To Montrose and Back

I hope this works. WordPress was in another stupid mood, wouldn’t let me save, was trying to make this all one big paragraph, won’t let me write a caption for the photo — how it powers one-third of the internet and is this screwed up, I’ll never know.

I really did not expect turning 60 to be any big deal. I don’t know that I
had any plans or expectations, just another turn in the wheel of life – until I
hit a (figurative) pothole three days before the fact and woke up barely able
to walk, due to over-tight muscles in my back and legs.

Last Wednesday, more than two months later, I fired my physical therapists,
although they don’t really know this. I reached the last of my scheduled
appointments and opted not to make another. Most appointments I left feeling at
least physically better than when I’d gone in, although two of them, including
Wednesday’s, all we did was shove the pain and tightness up my back into the
right side of my neck. Now it only hurts when I cough.

But my enthusiasm for this process — which involves changing clothes, allowing
time to get there and time to return, and the entirety of the actual
appointment was often only 20 minutes — really waned the week before, when I
listened as the clinic owner stood right next to me and belittled in
patronizing manner one of his young co-workers. He wanted the fan turned on and
she, cold, didn’t, and there are ways to explain convection and warm air
movement without deriding someone (who turns out to be from a warm weather
clime) in front of multiple other people.

And then he made fun of my posture, which I thought I had been working on
diligently these past couple months. This was quite unlike my first experience
with physical therapy, way back in the dark ages when there were only two
orthopedic surgeons no closer than Montrose. Now there’s an orthopedic clinic on
every other street corner, with therapy clinics dotting those alternate
corners. Back then all (which might have been one or two) the therapists worked
at the hospital, and I always felt like Sally, whom I saw three times a week
for I don’t remember how long because I had dislocated a shoulder and then it
“froze” in place, was completely in my corner. Sadly, she’s long gone
from the area, but it’s clear I need to find someone like her, and it’s not
going to be at this clinic I’ve tried twice now without happy results.

I’ve been given a name by several people; if I can’t work the neck and back
kinks out with the exercises I’ve been shown (but never given the app for,
despite repeated promises), I’ll give him a try.

In the meantime, I went two weeks ago to Montrose for a root canal, because
while we abound now with local orthopods there appear to be only two
endodontists on the entire Western Slope, and the news there was even less
welcome: the abscess causing the pain encompasses two teeth, not one, for the
double fun of a second root canal, followed by a crown, putting the cost at
about three times what I had anticipated for what was already an expensive

Then the root canal caused the abscess to rupture, spewing infection and
pain across the entire left side of my face. The endodontist, who didn’t listen
very well and didn’t really help run through my options after announcing the
two-tooth setback, prescribed an antibiotic that has needed to be taken every six
hours, with a caution to take probiotics in the between times.

As to why this large abscess might have manifested in the first place,
despite brushing and regular cleanings, he told me it has nothing to do with
hygiene and everything to do with aging teeth and trauma, although he did not
speculate as to the nature of what this trauma might consist of. Chewing,
perhaps, with aged teeth.

In the meantime Lynn – who is much older (much) than me — contracted a cold
(not covid, probably not RSV and not the flu) that still won’t really go away
after more than three weeks, ensuring that when she is not working –

[In the wacky world of the Post Office, where it takes months to hire
someone when you need help now, it is the “part-time” employees who work 50-plus
hours per week, not the full-time people whose week generally screeches to a
halt after that 40th hour.]

–she is sleeping. Except for our fun dental road trip to Montrose, where we
spent one full hour on the return trip sitting at the blockade where they have
been working since a year ago April without a whole lot to show the naked eye.

I was in a downtown business awhile back when the proprietor said that in all
her years in Gunnison, she has never felt more isolated than this past year,
when it has become extremely difficult to just pick up and go to Montrose, as
so many people are used to.

This construction project without end – termination has now been pushed back
to a year from now, if then – intends to make a twisty four-mile canyon section
of the road safer, but in the meantime it has been spectacularly disruptive.

Lynn and I, for instance, took an entire pandemic’s-worth of scrap to Recla
Metals (and came away with $5.82, which the woman assured me was not quite
enough for retirement).

My co-worker James has experienced this disruption in all its inconveniences.
A few months ago he bought a car in Montrose, on a Saturday when the road is
free of construction, but the first time he went to use the windshield wipers
they didn’t work. His used car came with a 30-day warranty, so he made an
appointment to have the problem reviewed and went back to Montrose – without allowing
enough time at the blockade.

I’ve never heard of mechanics who make appointments like physical therapists
who give you the boot precisely 20 minutes after your arrival, but this
dealership did that, and when James was 20 minutes late for his appointment,
they told him he’d have to come back, even though he’d come all the way from
Gunnison and they’d sold him a defective car.

Without much choice he went back a different day, leaving with plenty of
time to spare, and they had to send off for a part, which in this day and age
of supply-chain issues took just shy of forever to arrive.

Once the part arrived James got up very early one day to be at the roadblock
by 6:30 a.m., when it opens after an overnight closure – and then got turned
around and sent home because there was too much fog and they weren’t letting
anyone through.

He did, at very long last, finally get his wipers fixed, but no trip to
Montrose these days seems worth the hassle, especially when they tell you this
was just the first visit and you’ll have to come back to have yet another of
your teeth rooted out. Hopefully, this time, without nearly as much pain and
far fewer pills.


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