Posted by: Talie Morrison | April 22, 2018

New Zealand, back to San Diego, and Great Test Results!

My last few weeks in New Zealand were wonderful.   My friend, Muppet, and I did a couple of nights tramping around on the Mt. Somers Track. (Muppet and I have been friends since we met in Antarctica!) It was pretty funny:  we parked his truck at the end of the track and drove BlueJay to the start.   As we backpacked up the track, we kept meeting people who were coming down telling us that the hut was very full.   Finally, when one couple told us we would be sleeping on the floor and that there was a big group of boy scouts up there, Muppet and I looked at each other and said, “Let’s just go back and camp at the trailhead with BlueJay!”   So that night we camped at the trailhead by a lovely stream, and the next day went to the other end of the track and tramped (that’s kiwi for backpacking) up to the hut on that end.   It being Sunday night by that time – we had the hut to ourselves!

When the leaves start changing, it is time for me to head to the opposite hemisphere!

Yep – end of summer!

Mt. Somers Track

At the top of the pass

Muppet and I had this hut all to ourselves

Sunrise from the hut.

Some parts of the track were a bit challenging!

Tengu had a good time too!

From Mt. Somers, I headed up to the top of the South Island where I had reservations to do the Abel Tasman Track.   This is one of the New Zealand “Great Walks” and you have to book it and pay more than the regular back country treks.  Last year I had had a great plan: to hike all 9 Great Walks in one season.   Well, my broken femur put an end to that plan, but I still was able to do 3 of them this year.

 

The Abel Tasman is a costal walk – so has lots of beautiful beaches and rain forest.   I left BlueJay at Kaiteriteri and took a “water taxi” to where I could hop on the track at Apple Tree Bay.   It was beautiful and a lovely hike to Anchorage Bay where I stayed the first night.   The second day was a bit drizzly off and on but it was still beautiful hiking to the second hut at Bark Bay.

 

That second afternoon, as I was hanging out at Bark Bay, one of the other trekkers asked me if I had any antihistamine tablets.  She had a bunch of bug bites.   I did have some tablets in my first aid kit that I shared with her.   Then that night, I started itching and it looked like I had bug bites just like hers.   It seemed that she had been in the bunk above me at the Anchorage hut, and there must have been some bugs in that corner!   They were random bites (on the back of my neck, my arms, even my fingers, my legs, and even on my “bum”).   I had a pretty miserable night  trying to sleep and not scratch – and the next morning, since it was still raining, I bailed!  Luckily at Bark Bay I had cell phone coverage, so I called the Water Taxi and booked the noon boat back to Kaiteriteri.   I was much happier after a hot shower and some tea tree oil on my bites!

Famous split rock off the Abel Tasman Coast

Beautiful beaches and rainforest

This is an actual “Silver Fern”

So many good views

I love those rock formations on the beach

Anchorage Bay

Pretty well groomed track!

At Bark Bay, waiting for the Water Taxi

I had a couple of days before I had to be on the Ferry to the North Island, so I headed out to one of my favorite beaches: Marfels Beach for a night, and then I spent Easter Weekend at the Momerangi Campground on the Queen Charlotte Drive.  I was just loving sleeping in BlueJay and waking up looking out over the beach and ocean.

So many islands

So much beauty

Marfels Beach for Moon Rise

Marfels Beach

Easter Weekend at Momorangi Beach

Not every hike is dry!

The ferry ride to the North Island was beautiful, I spent most of the 3 hours outside enjoying the views.   I did have tears in my eyes to be leaving the South Island – I sure do love it down there!

Good bye to the South Island (for this trip…)

More beautiful sunsets

Then I was on to Auckland, to spend a couple of days with Dianne.   Dianne’s son, Grant, was getting married that weekend, so it was really fun to be there to celebrate with him and Kelly.   A beautiful wedding!

Back in Auckland with Dianne

Grant and Kelly’s wedding

As we left for the airport, a rainbow was there to tell me I would be back!

BlueJay was all cleaned up, organized (I take photos of the things I leave down there), and parked at Ian’s house, and I was off to the airport.  Dianne and Ian were heading to Perth Australia, so we all went to the airport together.   When I originally booked my flights last October, I booked on Qantas.   I knew that the return trip was going to be long, and it was that!   27 hours to get to San Diego – I flew from Auckland to Melbourne Australia, then to Los Angeles, then to San Diego.   But all the flights were good and other than it being LONG, it was a good trip home.

A hallway of painted bears in Melbourne Australia of all places!

So now I have been in San Diego for a week – I have had my blood tests, my PET scan, and 3 doctor appointments.   And everything is GREAT!   What I have been doing is WORKING!   YEA!  The cancer is not detectible in my leg any more and everywhere else is still clear.   I know this is a long-term process (of my keeping my body clean and cancer free), but I am ecstatic that I have had such good results in this short of a period of time (it has been less than a year since this whole process started last May!)

 

I think I may write my second book about this whole cancer process, but in a nutshell, these are some of the factors that I contribute to my health:

 

Family Support:  Loving my lifestyle like I do, I had no idea how much breaking my femur would complicate my life.   Steve came to Denver, and then took me home with him to San Diego.   Steve, Chanda, and Gates have been a huge support group for me – setting up appointments, taking me to doctors, feeding and housing me for almost a year.   That has been huge!

 

Supplements:   I read “Cancer, Nutrition and Survival (by Hickey & Roberts) and I put together the supplements which I thought made sense and would work for me – that ended up being about $700 worth of supplements for a 3 month period (but I figure it is cheaper than chemotherapy!)  I have been very religious about taking these supplements, by the handful, everyday.

 

Diet:   Of course the first thing to go was sugar.   I quit sugar when I got to San Diego last June.  Do you know how many things on the grocery shelves have sugar in them?   Just try reading labels!   I was big into “juicing” vegetables thinking that that was a good way to get lots of veggies in my system.  Then in January, I bumped up my diet regimen after reading: the Metabolic Approach to Cancer (by Winters and Kelly).  That, in turn led me to The Wahls Protocol (by Terry Wahls, MD) and a Ketogenic Diet. Plus I am still doing the intermittent fasting.

 

Meditation:  For some people this may be a nebulous part of my recovery, but I think it is equally important.   It lets me get in touch with my “inner being” and helps me to feel positive and happy – which in turn helps the physical part of me.

 

So all these things have contributed to my feeling GREAT.   Deep down, I knew that all my tests would have good results – and sure enough they did!   Yea!  I am fully aware that this isn’t the “final chapter” – with cancer it is a wait and see process for several years to be sure it doesn’t come back.   But I am fully confident, that with my support, supplements, diet, and meditation, I have this thing on the run!   Yahoo!

Back to hiking above San Diego….

 

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Posted by: Talie Morrison | March 13, 2018

Another lovely month in New Zealand

Once again it has been a busy month!

Saying “goodbye” to Steve and Gates again (why do I feel like I am getting shorter?)

Back to my beautiful BlueJay (a great “bed on wheels”)

I left the States on January 26, getting back to NZ on January 28th.   I had two days to get from Christchurch over to Queenstown to meet the rest of my hiking crew.   Last spring, Dianne and I made reservations to hike the Milford Track starting January 31.   Those plans expanded into also doing the Otago Rail Trail (by bike) and then the Routeburn Track.   I had planned to have a couple of weeks to get ready for these three trips, but ended up staying in San Diego for the doctor’s appointments and tests.   So now I was on a “fast track” to have everything ready to go!

I had beautiful weather to drive across New Zealand (that helps), and it seems that I have switched driving sides of the road so many times that it has not been a problem. Whew!

Mt. Cook at the end of Lake Pukaki

 

So on January 30, I met up with Dianne, Ian, Russell, Diane, Phillip and Bronwyn – such a “motley crew”  They flew and drove from various places in New Zealand.   Dianne, Ian, Russell and Diane all flew from Auckland.   Phillip and Bronwyn live in New Plymouth, but were visiting their daughter in Christchurch.

 

 

 

The Milford Track is in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.   It is part of a World Heritage Site and is listed as “the finest walk in the world”. New Zealand has 9 “Great Walks” of which the Milford is probably the most famous.   The others are: The Routeburn, The Kepler, The Heaphy, The Abel Tasman, The Tongariro Northern Circuit, Lake Waikaramoana, The Whanganui Journey (Canoe trip), and The Rakiura (Stewart Island). The only one I haven’t done over the years is the Wanganui Journey (next year?!)

