go downhill fast; I had already heard that from a friend).

But he did agree to authorize a four wheeled walker similar to this or this

My insurance won’t cover it, and a walker that is rated for my weight (which is none of your damn business ROFL) runs anywhere from $155.00 to $189.00 not including shipping.

I’ve seen 3 doctors (I have seen my primary care physician at least 4 times). I’ve had an ultrasound of the entire leg (to rule out additional blood clots) and an x-ray of the knee plus 3 x-rays of the entire leg. I am scheduled for a sleep apnea test on January 9 2012 and waiting for a referral to an orthopedist (probably in January 2012 also)

Everything is normal……..except for the fact that my leg hurts all the time.

I was originally prescribed generic Vicodin for the pain. It helped me sleep, but it made me weepy (24/7 waterworks –except when I was sleeping — is not my idea of fun!). I take Trazodone and generic extra-strength Tylenol to help me sleep. I was also prescribed Tramodol for pain, but the side effects (drowsiness and dizziness) have scared me off of taking it.

So I started out with severe knee pain (which has gone away); I then progressed (or digressed, depending on your point of view) to 1) severe inguinal (thigh and groin) pain 2) tingling in the side of the calf 3) foot falling asleep easily 4) muscles up and down the back of the entire leg feeling like they have either swollen or contracted (never relaxed). My leg hurts from my rear end to my ankle, mostly the back of the leg and in the inguinal area. However, tonight I got up from a long nap and my thigh had decided that the rest of the leg was having too much fun and that it needed to join the party!

Walking on the bad leg is problematical because I am right-dominant, and its my right leg that is injured. My left leg is taking up some of the slack but my whole body is out of whack due to the right leg. I have to stop after 5-10 (a maximum of 15) steps and either just stop or bend over and say ‘s–t, that hurts’ or ‘d–n, that hurts.’ Usually, I also have back pain and pain in the gluteus maximus, sometimes to the point that I have to sit on the ground or on the floor to temporarily relieve the pain

This is exacerbated by the fact that I do not have transportation other than the local bus–the nearest stop is a 5-10 minute walk from my house. Sometimes I take taxicabs, but its been $8.00 — $10.00 (not including gratuities) each way no matter where I go. I normally earn $85.00 per week and get paid twice a month — that doesn’t stretch to cover very many taxis. Nor does it stretch to cover a new walker that is rated for my weight (I hate to harp on the weight issue, but even the ones that are rated for 300 pounds really only support people up to 275 pounds–I can’t wait until I lose 30 pounds to start using the walker, there would be no point in even buying it, since even if I was crash dieting–which is not healthy–it would take a month and a half to lose that much weight, and I’m in pain NOW)

I am becoming more sedentary because of the pain which is not good for the leg, or for my other health issues (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetes {type 2} just to name a few). Also, its next to impossible to lose weight without being able to get some regular (3 x – 4x a week) exercise, and I usually walk once or twice a week (to the bus stop, to Safeway from the bus transfer station and back, and then to my house from the bus stop). These are 5-10 minute walks at most (usually interrupted by frequent stops because of the pain) and while they may raise my heart rate for a short time which is healthy they are not enough to consistently help with weight loss.

Sitting on the toilet hurts! And not to be gross, but its that time of the month. I do not like sitting on the toilet to insert tampons as I prefer to squat on the floor. I cannot squat long enough to successfully insert a tampon — the pain is so great I nearly fall over (so I’ve given up and sit on the toilet and swear about it)

I hurt when sitting–other than sitting on the floor or the ground. I hurt when walking. I hurt when sleeping — although not as much as when I do anything else, partially thanks to lying down and partially thanks to generic Tylenol and Trazodone

The last time I did laundry it took me 10 days (I kid you not!) to get 3 loads done. You see, I don’t have a working clothes dryer, and its 1/16 of a mile (maybe even less) walking distance to the clubhouse where there is a working clothes dryer. ONE walk to the clubhouse wore me flat out. My laundry would still be sitting in laundry baskets in the clubhouse if I hadn’t asked the park manager to retrieve it for me.

A friend suggested that I post here asking for suggestions to 1) ease the pain, preferably using natural methods or herbal supplements as I already take 15 prescription medicines for various ailments 2) get a walker that is rated for my weight (that won’t break the budget) 3) make walking easier. As usual, spam is NOT welcome — and again I earn $85.00 per week and my insurance does not cover most medical equipment so please consider those things when linking to (again) non-spam solutions or (again) non-spam possible solutions.

