By , July 30, 2015

I apologize for a lack of posts recently. I returned yesterday from a 3 day adventure out of town. My activities, and the circumstances that brought them about, cause me to think more on a fairly constant concern of our semi-remote lifestyle.

A friend in town broke her ankle almost two weeks ago. She and her family like to hike, most often in remote areas. She broke her ankle by a simple misstep on her front porch!

She took her fall when her husband and children were away traveling. She got to the emergency room on her own. Friends gathered to tend to her as she struggled to live normally while keeping her leg as immobile as possible in the full week before she could travel to Juneau for an operation to set the leg. When she could travel, I volunteered to drive her car onto the ferry and serve as her nurse before and after surgery. Her son joined us in Juneau, and the two of us worked together to maneuver his mother on crutches and wheelchair.

I arranged for us to stay with friends of mine in Juneau. We had the run of their house, because, in a further sobering development, they had traveled to Anchorage so that one of them could be treated for a serious form of cancer. Ironically, I once wrote about one of my falls on the “homestead,” and that essay refers to these same friends coming to visit us (see There But for Grace Go I?).

We all had an exhausting trip, but I think we managed to have a lot of fun as well. Certainly, we spent a much time reflecting on the irony of this injury so close to home, and discussed how it might have been different had it happened on a hike, or to one of my family out here on the property.

We started thinking of this early on in our off-the-grid life. Soon after moving to our “homestead,” we stood in line at the bank behind a fellow with a walking cast. When a friend asked him what had happened, he said that he stepped out his front door as he had done many times every day for years. Then one day, he did it wrong….

We already dealt with Michelle’s mother’s greenstick ankle fracture on the property before we moved here. After that, I picked up two pairs of crutches (large and small size) at a Juneau thrift store, which we store in the shed just in case.

We don’t worry about this sort of thing. We prepare for it as much as we can, try to be mindful of where and how we put our feet, and hope for the best.

Even so, this trip provided a sobering reminder of how precarious our life can be. Every day, as we cross the rocky beach or the root bound trail coming and going, we teeter on the edge of physical and financial disaster. And yet, as ever, we feel the lifestyle makes the risk worthwhile.

2 Responses to “Missteps”

  1. Dave Zeiger says:

    Hi Mark,

    I can’t recommend a Wilderness First Responder course highly enough. They’re often offered via Search and Rescue organizations, and cover short and long term care in ‘the Wilderness Context’ (2+ hours from a hospital). Different rules and means apply, sich vastly extend our range of options.

    Safety first!

    Dave Z

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Dave, I know–we’ve been looking for the right opportunity since before we moved here! We always seem to hear about the local trainings after they occur, which is, of course, no help. We’d hoped to get all three of us through this training long ago. Now that Michelle’s working with Joe O’s guiding outfit, she may hear of the trainings in time for us to finally take one.

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