To say the last couple weeks have been eventful is and understatement... even that is an understatement!! Lack of sleep, mind racing... It all started out when seeking the best care for my son’s scoliosis. We noticed it back in December and started seeking options for his care. My older brother had scoliosis, approximately 30 years ago and he ended up having the surgery at 15 years old. 2-18 inch rods in his back later and still to this day he isn’t comfortable nor is he straight. They can only straighten the spine as far as the spinal cord will allow. Providing the best quality of life for my son is my job. Surgery is not an option.
Trying to get a 13 year old to do these exercises that took over an hour was battle to say the least. We did the best we could but my wife and I knew we had to do more. After a couple of Zoom video chats with Doctors we knew deep down we had to take him to the Scoliosis Care Center in Campbell, CA. Their goal is to find the root cause of scoliosis and fix it. Not the traditional “Slap a big goofy brace on them then Keep an Eye on it”. Then before you know it the scoliosis curve becomes a serious situation. I’m not going to go into all the details but if you would like to cruise through their site and check out the amazing work they do- Here you go.
Someone made this and posted it on the bulletin board at Scoliosis Care Center
Finding a way to pay for it had us frantically seeking ways to come up with the money. Our fingers are crossed hoping that my insurance reimburses us. I wasn’t going to go all the way there for a consult then come back then go back down again. What a waste of time. Time is of the essence when it come to scoliosis and a growing child. If we are going down there we are getting started in the Scoliosis Care Centers 2 week “boot camp”. With a Riser score between 0-1 (the higher the number the less you have to grow) my son a prime patient to get straightened out fast. They estimate he still has 6/8 inches more to grow. CRAP!! He is gonna be taller than me!! With that much more growing to do he has the potential to get worse real fast.
Money and Health Insureance
On would think that if you pay monthly for great health insurance you would be covered... wrong!! In network - out of network blah blah blah Doctors constantly having to deal with their BS to get the patients care paid for... I don’t blame the Scoliosis Care Center one bit for not wanting to deal with them. They send over one Super Bill that covers every single thing they do during the treatment with codes and everything. It is super detailed and covers any question the insurance company may have. We didn’t have the time or the funds to take the long trip to California for a consult. Then wait weeks or even months so see if insurance was gonna cover the hefty $25k bill for the first 2 weeks of treatment. This included his brace and spinal stretching chair.
So we had to come up with the money up front and hope the insurance would reimburse us. I’m honestly approaching this as if they won’t cover anything. They mainly cover medicating and surgery... neither of which is an option. Thank God for loving grandparents that were financially able to help, we got the funds figured out. If the Hive price keeps going up, I may have to perform my first power down and cash out to wipe these debts clean. Having debt hanging over my head is something I absolutely hate.
Getting to California
It’s about a 900 mile trip from Walla Walla, WA to Campbell, CA. The most cost effective way would be to load up our camp trailer and find some sort of camping near Campbell. For around $600 we reserved a site at the Sanborn County Camp Grounds in Saratoga, CA for 13 nights. It’s about a 20 minute drive to the Doctor office. This is perfect!!
We can save a ton of money on hotel costs and car rental fees, plus feeding a family of 4 eating out every meal gets expensive real fast. Also it isn’t the healthiest either. With the camp trailer we can cook breakfast and dinner, also prep lunches for the day at the Doctor’s office. Considering we are at the Doctor’s office from 9am to 4pm everyday of the week.
Stress levels on the Rise
With the long haul ahead I needed to make sure the Ol’ Beast was running in tip top shape. Now this may be a foreign language to some but my stock turbo just wasn’t doing the job with my bigger injectors. Ya it’s fine from day to day but towing a 8,000 lb camp trailer is another. The turbo doesn’t push enough air through the system to keep my Exhaust Gas Temperatures below 1,200 degrees F. Temps over that can cause catastrophic failures to the engine. I’ve towed with it before and it is just a big PITA and adds another stress level to the drive. So turbo upgrade it is!! Mind you I have 2 weeks before we leave, which doesn’t give me a ton of time.
The install itself went great and the parts got delivered really fast. The worst part was getting my exhaust all connected to the new down pipe from the new turbo.
