June 12, 2017
“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.”
After the frustrating day of fruitless driving the day prior, we decided to sleep in until 10:00am. When Lori got up that morning, she had a sharp pain in her left knee that shot up and down her leg. She had been suffering with a slight pain for a week, but it was tolerable. This particular morning, it was severe and needed to be seriously addressed. I reached deep into my bag of nursing tricks! We tried elevating the extremity, a muscle rub, ice, heat, compression dressings, Motrin and Tylenol, but nothing seemed to relieve the pain. Lori even tried massaging it, and "T-gel" a homeopathic remedy, which provided only mild relief. She was having difficulty putting weight on the affected leg, and walking made the pain worse. Lori denied falling or hitting her knee, and there was no swelling, no deformity, no signs of trauma, and the area was only mildly painful to the touch. Whatever was causing her pain, was not musculoskeletal, or cardiovascular. Based on my assessments and her descriptions of the pain, I knew it was most likely neurological in origin, and this was very concerning to me. As a nurse, I have a bad habit of automatically thinking of the absolute worse possible outcomes, simply because I know what the worse possible outcome is. I was thinking to myself, what if she has MS, ALS, or Guillain-Barre syndrome or Myasthenia Graves? I was able to briefly get a hold of my fears to figure out what to do next. I told her about a very safe and effective medication, that works very well for neurological extremity pain with very few side effects, and it is not a narcotic called Neurontin or Gabapentin. I am a nurse, but I can’t prescribe medications. However, I am very familiar with describing symptoms to doctors, so that they can prescribe the appropriate medications for my patients. It was time to put that nursing education and experience to good use. Lori hates taking prescription medications, and prefers to do things the natural way. This time, those methods just weren't resolving it, so she decided it was time for drugs. I told Lori exactly what to say to the MD who was examining her. How to exactly describe the pain, and to talk about out cross country trip, and how we spend long hours driving among many other things. Guess what? The doctor prescribed her Neurontin for her pain, which worked really well! Lori noticed the origin of the pain in her knee was at the point where she crossed her legs while sitting in the car. She said she would try not to cross her legs any more, to prevent the re-injuring her knee.
It was now around 4:00pm, and we were ready to take on Skyline drive in Shenandoah National Park. Lori had been here 20 years ago, but this would be my first time. Skyline Drive runs north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is 105 miles in length, the speed limit is 35 mph, there are a total of 75 overlooks and they are located on both the east and west sides of the mountain. On the day we visited, we traveled from north to south. The rangers say it takes 3 hours to complete to the entire 105-mile trip, but it took us 5 ½ hours. We really took our time to stop at as many of 75 overlooks as we could. We also got caught up in the most beautiful sunset we have ever seen in our lives. We actually stayed too long watching the sunset, and ended up traveling the last 20 miles in the pitch dark. This brings me to one last thing you should know about Shenandoah. The park is the natural habitat for bears, deers, and a variety of animals who cross the road with reckless abandon. During our trip on Skyline Drive during the day, we saw 10 deer and 2 black bears, one of which a just a cub and absolutely adorable, which created a lasting memorable experience. During our trip on Skyline Drive in the pitch dark, we saw 3 more deer, 1 more black bear, and an extremely ballsy raccoon that strolled across the road, creating a terrifying experience that still haunts me to this day. This was our most photographed stop so far on our trip, and we took well over 100 pictures. It was extremely difficult to determine which ones to post, because they all came out incredible. We hope you enjoy the pictures of Skyline drive in Shenandoah National Park.
After departing Skyline drive, we drove to Richmond, VA Walmart to sleep for the night. Tomorrow we tour the capitol building at first light!