Funny thing happened with Tom’s five-days-a-week contribution to Garage Logic…Where were we yesterday???…

We took this photo of a horse that offered this hysterical post while we were in Costa Rica in February 2015.

If you click on this link for yesterday’s Garage Logic podcast in Minnesota and move your cursor to 1 hour, 16 minutes, and 11 seconds on the February 5, 2024 podcast, and you will hear how popular Tom’s contribution to Garage Logic has ended up getting a Minnesota-based company to be advertisers for Tom’s segment on Garage Logics podcast.

The company is one we know so well: Anderson Windows/Renewals by Anderson described as follows:

“Andersen Corporation
Headquartered in our backyard in Bayport, Minnesota, Andersen Corporation is North America’s largest window and door manufacturer. Founded in 1903, Andersen is an international corporation employing more than 9,000 people in locations across North America, with sales worldwide.”
No, Tom doesn’t receive any compensation for his daily contribution to the show, nor will he from Anderson Windows, but it has driven many readers to our site since Joe Socheray always mentions the link to our site when he broadcasts what Tom sends in daily, “This Day in Minnesota History.” This news is fun and exciting to us.
The little morsels, along with support and comments from our readers, provide us with the commitment to continue to post day after day, almost 365 days a year. Sure, we miss a day here and there, and yesterday was such a day.
I hesitate to write anything about my (our) health these days, after all we’ve written in the past. But, in an attempt to be transparent with our readers, as we always have been, I decided to share why we weren’t here yesterday. But, my biggest motivation, as always, is the hope that if even one person can benefit from what we share, it will be worth revealing these somewhat personal details.
Over the past few weeks, I have been suffering from a bladder infection. This is a common condition suffered by many, as stated below:
“Are bladder infections common in the elderly?
Your UTI risk increases with age. According to one study, more than one-third of all infections in people in nursing homes are UTIs. More than 10 percent of women over age 65 report having a UTI within the past year. That number increases to almost 30 percent in women over 85.”
For the younger population, bladder infections are described as follows:
“Bladder infections are common, especially among women. Research suggests that at least 40 to 60 percent of women develop a UTI during their lifetime, and most of these infections are bladder infections. One in 4 women is likely to have a repeat infection.”
The odd thing about it is that people seldom share that they are suffering from these infections since there is a stigma associated with mentions of illnesses and infections regarding certain body parts. I didn’t tell anyone. I had a bladder infection (other than Tom) until yesterday when I was waiting at the urgent care facility where Tom had gone for his respiratory illness over a month ago. My friend Kathy wrote to me on WhatsApp, and I told her where I was and the reason for the trip to urgent care.
Now, here I am, sharing it with the world. Oh well. As I said, if one person gains a bit of insight from today’s post, it will have been worth it.
I figured out how I got this infection, which was vital for me to know since I hadn’t had such an infection in over 40 years, from what I recall. In the past seven weeks since we arrived at Lake Las Vegas, I started working out about a week after we arrived, starting on the stationary bike and adding the treadmill a short time later. I’ve added some light weightlifting and been thrilled with my progress.
However, the infection took hold as I increased the time on the bike. After some research, I found the following portion of an article from Women’s Health Magazine here:

“Can spinning – and exercise in general – cause UTIs?

It is a possibility. The tube through which urine comes out – the urethra – is only around 4cm long in most women, making it relatively easy for the infection to get into the bladder. During a spin class, the urethra and the surrounding area can come into contact and friction with the saddle.

This, combined with the hot and sweaty atmosphere down there, along with possible dehydration, can make a perfect climate for bacteria not only to enter the bladder but also to grow and multiply.”

For the balance of the article, please click here.

So, I had a reason “why,” but I didn’t have immediate means to end it. Recently, while in the US, I’ve noticed several online sites offering appointments with doctors who can prescribe medication to be filled at a local pharmacy. I went to work to find a service that would be suitable for me.

Many of those services don’t treat patients over 65 years old. As a result, I spent a long time going through the details of one such service after another. Finally, I found a company, Sesame Care, found here where my age wasn’t an issue. For a small fee, I spoke to a very helpful doctor and sent a prescription to the closest CVS in Henderson.

When I received a text from CVS, I was able to go online and request the prescription be delivered to me. Within two hours, I had the prescription and carefully followed the instructions for the five-day course of antibiotics. In the meantime, I continued working out but didn’t use the bike and may stick with the treadmill and the weights.

I took the last pill last Thursday, but by Saturday, the infection had returned with a vengeance. I took an antibiotic that didn’t work. On Monday morning, I was miserable and decided I had to have a lab test and see a doctor. First thing in the morning, I tried arranging an Uber to take me to the same clinic Tom had visited, as mentioned above.

(Also, as mentioned in a prior post, I won’t have health insurance until March 1 since it’s taking a long time for Medicare to process my Part B enrollment.” I preferred to go to Urgent Care rather than an appointment at a doctor’s practice).

Getting an Uber to come out here, 25 miles from the Strip, was challenging. Uber drivers don’t necessarily hang out in Lake Las Vegas, and with over 300,000 additional visitors here for the Super Bowl, getting an Uber was a challenge. After 30  minutes of trying, I finally got a confirmation for the one-way trip to the clinic. I told Tom he didn’t have to come with me. With his lung condition, hanging around a germy waiting room made no sense.

When I checked in, the receptionist handed me a little brown bag with a specimen bottle and a sanitary wipe. Once the specimen went to their in-house lab, my condition was confirmed. especially when I had blood in my urine. The doctor was very kind and prescribed a different class of antibiotic, and after less than 24 hours, I can already tell it’s working.

