Letter to the Governor

Dear Governor Polis —

I’m a 70 year old woman living in Monte Vista, a small town in the San Luis Valley. I recently had an experience that I’m sure a lot of other people down here have had. I recently had flashing lights in one of my eyes, so I went to my doctor in Alamosa. He wasn’t able to diagnose it, and he feared I had a detached retina. He wanted me to HURRY to a specialist in Colorado Springs. That was this past Thursday when both passes out of here were in terrible, dangerous shape. I was given an appointment in Colorado Springs for 1 pm the following day. 

I live alone with two dogs. I don’t have family, though I have a friend who offered to drive me. She’s 82, and it was an offer of love, as much as logic. I have a Jeep, 4WD, but no chains and even so, did I want to be at a chain-up spot in a blizzard putting chains on my car? I didn’t, really. I wasn’t in the best emotional state. It was a natural freak out situation to be in.

I was awake all night, scared about my eye, scared about the passes. At 5 am I looked at La Veta Pass and Poncha Pass on CDOT and both of them looked very bad. I figured I would need at least four — probably five — hours to get to the Springs and hoped to get out by 6 just in case. On the map were wrecks and ice and all the nightmare of a mountain storm at night. But…the conditions on the passes didn’t improve in the next hour. They worsened on both the passes and on I-25. It finally hit me. I wasn’t going to risk that trip, not even for my eye. I didn’t go. 

It seems my eye isn’t going blind, but it’s still not OK, and I have an appointment. BUT…it occurred to me that if I lived in a remote mountain town in Italy or Switzerland or, presumably, France, I would be able to get to that doctor by train or, worst case scenario, Post Bus. 

We need trains. Two trains a day. A morning train and an evening train. The ridiculous bus that goes from Alamosa to Colorado Springs runs once a day and takes 8 hours. This is crazy. As you know people live here and many of us are not young. And since we don’t have an opthamologist anywhere in the San Luis Valley, I’m not the only person who has to make a trek to see one. 

I realize the person who represents my district — District 3 — in the US House of Representatives voted against the bill that is supposed to improve infrastructure in her district, but still there are viable tracks everywhere and depots in every small town. High speed trains would be awesome, but in the meantime? 

Thanks for listening! 

38 thoughts on “Letter to the Governor

  1. It’s a terrible situation to be in. Politicians have little thought for people living in isolated communities. Not everyone has family to drive them where they need to go. You need better public transport or better medical services in your valley. Ideally both.

    • Yep. We really do feel forgotten down here and that’s why the evil person who was elected to be our “representative” in Washington won the election and that also explains Trump. They know how to say the things that people want to hear in places like this. I am very frustrated at the Democrats who don’t seem to understand that while there are not a lot of votes in places like this, there are votes and people who need to be reached. The truth is neither of our major political parties care very much about places like this. It’s like the 1960s when the government put missile silos in sparsely populated areas as if the few people who lived there didn’t matter.

  2. You should find others with similar situations to write similar letters — the sooner the better, so they have a cumulative impact! Do share the Gov’s response!

    • I will! I found an ophthalmologist only 1 1/2 hour away but he is also over a mountain pass. I’m going to call them on Monday, though, and see if they can help me because I’d much rather take a pleasant drive north through my valley, over a lovely pass, into a convenient small city than 3 1/2 hours to Colorado Springs, a drive that involves a freeway that is like the 405 was in 1987. Shudder.

      • That’s a good idea — I hope the closer doctor has good ratings and facilities to help you, as it will simplify things in the future if you don’t have to go quite so far! Hmmm — I don’t even like driving the 405 as it was 2 years ago, and I was used to it then!!

  3. I hope your eye is OK. It doesn’t have to be a fully detached retina, could be a lot of vitreous fluid or a torn retina which can be laser repaired if caught in time. I’m an expert on the subject. My cousin was an ophthalmologist and I worked for him for years while I decided if I was smart enough for med school (I was not) and learned a lot about myopia and those flashing white lights. I too saw them a few years ago, knew immediately what they signified, and was able to get an appointmesent the next day with a retina specialist. I didn’t have to travel through mountain passes though! I ended up having laser surgery to repair a torn retina and retained all my sight. I go back once a year for a detailed check up, going next Friday, so far so good. Take care of your eyes!

      • My advice is not to delay figuring out what stage your retinal deterioration is and where. Mine was the upper left area in my left eye. The laser left a very tiny blind spot but never affects vision. The worst part of the recovery was that I had to sit up for 72 hours and not read ONE SINGLE THING, not even the mail, but I could watch TV. Reading causes the eyes to track back and forth and that messes up the healing scar tissue. If you DO need a laser repair, let me know and I’ll tell you the truth about what it’s like. I thought I had written a post about it, but I can’t seem to locate it.

        • A friend had retinal tears all around both eyes and ended up having cryo and laser surgery. I stayed with him through all this. If it happens I need it, I’ll definitely let you know.