The things that I have tried so far or have been recommended to me by friends

1) I emailed my local Lions club to ask for help with the cost of the walker (no response yet)
2) I contacted a site called One Blue Rose to ask for help with the cost of the walker (no response yet)
3) A friend suggested that I take magnesium supplements, and I plan on buying these with my next paycheck (January 6 2011)
4) Another friend suggested that I get more exercise, less sleep (I would welcome ideas on exercises that would gently strengthen the leg without killing me)
5) I recently bought a wheeled cart that will allow me to haul groceries and laundry without having to be a total pack mule!
6) Money is always gratefully accepted (JUST KIDDING FOLKS!)

Other considerations: The muscles are not atrophying (yet) as I do move around the house on a regular basis and I do walk to the bus stop and back, from the transfer station and back at least once a week)

No I Am NOT Getting Paid to Write Anything Here.

Are you getting paid money for writing this – or will you do it without getting paid?

Most of the posts are my ‘opinions’ or my ‘experiences’ or my ‘thoughts’– with some links added if they are needed — which the commenter would realize if he/she/it read (and comprehended) any of the posts.

I don’t write for SEO (search engine optimization) and I don’t write for money on either of my blogs. I write for the sheer joy of putting my thoughts, feelings, experiences on paper (virtual or otherwise). I write because I am a damn good writer, and that’s not just MY opinion. I write because I need to get the feelings and experience and sometimes the thoughts out of my mind–it’s called venting. Some people vent by yelling, some people vent by writing, and still other people vent by leaving vaguely insulting comments on blogs.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the TOTALLY INSANE!!

Yes, this is a rant. A good old-fashioned rant that has been brewing for a while.

The Good #1: On November 15 2011, I was waiting (somewhat patiently) for traffic to clear on 15th street so I could cross and get to the bus stop which is about two long blocks down the street. There was a lot of traffic, and I had resigned myself to being there for days LOL. Then a northbound truck stopped for me, and almost immediately a southbound truck stopped for me too. The drivers of the passenger vehicles were ticked off, but they couldn’t get around the trucks. I said “thank you” loudly and promptly scooted my boots across the street!

The Good #2: On November 21 2011, I was able to walk to the bus stop without stopping (5-10 minutes) and on the way home I only needed to stop once. I was able to walk from the transfer station to Safeway and back again without stopping and without using a grocery cart as support. I was able to do a normal grocery shopping without having to sit on the floor at least once. This is notable because since I fell on October 1 2011 my thigh pain and back pain has meant that not only do I stop numerous times while walking, I usually have to sit on the floor at Safeway at least once and if there is a shopping cart available I use it as a crutch while walking between the bus stop and Safeway.

The Good #3: On Saturday night (November 20 2011) my radio station went to dead air. It was supposed to be Tom Kent’s Ultimate Party ( but after 15 minutes all I had heard was commercials and dead air. Then I tried to play my 70s Radio Hits CD but somehow it had become corrupted–really was mad about that because there are a lot of songs on that CD that I love. So I dug out a bunch of old CDs–Enya, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Windham Hill mixes, country mixes, Vince Gill, Ventura Highway. All of this was a nice break from oldie rock n roll–which I love–but I’d forgotten how much I truly like country music and new age music. Saturday night I listened mostly to the Enya CDs–I am sure my rock n roll loving roommate was in his bedroom throwing up ROFL!! Sunday I listened to Enya again, and threw in the Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Windham Hill mixes, and Vince Gill.

The Bad #1: Friday November 18 2011 I called Mountain High Coins and Collectibles ( to ask if 14K gold PLATED jewelry had any value. I was told that it was worth $20.00 per ounce, so I decided to take my 14K gold PLATED herringbone necklace and 10K gold PLATED watch to the store today (Monday November 21 2011). Now–as I’ve stated before on this very blog–I have no transportation other than the bus which becomes really germane to this rant in just a bit. I worked this morning from 6 am to 8 am and then had a Skype interview for another job (full time, $9.00 per hour) at 9 am (I had taken a shower and washed my hair in between getting off work and starting the interview, so that my hair would be dry when I left to catch the bus–around 10:45 am). I probably arrived at Mountain High Coins and Collectibles ( around 11:30 am — shortly thereafter I was rudely informed that they don’t buy gold PLATED jewelry because the plating is so thin that its not cost-effective to remove it. Now I don’t have a problem with the gold plated jewelry not having any value — but I do have a problem with mixed messages, rudeness, lack of professionalism, and appallingly bad customer service (especially from a store where I have never received anything other than excellent customer service before). When I mentioned that I’d called on Friday to ask if gold PLATED jewelry had any value, the woman behind the counter first said “you called us, correct?” and when I replied in the affirmative, she said “I don’t know who you talked to, but there is no value to what you have.” Again, she was rude and unprofessional–and her message of ‘you are LYING about calling US’ came through loud and clear.

