Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Adaptation Is The Key

I was discharged from the Yuma Regional Medical Center on Friday (2/15).  Rosie and our daughter, Michelle, picked me up from the hospital.  Since then I have had two follow ups with the medical team and an adjustment on my Coumadin dosage.   My blood was getting a little too thin, so they cut back from 3 mg to 2 mg.

Saturday morning we took all of our pooches and drove over to the old Yuma Territorial Prison State Park for a walk along the Colorado River. I can walk now without feeling tired or short of breath.  Here is a picture of Rosie and Michelle with two of the pooches:


Michelle headed back for Pine Mountain Club in California Sunday morning after we enjoyed a good breakfast at the Foothills Eatery.  Since all the typical breakfast meats are forbidden to me, I had a short stack of buttermilk pancakes and a section of Michelle’s Belgian Waffle.

I am getting used to the new food and drink restrictions which include no pork products, red meat once a month, no butter or high fat products, no hard liquor or beer, but one glass of wine a day is allowed.  I have learned to take my own pulse and one of the really nice nurses gave me a stethoscope so I can listen to my heart whenever I feel the need.

After four days of initial adjustment, I am coming to the conclusion that my new lifestyle isn’t too bad after all.  Since all of this is to prevent the high probability of a serious stroke if left untreated, this life is certainly preferable to the stroke alternative.

Our neighbors at Caravan Oasis RV Resort welcomed me home and expressed concern for my well being and offered whatever assistance that we might need while I am in recovery.  RV people are really nice about helping each other out, and that certainly applies in this park.

The only adjustment we are making in our long term plans is making very short stays (2 to 3 days) in remote boondocking areas.  At least for the rest of this year, we want to stay in areas with a quick 911 response and good medical services nearby.  That may change as time goes on, if the attempts to “convert” my heart back to a normal rhythm are successful.

We are expecting a rare desert rainstorm overnight.  That should be interesting.

Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A New Lifestyle Begins

Tomorrow morning I will be discharged from the Yuma Regional Medical Center.  All my blood readings and my blood pressure/heart rate are back to normal operating ranges thanks to the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals.  I now have a Medical Team in Yuma that will manage my med’s on a regular basis to ensure my blood consistency stays at a desired level.  This includes a primary care physician, a blood lab and a Cardiologist.

I am assured that I do not have to leave our chosen RV travel lifestyle.  Communications today allow for all the adjustments to my meds to happen long distance.  The cardiologist said that an active RV lifestyle is preferable to sitting at home in a recliner watching television.

The biggest adjustment for me will be in my diet.  Most of the food and beverages that I love will be distant memories.  Alcohol will be limited to one glass of wine a day max (gosh I will miss my Smirnoff).  No pork, period.  I love bacon like life itself, so I guess I will have to adapt my taste to turkey bacon.  No butter, period.  Margarine is in my future.   Red meat consumption was negotiated with my cardiologist down to one 8 ounce steak a month.   No fried foods; French fries are history.  Poultry consumption is all ok except for the skin (I loved crispy chicken skin on thighs and drumsticks).  No sausage products.  Seafood is all ok, but not battered and fried.  Most interesting to me was green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, etc.) are forbidden.  They contain vitamin K which raises havoc with the blood thinner Coumadin.  Fortunately, this is one food group I did not like, so I am fine with that restriction.

Our daughter, Michelle, drove down from LA today to spend some time with us over a long weekend.  It is good to have her here.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting Older Is A Pain

I had been feeling crappy (a medical term), including shortness of breath after very little exertion, for a few weeks.  So, Saturday we went to a walk in clinic in Yuma to get a checkup for me and treatment for a burn Rosie got from the oven door.  After treating Rosie, the Doc puts a stethoscope on my chest, listens for a few seconds, then says “Hmmm”.   I had a feeling then that I was in trouble.  He proceeds to inform me that I have Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) and instructs me to go directly to the ER, or he could call an ambulance for me.  I took Rosie and the pooches back to the RV Park and drove myself to the ER thinking I would be in and out of there in a few hours with some med’s and all would be well.  So it is now Wednesday and I am still at the Yuma Regional Medical Center.  It turns out that I also have an enlarged heart (big hearted guy that I am).  I have been poked, prodded, stuck, x-rayed and ultra-sounded.  Received IV’s, medications, oxygen, and injections into my tummy.  Life has been real fun.  Poor Rosie has been stuck at the camper, dependent on friends to bring her over to see me.  She is not comfortable driving the big truck in heavy traffic in unfamiliar territory and parking that 22’ feet of long bed crew cab is not easy.

