Best birthday gift ever!…I got a diagnosis and hopefully good solution!…Happy day…

Tasmanians seem to place various means of transportation atop buildings, as shown in several of our past photos.

Yesterday morning, while working on the post, I stopped for a moment to check my email. Since it was my birthday, it was fun to see how many email messages I received from family and friends, along with a variety of adorable online cards.

When I noticed a message from the doctor’s office I visited in Geeveston as recommended by Anne, I was shocked to see another blood test result had come in indicating it was positive. I was instructed to return to the office of Dr. Angela Retchford for a new prescription.

Yesterday, while at the pharmacy in Geeveston, we noticed this antique wagon atop the bakery/restaurant.

Honesty, I was thrilled. Who’s ever thrilled to get a positive test result? I was. After almost three months of suffering from an awful gastrointestinal issue that didn’t improve regardless of what I ate or what remedies I tried, I was excited to have a diagnosis.

Maybe now, with the new medication, I could improve. So last Tuesday, the doctor prescribed a PPI (proton pump inhibitor), which I was to take for 60 days, stop, and head to a gastroenterologist in Sydney if not improved. 

It was raining with the sun shining.  In South Africa, Okee Dokee taught us the Afrikaans expression, “Jackals trou met wolf se vrou.” In Afrikaans, this phenomenon, i.e., when it rains, and the sun shines, is referred to as Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou, meaning ‘Jackal marries wolf’s wife.”

With our plans to leave Sydney for the US on April 22nd, the 60 days will end about one week before we were scheduled to sail away, leaving little time for more tests and doctor appointments.

When the prior blood tests came in only two days after blood was drawn, with only one anomaly I’ll deal with later in the US when I have the test repeated; I assumed we were done until the doctor explained at my second visit that one test was outstanding. Then, after nearly a week had passed and I hadn’t heard a word, I assumed all was well. 

The doctor and receptionist explained that “negative” results on a test wouldn’t require communication with us, saving them time and money when avoiding contacting patients when all was well with tests. But, of course, with no local phone number, I asked for all communication to be accomplished via email.

The Pie Shoppe in Geeveston.  We avoided it.

As soon as I uploaded the post, Tom and I jumped in the rental car and headed directly to the doctor’s office, Geeveston Medical Centre found at this link, to discover the blood test resulted in a “positive” diagnoses of Helicobactor Pylori, aka, H. Pylori is a gastrointestinal bacterial infection as follows from this site:

“What Is H. pylori

H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) are spiral-shaped bacteria. H. pylori bacteria are unique because they produce the enzyme urease that allows the bacteria to live in the harsh environment of the stomach. The urease enzyme it produces reacts with urea to form ammonia that neutralizes enough of the stomach’s acid to allow the organisms to survive in the tissues.”

This is one of the possible conditions I’d researched online. In speaking with Tom over and over again, trying to figure out when in fact, the symptoms may have begun, we realized it was in Bali when I’d complained of bloating, which prompted me to stop drinking coffee, iced tea, and hot tea. Why was I getting bloated from drinking liquids?

In thinking back to our total four months in Bali, I’m now certain the symptoms began there. Not in control over the most sanitary of conditions under which I prepare meals, and with ants crawling all over the kitchen counters and dishware, I could easily have picked up the condition while there. 

“The Bears Went Over the Mountain” is a Geeveston boutique hotel with a cafe and tapas bar.  Click here for details

I was often in the kitchen wiping up when the girls weren’t there preparing meals, tossing out dirty-looking sponges and rags, and often concerned when food was left out longer than safe. During that period in Bali, I contracted an awful bacterial infection from eating squid.

Also, during this period, I took Aleve daily for the back injury, only exacerbating a potential breeding ground for H. Pylori. Thus, it was the right combination of circumstances to make me vulnerable for the full-blown infection, which was later exacerbated by drinking the wine on the ship.

After we left Bali the first time, we headed to Vietnam and Cambodia for the Mekong River cruise after a two-month stay, including multiple hotel stays. Unfortunately, we never ate anything off the street but could easily have made the situation worse, eating in various restaurants/hotels along the way. As a result, the bloating continued to worsen.

View of a farm on the Huon River.

I’d always joked that I had such a tough stomach that I could digest my shoe if I ate it. No longer is that the case. Traveling the world makes us all the more vulnerable to a wide variety of conditions and infections. Also, over the past few years, I contracted other infections requiring a few rounds of antibiotics.

