Making plans for the next few months…Time in Nevada ending before we know it…

In February 2016, we stayed in a beautiful house on an 85-acre alpaca farm. with over 100 alpacas. We love these gentle animals and their adorable faces, as shown in this photo.

We’ve started checking out rental cars for our four upcoming road trips, the first from Las Vegas to Apache Junction. Once we leave Arizona, we’ll drive to Los Angeles, then to Milwaukee, and then on to Minneapolis. The cost is higher to pick up and return a rental car to two different cities.

Of course, we’ll try to rent cars for more extended periods to accommodate all of these trips, but it doesn’t always work out financially and with the most convenience. It is no big deal to pick up and drop off vehicles at various airports.

When we head to Apache Junction on April 1, we plan to pick up the car at Las Vegas airport and drop it off at the Mesa, Arizona airport closest to Apache Junction, where we’ll stay for about six weeks. It will all work out.

Today, when I checked the Date to Date Calculator, it indicated we have 44 days until we leave Nevada. This short period will fly by in a blur. In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy each day we spend in this lovely condo and location. In a way, I will be disappointed to leave, although we have so much to look forward to as time marches on.

Plus, going on these relatively short road trips will be fun. The only drive requiring us to stay overnight in a hotel will be the trip from Los Angeles, where we’ll visit my sister Julie, and then on to Milwaukee, where we’ll visit Tom’s sister Betty. Once we leave Milwaukee, it’s only a six-hour drive to Minnesota to see our kids, grandkids, Tom’s family, and friends.

It will be the first time in our 11 years of world travel that we’ll embark on so many road trips, especially the long three to four-day drive to Milwaukee. We don’t like driving for more than eight hours in a day. It’s approximately 2057 miles and listed as a 30-hour drive on Maps. If we drive seven or eight hours a day, it’s easy to see how it will take us four days with three nights in hotels.

In any case, we’ll make the trip fun. I plan to download a few audiobooks we can listen to during the long trip. The plan will be to figure out a book we’ll both enjoy since our tastes are very different in reading material. Most likely, it will be a fiction thriller, one that we can find to be most entertaining. Any suggestions would be appreciated, considering for me, the technology must be current to hold my interest.

Soon, our grocery order will be delivered. We have good leftovers, and thus, tonight’s dinner will be easy. All I have to do is make a salad and reheat our food when it’s dinnertime.

I’ve done the laundry this morning and almost half my daily walking. I have picked up the pace to head to the corridor every fifteen minutes, hoping to get done a little earlier today than on other days, walking every 30 minutes.

I wish I could do all the walking at one time, but my legs can’t continue straight through for three miles, which is how much I am accomplishing per day at this time. I don’t see any benefit to walking further than three miles, but I am trying to shorten the time.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back tomorrow for more. Thanks to our many readers who write with such kind and supportive comments.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 16, 2014:

Annoyed by our presence, this Cape buffalo and a few other “Retired Generals” moseyed on down the road in Kruger National Park, during our last game drive before leaving South Africa. For more photos, please click here.

Cows in the yard…Today’s the day…Questioning medical science once again

This appears to be an angry bull who doesn’t want us looking at him.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
The story of Dracula is said to have been inspired by the Irish legend of Abhartach. Bram Stoker was Irish born and raised and learned the legend of Abhartach when he was young.”

We’re so excited!  Our friends, Lisa and Barry, will be here in a few hours.  This morning I made a lemon cake, crab salad made with fresh crab brought to us by John, the fish guy, and have everything ready for the Rueben sandwiches we’ll be making for lunch.

We have Irish-made potato chips, dill pickles, carrot slices, and pre-strung (by me) sugar snap peas to go along with the sandwiches. We have plenty of red wine, Pelligrino sparkling water, bottled still water, and soda.  

We don’t have placemats or linen napkins this time, and I forgot to purchase paper napkins. We’ll have to use the solid large-sized paper towels I’ll fold nicely and we’ll be good to go.

As we drive down the shared driveway between us and the owner’s house, we now have cattle on both sides.

Standing on my feet for any length of time preparing food or other tasks is still a challenge. My legs tire easily, although I can walk each day, now up to 8000 or 9000 steps daily. A dear friend and reader sent me an article she spotted regarding my goal of accomplishing 10,000 steps a day. It reads as follows from this site:

“I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the lead author of a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, began looking into the step rule because she was curious about where it came from. “It turns out the original basis for this 10,000-step guideline was a marketing strategy,” she explains. “In 1965, a Japanese company was selling pedometers, and they gave it a name that, in Japanese, means ‘the 10,000-step meter.'”