We are “doing it”! Dianne, me, Russ, Ian, Bronwyn, Phillip, and Diane

 

We all drove over to TeAnau from Queenstown and on the 31st took the Fiordland Express boat to the start of the Milford.   The first day is a pretty easy day with only 5 kilometers to the Clinton Hut. Bronwyn walked that section with us, and then headed back to the boat.   She was going biking rather than tramping! That afternoon/evening it was raining lots!   Now Fiordlands is used to lots of rain, but this was more than even what they are used to: thus the Milford Track actually flooded.   It was flooded in both directions from the hut where we were staying.   So they closed the Milford Track and asked us to stay in the Clinton Hut for an extra day.   Luckily there was a jigsaw puzzle which almost everyone took a turn!   So all 40 of us spent an extra 24 hours in that hut.   (Unfortunately for the people who were supposed to do the Milford the next day, their reservation was cancelled and with not much chance of booking in the near future.)

Flooded Clinton River which closed the track.

Lots more waterfalls with the rains!

When it cleared off, we were surprised to see snow on the tops!

Spending lots of time with the other 40 people in the Clinton Hut

Tengu is ready to go on the side of my pack!

That second night the skies started clearing, and the next day it continued to clear as we went on to the next hut.   Then, the third day, as we went over Mackinnon Pass, we had beautiful blue skies.   Those beautiful blue skies also brought a very cold wind! So we didn’t linger on the tops, but luckily there was a lovely shelter just off the saddle where we could fix tea and warm up.   Down to the Dumpling Hut and then the last day we had a long 18 kilometer hike (11 miles) in order to get to the boat at the well named Sandfly Point.

Yup – we are on the Milford Track!

It was clear but cold!

Monument to Quentin McKinnon

Blue skies, snow, and clouds – a good mix!

That’s the actual pass

Beautiful on top of the pass!

 

The boat took us into “Milford”, where some of us got on the bus to go back to TeAnau, while the others rode with Bronwyn who had driven to Milford. Yes,The Milford Track is one of the most beautiful and “finest walks in the world”!

More beautiful waterfalls

Peaceful rivers when they aren’t flooding!

Statistics on Sutherland Falls

Southerland Falls – highest waterfall in New Zealand

 

Sandfly Point!

After a night in TeAnau (with well needed and appreciated showers, and a good steak dinner), we headed back to Queenstown to send off Diane and Russ.   Then the 5 of us, drove to Clyde where we were booked to bike the Central Otago Rail Trail. We picked up rental bikes for 3 of us (me, Dianne and Ian), and started our journey from Clyde to Alexandra, then on to Omakau the first night, Wedderburn the second night, Hyde the third night, and Middlemarch the last day.   It was very fun and rather posh (for me that is) – we stayed in lodges every night with real beds, had real meals, and our bags were transported from lodge to lodge.   But still we did pedal the whole trail.   It was very fun!

Dianne, Ian, Phillip, Me and Bronwyn

Great line-up!

 

Fun old bridges

Me and Tengu on the track

Fun tunnels along the way

Of course you have to get a pic at the highest point!

Tengu and “his bike”

Fun statues along the way!

Coming out of another tunnel

Finished! Yea! Dianne, me and Bronwyn

And at the Middlemarch station

 

We took a shuttle back to Clyde to get our vehicles on the 4th day, and then drove back to Queenstown.   There we had 3 nights while Phillip and I “re-grouped” and got our tramping gear back together.

In Queenstown

Looking up towards Glenorchy

Dianne, Ian, and Bronwyn drove Phillip and me to the Routeburn Track. The whole group of us hiked the first couple of hours, but then they all turned back to the vehicles, while Phillip and I continued on.   The Routeburn is also one of the most beautiful tracks – it goes from Glenorchy in The Aspiring National Park into Fiordlands and ends at Key Summit.   We had a lovely 4 days of backpacking.   Unfortunately it was rather cloudy and rainy as we went over the tops – but the next day it was beautiful.   We got to the Howden Hut early, so took a hike up to Key Summit (and we were glad we did since the next morning it was raining again!).

Great waterfalls!

We are “off” on the Routeburn!

Phillip crossing another bridge.

More waterfalls!

I can’t help but take photos of these great water ways!

Looking down valley from above the hut

Looking down on Lake McKenzie and the hut at the end of the lake

After dinner tea “in the lake”!

This was NOT one of our huts (there are “guided walkers” who stay in really nice huts!)

Tengu and me at Key Summit overlooking Lake Marion (we have been here before!)

Key Summit

 

I was pretty happy with my leg/knee.   There was some pain – which is to be expected I guess, and some swelling; but basically it did great. The progress has been slow (at least to my hopes and expectations), but there is progress.   I keep trying to get it to bend – it is still stiff going downstairs, kneeling, and walking and biking.   But it has only been a bit over 9 months since the break – so I have to keep working it and being patient with the progress.   And I really am happy that I have been able to do so much so soon.

Beautiful!

Another beautiful sunset

After a night in TeAnau (I so appreciate my friend Sue Brownie, who lives in TeAnau, and lets me park and sleep in her back yard!) and a night in Queenstown – I said good bye to “the group” as we dispersed:   Dianne and Ian flew to Auckland, Phillip and Bronwyn headed back to see their daughter in Christchurch.   As I drove East toward Dunedin, I stopped and several of the places we had been at on the Rail Trail.

 

A couple of days in Dunedin visiting my friend, Peter “Muppet” Walker – we became good friends during our time in Antarctica!   And then back to TeAnau to volunteer for the GODZone adventure race.   Some of you might remember that I volunteered last year also – and had so much fun I came back to help again.   And since this year it was in my favorite New Zealand town (TeAnau), I just had to help!

 

This year there were 92 teams of 4 people each (one of whom had to be female) and it was a 10 day course.   The winners came in in 5 days 13 hours and 34 minutes and the last ones came in on day 9 – that’s a long race! It was an incredible course and it took the racers to some of my favorite places (Wairahraheri River, Lake Poteriteri, Slaughterburn Hut, South Coast Track).   I enjoyed watching their progress across some very inhospitable terrain. And I enjoyed being in charge of TA 7 (Transition Area) – where the racers came in by bike and left hiking. I always meet like-minded volunteers and come away with great new friends. And the racers are so appreciative of our efforts to support them on their challenge.

Briefing – 92 teams of 4 people and you could hear a pin drop!

The Start

Organizing gear (we did a lot of that)

Putting up “flags”

More gear organization

Bikers coming into the Transition Area

The Finish Line

The first night off the course, I slept for 11 straight hours – guess I was tired!   So I have wandered East again to see my friends Myles, Margaret and Gus in Christchurch. The weather is starting to change down here – days a a bit shorter and the nights a bit chillier!   In less than a month, it will be time for me to head back North again.

 

One of my favorite spots!

Camping at the beach

 

When I was sitting at the bottom of the steps last May 27th looking at my broken femur, I thought I wouldn’t make it down here this time.   But here I am, I’ve been tramping, biking, camping, and, once again, just LOVING New Zealand! I feel blessed!

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | January 27, 2018

From New Zealand to San Diego

Lots has happened in the last month.   I started out in Christchurch, mid-December, and did a quick overnight hike up to the Packhorse Hut.   It is a beautiful stone hut with a great view over the Lyttleton Harbor area.

Another short backpack trip up to the Packhorse Hut

The Packhorse Hut outside Christchurch

View from inside the Packhorse Hut

After coming down from the Packhorse Hut, I camped out near Christchurch.   I was parked next to a lovely Kiwi couple and I took my chair over and joined them for “happy hour” (I only had water though – part of my diet!).   I was telling them that I had signed up to do a volunteer hut warden stint on the Old Ghost Road.   If you remember I did that last year too.   This year I signed up for the week of Christmas and New Year’s.   We were talking about my taking up 10 days worth of food, and she said, “You could probably get a helicopter to take you (and your gear) up there.”   Wow – what a great idea!  Of course from that time on, all I could think of was: “Helicopter”!   It was a Saturday, so I had to wait till Monday to check in with the Ghost Road office and see if I could arrange a helicopter ride.

The access to the Old Ghost Road is on the West Coast of the South Island, so I decided to drive over Arthur’s Pass to get there.   Along the way there is a great little spot called “Cave Stream”.   If the water isn’t too deep, you can follow a stream up through a cave (it’s even free!)   You definitely need a head lamp because you are in the cave about 30 minutes and it is pitch black!   I was a little concerned doing it on my own – especially since the water was chest deep when I first entered the cave.   But a lovely young man from Australia just happened to be entering at the same time, so we helped each other through the rough spots.   It was awesome!   Beautiful cave and rather exciting in places!   They warn you to be sure to have a headlamp and extra batteries!   You wouldn’t want to be in there in the dark.  I also thought it was a good “stretch” for my leg – which held up just great! (It wasn’t chest deep the whole way..)

Caving in the Cave Stream – you can see I got wet chest deep!

I camped that night up at Lake Pearson, a lovely place to park and sleep in my wonderful BlueJay!