By the time we got on the ship for the 33-night cruise, the infection must have been full-blown when I suffered from worsening bloating and the associated discomfort day after day, never connecting it with anything I was doing other than perhaps drinking too much liquid. 

I’d never had this problem in the past. Was it an “old age” thing I didn’t want to face? I’d noticed a lot of people my age with a distended abdomen, both women and men. 

Even driving along the roads in Tasmania is scenic.

I’d never discussed this with a doctor or even a friend. But, wouldn’t my “grain-free” lifestyle prevent me from a “Wheat Belly” when most of my life I’ve had a relatively flat stomach?

Now I know. What a relief! H. Pylori, a bacteria most of us carry harmlessly in our intestinal tract, was “brought to life” due to these myriad circumstances. With a prescription pack to treat the condition, which included two antibiotics and a smaller dose, I was taking a PPI to be administered once every 12 hours. 

This morning I took the first dose recommended by the pharmacist (since I’d already taken the PPI early yesterday morning). One day before our leaving from Sydney, I will have completed the one-week dosing. Then, in four weeks, it’s suggested I have another test to ensure the infection is gone. We’ll do this in Sydney during the 40 nights we’ll spend in Manly.

River views through the trees on a sunny day.

Need I say, this was indeed a divine birthday gift. Not knowing what was making it nearly impossible to eat without awful discomfort for the next five or six hours, I’d begun losing weight when finally I succumbed and started eating tiny meals, leaving me hungry all the time. 

It was a good birthday. Finally, finally, I’ve returned to my “old” (now older) cheerful self. Now, I must be patient and give the medication time to eat tiny portions to avoid discomfort in the interim.

So there it is, folks, hopefully, the culmination of my continuing health problems beginning this past June, almost eight months ago. We hope this resolves the problem and I can become more active while embracing the many exciting adventures yet to come. 

Thank you for all the kind and thoughtful wishes for good health and my birthday. You, our dear readers, be well, too!

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2016:

The cook at the Orangery in New Plymouth, NZ, fired up Tom’s Steak Diane Flambé using Pernot and white wine while taking this shot during my birthday dinner one year ago. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Time to come clean…A medical issue over the past almost three months…

Pointy mountain top view from Southport, Tasmania.

As shown in this link in yesterday’s post, three factors contributed to my current medical issue, which included the following, beginning last June. Quoted from that post, the following was included:
“That was my mistake #1…long term use of NSAIDS (For back injury last June).
That was my mistake #2…consuming high-risk seafood from an unknown source (in Bali months ago).
That was my mistake #3…drinking two glasses of white wine every night during the 33-night cruise beginning on October 31, 2016.”

Why I feel slightly embarrassed to share these details baffles me. But, unfortunately, we all make mistakes that can wrongfully affect our health.  None of us are exempt from this reality regardless of how hard we strive for health and wellness.

Then again, I may have higher standards for myself of striving for healthfulness coming from a family on my mother’s side with a plethora of hereditary health issues, many of which have plagued me in one way or another over the years; hypertension; diabetes (pre-diabetic in my case); heart disease (I had already had heart surgery in 2005); painful spinal conditions (requiring my current way of eating to reduce inflammation); thyroid issues (my eldest sister had her thyroid removed. I take medication); cancer (my youngest sister had two horrific rounds of cancer).

On top of it all, obesity has been prevalent in many of the lives of my family members, which inspired me as a young person to watch every morsel I put into my mouth in hopes of avoiding poor health. As a result, I’ve exercised and maintained a healthy diet in one form or another for most of my life.

Boats in the bay.

Regardless of how hard we may try, many of us cannot avoid falling prey to heredity conditions. As a result, I question myself while taking full responsibility for my recent painful and distressing gastrointestinal situation presented during the first week upon our arrival in Penguin, Tasmania, after the end of the 33-night cruise.

In reviewing each of my above mistakes, I believe they contributed to my becoming vulnerable to the raging gastrointestinal issue, particularly the wine drinking on the 33-night cruise. In all of my life, I’d never drunk wine or any other form of alcohol so many nights in a row. 

