Friday, September 14, 2018

Off To Rehab

Today is the day I supposedly am sent forth by Cigna Insurance to a rehab facility of their choice for several months struggle with Physical Therapy. 

Every step on this arduous journey involves a voyage into the unknown for me who has never been in the hospital before. Sean my six foot eight inch Physical Therapist has explained the process and it is a fearsome mountain to climb to regain use of my lower body. Without him I’d not have taken the first steps. 

In hospital one lives a different life cut off from concerns about hurricanes and political scandals and economic indicators and pop stars fighting. Did he have a bowel movement? That’s a big one. Taking a shit indicates all is well with the world, never mind 160 mph winds in the Philippines. 

While the administrators decide where to send me I prepare to leave Jackson South for places unknown. And regimens unknown and all I can think is how soon will I be shitting on a toilet not in the sheets? It’s a much bigger deal than you realize.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Slow Recovery

Slowly I move forward toward the sunlit uplands people walk and play and eat and drink with a second thought. For the time being I am a mass of chemicals and proportions and numbers my blood oxydation is fine without tubes now. Physical Therapy has me sitting up two hours a day. A team of dedicated nurses wipe my bottom and inspect my wet stools (“No blood! “Fabiola shouted triumphantly as though I’d laid an egg). I am no longer shy of exposing my testicles for cleaning to a pair of unerotic cheerful cleaning hands.  “Swelling has gone down Mr Michael!” announces Maria like the cheerleader she should be. 

She likes to shave but we have to send to the OR got the blades as there are none in intensive care. My wife is not simply permitted to go out and buy blades. They have to be approved. Maria worried I would like cut of the shave. I was happy to have clean sheets and clean cheeks. Mauricio the blood tech was enchanted ‘Oh to have a girlfriend who would do that ‘ he murmured over and over again. Maria ignored him. My wife held him back  

But in the end we are obstacles to time off. Mirta was eager to go get her hair done for her weekend off. Fabiola had a concert ...”If I don’t see you...” the implicit sub-text being better not to see you else you will still be a useless lump of metamorphosing beetle helpless on your back when time off is over. Anything is better than that. Father John from St Richards came by radiating disapproval and lack of love all Irish pink flesh and stern upper lip. I confessed my paltry sins but got him to accidentally slip me some ice water melt which tasted heavenly after I got Last Rites and all was forgiven: he looked at me like something a starving polar bear would discard. 

The boys send photos of Rusty I pore over like a distant lover seeking portents of future harmony. Webb Chiles writes me unsentimental letters from his sailing base in South Carolina riding out Hurricane Florence. He drinks my share of the guns and tonics we would share were I there with him. Humor I enjoy as he drinks and now I can’t 

My world is circumscribed by my blood pressure and my needles to which I am no longer the least bit phobic. “Need blood? Go for it,” I offer jocularly. Need to stick a basket in a vein to catch errant clots? My groin is your groin. No pain too much no humiliation too great.” 

I no longer much care about politics or the world or insurance companies.  I long for my breathing tube to be removed from my nose allowing a to return to eating and drinking normally. Nothing extravagant but I crave cereal with milk and fresh fruits and Gatorade with electrolytes and long cold cups of water. And sweet yoghurt.  That is the extent of my world these days. Maybe Monday the goddamn tube goes. Maybe Monday I order breakfast for lunch. A Red Letter Day that would be. Indeed.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


The first thing they tell you is everything will take longer than you expect. A week in the hospital feels like forever but it’s nothing. I am still shitting in the bed no chance of even a bed pan. 
They roll me and pull out turd covered sheets as needed. So humiliating for a 60 year old adult. 

Fortunately the other party is 100 percent at fault according to the Highway Patrol. But it takes time and money to repair a pelvic bone and a femur. 

A little at a time as Chris lovely Philippine male nurse puts it. He is excited to get a much desired Tesla on Friday to help save the environment for his kids as he puts it. 

My wife shared the room at first though now KWPD has put her up in a hotel to help her sleep. 

And so it goes at Jackson south. Great people but damn am am I tired of being here! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Spectacular Afternoon.

