We booked a hotel at Cleveland Clinic…

A craggy shore in Madeira, Portugal.

With only 50 days until we leave for Cleveland, it was time to book something for at least our first week there. At this point, we have no idea how long all the tests will take before the surgery is scheduled or how far out the surgery will be scheduled. There may be many patients in much worse condition that will be scheduled ahead of me, of course, depending on how I am doing at the time of my first three appointments on August 28.

If I am “holding my own,” it could be two or three months until the surgery is scheduled. The question is, “Do we stay in Cleveland in case of an unforeseen event requiring immediate surgery? Or do we go somewhere else while we wait?”

Only time will tell, along with the test results determining the urgency of my case. Right now, my only obvious symptoms of valve disease are difficulty walking and occasionally being out of breath. I don’t have the classic swollen legs and chest pains, which are severe symptoms of the condition.

However, the two valves have been diagnosed by three cardiologists and echocardiograms as being “severe,” which, untreated, could result in a stroke or heart attack if left too long without treatment. There are no drugs that can prevent these potential outcomes.

In reality, regardless of how long we have to wait for surgery, we’re better off staying there than in some other city in the US. We must play it by ear and see what transpires during that first week or two.

As a result, we booked only one week at a hotel connected to the clinic with a shuttle service back and forth to the hospital. Finding an affordable hotel was a lot trickier than expected. We were willing to pay more than usual for the convenience of the first week of tests and may have to extend it if further testing is required. There again, we have no idea at this point.

This morning, we started searching online. We were particularly interested in the Intercontinental Hotel, Cleveland Clinic, since it is .2 miles from the hospital, which has a shuttle back and forth, preventing us from the necessity of renting a car for the first week. Here are the prices we encountered:

Expedia.com

InterContinental Cleveland, an IHG Hotel

$284
InterContinental Cleveland, an IHG HotelOfficial site
$329
DEAL

14% off

Hotels.com

$329
Hotels.com
Free cancellation until Sep 8

Priceline

$329
Priceline
Free cancellation until Sep 7
All options

InterContinental Cleveland, an IHG Hotel

$284
InterContinental Cleveland, an IHG HotelOfficial site

Hotels In America

$294
Hotels In America
With these high prices, most of which didn’t include taxes and fees, we searched further from Expedia on our website at the link on the right side of our page. Because we are Platinum members and use $46.00 in One Key cash, we could book the week for an average of $211 per night.
Of course, these perks may not be available to those using Expedia infrequently, but we’ve found it’s an excellent place for frequent travelers. Building relationships with various sites that provide excellent pricing for their frequent users takes time and effort.
Once we have completed the first round of tests after consulting with the doctors, we can make a plan for our future stay. We may stay a few miles from the clinic, where prices are considerably lower. We might stay further away during a waiting period and move closer once the surgery transpires. We shall see.
That’s it for today, dear readers. Thanks for all the well wishes, supportive comments, and emails regarding our Fourth of July post two days ago.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 6, 2014:

Even a cloudy day in Madeira, Portugal, has some appeal. For more photos, please click here.

It’s not easy…

The view from the dining room in the house in Campanario, Madeira, in May 2014.

Each day, when I load my computer to prepare another post, I ask myself, “What will I write about today?” Unless something specific has happened that inspired me for the day, I am often at a loss as to what to write. It’s easy when traveling with endless photo ops and stories to tell. Right now, it’s not easy.

At times like this, when it’s not exciting, I peruse the most recent news to see if there’s something interesting to report. Often, that news is distressing, and I don’t care to go down that road too often.

Yesterday, when a police officer and two civilians were killed (see the story here) and several injured in a shooting only 20 minutes from here, I cringed over writing about this. But a part of me feels compelled to report such local incidences to serve as a warning to everyone to be careful. Even so, there would have been no way to prevent what happened. The only lesson it serves us right now is to stay away from Minneapolis if possible and stick to the suburbs.

But even suburbs aren’t exempt from shootings and crimes. Nowhere is safe, including many areas we’ve traveled throughout the world. We’ve been fortunate, although we’ve made many efforts to stay safe, but no measures can ensure total safety.

Now, back to commenting about what to write during these quiet times, which is more in my mind now than in the past, I can’t help but be concerned about the upcoming many months. I even considered taking a break from posting, not for me but for all our readers who may become tired of our mundane posts and stories with nothing much going on.

Based on our current circumstances, it is almost three months until my appointments at Cleveland Clinic, beginning on August 28. Once we arrive, a series of tests will transpire, possibly over a few weeks. Once the tests are completed, there will be a surgical consultation with Tom and me to discuss and determine the course of action and time frame for the upcoming surgery.

