Taking a Break

2018 was an interesting year. It started with travels, moving to Alaska year round, a new job, and a new car. In the middle of the year it was filled with Hospitals, Doctors, and Auto Shops. At the end of the year it was a major Earthquake and thousands of Aftershocks. I needed a break. Regular life is stressful enough and then you add in many life changing events / major changes into one year. I feel as if I’ve lived multiple lifetimes in one year. It wasn’t the easiest year, though it could have been a lot worse.

I had always planned to travel home for the Holidays. Originally it was going to be for about 2 weeks. However, the airlines for some reason were having to constantly change my flight, cancel my flights, or overlap my layovers. Though I didn’t enjoy having to change my flight 4 times, cancel two of my flights, and reroute my flight to a different airport I am glad that it happened. I needed a break. A break from work, from Doctors and Hospitals, from Earthquakes and Aftershocks. I needed a break from Alaska and what my new normal had become. I guess someone was trying to tell me that I needed to take more time for myself…it just took me a few tries to figure that out. So I went home, back to Minnesota, where my parents are. I was there for a month and honestly, it is just what I needed.

 

 

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I spent a lot of time dog sitting these two.

Everyone kept asking before I left what my plans were for the month. I said absolutely nothing. I had no plans and it was glorious. Yes, I’ve seen some family, played a lot of board games, watched some football (I don’t actually care for football; however, my parents do), gone out and about a few times, and just overall have had a very relaxing two weeks. The most amount of time I have spent on my computer or phone during the Holidays was to spend a few minutes replying to work emails. I hardly even acknowledged my cell phone. If I’m home I leave it in a different room and don’t even pay attention to it. I check it once or twice a day and it’s on silent. If I’m out and about the phone comes with…if I remember it. Words cannot express how happy I was to not be constantly looking at a computer or phone. I missed this.

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My favorite little human and niece.

Mid January I came back to Alaska and as you can imagine the first order of business was to get back to work and see the Doctor for a 6 month check up on my leg. I still was having a lot of difficulty pointing my toes. After an X-Ray it was discovered that I happened to have an excess amount of scar tissue that has built up preventing me from moving the way I should be able to. So back to Physical Therapy and add in Massage Therapy. Yes, I finally had my first ever professional massage. She does a lot of cupping on my leg. It’s fascinating. I’ll be honest…I am disappointed in my lack of progress as I often feel like I have plateaued yet there are things I should be able to do that I physically can not and am still in pain.

Since I don’t like to do anything the normal way my Physical Therapist has become super creative and trying new ways to get my leg muscles and brain to work together. She told me that occasionally it can take two years for this to happen. Apparently 2019 didn’t get the memo that I planned on it being a non-medical year.

I was back in Alaska for two days and I noticed severe pain in my left thumb and finger. My finger even turned a dark purple color (occasionally super white) and stayed that way for almost 3 weeks before I finally went to the Doctor. I’m stubborn and figured that the color would go back to normal and the pain would go away. Long story short it took 4 different doctors a CT Scan, an ABI test (though instead of ankle it was my wrist), an Echocardiogram, and an X-ray to rule out blood clots and any other vascular and vein issues. It turns out I have an irregular form of Raynaud’s Disease, have tendonitis in my EPL, and a bone spur. So now I get to go to an occupational therapist as well.

Sometimes things happen for a reason, we may never know what that reason is; however that doesn’t change the fact that there was a reason. Maybe this year is trying to teach me patience, that everyone heals differently, and that sometimes all you can do is your exercises ad hope that someday your brain and leg muscles will work together.

I am grateful that I can walk unassisted and am able to get out and about more often. I’m also grateful for a job that allows me to take the time off that I need to get my body back on track with the 4 – 6 doctor appointments I have a week. And I hope that someday soon I don’t need to go to any appointments.

