I call my outrageously long trips to the Front Range areas Marathon Days. I absolutely hate Marathon Days, but for me they’re a necessity.
I don’t live near real stores. The local town has a wonderful (not very super) supermarket. For what they are (a small supermarket is a small town), they’re great, but they don’t always have everything. What they do have is expensive. Their selections of fresh produce and organics is limited. For my size family, it pays to make the trip to the wholesale club for just groceries. The same goes for the hardware store. And that’s not counting other items that plain just aren’t available here. For example, since ALCO is closing, there is now no where within maybe 70 miles of my house to buy a pair of jeans. I do a lot of shopping online. Amazon Prime is a necessity for living out here. However, there are just some items that need to be touched or seen in person and these items also mean a trip to a real store.
I don’t live near real doctors.
I have already written about the lack of obstetric options here in rural Colorado.
We also have some unique medical needs in our family.
My kids have speech problems. The local speech help is almost non-existent. Years ago for one of the older ones, we tried the Early Intervention help. The lady showed up only half the time. Speech problems need consistency.
One of my children has a rare bone deformity. One time I brought him to the orthopedic doctor that comes down from Colorado Springs monthly. It was for a second opinion. “I’ve never seen this in person before,” he told me. “There’s not much in the literature about this either,” he said. Um, duh, I knew that. “I can’t help you.” Well at least he was honest.
My son Vince had a brain tumor resected last year. He needed a pediatric neurosurgeon. There are a few in the Denver area on the same team. Before surgery when we wanted a second opinion, we had to take him 500 miles to Kansas City. Needless to say, there ain’t no pediatric neurosurgeons or pediatric neuro-oncologists in Lincoln County.
Even the local ER isn’t a real ER. When my baby was sick last year with dehydration from the stomach bug and I brought him to the ER for an IV, they could not get his vein. Meanwhile two more hours went by where the baby got sicker. I finally walked out of the local ER and drove straight to Children’s Hospital where they got the IV the first time, admitted him to the PICU and kept him in the hospital for six days. In retrospect I believe if we had stayed he might not have made it.
There is a doctor’s office about a half hour away. They never have the same doctors twice. They are in and out of there like Grand Central Station. They’ve had a few good ones now and then, but they leave. There was one here for maybe two years that was an awesome doctor and awesome with the kids and now she’s moved to another state. Now they literally rent out doctors. It’s like a temp agency for doctors that they hire their doctors through. Talk about inconsistent care.
Traveling to the Front Range to see real doctors is a necessity for us.
Now that you know about the necessity of Marathon Days for us, I would like to walk you through a Marathon Day with us. Yesterday, we had a Marathon Day. I will share yesterday’s agenda with you as an example.
7:25 a.m.- The bus picked up Vince and took him to school. I didn’t want the day to be a total loss or Vince to miss his class St. Valentine’s Day party.
The other children and I did our normal morning routines. We did our morning chores. We did about half our schoolday. They all took baths and changed into “town” clothes.
11:00 a.m.- We picked Vince up at school. I chatted with the teacher to touch base on how he was doing.
11:15 a.m.- We left the local town and headed to suburban Denver.
1:00 p.m.- We arrived at Costco. The children and I sat down at the Costco Cafe and ate lunch there. We grocery shopped. We changed diapers.
2:05 p.m.- We arrive at the satellite campus of Children’s Hospital (five minutes late) for Vince’s speech therapy. Vince normally receives his speech therapy on the computer like Skype, however, at the stage he is in, he gets more out of speech in person. Speech in person seems to hold his attention better. I would say an in-person speech visit is worth three telespeech sessions. This is just for the stage we’re in. I think there is an equal benefit at other stages.
2:15 p.m.- The other four children and I leave. We all went potty.
2:25 p.m.- We arrive at Sprouts. The older two children and I had previously discussed an action plan on who was to grab what item so that we could be in and out. We just needed a few fresh things to get us through.
2:38 p.m.- We arrived at Lowe’s. It was maybe a quarter mile from Sprouts, just far away enough to make it quicker to take the car and necessitate being in and out of car seats. We had previously discussed action plans on quick buckling ins and buckling outs. We had an item to exchange there and one to return. It was difficulty to find a new item for the exchange item. This delayed us, as well as painstakingly checking the replacement to make sure it did not have the same defect as the original.
3:05 p.m.- We arrived back at the satellite campus of Children’s Hospital. We were late. The speech therapist was just finishing up with Vince and we actually observed a few minutes. She then reviewed his progress with me in person. We all went potty.
3:40 p.m.- We left the Children’s Hospital parking lot. I really wanted to stop at IKEA but I resisted the temptation since I had just about enough time to get to the midwife on time. We headed south on I-25 and left suburban Denver for Colorado Springs.
4:34 p.m.- We arrived at the midwife (four minutes late). I had a prenatal check. Everyone went potty and we changed diapers. The midwife has tons of toys and they got an hour of playtime.
5:52 p.m.- We were back in the minivan, all buckled in and ready to leave. I looked at the time and realized that in spite of my best intentions, we wouldn’t make Mass. Mass was in 8 minutes on the total opposite end of Colorado Springs. It was rush hour, too, and weekday Masses are quick. I reluctantly headed to Costco to get gas.
6:30-ish- After filling up, we stopped at Culvers and bought a chocolate milkshake. I distributed it into separate cups so everyone could get a little bit. This was their treat because they were so so good and cooperative for me. I stayed in the Culver’s parking lot for a few minutes to make sandwiches. We headed out of Colorado Springs towards home, eating our sandwich dinner on the way.
8:10 p.m.- We arrived home. We unloaded a few things from the car. I readied everyone for bed and didn’t get everyone in bed until nearly nine.
260 miles. We were only gone 9 hours and 15 minutes. Usually our Marathon Days are closer to twelve hours.
Before I moved out here, I never understood the actual reality of not living near real stores or real doctors. I never understood what nearly a two hour ride each way to a metropolitan area really meant, or what it meant with little children. I didn’t anticipate that my children would have such unique medical needs. I didn’t understand how limited access to quality healthcare could really be when I still live in the United States of America and not among an aboriginal tribe. I never imagined that I could live in a farming community, yet still live in a food dessert. I never knew what it meant to be 100 miles from everything and the circumstances that would make Marathon Days a way of life on the prairie.
Marathon Days are a way of life for us. I’ve become more efficient at Marathon Days over the years. I am hoping that if you are perhaps considering buying a little patch of heaven way out west left of Nebraska and over a crest that you will take the reality of Marathon Days into account when planning your move. I didn’t and I’ll add Marathon Days to the “What I Wish I Had Known” Category.
Posted in Also Known As Logistics and Management in a Large Family, Knowing What to Do to Feel a Little Bit Less Like the Woman in the Shoe, Lincoln County: A Case Study of the Sad State of Healthcare in Rural America, The Irony of a Food Desert Surrounded by Farms, What I Wish I'd Know Before Moving to My Little Patch of Heaven Way Out West by Laura with 2 comments.