Sunday Morning…A favorite ritual…

Camel teeth when we visited camels in Morocco in 2014. It looks as if he could use braces!

Today, I am doing the post on my phone. Tom loves watching CBS Sunday Morning on Sunday mornings rather than later in the day. It’s slow typing for me using my phone, but with one eye on the show, while it’s streaming from CBS’s site, it’s no big deal.

While in other countries, with our minds a long way from the US, we rarely watch the show. Also, we don’t always have a conveniently located TV on which to watch.

In South Africa, our primary source of entertainment is the wildlife in the garden, and watching a US news program is hardly a priority. We spend most days and evenings cherishing our surroundings and time with our many friends in Marloth Park.

However, we do what other Americans do in the US, living our lives accordingly as we adapt to our surroundings.

This extended stay in the US was prompted by the need to sign up for Medicare Part B and a supplement, which required enrolling from here with documents requiring snail mail. From afar, it would have been more time-consuming and challenging.

Secondly, we both required medical appointments, and by the end of this month, we will have accomplished these goals. My cardiology appointment is this Tuesday, with tests a week later. Hopefully, I will have the answers I need before too long. I would have preferred only one appointment, but they insisted it be two, most likely to make more money from Medicare.

On top of these goals, we will have been available for important family events, including grandson Vincent’s high school graduation and Tom’s sister Beth’s 70th anniversary as a nun in June. The exact dates of these events are uncertain at this time. Once we know, we can book our flights to South Africa.

We booked our rent for Marloth Park to Begin June 15, but we may be a few days late. We didn’t know about Sister Beth’s event until last week. It will all work out for us to attend both events.

Today, we’ll stay in, working on financial tasks and preparing a nice dinner: leftovers of rare roast beef, mushrooms, carrots, and rice for Tom and grilled fish with broccoli for me, with salad for both of us.

I am walking again along with my Better Me exercise program,  heading into day eight today. Working out for 40 to 60 minutes daily is a huge commitment, but I am there 100%. The results and the satisfaction when I am done for the day are worth it all.

“See” you again tomorrow. Have a fantastic Sunday!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, March 3, 2014

The Souk in the Medina in Marrakesh is a wealth of colorful displays. We’d expected the salespeople to be more aggressive than they were, especially when we were not stopping to look at the merchandise. For more photos, please click here.

Day #113 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Health Insurance during lockdown…

We loved seeing this flower growing in our yard in Campanario, Madeira, as it broke free from its pod.

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Today’s photos are from July 14, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more details.

At the end of this month, our world travel health insurance policy expires. Generally, we purchase a 90-day policy from United Healthcare Global Safe Trip from this online site.

Before COVID-19, it was a breeze to choose our preferred policy and purchase it online, taking less than 10-minutes to complete. The documents arrive shortly after that, leaving us with 90 additional days of coverage.

Colorful steps, located at an elementary school in Campanario.

At the time, purchasing a year-long policy wasn’t possible when the requirement stated we had to return to the US every 90-days. However, the cost of the 90-day policy was no higher in shorter increments than an annual policy. It simply meant we’d have to visit the company’s site, enter some general information and pay online.

Fortunately, my previous pre-existing condition hasn’t been an issue, providing I haven’t had any recent additional treatment or significant medication changes within the prior 90-days. 

This house appeared to be unfinished, as frequently observed everywhere we’ve traveled.

As of this date, we have not made a single claim since we began purchasing these two individual policies (one for each of us) with this reliable company. Years ago, we had United Healthcare as our insurance provider for several years. All was handled well without incident, giving us confidence in using them for our world travel policy.

The only drawback to the policy is the fact that we are not covered when visiting the USA. Yes, it’s possible to purchase an add-on for short visits to the US, but the cost was and continues to be prohibitive. 

A stairway to a cave.

Thus, when we visit the US, we only have Medicare, Part A. We’re not willing to pay the additional INR 90426, US $1200, a month in the future for Part B plus supplements. 

If and when the time comes that we’ll return to the US to live, when we cannot continue to travel, we’ll sign up for full Medicare insurance and accompanying supplements. Once one commits to the complete Medicare package, you’re locked in for life. 

We haven’t wanted the burden of this significant expense while traveling the world, although some new supplemental insurance provides some coverage while traveling. Instead, we pay INR 31122, US $413 a month for both of us combined with an INR 15071, US $200 deductible. Additional features may be found online. 

We didn’t see any reason to enter this cave.

Currently, due to COVID-19, United Healthcare Safe Trip website doesn’t allow purchasing without calling the company or sending an email requesting information. They are quick to respond.