It took about two hours for the round trip with the drive-through at CVS for my new prescription until I returned to the condo. Tom was waiting for me in the lobby after I texted him, as he requested, to let me know when I was on my way back. I gave the second Uber driver an additional tip for going through the drive-through so I could get the prescription right away instead of waiting for a delivery. I’ll be on this drug for ten days after taking three pills a day.

By the time I returned to the condo, I didn’t have the energy to do a new post. But today, I am already so much better, I didn’t hesitate.

The cost of the appointment at Urgent Care, plus the two Uber trips and the prescription, was around $206. If I had insurance at that point, I would have had to pay about $500 for February’s premiums (Part B and supplement for Plan G) plus the once-yearly $240 deductible. Overall, it was well spent, and I am happily on the mend.

If we lived somewhere permanently and were no longer nomads, most likely, we’d have seen a doctor more than the few times we each have in the past year. I’ve been to two doctors, and Tom’s been to one.

We are grateful for each day as we continue to enjoy our lives.

Be well.

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

Many times, we’ve seen Vervet Monkeys holding their babies, most often from a distance. Rarely staying still long enough for a photo, we were so excited to get these shots at Khaya Umdani. We’d left yogurt out overnight for the bush babies, forgetting to bring it back inside in the morning. Suddenly, we were surrounded by over a dozen monkeys only feet from us. I asked Tom to avoid scaring them off until I got a few photos we shared with our readers today. For more photos, please click here.

Tom returned from the appointment in Chicago…

We left our trail cam in Marloth Park, with other items in bins that Louise stored for us until we returned in June. While at the Ratel house, the trail cam picked up this photo of a genet, a wild small cat found in the wild.

Around 10:00 pm last night, Tom walked in the door, much to my relief. It was good to see him, although he looked tired and ready for bed. He explained he would have arrived earlier, but when his Uber driver arrived at the crowded outdoor waiting area and asked for Tom, someone else jumped into his Uber. He had to wait until the driver returned from dropping off the pushy passenger.

This antic resulted in him standing outside in the cold, 40F, with only a zippered sweatshirt on over his long-sleeved tee shirt. No doubt, he was annoyed. Still not feeling 100% after his recent bout of bronchitis, it was particularly challenging. He called to let me know he’d be later than expected, knowing I was following his flight status and could be worrying about him.

We headed to bed in no time but struggled to fall asleep. At 11:30, I heard a little snore coming from him, although he is not much of a snorer. When and if he does snore, it doesn’t bother me at all. Finally, by midnight, I drifted off but awoke many times during the night coughing. It wasn’t as bad as the previous nights, and during the day, I seldom have bouts of coughing. Tom is still coughing as well but he, too, is getting better. We both feel fine otherwise.

I might start working out regularly again, starting today, although I have done it a few times while I was under the weather on the days I felt better. Overall, I only missed about five days, and two days ago, when I tried it again, I was thoroughly caught up to where I left off.

This morning, I prepped everything for tonight’s dinner: grass-fed burger patties topped with bacon, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce, with rice for Tom and salad for both of us. Most likely, if we’re feeling well, we’ll go to dinner at one of the fantastic restaurants downstairs in The Village for the first time. We’ll review the menus before deciding which one to try, and hopefully, we’ll try a new restaurant each Saturday evening.

I hoped Tom could share how his appointment went, but the doctor and staff were all masked. Tom had forgotten to bring his hearing aids and couldn’t understand what the doctor or staff said. This morning, I emailed the doctor’s office asking them to send us a written report on his diagnosis.

All he was able to decipher was the confirmation of the prior diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis caused by asbestos exposure after 42½ years working on the railroad. He said Tom should see a primary care physician once a year to determine the progression of the disease. There is no treatment or cure for pulmonary fibrosis, which is scarring of the lung tissue. Scar tissue cannot be healed.

As I wrote this, we received the medical report from the pulmonologist in Chicago by email. I read it aloud to Tom as it confirmed the diagnosis. As stated above, he’ll need to be in touch with primary care at least once a year to evaluate the progression of the disease. He is most likely prepared to do that when we’re in South Africa and he sees Doc Theo, whom we have determined to be our primary care physician and fully trust.

In tomorrow’s post, I will share details and pricing of finally signing up for Part B Medicare and a supplement. I will share the details of the plan I’ve chosen and why I didn’t sign up for a drug plan. Please check back for the full details of this process.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 11, 2014:

As I threw out a handful of pellets, this guy tried to grab my hand, painlessly gumming my fingers. They’ve frequently been given treats by tourists and residents alike, hopefully with items acceptable for their herbivorous diet. We give them a few handfuls of pellets and provide the mineral lick. For more photos, please click here.

Thanks for all the good wishes for Tom and for our early exit from Ecuador, three weeks ago…

There’s nothing more exciting in Kruer National Park than seeing an apex predator crossing the one paved road.

It was a busy morning for me. I had scheduled a call with my dear friend Karen in Florida at 8:30, which we’ll finish later today. I did a load of laundry, hanging it on the drying rack, and emptied the dishwasher, which Tom always does each morning. Yesterday, he vacuumed the entire condo.

The plan was for me to do the remainder of the cleaning today while he was at the pulmonology appointment in Chicago, Illinois, after a more than three-hour red-eye flight. I had to dust all surfaces, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, and wash the floors using the Swiffer wet mop.

After coughing most of the night, I slept very little, aware of where Tom may be at any given moment. Early this morning, we texted back and forth. We talked on the phone after his 11:15 appointment in Arlington Heights. I could tell by his voice he was exhausted.

He wasn’t able to tell me much about his appointment. The doctor and staff were all wearing face masks, and with Tom’s lousy hearing, he was used to reading lips and didn’t know what they were saying. Hopefully, we’ll get a written report soon. If not, we will call and ask for one.