Now if I had transportation of my own (car, bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, etc) this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I don’t have any kind of a vehicle. So I am stuck with the Bend Area Transit/Cascades East Transit bus which runs every 40 minutes (every 80 minutes on Saturday, and not at all on Sunday). So I probably had a 35 minute wait between leaving the coin store and the next bus; to just add immeasurably to the ‘joy’ of the situation, that 35 minute wait was not in warm sunshiny weather. Oh no, it was cold (right this minute at 3:39 pm PST it is 40 degrees–with wind chill feels like 31 degrees), windy (gusting between 21 and 29 mph), and raining. The longer I waited the angrier I got.

The Ugly: I sold a PTR domain to a friend. Now selling it wasn’t the ugly part; getting all the plugins pushed and re-licensed to the new owner has been extremely frustrating. The plugins are licensed to the domain, but the new host won’t install/reactivate the ones where he doesn’t have proof of purchase (and these plugins were purchased by me anywhere 2003 to 2007). I ceased operation of the site almost 2 years ago so I hadn’t kept copies of anything; I’d intended to let the domain expire for good in June 2012. There are 3 plugin sellers involved with these plugins: Polar Web Services, Cash Plugins, and Scripts-US. Polar Web Services and Cash Plugins have been very helpful. Scripts-R-Us has been a total disaster to deal with. There has been an exchange of emails (4 from them to me, 3 from me to them) lasting from Friday November 18 2011 to Sunday November 20 2011, with the upshot being that they would send me copies ‘tomorrow’ during their ‘normal business hours.’ They finally did send the requested copies at 9:03 am this morning.

And the totally insane? On Tuesday November 15 I was walking from the bus stop in front of *Columbia Sportswear (in the Bend Factory Stores at 61334 S Hwy 97 #440) to **Joanne Fabrics and Crafts (61284 S Hwy 97). Its not that long of a walk, but I am fat and out of shape with a bad thigh. This means that I stop quite often when walking because 1) I am out of breath (or) 2) My thigh hurts (or) 3) my back hurts (or) 4) all of the aforementioned. There are 2 newspaper machines (Bend Bulletin–local paper–and the Oregonian–statewide paper) in front of the Subway store at 61419 S. Highway 97 and I was reading the headlines (not aloud, but I may have made a comment about one of the headlines). I looked up in the midst of my reading and some lady is just glaring at me. So I’m just wondering what her problem is as I was NOT in her way, she had just gotten out of her car and hadn’t even shut her car door yet. I was neatly dressed too, it was obvious I was not some bum or street person. It was pretty obvious that I was reading the headlines from the newspaper–which last time I checked was totally legal LOL. After a few minutes of this I decided to move on, but as I walked away I said (hopefully loud enough so that the insane -IMO- lady heard it) “well, excuse me for reading the damn newspaper!”,default,pg.html


I will preface this by saying I am a moderate Democrat. I have received aid from Pell Grants, the food stamp program, and unemployment benefits. Both of my parents benefited from Medicare and Social Security, as did both sets of grandparents.

My father enlisted in the US Navy (served in WWII and Korea), and his father was in the Merchant Marine during WWII.

My father, too, served in WWII and won the silver star. He never spoke of the war. However, he was proud of serving and fighting for our freedoms. Later in his life, he spoke often of how socialism and communism were slowly taking over America. He worked three jobs to support us and now Americans have become accustomed to the handouts from our government, and refuse jobs that they feel are beneath them. We all need to work at any job that is available and stop relying on a socialist influenced government to care for us.

Now I normally don’t discuss religion or politics on this blog, but I find this comment (from a Yahoo news story that I was reading) to be offensive at worst and uninformed at best.

This comment makes it sound like the ‘socialist leanings’ in this country are a new thing. I don’t call programs that started 78 years ago in 1933 (the New Deal programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and 47 years ago in 1964 (the Great Society programs of Lyndon Baines Johnson) ‘new’

Would this commenter prefer the widespread suicides that occurred in the early years of the Great Depression? Or perhaps he would like the 20,000 people per day laid off every day, or maybe the 20,000 companies that declared bankruptcy would be what floats his boat?

During the Great Depression, unemployment rose to 25% and crop prices fell by up to 60%. Attempts to shore up the US economy by retaliatory tariffs on imports from other countries worsened the economy in all affected countries including the USA.