I know my followers can look up A-Fib on the internet so I won’t go into a big description here.  Basically it is an irregular heart beat in the top half of the heart.  The problem is that this can form a clot; and if a clot shoots out of the heart and hits the brain, you have a stroke.  That is the real problem and something everyone here is working hard to prevent.  As of today, they have thinned my blood down to a desirable level.  They are still working on the high heart rate, which gets up to 150 beats per minute with minimal exertion.  As soon as that gets under control, I can go home and work on an A-Fib treatment as an outpatient.

Future treatment options include medication, Coumadin among others, surgical procedures including Ablation and a Pace Maker, and electric shock treatment, all designed to get the upper half of the heart back to a regular rhythm .  I have learned this is a fairly common ailment for the over 65 crowd.  It is not life threatening and the Cardiologist ensures me that we will not have to make major changes in our lifestyle.  We can still travel, but we should try to avoid long stays in really remote areas.  We should try to be in places where there is a quick 911 response and a major hospital within 50 miles or so.  I will have to get blood work done monthly      (or more frequently) and the cardiologist will adjust the Coumadin dosage based on the thickness of the blood.

So that is my sad tale my friends.  We are grateful that it was discovered early (before that nasty stroke) and in a part of the country with top notch Medical Facilities.  We intend to follow our travel plan for 2013, including the Camp Hosting in Oregon.  So far, so good.

Speaking of camp hosting in Oregon, Tollbridge County Park is looking for more campground hosts for this season.  Anybody interested can contact Cory VanSickle at HR County Parks & Bldgs 541-387-7076  http://www.co.hood-river.or.us/  cory.vansickle@co.hood-river.or.us.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Catching Up!

Wow!   A whole week has gone by since I last wrote anything on this blog.  I am really getting lazy here in the sunny desert in Yuma.  The weather is conducive to napping, reclining, strolling and relaxing in general.  It is hard to believe that it is cold and snowing back in the great frozen north.  So what else have we been doing?

RV cleaning services in Yuma are very reasonable.  I had the camper and my truck power washed, including window cleaning on both for $35.  Also had the carpets in the camper steam cleaned for another $35.  I got a bid to have the whole camper de-oxidized and hand waxed for $175.  That is a lot of work on a fifth wheel this size.  I am planning to get that done in March after we get our tax refunds.

Rosie is becoming a regular participant at the 9:00 am aqua exercise program at the main pool.  I have entered two billiards tournaments and played in two Texas Holdum poker games.  I don’t last long in the billiards games; got some real pool sharks down here.  Canadians must grow up in pool halls.  We have participated in two pot luck dinners and one ice cream social.  The pooches are getting accustomed to the routine walks along the perimeter of the park.  Everybody gets a little exercise.

Today we took a day trip into California to check out the Pilot Knob BLM Long Term Vehicle Access (LTVA) area.  We decided we liked the boondocking area around Quartzite better.  We also checked out two RV Parks/Resorts and concluded we liked it better right where we are.  The other two places were a little lower on the monthly rent, but the sites were smaller and the amenities were not as nice.

Tomorrow I am going to check out Starlight Solar Power Systems here in Yuma.  They specialize in RV solar, batteries, converters, inverters, etc.  They got a very complimentary review online so I am hopeful they can help me get back into boondocking capability without breaking the bank.

We learned Monday that our application to be Campground Hosts at Tollbridge County Park near Hood River, Oregon, was accepted.  We are so excited to try this workcamping gig.  It doesn’t pay wages, but we get a full hookup site with 50 amps for free the whole time we will be there, which is about 10 weeks.  That is a lot of money we won’t need to spend for camping fees and truck fuel.  They also provide us with a golf cart and all the firewood we can burn.  Of course, part of the job description is splitting and stacking firewood which we will sell to campers.

Thanks for stopping by!