We only chatted for a few minutes. He was back at the airport waiting for his return flight, which wasn’t until tonight, and was going to find a quiet spot for a short nap. It’s not easy sleeping in a chair, but he’s not one of those travelers (neither of us are) who will sleep on the floor. He won’t return to our condo until around 10:00 or 10:30 pm. I bet he’ll need to go right to bed.

After I finished the bulk of the cleaning and talked to Karen, I got back to work on the rest, and now, I’m sitting here content that everything is spotless, and I can relax and focus on today’s post.

Sure, I wish we had a housecleaner here in Nevada, But when we heard the cost for a few hours is $150 per week, we couldn’t justify that expense. It didn’t make sense for every other week or even once a month since we’d still have to clean and do the bedding once a week since we like to be in a clean and tidy environment. We could hardly wait for a cleaner once every other week or monthly.

Since we’re both beginning to return to feeling well again, cleaning once a week will be fine. It’s hard to think of Tom sitting at the airport feeling so awful from his cough and not having slept in over a day. So often, in our travels, we’ve spent a day or two traveling, failing to sleep on the plane. If we have three seats in a row without any other passengers, it’s possible to lie down and sleep for a few hours. That wasn’t the case for Tom last night, and it probably won’t happen again tonight.

Las Vegas is a popular destination, and most flights, including red-eyes, are often totally booked. The crowd is often boisterous and excited to reach their destination in fun-filled Las Vegas. But, for some, like us, Las Vegas is another pleasant city in the desert where we have plans other than gambling and the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.

I’m counting the hours until Tom returns. Tomorrow, we will share his experience here and anything we’ve heard from the doctor in more detail. Thanks for all the love and support. Hmmm…maybe a short nap is on the horizon for me, too.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 10, 2014:

When it comes to Mozambique Spitting Cobras, their size is insignificant compared to the dangerous, life-threatening venom they inflict upon their victims. This snake was approximately 1.5 to 2 feet long, 45 to 60 cm, and came within inches of Tom’s bare feet. What an exciting scare! For more photos, please click here.

Today, I won’t be talking to Tom…

One year ago, Hal was looking around the side of the house to make sure we were on the veranda. When he saw we were there, he approached, looking for pellets.

Oddly, I feel fine but cough quite a bit at night, often awake for a few hours. The only help I’m getting is from Hall’s sugar-free cough drops, which surprisingly seem to help quite a bit. When I tried to talk to Tom this morning, I noticed I had lost my voice. I sound like Minnie Mouse, very squeaky. I suppose it’s best not to talk and strain my voice further.

Many times in the past, I’ve lost my voice. It usually happens when the illness is nearing the end rather than at the beginning. I’m hopeful that this cold/flu/virus is nearing its end for both of us. Tom is a little better today but still coughing and napping throughout the day.

Today, he’ll take the third dose of the Z-pack antibiotics. Most often, it seems to take three doses to see improvement. We’re up and about; neither of us is bedridden, and we can eat and hover around the living room as we did when we felt well.

On Tuesday night, we couldn’t get the TV to turn on in the living room, which we use for streaming shows to keep us entertained, especially now that we are laying low. I am more adept and patient in figuring out digital problems and have spent hours trying to get it to come on. Finally, yesterday morning, I called Dish Network and spent no less than two hours on the phone with them and Samsung, the TV brand.

Neither company could determine what was wrong, and Dish Network implied the account wasn’t active. That was ridiculous. The TV in the bedroom was working and wired from the same satellite box. After two hours on the phone, most people would have given up trying. Not me. I was persistent, but neither company could offer any assistance.

I started playing around with the remote settings and got the TV monitor to come on. From there, I called Dish back, and they said it appeared some update came through and caused the dysfunction. They walked me through the fix from there, and finally, we were back on.

Last night, we streamed a good movie on Amazon Prime, the “Sound of Freedom,” Right now, our only streaming services are Netflix, Hulu, and Prime. Amazon Prime sent a message a few days ago stating that members must pay an additional $2.99 monthly if they’d like commercial-free content. We aren’t interested in paying more and will live with commercials. At least they didn’t make it a mandatory increase.

We often use the perks of Prime, including free shipping (in the US only), often same-day or one-day, excellent new content streaming, and free monthly books (we don’t read many books these days), and when we’re in the bush and don’t stream much, we enjoy Amazon Music while sitting on the veranda in the evenings.

I canceled Paramount Plus this morning since we’ve already streamed everything we wanted on that service. From time to time, we’ll add a streaming service to watch a specific series.

It may seem as if we spend most of our time streaming shows. We do not. In the evenings, when we aren’t out or with people, we stream a few hours of movies and TV series. During daytime hours, we are busy with work on our laptops, planning for the future, and reading news and information relative to our lives. Also, we listen to several podcasts during the day while we are researching.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 4, 2014:

Like the main photo in this post of December 14th, we again looked toward the driveway to discover giraffes coming our way. What a glorious sight! For more photos, please click here.

Yesterday afternoon, Tom had to go to urgent care…

Today’s three photos we posted one year ago in Kruger National Park on a self-driven game drive.

With Tom’s flight to Chicago next Wednesday at 1:00 am, the fact that he was coughing so much and tired all the time made me get pushy about him going to Urgent Care yesterday afternoon. If he became more ill and was unable to go for his long-awaited appointment with the pulmonologist appointed by the law firm, it could be months before he’d get another appointment. He agreed, and we went to the closest Urgent Care shown online and on MAPS.

As soon as we arrived at the location, we noticed a sign that stated, “Coming Soon.” We had to find another location further away. We registered at the reception desk, and within 15 minutes, he was taken back, with me in attendance, to a treatment room.