Perhaps the commenter thinks people should be left to starve when there are NO jobs available or the competition for jobs is fierce.

And in reality, if you are on self-sufficiency programs such as unemployment or some of the ‘welfare’ benefits you are not allowed to turn down employment without sacrificing or limiting your benefits. Perhaps the commenter should do some research into the facts before parroting ‘Americans turn down jobs in favor of handouts’

Personally, I have been unemployed or underemployed since November 2005 when I moved to Bend Oregon to take care of my elderly father (who has since died). I am NOT picky about jobs, I have applied for over 500 jobs in the last 6 years (fast food, janitorial, banking, clerical, accounting, retail, personal care, etc). I have worked several temporary jobs in the last 6 years.

I sold everything that would sell (antiques, collectibles, vintage jewelry, vintage glassware, tools, books, etc) to keep my bills paid from 2009-2011. My mother paid about 13 months of space rent or I would have been living in a truck with two cats (not to mention the litter boxes!)

I have 2 college degrees (BS in Business/Economics, and AS in Hotel/Restaurant Management), and 20 years of experience in various fields. I currently have a permanent part time job (10 hours per week) for an online freelancing site (in their Risk Management Department)

I have no children. I am not a senior citizen. I am not disabled. Unemployment benefits ran out in April 2010 (with a 5 week extension in mid-2011). Therefore, the only ‘socialist’ benefits I am currently entitled to are food stamps and state health insurance (the first year on the insurance there was no cost to me, but now that I have income my insurance costs me $9.00 per month).

I take 8 prescription medicines daily (10 pills every day, not including iron, calcium, and Tylenol). I could not afford my prescription medications without the ‘socialist’ state health insurance. I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anemia, and am borderline diabetic; I also take blood thinners since I was diagnosed with pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lungs) in August 2010

I make $85.00 per week before taxes–a total of about $340.00 per month. Cable internet (which I must have for my job) and phone runs around 70 per month, ditto for electricity. This leaves a whopping $190.00 to cover all other expenses. I couldn’t afford food without the ‘socialist’ food stamp program

Birthday Parties, Family, and Ford Focus(es)

(not to mention Enterprise car rental, which made my attendance at the birthday party possible).

On November 2, 2011 my aunt turned 80. On November 5 her family (my cousins) threw a big party for her in Chelan, Washington where she lives. I had seen my aunt in August when she came to Bend for her annual high school reunion but I hadn’t seen any of my first and second cousins in literally years (some of them I’d never even met at all).

The party was first discussed on Facebook, and I made up my mind that I would be there if I had to walk the *whole way there and back* 🙂 because Aunt Virginia is the last aunt or great-aunt I have left.,_Washington,_Oregon

The distance between Chelan, WA and Bend, OR is 356 miles each way. Now its not realistic to walk 356 miles (actually 712 miles) when I only had not quite 3 days (Friday morning through Sunday evening) to get there and back. I only have a debit card, and I had found out a month or so ago that most of the bigger car rental agencies who used to NOT let you use a debit card to reserve a car now do.

Granted, they charge you a deposit that is generally more than the car will cost in the end, but I was ecstatic that I could get there relatively cheaply.

My only other options would have been:

1) a flight from the Redmond Airport to SeaTac (in Seattle WA area) and then another flight to Wenatchee (which is still 30 miles or more from Chelan). A round trip flight from Redmond to Seattle would be close to $200.00 with another $121.00 for the Seattle to Wenatchee leg. I would have had to take a shuttle, bus, or taxi from Bend to Redmond. And someone would have had to pick me up in Wenatchee

2) taking the Central Oregon Breeze (shuttle) from Bend to Portland and then fly to SeaTac from Portland (I would still have had to take the flight from SeaTac to Wenatchee). The only shuttle stop here in Bend is a 4.6 mile trip (each way) from my house, and in 2008 when I took the shuttle I had to take a taxi back and forth from where the shuttle leaves (the taxi cost $15.00 each way not including any tip to the driver–it may have gone up in the last 3 years). Round trip fare on the shuttle is close to $100.00, round-trip flight from Portland to Seattle is $122.00, and again the flight from Seattle to Wenatchee is $121.00 round trip.

