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Texas Cold, Update on Pattys health, and 2014 Recap

December 19 – January 15, 2014/15 
  
Not too much going on here as we sit still for the winter in South Texas.  The weather was pretty good, in the 70-80s, until the New Year where the temps have fallen to the 40-50s as highs and with a lot of rain.  So, no golf or playing water volleyball or much else outside.  The outlook for this next week is for the weather to get back to normal 70s for here.  Then they are predicting it to cool off again and rain by the end of next week.  It’s a good thing propane is cheap here!

Not sure what kind of bird this is but it was sort of cool just hanging on to the awning one cold  wet morning.

On the health front, we have finally made significant progress with Patty’s medical issues.  She now has a new Primary Care Provider (PCP) that we both like.  So, in the past 6 weeks Patty has seen 4 doctors; a Gastroenterologist, Endocrinologist, the new PCP, and a Pulmonologist.  She has had many, many tests and we now have 2 diagnoses; Autonomic Neuropathy and Pancreatitis.  Neither of these are very nice things to have.  What we need to do now is to make sure she has both of these or just one of them by eliminating other possibilities.  After giving this some thought, I now believe she has both.  

Patty has 2 main health issues that are affecting her quality of life right now.  She has a blood pressure issue and a digestive issue.  The digestive issue she has often but not constant and it is probably triggered in some way.  We don't know by what yet. When it is active she has uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhea which can last many days at a time. We believe that this is a symptom of the Pancreatitis.   She has been prescribed a pancreatic enzyme replacement medication for this which she has not received yet (mail order).  Right now, Patty in not experiencing any symptoms with this.

The blood pressure (BP) issue is much more troubling but isn’t painful like the Pancreatitis symptoms are.  Patty's BP issue is that she has both high and low BP spikes with the low spikes happening more often.  BP is very similar to that of blood sugar highs and lows in that lows of both are mostly easy to recover from but constant highs will kill you with no symptoms.

We didn’t know until just this past month that Patty was also having a high BP problem.  She had a somewhat simple nasal surgery under anesthesia just after Christmas and her BP shot up to 220/110 in the operating room.  This caused her to bleed much more than was expected so the Dr. had to put in plugs to stop the bleeding.  As for the low BP, she has had, at last count, 6 episodes of fainting in the past 11 months.  The first one was last February here in South Texas.  She had her last one just yesterday evening while standing by the pantry and talking to me where I was watching TV in the living room.  All of a sudden I heard stuff hitting the floor off of the fridge and a thud which was Patty. By the time I got up and asked what happened she got back up and said, “I don’t know”.  We checked her BP and it was in fact low.  No other side effects and no other or further effects for the evening.  

Patty with the compress after the nasal surgery.  The surgery increased the open area in one sinus and 2 nasal passages.  Pretty cool that she breathes through her nose instead of her mouth at night now.
Now, just to address the issue of alcohol, we both drink wine every day at around 2-3 four ounce servings in the evening. For those that know us, we have cut way down from our past. It looks right now, that that is not a problem. However, we may need to change that if it does present or shows to be a problem in the future. 

What we need to find out next about the BP is if we can control the highs and lows.  The lows are going to be the most life changing for us if we can’t control those.  Since we don’t know when they are going to happen, Patty needs to be away from things and areas when falling that could hurt her or others.  The big thing is going to be her driving in the future. Right now we have decided for her not to drive.  It’s not a real big deal as I can take that over for her as she doesn’t drive very much anyway.  We just need to make sure we don’t have conflicting plans is all.  

As for highs and how we control that, we just don’t know yet. I have done some research on the internet and it seems that there are drugs for high BP she can take that may not add to the chances of having more low BPs.  It seems too that there are no assurances about not having the lows though.