After a nurse checked his vitals and asked questions, a doctor entered and examined him. On most occasions, Tom refused to go to Urgent Care this early in his illness. He was diagnosed with bronchitis, not pneumonia, which we feared he had with all the outrageous coughing and his need to nap several times a day.

Nature takes its course when lions and other predators feed on other wildlife in the bush. It can be shocking at times, but after we’ve spent so much time in the bush, we’ve come to accept it as part of life.

The doctor gave him a prescription for Z-pack and cough pills (not a liquid) and suggested he take over-the-counter Zyrtak for the sinus congestion. Off we went to the CVS pharmacy at the nearby Target store. Tom waited in the car while I went inside for the 25-minute wait until the prescriptions were ready.

Back at the condo, I noticed a message on my phone that Amazon couldn’t get into the building to drop off my order of Hall’s sugar-free cough drops. Whoever handles the reception desk during the day wasn’t available when the driver tried to gain access to the building. This morning at 8:00,  the package was outside the door.

Last night, I was coughing every hour or so, but I feel fine otherwise. Most likely, I’ve caught the bug that Tom started with before he got really sick. Once I got up and out of bed, my coughing stopped when using the cough drops. Hopefully, my symptoms won’t worsen over the next few days.

When we “catch” something, Tom is usually sicker than I am. I always feel compelled to keep up with household duties and cooking even when I feel unwell. I am optimistic we’ll both recover soon and continue to enjoy our time in Lake Las Vegas.

As for today, we’ll stay in and be cozy with our two blankets and stream some shows to distract us while we work on improving. All I have left to do today is finish this post, fold and put away the dried laundry on the rack, toss the salad, and cook our two pizzas. That’s an easy day, by my standards.

Sharing dinner with another female.

I paid our deposit for the Ratel house in Marloth Park this morning. It gave me a wonderful sense of peace and excitement at the same time. It’s hard to believe that in a little over five months, we’ll return to my favorite place in the world, outside the USA. Soon, we’ll get busy booking the place in Apache Junction, Arizona, where we’ll head after we leave here at the end of March.

Then, we’ll book the month we’ll spend in Minnesota to see our kids, grandkids, and friends. From there, we’ll begin the two-day journey to Marloth Park, South Africa.

Despite this recent setback, life is good, and we look forward to the future.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 3, 2014:

Not all wildlife requires a daily supply of water, but the zebra does, never staying further away than ten meters from a safe water supply, Picky drinkers, they taste the chlorinated pool water, only taking a sip, detecting the chemicals. When cleaning the pools in Marloth Park, the staff uses very little chlorine due to the fact that the animals drink from the pools. For more photos, please click here.

The days and nights seem to blend together and the weeks are flying by…

A pelican in the Galapagos Islands, working on a fish.

With only 51 days until we depart Ecuador to head to Tom’s pulmonology appointment in the suburbs of Chicago, time is flying by so quickly, much to our surprise. I don’t believe that we’ve discussed Tom’s health issue yet. However, it appears he may have pulmonary fibrosis caused by asbestos after 42½ years of working on the railroad.

We will share more about this situation when we know more after January 10, 2024. At this point, all we know is that his appointment is on January 10, 2024, and no matter what, we were heading to Illinois on about January 8. We’ve yet to book the flight, and will do so after I see the cardiologist next week on November 22.

Gosh, we sound like a mess! No matter how hard we’ve tried over the years, we couldn’t avoid our current medical issues and have decided we need to address them in the US, not in a foreign country. My heart issues are a result of heredity and Tom’s…well, from asbestos exposure. We found this out when he had a second x-ray when we were in Minnesota, and he went to Urgent Care for a bad cough.

But we carry on, hoping to get some answers and make decisions based on those answers. This doesn’t necessarily mean an end to our worldwide travels. But, we may decide to make some adjustments that coincide with the necessary imminent and long-term medical care.

Of course, this is at the forefront of our minds, but neither of our situations requires we leave any sooner than planned. Tom is feeling okay right now, with occasional coughing, and I am working on finding a combination of medications that will work for me. I have had to stop two of the drugs the cardiologist in Manta prescribed for me since they made it difficult for me to breathe, a common side effect.

The one drug, a blood thinner, is not causing issues, and another drug I had with me, with an increased dose, seems to be working for part of the day, which, after seeing the doctor next Wednesday, another increase in the dose may do the trick. We shall see.

In the interim, we’re staying positive and doing our best to enjoy the remainder of our time in Ecuador. It’s still cloudy and rainy every day, so we aren’t using the pool as we’d hoped. That would have been an excellent exercise for me. But, for now, I am not doing extensive walking since it seems to exacerbate the Afib. Once the drugs are adjusted to my needs, I should be able to walk longer distances.

A few readers have written asking if we’ll still do the posts if we stop traveling for a while and, as in the past when we had obstacles to bear, we’ll continue to write each day as long as our readers are still interested. This is life. No, it’s not easy, and a certain amount of worry and concern are to be expected now. However, it doesn’t hinder our joy of life, of being together and thinking about the future.

We intend to return to Marloth Park in June, as planned. By then, we’ll have a better handle on managing our healthcare, and with excellent medical care available to us there, we feel comfortable making the trip. Between now and then, we aren’t so certain.

We have many friends our age who continue to travel with medical concerns, some with major medical issues, and we applaud them for their courage. We hope to use them as role models and continue our lifestyle as long as it makes sense. We won’t take any unnecessary risks that could cause harm to either of us and fully support this with one another.

So that’s our news for today, dear readers. We’ll be back with more soon.

Be well

Photo from ten years ago today, November 17, 2013:

My parent’s wedding photo. Please read the post from that date that explains why I posted this photo. Please click here.