I may have said this back in 2015 to one of my closest friends; however, 2018 and 2019 are reteaching me that “No matter what path you take it won’t always be easy and sometimes you’ll doubt yourself. But life is both beautiful and brutal…most of it depends on your outlook. But easy it definitely is not. However, following your heart and doing what’s best for yourself always makes life a little sweeter.” – Haley 05/15

I chose Happiness, always happiness, even if I sometimes have a hard time finding it.

My next blog will be up in a few days and I’m excited to share what I’ve been up to since I’ve been back to Alaska and a fun adventure I have yet to complete.

Earthquake and Aftershocks

Preparing for an emergency versus living thru one. I’ve always known in every state that I’ve lived what Mother Nature could do. Depending on the state you most likely have either, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes. Until you live thru one of Mother Nature’s natural disasters you aren’t always 100% sure how to prepare for them. I’ve been through all 4. Though each one is different, they all have a similarity. They are violent and you should have an emergency bag prepared. If nothing ever happens and you never need that emergency bag then that is wonderful. How horrible would it be if you are caught in one of the more violent Mother Nature’s Natural Disasters and you weren’t prepared?

I’ve been in Alaska on and off for 8 years. Yet, never did I think about how I should prepare for an earthquake. I knew the basics. Though I never really thought about it. I did know that if there is an earthquake you should get under a table or a desk, you should stay inside (unless you live in an area where you don’t have to worry about shrapnel from buildings/cars/electric wires won’t affect you), and the most stable part of your home is standing in the door frame (though not recommended). Beyond that…what? What would happen if once the ground stopped shaking if your home was in shambles, there was no electricity, no cell service, you couldn’t get to your vehicle, you couldn’t get to the the store, you were injured, all the radio stations were quiet? Really, what would you do? These are questions I never really seriously thought about. Sure I knew that there could be an end of the world scenario and I’d never be 100 percent prepared for that; however, what if it was a Natural Disaster and not the end of the world and I wasn’t prepared. I’ve been thru tornadoes/floods/mudslides/hurricanes; however, nothing prepared me for November 30, 2018 earthquake in Anchorage, AK. A large part of this was because it was the first natural disaster that I had to deal with by myself. I didn’t have the safety net I was used to having. This was also the first natural disaster that affected me directly and went on for days…not just minutes or hours. It was also the first time that I truly felt like I had no control.

Here’s my story: I was in my apartment getting ready for work. I was about to put on my shoes and leave when my apartment started making a lot of noise. It sounded like a train was coming through my apartment and then the shaking started. It wasn’t the first Earthquake I have felt; however, I quickly realized that this time was different. It was so incredibly loud and the shaking was much more violent. I felt like I was inside a snow globe being shaken. Since I’m still having trouble with moving due to a broken leg back in June, I couldn’t get under my table or desk (neither are very sturdy, so I’m not sure how much protection they could actually offer) and I couldn’t get far due to the shaking so the apartment hallway or outside was not an option. I wound up standing and bracing myself in one of my door frames. I’m not sure how long it lasted. Times seemed to slow down and so many thoughts were going thru my head. Mainly me asking God to make it stop. Those that were closer to the epicenter of the Earthquake shook longer than those that lived farther away. I kept hearing things rattle, shake, fall, and break. When it finally stopped shaking I headed to the kitchen to see the damage. Physically the building I live in was fine. However, there were some mugs and Izzie drinks that fell and broke. I cleaned the glass and wiped up the spilled drinks. Knowing I had to get to work I mainly cleaned up liquid. I would learn that this earthquake was a 7.0. Take a look at all the Alaska Earthquake 2018 videos on Youtube. Read the Anchorage Daily News to see some of the many news articles on the Earthquake and aftershocks. Or check out some of these Facebook Sites: Alaska Earthquake Center  or Alaska Earthquake.