From there, it could be as long as two months until I have the surgery, during which, most likely, we’ll stay in Cleveland while we wait. They will plan my surgery date based on two factors: 1. The severity of my situation, 2. The availability of a time slot for the surgery. I have no control over either of these factors.

There will be other patients lying in hospital beds with my condition, with worse symptoms disabling them, that will have precedence over my case. I fully understand and accept this reality. Also, if I were a celebrity, the waiting would be minimal. That’s another fact of life.

Thus, if the consultation occurs in mid-September, and I can have surgery within two months, the surgery might occur in mid-December. From there, with at least a three-month recovery period sufficient for air travel, it could be mid-March until we can fly to South Africa. If my recovery is slower, we could be as late as next June, a year from now. As much as that is a painful thought, it’s a possibility.

Although after my last open-heart surgery, I was able to travel three months later, it took me a year to fully recover. This may be shorter for younger patients, and also, since I already have coronary artery disease, the recovery period may be longer. I don’t know the answers to that now…everyone is different in their recovery.

Subsequently, I don’t know what I’ll write about in the next three months other than to continue on this current path…the trivialities of our daily lives, not necessarily trivial to us but undoubtedly trivial to our worldwide readers. Once we get to Cleveland, we’ll share the processes at the clinic, where we’re living, and so forth.

Once I have the surgery, most likely, there will be a two-week lull when I won’t be able to write at all. Once I can move my arms a little, I will begin again, with the utmost enthusiasm, knowing the healing process has begun. I can’t wait to get this over with.

After careful consideration, I have decided I will continue to do the posts, however dull and uneventful they may be. If you find yourselves uninterested, you know what to do. We understand and offer the utmost gratitude for your encouragement and support over all these years.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 31, 2014:

We chose a table closest to the ocean under a bright red umbrella, casting a red glow on our photos. For more photos, please click here.

Oh, oh…an unexpected glitch impacting our lives…

Sunset in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2014.

As soon as I awoke this morning, I checked my phone for any messages, hoping to hear from Cleveland Clinic about my appointment date. Initially, I was thrilled to see a message from the doctor’s assistant but frustrated when I read the message stating they hadn’t received my package from UPS, which I sent on April 1.

Immediately, I found the receipt for the shipment and tracked the result, which clearly stated it had been received on April 2. Tina, the doctor’s assistant, couldn’t find the package. This is very problematic. Every day lost is one more day that I am walking around with a time bomb in my chest.

I have been communicating back and forth with Tina and hope I’ll soon discover she’s located the packet. If not, I must start the process again, returning to day zero. This is beyond stressful and frustrating. Some of the documents required my signature. They don’t do online document signing.

So, I must go to another UPS store, sign the papers and ship them overnight. It would have been easier if I had emailed them, but they insisted on a shipment. I sent Tina the actual receipt that it was received on April 2 at the correct address and the name of the person receiving the package. What more can I do?

Now, I wait for Tina to notify me that she’s found the package. I am not happy about the stress of this situation, but as I wrote a few days ago, patience must prevail, and I am working to stay calm and maintain an even keel. It’s situations like this that are most stressful for one’s health.

At the moment, Tom is researching rental cars for when we depart here on May 1, and he was able to book a car to get us to Minneapolis, returning the vehicle on May 30 in Minneapolis at the airport. We are checking to see what might be available on May 30, depending on the schedule for Cleveland Clinic, since that will be the beginning of the long Memorial Day weekend.

Everything we are booking now is up in the air since we know nothing about where we’ll be any time over the next few months. But having cars and hotels booked gives us peace of mind as long as they are cancellable. No longer do we book anything that doesn’t offer a free cancellation.

Since COVID-19 has settled down, more venues offer free cancellations. This is particularly helpful for us right now.

On another note, yesterday, we went to the Apache Junction VFW for “Taco Tuesday” on Monday. Both Tom and I ordered taco salads without beans. He ordered his salad with the taco shell; mine was plain. The portions were very small, but the food was fresh and tasty.

Soon, Colleen will pick me up for the “girl’s lunch” they had previously planned with neighbors, asking me if I wanted to join them. I happily agreed. It had been a while since I attended a girl’s lunch, and it sounded like a fun idea. Tom will stay in our unit while I’m gone. Most likely, later in the day, we’ll play Buck Euchre again. We played yesterday afternoon, but I gave up my seat to Colleen at about 7:30 pm.

Tom drove me to our park model and returned to Margie’s to play cards while I spent the remainder of the evening streaming mindless drivel while playing with my phone. It was a relaxing and easy evening.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 9, 2014:

The pointy-toed shoes remind us of magic carpets and flowing gowns typical of the perception of Morocco, which is not too far from reality, minus the flying carpet, of course. For more photos, please click here.