Trip to Manta to a highly rated cardiologist…On a new plan…

Once we arrived in Manta, there was considerable traffic.

I continue to write about my heart problems to be transparent with our lives of world travel and also to share the path we’ve chosen for those who may be experiencing similar issues. None of the information we share is suggestioning “what you should do.” Please see your medical professionals for your specific needs.

So here’s the story as it rolled out over the past few months. The day we arrived in Mirador San Jose, on October 24, the Afib started again. I didn’t experience it at all while we were on the Galapagos cruise or in Quito, even during the difficult days of seasickness on the cruise and during the four days of high altitude in Quito, at 9350 feet above sea level. I was grateful I had no problems at that time.

It’s easy to figure out what road signs are saying.

Once we got here and the Afib wouldn’t stop, I started taking the drug, Flecainide, that I’d been prescribed last April when I was in the hospital for three days, having many tests with no specific answers as to why I had Afib. Many times, I read that Afib doesn’t necessarily appear for any particular reason, making it difficult to treat and tolerate. We all want answers.

I only had enough pills for three months of Flecainide at one per day, which I’d only taken once after getting out of the hospital, which I stopped when I had awful side effects. I had one bad episode on the airplane from South Africa to Florida and never had another bout until I had a few events on the cruise to Norway. Those bouts resolved on their own after a few hours. Then, after the cruises, I never had a bout while we were in Nevada for nine nights, but then I had a few events in Minnesota during the month we were there.

A man walking with his horse or donkey carrying a load of supplies.

After reading that exercise can help Afib, I gradually increased my daily walking steps. After one week, I was in a constant state of Afb. The one Fleacainide a day wasn’t enough. I knew I needed to up the dose to two pills a day, 12 hours apart, per the suggestion of the cardiologists in South Africa. When I took the second dose 12 hours later, without any improvement, yesterday morning, I knew I needed to see a cardiologist.

Immediately, I got to work searching online for a five-star rated cardiologist and found in Manta Dr. Alfredo Zambrano. I called their office, but they spoke no English. When they saw my call coming in, to which I hung up when I couldn’t communicate with them, they immediately sent me a WhatsApp message, translated into English. My appointment was for 3:00 pm yesterday, only hours after our initial contact.

With a high poverty rate in Ecuador. The national poverty rate in Ecuador is estimated at 25% of the population, while the extreme poverty rate stands at 10.7%, with the highest incidence in rural areas. Many homes and buildings are distressed.

Of course, I was still in Afib when we arrived for the appointment. I had written down all my questions in Spanish using Google Translate and handed the doctor my phone to read the questions. One of his assistants spoke excellent English and translated for us.

He did a lengthy ultrasound and an ECG. My appointment lasted one hour. The bill was $100, which included the tests. A few years ago, I had a similar appointment to get checked out in the US, and the 15-minute appointment was US $480. Hmmm…

An old boat in a side yard.

Well, anyway, the doctor showed me on the ultrasound screen that I have a problem with my mitral valve, referred to as a regurgitating mitral valve, which medication can help at this point. It’s what is causing the Afib. He prescribed three new drugs and had me stop taking my current blood pressure and Afiib drugs. I started the new drugs yesterday on our way back to San Jose.

These drugs all have side effects, some more than others. By the time I went to bed at about 10:30 pm, I had taken all three drugs, spaced out for specific times as prescribed, and never taken all at once. One by one, as I took the drugs, within about 45 minutes, I began to feel the side effects. After taking a second dose, it’s taken until this morning for the Afib symptoms to stop.

A typical shop on the side of the road.

Yes, I feel drained and exhausted, but the doctor said I can start walking again once I’m feeling better. It may take weeks to adjust to the meds, but I am not giving up. This is my life, and I will do whatever it takes to get through this. Down the road, I may need surgery, but he said not right now. Thank goodness.

After the pharmacy, we began the one-hour drive back, heading directly to the restaurant for dinner at Kokomo in the gated community. We hadn’t prepared anything for dinner. It was busy, and we had an opportunity to chat with some locals. I wasn’t myself, but I did my best to smile and be cheerful. We didn’t stay long. I was anxious to get back to the house to put on my pajamas and relax for the rest of the night while I waited for the drugs to work. So far, so good. We did the right thing going to the cardiologist, who, by the way, had a very professional office and staff.

Today’s a new day. I feel relieved and hopeful. Sure, I am feeling the side effects, but I will work through them in the coming weeks; I am looking forward to being able to stop thinking and writing about this troublesome condition. Thanks for listening, dear readers.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 9, 2013:

This goat in our yard in Kenya was definitely not camera-shy, practically stepping on my foot as she approached. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s trip to urgent care…Visit to Costco with information overload…Another Minnesota Vikings disappointment…

The Vikings lost last night for the second time in the regular season. Our sons are big fans of the Vikings and were sorely disappointed, as was Tom.

Yesterday, we took Tom to urgent care for an unrelenting cough he’d had since he got the flu on the last cruise. We’d tested him for COVID-19 at the time, which was negative. But, his cough, mostly awful at night, was worrying. Finally, he agreed to get an appointment at the same urgent care facility he’d visited when he got COVID-19 pneumonia in 2022 when we were in Minnesota to see family. As it turned out, he was so sick and potentially contagious that we never saw family during that visit.

The doctor spent a lot of time with us and prescribed several prescriptions for Tom, which hopefully we can pick up today. The Walgreens pharmacy had to special order one of the meds, a popular drug we were surprised they didn’t have on hand. That was frustrating since the major medication would help him the most. Now, we’ve lost a day or two in his recovery.

