Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Shoulder Update and a Flip-Flop on New Jacks for Phannie

At Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, Texas...

My shoulder therapy continues twice weekly and will continue for a few months, except for a break we're soon taking that I'll mention later. Dr. Hayes is very pleased with my progress, as am I. I continue to be amazed at the things I can do now with my arm that were impossible a few weeks ago--especially before surgery, when my right arm was little more than a useless appendage, dangling mostly limp from my shoulder.  By now, the tendons that were severed have pretty much completed their remarriage to the rotator cuff, and this realization has given new inspiration to the therapists, who circle me in the therapy pool like sharks waiting to attack their next victim. 

Armed with the knowledge that whatever devilish techniques they use now will not likely dislodge any of Dr. Hayes's handiwork, they seem entirely too gleeful in finding new places to grip, pull and prod, causing my poor arm to contort itself and to go places that it doesn't want to go, causing rather embarrassing grunts and groans from me in the process. My shoulder is telling me that it doesn't like what is happening to it, but I am powerless to help. Firearms are not permitted in the therapy pool.

The therapists are very professional and, as I mentioned before, quite charming as they go about their demonic trade, joking with me to diffuse my thoughts of suicide, I suppose. Oddly, I sort of enjoy the banter with them, whom I have come to know and who are just as aware as I am that without pain there will be no gain toward full use of my arm again. With this in mind, I do what I'm told, but I playfully insult and disparage them as being cruel and heartless. They give it right back, asking, for example, if a sticker or a lollipop would stop my whining. 

I even told one of the therapists that she probably couldn't keep pets when she was a child because they were so terrified of her that they ran away. We had a good laugh about that, but then I could swear she stuck a knife in my shoulder blade after that remark, although I didn't see any blood in the water; her hands are truly weapons-grade! 

I may have to rethink my habit of making smart aleck remarks when there is a good chance of immediate and painful retribution. Nah, that's not likely to change; I've had a smart mouth way too long.

Because of my progress, I have been cleared to undertake soon our planned trip to Michigan in Phannie with a stop in Lebanon, Missouri for a gospel concert and time with good friends Larry and Carolyn. I just have to take it easy and be aware of my limitations, taking a blood oath to do certain exercises they have prescribed every day. When we get to the tiny town of White Pigeon, Michigan--just across the Indiana state line from Elkhart--we will finally have Phannie's electric Atwood jacks retrofitted with Bigfoot hydraulic jacks at their factory in that little town. 

One of the biggest mistakes Tiffin has ever made, in my opinion, was to install these infernal electric Atwood levelers on some models from about 2005 through 2008. They have been notoriously troublesome and ineffective--so much so that Atwood itself came out with an upgraded retrofit kit several years ago that was supposed to solve the problems. So, I shelled out $3,500 for it and, for a while, it worked okay. Now it's worse than ever, totally exceeding my level of tolerance; I am done with them. Another kicker is that the jacks are no longer manufactured, parts are scarce, and no one seems to know how to work on them. It's time to relegate them to the junk pile.

I was initially going to purchase the hydraulic retrofit system offered by HWH, but my research has convinced me that Bigfoot has some advantages, including a lesser cost! On top of that, a good friend just had the Bigfoot retrofit done on his Phaeton, and his glowing assessment was all the confirmation I needed to change my mind. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. 

Here are a couple of photos of the differences in the two jack systems I've considered:




The HWH jacks (like the one above) are operated from a centralized hydraulic system and retracted with springs. Its lifting power and footprint are less than Bigfoot's.



The Bigfoot jacks above are beefier, with a greater lifting capacity and larger footprint; each jack has its own hydraulic system, and the jacks are lifted hydraulically. 

Once the new jacks are installed, we intend to drive up the the upper peninsula in Michigan and down through easternWisconsin when we start back toward Texas. We've heard a lot of good things about the UP, but we've never traveled to the area before, so we're eager to check it out. If any of you have any suggestions, we'd be grateful if you'd include them in the comments section.