Great free camping spot at Lake Pearson

One of my favorite New Zealand drives is over the Southern Alps at Arthurs Pass. In December, the Rata Trees are usually blooming which makes it even more beautiful.    These are native trees, in the forest, which bloom with beautiful red flowers. That next morning was a bit cloudy, so I took my time coming over the pass, waiting for the clouds to clear.   Arthur’s Pass can be SO beautiful when the Rata Trees are blooming – and it was a fact!   I stopped several places over the pass and down the west side enjoying the beauty and taking photos.

Going over Arthur’s Pass – this is the Otira Gorge Bridge – it is amazing!

It is beautiful when the wild Rata trees are blooming!

As I came off the pass, where the road flattens out, I saw a hitchhiker looking for a ride.   I enjoy picking up hitchhikers when I can – so I pulled over and picked him up.   His name was Brent, and he asked me where I was going.   My answer was, “I don’t know – I could either go to Graymouth or to Westport.”   I explained about how I was anxious to get in touch with the Old Ghost Road people:  either by stopping in Westport, or calling, or emailing if I could find wifi.   Brent was hitching because he had left his car where the Harper’s Pass track comes out.   He and his girl friend were going to hike that track (I did that one years ago) and he was leaving his vehicle so they would have transportation after the hike.    Brent said, “I have a deal for you:  If you drive me home to Little Whanganui, you can park your van in my driveway, and I have all the wifi you could need.”   Sounded good to me!   So we took the back roads to Westport where I was able to talk to Rimu at the Ghost Road Office and she told me that she thought for sure she could arrange a ride up to the Ghost Lake Hut with people who were already going up by helicopter.  YEA! Then after a quick stop at the grocery in Westport, Brent and I headed up to his place in Little Whanganui.  Oh, my gosh – it was awesome!   The deck looks out over beautiful ferns and garden and you can see all the way to the ocean.   He offered to let me sleep in the “sleep out”, but I was happy as a clam sleeping in BlueJay.   So the next morning, I helped Brent clean out the cobwebs while he was packing for his backpacking trip.   We went into Karamea that afternoon for some errands, and then drove out to the end of the Heaphy Track for just a short walk.   That evening, Brent’s neighbor came over and asked if he was ready to go — the friend was dropping Brent off where he was meeting up with his girlfriend to do the hike.  So Brent looks at me and says, “Stay as long as you want, just lock the door when you leave.”   Did I really pick up a hitchhiker and then he “gave” me his house for 4 days?   Yes!  Awesome!  So I had a lovely place to stay while I organized my gear for the Old Ghost Road.   I even wandered out to the point to “harvest” fresh green-lipped mussels – Yum!

View from Brent’s Deck

Brent and I went to the start (or end – depending how you look at it) of the Heaphy Track

Parking at Brent’s house in Little Whanganui

 

So Friday night (Dec 22nd) I headed into Westport, so I could be ready for my helicopter ride on the 23rd.   I left BlueJay in Westport and the Ghost Road folks gave me a ride up to Seddonville where the helicopter was picking up two Canadians and their bikes for a drop off at the top of the trail.   It was a beautiful morning and a lovely ride over some beautiful country!

Helicopter to the Ghost Lake Hut

Looking out with bikes outside my window of the helicopter

It felt really great to be back at the Ghost Lake Hut and knowing that I would be there for 10 days!   In New Zealand, things are pretty crazy over the Christmas holidays – so it was a good mix for me to be at a hut in the hills for that whole time.   I got up there on December 23rd and hiked out on January 1st.   My duties were pretty simple – tidy up the hut after everyone left in the mornings – and even that was pretty easy since Kiwis are very good to clean up the huts before they leave!  I did clean the “composting long drops” each morning. I was free to go hiking and exploring during the day.   I welcomed people to the hut and checked that they had paid their fees.   Each night I checked in with the Ghost Road folks (there was cell reception at the hut) and checked the weather.   I made lots of new friends and had a lovely time celebrating Christmas and New Years up in the hills.   On New Year’s Eve, our “hut family” declared it New Years at 8:30 pm so we could all go to bed!

Posing for a picture at Ghost Lake

The layers of mountains reminds me of views of the Smokies in North Carolina

Sunrise with fog in the valleys

Of course, Tengu loved being at Ghost Lake too!

Sunset colors looking out from Ghost Lake

Looking down on Ghost Lake Hut

Love seeing so many mountain bikes at the Ghost Lake Hut!

Another beautiful Sunrise!

Inside the Ghost Lake Hut – my “home” for 10 days!

Walking through the mist coming out from Ghost Lake

Getting off the trail, I headed into Murcheson for a lovely hot shower (really appreciate that after 10 days!) and a roast dinner!   Yum!   And then the next day I drove back to Christchurch (this time over Lewis Pass).   I spent a couple of nights with my friends Phillip and Bronwyn who were going to look after BlueJay while I flew back to San Diego.

When I went through all the medical stuff last summer in San Diego, all the doctors asked for a 3 month re-check, so I planned for 10 days back in San Diego.  I could have had the test run in New Zealand, but by the time I paid for them there, it would cost as much or more than a plane ticket back to the States where I could get the tests and have my insurance pay for them.  So January 4th, I was back on a plane to LA.

When you are early for your flight in Auckland and your gate isn’t ready yet – they tell you to “Relax” – Love it!

I rented a car at LAX so I could drive down to San Diego.  I was a bit worried about switching which side of the road I was on in a busy place like Los Angeles.   But it went really smoothly and I haven’t made any mistakes (except when I want to turn on the blinkers and I turn on the windshield wipers instead).  It has been good to be back with Steve and his family.  And my friends, Jane and Robin, from Crested Butte came out for the week and went to all my appointments with me.

The xrays, blood tests, and CAT scans all went well.  I have a new orthopedic oncology doctor and she is more aggressive and conservative than my last doctor (he retired in December).   She did a good job of scaring me (and Steve and Jane who were with me) by saying that radiation treatment isn’t good enough. She thinks I should have my femur replaced with an implant and a new knee.  I agreed to have another PET scan done, and I am pretty sure that will show that I am cancer free.  I’ve been diligent with diet, supplements, and meditation.  The soonest that we could schedule the PET scan is January 22nd.   So I  changed my plane reservations till the 26th (getting to NZ on the 28th).

You can see that long screw is still there!

Most recent X-rays of my leg –

 

Since I was going to be in San Diego for another 2 weeks, I might as well enjoy it!   Of course I love being with Steve, Chanda and Gates – that is so wonderful!   Steve got Chanda’s mountain bike out for me, and I did a ride through the neighborhoods almost every day.   I put together a pretty good route that included as many hills as possible!   I will be joining some of my Kiwi friends to ride the Otago Rail Trail in February – so this was good training for my knee and leg.   By the end of the 2 weeks, I feel much better about the trip!

Chanda’s mountain bike was perfect for my “training” rides!

Steve and Gates and I went to see Monster Jam one night at the San Diego Baseball Stadium.   That was something different for me – way fun!

Steve and Gates at Monster Jam

Monster Jam

Tengu at Monster Jam

I also got a couple of good hikes in.   Jane and Robin and I went to the beach a couple of times while they were here.  And then I hiked up Iron Mountain one day and Black Mountain another.   Beautiful views from the tops of both of those peaks – the hikes were only 3 or 4 hours, so not too strenuous.   I will be hiking the Milford Track and the Routeburn Track when I get back to NZ, so it was good training for those also.

View from the top of Iron Mountain (Tengu is sitting on my knee).

A tunnel of trees!

View from the top of Black Mountain

Black Mountain (looks remote – but I can walk there from Steve’s house.

 

So I had my PET scan – and have switched to a new new doctor.   He, Dr. Hammel, is awesome!   The PET scan showed that the rest of my body is still cancer free, but there is some cancer still in the bone where it broke.   There are lots of “options” – and what I have decided is to keep an eye on it and not to have surgery at this time.   There is no guarantee that surgery would be 100% anyway – and it sure would affect my quality of life.  So if I can keep it from growing or spreading, we will see what future PET scans say.     I feel very positive about diet and nutrition, fasting, supplements, and meditation.   And in the meantime, I am on my way back to New Zealand and am going to finish out my trip down there till April.   As I send this out, I am sitting in LAX waiting for my plane!

Posted by: Talie Morrison | December 13, 2017

Christmas Greetings from New Zealand

Christmas Greetings from New Zealand!   I wish for you and your families a joyous and festive holiday season!   And I am thankful to be sending you loving wishes from such a beautiful place.

 

This last month I have been a bit “casual” in my touring.   It has been a month with old and new friends in some old and new places!   Very fun!

I love the designs in the sand!

Beautiful

Waterfall near Whanganui

Looking down on the ponga trees

Dianne and I wandered around Auckland, meeting up with Bronwyn at the harbor.   And then we went to spend a couple of days down in Kinlock on Lake Taupo.

