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My Degenerate Neck
(update from Edmonds, WA)
August 25, 2005

Journal Updates


Columbia, SC
Blue Ridge Parkway
Computer Crash!

2005 - 2006
Happy New Year
Hawk's Message
I'm Published!
Sharing Spring
Ways of Writing
Edmonds, WA
Degenerate Neck
Desert Depression
Post Quartzsite
Grandma Malia

2003 - 2004
Alaska Planning
Alaska 1
Alaska 2
Alaska 3
Alaska 4
Alaska 5
Alaska 6
Alaska 7
BC & Alberta
To Lower 48
2004 Recap
Giving Thanks

2001 - 2002
Inspiration's Off!
To Charleston
N. Carolina
To Orlando
Florida Tour
Back in Austin
Albuq. to WA

I've had a pain in my neck for the past month or so. It started moving down my left arm and when my little finger was numb more often than not, I knew it was time to find out what the deal was. A fellow member of one of my RV groups highly recommended a nearby chiropractor. He took x-rays to see what was going on and how best to treat me. As he showed them to me, I almost dropped from the table when he said I had the neck of an 80 year old! I was about to slap him for making fun of my multiplying chin or something, when he explained it was my discs that were degenerating. Then he had the nerve to add the word "arthritis" to the mix -- now I'm really not amused! I can handle being called degenerate, but I don't appreciate my body parts getting worn and arthritic before their time. And then to hear that his recommended course of treatment would cost more than I could conceivably pay - the least I can say is the timing sucked big time. I'm learning a lot by working with Chuck and the others in the office, and the possibilities were continuing to grow, so this interruption of my plans pretty much threw me for the proverbial loop.

I broke down and cried on his examination table as my mind immediately went to the worst-case scenario. I was able to get out between sobs: "If I were to do what you recommend, I'd have to give up traveling, go back to Austin, sell the motor home, and get a job again in lawyer-land with insurance to pay for all this treatment." And my first from-the-soul response to that scenario was "No way - NO WAY am I ready to quit traveling - I guess I'll have to learn to live with a pain in the neck!"

While I knew going without insurance was not the best idea for a woman my age, I've always had very good health - hardly ever a cold or the flu. That was one reason I thought it was OK to chance this lifestyle before I started a downhill slide healthwise and became less able to be as active as I like to be. After all, getting out and hiking around is one of the biggest attractions of traveling for me. I also think I was hyper sensitive to the subject because it's just a little over a month now since Peter died. Having someone I once loved as the father of my children and still loved as a friend die of cancer was a real eye opener and has made me look at things I've been able to conveniently deny before now. He was only a few years older than me, and even though in my teens I couldn't imagine ever living to the ripe old age of 30, now for someone to die at age 57 seems cruelly short lived. I've often said I'm not afraid of death - I just want to live my life to the fullest first. I don't even really know what that means anymore.

But I'm grateful to have found a doctor who is kind and willing to work with me. He is committed to helping me as best he can while I'm here on terms I can deal with. He says I have the potential for a 50-60 year old neck, but I'll probably still be degenerate! (he meant that in a fun way...) So I have to pass along here - if you're ever in the Seattle area and want a good chiropractor, call the Hagen Chiropractic Center and tell Dr. Hagen I said hello!And I'm also grateful for friends like Laurie who calmed me down and made me see that I could possibly be over-reacting - and that the treatment I needed could be gotten while I was traveling, even if it was going to be a bit more inconvenient. I could cash in an IRA and between that and what I make with Chuck, I'd be able to get through the next few months, anyway. Making this trip with my mom is very important to me, and right now if I can accomplish that, I'll deal with what's after that after that. And with all this whirling around in my head, I got one of those usually dreaded email forwards. At least this one didn't threaten me with the plague if I didn't forward it, but I'll share it here anyway in hopes that the number of people seeing it will count toward that wish-come-true-promise for sending it on:

A letter written to a friend from a woman knowing she is dying of cancer:

Dear Bertha: I'm reading more and dusting less.I'm sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time working. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure.I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank. "Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.I'm not sure what others would've done had they known they wouldn't be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was. I'm guessing; I'll never know.I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God.I don't believe in Miracles. I rely on them. Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

So I'm going to carry on and count on other miracles coming my way. God knows I've had enough of them that I should have no trouble believing in that anyway, even when my faith in myself is shaky.
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