With the current policy, which we’d renewed while in India in April, expiring on July 28th, I was a little concerned that COVID-19 and the lack of international travel may mean they no longer offer this type of policy. A few days ago, I sent an email requesting we renew the policy for the next 180 days to see how they’d respond.

Most likely, kids in the area played in these caves over the years.

This morning I received an email from the company authorizing the new 180-day period, asking if they could charge our credit card on file. I couldn’t respond quickly enough, thrilled they’d provide us with an extended period. 

With over 2,000,000 US citizens losing their health insurance since the onset of COVID-19, for a variety of reasons, we didn’t want to take a chance and wait another day to find out if they’d renew us.

The pods growing in the garden finally bloomed, as shown in the above main photos.

During our last visit to the US from November 8, 2019, to January 30, 2020, (when we first arrived in India), I had a few medical appointments, all of which we paid out of pocket; one a visit to a cardiologist for a check-up and another to an urgent care facility when we both had an outrageous cough and flu that wouldn’t go away. 

Had that cough and fever occurred a month later, we may have thought it was COVID-19 when we both coughed for over six weeks. After sailing on a 15-night cruise from the UK to the US, we’ve often wondered if it was arriving on November 8th.

Gina, our property manager, explained that the number of cloudy days we’d experienced while there was unusual. 

Hopefully, we’ll continue to be able to avoid making claims on the policy. After our previous insurance company failed to pay for my emergency heart surgery in South Africa, which included four surgeries and follow-up, all of which we paid out of pocket, we now feel at ease working with a reliable company.

That’s it for today, folks! Stay safe and healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2019:

Cow grazing by the fence along our driveway in Connemara, Ireland. Please click here for more details.

Finally, we found travel insurance…

This photo is similar to a photo we posted a few days ago, but we couldn’t resist posting this alternate view.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland 

“Contrary to popular belief, and despite being the
Patron Saint of Ireland,
St. Patrick was not actually from Ireland. Born in Wales around 386 AD, he was
in fact captured by the Irish and sold into slavery, working as a shepherd in
the West of Ireland. Later in life, he returned to Ireland as a missionary,
helping to spread Christianity in Ireland.”

It’s been difficult finding health insurance for me based on two factors; my age, 71, and my preexisting condition after cardiac bypass surgery.  The new policy requires 180 days to have passed since any surgery or medical treatment.  

This 180 day period will have transpired once the insurance goes into effect on August 11,  2019, the day we board the ship.  At that point, the waiting period is off by one day but, they have a two-day grace period which confirmation I received in an email from the company.

Lovely scenery even on a cloudy day.

These two risk factors made us fearful that we’d never find insurance for me.  We’d done hours of research and finally found a company and policy that works for us.  The company, UnitedHealthcare Global may be found at this link.

Today, after posting here, we’ll sign up and pay for the policy which will run from August 11th to November 8th, the day we arrive in the US where we’ll stay for a total of 83 days in three states.  

The coverage doesn’t cover stays in the US and thus we’ve decided to pay for the period ending November 8th when we arrive in the US.  Subsequently, we’ll purchase a one-year policy beginning on January 30th, when we fly to India.  This is an ideal plan for us.  Each year we’ll renew for appropriate periods excluding the US visits.

Across an inlet.

This gives me great peace of mind.  I was losing sleep over this, worrying we’d be traveling without insurance.  If you’re interested in pricing for this type of policy there is an app at their site which calculates many factors to determine your rate.  

We do not have to pay an “upcharge” for my preexisting conditions
The policy includes evacuation insurance.  The prices are lower than most and the benefits are many.

View of mountains and sea.  Such lush greenery which Ireland is known for, The Emerald Isle.

Soon, we’ll cancel our existing policy which does us little good at this point, especially as we continue to deal with their non-payment of my claims.  More on that later, when we know what’s going to transpire.

It’s another windy, rainy and overcast day.  Since the grounds around us are covered in vegetation and weeds, the pollen in the air is intense.  Both Tom and I are sneezing a lot.  

With only 15 days until we leave Connemara to head back to Dublin, we’ll be ready to be on the move.  We’ll spend one night in Dublin and two nights in Amsterdam and then…the Baltic cruise will begin.  

More cattle along the driveway from our house to the road could be mom, dad and, calves.

Both of us are excited about this upcoming change, looking forward to the cruise and the two months we’ll spend in four locations in England, living in the countryside, fulfilling one more of our travel dreams.

Happy day!


Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2018:

A wildlife wonderland as seen from Marloth Park.  For more similar photos, please click here.

Happy 4th of July to all our friends in the US…How do I get health insurance now?

Bay view on a sunny morning in Connemara.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Many Irish names begin with “Mac,” which translates to mean “son of.”