As I was doing this we got an Aftershock that was over a 5. Again I got into a door frame and wondered how long it would last and how much damage it would caused. Once that aftershock ended I headed out the door to work. Once I got there I learned that work was canceled and that we were all being sent home to check on the damages done to our own homes. I didn’t like the idea of heading back home…I was by myself. A friend happened to call and she decided she was going to come and meet me at my apartment. I sat in my car listening to the only radio station that was still in operation where I started learning about the damages and what to expect with aftershocks. Little did anyone realize that within the next 2 days we would experience almost 2,000 aftershocks. When my friend arrived we went out for coffee. We spent most the day together. However, at one point she had to go and check out her place. So I went home and ran a tub full of water and began boiling water on the stovetop. After a natural disaster rarely is water okay to drink. My boss texted me to remind me to boil water which I greatly appreciated. There is always the likelihood that if water wasn’t already shut off it easily could be. I boiled a few gallons of water, responded to friends and family across the world to let them know I was fine and I’d keep them updated. That night I was invited to stay the night at a friends apartment. At first I said no; however, I changed my mind for two reasons. One was because an earthquake was bad enough, however, all the aftershocks were unnerving and I didn’t want to be by myself. The other reason is that I’ve always heard that there is strength in numbers. So I headed over to her place. I’m glad I did.

I never took photos…I was a bit distracted and was more concerned on how the rest of Alaska was faring then documenting what I could see. The following day I headed back to my place. As I was driving it seemed that everyone was back to their normal lives. Within 72 hours all our roads were temporarily fixed. Overall I fared extremely well compared to a lot of people. The aftershocks were still going, however, they were shorter and it seemed like less were happening.

I’ve had a lot of experiences; however, this was one of the most terrifying. Earthquakes give no warnings, I was on my own with no one around, I had zero control over the outcome, it was unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and the aftershocks put my nerves on edge. It also got me thinking…how prepared am I really? The chances of another 7 in the near future isn’t very likely; however, it is possible. That first day I threw together some additional food and water into a bag. However, over the following days I began looking into how to prepare an emergency kit and what should be in them. You can buy some pre-made emergency bag…or you can put one together. I took a look at the Red Cross Website. I have a lot of the items already due to my hiking / camping / traveling adventures I have gone on. However, there were a few items I never thought of that I think are absolutely brilliant. 1. The hand crank / solar charging radio that recieves AM/FM/NOAA weather channels, a flashlight, flashing beacon, and phone charger all built into one. I like the idea that I can stay connected to the world and know what is going on, being able to have a light, a phone charger for quick calls that doesn’t need to be plugged into a wall when electricity goes out, and I don’t need to pack / replace batteries every few years. 2. Waterproof tinder. 3. A blanket/bivvy/sleeping bag that will keep you warm and dry and will reflect back 70 to 90% of your radiated body heat back to you.

Things every kit should have: A first aid kit, a multitool, food, water, blanket, radio, flashlight, change of clothes (warmer clothes), a poncho or rain jacket, a decent pair of shoes, a charger for your phone, and any other items you find important to surviving. Or you can split the times into two bags. I have a small/string backpack I can grab with the essentials and then a larger duffel type bag that has a few additional items. I store it nearby my door for easy access. Some put them in their vehicles. Throwing together an emergency bag in the middle of the emergency will most likely result in a panic, forgetting something, or not being able to access the items you would need. It’s also not a bad idea to put some of these items in your vehicle for winter travel and winter emergencies.

A person will never be completely ready for a Natural Disaster, especially one they have no warning about. However, being as prepared as possible will help ease your mind and nerves when an emergency happens.

A month later and Alaska is still rocking and rolling. Not as many aftershocks as the first few days; however, Mother Nature isn’t ready to let up quite yet. Scientists say it can last from a few months to a few years. Lets hope it’ll continue to let up and stop with the aftershocks here soon.

