The medical saga continues…The news isn’t so good…

Ms. Kudu, Willie and Mike, and Joe.
Willie and warthogs, all getting along.
Wildebeest Willie, he’s quite a guy!
Willie, six kudus, and a few pigs stopped by last night.
Basket stopped by last night.  His right ear has healed but is mostly gone. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”


It’s almost 2130 hours, 9:30 pm, Wednesday night, and we’re back in Nelspruit at the Leaves Lodge & Spa. The conversation with the doctor this morning was short. To the point, “You have a 100% blockage in the artery in front of the heart (the left anterior), and you need angioplasty immediately, or possibly open heart surgery.”

My mouth dropped open. I can’t believe this. Nor can Tom. How did this happen? Of course, we’re both wrecks. Now, we are waiting in Nelspruit for approval from our insurance company. If they decline, we must pay the entire bill out of pocket, a huge unexpected expense. 

If we miss the window of opportunity for tomorrow’s procedure, the angioplasty, we’ll have to wait until next Tuesday. The doctor only goes to surgery on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We won’t make our Thursday flight to Kenya or make our one-week hotel stay (prepaid) in Kenya.

If open-heart surgery is necessary, oh dear, that will be at least six weeks during which we’ll have to stay in South Africa. We’ll lose tens of thousands of dollars in prepaid future travels, flights, and a cruise back to the US.  

But it’s the way it is, and we have no choice but to figure this out. In reality, we knew a day like this would come. We didn’t think it would be now. My laptop died tonight. I am writing this on my phone.   

I couldn’t move photos around.  I will fix it at a later date.  We’ll be back as soon as possible with updates.

Thanks for all the love.  Too many to respond to, but I will; l keep trying. You people are wonderful! Thanks so much.

Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2018:

The seas were wild through the Drake Passage in Antarctica as we headed back to Ushuaia, Argentina. It wasn’t as wild as it could have been. But, as usual, Tom and I felt fine, free of any seasickness. For more, please click here.

The medical saga continues…One year ago photos today…

Icebergs are so exciting and unusual.  This was massive, many stories high,

Today’s post will not include photos other than the “one year ago” photo at the bottom of today’s post and a few other photos from the “one year ago” link. See here for that post.  

We’re sitting in the hospital lobby with a prolonged WiFi connection, awaiting the results of the cardiac CAT scan I had a short time ago. This test will determine if I need angioplasty or more.  
Yesterday, we’d been told to call the doctor on Wednesday for the results. But today, the radiology department staff said they’ll send the results to the doctor within two hours, after which we’ll see the cardiologist, Dr. Fanie Fourie, once again for the final diagnosis.

In 2007, I had a cardiac ablation in the “cath lab” at Park Nicollet Hospital in Minnesota. I was diagnosed with an extra “electrical” valve in my heart that was causing an extremely high pulse. Once I had the procedure, I was told my heart was now perfectly normal with no plague or other issues.

However, after having a cardiac ablation, regardless of the reason, an EKG can show as abnormal when the heart and arteries are delicate. I’ve been hoping for this outcome, but the recent jaw pain and the few abnormal ultrasound scans yesterday have dampened my hope.
A Crabcatcher Seal was taking the plunge in Antarctica.

After the ablation, I was back at the health club within a week, pounding it out and feeling quite OK. Since that period, there’s been no incident until this recent jaw pain was diagnosed as possible angina, lack of blood flow to my jaw, possibly due to one or more clogged arteries.  So here we are today at Nelspruit Hospital Mediclinic, awaiting my fate.

Rather than drive the 90 minutes back to Marloth Park, by waiting for the results today, we’ll avoid a return trip if I need to have some invasive procedure or surgery, providing they can schedule it within the next 24 hours. Otherwise, we’ll drive back to Marloth Park to return sometime in the next several days.

At this point, our visas run out on February 15th, and we’ve planned to spend the night here in Nelspruit on February 14th in preparation for our early morning flight to Kenya the following morning. Oh, so much is up in the air!