Add the fact that overall over the past 20 years, I’d been a non-drinker before the cruise. But, unfortunately, I’d built no tolerance to alcohol and basically burned my intestinal tract pouring the two glasses of wine down my throat for 33-nights in a row which ultimately proved to be toxic.

During the cruise, I suffered no ill effects at the time. Overall, I stuck to the two glasses a night, spreading them out over an extended period, although on a few occasions where we stayed up late, dancing and carrying on, I may have consumed a third. However, I found that staying at around the two glasses of wine would prevent me from feeling hungover.

Mountains at a distance.

As we settled in Penguin, after about five days, I started noticing a burning sensation down the entire length of my intestinal tract. I had no specific heartburn near my esophagus or a sensation of GERD. Instead, it occurred from the chest down.

On a mission to self-diagnosis, I read copious reports and documents on what was plaguing me and how to treat it. I literally tried everything available from the local pharmacy, and still, the symptoms and discomfort continued. Each time I ate or drank anything at all, I could feel it going down, burning all the way.

When I attempted to eat my one main meal a day, I became bloated and outrageously uncomfortable, unable to go out or do anything until the food slowly digested. After a few days of this, I cut my meal into two small portions to no avail. Even the smallest amount of food hurt.

Bright white sand beach in a cove, off the beaten path while on a dirt road.

There was no way I wanted to go to a doctor only to have to experience endless tests. In our old lives (around 2007), we easily recall when Tom had awful IBS and suffered through one invasive test after another while we spent five miserable days and nights (he couldn’t eat anything during this period) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was sent home with prescriptions that ultimately didn’t help and had the potential for long-term side effects. 

It was only after we devised a severe diet change that his symptoms were gone six months later, and he stopped the seven pills a day. But I’m already eating that same way, and still, the burning and bloating persisted. So certainly, diet alone is not the cure-all for that which ails us.

Continuing to try everything I could, once we arrived in the Huon Valley, where better medical care was available in the capital city of Hobart, I made a doctor appointment at a well-known and reviewed integrative medicine clinic in hopes of a solution.

The doctor diagnosed me with gastritis and/or IBS and prescribed an herb to soothe the intestinal tract while it healed, slippery elm, and the vitamin zinc. He said to return in three weeks if it hadn’t improved. I must say the slippery elm helped, an herb that, when added to water, thickens, providing a coating along the intestinal tract. I was to drink this off and on all day and did so diligently.

Low tide at the beach.

Within a week, the burning was gone. I was ecstatic. But, the pain and awful bloating continued after eating, to a point making me fearful of eating, going out, or riding in the car when impossible bowel issues accompanied the condition. I struggled to eat enough to avoid losing weight which would only exacerbate the problem.

At three weeks, I realized the slippery elm was no longer necessary, but something had to be done. So, as much as I’ve resisted traditional medicine, I bit the bullet and made an appointment with our landlord’s recommended traditional medicine physician located down the road in Geeveston.

I couldn’t get an appointment for several days but went ahead and booked it for Tuesday this week. There were a few nights I was so miserable. We might have to go to the hospital in Hobart. I persisted in avoiding this option.

The only time I felt relief was immediately upon awakening before eating or drinking anything. After that, even organic, caffeine-free herbal tea would cause problems. So instead, I sipped small amounts of tepid water throughout the day to avoid becoming dehydrated.

As soon as I met with the traditional medicine doctor, she was convinced I had gastritis or possible IBS, depending on how soon it would resolve. She gave me a prescription for a PPI (proton-pump-inhibitor), a drug to which I’ve been strongly opposed due to its potential for long-term side effects. 

The doctor suggested a two-month course of the drug. Also, I had several blood tests for numerous possible conditions, all of which were normal.  Thank goodness.

Oceanview from Dover, Tasmania.

At this point, I had to let go of my soapbox stance on drug side effects. I needed relief, and I needed it fast. Although the drug doesn’t promise immediate results when it may take weeks to become effective, I noticed an improvement in the first 24 hours. After that, I could actually eat a medium-sized meal with slightly less discomfort.

Although I’m still suffering from the bloating sensation after drinking and eating, it’s not as painful and debilitating as it was. I can only hope and pray for continued improvement. In only 13 days, we’re boarding a 12-night cruise.

Guess I won’t be drinking the “free” wine on this upcoming cruise.  Actually, after this experience, I’ve decided to return to my former “no alcohol at all policy.” I never minded not drinking and could be just as content with iced or hot tea.

