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.

Tom remembers everything…Guests arriving tonight…

An excellent spot for relaxation.

It always makes me laugh when I prepare the “Photo from ten years ago today…” and ask Tom, “Where were we ten years ago today?”

Ninety percent of the time, his answer is correct. That amazes me. It’s odd how he recalls dates and locations and always leaves me with a smile on my face. On the other hand, I remember the names of small towns, people, and expenses. We can remember many aspects of our almost 11 years of world travel.

Sure, at some point, as we age further, we may not be able to recall as well. But, when we forget, we’ll only need to bring up a post from the date((s) of our experiences, and everything will be there for us to read, peruse photos and instantly return to a series of memories from any specific date and time in our lives.

If that were the only reason we did this each day, it would be sufficient enough for us to be grateful for our efforts. But, add to that the joy of sharing it with readers, family, and friends worldwide. The love and support we’ve received from readers has been indescribable.

When I try to explain this in conversation, I always add how grateful we are that we don’t have haters writing to us with toxic vitriol. Then, of course, the fact that our readers are so tolerant of typos, spacing issues, and writing flaws that I am not exempt from making on a daily basis. All of this means the world to us.

If someone had asked me 12 years ago if I would be willing to write an essay with photos every day of my life, I would have laughed, saying it was impossible. Sure, reporters and business and entertainment writers write the equivalent of an essay(s) each day when they prepare stories. But that is a job, and although some may love their job, nonetheless, it’s a job.

For us, we don’t look at it as a job. We look at it as a labor of love. Our love for traveling the world and living a home-free life has only been enhanced by sharing stories and photos with all of you. No, it’s not perfect, nor will it ever be. We don’t strive for perfection. If we did so, preparing posts would be a source of stress. In part, we chose this life to avoid stress.

The countless golf courses in The Villages create a beautiful ambiance in the area.

The only times we feel stressed is when something happens beyond our control, and we’re helpless to change it. But, even if we can’t change a particular scenario, we certainly can and do come up with plans to adapt (and accept) the situation. We have been tested over and over again, and yet, somehow, we maintain a sense of commitment and dedication to our lifestyle.

There are many bonuses besides the enrichment and pleasure of seeing new places worldwide, which generally revolve around people and wildlife, as most of our readers know so well.

This weekend will illustrate how enjoyable being with friends is when tonight, Karen and Rich arrive, and on Sunday, Lea Ann and Chuck. We are grateful for all our friends, whether we knew them from our old lives, like Karen and Rich, or we met them in our travels, like Lea and Chuck.

This morning we’re busy cleaning the house. Tom does the floors and his bathroom while I do the kitchen, dust, and clean our ensuite bathroom in our bedroom. This morning after breakfast, I got busy with laundry and baking a dessert for both evenings that our friends will be here. In a matter of minutes, we will finish the cleaning and laundry, and the desserts will come out of the oven. I made two separate pans of gluten-free apple crisp, and we have plenty of vanilla ice cream to go with it.

Have a fantastic weekend. We’ll be back with you soon.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 16, 2013:

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise as a feast before our eyes. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s recent change…He’s a new man…Dinner with cruise friends from 2022…

Nancy and Bill, whom we met on our last cruise in 2022 and happen to live in The Villages. It was fun to see them again.

After spending 42½ working on the railroad and constantly exposed to loud sounds, Tom’s hearing was impacted to such a degree that over the past decade, it’s diminished to the point of my having to talk very loud for him to hear me. He often misses out on group conversation, although he’s very good at reading lips.

Some of our friends and family members have noticed this and encouraged him to get hearing aids. Still, he adamantly opposed paying $3000 to $6000 for the devices, often easily visible and clunky looking. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of research on hearing aids and discovered that the high prices were totally unnecessary, and hearing aid companies have been getting rich, charging such high fees.

Tom decided to wait and see if technology would eventually result in reasonably priced hearing aids, inspiring him to try it finally. That happened in the past few weeks when we discovered a company, MD Hearing, that possibly could fill the bill.

This was my steak salad. The meat was tough but had a good flavor.

He ordered the hearing aids and began wearing them a few days ago. There was a day or so adjustment period for him to get comfortable with the tiny devices in each ear and adjust the sound to suit the differences in each ear. So far, so good.