Thus, most likely today, we’ll know what course we must take within the next few hours. If we weren’t leaving in 10 days, this would be less complicated. But, with our visa status, prepaid flight, and expensive prepaid photography tour in Kenya, none of which is refundable, it certainly is cause for concern, right along with the health issues.

In our usual way, we’ll forge ahead, attempting to stay as optimistic as possible while in each of our minds, we roll around the worst and best-case scenarios. It’s impossible not to do so and also impractical not to have a backup plan in place.

The champagne and flute carriers were loaded onto all of the 10 passenger Zodiac boats.

At this point, we’ve only discussed the angioplasty possibility. This recovery is only a few days, along with a week or two of taking it easy. We could make it…the visa expiration date and the photography tour in Kenya, which doesn’t officially begin until one week after we arrive in Nairobi, giving me plenty of time to take it easy at the lovely hotel in Nairobi.

We don’t, at this point, want to project any more severe treatment than angioplasty.  Why put ourselves into a further tither of worry and concern? Besides, all of this could be a moot point if the test results came out good enough for a “watch and see” and possible medication route, which may alleviate the issues discovered. Oh boy! I’d be jumping for joy at that possibility!

We’ll know soon enough. We’ll report back when we do. We both want to express our gratitude to all of our readers who’ve commented and written to us by email. Also, we know undoubtedly, that those who didn’t write are rooting for us as well. Thanks to all of you!

We’ll be back at you soon!

Footnote:  As of the time of posting today’s story, it’s 1400 hours (2:00 pm), and we’re now back in Marloth Park. After waiting for almost two hours, we were told the report won’t be available until tomorrow morning after all, at which time we were scheduled to speak to the cardiologist at 9:00 am. Thus we decided to drive back to Marloth. Tomorrow’s post will include the decision we’ve made based on the collective test results.

Photo from one year ago today, February 5, 2018:

There we were, sitting on a Zodiac boat in Pleneau Bay, Antarctica, sipping on French champagne. Was that ever fun! For more photos, please click here.

We’re still in Nelspruit…More medical tests required…Time is rapidly ticking by for our required departure…

A rickety old bridge no longer used near the Municipal campground, bird hide, and the hippo pool.

Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A hippo and a cattle egret have symbiosis in their relationship.

It’s 1430 hours (2:30 PM), and we’re still in Nelspruit. The first round of the medical tests is completed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t fall into the 25% margin of error I was hoping for, and tomorrow morning’s test will tell more.

We stayed at the beautiful Leaves Lodge and Spa at the edge of town three minutes from the Nelspruit hospital and adjoining Mediclinic. We checked out of the hotel this morning, optimistic for a good result. 

But alas, we had to check back into the hotel a short time ago when the doctor explained more tests were necessary before a determination could be made. The CAT scan will be performed tomorrow morning, but we won’t have results until Wednesday afternoon.

Subsequently, we’ll drive back to Marloth Park to await the results. I can only imagine our readers out there who’ve been through this same process ultimately ending up with angioplasty or heart surgery of one form or another. Surely, you can relate to the worry and concern coupled with the angst of the unknown.

After a lifetime of taking care of my health, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and staying cognizant of stressful situations, I’m disappointed to discover my efforts were no guaranty of avoiding cardiovascular issues in my senior years.

However, the doctor explained had I not been so astute about my health, I could have had a massive coronary and not be here to tell this story. Of course, I’m grateful! It goes to show that genetics play a massive role in our health. My mother’s side of the family suffered from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. As a young girl, I observed all this ill health and decided I’d take care of myself in an attempt to avoid obesity and diabetes by exercising and a healthy diet. In that area, I’ve succeeded.

A giraffe we spotted in the bush before the rains.

But the powerful genetics of heart disease isn’t easy to repel, so here I am now trying to figure it all out, only two weeks from my 71st birthday. Of course, I’m worried and so is Tom. On top of that, we’re supposed to leave for Kenya in 11 days, when our South Africa visas expire. If we don’t hightail out of South Africa by February 15th, we’d be considered “undesirables.” Oh, good grief.

We’d be foolhardy and flippant to dismiss this as a mere inconvenience in the realm of our world travels. Without proper care, we could conceivably have little time left to continue our journey.  