The car cost slightly under $200.00 plus gas. The Ford Focus gets great gas mileage; according to it gets between 36 and 40 mpg (highway driving). The gas tank was 3/4 full when I picked it up, I filled it in Madras Oregon (about 42 miles from Bend) simply because there is not a Safeway filling station in Bend but there is one in Madras (I had enough fuel discounts from buying groceries at Safeway here in Bend to get $1.00 off per GALLON so that was good too). I had almost half a tank left when I got to Chelan, and only filled the tank when I left because I knew I didn’t have enough gas to get to Biggs Junction, OR (besides, gas prices in Biggs Junction are always higher than almost anywhere along the Columbia River gorge,_Oregon,_Oregon

I hate flying anyway, it always upsets my stomach, and short flights upset my stomach even worse

Budget Rent-a-Car wanted a 350.00 deposit for the 3 days, and would do a credit check on top of that. In addition, I would have to make my own way there *by bus* and my own way back *by bus, taxi, or on foot*

Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s deposit was 100.00 cheaper for the 3 day rental, no credit check, and they would pick me up on Friday morning as well as bring me home on Monday morning after I dropped off the car. They also provided insurance for me that would cover anything that would happen (after I sold my truck last summer there was no need for car insurance).

It was a no-brainer to choose Enterprise. I had originally reserved a bare bones vehicle but when they picked me up Friday morning I decided to go with something a little more luxurious since it was a 6-8 hour drive. I ended up with a 2011 Ford Focus with air conditioning, GPS, automatic windows, automatic transmission, etc.

Another thing I really appreciated was that I forgot my drivers license and Enterprise’s staff drove me home to get it.

I loved the car, except for the fact that it was a floor shift not a column shift. I kept trying to shift it with the windshield wiper control–at least 5 times!

I kept thinking of when my father had done the same thing 30 years ago when he started driving a Datsun pickup truck with a manual transmission (floor shift) after years of driving a Chevrolet Blazer with an automatic transmission (column shift). I laughed my head off when he tried to shift with the windshield wiper control; his reaction was “it’s not that funny.” And I now agree especially since I did it so many times; as far as I know he only did it once.

I have this vision of him sitting in Heaven–he passed away in December 2007–laughing his head off at me!

The first time I did the “shift with the windshield wiper” I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the windshield wipers either. I finally stopped in the parking lot at the North 3rd street Albertsons grocery store (here in Bend) and finally managed to get the windshield wipers turned off

I also could not figure out how to control the automatic windows, they were either all the way up or all the way down. I couldn’t figure out how to completely turn off the heating/air conditioning either so I was either freezing or burning up!

Despite all the fun with the windshield wipers, windows, and the heating/air conditioning, I did manage to get to Chelan and back all in one piece, and I had a wonderful time with my family.

Great weather (cold but sunny), lots of good food, meeting the cousins I’d never met before, seeing the cousins I hadn’t seen in years, meeting my aunt’s friends (most of whom had heard of me, luckily all good things). The day of the party was also my 52nd birthday, and I was so happy to be able to afford to leave town for my birthday (it was the first time since 2008 that I had money to do that, and I really couldn’t afford the trip in 2008)

Adventures in Medications

My first really bad experience with medication was back in 2006. I had been taking Effexor for several years, went off it cold turkey because I ran out and was living 200+ miles away from my former medical clinic in the Beaverton Oregon area.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that the withdrawal from Effexor is easy. I had agitation, headaches, anxiety, dry mouth, insomnia, cold sweats, hot flashes, and hallucinatory-type dreams that lasted for hours. After approximately a week of this I ended up having my father drive me to Bend Memorial Clinic (who flat out refused to treat me because I didn’t have money for the upfront fee they required). I was forced to walk across the street (in approximately 9-10 degree weather) to the emergency room at St Charles Medical Center

I was switched to Welbutrin since there are long term side effects to extended Effexor usage that are not good (increased blood pressure, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, etc).

The Welbutrin was a total disaster.

I’ve never been one to suffer fools gladly, but the Welbutrin made me the angriest person you could ever hope to be around (agitation and hostility abounded, I called someone on the phone a bitch BEFORE I hung up, now she was indeed being difficult but normally I would have hung up and then called her names).

My second cousin had been prescribed Welbutrin as a stop smoking aid, and had the same reaction to it. She talked to my mother about her experience with Welbutrin and my mother (who’d been on the receiving end of one of my Welbutrin-affected rages, and had told my cousin about it) mentioned it to me.

By this time I’d realized something was very wrong and I stopped the Welbutrin without waiting to discuss it with my doctor.

Now I am dealing with a side effect of generic Vicodin (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen). On October 1 2011 I fell and banged up my right knee (no bleeding, no visible bruising, the skin didn’t appear to be broken, but it was swollen and causing pain). I went to Mosaic Medical on Monday October 3, had an x-ray on Tuesday October 4 at Central Oregon Radiology, and the knee was found to be ‘normal’ although swollen and painful.