It was wonderful to see our old next-door neighbor and good friend, Nelleke, again, who works at that urgent care facility. She’s the X-ray tech and did Tom’s intake. She, too, is a regular reader of our site and knew everything we’d done and everywhere we’ve been. We’re working on planning a get-together with her, her partner, friend Sue Sue’s daughter Sherry, and her husband Michael. Hopefully, this will all work out. We’d love that!

Fortunately, nothing horrible was found on his X-ray besides the same appearance of his “honeycomb lungs,” the same thing they’d seen on his last X-ray when he had COVID-19. The doctor explained this can happen for long periods after being infected with COVID-19. The end result, he, too, has long-haul COVID-19, just like me. Hopefully, this new round of drugs will help him.

Also, after finishing the post yesterday afternoon, we headed to Costco, only a few minutes from our hotel. We had about $500 in shop cards we’d accumulated since the last time we were here, including credits for using the Costco credit card worldwide for fuel and annual perks.

Most of the credit came from booking one of our recent cruises through Costco Travel. Each time a customer does so, they receive a “shop card” once the cruise has ended. We had booked many cruises through Costco, but seven were canceled due to COVID-19; thus, we never received those shop cards.

Walking into the store reminded me of past visits during our travel years and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” in the massive warehouse store. We were in a state of “information overload.” I had a list of items we wanted to buy, but as it turned out, they didn’t carry most of my list.

We left with only purchasing dinner to bring to Greg’s house while we watched the Minnesota Vikings’ second game of the season. What a disappointment! Our favorite team has had little success over the years, and yet Tom and our kids and some of our grandkids continue to watch with the hope that someday they will do well enough to go to the Super Bowl, let alone win the big event.

After the game, we headed back to the hotel, leaving leftovers for Greg and enough leftovers for us for tonight’s dinner. To keep costs down, we’re trying not to dine in a restaurant more than once a day, and when we’re alone, to have meals we’ve selected from the grocery store that we can reheat in the hotel’s microwave oven.

With plenty of good shows to stream, we don’t mind the quiet nights when we don’t see anyone end up hanging out in the living room in our suite hotel room. We have a refrigerator and use of the big kitchen here for dishes and flatware. It’s easy for us to entertain ourselves.

Today, at 1:00, as mentioned, we’re meeting old friends Pat and Charlie in Albertville for lunch, about 40 minutes from here. Thus, if we’re hungry tonight, we can eat our leftovers from last night. If not, we can eat them tomorrow night since we have no plans for Saturday night at this point.

Many members of Tom’s family are out of town this weekend, but once they return, we’ll make plenty of plans with them, and our schedule will fill up in no time. In the interim, we can spend lots of time with my son Greg, his girlfriend Heather, and the two remaining grandkids, Madiighan and Miles, who spend every other week at their mom’s house. They’ll return to Greg’s home this Sunday for a week, and we’ll plan something with them during that time.

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 15, 2013:

We had dinner in a cave restaurant in Kenya. Diners began to filter in around 8:00 pm, filling all tables by the time we were ready to leave around 9:45 pm. We’d be warned not to rush the servers worldwide when customs and expectations differ from the US. Many countries’ servers are accustomed to taking their time in delivering the food and the bill. Most often, as is the case here in Kenya, tips are only allowed to be paid in cash, not added to the credit card slip. Of course, this requires us to keep adequate foreign money currency on hand. For more, please click here.

Day 2…Greenland cruise…Isafjordur, Iceland…The story of a harrowing 24 hours after arriving in Reykjavik…

Tom’s photo today of the town of Isafjordur, Iceland.

From the ship’s brochure about Isafjordur, Iceland:“Isafjordur is all about nature, and the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula is known for its breathtaking landscapes. Here guests can enjoy various outdoor activities, from biking, hiking, kayaking, and horseback riding to whale watching. They can explore the history of the town that started as a trading post in the 16th century, with growth triggered in the 19th century with salt fish production, which is still the most important industry for the town.”

Yeah! We can post photos now with Celebrity’s good WiFi. Our photos from the Azamara cruise will be added once we settle in Nevada in a few weeks. Thanks for your patience!

It’s agonizing to recall the events after we arrived in Reykjavik, let alone the experience we had at the disorganized and overly busy Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, described in our last post here. Honestly, I’d like to put it behind us, but I somehow feel compelled to share it with all of our worldwide readers. After all, you didn’t see a post yesterday, and as our loyal readers, you deserve to read the story.

Here goes, folks, crazy as this story is.

Shortly before the plane from Amsterdam landed, flight attendants came around, offering “cheap” fares and tickets to hotels in Reykjavik. Taxis would cost anywhere from US $200 to $300. I’d cringed at the cost of this 45-minute drive from Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport.

When they explained the fare would be under US $80, I jumped all over it, especially when they explained we’d be dropped off a small bus directly in front of our booked hotel. It sounded easy. As it turned out, a large bus picked us up with about 30 passengers. Tom loaded our bags into the luggage hold outside the bus, and we got situated for the drive, not worried about a thing. So far, so good.

The high-temperature today is 54F, 12C.

When we arrived in the city limits of Reykjavik, the bus drove into the bus terminal, where we had to move our bags off the one bus to a smaller bus using our “green” tickets, indicating the general area we’d be heading to. This only took 15 minutes, and we were on our way.

After driving for another 20 minutes, we arrived at our drop-off spot, which wasn’t in front of our hotel as described. We checked the location on GPS on “Maps,” and it appeared our hotel was nowhere nearby. It was unclear as to where the hotel was located. We had no choice but to hike up a very steep hill with Tom wheeling the three heavy 23k bags and me only wheeling my carry-on bag and handbag.