We now have follow-up appointments with the Drs in the coming weeks to discuss what we do now. Her symptoms for these things she has overlap many specialist areas. Anybody that has gone through this knows that when you see many doctors for the same symptoms it can get very overwhelming quick.  All of the Drs want to do tests and it can be hard to keep which tests are from which doctor and which doctor said what.  Well, that has improved for us now that I am retired and am able to attend all of her Dr. visits.  I really don’t know how she did this in the past and worked too.  I do however know the outcome, both her work and her health suffered.

Ok, now for the recap of where and what we have done last year.

January – April: We spent in South Texas at Natures Resort.


May: 
- We spent a week with a friend in San Antonio


- Visited the LBJ Ranch in Johnsonville TX


- Attended the International BBQ championship in Memphis TN

- Visited Graceland and Beal Street in Memphis


- Met new Internet friends in northern Illinois


- Had warranty work done on the RV in Elkhart IN


- Visited with my Uncle and Aunt in Elkhart IN


June:
- Visited with Grandkids and Family for a month


July:
- Visited with new south Texas friends in PA


- 4th of July with friends in the Poconos of PA.
- Visited with friends in Elmira NY


- Visit with Family in Buffalo NY for 4 weeks


Patty's mother, father and her son Chas


Out for dinner with Patty's sister Sandy and husband Mike

Patty's brother Tommy and his girlfriend Kat

- Help get Patty’s father into an assisted living facility


- Visited with more South Texas friends in Niagara Falls Canada
- Attended Patty's 40th High school reunion



- Went to a Hart concert in Buffalo


August:
- Visited with friends and family in New Jersey

Jersey shore with NYC in background

Beach concert on the Jersey shore

Chas, Patty's son at his store in Brick NJ

September:
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland OH


- More warranty work (frame) on the RV in Elkhart IN


- Another week with Grandkids and family


- Grand Ole Opry in Nashville TN


- Visited the country music hall of fame


- Visited with Patty’s childhood friend in Nashville


- Traveled the Natchez Trace south

Natchez MS

October:
- Visited Elvis’s birth place in Tupelo MS


- Major repair work on the truck in Jackson MS
- Attended the Mississippi State Fair

I got my corndog fix!

- Drove back to Buffalo for Patty’s mothers funeral


November:
- Visited with our San Antonio TX friend again
- More work done on the truck in San Antonio TX
- Visited with new Internet friends at an oil well in Cotulla, South TX


- Arrived back at Natures Resort for the winter in the RGV of South Texas
- Drove back to Indiana to visit with my step father in Hospice


December:  
- Visited Mexico 
- Keeping warm in South Texas
Lunch in Mcallen TX.  Good food here.

This year, 2015 we are planning to travel the East Coast from NJ to Georgia before returning to Texas for the winter.  We will also visit family and friends in Indiana, New York, and in New Jersey.

Ok, that’s our story and we are sticking to it!


Stay Tuned!

Step Father Passed Away, Christmas Time, Golf, and Doctors for Patty

December 13 - 28, 2014   

On Tuesday the 16th at 12:05 PM EST my step father Leon Weber passed away.  He was 83 years old.  The hospice nurse called the day before on Monday to warn us that his time was near.  I got the word he had passed from the hospice nurse about 12:10 on Tuesday.  At first I felt like I may want to return for the funeral that was going to be held that coming Saturday, the 20th, in Indiana.  It really is tough to know your actual feelings when things like this happen.  After a couple of hours I kept with my original decision that I would not attend the funeral.  I had made my peace with my stepfather passing when I was with him just 3 weeks ago.  As I write this now I’m not sure I have completely finished grieving yet.  I have lost many in my life including my mother (I was 37), father (I was 6), and grandmother (I was 38) so I am familiar with this type of loss.  With each passing it becomes somewhat easier to cope with. For me, it is the knowledge that they are no longer here and that I am more alone than I was before.  Leon, as I called him, was a part of my life for the past 51 years, since I was 7 years old.  There is now only my brother Roger who has been in my life that long.  Just writing this has been therapeutic!  Good bye to you Leon and thank you for being a father to me for most of my life.