Wednesday October 5 my hip/thigh/groin area on the same leg started to hurt. I grumbled and limped along until I could see another doctor at Mosaic Medical on Tuesday October 12 2011. The diagnosis was basically corollary damage from the knee injury in that I was walking differently (favoring the leg, using a different stance, etc) and that the difference had stressed out the muscles from the knee on up the leg into the hip/thigh/groin area.

I was given a prescription for 20 tablets of generic Vicodin (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen). I’ve discovered that this medication helps me sleep but doesn’t do much for the pain in my leg (the pain has gotten better but that’s a function of time not the medication).

The real problem is that the generic Vicodin (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen) makes me weepy. I could truly cry 24/7, over silly things, or nothing at all. I don’t normally cry very much and I am certainly not happy with the waterworks running 24/7

And for those of you saying, oh that sounds like menopause not a medication reaction: my most recent menstrual period stopped yesterday. I have always had long menstrual cycles (33 days is a normal menstrual cycle for me) so once in a while I have a month with no period but that is solely due to the long cycles not menopause.

I have had regular periods since I was 14 years old and the only change I see now (in my early fifties) is that they are lighter. Now that I’ve said that publicly, Novembers menses will be another one of those “can’t leave the house” disasters ROFLMAO!! I’ve only had three of those in my lifetime (one was the first month that I was on blood thinners) but three is enough.

I have them every month whether I want them or not, and as I recall the medical definition of ‘menopause’ means one year without menses (periods). I may be in perimenopause as diagnosed nearly 9 years ago but I am still having regular monthly menses.

So the weepiness is not my hormones, nor is it PMS, nor is it menopause, or anything else other than the damn generic Vicodin (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen) and I refuse to take it any longer!

Survival Tips and Tricks, Part III

This post is about surviving when you have been in a MVA (motor vehicle accident) or are stranded in your car in a relatively uninhabited area.

If you are traveling by vehicle (car truck SUV etc) and you are or plan to be in relatively uninhabited areas, there are several things (plans, preparations, supplies) that are essential to your survival in an accident or stranding (I am talking here of an accident where there are minimal injuries or no injuries at all)

1) Before leaving on a trip check your vehicle thoroughly. Is the gas tank full or are you planning on buying gas at the beginning of your trip? If the vehicle needs an oil change do it well BEFORE the trip. Is your spare tire inflated to the proper amount of psi? Are your other tires also inflated to the proper psi? Do you have a tire gauge to check the pressure? Do the so-called little things (headlights, horn, hazard flashers, air conditioning, heating) work properly? Is your tire jack easily located and can you operate it yourself? Do you even have a jack? Do you have a lug wrench? Can you use it to remove the nuts from your tire rim if needed? Do you have foam sealant or a portable compressor and plug kit? Do you have a GPS unit in your car or is your cell phone equipped with GPS? Do you know how to use it?

1a) Before leaving tell somebody–anybody–where you are going, when you expect to get there, and what route you plan on taking. It’s a good idea to check in with this person (cell phone, landline phone, text message, email) when you get to your destination. Consider if you want this person to notify the authorities (police, sheriff’s office, etc) if you haven’t checked in by a certain time.

2) An in-vehicle survival kit should include a working cell phone, jumper cables or a portable battery booster, extra water, extra non-perishable food, extra DRY and weather-appropriate clothing, extra shoes/boots, ~dry blankets~, extra vehicle maintenance items (such as oil, gas, transmission fluid, etc), a *first aid kit*, a fire extinguisher, flares, warning lights, spare fuses, flashlights (check the batteries inside, and carry extra batteries too), gloves, hand cleaner, clean rags (changing a tire is dirty work!), your auto club card or roadside assistance information, your insurance information, disposable flash camera (or digital camera) for documenting an accident for insurance purposes, a small tarpaulin, $20.00 in currency and coins, a credit or debit card, pen and paper, maps of the areas you will be in, large (33-40 gallon) bright orange or florescent green garbage bags, and extra supplies of any medications you take on a daily basis. Depending on the area you are in or the time of year you are traveling, bug repellent of some kind might come in handy.

If you will be driving in the winter add another DRY blanket, a winter hat, chemical hand warmers, tire chains and tow strap, snow shovel (collapsible one is fine), ice scraper, matches and/or a lighter, and cat litter. You could also add a small camp stove or barbeque grill with appropriate fuel, and collapsible pots and pans for cooking some of the non-perishable canned food (soup, chili, canned vegetables etc) that you also have in your kit.

Some of these items will be stored in the trunk or cargo area of the vehicle, while others will be on your person or in a wallet or handbag.