Learning How to Manage

Lets be honest. Sometimes life is tough. These past few months have been just that. I went 14 weeks without any weight bearing. After a few weeks into physical therapy, using crutches to walk, and putting some weight on my leg I can now stand and walk without assistance. Its already started snowing and ice raining here. I’m not excited to battle the snow nor ice. As I continue to go thru this process, there are many things I had to learn and continue learning. I had to figure out how to do everything from getting around, climbing steps, doing normal everyday chores, getting back and forth to work. Even the simplest tasks that a physically normal person typically does not think about such as getting dressed, showering, cooking, carrying things from one room to the next, sitting comfortably, etc… had to be done differently. Since this was my first time breaking anything I wasn’t even sure what to ask my Doctors about. Some issues and the solutions that worked for me:

  1. Using crutches. I was terrible at them. If you have ever spent time in Alaska you know that the sidewalks and streets in many places are uneven. I fell within the first 10 minutes of using them as I was trying to get off a curb to my car when leaving the Doctors office. Luckily I work at an amazing company, have amazing co-workers, and amazing friends who let me use their devices. My boss asked if I would want to borrow his knee scooter to get around. I instantly said yes. This was a life saver. The walker with a seat has also been a life saver. At one point in my apartment there were two scooters, three walkers (one with wheels, one without wheels, and one with a seat), a wheelchair, a plastic boot, a splint, and crutches. It seems excessive because it was. However, I wasn’t sure what would work best so I would test all of these out. I am very grateful that I have amazing people in my life that were willing and able to assist me with medical equipment. 
  2. The scooter my boss borrowed to me was to heavy for me to lift in and out of my car when I was only able to put weight on one leg. Which meant that if someone wasn’t around I couldn’t take the scooter with me. So I left the scooter at work. Since I was bad at crutches as well I oftentimes would use the walker without wheels and hoped around in my apartment or getting back and forth to my car. The four legs of a walker offered more stability than the two legs of the crutches. Eventually I purchased a smaller scooter that was about 20lbs and could fold up small enough to fit in the overhead bins of a plane so that I could get around easier, on my own, and lift it in and out of my car. I got it from KneeRover.com. It was their smallest and most lightweight scooter.IMG_1608
  3. How to get around. The first couple of weeks often times my co-workers, friends, and my Mom (who came up for my surgery) drove me around. It was easier. Occasionally I used uber. However, after I had the situation with the uber driver who wouldn’t pick me up due to my scooter, I was uncomfortable attempting that again. Once I got the light weight scooter I almost always drove myself back and forth to work. If I was going farther then 10 or 15 minutes from my apartment friends would drive.
  4. How to be comfortable at work. This one took quite a while to figure out. I was instructed to keep my leg elevated and iced for the first few weeks. At first I just used a chair to prop my leg up, then I used some couch pillows, then I used a combination. Eventually I ended up with a bed pillow on top of a wedge pillow which was on top of a plastic bin. I used bags of frozen peas / corn and would rotate them in and out of the freezer. 
  5. Sitting differently in my work chair was causing bed sores. I couldn’t sit still. Not only was my leg in pain, now my entire body was uncomfortable and in pain. A friend came up with the solution of a blow up donut pillow. It worked wonders. There are two different types that I used. Both are super inexpensive. The first one a friend bought and I used that one the longest. However, I blew it up too large one day and when I sat on it, the pillow got a rip in the seam and deflated. The second one (same type) ended up with a leak as well. The last one I had was made of more durable material and though I’m no longer using it, it is still useable and has no leaks. 
  6. Climbing up the steps into my apartment. My Doctors suggestion was to sit down and go up backwards and everywhere online I looked said the same thing. I would have to then wedge myself into a corner and crab walk backwards up the wall to get back into an upright position. Luckily had some very wide steps so eventually a friend gave me a metal folding chair that I could put on the step, I’d sit down, turn around, stand up, drag the chair up to the next step, and continue. This was so much easier. It also meant I could sit and take a moment or two when I was going from my car into my apartment with crutches or my walker.
  7. How to do laundry…get a super light weight folding hamper, once it is a quarter full drag it to the washing machine. Any fuller and I’d tip over.
  8. Cooking food. I didn’t do much of this the first month after having my leg injury. I didn’t have the strength nor the energy. It was friends bringing me food, ordering delivery, or making easy meals. Easy meals are salads, cold sandwiches, cottage cheese and fruit, or food you can throw into the oven that requires no seasoning, mixing, blending, cutting, peeling, etc… Once I had more energy, I’d pull  up a stool and sit on that while I cooked.