We can hardly wait to head northward to escape from the Houston area's oppressive heat and humidity, something we would ordinarily have done more than a month ago, had it not been for my shoulder ordeal. Thankfully, Sandy has recovered 100 percent from her injuries, and there appear to be no lasting issues for her. A bright spot has been the extra time with the kids that we wouldn't otherwise have had; that has made our summer overstay well worth it. 

We also have the good fortune to have wonderful friends we have made through our RV adventure, and we joined some of them recently for a fun lunch at a Chinese buffet in Huntsville. From left to right: Dave, Richard, Karen (plus an unidentified man in the photo whose mustache had its own weather system), Janice and Sandy.



I will have to jump back into therapy with the sharks again when we return from Michigan. There's no telling what nefarious schemes they will have dreamed up by then. I'm told I'll probably be done with the program sometime in October. That will make me a happy (and grateful) camper.

So, there you have it. Things are going pretty well here on the sweltering gulf coast of Texas. We'll have more posts once we start northward.


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
--George Bernard Shaw

When I get up in the morning, I just don't let the old man in. --Clint Eastwood 

33 comments:

  1. Yep those PT folks make the grim reaper groan. I still have a set of exercises to do after 14 years. Skip a day and I notice it. Skip a week and everyone within ten miles hears about it when I restart. Glad you are doing well. Have some fun too.

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    1. Mercy! Fourteen years of exercises...that's going to be tough for someone as lazy as I, but whatever it takes...

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  2. Glad to read of your continual shoulder rehabilitation. Like you said until you are back to 100% "No pain- No Gain".
    Had a severed Flexor Tendon in 04 and Therapy got me back to work where I had to crawl under lots of equipment. Therapy that I was getting paid for. Other then a scar and the memory the wrist works perfectly.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your upcoming trip.

    It's about time.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. If my shoulder turns out that well, I will be ecstatic.

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  3. Glad your therapy and recovery is going well. enjoy your travels through some wonderful country side. We have the HWH levelling jacks on our coach now 20 years old and still work perfectly, Hopefully the Big Foot jacks do the job and you have no issues with them.

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    1. Thanks, George, I know that HWH is standard on a lot of RVs and that they have a good reputation; that's why I had chosen it at first. I could be making a mistake here, but I have to go with what seems the better system. I hope I'm not sorry.

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  4. When you get to northern Michigan and into Wisconsin, you will find restaurants that serve Pasties. They are a meat pie that is wrapped in a crust suitable for miners to carry in a lunch pail for lunch. You won't have to do that; they'll serve on a plate :) They are really good.

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    1. I've heard about pasties forever, but never had one. That will be on my list, I can assure you. Thanks for your comment!

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  5. I've no idea where my first attempt to comment went. It disappeared never to be seen again, into the ether, I suppose. While in the UP, make it a point to go to White Fish Point, commonly referred to as the "Graveyard of Lake Superior." There is a lighthouse and a small museum there. The roads you will be traveling are much like our FM's and you might wish to watch for MOOSE. I was tooling along on my Goldwing at a robust 80 mph, not a care in the world, when a huge antlered beast casually tooled out in front of me. I went into multi-tasking mode, and between gearing down, braking, dodging and a quick prayer, I managed to miss him. I then throttled back to a more sedate 50 mph for awhile. I'm certain my blood pressure went up, and my pucker factor rose precipitously, not returning to normal for days. When going west into Wisconsin, I recommend the Apostle Islands as being well worth your time also. Beautiful. Best of luck on your trip and your rotator cuff, old friend.

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    1. Thanks, John. I always worry about hitting animals on those kinds of roads; I hope my reflexes are still adequate for this trip. But I promise you that Phannie will not be going 80. I'm not even sure she will go that fast!

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  6. The UP is fabulous, can't wait to see all your pics from there. It was our intention to return, and explore it further. . .as a matter of fact, that was this summer's plan. ..but alas. . .well, you know!

    Happy, happy, happy that we were able to have lunch with you guys yesterday. Perhaps we can plan at least one more meetup. . .maybe two, before you head out.

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    1. We will make it happen. I hope we have time to see most of the suggestions folks are sending in. Sounds really nice up there.

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  7. The UP and all The "Yooper's" are a good time. Make sure you go up to Copper Harbor, It's one of the most beautiful places in the world. Water fall right next to road. You can see right from the RV! And make sure you go to Eagle Harbor Inn in Eagle Harbor of course great food.