3) Don’t leave your vehicle unless its unsafe to stay (its on fire, looks or sounds like it might explode, go over a cliff, etc). The vehicle is a ready-made shelter and also makes you more visible to on-ground or in-air searchers. Your contact person may not know what clothes you are wearing, but he/she should know the make model and color of your vehicle–and that is the information they will give to law enforcement when it comes time to look for you. Your vehicle may have GPS installed, if so authorities will track the car not you. Leaving the vehicle also can lead to you becoming disoriented or lost.

4) If you must leave the vehicle, use it for everything you can before moving on (and have a plan for moving on before you do so–studying a map BEFORE you leave can tell you where the next town or source of shelter, water, or food may be). Oil and gas can be used as fire starters in the winter. Seat belt webbing and the foam from seats can be used to make some very ugly (but warm!) winter boots. Do you really care how ugly something is if it saves you from losing your toes to frostbite? That extra food, water, clothing, blanket, etc in your survival kit–if you can carry it take it with you. Be sure to take the matches and/or lighter with you too, as you may need to build a fire later on. Building a fire without matches or a lighter can be done, but it is very hard work. Take the tarp and garbage bags with you too if you think you will need to build a shelter as both are excellent for making leak-proof shelter roofs. Leave a note in the vehicle that can tell potential rescuers when you left and what direction you are heading.

*First Aid Kit* recommended items for first aid kit
1) assortment of bandages (
2) gauze
3) antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin
4) Face mask
5) Tweezers (plastic or metal)
6) Needle (for removing splinters)
7) Antiseptic wipes or sprays for cleaning dirty wounds
8) Cotton Swabs
9) Medications such as antihistamines, pain killers, anti-diarrhea medications, aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.
10) Water purification tablets
11) Disposable gloves
12) Trauma shears or scissors
13) Cotton Swabs

~Dry Blankets~

I emphasize DRY blankets because of my own experience with a not-so-dry wool blanket that had been stored in the back of my 2001 Chevy S-10 pickup truck. In January 2011 I was traveling from Bend Oregon to Eagle Creek Oregon (approximately 200 miles one way) when my heater suddenly stopped working. I was wearing crop pants, a short-sleeve t-shirt, and Crocs. I had not brought along even a sweater, much less a coat! The outside temperature was in the mid 50’s to low 60’s so I was FREEZING to put it mildly. I got the blanket out of the truck bed and wrapped it around my legs. It was NOT completely dry and it smelled pretty bad (wool tends to smell when it gets wet) but it kept me warm–if not comfortable–for the last hour or so of my journey (a friend gave me a non-wool blanket for the trip home, and another friend gave me her Champion sleeveless fleece vest to wear too)

The Knee Bone IS Connected to the Thigh Bone!!

And I know that title makes very little sense. Its a song here in the USA that really has been on my mind for the last 10 days or so.

On Saturday October 1 2011 I fell down while walking and banged the holy living crap out of my right knee. I was walking on asphalt, attempted to sit on a curb between the sidewalk and the Safeway parking lot, lost my balance on the way down, and landed on both hands and one knee. Much anglo saxoning (otherwise known as unladylike language aka CURSING!!) occurred, and the knee hurt like blazes.

What surprised me about the situation is that there was no visible bruising or bleeding and the skin wasn’t broken even though I had a LOT of pain and swelling–enough pain that on Monday October 3 2011 I went to see a doctor at Mosaic Medical.

After a physical examination of the knee on that Monday, and an x-ray on Tuesday October 4 2011 the knee was found to be ‘normal’ I guess swelling, limping, discomfort, and pain is considered ‘normal’ after a fall — at least in the medical world. They did prescribe Vicodin but only at night because of the sedative effect.

On Wednesday or Thursday (11/5/2011 or 11/6/2011) I started having a LOT of pain and discomfort in the upperest part of the thigh (in the area between the groin and the thigh).

My immediate assumption was that I had a bad skin rash or infection in the area, because that has happened before in that area of my body. Also the fact that the Vicodin was not touching the pain led me to believe it was something other than a muscular or bone injury. But I couldn’t see or find any evidence of said infection or rash.

So I grumbled and limped along until Monday October 10 and finally called to make another appointment with Mosaic Medical.

I saw one of their doctors yesterday and it turns out that ‘The Knee Bone IS Connected to the Thigh Bone’ LOL

What that means for me is that I was unconsciously walking differently in an attempt to compensate for the knee injury.