  9. Grocery shopping. Did you know that you can order groceries online and then delivered either to your apartment / house or delivered to your car. We currently don’t have a grocery store that delivers it to your home; however, if you go to the parking lot they will bring the groceries out and put them in your car. Of course I still needed someone to help haul my groceries into my place. There has only been one time where I was left hauling in groceries myself and lets just say I looked like a homeless bag lady. It took me an hour to haul them from my car to the inside of my apartment as the extra weight of the walker combined with the bags meant I couldn’t pull it up onto my stairs. I will not be doing that again.
  10. Carrying things when I don’t have two hands I can use. What saved me was a backpack, containers with lids, beverages in reusable bottles. A basket on a scooter would be good; however mine didn’t come with one and I didn’t want something so big. I wound up with a fanny pack that had cupholders in it that was designed to hook onto my scooter. It could carry other small items so I didn’t have to constantly take off my backpack when I needed my keys or wallet.
  11. Obstacles. Set up your living space to accommodate you and your new needs. This may mean moving everything out of the way. Or it may mean setting up your apartment to have everything where you need it to be. In my case it was setting up a corner just for me. A corner that had everything I needed from medication, extra bottles of water, my computer, chargers already plugged in, a sweatshirt, some snacks, blanket, pillow, garbage can, and fan.
  12. Purchase frozen peas and corn to use as an ice pack. Find a decent ice wrap such as a pillow case that you can put the frozen bag of veggies in and use an ace bandage wrap so you don’t have to wrap a towel around your leg. You don’t want the bag of frozen veggies directly on your splint as you aren’t supposed to get your splint wet. Some will use ice cubes or ice packs. However, I wanted something that was flexible enough to go around and not just sit awkwardly on my injury. I also bought multiple bags of peas / corn as I wanted to make sure I never had to wait for one to freeze as the other was being used.
  13. Cleaning is hard. I didn’t do much cleaning the last three months. I am now debating about hiring a cleaning service for a one time cleaning. To put it into perspective I cleaned out my refrigerator the other day including taking out the shelves. It took me two hours. Not because it was messy, I only had about 6 items in my fridge, but because I couldn’t stand on two legs.
  14. Taking a shower. Standing wasn’t an option, neither was sitting on the bottom of the tub. I struggled getting up from a seated position on the ground without having handicap rails. Combine that with a wet tub and not being able to get my splint wet meant I couldn’t pull myself into a standing position. Solution was a handicap seat that a friend brought to my house and put together. The hospital did give me a plastic wrap to put over my splint to make sure it didn’t get wet; however, with the pain I was in and the small size of the opening I couldn’t get my leg into the protected bag. So at first I would use three garbage bags and duct tape around my leg. Somehow the water would still get thru the first two bags. Eventually I figured out that I could just prop my leg on the side of the tub and cover it with the shower curtain to keep it away from the water. This worked way better. Did you know that some American Legions in the United States allow you to check out items to use for free as long as you return them? I didn’t know it at the time. However, it worked great when I headed back home for a visit. If you ever find yourself injured and needing crutches, a walker, a raised toilet seat, a shower seat, etc… give your local American Legion a call. They are a life saver.
  15. Brushing my teeth and putting on makeup. I brushed my teeth in the kitchen for a month. It was just easier. And I didn’t put on makeup for almost two months. It again was easier as it already took me two times longer to get ready in the morning. As my arms and legs got stronger I was able to stand one legged in my bathroom and get ready.
  16. Getting dressed. This one was a struggle. I couldn’t bend my leg and foot the way I needed to which meant putting on pants was near impossible. I had one pair of work pants that could fit over my splint. I had that pair on when I went to the doctors. They wound up taking off one splint and putting on a new one on. The new one was lighter weight; however, it was also larger. I couldn’t get my pants off that day. I had a friend over and she tried assisting me with my pants. We wound up cutting my pants off. I was laughing and crying at this. A friend and my Mom went out and purchased some larger legged pants, skirts, and shorts for me.
  17. Go to Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy is often times an option the Doctor suggests. Do yourself and your body a favor and go. Some people believe that they don’t need the therapy. However, a person can always learn something new. Before I started therapy I couldn’t bear weight, I couldn’t walk correctly, and I could hardly move my ankle. I still have a long ways to go; however, I’m lightyears from where I was a few weeks ago.
  18. Be patient. Being a doctor is basically being a practitioner of medicine…aka practice of medicine. They are learning as they go. I’m basically the exact opposite of what my Physical Therapists have seen. I’ve got a whole team working with me. We have discovered that what comes easy for me is hard for most and what’s hard for me is easy for others. They have done research and have come up empty handed. So we’ve had to get creative.
  19. Do your research, ask questions, make suggestions. Work as a team. Don’t expect them to have all the answers. It may be frustrating; however, life isn’t made to be easy.