With Dianne and Bronwyn in Auckland

Another beautiful sunset from Kinloch

Yellow Lupines along beach at Lake Taupo

With Dianne above Lake Taupo

 

I then headed over to the East Cape.   After spending a couple of nights with Bruce and Gaye Douglas, I headed out to Ocean Beach and  Castle Point.

Tengu and some roses at Ocean Beach

Lighthouse at Castle Point

Castle Point looking back at the lighthouse

 

I met a lovely Maori family at the campground near Castle Point.   They gave me some Paua (NZ Abalone) and some Kina (a sea urchin endemic to New Zealand).   So I was off to the next campground to figure out how to cook my new delicious (?) treasures!

Paua and Kina before

Paua and Kina in process (yes the hammer was necessary!)

Then to celebrate 6 months (from when I broke my leg) I got a chance to finally put on my backpack and do a short 4-hour hike into a hut that I had not been to before!   It felt SO GOOD to be out in the bush again and wearing my backpack.

Ready to get into the backcountry again!

Off to the Atiwhakatu track (it says 3 hours – but I took 4!)

Yea – the Atiwhakatu Hut

From there I headed down to the Southeast Coast of the North Island.   I found a lovely campground (the Waimea Camping Village) looking out over the bay.   The owner, John, took me and some German girls out in his boat while we pulled up crayfish pots.   Crayfish are like lobsters (they just don’t have the large front claws) and they are equally delicious!

Home for 2 nights!

On the crayfish boat (a couple of lovely german ladies with me)

I never thought I would have so much crayfish (lobster) that I couldn’t eat another bite! It was great! Also paua fritters!

Lighthouse at Cape Palliser – 282 steps to go up!

Then it was over to Wellington and onto the Interislander Ferry to the South Island!

On the ferry to the South Island!

Saw this starfish on one of my beach walks

I wanted to hike into the Isolation Hut (through the Sawcut Gorge) but it was still closed from the earthquake that happened over a year ago.   So I spent a couple of nights at Marfells Beach and luckily befriended more crayfish-fishermen. Next thing I knew I was on  a quad bike to the light house,  cray pots, and then I had another cray for dinner!   Life is good!

Ward Beach – beautiful

Wish this guy could figure out how to relax!

Another cray for dinner at Marfells beach! I feel pretty lucky!

I am now in Christchurch with my friends Myles and Margaret.   I will be doing some volunteering for the Old Ghost Road (I did that last year too).   So I will head up into the hills on December 23 and won’t be out till January 1st.   Christmas week is pretty crazy down here and the campgrounds are pretty full – so it will be fun to be out in the backcountry.   The Old Ghost Road is a tramping/mountain biking route and I will be at the Ghost Lake Hut checking passes, keeping things clean, and helping however I can.

Merry Christmas from Myles and Margaret’s beautiful garden!

So I send you tons of wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | November 15, 2017

Back in Kiwi Land!

So, yes, I am back again!   Surely I must have been a New Zealander in one of my past lives because  I sure feel at home down here!

When I got ready to leave the USA, there was some worry about how I was going to manage my baggage and flight, since my leg wasn’t up to 100% yet.   But everything went smooth as silk!    Steve was out of town (helping with relief efforts for the people of Puerto Rico) so I got an Uber Ride to the San Diego airport.   The Uber driver loaded my bags into his car (how I can manage to end up with so much stuff amazes me – 2 full bags at close to 50 lbs), and then when we got to LAX, he waited while I got a trolley.   (Side note here: the USA is the only place that I have been to where you have to “pay” for a luggage trolley – everywhere else they are free!)   So I wheeled my bags to the airlines and checked them all the way to Auckland (they were not quite 50 lbs each – so I got in under the weight limit).

On the long flight – from LAX to Auckland, 12.5 hours – I had decided to try staying on my schedule of “intermittent fasting”.   That would mean skipping the meals on the flight – could I really do that?   Yup – worked perfectly!   It was a bit of a “mental game” as much as anything to have everyone around me eating and me just drinking water, but I managed.  And actually one of the people sitting next to me asked if she could have my meals so that they wouldn’t go to waste.   No problem!

I drank a lot of water during the flight – that is always good – and since I had an aisle seat, I got up and down all night going to the toilet.  I don’t usually get much sleep on these long flights, so that part was pretty normal.   I also went to the back of the plane and stretched and did “laps” in the aisles when they weren’t serving meals.   I had worn a compression stocking on my leg – and the leg didn’t seem to be any worse for wear after the flight.   When I arrived in Auckland, Dianne was amazed to see me looking so good!

We visited with some friends we met in China, Phillip and Bonwyn and checked out their boat.   And then I met a new friend, Kevin, who has restored a 1925 Model T car – of course we had to go for a drive!

Since I arrived in New Zealand about 6 weeks earlier than normal, I decided to spend a little more time on the North Island.   After getting my van all organized and ready to go, I headed to the Coromandel Peninsula.   An old friend from Australia was on holiday at Whitianga (a beautiful spot with great hot springs!).   Tracey and I had met years ago on the Routeburn Track and hadn’t seen each other since (other than on Facebook). So it was great fun to re-connect with Tracey, meet her husband and her sister and parents.   We had a great couple of days – going to see the ancient Kauri Trees and, of course, soaking in the hot springs.  Before I left the area, I had to check out a spot called “hot water beach”.   It was amazing – at low tide, you can dig down in the sand and create your very own little hot tub.   I didn’t think the water would be very warm, but when I walked across the sand between the digs it almost burned my feet.

I headed to the West Coast of the North Island and found a couple of lovely little beach spots over there.   One weekend was a holiday, so I had to “hide out” from the crowds.   I found some cute little campgrounds in Piha and Muriwai, and visited a Gannett colony.  There must have been about a thousand birds – amazing.   I was still a bit of a “gimp” – rehabbing my leg – so most of my “walks” were easy hikes along the beaches.   I have done a couple of forest walks but I was “going slow” so I wouldn’t do any damage.   I want this leg back to normal as soon as possible and as good as possible!

I came back to Auckland to be with Dianne while she had minor (meniscus tear) knee surgery – she sailed through!   Then we did a quick trip to the beach together and stayed in her son, Murray’s, beach house. (They call a beach house down here a “bach”).  More walking on the beach – so lovely!

Then I headed to the “far North” for 10 days.   I stopped to meet a new friend in Whangarei.   Leeanne had read my book and contacted me on line with lots of questions about backpacking (they call it “tramping” down here!)   So it was fun meeting her and her husband.   Before I left her home, we scheduled me to come back and talk to her tramping group.

I drove all the way up to Cape Reinga.   I had been there in 1992 but hadn’t been back since – hasn’t changed much!   I found lots of lovely beach campgrounds and did lots of lovely beach walks.  I think I have “turned a corner” and I am finding that now I can push my leg a bit more (I am 2 months out of radiation – that should be long enough!).   I did a 10-kilometer walk a few days ago – it was an easy walk, but on a trail with the usual ups and downs and roots and rocks.   I thought my knee did well, but it did bother me in the middle of the night after that.   But then the next two days, I did more challenging (but shorter) forest hikes, and my leg is definitely getting stronger!  It is such a balancing act:   work it enough to get progress without working it so much that it makes it worse.   I don’t think I have ever had something like this situation where it is taking so long to get any effects from my efforts.

So back to Leeanne’s home and met with her tramping group.   It was fun talking about my book, showing some photos on her television, and then doing a “show and tell” with gear.   We had 13 people show up, and I sold 4 of my books.   Mostly it was just fun to be hanging out with “like minded” people.

I’m now in Auckland again…. I’ve now had another trip to see the physio-therapist.   I have a ton of stretching and strengthen exercises both for my leg and my back.   I still am looking to December 15th to make a decision as to whether I think I will be strong enough to do all the Great Walks.   I am sure I can do some of them, but I may have to “back off” trying to do all 9 of them in one season.

Dianne and I will be heading South in a couple of days, and I will probably be booking a ferry trip to the South Island in a couple of weeks.   I am glad that I have spent extra time on the North Island this trip and have discovered that the Far North is a world in and of itself – it is a bit more my style – less people and more forests and beaches.

 

 

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | October 7, 2017

Countdown to New Zealand

Well it has been an “interesting” summer to say the least…. Not exactly what I had planned, but then you know what I say: “The best way to make God laugh is to tell Her that you have “plans”!” So, hiking and backpacking turned into surgeries and radiation – but all that is in the past now – and I am heading onward!   I leave on Wednesday (October 11) to New Zealand.   I am going about 6 weeks earlier than my usual schedule, but what a great place to “rehab” and get my body back in “shape” (I guess at age 71 “shape” is a relative term! 🙂 .

