A glimmer of hope…

It’s hard not to miss our animal and human friends in Marloth Park. We hope Broken Horn will visit us at the new house.

Could it be that Tom coughed less last night? He says he still feels weak and exhausted, but I wasn’t awake during the night from his coughing and ended up getting enough sleep for a change. Yes, this morning, he’s been coughing like crazy since he got up, but the good night gave us some hope.

The thought of flying to Las Vegas on Sunday is a little daunting, especially when arriving at the massive airport, which is time-consuming and confusing. Since Tom is in no position to do so, handling our luggage is my biggest concern right now. Sure, we’ll get a trolley to wheel around the airport while we go to collect the rental car.

Once we have the car, everything will be easier. We’ll get help with our bags at the hotel, the Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, close to where son Richard lives. At this point, we don’t know if we’ll get to see him. It will be entirely based on how Tom feels and how Richard feels about being around us.

We considered changing our fights, staying longer in Minnesota, and flying back to South Africa. Fortunately, we won’t have to go through immigration or customs based on a domestic flight. It will be another matter when we fly back to South Africa from Las Vegas on May 22.

But, after considerable research, it just doesn’t work. There are no flights available out of MSP that we can change our United Airlines tickets to, and the cost is so prohibitive to start all over. After all, we’ve already lost several thousand dollars due to getting Covid.

The flight to Las Vegas is over three hours. Tom needs to be able to sit up comfortably. If he cannot by Sunday, we’ll have no choice but to change our plans. Once again, we’re “playing it by ear.” We know how to do this. Tom feels confident that he’ll be able to do this by Sunday, four days from today.

As of today, he is better able to move about. The problem for both of us is that we’ve been sitting in bed since April 20, when we first tested positive. That’s three weeks ago, as of today. Today, I moved the luggage off the love seat in our hotel room, and I am no longer sitting on the bed until the evening when we watch a few shows on the TV.

The smart TV in our room has Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. By logging in to our accounts using the QR codes on the screen, we can watch both services. That is slick. Also, there is accessible Showtime, so we can busy ourselves in the evenings watching shows to alleviate the boredom.

Many have suggested we watch the popular show “Outlander.” We watched the first episode a few years ago and couldn’t get into it. We tried again a few days ago in desperation, and now we’re hooked. What a fascinating show! We’re finishing the first season tonight, and we’re thrilled there are many more seasons to keep us entertained while we continue to recover.

Hmmm…shades of India (10 months stuck in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai), as once again, we are stuck in a hotel room, three weeks in the making. But this time, we don’t feel well, and I have no energy to walk the corridors for five miles, 8 km, a day. The food is a little better here.

Last night, the WiFi was out for 6 hours. I ended up calling Marriott’s tech support to get it working again. I don’t recall ever having to contact tech support with WiFi issues in any other hotel than this one in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. I don’t understand why the guest would have to call and not management or reception. This same thing happened when we first checked in on May 1 and again when we stayed here in July 2022.

It’s the only complaint we have about this hotel. Otherwise, it is pretty nice. After all, we have a fully equipped basic kitchen with a decent-sized refrigerator, range and oven, microwave, and a dishwasher.  These have prevented us from having to do takeaway every evening for dinner, and we’ve been able to put together a few easy meals with ingredients from the nearby market.

Also, the customer service at Towne Suites by Marriott, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is excellent. The cleanliness is exceptional, and the condition of the rooms is flawless and up to date. We will definitely stay here again, even knowing about the WiFi issues. Besides, the location is ideal, close to restaurants, shopping, and markets with easy access to the freeway.

Again, thanks to our fabulous readers for an endless stream of thoughtful email messages with good wishes for our recovery. You have no idea how much this has meant to us. If we missed responding to your messages, please bear with us. We are working on replies each day.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 11, 2021:

A mom or matriarch crossed the road in front of us while in Kruger National Park with a youngster. For more photos, please click here.

An outpouring of love from around the world…

This has been the best test kit we’ve used. They retail for about $25 at most worldwide pharmacies. To perform the test, you download an app, Navica, to your phone and a live rep will walk you through the test to ensure it’s done correctly. DO NOT OPEN THE BOX PRIOR TO FACE-TIMING WITH THE REP OR THE KIT WILL BE INVALIDATED.