Based on conversations she’s had with Japanese researchers, Lee believes that name was chosen for the product because the character for “10,000” looks sort of like a man walking. As far as she knows, the actual health merits of that number have never been validated by research.

Cows are intelligent and curious. “According to research, cows are generally quite intelligent animals who can remember things for a long time. Animal behaviorists have found that they interact in socially complex ways, developing friendships over time and sometimes holding grudges against other cows who mistreat them.”
Scientific or not, this bit of branding ingenuity transmogrified into a pearl of wisdom that traveled around the globe over the next half-century, and eventually found its way onto the wrists and into the pockets of millions of Americans. In her research, Lee put it to the test by observing the step totals and mortality rates of more than 16,000 elderly American women. The study’s results paint a more nuanced picture of the value of physical activity.

“The basic finding was that at 4,400 steps per day, these women had significantly lower mortality rates compared to the least active women,” Lee explains. If they did more, their mortality rates continued to drop until they reached about 7,500 steps, at which point the rates leveled out. Ultimately, increasing daily physical activity by as little as 2,000 steps—less than a mile of walking—was associated with positive health outcomes for elderly women.”

Please click on the link for the balance of this article.
From this site: “If an animal is left on its own in a pasture, it will spend a third of its time gathering food, a third of its time eating, and a third of it sleeping. If they’re lying down, it probably doesn’t signal much beyond the fact that it’s sleeping time.”

I deliberated over this study carefully, wondering if I should lower the number of steps I’m striving to accomplish each day. The reason I chose to continue with the goal of 10,000 steps daily is in regard to the recovery of my heart and arteries after the recent cardiac bypass surgery. But even there, the science isn’t precisely how much exercise protects the heart and arteries from future problems.

The question and answers remain ambiguous, such as: 
  • How much exercise should a cardiac patient do post-surgery? Is it the 10,000 steps?  Are they to be done consecutively, or are small spurts better?  No one seems to know, nor is there consistent evidence on the 10,000 steps shown in the above article. “They,” say 30-minutes a day but is that enough?
  • How much fat in the diet is suggested after bypass surgery?  We know the obvious foods to avoid. Transfats, fried foods, and chemical-laden foods. But as a low-carb dieter, how can I make this fit into my way of eating?  Eating a low carb, low-fat diet is unhealthy, according to several studies. No one, including my four doctors, a cardiologist, a cardiothoracic surgeon, a plastic surgeon, and a family practitioner, has a definitive answer. 
  • Is drinking red wine beneficial? Or, is avoiding alcohol altogether better over the long run? There are no definitive answers here either.
Thus, I trudge along, striving for as many steps a day as I can do.  I consume a high protein diet (recommended by the plastic surgeon particularly while the wounds are still healing), still avoiding excess “carbage,” and eating fish, chicken, seafood, and tons of a variety of colorful fresh organic vegetables each day. Now I am drinking a glass and a half of quality red wine each day. It’s quite a treat.
From this site: “Cattle can experience “Eureka” moments. In research published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, researchers observed cattle given a reward after completing a task and gave the same reward to other cattle which had no control over their rewards. By measuring heart rate, they determined that the cattle who could control their fate got more excited than those rewarded passively. This could be interpreted as cattle having an emotional reaction to finishing a puzzle, not just getting food.”
Each day I prepare the protein smoothie recommended by the plastic surgeon. I add organic unsweetened cocoa powder and a scoop of high-quality protein powder with water and ice for a tasty smoothie drink. (Tom used to make it for me each day, but now I can do this myself.

As for what I can and can’t do at this point…I can walk, but I get extremely tired in the grocery store.  I have trouble bending to the ground to pick something up (due to my chest hurting) and have difficulty getting up from the low-slung sofas and chairs.  

Why do I have trouble getting up from a low sofa or stuffed chair?  Usually, a person uses their legs to provide the traction needed to arise from low furniture. It’s only been two months since I had two separate surgeries on both of my legs. I realized this could take a while to recover.  

Also, my arms are still painful when used to support my body upon arising. This is due to the trauma to my chest and surrounding nerves and muscles. The scar on my chest is still painful, and now the skin is stretching and itchy.  I am doing some arm exercises, using bottles of Pellegrino as weights, and performing some lunges at the kitchen sink every other day.