I finished radiation on September 11th – and then dealt with the burn, rash, and peeling for another couple of weeks.   But today, I had my last doctor’s appointment (for a while I hope!), and my x-rays look good!   All my docs are pretty amazed at how quickly I have been able to be walking again and my recovery time – but I guess that is one of the benefits of being healthy to start with.

  • So some of my “marker days” this summer were:
  • May 27 – Broken Femur
  • May 28 – Helicopter to Denver
  • June 9 – Drive to San Diego with Steve
  • July 5 – I was able to roll over in bed for the first time!
  • July 20 – I was given permission to put 25% of my weight on my left leg
  • September 1  – I threw away my crutches
  • September 11 – Finished Radiation
  • September 12 & 13 – Got an “all clear” from my various Doctors
  • And now:
  • October 11 – On my way to New Zealand – Yahoo!

My leg still needs a lot of physical therapy – I have a bit more than a 90-degree bend in the knee – but it has a long way to go still. There is a lot of scar tissue still to break up in the thigh – and I am dealing with some screws that are in the soft tissue of my knee (that will probably have to wait till April to be dealt with). It feels great going “up-hill” but “down-hill” is another matter!   New Zealand has so many beautiful trails and beaches that it will be a perfect place to rehab!

On the other “front” of this issue – I am doing everything I can to prevent any cancer cells that are still hanging out in my body from taking hold.   I am working with a holistic chiropractor here in San Diego with those issues.   I am doing what is called: Intermittent Fasting – which means that I fast for 16 hours per day, and then have an 8 hour period when I can eat. In my simplified explanation: The theory is that the fasting creates an environment in my body in which the cancer cells don’t have the ability to multiply. Along with the fasting, I am drinking lots of veggie juices, eating lots of salads (no, I am not going vegetarian yet…), no sugars and breads, and taking a “ton” of supplements.   So it is the “game” we play with our health, and trying to know what is right for ourselves – and at this point in my “game”, the stakes are really high!

In the meantime, I continue to have a positive attitude – because I really think that the connection between my thoughts and my body is a big factor in my health also.   So, as always: Stay tuned …

So I haven’t taken a lot of pics while I have been here in San Diego, but here are a couple showing what a beautiful place I have been able to be in to “recoop”!

Posted by: Talie Morrison | August 4, 2017

Medical Update from San Diego

So Steve and I arrived “home” on June 10th (hard to believe that is almost 2 months ago!).   The drive out here was easy (for me at least).   I stayed awake through the beautiful parts of I70 – coming through the mountains and Glenwood Canyon.   I just love driving in Colorado!   Since I was on pain pills, I was relatively comfortable – and Steve has an awesome car (even has “air con” – I know, GrayJay is probably one of the last without it!)   Anyway, we stopped in West Glenwood – it took me a bit longer to get in and out of the restrooms, and the bottom of my bad leg got drug through lots of icky stuff.   But then back in the car, I dozed off and the next thing I knew we were pulling into Green River for gas!   Sweet!   We kept driving till we got to St. George and checked into a motel.   Poor Steve had to share a king size bed with me (who couldn’t roll over so I had to sleep on my back and probably snored like a champion!).

Early the next morning, we headed out after a stop at the local Starbucks for coffee and egg muffins.   And any of you who have done the drive down I15, know that right out of St. George, you go through a little corner of Arizona known as the Virgin River Gorge.   It is another one of my favorite spots!   And this time I could look around all I wanted since I wasn’t driving!   Beautiful.   Then I was back to la-la land, and when I woke up, Steve said we were 1 hour from home!   Yahoo!   So it was a smooth and easy trip for me.

Since being here in SD, I have gotten a new “primary care” doctor, an orthopedic/oncology doctor, an oncology doctor, a radiation doctor, and (by personal choice) a chiropractor who is into more holistic medicine.   So you can imagine – lots of doctor appointments, lots of xrays, lots of blood draws, lots of scans, etc.

I have also been having a “home health” physical therapist come and work with me twice a week, but that ends tomorrow.   At this point I have worked my left knee up to about a 75% bend, but that is as far as it will go.   So I have lots of work ahead of me.

I have also started radiation therapy – 5 days a week for 7 weeks.   We are trying to kill any cancer cells that escaped when my femur split – Dr. Kelly scraped as much out as she could.    I have  rented a little car, and since it is my left leg that is injured, I can still drive an automatic.   But I am still using a walker – I am only allowed to put 50% of my weight on the left leg.   Sometimes that’s hard to figure out.

Here are pictures of my latest xrays.   The orthopedic doc says they look good.   But you might notice on the first X-ray, that the bottom screw is pretty long and how much it comes out on the far side – that is already and will probably continue to bother me.   But for sure there isn’t anything we can do about it while I am in radiation, and I will hopefully  wait till next spring if at all possible.  (I’m not ready for another 2 months of no weight bearing!)

If you look at that last screw, you can see why it might be bothering me!

The bend in my knee looks better than I think i really is!

You can see the bone that is growing in and healing

So my plans are to finish radiation on September 11, have follow up appointments till mid October, and then head to New Zealand.   Luckily BlueJay is automatic!   It’s a little early in their spring for me to show up, but I can explore north of Auckland where it is warmer than the South Island.  I have hardly spent any time North of Auckland.

So send me wonderful, happy, healing vibrations as I continue on my journey….

Posted by: Talie Morrison | August 4, 2017

China – April 2017

This blog post will be totally out of order because needless to say – I went to China before I broke my leg!   Thank goodness it didn’t happen over there.  But a lot of you have asked about the trip and wanted to see the photos….

My Kiwi friend, Dianne, and I planned this trip way back in March of 2016.   She had heard about the trip from others who had gone with this company (Sinorama)  and they all raved about the trip.   China was big on her to do list (not exactly on mine – but why not….), so we started the research, etc. a full year before we went.   Actually, I will have to admit – I let her do all the research and just told her to tell me where to send the check!

China is a pretty big nut to crack!   There is not a lot of English spoken even in the biggest tourist attractions, and a lot of the Chinese are illiterate so having things written down (one of my best tricks when I don’t speak the language) doesn’t work all the time over there.   So it seemed like a good idea to go with a tour group.

This was Dianne’s work up on the China Map

Now – we know that a guided tour is not one of Talie’s favorite ways to travel.   I know with a tour you get to see a lot, and the English translations and descriptions give you a lot more information than you get just wandering around. But you miss the adventure of trying to figure out a totally different country – how they do things and how different they are. The price you pay: following around the little red flag – moving in a group – going for what I call “compulsory shopping” in the silk shops, jade shops, etc. doesn’t light my chimes!   On the other side of the equation, let me tell you what we got: Airfare round trip from Auckland, 3 or 4 internal flights in China, bus transport in between, a trip on the high-speed train, English-speaking guides everywhere we went, porters to carry our luggage, and 20 nights in 5 star hotels!   All the meals (except 4 or 5 were included). It was amazing.   Price:   NZ $4026 (That’s $2937 US Dollars). Pretty incredible!   So maybe, Talie, you can bend your rules this once and go for it this time (just don’t get used to it!)   Dianne and I had decided from the “get go” not to sign up for the “extras” which included things like “dumpling dinners”, acrobatic shows, water shows, etc.   Being on our own on those nights, we could actually wander around the city or countryside and have a little of our own adventure!

It was a long flight (of course) from Auckland to Shanghai and then a couple of hours and another flight on to Beijing where we met up with the tour.   I noticed a booth that was selling “SIM cards” so my first purchase was a Chinese SIM card for my iPhone.    I have used foreign SIM cards before and been happy with them.   I purchased one that didn’t include voice calls, but included data for texting.   The real beauty of having a local SIM card is using the other options on your phone.   (Once I was dropped in the middle of Kathmandu by a taxi that couldn’t get “through” – I used my maps on my iPhone to find my way to my hotel!).   So with the China SIM card, Dianne and I could see where we wanted to go, and (mostly) how to get there.  I felt a bit more secure that way.

Sinorama whisked us out of the Beijing airport and off to our first 5 star hotel!   Very nice!   Beijing in the springtime is gorgeous!   Of course the cherry blossoms were blooming – all the trees had fresh new green buds and leaves.   I was surprised at how clean the public spaces were – the medians on the roads were manicured and beautifully planted.   From what I understand, China is planting trees in any open space to counter their “footprint” on the planet.   I didn’t notice very much in the way of air pollution, so either we were there at a good time, or it is working…

The streets of Beijing – no “old clunkers” out there!

Beautiful

A free “gym” on the sidewalk

The Old and the New

Lots of color!