The different stance, more reliance on my non-dominant left leg, and attempts to minimize the pain/discomfort of the knee caused unusual stress on all the muscles from the knee up to the thigh/groin/hip area.

The hilarious thing is that I am supposed to ice the knee and heat the thigh/hip area (I said to the doctor, I don’t think I will try to do THAT simultaneously!)

This has played merry heck with my plans to start using the exercise bike again. I suppose I can still use the dumbbells and try to get my upper body strengthened while I wait for my lower body to heal

Short-Sighted, Stupid, and Insensitive

The Oregon Department of Transportation (hereafter referred to as ODOT) has outdone themselves, and not in a good way.

First off, if it really did cost $7500.00 a month for cleaning and maintenance –which I doubt– why did they not ever try to outsource the job to a private cleaning and maintenance service?

Even if the private cleaning service had to drive up from Salem or Portland they probably would have charged less even including transportation costs. Hell, even if they drove from Warm Springs (48 miles each way) it probably would have cost less to privatize the work.

If these people ever thought out of the box, I am sure that in this economy they could have found someone in the village of Government Camp–6 miles each way–to do the required work for much less (and the commute would have been massively shorter too).

I find the comment about ‘deterioration of the 50-year-old building’ to be rather disingenuous as you would think some of that $90,000.00 yearly tab for cleaning and ‘maintenance’ could have gone to dealing with that deterioration over the last 50 years.

Or perhaps the time and money that went into maintaining this page ( would have been better spent by dealing with the deterioration.

I mean really a Facebook page for a public restroom? You can see how popular the page is (NOT) with 4 (yes just four) likes!!

Somebody at ODOT apparently has too much time on their hands or is intelligence-challenged or both.

Secondly, how will they deal with the “deposits” left alongside the road and behind the trees by desperate motorists? Urine isn’t that problematical (it can be smelly though) but feces are a different story.

Perhaps they could take a lesson from Bend, Oregon who pays 22,000.00 a year to clean up goose shit (it might be a bit cheaper to clean up a years worth of human feces since the goose shit carries a lot of nasty diseases requiring suiting up

The only bathrooms between Warm Springs, Oregon and Portland, Oregon are marked “restrooms for customers only”

Some enterprising private supplier from Rhododendron, Zig Zag, or Government Camp should install pay toilets, or even porta-potties, between Government Camp and Portland (in my opinion, the porta-potties would be an excellent way to get ODOT to reopen Government Camp, as the bad press from travelers along Highway 26 would be horrendous!). Pay toilets at 10 cents or 25 cents per use would still be cheaper than using the restaurants/gas stations/stores etc.

Third, closing a rest area that is very close (6 miles) to a well-known (and heavily used) wintertime resort right before ski season is remarkably short-sighted. Then again, this is the same state that has no problem paying $22,000.00 per year to clean up goose shit!

USPS: There’s Reasons for Their Problems

This is another very personal rant about the United States Postal Service.

On September 14 2011 I received a notice about a parcel that needed to be picked up at the Bend DCU.

This is problematical for me as I have no transportation other than BAT (Bend Area Transit) buses, and none of them go anywhere near the Bend DCU (it’s 3/4 of a mile each way to walk there). This week our temperatures have been in the high 70’s and low 80’s (also I don’t get off work until around 11:00 am when it is starting to really warm up).

Supposedly the USPS redelivers, and you can either fill out the notice they leave you or you can do it online (

I filled out the form online the evening of September 16 2011. The parcel was not delivered on Saturday September 17 or on Monday September 19 so I amended my request on Tuesday September 20 2011 to add “second request, please redeliver on Wednesday September 21” I’d also tried calling the Bend DCU twice on Tuesday morning; nobody answered.

I say that the USPS supposedly redelivers because its been almost a week since I filled out the form and not only do I not have my parcel, today I received a ‘final notice’ that the item will be returned to the sender on September 30 2011 if not picked up. What is the point of offering a service that the Bend DCU and the postal carrier can’t be bothered to even acknowledge, much less provide?

I edited my request again today for all the good it will do. It’s obvious that the Bend DCU and my carrier aren’t going to deliver the parcel!

Since the parcel doesn’t require a signature, I gave the second notice to my poor long-suffering park manager (Larry) and he’s going to try to pick it up for me (he has transportation other than shanks mare LOL)

ETA: when I got home from shopping the box (beads that used to belong to my grandmother, sent by my aunt) was on my chair. My roommate said it was sitting inside the screen door (which tells me that Larry picked it up, the USPS is not allowed to open screen doors when you aren’t there).

A week later and 3 redelivery requests……….I can’t believe that the USPS thinks they are doing a good job!