          • Both eyes, sheesh. The scary part is that the flashing lights last for a while even after the repair so I kept going back to the doc cos I was so freaked out. Now I’m looking for increased floaters esp spiderwebby shapes which is a precursor to the flashing lights.

          • Oh yes, I could tell.The severity of nearsightedness is often categorized like this: Mild myopia: -0.25 to -3.00 D. Moderate myopia: -3.25 to -5.00 D or -6.00 D. High myopia: greater than -5.00 D or -6.00 D.
            (My son is very severe, I’m in the moderate range.)

              • Well, I can see that you have some astigmatism in addition to moderate myopia. Your prescription is almost exactly the same as mine. Interesting fact that as we get older, our myopia tends to improve, so my eyes used to be much worse and now they’re a bit better. I don’t wear bifocals, so I don’t have the ADD+ like yours. I wear reading glasses only when I wear contacts. Don’t freak out but def get to a specialist.

  4. We have a similar problem here in our Big Empty. Greyhound closed across Canada. Then our Sask Government decided to close provincial bus travel. We have a lot of remote communities and seniors who can no longer find public transportation to medical appointments.

    • It’s almost as if we don’t exist. When I was a kid, there were buses all over Colorado. I could go anywhere on the bus. It is just us old folks, either. Stuff can happen in rural areas — farm accidents, etc. Anyway, there’s a plane from Alamosa to Denver. If push comes to shove, I’ll fly to Denver and my friends can come get me there or I can take a shuttle to Colorado Springs.

      • I get that big buses may not be profitable. But I’m sure a passenger van even 2x a week could make a profit. It isn’t just the elderly that are affected, but also anyone living on a fixed income without a vehicle. I hope you are able to get there without too much trouble.

  5. MAK, I pray the Governor replies to this wonderful letter. A train would be perfect! Will others join you in writing? 🙏🏻 prayers for your eye! 💛

    • I don’t think anyone will join me in that letter, but I had to write it. A train WOULD be ideal!

      I went to the local optometrist today. He has better equipment and was able to tell me that the part of my eye he could see through all that stuff is fine and that if there were a retinal tear in the bottom it would not be as dangerous as one in the top of the eye. He took time to explain things to me and to answer my questions. The choice for what I do will be mine, but I don’t have to make it now. I like to have time to think.

      • I’m glad to hear that you’ve had another opinion about your eye, and that it’s not a cause for panic! Probably still good to see an ophthalmologist n a bigger city before too long, but ony when it’s safe to get there!

      • I’m so happy to hear that you were able to visit the doctor! I’m glad to hear he took time with you (and had good equipment). Time to think about it is good to have. 🙏🏻💛

          • Tonight I attended a Board meeting. It’s been a pleasure serving and takes me back to school days and meetings. I wrote a behavioral support policy that was approved tonight. What a great group of folks giving up their time to serve. It’s such an electric group. And many are transplants from other states. I kept it short, succinct, and all about positive support (one phrase about physical restraint if needed, but of course, training). Serving has been good writing practice. I’m still journal writing every morning during my devotion/meditation time. I think it’s helping~if anything, I’m thinking about my thoughts. 💛🥰🤗

            • That’s beautiful, Karla. ❤

              My friend's developmental son has some "quirks" that are terrifying. He can also act out physically when his will is thwarted. Mostly he's just a wonderful, kind, giving person but the "quirks" and the frustration (and manipulation) can make him scary in a lot of different ways mostly because he is not rational like other people so it's impossible to predict the difficult behavior. Physical restraint has saved his life. You learn a lot about the deeper meaning of "being nice" around a person like that. But BEAR! She calms him down miraculously. He loves all dogs and all dogs I've ever seen love him. One year he and his mom were visiting during the Potato Festival. A guy there had a HUGE mastiff. That dog and my friend's son just fell in love with each other and the next thing her son was on the ground with the mastiff on his lap. So there's magic and there's drama. It's hard. ❤

              • Thank you, Martha. This is beautiful too. It’s amazing what dogs can do for anyone. This weekend I’m hosting a Club Jr for the “little” special ones. We’ll decorate cookies, Finn and I will read our book, and play games. My oldest sister is delayed; and angry and getting angrier every day (56 yrs old), her daughter has been raised by my parents and she is delayed and has C.P. I’m at a tough juncture, MAK. We all pretend, but me, that the anger isn’t going to put my parents in the grave sooner and there’s no plan B. I’m s realist, along with being a dreamer. It tears me up. We celebrated Mom’s bday around her table Sunday. My sister sat and glared at me. When I went to the kitchen I just broke down. No one talks about how being the “middle” child or just a sibling to a disabled person impacts a life. There’s a lot of denial. And I refuse to live in denial and when you’re the only one…we’ll, it makes being alone even harder. But for faith. I get out and help others and get in nature where I feel the Spirit. And I just live my life. I never dreamed 9 years ago one son would join the Air Force and then six years later, my other one. The empty seats around the table make it hard. And then throw in the “special” needs…so I cherish the old memories. But must make new ones!!! I pray for magic in this drama. 🙏🏻💛🤗

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