Howard Delo

It’s been a while since I mentioned anything about my right knee replacement surgery and several folks have asked me how I’m progressing. Here’s a quick update. Surgery was performed on Feb. 27 and I started physical therapy on March 7 at First Choice Physical Therapy in Wasilla. My last day of scheduled therapy is May 28.

The initial therapy was to regain range of motion in the artificial joint. The therapists wanted me to be able to bend my knee to a measured 120 degrees and be able to straighten my leg to 0 degrees, meaning totally straight. It took a little work, but I’m glad to say I made 125 degrees and 0 degrees relatively quickly. Work continued for a couple of weeks to continue stretching the muscles and breaking down the scar tissue to maintain that level of flexibility.

I had mentioned to the therapists that I was looking forward to my caribou hunting trip this coming fall. With that in mind, they tested me on my functional ability to perform several different activities with the knee. I had good flexibility but not so good functionality, which meant I needed to work to rebuild the muscles in both my thigh and lower leg. That’s what I’m currently doing in my physical therapy sessions.

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They tell me I’m doing “awesome” in my workouts. If being tired and stiff after each session means I’m doing well, then I can state without a doubt that I am doing awesome! I have been working with both Josh and Wendy and, even though I usually hurt after each session, I want to thank them for pushing me to do the best I can. They are doing this for my own good and I know that, even though it hurts during and after the sessions.

This past weekend was supposed to be my first outdoor shooting of the year, but, as they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men….”

The men’s breakfast group from my church had a shooting outing set for Saturday. The pastor asked me to do a “condensed” safe gun handling talk prior to the group leaving the church and heading for the range. Most of the men had experience handling and shooting firearms. There were only three young folks and their father had taught them gun safety before.

Everything went well and folks understood there would be zero tolerance of any unsafe gun handling and definitely no horseplay. I also emphasized that if they were planning to shoot a friend’s unfamiliar firearm, they needed to know how the firearm functioned before they could handle it to shoot.

I was planning to shoot a couple of new or “new to me” rifles I had acquired over the winter, but it was not to be. At the range, folks could shoot shotguns at clay birds, rimfire rifles and handguns on the rimfire range, or highpowered rifles on the highpower range. The guy who was going to oversee the highpower range didn’t come with the group, so, by default, I ended up running that range. Not a big deal, but I had hoped to get some shooting in.

The blackpowder folks had an all-day shooting match going at the range south of Palmer that same day. Assuming the church group shooting ended around noon, I had planned to go do some shooting with the blackpowder folks. The church group shooting activity ran long and by the time I got over to Palmer, the blackpowder folks were beginning to wrap up the day’s events.

I managed to do a few useful things after arriving. I helped time one guy’s timed-fire pistol matches and visited with a few of the shooters between shots during the last couple of relays. I had arrived too late to warrant (in my opinion) breaking out my blackpowder pistols and getting them dirty trying to fire one or, at most, two matches out of an aggregate before the day’s activities were done.

I did watch the shooting while I was there. Firing a flintlock pistol is still relatively new to me, so I was interested in watching one shooter knapping his flint to get a better spark for firing the pistol. One of the other shooters experienced a worn out frizzen when seven different flints failed to yield a spark sufficient to fire his pistol. Sometimes I’m amazed that frontiersmen living in flintlock firearms ignition days managed to survive the grizzlies and hostile Indians they occasionally encountered in their travels!


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