September 5, 2019 – Joemma Beach State Park – Gig Harbor, WA
Thanks to Brent, our trailer is slowly morphing into a livable structure. At 8 feet long, it will be the tiniest “tiny home” on record, but it’ll only be temporary…or maybe not? We found a free camper top on Offer Up, so that’s become the trailer roof. It’s high enough now that we can stand up inside, and soon we’ll have a loft bed to sleep in. Doors on the back mean we can now protect our stuff, i.e. the beachcombing supplies we’ve been gathering for months. Eventually there will be a table that can convert to another bed and a cooking area.
A couple of days ago, I made my yearly visit to the dentist. My tolerance for pain is pretty low—I anticipate the stab of the needle, imagine it piercing the inside of my mouth, so of course it hurts even worse. It’s hard to escape from that automatic reaction of tensing up when the dentist approaches my mouth with a foreign object. That reflex stems from years of poking, prodding, and drilling numerous cavities when I was a child in England, I guess they were behind the times, or maybe Novocain didn’t exist back then. Whatever the case, my dentist didn’t use it and the effects of slow drilling with no painkiller will linger on for the rest of my life.
Brent, on the other hand, has had to deal with major pain for all his adult life and there’s no doubt his tolerance surpasses mine. It’s easy to forget he’s in pain most of the time because he pushes through it like a bulldozer moving a pile of rocks. Two major car accidents, one of which broke his back, a fast-moving baseball that destroyed the cartilage in his right knee, and numerous other injuries from pushing too hard all contribute to his discomfort. He “forgets” to wear gloves when working, so his hands are crusted with sores and splinters.
He hasn’t complained much lately about his left shoulder, the one that was operated on, so I assumed it was healing ok, albeit slowly. It’s been three and a half months and his movements should be back to normal, but they’re not. After one particularly loud “ouch”, I asked him:
“How’s the pain relative to what it was before the surgery? Does it seem like it’s getting better?”
Brent paused for a moment to think. “It’s definitely less painful than it was before the surgery, but it still hurts when I move it the wrong way.”
He scheduled a follow-up MRI to make sure everything was healing properly, and yesterday he visited his doctor to get the results. As he approached the car following the appointment, I could tell by the pained expression on his face that the results hadn’t been good.
“What’s going on? Did they totally screw up the surgery?”
“No”, he replied, and I breathed a sigh of relief, but I shouldn’t have.
“He told me the tear was worse than before. Not only that, but I have another small tear under my scapula on the same side.”
I sat there, stunned, but why should I be surprised? Brent is the perfect poster boy for what not to do following surgery. The day after the operation found us stranded on a remote hillside for three days and he was forced to use his shoulder to get us out of that mess. Not only that, but he’d fallen directly on the affected side that same day. How could any of that not have had an impact? Not to mention the numerous times since then when he’d busted pallets to get wood for the fire, raised the roof of the trailer, hitched and unhitched it…ad infinitum. This lifestyle is in no way conducive to recovery from rotator cuff surgery. He still insists that it hurts less than before the surgery, though I wonder how that’s possible.
Now what? The doctor hasn’t called back yet (he was out yesterday, so Brent talked to his assistant), but I’m pretty sure he’ll recommend surgery. It doesn’t make sense to do it here, though—we’ll be stuck in the same situation where Brent will be forced to work, so we’ll wait till we get to Arizona, then do whatever we have to. I hate to think of him going through all that again, but there may be no other choice.
Brent and I share a fondness for the nomadic life. We’re ready to settle down for a bit, but we’re already throwing around new options for the future. We can’t imagine not living near the ocean, so it’s unlikely that Arizona will be our ultimate home, though who knows? We could get there and absolutely love it, but I don’t think that will be the case for the following reasons: (1) I love Hawaii. Like Italy, it has a way of sneaking up on and getting into your blood, with its laid-back culture, strong family values, and stunningly beautiful scenery. (2) My kids are scattered all over now, but I’d like to be close to at least some of my family, and (3) Though Brent has never been to Hawaii, he’s convinced he’ll love it and we can both imagine him there so easily, fitting into that lifestyle.
Right here, right now, these are the plans. Go to Arizona, stay there for a year, save some money, then try to sell my land. If I can get a decent price for it, we can buy a cheap piece of land or a used sailboat to live in and moor it somewhere on Oahu or the Big Island. Or, possibly hang on to the land just in case. You never know when we might change plans again, and at least that option will be open.
I’m sure many of you are thinking, “What the hell… can’t she ever make up her mind?” But dreaming, to me, is what keeps life interesting, and it’s an integral part of the road map to eternal youth, at least the mental aspect. I don’t want to grow old wishing my life had gone in a different direction, regretting time not spent with my family. So, I’m keeping my options open.