Other than my stepfather passing, it’s been a normal sort of time the past couple of weeks.  Our main focus has been getting in to see doctors for Patty.  We have decided to change our doctors to this area from Indiana.  We originally liked the doctors there in Indiana but we have become increasingly less satisfied with them.  Also, the 30 mile drive (60 round trip) to a doctor there became a drag too.  For me it’s not a big deal as I only have the one GP there to deal with.  Patty, on the other hand, has at least 4 different doctors.  We are even going to switch our dentist to this area from New Jersey.   We went from a dentist in Indiana that was just lazy to one in New Jersey that was an insurance scam.  

The medical issue has probably been the most challenging for us in this full time RV lifestyle.  I can get away with seeing a doctor once a year and that is just not happening with Patty. She probably needs to see a doctor every couple of months. We have mostly decided to spend a good portion of our year here in south Texas.  This will allow Patty to get consistent medical care most days with the exception of the time we travel.  This will still leave a 5-6 month window in the summer where we will rely on urgent care facilities.  It’s a damn good thing we have great medical insurance!

What we really need is a GP that will coordinate care for Patty.  She has a lot of issues going on that we believe could be related but span many doctors.  It just seems we are not getting to bottom of anything, just adding things.  Once we find a good GP I will switch also.  

We went to a new GP (Patty prefers PCP for Primary Care Physician) last week and were not impressed.  Patty started out saying to the doctor that her quality of life was not good right now as she was scratching her arms raw.  The doctor basically ignored the symptoms Patty was presenting and said that she needs to attend her seminars for a healthy life. Oh, and by the way, these are not covered by insurance. Yea and the doctor, out of the blue, said that we will get you off of coffee and alcohol.  There may be something to this and maybe more so for the alcohol but we have not been presented with evidence that these are related to anything that is affecting Patty.  There was not any discussion of even what Patty had going on either.  Anyway, we are seeing another PCP next month, keeping our fingers crossed.

This season I have decided to get back into golf, at least while I am here in the winter.  I’m hoping to improve my game or at the least get back to where I was 7 years ago with a score of 100.  Well, so far that has not happened. 
I have played now 6 rounds and I got worse!  The first couple of rounds I was scoring 104 – 106 which has been what I have scored during the past 7 years when I played the once or twice I would play a year.  Two weeks ago I scored a round at 116! Then, last week I scored a 109 round. 

Yesterday, Saturday the 27th we went to the driving range.  I really believe I have it in me to score under 100 and just need to, one, focus, and two, practice.  I play again tomorrow, Monday the 29th, so I will see if the little practice I did helps.  

Last week was Christmas!  Christmas here at the Natures Resort starts with decorating the club house.  Christmas Eve we have a wine and cheese party with music for socializing and also for dancing.  I started out Christmas Eve with a round of golf in the morning.  Then, this year Christmas Eve fell on Wednesday which is Happy Hour from 4-6 pm.  So we had Happy Hour and then went pretty much straight to the wine and cheese event.  Patty and I made a 3 cheese fondue to share and it was completely devoured.

Christmas afternoon we had a dinner in the club house.  The owners of the resort supplied the meat, roast beef and ham.  To top it all off, the temperature was in the 80s for  Christmas day.

So far the weather has been great here in South Texas.  We have had most days in the 70s and 80s with nights in the low 60s, perfect for sleeping.  There has not been much rain or wind either.  Anyway, that has been the story until today Sunday the 28th.  During the night the temperature dipped to around 40 and it rained.  The bad news is that the weather is going to stay this way, minus a nice break on Monday for golf, all next week.  This includes New Year’s Eve and Day! They are saying we will only get to 52 on New Year’s Day, bummer.  The good news is that it warms back into the 70s next weekend.

Ok, well that’s it from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.

Stay Tuned!