The horrifying part was the steep hill in front of us. We thought about calling a taxi but thought it would be pointless when the hotel might be within a few meters of us, according to GPS. Up the hill, we went. With my inability to walk far with my painful legs, it was pure torture for me, walking up the ultra-steep hill. It’s not as if I get out of breath. It’s purely due to the nerve damage in my legs from the two surgeries in 2019, after infections from the cardiac bypass surgery.

Once we reached the top of the first hill, the GPS indicated the hotel was somewhere down the main tourist attraction street, many blocks away. The road was bumpy and uneven. I don’t know how Tom wheeled those bags during the next hike, nor how I could walk on more steep hills in the next 40 minutes until we reached the hotel.

Once we arrived at the hotel and confirmed the name, address, and location, I told Tom I’d head up the two flights of stairs to let the receptionist know we’d arrived and ask for help with our bags. I could barely make my way up the flights of stairs. Once at the check-in desk, I was told we didn’t have a reservation and that the hotel was full. I showed the rep the reservation information on my phone, including the confirmation number. I pressed him to look harder, to no avail.

Iceland is a volcanic island with many cliffs and mountains.

He told me there was another hotel owned by the same company further down the road that must have our reservation. I asked him to check on it. He said they have a different system, and there was nothing he could do, no matter how hard I pressed him. He said there was a similarly named hotel further down the road, pointing in the direction.

Disheartened, I gingerly lumbered back down the stairs, my legs feeling like lead weights. I told Tom the bad news. Once we were back out on the street, we found a bench and sat down to call the number of the hotel in the reservation. It rang back to the guy I’d just spoken to, and once again, he stated he couldn’t help.

We were on the road for foot traffic only, and no taxis were allowed. The only way we could get a taxi was to go back down the steep hill, which was impossible. There was no way Tom could maneuver the three bags down that steep hill. Nor could I walk down that hill with my legs hurting so much.

We stopped in several businesses and talked to several locals. No one knew where the hotel was except three people, who each said it was in a different direction. GPS didn’t help at all. On the way to what we thought was the location, a local told us GSP hadn’t been updated In Reykjavik since 2012. The hotel didn’t exist or was miles away for all we knew.

We walked further and further until we reached an intersection with road signs and called for a taxi. At this point, 2½ hours had passed. Tom’s arm was bruised and injured from the bags. I could barely take another step. Luckily, the taxi arrived 15 minutes later. The driver had no clue where the hotel would be, even after carefully checking his GPS system. At this point, it was already 6:30 pm. We’d had no food since breakfast on the ship and only one shared water bottle.

We were at a loss. We had no choice but to book another hotel and deal with this later. The taxi driver explained that with several cruise ships arriving and preparing, few hotel rooms were left in Reykjavik. He suggested a Radisson Blu and called for us. They had two rooms left. We were in the vicinity, and the rep said she secured a room for us and we could pay when we got inside the hotel. She agreed to a price for us for one of the two remaining rooms in the huge hotel, which was outrageous, but we had no choice. We were parked outside the hotel. She agreed to hold the room until we walked inside the hotel.

This small Icelandic town has a population of 2736 as of January 1, 2020.

We were too exhausted to think straight and didn’t get her name which was a huge mistake on our part. But we only needed to exit the taxi and walk indoors. When we arrived at the check-in desk, they didn’t know who we were, and we had no choice but to pay whatever they wanted to charge us. We were desperate and had no other options at that point. There was no way we tried to find and book another hotel after hours of this hell.

The room rate, with taxes, was US $721.18! We were shocked but needed to rest and get some food. Tom hauled the bags to the room (there was no bellperson!), and the cart didn’t fit in the tiny elevator. Our frustration level at this point was palpable. Somehow we managed to get to the room with high expectations. We were sorely disappointed.

The room was no big deal for that kind of money and had several steps between the bedroom and bathroom. I could barely walk, let alone walk up and down steps in the room. We fell onto the bed, exhausted. After getting situated and off our feet for a while, I headed down to the restaurant to check out the menu and see if there was anything I could eat or that Tom would eat.

There wasn’t a thing that worked for either of us, and after looking at the plates being served to dinner guests, tiny portions at outrageously high prices, we decided to forego dinner and wait until we boarded the ship to have a nice meal the next day. Neither of us was hungry after our awful day.

But this wasn’t the end of the disaster. The room wasn’t clean, the bathroom sink was plugged, and there was no aircon. Apparently, in Iceland, they don’t have aircon. But the room was stifling, as if the heat had been turned on. We were miserable. We drank the water provided in the room and headed off to bed.

Within 10 minutes of lying down, I detected my pulse was fast. I checked my Fitbit, and it read 150 beats per minute. I was in Afib once again. Nothing I could do could get it down. I never slept all night, and it never went down below 135, fluctuating back and forth. I just had to wait it out.

It was still that high when we boarded the Celebrity Summit around noon. Hoping food and water might help, as soon as we made our way through the 45-minute check-in process and to our cabin, we dropped off our few carry-on items and headed to the buffet. We hadn’t eaten anything in over 30 hours (considering the time change), but neither of us was that hungry.

I ate a healthy light lunch, but the Afib continued all day until we went to dinner and beyond. I was well aware of it during dinner and ate very little. After dinner, we went to bed, and all I could do was try a few maneuvers that could help with AAfib. But nothing helped. I’d been trying all day and the previous night to no avail.

Finally, exhausted, I drifted off, slept through the night, and awoke this morning to a resting pulse of 60 beats per minute, feeling like a new person. I have no doubt the excess walking, stress, and lack of food and water played a role in going into Afib. It was frightening, but now I feel much better, albeit weak from the entire ordeal. Soon, we’ll head to the buffet, where I’ll have a healthy meal again.

We have met some lovely people so far while I maintained a stiff upper lip while going through the Afib, not mentioning my issue to anyone. We can begin enjoying ourselves, although I will take it easy on this cruise. Today’s port of call has a few things to see, and I don’t feel like walking a lot today.