Again, I’m not sure how I would have managed without the love and support of my friends, family, and co-workers. So many people went out of their way to help me. 6 months later and I’m still needing assistance with certain things. I don’t enjoy asking for help; however, I’m getting better at realizing that it’s okay to ask for help or accept the help people are willing to to give you. Suck up your pride. Someday you may be able to return the favor.

 

 

Finding Your Passion – A Giving Season

Find what you are passionate about. It will make you a lot happier. A part of what makes me happy is volunteering and supporting organizations that do good in this world. I also love supporting friends whether they are reaching for their dreams or taking part in an activity that makes them happy.

I had an opportunity to partake in Bird TLC’s Annual Auction Fundraiser “For the Birds.” I have a co-worker that volunteers with them and I went to support the birds and him. I always enjoy cheering on friends with whatever their endeavors may be. It was a fun evening of learning, meeting birds, friends, food, and a silent and live auction. I didn’t end up biding on anything; however, I really enjoyed seeing people step up to the plate and support what they are passionate about. I’m pretty sure that eventually I’ll attend a bird rehabilitation releases. Due to donations, memberships, and their auctions they were able to build and open their brand new Bird Treatment and Learning Center. The Grand Opening was today.

Beans Cafe / The Children’s Lunchbox helps in feeding our hungry and our homeless. They provide breakfast and lunch to anyone every day of the year free of charge. They also provide 3 meals to each and every child under the age of 18 to local community programs that serve children and to eight Title 1 schools in Anchorage. Besides feeding the hungry and homeless they also provide many other services such as finding housing, jobs, etc… It’s an amazing organization that does everything they can to assist those in need in our community. Every year they have their Empty Bowl Project where 100’s of artists throughout Anchorage donate bowls they have made. Anyone can then attend the event and purchase a bowl and eat as much soup as they would like. It’s a good meal for a good cause.

It seems that in Alaska there is a never ending opportunity to see live music. When a friend mentioned that one of the Denali Cooks singer / musicians, Larry was performing at the Whale’s Tail I decided to go. I’m so incredibly glad that I did. It turns out that he brought a fellow singer / musician with him. Kayti Heller is an amazing singer. She is a music teacher in the Mat-Su Valley. We somehow ended up sitting at the same table and she is an absolute delight. I wish her the best in following her dreams. She is currently making her first ever CD. I’m so excited for her. She just released her first single and I love it. Take a listen.

 

A good friend of mine, Julie takes part in the 3 Day 60 Mile Susan G. Komen Walk to help raise funds to assist in finding a cure for Breast Cancer. She is absolutely amazing. She has already walked over 1,020 miles in …. walks. Head over to her fundraising page and help support an amazing cause by donating to her walk in New England. Or you can go to the Donate page and type in her name: Julie Jokinen. Her goal in 2019 is to walk all 7 Susan G. Komen walks. That’s over $15,000 of fundraising and 420 miles. Her goal is to walk until cancer is gone.