That first night Dianne and I were on our own – so that was pretty fun in Beijing.  We located a park on my iPhone map and worked our way over to it.  Crossing 6 lanes of traffic was be a bit challenging – and we had to take a rather long detour to find a bridge over the road. The park was great – there were people exercising – TaiChi, playing ping-pong, playing cards, paddling around in the lake, and enjoying the beautiful trees and gardens.   We never felt lost since we knew right where we were on the map  (of course, we also got a card with the hotel’s name on it, just in case!). I love being able to just wander around foreign cities and actually see the locals doing what they “do”.

After the park,   we found a little spot for dinner (it was crowded, which usually means the locals like it and it must be good food!).  We pointed to the photos to tell them what we wanted to eat, figured out how to pay in Chinese Yuan, found a table and we thought we were in good shape.   The meal came and it looked delicious.   Yikes!  One drop on my tongue set my whole body on fire!!!!!!   I didn’t know you could make food that spicy!   Dianne was able to pull a few noodles out of the broth and eat them, but I couldn’t even do that.   So I had the rather bland dumplings which was our other dish.   The next day, we got our guide to write (in Chinese) “Not Spicy” (and hoped the people in the restaurants would be able to read it!)   After that we used those Chinese characters whenever we ordered.   Except if we were at Colonel Sanders Fried Chicken (it is amazing that there are KFC’s all over the world – even in China (possibly even more than McDonald’s).   When you order chicken at a KFC over there, they give you little disposable plastic gloves so you don’t get your fingers greasy! Interesting

Tengu thought those lions were scary!

I was absolutely amazed at the cleanliness of everywhere we went.The infrastructure around the cities was amazing.   The roads were well taken care of, like I said,  the green belts were trimmed, weeded, and well cared for.   There was basically no trash on the streets. Now – I know we were being shown the parts of China that the Chinese Government wanted us to see – I am sure our tour was subsidized by the government (why it was such a great price) – but still it was impressive how clean everything was.   We did get on the subways and wander away from the beautiful parts of the cities.   I always felt safe – never threatened even after dark.   Of course we were cautioned about pick pockets – but you find that everywhere – USA or China!   Everyone please note: I did NOT lose my passport in China!   Yahoo!

And THEN:   20 nights in 5 star hotels!   Definitely a bit different from sleeping in GrayJay off in the desert!   I still love you GrayJay, but I think I might be able to force myself to sleep in these big fluffy beds with showers and tubs in the bathrooms. Definitely a “pampered” trip.   Now I know how my mother used to travel!

Our first 5-star hotel!

Our first day of touring in the Beijing area, we went to see the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.   The next morning, we took the bus about 1.5 hours outside of Beijing to the Great Wall.   It was one of the “big ones” on my list of things to see.   And it was very impressive! The Chinese built this wall as protection from the Huns and other Nomadic tribes – it never completely fulfilled its purpose (let’s see – and our President wants to build another wall?   If it didn’t work way back then, what makes him think it will work now? – Ok, Talie, no more politics!) I loved the Great Wall – of course, where we were had been refurbished and reinforced but it was still very impressive.   We had about 2 hours to spend there – and of course, Dianne and I had to go to the “top of the hill”.   Lots of steps!   I wished it had been a blue sky day, but it was a bit cloudy.   Even so, it was pretty awesome to actually know that I was walking on the Great Wall of China (which can be seen from space!).   We also went to the Ming Tombs (where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty are buried – 1368-1644).   When I go to foreign countries, I realize how very young America (and New Zealand) is.   There is human history that goes WAY back!

Really on the Great Wall!

This was where we were on the wall

From Beijing we took a flight to Xi’an.   There we visited the Summer Palace and the Imperial Garden in the Qing Dynasty. And the next day, we went to the Terra Cotta Warriors excavation.   Now that was AMAZING. To quote Wikipedia:

The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE,[1] were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong DistrictXi’an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum.[2] Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officialsacrobatsstrongmen and musicians.

The whole area is huge – and the amount of warriors (which are life-sized) is amazing.   I was very happy to be able to see this amazing sight!

They even had Terra Cotta Horses

The photos don’t do it justice as to the hugeness of the place!

You can see where the logs rested on the dividers

After seeing the warriors, we took another internal flight to Wuhan.   From there we got on a cruise boat for 4 days on the Yangtze River.   It reminded me quite a bit of the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers.   Lots of barges carrying coal or oil or other heavy materials.   But it was very relaxing and beautiful to cruise on this beautiful large river.   We had a lovely room, and (as in most cruises) there was lots of great food.   The way the large group of Sinorama travelers were divided up was first by bus:  we were in Bus 2;  then by table – we were table 7.   So when we organized ourselves to get back on the bus or whatever event:   we were checked in by “Bus 2?” and then “Table 7?”   It was pretty funny.   But the best part of this was that our “Table 7” group really connected.   We laughed and carried on at each meal and enjoyed getting to know each other.   It was pretty fun.   From what other people say, this is an unusual situation – but we were very lucky and now have more wonderful friends from around the country – we covered New York, Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Zealand (I have already been to Phoenix to visit Ed and Rhea!)

Table 7!

The Yangtze River was beautiful, with steep mountains coming right down to the water level.   We were blessed with lovely weather and enjoyed several shore excursions.   The most amazing part of the journey was the new Three Gorges Dam – which is the world’s largest hydroelectricity project.   To get through the dam we had to go through the 5 stage ship locks. It took us most of the night to get through all of them.

And everywhere, the high-rises for all those people!

One bridge did a light show as we cruised under it at night!

Amazing infrastructure

So steep!

Down the Yangtze

 

We disembarked the boat in Chongqing (only 35 million people live there!).   The Zoo in Chongqing has a large exhibit of pandas!   I also enjoyed the white bengal tiger!

The Pandas were adorable!

White Bengal Tiger

Then we were whisked off to Shanghai.   We had lots of free time to visit the markets in Shanghai and the “bund” which is the riverfront.   Dianne and I were on our own again for the evening and had fun going back down to the riverfront and seeing the light show across the river.   It was amazing.

The skyline during the day

The skyline at night

The next day we were back on another internal flight to Guilin and then a bus up to the village of Yangshuo.   The area around Yangshuo is full of these small steep limestone “baby” mountains.   It reminded me of HaLong Bay in Vietnam – except it was over the land.   Very interesting landscape!

I loved the landscape!

On the river Li

Then we got to go on the high-speed train.   Can’t go to China and not go on one of the high-speed trains!   We got up to 247 km per hour (that’s 153 miles per hour).   It didn’t feel fast – but we sure covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time!

Very sleek!

We actually went up to 247 Km/hr

The end of our trip consisted of seeing Macau (the gambling mecca of China) and then Hong Kong.   Neither of these places impressed me very much – but then you know I’m not much of a city lover.   In Hong Kong, our room (yes, still 5-star!) was on the 57th floor.   Yikes!   I’m not sure I like being that high in a building – so I didn’t get very close to the window.   But it was quite a view over Hong Kong.

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

The infinity pool at the hotel (on something like floor 42)

This was as close as I could get to the window on the 57th floor!

From there we flew back to Shanghai, and then back to Auckland.   Long flights but it was good to not be following a flag anymore!   All in all, I would say it was an amazing trip to China – I felt like we saw so much that was spread over quite a bit of distance.   The lodging and food were excellent (I haven’t had any hankering for Chinese food since I have been back!).   It was well-organized and very informative.   I know that we saw the “parts of China” that the Chinese Government wanted us to see – so there is still a lot out there that is very different.   But I would definitely recommend Sinorama Tours to anyone who wants to go on an organized tour of China!

 

 

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | July 3, 2017

The Whole Story

Ok Folks –

Some of this will be old news if you have been following me along – but for those who might have missed last month’s update, I thought I would start at the beginning:

May 25th, I went to Dr. Griggs, Orthopedic Doctor in Gunnison, Co.   My left knee had been bothering me since about February… Last year, it was my right knee, and I had been told it was arthritis (at least typical symptoms of that).   Not too surprising as I was still carrying about a 35 lb (16 kilo) pack in the backcountry at age 70!

So this year when I started having problems with the other knee – I thought it might be something like arthritis.   It felt a bit different – pain in different places, etc.   So I went to a couple of Chiropractors in New Zealand – all of whom said “It isn’t your knee.”   Well that was good news, but WHY does my knee hurt?   We adjusted back, hips, ankles – all the other knee support systems.   It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t still get in a couple of good backpack trips (no 10 day-ers), but I did get out into the backcountry.   Happy camper Talie!

Coming back to USA (after 3 weeks in China – that will be my next entry), I went to a Chiro in San Diego who I had seen before.   He said, “It’s not your knee – maybe the IT Band.”   So we worked on that (whew – more painful than Rolfing!).   Again – helped somewhat but didn’t solve the issue.

Ok – finally, feeling like I had used up all my other “options”, it was time for “Western Medicine”.   So on my way home to CB, I made an appointment with an Orthopedic Surgen in Gunnison (still hadn’t been to CB yet).