Our cabin is lovely, actually bigger, with more storage than on the last Azamara cruise, and we feel pretty comfortable on yet another Celebrity ship. This ship has four times more passengers, but it doesn’t feel crowded, and staff and passengers are equally friendly.

So there it is, folks, our harrowing story.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 19, 2013:

Four of the six box s we received from the pharmaceutical company. We’re awaiting the two missing boxes, hopefully, to arrive or be replaced d before leaving Italy in less than two weeks. For more photos, please click here.

Day #3…no headache…fingers crossed…Photo of an old friend…

This is Noah, not his dad Norman. He’s grown so much. He has an injured hip that is healing well after treatment from Dr. Piet.

First, I must add that if you have any medical issues, please see your medical professionals for diagnosis and potential treatment. In my case, I had done that but still suffered, which prompted me to do my own research.

I am holding my breath in hopes that my headache and facial pain that began the day I got Covid-19’s Omicron on April 20, 2022 (15 months ago) may actually be resolving from a new treatment modality I started a week ago. In desperation, I have researched and researched, looking for answers.

In South Africa, Doc Theo first diagnosed it as trigeminal neuralgia, precipitated by the virus causing inflammation to the trigeminal nerve in my face and forehead. He was on the right track, but at the same time, I was suffering from severe allergies to pollen and dust in Marloth Park, which hadn’t ever been a problem in the past.

Thus, we considered it might be a sinus problem when I had such severe allergy symptoms simultaneously. It was tricky to pin down the exact cause. When I went to Dr. Singh, the high-tech dentist in Malelane, he did a full head scan and said my sinuses looked mildly inflamed but no more than anyone with allergies in the summer months. I was at a loss.

Doc Thei prescribed a drug that may work for trigeminal neuralgia, amitryptiline, an off-label use for the anti-seizure medication. I got relief from the pain after upping the dose. But, even taking it at night, I was exhausted during the day and could barely function, and I started gaining weight, which are common side effects of that drug. I had to stop taking it.

Months later, still suffering, Doc Theo suggested we try antibiotics, prednisone, and a strong prescription antihistamine. Within four days, I was symptom-free, but once the prednisone was tapered off, the pain returned with a vengeance. This was in early  April. I stayed on the antihistamine since it gave me excellent allergy control, but the headache and facial pain continued.

Then, a week before we left Marloth Park to fly to Florida, I had a horrifying bout of Afib (which I’d never had since right after heart surgery in 2019 while still in hospital). I stayed in hospital for three days in ICU, having countless tests, none of which indicated any cause for the Afib. I left the hospital, and four days later, we began the long journey to the US to go to Florida to renew our passports.

The cardiologist prescribed a powerful drug that made me so sick I had to lie in bed for the first two days I was back in Marloth Park. I stopped the medication. I had to be functional to make the 35-hour journey to the US. The side effects wore off by the time we left, but I still had the headache and face pain.

On the 17-hour flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta, I had another Afib bout lasting six hours of pure hell. I was terrified if I told the flight attendant, they’d turn the plane around. Finally, it subsided, and I made it through the remainder of the flight without incident, although I still didn’t feel well, even after we arrived at the house in The Villages.

Noah is so handsome, just like his dad.

Once we got situated here, I went on a massive campaign to figure out why I’d had the two awful bouts of Afib. I researched the few remaining medications I’d been taking for years to see if they could cause the problem. But then, when I researched the antihistamine, Xyzal, and found this (and others) study here that reads:

“Xyzal and Atrial fibrillation/flutter – a phase IV clinical study of FDA data


Atrial fibrillation/flutter is found among people who take Xyzal, especially for people who are female, 60+ old, and have been taking the drug for < 1 month.

The phase IV clinical study analyzes which people take Xyzal and have Atrial fibrillation/flutter. It was created by eHealthMe based on reports of 17,000 people who have side effects when taking Xyzal from the FDA and is updated regularly. You can use the study as a second opinion to make health care decisions.”

(See the link for the balance of the report).

Immediately I stopped the Xyzal, and in the past almost three months, I’ve had no incidence of Afib whatsoever.

Back to the headache…so I continued to research, hoping to find something to help as much as my efforts to resolve this pain in my face and forehead. I concluded that I most likely have occipital neuralgia, very similar to trigeminal neuralgia, but the symptoms are different.

Then, I researched treatment for occipital neuralgia, and many suggested awful drugs and surgery, neither of which appealed to me. But I kept coming across various acupressure treatments that may help such nerve pain in the head and face. One week ago, I started this process twice daily, once in the morning and again at night. It didn’t help right away.

On the third day, I noticed improvement; on day 4, I awoke with no pain. Today is day #3 without pain. I am hesitantly optimistic and fully understand I may have some bad days in the future and will continue with this process for as long as it takes, even if it is permanent.

Here is the link to Dr. Mandell’s facial and head acupressure video.

There are thousands of reports from reliable sources that extol the virtues of acupressure (and acupuncture) for various ailments, including reports from the Mayo Clinic and other such facilities of high regard.

When we think about it, doctors don’t have the time to research to the degree that a patient may when choosing to be an advocate for their health. No doctor could have spent the hours I spent looking for answers from reliable sources. I firmly believe that if traditional medicine can’t help us, perhaps it’s worthwhile to look for alternatives that may help us with difficult-to-treat situations.

Again, please see your medical professional for diagnosis and treatment, but if all else fails, there may be alternatives that work for you, as they’ve done for me (fingers crossed) in these two situations.

Be well.

Photos from ten years ago, July 13, 2013:

No photos were posted on this date ten years ago. See the story here.