Long Haul Paul — On Hold

Badass Long Haul Paul's Yamaha in the BadlandsMost of my speaking events for MS audiences have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Likewise, most of the motorcycle events have also been cancelled or postponed until next year. I don’t have to point out, without events to travel to, I am grounded. Three quarters of the year have passed and I am down at least 30,000 miles from where I was this time last year.

For the last eight years I have had people tell me how dangerous traveling by motorcycle is and I should be very careful as my luck will run out someday. Traveling is also expensive; gas, food, lodging, tires, oil and gear that wears out each year adds up quickly.

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Being on the road was way more risky and expensive than staying home.

Or so I thought.

Since the country shut down trying to slow down the spread of Covid, I’ve been to the emergency room twice. My kidney dropped a 10mm stone that only a laser and a front end loader could remove, and some mild chest pains got me to the front of the line for an overnight stay and a heart catheterization procedure looking for yet another clogged artery. They didn’t find any this time, the cholesterol meds seemed to be working.

Long Haul Paul handyman
Long Haul Paul staying busy at home while in lockdown

Next week I am getting a corneal transplant in my left eye to fix some scarring that has been blurring my vision since last year. I am looking forward to being able to see again out of both eyes! The following week, I am finally getting around to scheduling my nerve relocation surgery to take care of something they call cubital tunnel syndrome. My funny bone nerve sticks out and causes quite a bit of discomfort and tingling in my hands. I have not been able to rest my elbow on anything without a shock running up my arm for almost a decade. I just never had a six week period where I could stay home for the recovery, until now. Thanks Covid-19.

Thankfully my wife has good health insurance through her employer. I reached our $4000 deductible in record time and I am scheduling these non-emergency surgeries now because I have the down time and for the rest of the year, my medical bills are free!

Not to be outdone by the healthcare system, I also decided while I was grounded to do some work around the house. Fix some rotted windowsills, re-stain the decks, cut down a few dead trees and split some wood for the upcoming winter. I may not have earned any money this year, but I have stayed busy working every single day.

My wife talked about freshening up the main bathroom. Maybe some new fixtures and paint the aging oak vanity. I decided to help her with trying to remove the tub enclosure drain that was leaking and rusty. The grout in the floor tiles needed redoing and a few tiles could stand to be replaced. I thought I would surprise her with a few extra updates when she got out of work.

It was a simple, one day job.Long Haul Paul

Trying to remove the 40 year old tub drain created a little problem that morphed into a full fledge floor to ceiling remodel! The fiberglass tub enclosure cracked, the plumbing broke off inside the walls, the floor tile disintegrated and the vanity blew apart when I tried to carefully remove it. The doors, trim and just about every single nail in the room ended up becoming a problem that needed to be addressed. On the fourth day, I actually went to Home Depot 7 separate times!

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I spent ten days total, from seven in the morning until nine or ten each night, ripping out the entire bathroom and repairing or replacing everything. Thanks to watching my Dad growing up and a little bit of YouTube, I was able to install a whole new tub and shower enclosure, relocate and replace all the plumbing and drains, redo the electrical and vent, sheetrock the walls and replace the flooring, toilet and sink. I rebuild the frame for the vanity and refinished the top in epoxy. I even cut the once bare mirror and made a custom frame for it. The trim was all replaced, doors painted and all the hardware and fixtures replaced.

So, yes, 2020 was the year I was stuck mostly at home, unable to ride for MS or share my story with other patients as I did in years past.

However, in no way shape for form has it been easier, healthier, safer or less expensive!

I need to ride!

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