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Us at work at 1:00Am. Not bad for crawling out of bed during an emergency.

Brooke is another friend who has found her passion. Hers is pole dancing. It’s a great way to exercise. When she told me she was part of a showcase performance I went to support her. Take a look at the skills she has. She just placed 3rd in her category at a Pole Festival in Vancouver. So proud of her.

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Williwaw Rooftop after Brooke’s performance

Kait is amazing and has spent the past three years volunteering her time to the American Red Cross. The photo below is the two of us taking part in an American Red Cross Event to thank the volunteers. I even had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with the Chief Executive Officer of Alaska for the American Red Cross. I can honestly say that he is a wonderful human being and they couldn’t have hired a better person for the job. Not only do they do amazing things globally, they also do locally as well. You can become CPR Certified through the Red Cross. It means that someday you may be able to save someone else’s life. Pretty Amazing.

Kait

I have so many friends that have amazing talents and skills. These are just a few of the amazing people I have in my life here in Alaska.

 

Life Changes in a Moment

Life changes in an instant, it’s a moment in time that cannot be undone.

In June a roommate and I both happened to have the same evening and next day off. We decided to go glamping. In my world that means fancy camping. We found Alpenglow Luxury Camping where we could see Matanuska Glacier and camp out in some tents. These tents were amazing and had real beds in them. Life cannot get better than that. Take a look at the amazing views. There are only three tents so getting a group of friends together to rent out the entire place would be the way to go. We enjoyed the evening on our porch chairs, watching and listening to the rain. There is a little shed / building where our included breakfast was, running water, board games, some plug-ins if we needed them, a fire pit, and a cedar hot tub to use. There is also an outhouse and some flushing toilets if you want to go for a little stroll. In the land of the midnight sun this was a fantastic adventure.

The next day we took my car down a winding road to get to the entrance of Matanuska Glacier. It’s on private land so you have to pay a fee and sign a waiver. A waiver that states you are entering at your own risk and that you understand that if you get injured you cannot blame them. Makes sense to me. I’m choosing to hike on a glacier. I can’t blame anyone but myself if something happens.

We had our Kahtoola’s, basically micro-spikes that hook onto your hiking shoes / boots. We walked the first portion of the trail without our spikes as it wasn’t slippery enough and we had to walk over metal grates and planks of wood. Once the grates and planks ended and it got fairly icy we put on our micro spikes and continued following the orange cones that marked the one mile trail. At the end of the cones we decided to continue on for a while navigating our own path. Sometimes I was leading and other othertimes my roommate was leading. We both had the proper gear and both of us have been on glaciers before. We had to turn around a couple of times and navigated what we believed would be the easiest route. At one point I thought heading down a chunk of sloping ice about 3 feet was our best plan of action. It turns out it wasn’t.

What happened next I can only describe as happening in slow motion. What I know is that I was trying to head down a chunk of ice. My micro spikes somehow got wedged in a small crack. I tried to squat down to unwedge my body was sliding down the chunk of ice. However, I couldn’t stop my momentum until I had rolled over the top of my leg. I could feel it twisting and had instant pain. I rolled completely over it. I had to reach behind me, grab my leg, and pull to undwedge it. My roommate immediately asked if I was okay. I told her no and that I needed a moment before I could stand. My first train of thought was that there was no way I was going to have her call for help (there were phone numbers and names listed on the cones) and they send a helicopter to rescue me. I didn’t want to pay for a helicopter nor did I want to have a helicopter rescue me and the medics tell me that it was just a bad sprain. My second train of thought was if I can stand, I can walk. It took me a while to stand up from the puddle I was sitting in. I was able to stand and slowly hobble off the glacier. Apparently my whole body was shaking with the exertion, adrenalin, and pain. I hobbled back a mile and a half to my car. It took a few hours since I couldn’t walk my normal pace. Sometimes I looked like a baby bird learning to fly as I flailed my arms to keep my balance. She thought I looked like a toddler learning to walk. We realized quickly that every step was painful; however, I could walk uphill (it was the easiest), flat was not fun, and it was near impossible to go downhill. This means that I sat at every downhill and scooted on my butt. My pants were soaked, I looked and felt like a wreak. Other hikers noticed and tried to assist. However, I could only trust my own body weight, pain level, and balance so I usually thanked them and said I’d be okay. Occasionally I’d take an arm.