Remember? We’ve always said the only thing that would cause us to stop traveling was terrible health. Now, we’re determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure we can continue.

Before closing, I must say thank you to each and every one of our readers, family, and friends who’ve sent the kindest and most “heartfelt” prayers and good wishes for a positive outcome.  

During this quiet time in the hotel in the past 24 hours, I’ve spent most of my time returning email messages from kind and thoughtful readers/friends. At the moment, Tom is watching a replay of yesterday’s SuperBowl game and voraciously munching of a bag of salted peanuts, a great stress reducer.

I’m sipping a hot cup of Rooibos tea and thinking about how nice it will be when all of this is resolved, one way or another, and we can go back to being excited about the future.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2018:

Many icebergs form spectacular shapes, portals, and openings. For more photos, please click here.

We’re off to Nelspruit, hotel tonight…Hospital tomorrow….Remembering….

A few months ago, we shot this photo of two Big Daddies sharing pellets.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A  pair of male lions, possibly brothers, checking out their options for lunch.

It was February 4, 2014, that I dropped my then laptop and destroyed the touch monitor. It was impossible to replace the monitor if parts were available since the cost to do so would be prohibitive, more than the cost of a new computer.

To see the post on the day, I dropped it, and please click here. To see the post from the following day, please click here, when our dear friend and driver Okey Dokey drove me to Nelspruit to a computer store to purchase a replacement.

I wasn’t thrilled with the HP laptop I’d purchased, but it managed to get me through until we arrived in Hawaii in December 2014. I ultimately purchased a new Acer model in January 2015, the one I’m still using that I bought at a Costco store in Kona.

While in the US in June 2017, we purchased a new laptop for me, knowing that our extensive travel resulted in tremendous wear and tore on laptops, and we didn’t expect it to last more than a few years.  

Handsome male lion lounging under a tree on a hot day.

As it turned out, Tom needed to start using the new laptop we were holding for me when his laptop died about six months ago. Finally, we were down to two laptops, no longer needing to haul a third as a backup.

The question remained…would my laptop hold out until we arrive in the US in April 2019 at over four years old? It has a few issues for which I figured out workarounds. Now, with only 64 days until we arrive in the US (staying for 17 days), I feel pretty confident, if I don’t drop it, it will last until we purchase a replacement. 

Replacing digital equipment is a challenge when traveling the world for as long as we have been on the move. For us, with all of our accounting and financials, blog postings, photos, and storage of TV shows and movies, no tablet can fulfill our requirements.  

Ms, Bushbuck, and Baby stop by every day. They love lettuce.

Plus, I find I need the bigger monitor and easy touchscreen available on these Acer products along with a lighted keyboard. As a lousy typist (still, after all these years), I need a lighted keyboard for nighttime typing.

Many have suggested we switch to Apple products, but we’ve been PC users since the beginning and have no desire to change. Also, with the higher cost of Apple products and the added wear and tear from constant travel, this makes no financial sense to us.  

At most, in the US, we can purchase exactly what I need for under ZAR 9321 (US $700), whereby Apple products are priced three times (or more) higher. Our philosophy is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or, “Love the one you’re with!”

A pair of giraffes at the Crocodile River.

Yes, we do try new things, obviously, right?  But, when it comes to areas of our lives of world travel, we find systems we have in place came about from years of experience, trial and error. And yes, we’re open to new technology, making every effort to research new modalities that may serve us well now or in the future.

So today, as we make our way to Nelspruit for my upcoming hospital stay (hopefully, short-term), I’m reminded of that time five years ago when Okey Dokey and I drove to Nelspruit laughing at funny stories we told along the way.

A short time later, at the mall, we realized that South Africa wasn’t necessarily the best place to purchase new digital equipment with limited options available to suit my requirements.

Giraffes were wandering down a dirt road in the park.

Tomorrow, we’re hoping to be back later in the day, after the first round of tests is completed and we know more. Thanks to good wishes from many of our readers. You mean the world to us!

