Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area

The wild adventure continues, as I find myself living in yet another remote place, close to nature.

It's been a rough few days, of severe pain, so bad, that I just couldn't write or get much done at all. I am behind on everything, even this blog was interrupted for a few days. It's 2:22am and I can't sleep from the pain. So I am up and wide awake, praying for a miracle, wondering what on earth happened to me. 
The little red pencil mark, is where I am located.
I feel like I have stepped back 100 years into what Florida might have looked like, before the great expansion. 

Recently I moved to a wildlife management area, where I am workamping. In exchange for camping with electric, water and sewer, I am to run a Hunter's Check Station (for wild game harvested) 16 hours a week. Initially I was told it would be 32 hours per week, split up into two 16 hour shifts. But later that was changed to one 16 hour shift per week, with the couples doing 32 hours per week. Harley dog goes to work with me, so that is a huge relief, as leaving him alone for 16 hours would be a disaster.  I try to pick workamping assignments where he can work with me. After all he needs to learn to be responsible, earning his keep for all the toys, sweaters, treats and love his fans shower on him.  He showed up for work in his camouflaged sweater (it was cold) which matched the hunters' outfits. Naturally he was a hit, making friends easily. Everyone remembers his name, no one remembers mine. Such is the life when your 5 pound goofy looking dog is a clown and a celebrity. 

I survived the first 16 hour shift, though I was terribly sick the entire time, especially embaressing. I woke up Friday with an extreme pain in my neck and upper back, like I had lost badly in some sort of fight against monsters. Or maybe a vampire attacked me, I have no idea.  Saturday morning it was far worse. Today is Thursday, a week later, and I am still in tremendous pain. 

Saturday at 5am, I reported for my workamping shift, in spite of my debilitating pain, and lack of sleep, which only got worse with each hour until I was completely crippled up. The person training me did offer to let me go home several times, but that would have left him alone for the entire 16 hour shift. It's hard enough with 2 people but with 1, even more brutal. I so hated to make such a bad impression on my first day, but I tried to learn and do what I could, but much of the physical labor was left to the trainer, who was not amused at my deteriorating rate and his increase in work. He too was exhausted, as he only had 2 hours of sleep before he showed up for the 16 hour shift to train me at work.  He expected to merely train me, not actually do much of the work too. Since there is also a good bit of pencil pushing and paper sorting, I was able to tackle that but I couldn't get comfortable sitting or standing or slouching.  I wasn't able to do any of the heavy duty physical work, as the excruciating pain in my neck and upper back, rendered my right arm nearly useless.  This is very curious, as my left arm is fine.  This is so embarrassing. I kept grinning like an idiot to keep from crying in pain. 

This morning, another workamper (not the trainer) has offered me their truck to go seek medical help, but I am a total crossroads about that. I am still paying the banks for my last medical bills, for that little month, I spent in the hospital, so taking on any more medical debt is just literally back breaking.  I just want the pain to go away, plain and simple.

I have been relying on alternative therapies,for two years,  which has saved me a bundle of additional costs and debts. But this pain is so intense, I am about to chop off my neck.  The problem being, I  need it to hold up my silly head. 

In my past careers, I have routinely worked ridiculous hours for short spurts. Like when I did taxes and accounting, from January through April, I simply had no personal life at all. I worked while awake from the wee hours of the morning until late at night, then went to sleep to start over the next day. My hour long lunch break I took every day no matter what, was my entire social life, my respite, an hour to dine, rejuvenate and briefly socialize, typically with a client who was either my before or after lunch appointment anyhow. I had the curious habit of refusing to talk about work, taxes or accounting over lunch. So in this manner, I often knew many of my clients on a very personal level, as we enjoyed our meal without doing any business until we were back at the office. When April 16th arrived, I was more than happy to finally gain my life and personality back. Though I continued to work the rest of the year, it was more like 25-40 hours a week, nothing crazy like tax season. 

When I sailed off to work the high seas for 10 years, hours could be long and ardurous with a huge vieriety of physical and mental tasks at hand, sometimes at all hours of the day and night. Some assignments meant frequent cat napping, because there was never time to sleep more than a few short hours.  But it wasn't like that 52 weeks a year, thank goodness. There were breaks sometimes weeks at a time, when I could simply lay at the beach doing a bunch of nothing, though I mostly stayed busy as I always had a side project going on, like rebuilding the little old sailboat I came home to between assignments on large yachts. 

Later in my life, when I made a nice career providing Private Chef Services to vacation villas, I would often work from 5 or 6am until 10, 11 or 12 at night, with usually an hour off mid day to simply nap, as otherwise I would drop dead from being on my feet all day and night. (Nobody wants a dead chef in their kitchen. )  

It was very hard work I enjoyed, making art from food, setting beautiful dining tables against an  extraordinary backdrop of the Caribbean sea and exotic islands in the distance. I provided a whole experience, not just the food.  

I worked 7 days a  week for weeks at time, then I would be off a few weeks, to go sailing, to relax and rejuvenate with money in the bank. All my work life I've had an erratic income, with wild hours, but I tried to spread the money out evenly over the year, to make the monthly budget more or less level out.  

Oh what I would do, to have that kind of endless energy again. 

I really hope I can survive these 16 hour shifts here, as I do need a place to park my camper, and I am oh so spoiled to have the luxury of electric, water and sewer. Now that I have 24 hour hot water, I feel completely spoiled rotten.  It seems to me, the dishes, laundry  and camper are far cleaner now with the aid of hot water.  

Many folks can't figure out why I am oh so excited over hot water. But once I moved out of America in 1987, hot water ceased to be a common steady element in my lifestyle. For the next 22 years, I lived on big yachts, small boats, island homes with and without utilities. 

In 2010 when I began living in my little old wheel estate in America, the hot water didn't work, and I couldn't fix it. I tried, but it baffled me. Five months later, I paid to get it fixed, and it worked on propane creating 6 gallons of blessedly hot water. But then I noticed it was a real gas hog. My propane tank is small but built-in, so I have to drive to a propane filling station, which are not near as easy to find as gas stations.  I started turning off the hot water between uses. Then the confusion set in, waiting for hot water for dishes or showering and so on. Often I would get busy with something else, then hear the roar of the propane hot water, reminding me to hurry up and use the hot water, then shut it off again. 

A few months back,  I discovered 
a hybrid kit that would convert the propane hot water to electric hot water.

Actually it would allow either operation, which made sense, as having  propane hot water for boondocking can be very handy. Ditto for a "driveway invitation" where I am plugged into someone's household outlet and not a regular 30amp outlet. In that case, I want to use the minimal electricity so as not to disturb their wiring and electrical and so on. But when I am plugged into 30amp campground electricity, I can run the electric hot water 24 hours. 

Lately, I have been putting a towel soaked in hot water around my aching neck and shoulder, but it seems to cool off so quickly. 

The alternative to taking these wild workamping assignments,  is increasing my earnings from writing, so I can drop the workamping all together in favor of writing more.  I am  burning my candle at both ends, trying to get more books to market. 

Dreams, I juggle so many at once!  Today I just want to get well or chop my head off. Preferably the former rather than the latter. 


  1. I'm distressed to hear of your extreme pain. BOO! to pain.

  2. I hope you feel better soon. And don't chop off your head. That's just never a good idea!

  3. Try castor oil packs on your neck and arm. Soak flannel in castor oil and apply to the areas you are experiencing the pain and then wrap in saran wrap. Apply a heating pad or hot towels (heat in a microwave dry - they won't go cold as fast as wet ones) and leave the pack on all night while you sleep. Don't stop until the pain is gone.


    Not dry towels, I was wrong... just damp.


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