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    1. Copper Harbor. Got it on the list. And as huge foodies, we will make the Eagle Harbor Inn a must. Thanks for the recommendations.

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  8. Door County Wisconsin is beautiful. The thumb in Wisconsin east coast.

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    1. Got it. Hadn't heard of its being called the "thumb", but it makes sense. We'll try to see it. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  9. Glad to hear that the shoulder is on the mend. Here is a list of things you may want to explore in Michigan.... Some may not in your area of interest but are listed just in case... (in no particular order)...

    Mackinac Island
    Tahquamenon Falls
    The ship wreck museum at White Fish Point
    Sault Ste Marie locks
    Copper Harbor
    Fayette Historic State Park
    Kitch-iti-kipi spring
    Porcupine Mountains State Park
    Black River Falls (outside Bessemer)
    Hilltop Family Restaurant - L'Anse (for the sweet rolls)
    Muldoon's in Munising (for the Pasties)
    Music House Museum in Williamsburg (not in the UP, outside of Traverse City)
    If you are in Traverse City, check out the wineries on Old Mission Point

    Also, if you have time and want to cross the border into Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, there is a bush plane museum that is very interesting.

    Safe travels!

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    1. Oh my! It's going to take a while to get all these on my list, but I really appreciate the suggestions. There's nothing like a recommendation from someone who's been there. Thank you!

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  10. The U.P. is great, I think you will love it. Here is our blog post about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising: https://millerluckycharm.blogspot.com/2019/06/michigan-part-i-pictured-rocks-and.html

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    1. Just looked at the post. Great resource and super blog! (I will definitely be following it.) Thank you!

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  11. Love, love, love visiting the UP. You have followers that have given you a great list so far. I have a few additions and comments:

    Seems like everybody goes camping in the UP so without reservations made well in advance you may have trouble, especially on weekends.

    Pasties - they are everywhere and I like to say, "all pasties in the UP are good, some are just better than others". The best traditional ones are the previously mentioned Muldoons in Munising, Connie's Kitchen in Calumet, Suomi in Houghton. Then you get into non-traditional pasties and our two favorites are the chicken broccoli at Roy's in Houghton and the green pepper one at the aforementioned Connie's kitchen. Muldoon's is also one of the few places that have dessert pasties and they are good with blueberry or other fillings.

    Houghton/Hancock/calumet area: This is a great part of the UP. Houghton and Hancock are connected by the Portage Canal Lift Bridge. Hancock has both Finnish and English on the street signs. Houghton is the birthplace of professional hockey which you see at a museum there. Calumet has a lot of historic churches and the Calumet Theatre (1900) is still having shows there and they offer free tours where you can see a history of all the great stars that performed. Since this area is Finnish you can get authentic Pannu Kakku at Suomi in Houghton, which is a custard pancake and wonderful. This area is on the way Copper Harbor. Be sure and get you picture taken at the Snow Gauge on the road to Copper Harbor. Also visit Jampot where monks make some of the best jellies and bread you have ever have. Be certain to try some thimbleberry jam.

    Blueberries - it might be too late but if not you can get some of the best blueberries you have ever had.

    Mackinaw City/St. Ignace/Mackinac Island - if you are going to Mackinac Island you will want to take the ferry that takes a little longer because it goes to the bridge and explains more about it. The best video we saw about the bridge was at the Bridge Museum above MaMa Mia's Restaurant in Mackinaw City. The restaurant owner was one of the ironworkers on the bridge.

    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is also not to be missed. Take a boat tour.

    If in Wisconsin we really liked the town of Bayfield, the gateway to the Apostle Islands.

    Have a great time, we expect lots of pictures and blog postings. Check our blog for all thins UP including our 'great pasty tour'.

    Have fun,

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    1. Oops, forgot to add that the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point has an 'Edmund Fitzgerald' section, including the ship's bell.

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    2. Good grief! I'm just going to post your whole comment on my list. Thank you for taking the time to help point out the good stuff. We'll be getting there in mid-August.