I’m not sure I would have gotten out of that situation without Debbie keeping me laughing. She told me stories, would walk ahead of me to check the route and find the smoothest one possible, and had so much patience. I felt horrible as I realized that I ruined my roommates adventure and I didn’t want her memory of hiking with me on a glacier to be a negative one. At the end of the day, we had a wonderful adventure. Minus the pain I enjoyed the hike back. As you can tell by the last photo we took that day, that we still enjoyed ourselves.

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Our last photo of the day. This is after we hiked back to my car and realized we hadn’t actually taken a photo together yet. I’m still smiling after a mile and a half on a broken leg.

I asked Debbie to drive my car back to Anchorage. Even though it was my left leg I didn’t feel like I could or should be driving. I asked her to stop up above so I could change into my sweat pants as I didn’t want to ride to Anchorage in wet pants. I did take off my boot for a few seconds so that I could change my pants. I did it as quickly as possible as I knew that keeping my boot on was important as it was holding my leg safety together. It was quite painful taking my boot off and putting it back on. I of course made her drive me home as I was still deciding whether or not I wanted to go to the doctor. I kept hoping it was just a sprain. I wasn’t sure if it was all in my head and I was exaggerating the pain.

Eventually Debbie said I should go to the Doctor just to be on the safe side. I was taken into the hospital room and took off my boot. It wasn’t actually all that swollen or bruised. The nurse said that it didn’t look terrible and that the doctor would take a look at it and determine if I needed X-rays. The Doctor came in and felt all around my ankle and leg and decided that I needed some x-rays. She mentioned that only one side of my ankle should hurt if it was a sprain. She was concerned it was broken. The nurse came back in and took the X-rays. She told me that she normally cannot tell if a leg is broken or not. She said the doctor usually has to outline where the break is for her. I could tell by the way she was speaking that mine was broken. So I asked. She showed me the x-rays and said “Yours is definitely broken. I have no idea how you walked off that glacier on your own.” That boot is really the only thing that held that bone somewhat inside.

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The terrain we had to walk back over.

 

It turns out that I broke my leg in multiple locations. After looking at my X-Ray and listening to the Doctor I originally thought it was just one break; however, it turns out I was wrong. It also turns out that I tore some ligaments. I sometimes wonder how much extra damage I did hiking a mile and a half back on it. Though no one can say for sure if I did. My ankle was wrapped, I received  a pair of crutches, and was told that I would need to see a specialist the next day. That Doctor would determine what the best course of action for me would be. Not exactly the news I was hoping for. I’m so happy that I had Debbie with me. She not only drove me to the Doctors, she also drove me to get medication, frozen peas, and some dinner. I called work to inform them what was going on and that I would be late coming into work the next day. I was told to take the whole day off. So I did.

The next day I seen a specialist who informed me that I would need to have surgery. The broken leg would heal and so would the ligaments…they just wouldn’t heal right without surgery. They put a splint on my leg, which made my leg feel instantly better as it could no longer flop around as I didn’t have any real control over my leg. The Doctor informed me that he could actually twist and turn my leg / ankle any direction and have little to no resistance. It was a bad break…I just didn’t realize how bad it was when it happened. We then set a date for the surgery.

This would be the beginning of a long journey. One I’m still on.