Last night for the first time since he started wearing the devices, we were with another couple, Nancy and Bill, whom we met on our last cruise in 2022. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had dinner with them the night before we both tested positive for Omicron in April, with only two days left on the cruise. We were very concerned that Nancy and Bill got Covid from dining with us on that last evening.

Nancy only ate a quarter of her pizza and took the remainder home in a styrofoam container.

When they so kindly invited us to happy hour at their home late yesterday afternoon, the first question we asked was if they got Covid from us that night. They did not. We were so relieved to know this.

It was delightful spending time with Nancy and Bill last evening. Nancy had put out a lovely spread of snacks which we thoroughly enjoyed. As a reader of our posts, Nancy was aware of my way of eating and had some items that worked for me, nuts and cheese. That was so thoughtful.

This was Bill’s wiener schnitzel with red cabbage and spaetzel.. They had lived in Germany at one time, and this was a pleasant reminder for him.

After a lively conversation at their beautiful home in The Villages, a 20-minute golf cart ride from here, the four of us headed to their local golf club, Mallory Hill Country Club Restaurant, for a delicious, affordable dinner. My one glass of wine was only $4.50, and Tom’s beer was $3.50, a steal for drinks in the US. Our total dinner bill was $44.54. I had a steak salad, and Tom had a Reuben sandwich with fries.

But, besides the delightful time we spent with Nancy and Bill, the special treat of the evening was seeing Tom able to hear the conversation among the four of us, the waiter, and voice directions from Maps on his phone when we made our way to their home.

When looking straight at Tom, you don’t see the hearing aids.
They are neatly placed in the ear and barely noticeable.

It’s a new day when I don’t have to constantly have to speak loud, listen to loud streamed shows, and frequently have to repeat myself. It opens up a new avenue to easier conversation between us and when we are with others. It will take him a week or two to get used to the feel of the tiny buds in his ears, but I have no doubt he will accomplish this in no time.

That’s all for today. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 14, 2013:

There’s Tom, happy as a clam as we made our way in a lifeboat to the shore of Dubrovnik, Croatia. For more photos, please click here.

Farewell Party day at Jabula poolside…Baked two cakes with photos…Covid-19 one year ago today…

This morning while frosting a cake, this Big Daddy was looking for me through the kitchen window. LOL.

I spent the past day thinking about and making the two cakes in today’s photos below. With load shedding for 9½ hours daily, finding a good time to turn on the oven was tricky. The oven is the only electrical appliance we can’t use during load shedding with the inverter system in this house.

Once the powers came back on, I quickly turned on the oven and got the cakes baking, each separately since the two cakes required two separate oven temperatures. It all worked out, and all I had to do this morning when there was load shedding again was wait for the power to return after 9:00 am to broil the frosting on the oatmeal cake under the oven’s broiler

A short time later, Bossy was looking for me through the kitchen window when she didn’t see me outdoors. Too cute for words!

When I made the oatmeal cake in the US, the frosting was much darker since brown sugar is much darker in the US than in South Africa, where it’s a bigger grain and is very light colored. With yesterday’s heat and humidity, the frosting for the keto cake had to go into the freezer to harden a little since it was too runny when I first made it. It all worked out, frosted well, and I’ve kept the cake in the refrigerator to keep it from melting.

Today, we’ll store it in the fridge at Jabula since it would surely melt if it sat outdoors by the pool where the party is being held. We’ll bring it out after everyone has had their dinner.

Spikey is Bossy’s son from last season and is growing up quickly. Check out those tiny horns, eventually growing to Big Daddy size.

Again, we wish we could have invited more people but we were faced with space limitations. If you live in Marloth Park and we didn’t get to ask you due to those limitations, please contact us, and we’d be happy to get together with you before we leave in nine days.

We’ll still be at Jabula tomorrow evening, Friday, and again on Saturday. On our last night here, we’ll have dinner at Jabula one last time before we depart a week later on Saturday, April 29. Our flight from Nelspruit is at 5:15 pm to Johannesburg (an almost five-hour layover) and then on to the long red-eye at 9:35 pm.

Female kudu and two female impalas in the garden.

Hmmm…the time is coming up quickly. I’ve started going through the cupboards, sorting what we’ll leave here and take with us. Louise said we can use the three big bins we have in the storeroom across the driveway where the two flats are located. No future renters will have access to this area, so our belongings will be safe.