The test drive was impressive to say the least. This turbo is flat out awesome!! Then something horrible happened. I shifted into 5th gear and heard a louder than normal ticking noise. WTH is that!!! My mind was racing trying to figure out what it could be. The next day I took my trailer to wash it, when getting on the highway I knew that turbo was the final piece of the puzzle. This truck runs amazing... except 5th gear now sounds like baseball cards in the spokes of a bike. But way louder!! Something is seriously wrong with my 5 speed manual transmission. These ZF-S547 transmissions don’t just break. It had to be something else... but what.
So here we are 9 days away from leaving and after spending several days troubleshooting it was time to pull the transmission. I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not, but it needs to be done.
Then something horrible happened!! While separating the transfer case from the transmission, the transmission fell off the fork lift and cracked the cast aluminum bell housing.
I have never opened up or rebuilt a transmission in my life. I have changed a clutch once, if that has any standing... Again the DIY’ers come to the rescue!! A few people posted YouTube videos on how to rebuild my transmission. I quickly found out that this transmission is one of the easiest to rebuild. Other than the fact that it is massive!! So I dove in head first like I always do. Having 7 days until we leave, leaves me no time to order a rebuilt transmission or take it to a shop to fix it. Plus God only knows how much money that would cost. Plus, I have to find someone to weld up the bell housing. Again, it’s not what you know often times, it’s who you know.
I dropped the housing off at a welder a few blocks from the house. With the gear pack pulled out I quickly noticed the problem. Hey at least it was obvious right?!? My 5th gear had broke a gear tooth right in the middle.
Looking closer at the gear, this thing was on the verge of a full come-apart, which would have destroyed my whole transmission. Look at the vertical crack and the crack working it’s way around the gear. I dodged a bullet on that!! At least this didn’t happen when I was pulling the trailer up a 6% grade. I even went to a well known transmission shop and the owner was blown away. He had never seen anything like that happen to my kind of transmission.
Come Monday morning (6 days from leaving) I was scrambling to order a rebuild kit and a new 5th gear. The clock was ticking...
Somehow all my parts were delivered on Wednesday and I spent the night banging around in the garage until 1am getting my transmission rebuilt. Now we are 3 days from leaving.
With a help from another lineman and his son, we installed the transmission Thursday night. It was around midnight by the time we finished. I couldn’t thank those guys enough for their help. I was in such a time crunch there was no possible way I could have done this alone. I parked it for the night and was going to take it for a 100 mile test drive the next day. Fingers crossed...
So Friday, (1 day before we leave) I took off to Tri-Cities to take care of some banking stuff. I got a few miles away and my clutch slave cylinder basically exploded!! This finally brought me to tears. How much more do I have to endure to get my son the care he needs! One thing after another!! Will it ever stop!! Looking up into th sky I took a deep breath and regained my composure. I called my wife and she towed me back to the house. Again things seemed to fall in line. A local parts store had the clutch master/slave cylinder kit in stock and I had the truck back on the road in a few hours. The test drive went great, the OL’ beast was back on the road with less than 24 hours until we leave.
Hitting the Road
As my luck would have it, strong winds were blowing in from the west. YAY!!! Head Winds!! Just what we needed for our trip. We didn’t manage to get out of town until around 6pm and by then the winds had died down a little bit but not much. So the whole way down the Columbia River Gorge the Ol’ Beast was pushing through those head winds. At the first fuel fill up before we parked for the night we calculated a little over 10 miles per gallon. Not bad... not bad at all. Considering the head winds and towing 8,000 lbs.
I guess my transmission rebuild worked because we made it all the way to our campsite and didn’t have any issues. We arrived around 8pm on Sunday night and got set up in our site. With had a big day on Monday, hopefully I could get some long awaited rest... hopefully
I really can’t believe we made it. With one hurdle after another thrown at us and with such a short time to react.... it’s truly a blessing that all this worked out in the end. I even began to contemplate if taking my son here was the correct choice. Maybe we were suppose to take him somewhere else? Maybe this is the place he needs to be and all these mishaps were meant to stop us from coming? Maybe this all was a test to help me grow in different ways? I honestly don’t know how this all fell into place other than the many prayers from friends and family. A big thanks to all of you!!
Now matter what life throws at you keep fighting the good fight. My son just finished his first week of treatment and he is a heck of a lot tougher than I thought. He had a great attitude and is pushing himself everyday towards a straight spine. Life threw him a curveball and he is hitting it out of the park!!
Stick around and in a weeks or so I will share with you guys the amazing work they do to keep people from going under the knife.
Surgery is NOT an option