[Now a little side note – I also stopped in Grand Junction to see my “implant dentist”.   We did an implant last fall – and it should have been all healed up and ready to go.   So they worked me in at 8 am to check it.

Bummer (as I had suspected) it had not “taken” – which was a long story about a new type of implant which was pretty much a failure (not only for me).   So 8 am, I’m not really happy to have an extraction – ouch, and no hard food for 24 hours (I love the milkshakes and icecream though).   Now I had till the next day for my Gunnison appointment, and “shopping” in Junction lost all it’s charm when you have a “tooth pulled”.   So…. I went and got a manicure and pedicure!   Not your usual Talie/Mom activity – but why not? And my toes looked great!

Ok – so back on track, off toward Gunnison… I found a great free camping spot across from Blue Mesa – beautiful spot to hang my hammock and hang out in the early spring – Aspen leaves just budding and a few flowers poking up!   Always nice to find a free off the road “home” for the night.

In to Gunnison for my 10 am appointment:   Dr. looked at my knee and my stance, and said (can you guess?), “It’s not your knee.” Now where have I heard that before?   Anyway, he had all the equipment to do an xray of my knee and leg.   We looked at the Femur, which was just beautiful till just before the knee, where it seemed to look like mashed potatoes!   I said, “I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that?” And he definitely agreed with me.

This was the X-ray on Thursday May 25 before the break – you can see there is something going on on the bone…..

Since this was Thursday of Memorial Day weekend, we set up a follow up appointment for the following Tuesday to get an MRI, a Biopsy, and a CAT scan. And then off I went to Crested Butte to spend the weekend.

I was so glad to be “home”.   Lots of snow still, and I couldn’t get up into the backcounty to camp, but I found a couple of lovely spots to sleep in GrayJay.   When I get back to CB, I have a large bag of 6 months of mail – lots of it junk, but I need to go through it all.   So I had a great time at the coffee house, opening Christmas Cards, packages, tax info (ick), and letters from around the world (Thank you all my friends!).

I was able to semi organize, and at least pull out the tax info.   Top of the “to do list”!   Since my auto extension was till June 15th (oops – still haven’t done the taxes…..).

So that Saturday night, Jane and Robin and I grilled shiskababs and then watched the Arizona State Girls Softball championship game (unfortunately they lost).   After the game, I said, “I got the cups (from our after dinner tea).”   So with 3 cups hanging on my right hand, and my cell phone in my left hand, I headed down to the kitchen.   Didn’t quite make it – as on the 2nd to last step, I think I either slipped or twisted, but went down in a heap – just a plop onto my bum.   But when I looked at my left knee – I said, “Call 911”.   I had totally a broken femur (it was so obvious) – looked like 2 knees!  (The photos of all this are on the blog post before this one.).   Then I handed my phone to Robin and said, “Take photos!”

This was the view – with just a oops slip at the bottom of the stairs (slippery socks on carpet) – not a big fall – but a big ouch!

Call 911 !!!

As a x-member of Crested Butte Search and Rescue and an EMT, it was pretty interesting to be on the other side of the equation. Out came the vacuum mat – and in I went for a full body splint.   I was able to give the EMT’s some info from my side of the issue – as in no worries about back problems, head injuries, etc. I could tell them when I was getting some “shocky” symptoms … but the main problem was just the Femur!

I have to admit that there was a bit of pain getting onto the vacuum mat, and then getting me outside and onto a stretcher to get in the ambulance.   But once in the ambulance we could start an IV and get some pain meds in me. We had a great conversation about how wonderful New Zealand is on the 30 minute ambulance ride down to Gunnison Valley Hospital.

Jane and Robin followed the Ambulance to Gunnison – such GREAT friends! Once down there – we got an xray of the broken femur and a CAT scan.   The doc on call was great and sent Dr. Griggs got copies of the xrays at home.   He said there certainly wasn’t anything we could do at that time.

X-ray when we got to Gunnison that night – you can see it broke where the bone was compromised!

To tell you the truth – from the time I told Jane and Robin they could go on home – till the next morning, I have absoutely no recollection of what happened.   I don’t know if I spent the night in the ER, or in a room, or whatever…. I guess I was pretty doped up!

So Sunday morning – Dr. Griggs came in – said that the break in the femur was out of his range of expertise and he was going to send me to Denver to a specialist.   Since the Gunnison airport runway was in the process of being resurfaced, I was going to be helicoptered.   It was a beautiful ride up over Taylor Reservoir, with the Collegiate Peaks filled with snow, then up and over Leadville, and finally coming into Denver over the Flatirons in Boulder.   I loved seeing so many of the places I have hiked from the air like that! (Today I got the bill for that beautiful ride: $50,000!)   Thank God for insurance!

So Sunday of a holiday weekend (Memorial Day), not much was happening in Presbyterian/St. Lukes Hospital.   But they got me settled into a room and check into the system.   My friends, Jane and Robin and Joni, came over from Crested Butte, and my adorable son, Steve, drove non-stop from San Diego.   I am blessed to have great family and friends!

Then things started happening – we did a biopsy on the problem with the femur – it is a fibrosarcoma – which is a soft tissue or bone tumor (started on an infarction on the bone).   It was malignant tissue – and once the bone broke the whole Femur was contaminated up and down the shaft.   We kept waiting for results from the biopsy, because the surgeon needed to know if it was “primary” or “secondary”.   Dr. Kelly went into surgery still waiting to find out the results of the biopsy – which didn’t come in.   So she did a external fixator – which temporarily held the bone in place.

This was what the outside of the fixitatur looked like

We had several days to wait for lab results to find out what the bone thing was – big decisions rested on those results (do I keep my own knee or not). So we did an external fixiter to keep things in place!

It was a big decision which was hanging on the biopsy – things like: Could I keep my knee?   Could I keep my leg? – I told her, “Please take your time – let’s not rush things and make a snap decision!” The biopsy came back saying “secondary” (bummer!) but it was enough information for Dr. Kelly to go in, scrape out the bad stuff, fill the bone with cement and using plates and screws put it back together (which was not a simple fix either – since there had been some rotation with the split of the bone.).   Anyway – surgery #3 in 3 days – and I was pretty much of a wreak.

And here is my new Femur!

TSA in the airports will hear me coming!!!!

I can’t tell you how many angels live in my son Steve.   He had a “host” who were with him.   Since I was so doped up, he could hear and remember what the Drs said, help with decisions, be sure the nurses kept on top of my pain meds (we got behind once – and he never let THAT happen again!).   Steve even sponged down my sweaty body when I so uncomfortable.   He stayed on the nurses, being sure I was getting what I needed and he helped them whenever they needed something – Steve prowled around the hospital – he knew where the ice maching was, the water, the refrigerator, – he had it dialed in!   I can’t thank him enough!!!

So after the 3rd surgery, when things were bolted back together, they came in one more time and said: “No water or food by mouth for another 4 hours,”   After 4 days of this, I was getting a bit grumpy for not eating!   But this last time they filled me full of radioactive sugar, and after a 45 minute wait (in which both Steve and I had a great nap), they ran me through the full on PET Scan.   So they checked my whole body, and no other cancer cells!   Well that’s great news!   But what’s up with the “secondary” call.   I guess in the long run, they changed their minds.

I had great nurses and great care at P/SL – but the biggest difference was having my own advocate.   I can’t tell you what a blessing that was! (Of course Steve was getting coaching from Chanda, his wife, who is a labor and delivery nurse in San Diego!) I also had great friends who came over to Denver (5 hour drive one way!) to hang out with me – thank you Jane, Robin, Joni, Corinne, Judy and Mary, Marnie and Woody (and Cedar the dog), and Mike and Nell.   So there was almost always some sort of party going on in Talie/Mom’s room!   Way fun!

On another side note:   I have been Facebook Friends with an old friend of ours from Spruce Pine North Carolina: Jonathan Fogleman.   When Jonathan saw that I was in the hospital in Denver, he called me and said he wanted to come and see me.   Steve and Jonathan had been best friends in Spruce Pine and hadn’t seen each other for 35 years.   It was awesome to reconnect these two awesome young men!  They went out for lunch one day and dinner the next – so it was quite the reminiscing for both of them!

35 years later – best friends!

So from the Sunday of Memorial Day, till the Monday of the following week – I was in P/SL Hospital (I haven’t seen the bill for that one yet – it’s going to be scary!) Once, I got over the anethesia effects (well partially over them….), I was still a bit anemic, so I got a pint of blood – and that kept me in the hospital one more day.

Finally they checked me out of the hospital and sent me across town to Spalding Rehabilitation Center.   Another ambulance ride…..