We cannot express our appreciation for the response and outpouring of love after the Garage Logic podcast last Friday and now continuing with well-wishes for Tom after his Covid pneumonia diagnosis described in yesterday’s post here.

We have been so fortunate to receive such positive feedback from our readers. There have been only a few occasions where a reader may send us the equivalent of “hater” emails about our travels and life events. Why read about our story or the stories of others if one finds the content objectionable in one way or another?

However, those scenarios are far and few between. Instead, as we enter one phase of our world travels to another, many loyal readers write to us expressing their concern and prayers for our well-being. At times, there are more email messages than we can respond to.  We try to respond to each one, but we sincerely apologize if we’ve missed you.

With little else to do, we’ve been able to stay on top of it. But, now, with Tom’s busy medication schedule, it may become more difficult. On the free family calendar app we both use, Cozi Calendar, which may be found here, today I entered ten events regarding Tom’s medication dosing schedule, starting at 8:00 am and ending at 10:00 pm.

I am so grateful that I am feeling so much better. My only symptoms now are a loose cough, an occasional headache, and a stuffy nose from time to time. My energy level has returned, and I no longer feel tired and lethargic. Hopefully, Tom will reach this state of improvement soon. We both continue to test negative.

Today, we have to go out to get food for dinner. The Cub Foods, less than a mile away, has some chicken wild rice soup Tom finds he can eat. Otherwise, he has had little interest in food. I’ll find something for my dinner in the market as well. I don’t feel like cooking in the small kitchen, but surely, I’ll find something easy to put together.

Our grandson Miles is still testing positive for Covid. Next Sunday, we are scheduled to leave Minneapolis only five days from today. We have no idea if we’ll be able to see any of our family members before we depart Minnesota or if we’ll be able to see our son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, where we will be for one more week until we leave for South Africa on May 22nd.

It will be good to be back in South Africa in two weeks. Our new house will be ready for us, which we know Louise will have “perfect,” awaiting our arrival. She’s insisted on grocery shopping for us. How much of a list we’ll make is based on how Tom feels in two weeks. If he’s well, we’ll only ask Louise to get enough groceries to last for a few days, longer if necessary. If he’s better, we can head to Komatipoort to grocery shop.

We’d like to have Dr. Theo check us both after this big ordeal with Covid. His office is down the road from the Spar Market, and we’ll schedule appointments to coincide with our shopping trip. It will be lovely to get back into our usual routine of wildlife watching, taking photos, cooking fabulous meals on the braai, and eventually, socializing.

We’re looking forward to feeling well enough to sit on the veranda, sipping on sundowners, and watching “visitors” stop by to see if pellets are on the happy hour menu. Most assuredly, they will be.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2021:

Seeing the porcupines on the trail cam gives us a strong incentive to continue to check out the garden at night. For more photos, please click here.

Late post…Tom had to go to Urgent Care…Not a good diagnosis…

My guy, only a few days before Covid hit on the ship.

When we rent a car,  the rate doesn’t include the spouse or family member as permitted to drive the vehicle. Last year, we decided it wasn’t worth thousands of extra dollars a year to pay for me to be able to drive rental cars, so basically, I stopped driving. I can’t drive a stick shift vehicle with my left hand or drive safely on the opposite side of the road I was used to in the US.

Besides, I am a lousy driver. If there is an emergency, I can drive.  I will keep my driver’s license up to date when it’s often used for ID in our travels. If I were to drive the rental vehicle when I wasn’t included in the contract, the insurance would be negated. It’s not worth the risk. Thus, around the time of my 73rd birthday, I gave up driving.

In the US, with a car rental contract not including me, Tom, while sick, has had to drive us to Urgent Care. I felt so bad about this when he was “coughing up a lung.” On Sunday, we made the 10-minute drive to an Urgent Care facility, MedExpress, which we had used when visiting the US in 2017, and found the care and service good. But there was no x-ray tech on duty so we had to return today.