If it’s not fully resolved by the time the cruise ends in Sydney, I may decide to see a gastroenterologist for some of those unpleasant tests.  Time will tell.

Huon River view from Highway A6.

As for experiences in Tasmania, I’m grateful for those I pushed myself to do.  In each case, it’s been a struggle, but there was no way we’d stay in the entire time. As you’ve seen, some of our photos may not have been as interesting and exciting as during other periods of time in our travels. We did our best.

Adding the five months of severe back pain and now over two months of this current issue, I’ve had a painful and difficult past many months.  However, through it all, we remained hopeful, embracing our surroundings as much as possible and always feeling grateful to be experiencing the world and happy to be together.

Thank you for “listening” to my story. I share it only in an attempt to be “real” in our daily ramblings of living life on the move. It’s not always easy. It’s not always joyful. But, we continue with love and hope in our hearts and minds for the future yet to come.

Enough about that!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2016:

Our favorite photo of the day when we visited Puketi Gardens in New Zealand. Zoom in to see this bee’s facial features. Amazing! For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Time to come clean…A medical issue over the past almost three months…

There are patches of green grass in the Huon Valley which aren’t quite as green as they were in Penguin which may be due to weather and soil conditions.

Its not always easy living one’s life on display for literally the world to see.  Our mistakes, our foibles and our vulnerabilities come into play on a daily basis. At times, to avoid appearing redundant or as a complainer/whinger we may not mention every single ailment that filters our way. 

After all, this is a “travel blog” isn’t it?  Or, as we often say, “Its a real life story of two senior citizens traveling the world with the nuances of living a life on the move, without a home, without storage or stuff to call their own other than that which is contained in three suitcases and a few carry on bags.

At times, we struggle with the definition. However, based on the fact we’ve had so many worldwide readers, perhaps the definition has been irrelevant to our readers who’ve followed along with us all this time, now fast approaching 52 months since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012.

Pool and river view from our veranda on the second level.

Based on our intent to tell it like it is, today, I’m sharing something I’ve contemplated sharing over these past months shortly after we arrived in Tasmania on December 3rd after a 33 night cruise.

Several things transpired to result in this illness, most of which was entirely my own fault. In part I became ill as a result of a lack of caution when I knew caution should have been forefront in my mind and also, a series of events that transpired contributing to this condition.

I supposed when we think about it many of our ailments can be prevented with knowledge and self-care. But, I like so many of us, throw caution to the wind when somehow we think “that won’t happen to me” or in many cases, we aren’t even aware of the potential risks.

Pretty farm in the country.

I have to go back a way to fill in some of the blanks here. Please bear with me. It’s not a pretty story. Somewhere around June 1, 2016, while living at the fabulous villa in Sumbersari, Bali, I injured my back while in the pool. 

I’d backed up with walking and exercising and hit my spine, from neck to tailbone of a sharp stone corner at the bottom of the steps. At first, it felt like the same pain one would experience banging one’s elbow.  Ouch, ouch, ouch. 

Thinking the cool water would do good, I languished in the pool for a while, moving gingerly, when eventually the pain subsided. During the remainder of the day and evening after which I iced it off and on, the pain was somewhat under control. But, at bedtime, I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep.

Huge daisies!

Having previously had a diagnosis with a horrible spinal condition due to a heredity condition eventually in 2011 I found tremendous pain relief from a change of diet due to a massive reduction in inflammation. However, no way of eating could reduce the pain of an injury to this degree.

I didn’t see any reason to go to a doctor in the remote area of Bali, a four-hour harrowing drive to get to a good hospital. At that point, I couldn’t conceive of that drive bumpy long ride. It was hard enough when we went back and forth from the airport to the villa, a total of four times.

I’d have to treat it myself. Besides, what would “they” do? Pain killers?  A back brace? (Not good to use over the long haul). Surgery? Not possible or desired in Indonesia (or any other country for that matter).  I hoped in time it would heal.

Flowers blooming mid-summer in Tasmania in Tasmania.

During the following five months, I used ice and heat packs, walked daily to maintain strength, didn’t lay in bed during the day, and took over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Aleve with breaks every few weeks. That was my mistake #1…long term use of NSAIDS.