As for the healing of the severe wound on my left leg, which many have inquired about, it is slowly improving, although it’s still open.  Every other day, Tom removes the compression socks and bandages, cleans the wound with a special antibacterial liquid, covers it with a special cream Dr. Theo provided, and then with “Jelonet,” a sterile moist wound gauze. He then bandages it all once again.  

After this process, he helps me put on a clean pair of compression stockings that are tough to put on while I still wear them day and night.  Again, there was no definitive answer as to how long compression stocking should be modeled after leg surgery and infection. We decided I’d wear them until the wound completely closes, hopefully in the next 60 days.

So there is our story for today, dear readers. Thank you for your love and ongoing support and concern. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of all of you and smile.

We hope you’ll have an enjoyable day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2018:
This is a Bovine Tuberculosis infected kudu we spotted only the day after being educated on this dreadful disease impacting mainly kudus in Marloth Park. For more photos and information on Bovine TB, please click here.

Exercise and other causes…Why me?…

Tom spotted this giant snail outside his hotel room in Nelspruit while I was in the hospital.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This adorable female kudu  is suffering from TB, as indicated by the tumor on the left side of her face,

As I’ve spent several hours each day resting, walking, and napping, I’ve had plenty of time for serious thought as to why I became a candidate for open-heart surgery.

Was it from the recent lack of exercise since we arrived in Marloth Park over a year ago? Was it the low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet I’ve been on since August 2011 or the high carb, the low-fat, moderate-protein diet I diligently followed for most of my adult life?  Science is confused by these questions.

Over the past several years, we’ve been told by the government what we should be eating and avoiding to maintain a level of health and fitness. These dictates didn’t improve the overall health of citizens throughout the world when many countries followed the American way of eating; too much sugar, salt, starch, and carbs, and still numbers were rising on the scales of poor health.

In today’s medical science, it is still unclear what contributing factors play the highest role in the causality of developing clogged arteries, such as my 100% blocked three of four coronary arteries. Many blame dietary fat while others say dietary fat is not the issue…it’s the cholesterol made by our bodies. What did I possibly do wrong?

It’s sad to see that her days are numbered.

The three cardiac physicians working with me during the eight days I spent in the ICU had no suggestions on what I could do going forward to prevent this from happening to me again in 10 years. That wasn’t very comforting. 

I repeatedly asked, “What can I do differently” and the answer was always the same…nothing. They agreed my way of eating, happy, low-stress lifestyle, and level of activity are commensurate with our life of world travel. They decided upon the deceit perpetrated by my good blood test …nothing appeared to be wrong.

So I’m left with one route to go – to follow the exercise program recommended by the three physicians and worldwide heart health professionals. And, it has begun since we returned to Marloth Path, actually in the ICU unit and the hospital during my many days in residence. Walking. 

Plain and simple, walking. No hand weights, no particular pace other than one that increases the heart rate to a level that allows talking during the process. That’s it. This act continued from my 11 days in hospital.

The walking began within 24 hours of the removal of the intubation tube. Simply walking was laborious to a point beyond my expectations, limited by a lack of mobility with all the tubes, drains, and IV’s still attached.  

Mom and Babies were searching for pellets.

By the time we returned to Marloth Park last Saturday, I was able to walk for 10 minutes. Today, as directed by the take-home instructions, I upped the ante to 15 minutes twice a day. This is not much in the realm of things, but it takes everything I have to get through the 10 minutes, let alone the added ten minutes as of today.

Where do I walk?  I use a timer on my phone in the house, ensuring I don’t quit 30 seconds earlier than required. Eventually, I’ll be able to walk on a road. At this point, I don’t trust my wobbly state of being to venture out on the pot-holed, uneven dirt roads near the house. In due time…falling would be a disaster.  

The goal is to walk for 60 minutes per day in two 30-minute sessions. Knowing myself, once I reach such a goal, I will add my old exercise program to further my strength and fitness.  

There’s no health club in Marloth Park, but hopefully, there will be a facility in Ireland near the house we rented in Connemara. The options look good from our online research.

Today we experienced load shedding for only about one hour. Another is expected at 1500 hours, 3:00 pm, and again tonight at 2330 hours, 11:30 pm to last 2.5 hours. We’ll see how it goes.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2018:
A herd of impalas at the river.  For more photos, please click here.