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  12. Well, it didn't take long for the PT staff to get your number, did it? All kidding aside, Mike, I'm sure your warm personality and good nature quickly pushed you to the top of the Favorite Patient list. Just think how much more they'd be hurting you if they DIDN'T like you!

    Michigan is one of two states that Alan and I have vowed to return to in the near future because we had such a wonderful visit the first time around. In order to do the state justice, we figured we really needed a bigger chunk of time, and we hope to return within the next couple of years. If you happen to be on the west coast (near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore), be sure to check out the adorable little town of Glen Arbor. If you and Sandy like cherries and are looking for a delicious lunch, I heartily recommend The Cherry Repulic in Glen Arbor. It's a combination restaurant and retail establishment where they sell all things "cherry." Lots of free samples, too! We enjoyed our stop there tremendously. I believe they have about a half dozen locations across the state so, if you don't plan to be along the west coast, then do check their web site for their other locations. The Cherry Republic will definitely be a "do again" for us the next time through. I don't often use the words "don't miss" when talking about places or activities but, in this case, I will absolutely say, "Don't miss the locks in Sault Ste. Marie!" They're commonly referred to as the Soo Locks and it's absolutely amazing to watch gigantic freighters locking through between Lakes Superior and Huron. There are lots of places to watch from, including a raised viewing platform, and there's a great little restaurant directly across the street with good food and a great view - be sure to ask to eat upstairs for the view if you go. If you definitely want to make it a point to see one or more ships lock through, you may want to check out the Boat Nerd web site on the day(s) you'll be in Sault Ste. Marie - www.boatnerd.com. If you click on "Vessel Passage" on the left, then on "Soo Locks" in the right hand column, you'll find a list of ships and their estimated time of arrival at the locks. There's also a link to a great map on the Vessel Passage page which shows the location of many of the ships and pleasure boats in the area. That site is a lot of fun to poke around on if you're up in the Great Lakes area. Michigan is just gorgeous, and I have no doubt that you and Sandy will enjoy your time there. I'm only a little bit jealous. Well, maybe more than a little bit . . .

    I'm so happy to hear that your physical therapy is doing it's job and your progress is steady. Keep up the good (hard) work!

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    1. Ah, Mary--count on you to be generous with your suggestions like Bob and Jo above. I'm so glad I have this stuff immortalized in this blog, so I can can look everything up. And yes, it didn't take long for the therapists to 'make me' as a harmless windbag. But I've found that laughter is indeed the best medicine, even if my smart mouth gets me in trouble sometimes with those who can't figure out that I'm usually kidding about everything. Thank you for your info; I will not miss the locks, for sure.

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  13. Salut Ste Marie, Aunne Osborn Campground to watch freighters. Lockview restaurant for whitefish. Franks for a good breakfast.

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  14. Oh, these sound like recommendations from someone who knows her stuff. They will go on the list, for sure. Thank you so much!

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  15. No suggestions from this gal, but I am thrilled to hear of your progress with the shoulder rehabilitation. I know it is all teasing and you are extremely grateful for your 'torturers' and you've listened to Sandy as she says, 'Suck it up, Mike!' haha
    Enjoy your trip, looks like a lot of things to see and do!! :)

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    1. Aw, thanks, Patsy. I always appreciate your kind comments.

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  16. Good your are on the mend.
    I am anxious to hear about the Jacks, as I just purchased a 2008 Allegro Bay with the Attwood jacks....not had a chance to use them yet.....getting the whole thing ready for a fall trip to Utah and Colorado.
    Hope they work for that trip. :)
    Norm

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    1. Well, Norm, you may be one of the lucky ones. I know some folks who haven't had any trouble with the Atwood jacks, but they are in the minority. We love our Tiffin coach, as I'm sure you do, and I think the new jacks will make it perfect. I'll be posting about the experience, so stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

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  17. I had a PT who I named ' Mistress Of Pain' but she did a great job of fixing me. You will be forever grateful to them when you are back to normal. Nothing to add about the UP as your readers beat me to it. Enjoy the trip and post photos for us to enjoy.

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    1. I know the PT is a necessary evil, but it sure isn't very pleasant. Thanks for checking in, pal.

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