From there, a few short days later, I asked the two cooks to make us a seafood dish with prawns and for me, added grilled calamari. Let’s face it, sometimes favorite foods are comforting. My back was hurting but not my appetite. 

Twelve hours after eating the calamari, I had the worse case of diarrhea, known as “diare” in Balinese, a common traveler’s illness in many parts of the world. Here again, I should have known better than to eat this type of seafood in this part of the world. That was my mistake #2…consuming high-risk seafood from an unknown source.

We’ve so enjoyed the fresh-picked organic vegetables from Anne and Rob’s garden.

After suffering for a few days, Gede, our wonderful houseman took us to the Apotek (pharmacy) where we purchased an over-the-counter drug that got it under control within a few days. 

At that point between the diare and the back pain, I was a mess although, not a complainer, I didn’t burden Tom with hearing about it all the time.  He even berated me at times to encourage me to tell him how I was feeling throughout the difficult days and again most recently.

By the time we left Bali on June 27th, my back was so bad, I didn’t know how I’d get through the necessary week in Singapore while we applied for necessary visas plus spending several days in Hanoi awaiting the upcoming Viking Mekong River Cruise beginning July 8th. 

Yellow and white orchids.

How in the world was I going to get through the activities and walking on uneven ground on many tours and several flights through Vietnam and Cambodia? Somehow I managed to participate in many of the tours as shown in our photos beginning here at this link and continuing for many days.

In our posts, I made every effort to avoid complaining which I knew would bore our readers with frequent mention of my painful condition.  We did absolutely everything I could manage to ultimately have an excellent experience albeit the few tours we had to forego. Our many photos and stories at the following link clearly illustrate how much we were actually able to participate. 

From there, we went to Phuket, Thailand from July 22nd to September 1st.  Looking back, that six-week period was almost a blur. I was in terrible pain resulting in our doing very little while there. Other than a little exploring, photo-taking, grocery shopping, and visit to several beaches we stayed in while I attempted to recuperate.

From there, we returned to Bali for two more months to fill a gap in our schedule while awaiting the 33-night cruise circumventing the continent of Australia. Once we boarded the ship the back pain was finally gone after a full five months of pain.

It was during that 33-night cruise I decided to start drinking a few glasses of white wine when our drinks were “free” due to our recent inclusion into Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Diamond Club which provides complimentary cocktails from 4:30 to 8 pm each night. Why not? I had no specific reason when I could easily enjoy a few glasses of dry white wine and still maintain my diet. However, I’d had no more than a few glasses of wine each year over the past 20 years. That was my mistake #3…

Today’s story is simply too long to continue today. Tomorrow, we’ll present the balance of this story including my current medical issue, medical diagnosis, and subsequent treatment by a highly competent and recommended local doctor.

Be well

Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2016:

Our favorite photo of the day. Zoom in to see this bee’s facial features.  Amazing! For more photos, please click here.

How much did we spend out of pocket for all the medical?…Haircut problems for Tom…Figuring it all out, one way or another…

Its amazing how quickly it grows.

Yesterday morning, we both had final appointments with Dr. Konny at Apple Tree Medical in the town of Smithfield near the shopping center. Tom had his physical and according to what Dr. Konny could determine, he’s in excellent health.

He had his blood tests which will arrive by email in a few days. Once those have arrived, we’re done with the doctor. After Tom’s appointment, he headed to the lab located in the medical clinic while she and I reviewed my newly arrive test results.

Much to our delight, all is well. I have a clean bill of health. I must admit now that it’s over that the pain I had in Kauai was not a bladder infection after all. After we arrived here in Australia it started up again. It just wasn’t symptomatic as a bladder infection. 

The justcuts store is located only a few doors from the pharmacy, making it easy to find.

Over a week ago I had a CAT scan in Cairns as the pain had continued for days. We never mentioned the CAT scan here when we felt we should wait until we had results. I was upset about having to have the scan not wanting to pay thousands of dollars for the expensive diagnostic test.

We almost fell over when we paid the bill after the test was completed. It was AUD $365, US $269. As a matter of fact, Dr. Natasha had called four different diagnostic centers while I was with her to find us the best price. I don’t ever recall our doctor making phone calls for “deals” for us! The difference in pricing at various clinics was as much as AUD $1000, USD $738. We couldn’t express enough gratitude!

