Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

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