Firstly, let’s start today with wishes for a safe and festive July 4th weekend to all of our friends and family members in the US. With the holiday falling on a Thursday, it may be a four-day weekend for many workers.  
In our old lives, we celebrated the Independence Day of America with considerable enthusiasm. We had 300 small flags lining the lakeshore, which Tom had put in place the previous night; I baked an American flag sheet cake using strawberries and blueberries for the stars and stripes, and we often had a party for friends and family.
Today, here in Ireland, this is another lovely Thursday in Ireland. To celebrate the day, early this morning, we took a drive in the countryside, taking photos along the way.
We spotted lots of cattle on a morning drive but few sheep.

It is still a cool day at 10C, 59F, but the winds were light and the sky sunny. Now a few hours later, the clouds have rolled in, and there isn’t a spot of blue in the sky.  But the weather doesn’t keep us from reveling in the scenery we see out any window in our vacation home, constantly reminding us of this beautiful country.

As I had promised myself over a month ago, on the 4th of July, I’d be able to walk up the hill from the driveway on my own with no help from Tom. This morning, I gleefully accomplished this task and have decided to repeat it at least five times a week to build my stamina for walking up steep hills.

That is not to say my healing is complete. At a little over 4½ months from the bypass surgery and three months since the two-leg surgeries, I’d be deluding myself to say the healing process is complete. I still have pain and discomfort in my sternum and legs. I’ve read that some patient’s chests don’t heal for over a year.

Flowers blooming on the side of the road.

I don’t think it will take me a year, but I will progress considerably by the six-month mark. The wound in my left leg should be closed within a month. The other already-closed incisions are still tender to touch and feel painful at night in bed.  

The hematoma in my right thigh is starting to look a little better but requires a pillow between my legs at night to avoid keeping me awake from the pain. I’m hopeful, and when I think we’ll be on a cruise in 5½ weeks, I continue to exercise, try to get enough sleep, and eat a healthy diet.  

While on the upcoming cruise from Amsterdam to Amsterdam, we have a very busy and active two-day small group tour to St. Petersburg, Russia. I’m working hard to prepare myself for this tour. In the evenings, we’ll return to the ship for the night meeting with the van at the pier the following day.

The online translation of this monument was tricky to accomplish. Can any of our new readers in Ireland translate this for us?  If so, please send an email or comment at the end of the post.

Speaking of my health situation once again (apologies for the repetition), we’ve been busy the past several days searching for a health insurance policy that accepts pre-existing conditions. We weren’t hopeful.

And, not surprisingly, we cannot find insurance for me that would include anything to do with my heart and arteries. In the worst case, I may qualify 12 months after no further treatment was required. This 12-month period would begin on May 10, 2019, when I no longer needed any medical care.

We still have coverage with the company that isn’t paying our claims, and until they provide us with formal notification, everything else is covered. The rate is almost Euro 709,  US $800 a month, which doubled after the surgery.  

A bull in a field with lots of what appeared to be pregnant females.

There’s nothing we can do at this point, short of returning to live in the US to get Medicare, Part B, and a supplement (they don’t pay outside the US). We are not willing to do this at this time and forfeit this wonderful life.  We’re eager to take the risk.

You may think we’re nuts for not moving back to the US for this reason. But, we all have to make choices for our own lives. This works for us. Quality of life is an essential factor, motivating us to continue joyfully. I could make myself stressed thinking of this, but I choose not to. Instead, we’ll continue to dream and make plans for the future.

As mentioned above, may all of our readers in the US have a safe and fulfilling holiday weekend.  And may the remainder of our readers have an equally good day and upcoming weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2018:
This parade of elephants consisted of more than 30. For more photos, please click here.

We have to let it go and move on…You may not agree…How to identify fake scallops…

Chef Ramsay might be pleased with the color from browning these scallops in butter. “Inside, you will also find a vivid orange roe (also called coral), which is often discarded but is edible. Rinse (don’t drench) several times in cold water to remove sand or grit. Once shucked, scallops can be cooked. If scallops are mushy to the touch, they’re undercooked. If they’re firm, they’re overcooked.” They are delicious!  For more on “fake” scallops that are often sold throughout the world. Please click here.  Scroll to the end of this post for details on this topic.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“The guillotine was used in Ireland before it was used in France. The earliest use
dates back to 1307.”

The battle with the insurance company is coming to an end. We’ve concluded they aren’t going to pay, nor will we be reimbursed for any of the bills we paid out-of-pocket.  

The stress of dealing with this has the potential to harm my future health. It simply isn’t worth it. At times, we all have had to face the reality that we’re losing money we shouldn’t have had to lose. Such is the case here. We need to move on.

We considered a lawsuit but here again, more stress and focus on the negativity that not only may affect both of us but also prevent us from truly enjoying our plans with this hanging over our heads.  