Keeping in mind we have no insurance to cover this when our insurance only covers hospitalization (hospital stays, surgery, and inpatient services) this was the full price, not a co-pay. I can only imagine the out of pocket cost we’d have incurred for such a service in many other countries.

Tom was reading a book on his phone while awaiting his turn.

Waiting for the results was angst-ridden. I was more worried about how we’d manage if I needed surgery or had a dreaded disease while on the move. One can do a number on oneself imagining the difficulty in these circumstances. But, we both held firm to a relatively positive attitude, and the days passed quickly until we knew the results.

As a result of a surgery over 20 years ago, I had adhesions in the left groin area (guys, figure that out on your own. Girls get it!) and a possible bit of diverticulitis. The pain from this can come and go and for now, it’s at bay once again. Reducing fiber intake seems to reduce all the pain. So for now, I’m on a low fiber, low carb, grain-free, starch-free, sugar-free, chemical-free diet. Good grief. 

Knowing it’s nothing more serious and not impeding upon any internal organs, it’s not worrisome. Occasional discomfort, I can manage. Worrying is eliminated. What a relief! As for the additional food restrictions, it’s no problem for me. Currently, I’m having low fiber veggies such as mushrooms, onions, leaf lettuce (no more cabbage), and a few others.

Tom’s former haircut gone wild.

As for all the other tests including tests for colon cancer, everything is negative. Now we wait for Tom’s results and we’re home free (literally and figuratively). Later in the week, when we grocery shop we’ll make our dentist appointments with a dentist located by the mall with a beautiful office and modern technology for teeth cleaning.

In the interim, Dr. Konny wrote my prescriptions for six months (all the law in Australia allows) for the few prescriptions I’ve taken for years, having recently eliminated one more due to good health. After the doctor appointments, we dropped off the prescriptions which will be ready by Thursday. With these, I’ll have enough on hand to last for the next 16 months. 

After three doctor appointments for me, one for Tom, multiple blood tests, and the CAT scan we spent a total of USD $$1075, AUD $1458. All that remains is is the cost for the three, six-month prescriptions which surely won’t be over US $200, AUD $271.26. Unreal. In the US, we’d have spent thousands for all of these out of pocket services. Once Tom’s results come in, we’ll report here, anticipating all will be good.

In no time at all, he was done. I particularly watched how Byron cut along the ears and back with which I’d had trouble. I can’t wait to try it again.

We were very happy with the level of medical care and service at Apple Tree Medical. If traveling to this area, one can rest assured they’d be in good hands with this clinic and with these fine doctors, including Drs. Natasha and Dr. Konny.

After the doctor’s office, the stop at the pharmacy, and Tom purchasing a battery for his watch which was a bit pricey at AUD $19.95, USD $14.71, we headed to JustCuts for Tom’s much-needed haircut. Why wasn’t I cutting his hair with our recently purchased hair clippers with the zillion attachments?

Simple answer. When we plugged it into our electrical adapter the noise was earsplitting and it quickly became overheated, approaching burnout. Apparently, these clippers won’t work in some countries but certainly not in Australia. My US purchased flat iron which uses more powers works without a problem. I offered to give him a scissors cut but he refused.

The bottom edge at the back had been tricky for me.  Now, I know how to do it.

The male pharmacist suggested we try his favorite haircutters, JustCuts, located a few doors from the pharmacy in the mall. Walking into the clean, modern, well-equipped hair cutting establishment made us feel we were in good hands. The stylist, Byron, a local guy did a fabulous job giving me tips for when I am able to cut Tom’s hair again. 

After a perfect cut along with an affordable price of US $14.71, AUD $23 we were thrilled. Hopefully, in Fiji, the hair clippers will work. If not, we’ll have to find a new haircutter before we head back to Sydney in January to board the cruise to New Zealand.

After all of our stops after the doctor’s visit including a trip into the grocery store for a few items, we were on our way, out to breakfast. Unfortunately, breakfast was over at the few restaurants we visited and it was too early for lunch.  With rain pelting down and preferring to avoid walking on the beach in the rain, we decided to head back home and go out to eat another day.

When we returned home, I collected all of our medical information and scanned every medical report saving it on our hard drive and the cloud we use, OneDrive, for which we pay a small monthly fee. We have almost one terabyte of data to save in a cloud and thus it requires a small fee for this amount of storage. We use the portable hard drive and the cloud for safekeeping in case our hard drive is ever stolen although I keep it in my possession at all times when we travel. 