Well, a lot has changed since 2017. One doesn’t simply walk in the door of an Urgent Care with a mask on and meander over to the reception area to check in. Each prospective patient must do the following to be seen:

  1. Using one’s smartphone, scan the QR code on the notice on the front door
  2. Gain access to the clinic’s WiFi system to register for the appointment
  3. Complete about ten pages of questions
  4. Read all the HIPAA documents (patient privacy) and sign multiple documents in the box that appears on the phone.
  5. Submit the documents
  6. Wait for a phone call from the reception area, asking more questions. 10 to 15-minute wait
  7. Provide credit card number, expiration, and PIN for them to process the basic US $149.99 fee. Additional fees may apply.
  8. Hang up and wait for a call back to be allowed to enter the facility. 30 to 45-minute wait or longer if they are very busy
  9. Receive the call asking for detailed symptoms and the reason for the visit. Then, get informed to enter the building. Sit in “chairs” socially distanced while waiting to be escorted to a treatment room.
  10. Wait in the treatment room for 10 to 15-minutes for a medical professional to enter and examine the patient.

After all this and Tom’s detailed description of his symptoms, x-rays were ordered. Then, we waited for about 40 minutes for the x-rays to be read by a radiologist at another location. The PA came back into the treatment room to explain that Tom has Covid Pneumonia and would need a considerable treatment regime including six medications; two antibiotics, two different inhalers using the electric nebulizer we purchased in India in 2020, a cough medicine in a capsule form and cortisone tablets, not to be started until May 12, having given the antibiotics time to kick in.

Covid pneumonia appears as honeycombs in x-rays, a rare phenomenon of the many peculiar symptoms of the dreaded virus. He is supposed to return to the clinic for a check-up before leaving for Nevada next Sunday. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better, and we’ll be able to fly out.

We were given a stack of papers with written instructions and Covid precautions, much of which we already knew. Of course, during the entire duration of Covid, I spent hours researching how and why Tom’s case manifested as Covid pneumonia. It happens to more people than you’d think, and the recovery can take weeks, if not months.

The PA called in the six prescriptions to the Walgreen Pharmacy across the street from the clinic. We checked out of the clinic after paying the extra US $50 for the x-ray. In moments, we were at the drive-through window at Walgreens, only to be told to return in an hour. The prescriptions weren’t ready.

We returned to the hotel, and Tom jumped under the covers for a 45-minute nap. He awoke in time for the hour to have passed, and once again, we headed back to Walgreens. It was at least a 45 minutes wait once I checked in with the pharmacist. I wanted to speak to the pharmacist personally to review the drugs, ensure we had everything prescribed, and ask a few questions.

The drive back to the hotel was hard for Tom with his constant coughing. Again, I begged him to let me drive, but he refused, knowing we didn’t need any added stress if something happened. We returned to the hotel to find the cleaners had yet to clean our room. We waited in the lobby for 30 minutes while the room was serviced.

Finally, we made it back to the room, and again Tom got under the covers. I went through each medication and gave him everything he needed, including his first breathing treatment, which required set-up and subsequent cleaning. The total cost for all of the meds was US $300.24. I set up reminders on my phone for each of the medications, ensuring we don’t miss a dose.

At that point, I took a huge plastic bowl to the building across the driveway to an ice machine on the second floor. The ice machine in this building hasn’t been working since we arrived eight days ago. I filled the ice cube trays with water, and between the big bowl of ice from the machine and the trays, that should get us through a day or two.

Then, the toilet overflowed. I don’t need to get into details, but you know how that happens. I then went to the front desk and got a plunger and extra towels. I wanted Tom to be able to sleep and not have to worry about maintenance coming to the door. In minutes, I unplugged the toilet, cleaned up the floor, returned the plunger, and bagged up the wet towels.

We had no idea, but our former next-door neighbor and friend, Nelleke, is the x-ray tech in the facility. We have stayed in touch, and she reads our posts regularly. It was wonderful to see her but sad under the circumstances. We hope to see her and Dave and our other old neighbors/friends when we return next time. We’ve all stayed in close touch.

So there it is folks. It hasn’t been fun since we disembarked the ship in Southampton, missed our next cruise on the Queen Mary 2, spent ten days in England trying to recover, and now over a week here with ongoing symptoms of Covid, Tom’s case has been much worse than mine. I feel pretty good except for an annoying cough now and then. Good thing I am well enough to help him get through this.

Sometimes, being nomads is not fun. But, if we had a home somewhere, we could still be in the same situation. Except under these circumstances, I don’t have to clean, vacuum the floor, take out the trash or mow the lawn. We can focus on getting well and soon be on our way.

Please continue to do everything you can to avoid getting Covid. For us, it’s been a lot worse than a “bad cold.”

Take care.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2021:

This male must have been the dominant male. He came right up to the table to ask for more pellets. For more photos, please click here.