Last time, we left several bins in the room; baboons got in there and destroyed so much that most of it had to be thrown away. Since then, Louise has had baboon-proof windows installed that should prevent this from happening again. We won’t keep any foodstuff that may emit a smell and attract baboons or monkeys.

This is Tom’s mother’s recipe for an oatmeal cake I made from scratch with broiled coconut and almond frosting. This is not low-carb! I will only enjoy looking at it once cut. It is also going with us to the Farewell Party.

At 3:45 today, we’ll be leaving the house for the party, bringing the two cakes and several bottles of red and white wine left from my birthday party to share with the guests. Indeed, if we stored the wine, it wouldn’t keep when the temperature rises in the heat and humidity.

This weekend, I will begin packing, doing some of it each day rather than leaving it all for the last few days. I always get peace of mind by not leaving anything for the last minute. There are certain items we’ll be using right up until the last few days, but we’ll figure that out, and all of it will be organized and fine.

This is my favorite chocolate keto cake that Dawn also loves that I made, especially for her, to bring to the party.

With so much to do yet today, I am wrapping up this post now, and we’ll be back tomorrow with photos from the party and more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 20, 2013:

We disembarked one cruise and boarded another on the same day. Here’s our cabin on the Norweigan Epic, where we experienced our scariest storm at sea a few days later. For more, please click here.

Attention: Residents of The Villages, Florida!…Please contact us to get together!…

Yesterday, a band of mongooses was in a frenzy climbing this tree. Could they have smelled a snake residing there? Very possibly, when a mongoose’s favorite meal is a snake of any type. They are immune to snake venom.

Gosh, we’re receiving lots of email messages and comments regarding residents of The Villages who may want to get together during the three months we’ll be renting a holiday home in the Barrineau Neighborhood, from April 30 to July 29. We’re hoping many of our readers in the area will also contact us for social events, including happy hour get-togethers, lunches, and dinners out and hosting at our place.

If you know of anyone living in The Villages in Florida that may want to meet, contact us via either of our email addresses listed under our banner on our home page. How exciting that will be! Based on the comments we’re getting so far, we expect to be very busy.

But you never know. Sometimes, people are shy and hesitate to make new friends, especially those who are content with their current circle of friends, and also hesitate to make friends with “transient types” such as us. It’s similar to making friends on cruise ships, which we’ve done many times, and many of those beautiful relationships continue today. We are grateful for all the friendships we’ve made along the way.

When they calmed down, we gave them a good-sized portion of paloney, cut into bite-sized pieces, which they devoured in seconds.

Perhaps, our expectations are too high after living here, on and off, over the past 2½ years. Residents of Marloth Park are extremely friendly, and we’ve even cultivated friendly get-togethers with other short-term visitors with whom we stay in touch via social media. It’s been so easy here, easier than anywhere we visited worldwide, even easier than in our old lives in Minnesota.

As much time as we’ve spent in Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada, in the past over ten years we’ve been residents of the state, we’ve yet to make any new friends, although we have a few old friends and family who live there. In the four months we spent in Bali and Costa Rica, we never made new friends, although we had a few social interactions on a few occasions.

On many occasions, we’ve socialized with our landlord and property managers, such as Hans and Geri in Kenya; Gina in Madeira; Sylvie and Andy in Trinity Beach, Queensland;  Mario in Fiji, Australia; Trish and Neal in New Zealand; Françoise and Egon in Bali; Fran and Terry in Penguin, Tasmania; Anne and Rob in Huon Valley, Tasmania; Bob in New South Wales, Australia; Bev and Sam, Atenas, Costa Rica (met them in Kauai in 2015 and later rented their holiday home in Costa Rica); Linda and Bill in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Eileen in Connemara, Ireland; Lorraine and Graham in Cornwall, England; and finally Renate and John in Cornwall, England.

This zebra foursome visits often for pellets and a sip in the pool.

And, of course, the closest friendships we’ve made with property owners/managers have been Louise and Danie, who, after ten years of fabulous friendship, are like family to us and will remain so in our hearts forever. How lucky we have met so many lovely people along the way!

We are hopeful we will have a full and enriching social experience while we are in The Villages, Florida, hoping many of our readers will contact us to meet and share stories of our life experiences, travels, and more. Undoubtedly, we’re looking forward to this new location as we continue our world journey.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today. April 10, 2022:

Port Everglades as the ship began to journey out to sea. For more photos, please click here.