I sent a letter to my colleagues this weekend explaining why I won’t be back at work for several weeks:  

I was lying on my back unable to move staring at the lovely blue sky and white clouds and all I could think was “How does the tunnel of white light appear?” I never lost consciousness as I approached the white Sedan which suddenly and inexplicably pulled into Highway One as I approached at a steady 45 mph. I was in a line of cars and trucks driving to Key West and as I live on Spanish Main I had barely started my commute as I pulled abreast of the intersection at the Square Grouper at the group speed driving the limit of 45 mph. 

I knew I was going to hit the car with my Burgman 200 scooter and all I could do was try to slow down as much as possible in the few feet remaining. The scooter stopped and I levitated. All I could see was a kaleidoscope of white car as I spun around my legs flung so wide I split my pelvis in three places. I broke my right thigh in two places and I caused minor cracks in my left shoulder and right knee. 

I lay there unable to move never mind get up. I felt like I was morphing into Kafka’s beetle as I prepared to meet my Maker. Civilians crowded around as we waited for Rescue and I shouted out to call my wife and I yelled her number as loud as I could. She could hear me in the background yelling to tell her I loved her as the stranger told her of my condition. She understood I thought it was curtains.

Then I started to worry about shift coverage. I kid you not. I did the same yelling to get someone to
call dispatch and tell them I wouldn’t be in. I hate being relieved late and it was all I could think as I lay on the hot asphalt. 
My right leg felt funny like it was raised in the air on a spring and I couldn’t move it. I asked the stranger leaning over me if my leg was in the air and he looked puzzled. and shook his head. I was suddenly afraid I had half amputated it....
Then I relaxed nothing left to do, and as the awfulness of my situation sank in I started to feel alone, I was feeling colder so I knew I was losing blood ( a lot it later turned out)and simply put I didn’t want to die alone but no one would take my hand - too much blood they said and recoiled. So there I lay in a circle of strangers waving my bloody hand feebly in the air waiting for the for the Grim Reeper to you come and get me. I wondered idly what he journey to the afterlife might be like. For a traveler like me all journeys hold at least some interest. 

Then the first responders showed up and everything became efficient. I was conscious breathing and alert. They put me on a backboard and wondered out loud about my internal
Bleeding status. I got my bag and my phone and is what I do best: remember the moment:Image
I don’t usually take selfies but the seemed special suddenly. The ambulance ride was agony as from
The waist down I was a jumbled painful wreck. Getting into the air ambulance was terrifying as the stretcher felt it was being canted to the left as they slid my 280 pounds into the tiny cabin. Image

The cabin was tiny and I could count he dimples in the plastic roof liner a foot above me hear. The shock was wearing off and the pain was replacing it. Dull throbbing insistent pain as though my waist had been run over by a road roller. That flight from Summerland to Jackson South was the longest flight of my adventurous life. God bless the sheriff for offering it and saving us from predatory bills. Image

Soon enough I was in care. My blood was too thin from al the blood loss for immediate surgery but they did a CAT scan and found Internal bleeding hence the bags of bloood hanging over my head. The surgeon eased my pain by drilling through flesh and bone in my thigh, which hurt like an unmentionable and stretched the bones back into place which gave immediate relief. Right there in my room like a MASH unit. Thank you Dr Hernandez. 


They have fixed my femur in a six hour operation and Tuesday I get my pelvis repaired. And then weeks of hobbling and rehab I’m told as I look for a replacement scooter. 
All best wishes 
Michael Beattie 
Comm 2 Bravo Nights. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Bark Park

I hadn't been to the Big Pine dog park in a couple of years, as Rusty made it clear early on he doesn't much like them. He never said why but he doesn't.
He wandered around outside happily enough but I suspect there are too many dog smells inside the fences.
People don't mind being fenced in...
And naturally instructions abound as common sense is in short supply. And no, the pool had not been drained by the last user.
Check it  out:
Beach volley ball in a place with no beaches! Well played.
I am not a great fan of dog parks because as you can see below it's not much of a dog walk but a gab fest. No really my scene.
You'd think picking up after your dog would be obvious....
Mr Cool prowled around a bit but he was ready to go.
Nice park. Too bad he won't like it even when it's empty.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Eric and Bill and Home