When we got to Spalding – Steve and I talked to the Dr and nurses and said: “If we can possibly, without compromising care, have Talie/Mom in Steve’s car heading to San Diego on Friday – it would make our life so much easier.   They looked at us like we were really smoking dope!   It was Monday – and we were planning on leaving Friday – no way.   But being a bit persuasive, and knowing how strong the rest of my body was, and knowing that Chanda had set up a perfect bedroom – with walk in shower, one level, toilet with handles, and a shower chair – They started coming over to our side.   Maybe this could work.

So Chanda sent us photos of the one step it would be to get into the house from the garage, the one step to get up to the living room, and the walk in shower, etc.   I worked with PT and we learned how to go up one step with the help of a chair, we practiced getting into the shower, we practiced getting in and out of Steve’s car.   Yep, they worked me – but I was raring to go!   The Dr even gave me diuretics on Wednesday and Thursday so we wouldn’t have to stop so many times for bathroom stops along the way on Friday.

So 9 am on Friday morning – we were on our way out of Denver!   Yahoo!   We did it!   I wanted to stay awake through the beautiful mountains – such a lovely drive out I70 from Denver – and then the Glenwood Canyon – awesome.   So I propped my eyelids open and enjoyed the view, we stopped in West Glenwood – and once back in the car I was out like a light.   Next thing I knew we were in Green River, Utah!   Wow!   So we drove the rest of the way through Utah on I70 – then turned onto I15.   We drove till we got to St. George Utah – a goodly chunk of the drive!   Steve brought us food to the room and we ate and then even though we were sharing a king size bed we were both out like lights till the next am!

The motel did a breakfast, but it looked like powdered eggs, etc. so we decided to go to Starbucks, get coffee and an egg muffin, and drive on down the road.   Good choice!   The first part of the drive out of St. George is a little slice of Arizona (another one of my favorite parts of the drive) called the Virgin River Gorge.   I was loving it because I wasn’t driving and I could really turn my head and look at the beautiful rock formations!   It was a perfect way to start the day!   So out into Nevada we came – and once again I was out like a light (the drugs they give me for pain are great – but I am mentally and physically waisted!)   When I woke up, I asked Steve if we could get some snacks – and he said, “Mom, we are about 1 hour from home!”   WOW! Yahoo.   That was pretty painless (for me at least – he did all the driving!).   I got to admit that airconditioned cars in the desert in the summer are pretty nice (I still love you, GrayJay!).

By the time we got to San Diego – both my legs were pretty swollen and I was a bit stiff, but it was awesome to have that journey over with!   The bottom of my left leg was gross – after dragging it through the dirt and spills from the gas stations!   Steve was glad to be home, Chanda was glad to have him home, and I was excited about settling into new surroundings.   I have never felt so loved and cared for as how Steve and Chanda have taken me in – I am one lucky momma!

Sunday, it was back to work for Steve and Chanda, and I was happy to just lay in bed – in and out of sleep – read a little – doze a little- take more little pink pills – life is good!

So since then, I have arranged for a general doctor – they have checked my blood levels – and I am still anemic, platelettes are high, my vitimin D is low — so definitely my body is not back to normal yet!   So I am eating lots of vitimin D foods, protein, shakes, and smoothies and veggie juices.   But I am finding how long this process is going to take – I guess I don’t heal up as fast as I did when I was 20!   (Bummer!)

I have also seen Dr. Bowman who is an orthopedic doctor with oncology (attached to UCSD), so he has xrayed the femur – removed the staples – and said things are looking good on that front.   I am still supposed to be non-weight bearing (I try but I’m not very good at it…), but I know this will all be a blip on the radar screen down the road – so behave, Talie!

So the diagnosis is: what I have is a fibrosarcoma – which is a malignacy which started in the soft tissue or bone.   They talk about a “bone infarction”.   Well – how many of you out there are telemark skiiers?   Have I fallen about 50 times and had my right ski go under my left leg and the leg come down on the edge of the ski?   Pretty typical tele fall!   Definitely could have “infarked” the bone on one of those slides down Jokerville!   But bottom line is that it is malignant – bummer.   It was totally contained when it was in the bone – but then I blew that open and the whole femur has been contaminated (along with the quad!).   So – the future (at this time) is to heal the bone – ?6 weeks (I’m at 5 weeks now) – then do local radiation to kill those little floaters.   (I have put up “no vacancy” signs all over my body letting them know that there is no place to go!) Unfortunately it will be hard to do MRIs to see what is happening since there is so much metal in the leg.   But we will keep a close eye on what is happpening down there.

I have also contacted Dr. Geronomo who is a chiropractor who is more in touch with alternative healing.   (I’m trying to hit this from all sides!). We are working on my “gut” to get me on the up and up with my blood cells, my iron count, my vitamin D, etc….   He has said juicing is good but alternate that with veggie shakes – whew the second one of those sent me to the bathroom for about 30 minutes!!! I tried a 16-8 fast – (theory is to starve the cancer cells for 16 hours a day – no sugar – they love sugar).   I guess I am not quite up to snuff on that bit yet – I was wasted. During the fast, I didn’t want to take a pink pill (narcotic) on a totally empty stomach, so I thought I would try some of the marijauna drops for pain instead – oofta – I was a zoombie for 12 hours – (I did NOT like that at all!).   So I can see the benefit of using it when I am transitioning off of the narcotics – but I am going to have to be in the woods sleeping for about 6 days!!!!   So I’ll save that stuff for another day.

Mean time, I am taking the little pink pills – eating chicken, and smoothies with spinach, kale, arugula, lettuce, etc!   For some reason Mushroom soup just hits the spot for me – so thank you Cambells Soup.

Steve and family have gone to Florida for their summer vacation – they totally deserve it!   And to get a break from Talie/Mom!   They are having a great time – walking on the beach, warm ocean water, reconnecting with North Carolina family, and just relaxing!   I’ve got a lovely couple of girls, Emily and Ally, who come to walk the dogs – and we have a great time talking (I have got to stop spouting off on my theories of life – poor girls!) Anyway, their Mom has taken me out for change of venue and it has been fun just to ride around San Diego – see the ocean, etc.

I have been really surprised at how much energy healing takes out of me.   A simple trip to get a blood draw, lunch, and a short electric wheelchair around Target and I am wiped out!

Look out Target Shoppers – Talie/Mom on the loose!

Back home for a 2.5 hour nap!   Amazing!   So – we are getting there – swelling is down, the scar will be amazing – and I just need to get some bend in the leg. I am working with PT and once I am allowed to put weight on the leg – I think we can really get things working again. I am still planning on hiking the Great Walks in New Zealand starting next January – so I have a goal in site.   Iceland (starting July 29th) had to be cancelled obviously – but there is always next year!   Luckily, I think I will be getting most of my money back from those reservations.

So here, I am in San Diego – I do have my phone with me – and I love facetime!   So if you are bored one day – give me a call.

 

MORAL OF THE STORY:   If you plan on breaking your femur:   1st get your toe nails done 3 days before (everyone will comment on them!); 2nd get an xray of the bone 2 days before you plan to break it (that helps); 3rd be at your best friends’ house when you break it so they can not only help but give GrayJay a home for the summer; and 4th have a son who really is an angel in the flesh!!

 

Once again:   Thanks for listening…..

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | June 9, 2017

Femur Fun

Hi everyone —  I am just trying to get this info out to everyone as easily as possible.   I have posted a photo album on Facebook also – but here are the photos on my blog.   It has been a LONG couple of weeks – a bit painful, stressful, etc.    But I really am on the road to recovery!    Steve has been here from the beginning –  a real lifesaver – so great to have an advocate and someone who can listen (and remember) what doctors and nurses say.

We have decided that the best decision is for me to go to San Diego (they have all the resources there!) and recover.    So the plan is that we leave tomorrow morning at 8 am (the rehab hospital has been blown away by how much I have accomplished in 3 days!).    We will drive back to San Diego – taking 2 days with lots of breaks, so he can be back at work on Sunday morning.   Needless to say the bone will probably take 6 weeks to heal, and then we will do some sort of local radiation.   Still don’t know where the cells originated, because I got a completely clear CAT scan!  So there are some questions yet to be answered, and some decisions yet to be made down the road, but that just the way life works, eh?

I know you are all concerned, and I welcome your love, prayers, positive comments, etc.   But please try to keep the questions to a minimum.   I just can’t answer the same questions 300 times even if they are the same question!

Wish me luck, and know that all will be well and I’m on the road to recovery and throwing my pack on again soon!

Love,

Talie

PS – I got a SPECTACULAR helicopter transport from Gunnison Hospital to Denver on Sunday May 28th – right over Taylor Reservoir, the Collegiate Range,  Leadville, and coming into Denver over the Flatirons!   I may have been in pain but I sure enjoyed the view!

 

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