Byron was a friendly and competent stylist suggesting a number of areas we plan to visit in the near future.

Tom’s test results will arrive by email by Friday. If all is well, he’ll have no further need to return to the doctor.  Once we receive them, they too will be stored on the hard drive and cloud. 

We’d received a DVD of my CAT scan which we plan to store at our box at the mailing service, along with accumulated receipts and our expired second passports which we no longer need but that I’d like to save as keepsakes. We’ll put together a small package of these items and send them to Nevada before we leave in September. More later on why we no longer need second passports but did when we originally began to travel in 2012.

That’s all the news for today, folks. Thanks for traveling along with us. We hope you enjoy reading the costs we bear along the way. We post them with the intent of informing travelers as to possible costs they may incur in their travels. If any of our readers have specific questions about any travel-related expenses we may not have included, please comment or send an email and we’ll happily respond.

Have a wonderful day!

                                        Photo from one year ago today, July 21, 2014:

A natural rock formation we discovered on a drive in Madeira. For more photos of that day’s road trip, please click here.

Doctor appointments and medical tests…Funny things in our neighborhood…

Mailbox in front of a house down the road from us.

We’re still busy with my medical appointments and tests. Our reader’s input encouraged us to make doctor appointments for each of us. We decided to do one of us at a time since mine is a bit more comprehensive than Tom’s. 

A sign in front of the house that is currently for sale.

Once my appointments are completed, we’ll get to work on his. The clinic, Apple Tree Medical is located a short distance down the road near the Smithfield shopping center, less than 10 minutes from our home. 

The young, highly competent Dr. Natasha Cress was thorough and took a tremendous amount of time with me answering many questions, pleased that I’d brought along a comprehensive list on an app on my phone. 

Statue of a horse, a cart, and a man in front of the house.

Why would we be any less detail orientated when it comes to our health than we are when preparing a post or planning a new location? The same detailed procedures and doctor will be used for Tom’s upcoming appointments.

Interesting vegetation growing in the yard.  Notice Fred Flintstone on the left in the photo. Wait, more is coming.

This morning at 8 am, we headed back to the clinic for my blood tests on an empty stomach. With one remaining appointment for me with the doctor on Monday at 3 pm, we’ll be back here with the costs. I can’t wait to share how much less expensive medical care is here in Australia as compared to the US.

In Australia, they have their own form of Medicare, which provides insurance for all citizens generally without a co-pay. When charging us for appointments and tests they’ve only charged us what their Medicare would have paid making it very affordable.

Fairly large statues of Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone.  Brings back memories!

With our medical insurance only covering “major medical” (hospitalization), we’re responsible for paying for outpatient tests and appointments at the time of service. Once everything is completed, we’ll both have peace of mind and be ready to continue on in the more remote locations awaiting us in the months to come. 

Even Dino from the Flintstones was there. This statue is most likely as tall as an adult human.

Of course, after not having medical exams or tests for three years, we have a little concern that everything will be fine. However, if feeling well is an indicator all should be fine. We never take good health for granted, knowing that it all can change in a moment, feeling well or not. 

A different house on the same side of the street with pretty landscaping.

As we all are well aware, once we reach a certain age the likelihood of issues only escalates no matter how hard we may try to maintain a good level of health through lifestyle; exercise, low or well-managed stress, good sleep, healthy foods, and good relationships, all of which are vital to our well being.

Horses and a peacock in the front yard.

Continuing on, we’re still working on the Cairns Tropical Zoo stories and will upload them in the next several days. In the interim, we continue to drive and visit some of the many points of interest in this magical place. 

A peacock with another bird we couldn’t identify. Could it be some type of turkey?

On a whim, we drove down the road from our house and discovered these sights in the neighbor’s yard. One can never know what fun little treasures lurk only a short distance away. Enjoy our goofy photos!

The mailman coming down the road.  It appears most letter mail is delivered on a motorcycle.

It’s cloudy and rainy today. Most likely we’ll stay put handling some accounting, laundry, cooking, and completing the future posts. Whatever we chose to do each day, in or out, we find ourselves cherishing every moment of this life we’ve been given.

Another horse in the front yard of the second house. Even on cloudy and rainy days such as this, we easily find ways to entertain ourselves from the car.