After lunch I headed to Virginia and Steve went home in pouring rain. I got the better end of the deal as sun came out and drenched Front Royal where I finally tore off my waterproofs and started to enjoy a Florida style ride albeit with hills and curves. Lovely.
 Hey you con't see this stuff in the Keys. I stopped for pictures.
 My Burgman 200 in a cornfield.
 Eric had prepared an elaborate surprise for my arrival in his garage.
He worried the burning buns on the right could offend me. Luckily we had 24 hours for him to get to know me. I took the carefully folded banner home.
Eric recently bought a splendid 40 year old Vespa P200 and I took it for a spin, filled with nostalgia and admiration for Eric's careful thoughtful refurbishment of the old girl. Great fun but I couldn't imagine riding the ride I just did on this scooter!
 Eric and Lisa took me to dinner and we had a splendid meal alcohol and laughter and it was good.
The next day looked good for my six hour ride to Florence South Carolina where a lonely hotel bed awaited. We rode together, Eric on his special edition Vespa 946 me on my Suzuki.
I loved the heat and the sun and we rode through canopied roads which made the sunny day even more delightful. Eric says the mountains are 45 minutes away and even better roads lie in wait. I shall return for sure.
 He lives the life does Eric and I was glad I got to meet him after exchanging comments on riding forums for years.
 He is his own brand of maniac. He rode this 155 cc Vespa all the way from Austin to his home, more than 1500 miles in pouring rain. These special edition Vespas are monstrous expensive but Eric found a discounted model for sale a long way  from home. Nothing deterred he did the ultimate fly and ride managing to pick the worst weather in motorcycle riding history to come home with his new 60 mph scooter. It rained hard almost the entire way. He had a deadline to be home so he rode.Makes my Iron Butt ride look like nothing.
 After Eric and I parted promising to meet again I took the lonely road to Florence South Carolina's La Quinta and I left there early enough to strike out on a quixotic mission to reach the coast thus lengthening my ride but getting another chance to visit one my favorite small towns, Beaufort South Carolina. It was dawn so I took a few pictures posted them on Instagram and I got going. 

Florida thank God saw a return of heat and sunshine. Even a few miles north of the state line Georgia offered Florida-like conditions and I liked them.
 I had met Bill previously so it was nice to see a familiar face as I pulled into the Welcome Center on I-95, a personalized welcome home just for me. Once again I was a follower trailing Bill's Vespa 200 to a burger joint in Fernandina Beach. Bill is a hard core long distance scooter rider so we talked and I suggested I was going to do the coast to coast ride known as the Cannonball in 2020.  He has done three previous rides, his latest this year ending in a spill and  a nasty leg wound so he has decided tor retire from Cannonballs. I started work early to change his mind.
From the farthest north of the state we had to ride south and I got the treatment, winding roads, canopies all on lovely smooth Florida road surfaces. 
 Bill is an architect by trade and he liked to point out....
 ... his creations.
 It was a fitting conclusion to my week long trip.
 Marshlands that I love.

This scooter would end the week with 3404 miles and no problems other than my dead muffler which my mechanic thinks was pretty heated by the long ride when I hit the pot hole and shook it up West Virginia style enough that the baffles fell apart undress excess pressure.  For the rest it ran and continues to run perfectly with a new muffler on order.
 Bills venerable approximately 12 year old Rocket with 86,000 miles on the clock.
 A final drink goodbye and once again I had met someone reluctant to part with me. This trip was a real ego boost even though I'm sure I'm not everyone's  cup of tea I made some stout long lasting friends this trip. Eric and Bill better get with the Cannonball plan!  I wish Steve could as well.
I left Jacksonville reluctantly at around 6 and Bill disappeared back into the urban jungle. I headed south watching the sun set as I cleared the southern edge of the Ocala National Forest on Highway 19. 
I spent the night in Sebring where the night manager at the hotel was a grumpy old toad but I was buzzing and high on life that he didn't bring me down. I left before dawn the next morning determined to get to see Rusty as soon as possible. Dawn on the levee of Lake Okeechobee:

 And then home by noon to a rapturous welcome from one who loves me warts and all. My wife was away in Miami on business with a colleague so Rusty and I immediately went for  a walk after the homecoming kisses were spent.
Joy all round, that most important of emotions and in such short supply. The ride was done.Friends were made. I am a happy camper. And so is Rusty.