We can only imagine the endless conversations with a solicitor/attorney in the UK, where the company is based, and how those calls would impact the quality of our experiences. These types of phone calls could transpire while we’re on a cruise or touring. We need to move on.

A Connemara Pony a few doors down from us.

Why do they deny the claim? In 2007 I had a cardiac ablation in the cath lab (in Minnesota) by an “electrical” cardiologist to remove a genetic tiny extra electrical valve which suddenly caused tachycardia.  

Once he removed the tiny valve (no replacement necessary), he explained I wouldn’t need further treatment, medication, or any follow-up. I didn’t have a “heart” condition. I was not a heart patient.

Less than a week later, I was back at the health club pounding it out, feeling great with no residual symptoms. It was over. During this period, I was on a low-dose hypertensive drug that kept my blood pressure totally under control.  I still wasn’t considered a “heart” patient.

When we applied for the insurance, I knew it would be construed as a heart condition if I disclosed this. The doctor who did the ablation told me specifically not to make a deal of this when applying for insurance. I didn’t have a heart condition.

Another Connemara Pony and her colt.  The dad was nearby, and he was a dark brown like the colt.

When our current annual travel insurance discovered the ablation, they denied the claim, stating I had a pre-existing heart condition. During all the tests I’d had before the bypass surgery, I was told over and over there was nothing wrong with my heart itself.  

From a lifetime of working out, my heart was comparable to that of a healthy 35-year-old. My arteries are the issue, and I did not know, no prior treatment and no medication for this genetic condition, inherited from both sides of the family.  Heart disease, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, spinal disorders, and other inflammatory diseases were rampant on my mother’s side of the family.

One can argue I should have disclosed this when applying for the insurance because I had no known heart disease. I saw no reason to disclose it.  Would one admit every sprained ankle, every infection, and injury when applying for insurance, only to have those recovered body parts excluded from the policy?

I had disclosed I’d had back surgery in 1995, and they excluded any possible claims for anything to do with my spine, neck, and vertebrae even though I no longer had pain or was on treatment for any of this. My restrictive diet rid me of any pain, and at the time of application, shortly after we began traveling the world, I disclosed this condition in the application.

This insurance is not Medicare and has nothing to do with insurance in the US.  Medicare doesn’t pay outside the US, nor is it possible to be reimbursed for any claims. The policy was “major medical” only and didn’t cover doctor visits, dental, vision, or prescriptions.  

We had so few doctor appointments over the years of travel, up until the recent surgery.  Prices were so low for office visits in other countries, such as Euro 30.44, US $40 for an office visit. There was no need to cover office visits.

So there it is. Right or wrong. Delusional or realistic. This is the situation, and we have to live with it to avoid the above stress.

But, a new problem comes out of this. How do we get insurance for me now with the recent four surgeries?  We’ll share what we’ve discovered in tomorrow’s post.

Authentic scallops with the orange roe connection piece, which in itself is delicious!

Moving right along…tonight, we have scallops again. We can’t get enough of these. Although I’ve reduced my beef consumption to once a week, we have the scallops with steak for a quasi “surf and turf” dinner. It’s no special occasion.  We’re just enjoying good food along with coleslaw, baby asparagus, and cooked spinach (for me). Tom will have rice with his dinner.

Following is the article we found online about “fake” scallops, which we’d wondered about for years. After eating the scallops here, delivered each week by fish guy John, I doubt we’ll ever trust scallops in other countries, including the US. I never recall them tasting so delicious or having the little reddish/orange pouch on its side.  Wow!  Unbelievable flavor and texture.

“Identifying Fake Scallops (from this site)

While you can’t always trust labels, you can trust your eyes. Here are a few tips to help you decipher if scallops are authentic or fake.

Scallops from nature will vary in size and never have a perfect cylinder shape to them. Fake scallops have an identical circumference because they are made using a cookie-cutter device. Also, if you see one edge thicker than the other, it’s either stingray or skate wings that taper significantly from one side to the other.

*Look at the texture. Genuine scallops have distinct grains or fibers running lengthwise, as the edible part of scallop meat serves as a muscle that holds the two scallop shells together. A fake scallop will have fewer fibers and appear more solid and dense.

And finally, look at the thickness and see if it’s the same on all sides. If it’s made from a stingray or skate, it will be thicker on one side because their wings taper significantly from one side to the other.”

Next time you purchase scallops, you may want to check for authenticity. Enjoy the day!

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

Notice the pellet crumbs on Ms. Bushbuck’s nose. Often, there are lots of crumbs in the enormous bags of pellets. Most wildlife is happy to lap up the crumbs if we place them on the tile steps. For more photos, please click here.