Have a wild and wonderful Wednesday on that side of the International Dateline and a terrific Thursday on this side of the world!

                                                Photo from one year ago today, July 9, 2014:

This is our second house in Fiji on the main island that we booked one year ago today. Our first location in Fiji in on the smaller island, Vanua Levu. For details on this booking, please click here.

Sitting too much as we age?…

Having spent a lifetime in a constant flurry of activity, it’s been refreshing doing nothing. It’s a skill I’ve had to learn. Tom, on the other hand, has been a role model, quite the expert. I’m not criticizing, just observing.

In our old lives, I seldom sat down during the day, until I’d finally fall on my face after dinner. This changed when I began researching and booking our worldwide travels while sitting in my comfy chair all day with my fingers madly flying across the keyboard. In March 2012, I began writing this blog that ultimately added to my daily “sitting time.”

Since arriving in Tuscany, Italy on June 16, 2013, I’d found myself sitting more than I had during those last seven months in Minnesota.

Sitting was not good for me at that time and it’s not good for me now. Sure, I do my hilly walks which prove to be 30-minutes of strenuous activity. But the remainder of my day has been spent performing low activity household tasks such as cooking and laundry. A considerable amount of time is spent reading, writing, and searching online. Not good for one’s health, all of which are activities performed while sitting.

With no health club within an hour’s drive, I’ve had to accept the limitations of my opportunities to work out and, my motivation has diminished to be as active as I had been in the US, as a retired person prior to March 2012. 

It’s mighty pleasant sitting on the veranda overlooking the mountains, watching the butterflies fluttering about, listening to the birds singing, only occasionally batting off the flies and the bees. The hours can easily tick away.

Don’t we seniors notice a stiffening in our legs and back when sitting too long? Aren’t we all aware that over time, excess sitting will cripple us as we age, causing the tentative steps so familiar to old age? Doesn’t it nag at us that moving around spending less time sitting will keep our step youthful and determined? Yes, to all of these.

Ironically, as I’d thought more and more about this reality during this past year and a half, realizing that even an hour of strenuous working out each day won’t defray the ravages of sitting for the remainder of the day, I stumbled across a book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos, PHD. I couldn’t download and read it fast enough.

I must admit that guilt was a huge motivator for me to read this book. It’s scientific studies, many of them dry and boring, tempted me to put it down at times, but the guilt forced me to forge ahead. 

It changed everything for me. The mere act of purchasing the ebook made me start moving more frequently.  After all, I’d made the $8.69 purchase (which you can find at any online bookseller). 

Reading the book brought me to the next level, realizing that the mere act of slowly arising from my chair without the use of my arms for support (or working toward this in time) once every 20 or 30 minutes, to a short time later slowly sitting back down, once again without the use of my arms, could greatly improve my level of fitness.

The research Dr. Vernikos extensively manifested as a result of her year’s long studies of NASA astronauts losing muscle mass while in space, even for short periods of time. These studies are astounding, shared in this book. 

Rather than spending hours here retelling the author’s profound years of research, I recommend to all our of senior readers, to please consider this small investment in buying and reading this book that will change the quality of life as we age. (I should mention that we are in no way involved in the sale, the marketing, the profits, or distribution of this book or any other books we’ve mentioned here).

The first few days I started this process, I set the timer on my phone, leaving it in the other room. I had to get up to turn it off. Easy. Now a month later, I no longer need a timer, automatically knowing it’s time to slowly stand and a short time later to slowly sit back down, hands-free. This simple act affects the body in the same manner as if we actually stood for 30 minutes (see location 1231 in the ebook).  It’s all about gravity.

As written in the book, based on scientific research, this simple act is life-changing, definitely worth a read, definitely worth trying, with nothing to lose.

Now, a month after implementing this process, my legs don’t fall asleep, the stiffness has greatly improved and I feel more steady on my feet than ever. Of course, this process may not be possible for some, with serious limitations, but for the rest of us, it’s a small commitment for a huge gain, especially if a daily workout routine is unappealing.

Life is short.  Health and well being not only extend our lives but the all-important “quality of our lives,” allowing us to live life to the fullest treasuring every moment whatever we may choose to do, wherever we may choose to be.

For me, for now, the veranda is all the more enjoyable, no longer feeling guilty about sitting which added a rich quality to the experience.