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LUCK IN UNLUCK

 

-----Germans have an expression that sums up exactly our experience at the end of our Ohio River trip - luck in unluck.

UNLUCK

-----We had just finished our almost 1,000 mile trip down the Ohio River and were at Kentucky Dam Marina, in the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort, just outside Paducah, KY. This is a great marina and we had used it several times before - for our cruises on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers - and ten years before when coming this way on the route now known as The Great Loop. We tied off at the dock, met our friends Marge and Tom, on the C-Dory Pelican, and headed out to dinner at Patti's. Stuffed with two-inch-thick pork chops and their world famous Mile High Pie (well, at least famous amongst all heartland cruisers).

-----We spent the night at their house and chatted about our upcoming tandem cruise down the Arkansas River. It was decided that Halcyon would leave the next day, November 17, and head to the Arkansas. We needed our engines serviced before the trip so Pelican would leave the next day and we would rendezvous at the Applegate marina, down river from Tulsa. We had the time, charts, guidebook, and the enthusiasm to carry us down the 455-mile waterway to the Mississippi.

-----We untied Halcyon from the dock and brought her over to the ramp, positioned the truck and trailer, and pulled her gently aboard the trailer - an action we had jointly done many times in our three years of trailer boating. The water level was low, so the lower ramp was slick with green slime. When the boat didn't line up quite straight on the trailer, a requirement for the long tow to Arkansas, I stood on the tongue and pushed her while El pulled her forward with the bow line. Suddenly, El slipped. I could see the bottom of her feet as her legs flew up from under her. In an instant, our lives had changed.

-----She couldn't move for the pain, so I tried to call 911 for an ambulance but we were too low for the signal to be received. I had to leave El and run to the top of a hill, and there contacted the police who immediately dispatched an ambulance. When they arrived a few minutes later, they moved El to a board and loaded her aboard. I rode in the jump seat in the front and we headed to the hospital. An x-ray quickly revealed that she had broken her leg, not far below the ball joint of her femur. The doctor informed us, "It was a good break." El has never done things half way.

LUCK

----- We transferred by ambulance to the regional hospital in Paducah. There we met Dr. Thane DeWeese, an excellent orthopedic surgeon. He looked at the x-rays, and asked El, "Would you like to go to surgery immediately?" There was an orthopedic operation scheduled, and the individual had to cancel. "Definitely," El responded and within minutes was on her way to the operating room - only four hours after her fall.

-----El's health and bones were in excellent shape (climbing in and out of the boat the previous months were great exercise) and a few hours later she was in ICU and all was well. The next morning, she was walking - not far, and with a walker - but you can't keep a good gal down. A few days later, the ICU nursing staff came in to bid her farewell and we moved to a regular room.

El leaving I.C.U. on Nov. 21st

-----Marge and Tom had picked up the truck and trailer from the marina, parked them in their driveway, and I was staying in their spare bedroom, only a few blocks from the hospital. Of all the places to take such a fall, there couldn't have been a better town, hospital, doctor, or friends.

Marge and El, in the Hospital, Learning How to Take a Bath With a Broken Leg

----- El was in the hospital for a few weeks. She had two birthday parties while there (one a surprise party, with two of our kids there - another kid had flown in to Paducah the week before and surprised her by walking into her room one evening). All the nursing staff came to the party and we took pieces of her cake to all the other patients on her orthopedic floor who could eat a sweet (El had met and visited daily with most of them, on her walks down the hall).

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Party Time!

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Puffing the Candles & Dr. DeWeese, El's Surgeon, Joins the Party

-----After a few weeks of physical therapy in the hospital, she was to be released. But to where? Marge and Tom offered their house, but they had high steps and El couldn't yet navigate stairs. She could climb into the front seat of our pickup, since El had insisted that the therapists give her training. We scanned the possibilities, and hit on an excellent choice - a marina! Green Turtle Bay is a well-known marina for those bound from the north to the Gulf, and many local boaters have slips there. The resort has condominiums that look out over the water, and since it was winter, many were available for rental. Done!

Welcome to our New Home

-----We stayed at Green Turtle Bay, taking longer and longer walks every day regaining the use of muscles and helping heal the leg. A physical therapist came once a week - El said the nice guy was her p.t. - "personal trainer."

El, Phil (her P.T.), and Halcyon

-----We were there for Christmas and through some beautiful snowstorms. It was a happy time, reading, watching the tows move up the lake, listening to their chatter on the marine radio, and generally having a good time relaxing ashore.

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Christmas and Winter Snows

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Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

-----In February, we loaded the truck, hooked on Halcyon, and headed west to Nevada to visit family and friends. Four and a half months after her fall, we were sliding Halcyon down a ramp and into Lake Powell for a month-long cruise. We had experienced exactly what the Germans meant by their expression - "luck in unluck."

(11-02 )

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