Vagabond Medical Emergency

[alert-note]I feel like our Vagabond story keeps coming back here. I’m stuck in evaluation mode. My goal when I started my Full Timing lifestyle four years ago was to experience this new life fully. I had expectations from my research, including other bloggers who have gone before me. Many of those expectations came true these last four years and some were well beyond what a had ever dreamed. Probably my most important goal was to stay active in my early retirement years. Of course, there were difficult times. Mostly due to repairs that were necessary on the Workhorse and Coach, and the cost associated. It’s hard to have your house worked on while you are moving down the road. Now maybe one of the most difficult times to date and it revolves around my health and my planning for emergency healthcare.[/alert-note]

Yellowstone Buffalo

Yellowstone Buffalo

My decision and thought process I’ve shared with you, including my re-evaluation a month ago, was to continue at least one more year even though repairs to the Coach and Workhorse were busting my budget. It’s important to me that I finish the five-year commitment that I made to myself when I was retiring. Once complete I hope to again reevaluate where I am at that point and possibly change my traveling style.

Visiting The ER


Wyoming Skies

Fast forward a week after my last Vagabond re-evaluation. I wake in the middle of the night with a pain I had never experienced. By the next afternoon, I found myself in an Arizona urgent care facility. While I don’t know how I hurt my back, they prescribed a muscle relaxer and rest. Early the following morning I woke with even worse pain. Eventually, I ended up going to the ER, again in the afternoon. An x-ray, a few more tests and I once again released with some additional pain medication and instructions to rest, no lifting.

Two days later and I repeated the visit to the ER only at 4 am. This time they did more testing and admitted me in the hospital for a few days for some serious testing. The result after numerous tests to eliminate problems, several CT Scans, Endoscopy and an Ultra Sound, their diagnosis a Pressure Fracture of “T8” vertebrae. A full timer’s worst nightmare. I can barely move my body, let alone hitch up the Coach and move on down the road. This will be a real test for me and I’m due to move my location in just a few days.

After the panic subsides, what’s real?

Yellowstone Grand Canyon

Yellowstone Grand Canyon

I’m thankful this happened before leaving the Arizona area, mostly because I have family support here.

An import decision someone considering the full-time lifestyle is health insurance. I am not very knowledgeable in this area so my sisters’ insurance agent helped me navigate the process. As most of you know an HMO insurance will not cover your needs when full timing. I ended up choosing a PPO plan (Blue Cross – Blue Shield of Montana). I also chose the Plan F which has no deductible. I’ve used this insurance several times now and whether I’m in Montana, Tennessee  Arizona or California it has worked well. As a backup, especially traveling solo as I do, I purchased “Travel Assist” from Good Sam. While I haven’t used it (hope I never have to) it stats they will cover medical emergency evacuation to a facility nearby or your home. They also provide transportation of your RV and tow vehicle back to your home. Also they provide airfare for a travel companion, including your pet!


Stormy Colorado Skies

For now, though, My children have opened their homes to Jagger and I. We have moved out of the Coach into my Son’s home, taking over the guest room. With the help of my Son and Daughter-in-law, we moved the Coach into a storage facility for a few months and my daughter is babysitting the Workhorse. (I can’t drive due to the pain medication I am currently taking). I will be following up with the doctors and physical therapists here locally and if the Orthopedic doctor is right, I will be back on the road again in four to six weeks. I might note that Jagger is also having a great vacation with his German Shepperd friend Phoebe, here at my Son’s home.

One of my “nightmares” revolved around medical assistance and I learned early on, even at my age, that it’s nothing to fear. Help is usually closer than you think. I will keep posting here as I progress. Maybe I will actually get “caught up” on my journal from last Summer before it’s time to hit the road again.

Safe Travels…Gary and Jagger

Note: I posted a few random pictures here from our Summer trip South last year.

14 replies

  1. So…..I’m thinking about going on a side trip before heading north in late March…..a place north, northeast of Barstow, BLM area, called Trona Pinnacles….ever been there? Was thinking maybe if you were released and felt up to it we could run up there for a couple weeks in March…..if not this year, maybe next…..This winter has been to quiet here without Jagger!!


  2. Wow! I just saw this… I am so sorry that you are going through this…but keep up the positive spirits! I am sure you will be out and about again very soon. Get well my friend! Keep us posted.. Take care… Lisa


  3. My thoughts and prayers are with you for a quick recovery. The time will go by fast, Enjoy your family time and the wonderful Arizona winter weather, Please continue to keep us updated. Feather Blu asked me to tell Jagger “Hi” for her. Take care.


  4. Good to hear that your prognosis is for four to six weeks not four to six months. I hope the doctors are right and you can get on down the road. Thanks for keeping us all updated.


    • Hi Sydney, after looking at the MRI, the Orthopedic Dr wants to do a procedure Vertebral Augmentation – kyphoplasty. I’m thinking about it and researching. Just not sure. If he doesn’t it may take three months or more. ?


  5. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery! I’ve had serious back problems and it’s certainly nothing to laugh about. Actually got stuck in a bathtub for 3 hours once… please keep us posted on how you’re progressing. Sharon


    • Yikes sorry to hear about that Sharon. It sounds terrible. Suddenly I don’t hurt so bad ? I just got back from the spine Dr. He went over the results of my MRI and wants to do a Vertebral Augmentation – kyphoplasty. I need to make a decision at some point. Thanks for your prayers.


  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your injury. Illness really throws a monkey wrench into the lifestyle…. been there, done that and don’t care to repeat. Sending well wishes your way.


    • Thanks Ingrid. This injury has definitely put a halt on activity. I’m praying this will be the only fracture I experience. I knew when I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis ten plus years ago I had a battle ahead. I never imagined this much pain. Thanks again for the well wishes.


  7. Wow, Gary – what a bummer. You got the jump on us going full time by a little over a year. For us, healthcare was never a serious concern, perhaps because we were/are pretty naive. And a false sense of confidence that nothing will go wrong health-wise. Each year we have been slowing down our pace, and doing gradually less strenuous hiking. About 18 months ago we did sign up for health insurance and that has turned out to be a very good thing. Nothing major at this point, but it has covered us well for the things we have had to deal with, including minor surgery.

    There is nothing on earth like the debilitating pain of back injury. It totally wipes you out. We seek frequent chiropractor care during our wintering months in Florida with the hope of avoiding something serious. I’ve become much more cautious with my working on our rig.

    And we’ve been fortunate in that repairs and maintenance so far have been minor and not required vacating the premises (well, other than that new roof which was totally our goof.)

    What impresses me most is your commitment to return to the road for a fifth year. Kudos to you, amigo!! There is no other “affordable” lifestyle I know of that serves up such a terrific return on investment. Going and seeing and doing so many things that this country (and Canada, for that matter) have to offer. It certainly has served to draw us closer to our Maker, which in and of itself is priceless.

    Thanks for sharing so much about your situation. Been thinking about you a lot lately. Keep up the positive mindset, it is THE key to pressing on. And heal well and fast, sir. The outdoors is beckoning!!!


    • Hi Rob and thanks for your concern. I’m getting ready to go to my second PT this morning. I’m hoping with the back brace my back will heal quickly. I’m so tired of hurting and it’s only been a couple of weeks 😦


Thanks for your comments. It's great to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.