To our friends and family in the US, have a fantastic SuperBowl Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2018:

The whaling equipment in Deception Island, Antarctica, and its housing were destroyed by a volcano eruption in 1969, and operations ceased.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s day for tests…

Most often I write the post for this blog every other morning.  This morning, as typical for medical procedures, we must be out the door before 8 am.  Tom is having both his colonoscopy and endoscopy, the final medical tests before we leave the US, four weeks from today.

Yesterday, was “clear liquids only” day.  He amazed me how well he did without a single complaint about hunger.  Since we’ve been on our low carb, gluten-free diet, either of us is seldom hungry, certainly never ravenous. It’s ironic how, when you feed your body what it needs, whole nutritious food, it sends out a few hunger signals.

Recently, we decided to stop eating based on the clock. Could we get our appetites in sync eating whenever we felt hungry as opposed to the time of day? Did the caveman watch a clock and go out and kill his meal in time for lunch or dinner? 

Hardly.  Most likely he hunted and gathered food for himself and his family, preparing it quickly to prevent spoilage which they consumed until stuffed, perhaps not eating again for another day or two.  Maybe we are meant to eat the same way to a degree. 

It’s not so much about hunting for our food in this modern world, but gathering our ingredients to create a healthful, nourishing and delicious meal to be fully enjoyed, eating again only when we’re hungry.  Both Tom and I love this concept.  Over the past several weeks, we’ve had dinner at varying times, huge breakfasts, and no dinner later that day, and now, for the first time, no real food all day.

So, yesterday, when “my hunter” was unable to hunt, I decided that I too would follow along and consume only simple liquids.  In this temporary home, smaller than that which we are used to,  there would be no place for me to eat without him smelling and seeing the food.  His gentle soul encouraged me to have whatever I wanted and he’d be fine. Instead, I decided to join him in this one day fast.

I considered making myself liver and onions, which he dislikes, but figured the smell might be intolerable on an empty stomach.  Instead, we ate a few sugar-free Popsicles, chicken bouillon, sugar-free Jello that I’d made the night before and plenty of iced tea and purified water.  We made it through the evening, hardly giving it a second thought as the day wore on.

At 5 PM he drank the first of two 6 ounce bottles of the prescribed SUPREP (with a ridiculous retail price of $75.  We paid a $25 co-pay) mixed with 10 ounces of water and the same again this morning at 5 AM, each time followed by an entire quart of water within an hour. 

He managed to chug down the 16 ounces of nasty tasting liquid along with the required quart of within an hour.  Nonetheless, it worked. Surprisingly, he slept through the night to be awakened by my cell phone alarm clock going off at 5 AM.  After the same drinking process again this morning, the results continued. All in all, the prep was relatively easy. 

If you have hesitated to have a colonoscopy due to fear of the prep, please reconsider.  A day at home watching mindless TV, lots of liquids, a few minutes of chugging a foul-tasting drink, multiple trips to the loo, and the first phase is over.
So, this morning we’re preparing to go out the door for the appointment soon for the second phase.  We’ll be reporting back here later today with what we hope and pray will be great results…that all is well and we may proceed with our plans to travel the world for as long as we want, as long as our health holds out until we get tired until we are sick of our bags or until we find a place along the way, that we mutually agree is truly where we’ll call “home.”  One never knows.

11:15 AM – We’re back from Tom’s test.  His signs of Barrett’s esophagus are gone!  He has no polyps!  The visible signs of irritable bowel are gone!  Dr. Larry Pass, here in Scottsdale, tells Tom to keep “doing what you’ve been doing!”  Our healthy diet has paid off in only 16 months. 

We hoped for this good result since Tom’s acid reflux disappeared within 30 days on this way of eating:  low carb, grain-free, wheat-free, starch-free, and sugar-free (no corn, no rice, no beans, no grains of any type). Plus, he’s lost 50 pounds of belly fat since August 2011!

We’re free to breathe easy knowing we can continue with our plans to travel the world. We are grateful.  We are relieved.  Perhaps, now, we can begin to allow ourselves the privilege of getting excited without trepidation and without hesitation. 

Now I must jump over to Dr. William Davis’s blog and thank him for the great inspiration he offered us when we read his book, Wheat Belly so many months ago.  Thank you, Dr. Davis!