The ride that almost wasn’t

5/30/16 - Airborne on Alaska Airlines somewhere between Chicago, IL and Anchorage, AK.  

               Getting the ball rolling on this expedition was exciting.  After two years of planning to do this trip upon my graduation, the move to make it part of my schooling was a lighting fast process.  I had the thought that I could use this ride for school over a weekend toward the end of spring semester 2016 and then began speaking with my adviser and my professors the following Tuesday.  I really thought it was all just going to be a pipe dream and that I would still be taking it after graduation.
               To my surprise there was almost no resistance at any level to me taking the trip or using it for guided studies in journalism.  Each of my relevant professors not only agreed, but were incredibly encouraging of both the expedition and the reasoning behind it. 
               After that first domino fell, everything began to drop perfectly into place to follow.  The Honda Outpost not only offered me discount support on equipment, but their social-media manager Justin had taken a similar journey through Central- and South America by motorcycle some years before and was willing and happy to provide planning and route selection assistance. 
               The Outpost also had a leftover 2015 Honda CB500X, the motorcycle I was most highly considering taking for the ride, and were willing to work a great deal on the bike because they were so onboard with the project.  They had also just become Giant Loop dealers, the US distributor for the Rally Raid CB500X Adventure kits that would make the bike truly perfect for the journey. 
               My choice of charity for the ride was also highly responsive and began to immediately respond to inquiries about support.  Though initially they thought that I was looking for them to support the ride, rather than my intent to support the Soldiers Project with both fundraising and awareness. 
               Everything began to come together at a rapid clip and seemed like the most natural and sure progression in the world.  Then my back went out.
               My time in the Army had not been kind to my body.  In specific I had managed to injure almost every part of my body at least once in six years.  My back however had seen quite a bit of damage, including a compression fracture of my T12 vertebra while in Iraq. Due to the injuries I often end up with sever spasms that will often leave me immobile for days at a time.  I generally get one every two to three years that lays me low and this spring was apparently my due date for a doozy of one.
               Just as all the planning came together and I spent the money to purchase the new bike, without having sold my prior bike to finance it, my low back decided to spasm so badly I couldn’t sleep and was only able to move or stand with help or a wall to lean on.  Unable to stand up straight I was moving slow and looking as if things were going to fall apart. 
               With no insurance outside of VA care, it didn’t look like I would be able to expect any help.  Care with the VA had been a terrible experience for me and one that never went quickly or well.  So when I showed up to a scheduled meeting with the VA social worker nearly unable to walk, I was surprised to get triaged almost immediately and then authorized to get care from a civilian clinic that day.  The clinic was able to see me almost immediately and care was provided by a doctor of orthopedics who had been the first army doctor to see my for my back in 2002
who was now still working in the area.  The care was quick and relief was only a few days and treatments away. 

               What had almost been an end to my trip before it began, turned out to be a fortunate great first experience with VA care working out correctly.   

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