Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Staying in Texas a few weeks longer

April 12 - 20, 2015   

We are right in the middle of making the decision about where to have a neck surgery procedure done for Patty. Surgery is needed to eliminate (we hope) her of Brachial Radial Pruritus.  Big word, but it is the name of the issue that makes Patty’s arms itch. We first made the decision to get the surgery done here in Texas which would mean that we would stay here in Texas for most of May.  Then today, Patty has had second thoughts about having surgery here and now thinks she may want do the surgery in Buffalo NY.   I tend to agree with her that she should have this type of surgery done where she is the most comfortable.  And, we both are not real comfortable with the neurosurgeon we are seeing here. He is probably OK, but..... After a brief search, we were unable to find anyone that we liked any better here in the RGV either.  

Patty had 2 shots of nerve block in her neck last week and they didn’t help at all.  We had the choice of either going straight to surgery or having the nerve block.  We chose the nerve block as it was less invasive and if it didn’t work we would then know for sure that surgery would be the next only remaining thing to do. 

Patty has 3 cervical disks in the neck that are compressed which we believe were damaged during an auto accident 17 years ago.  A few years later, after the accident, she began to have the itchy arms issue.  At first it was somewhat minor and would go away quickly.  Now the itchy arms have spread to her upper torso to include her shoulders, upper back, and upper chest.  I believe she has tried every cream/lotion on the market plus several Dr. prescribed compounds to no avail.  She has seen many doctors in 4 states in the past 4 years; 3 GP Drs., 3-4 Dermatologists, 2 Neurologists, 2 Allergists, an Accupuncturist and even asked her Gastroenterologists and now a (Neurosurgeon (surgical neurologist) here in Texas.  She has been diagnosed as having Brachial Radial Pruritus (BRP). BRP is oversensitive skin nerves caused by the compressed cervical disks.  This oversensitivity causes the itchy arms downstream from the compression. Surgery to cure BRP is still very new and is considered experimental. The surgery procedure is not new, just the use to cure BRP is. To say the least, this itchy arms thing has been a long haul.

We were going to leave here yesterday, Sunday the 19th. Then, Thursday, last week we decided to get the surgery done sooner rather than later. Patty would have the surgery done before we left to go north instead of waiting until we come back in November.  So, in anticipation of staying, we moved to another site within the same park. We thought we were going to stay here in the RGV until the day after Memorial Day so we also canceled going to an RV rally we were signed up for at that time in North Carolina.  

Well, now we are thinking we may leave after our meeting with the Neurosurgeon here on May 1st.  However, we are still waiting on an answer from the surgical practice in Buffalo if they will take her. If Buffalo will take her, we are thinking we will hit the road on the 4th or 5th of May which will give us time to make my 40 year class reunion on the 16th and then to make the RV rally in North Carolina on the 23rd.  That is the plan at this minute anyway!

On the issue of Patty’s bowel issue, the Dr. believes that she should stay on the drug Lomotil for the immediate future.  She has been taking it and it has worked for her so far.  If in the future she has issues with this drug or her symptoms return, she should then contemplate having a surgical procedure performed.  So, for now, we are done with that issue!!

I am hoping that we fix the itchy arms and coupled with her bowel issue being treated, Patty will again more control of her life.  This should go a long way to also helping her with management of her diabetes.  So that is where we are at this time with the health issues. 

As I said above, Friday last week we moved in the park to another site.  This is the same site we are trying to get on to next year.  The new site is smaller than the site we left, however, the new site backs up to a 10 foot high berm with vegetation on it.  We are now surrounded by trees and vegetation.  We like this site very much so the next few weeks we will get used to our new surroundings before heading north.

Our new site #60 at Natures Resort.  We really do like this site and hope we get it next year. 

In the past week we took a road trip to the town of Los Ebanos on the US side of the Mexican Border.  This is the only port across the border that uses a human powered barge to cross the border on the Rio Grande River.  The town looks just like we are already in Mexico and it is surrounded with State Police and Border Patrols.  We must have seen over 25 police and border vehicles within just 5 miles around this little town of around 300 people.  This crossing was at one time a nice crossing with many shops surrounding the area.  That is all gone now as the drug violence has increased in this area.  

There was at one time a group from our park that would cross the border with bicycles on this barge and then ride to a restaurant for lunch in a close Mexican town and then return.  This has not happened now in many years.  What a shame!  

The first thing we noticed is that the US Customs and Border control building on the US side is just like any other and is a relatively new and modern facility.  The reason this facility is noticeable is that the crossing is a dirt single lane path into the water just past the US Border facility.  It is a very stark contrast.  

There are no official signs or instructions about how to cross the border here.  There is a hand written sign written in really bad English and Spanish telling you what a vehicle, motorcycle, and foot passenger cost to cross.  The place where you pay is just a little shack with kids running it.  We paid $1.25 each to cross from the US to Mexico on the barge.  There is no ticket, they just yell down to the barge in Spanish and let them know we paid.  There are only seats for maybe 5 people and room for 3 vehicles on the barge.  The barge leaves about every 10 minutes.  We took the trip over and walked up to the Mexican border facility that was manned by the Mexican military.  They seemed to not really care about us or even what we were doing.  There is nothing on the Mexican side either, no shops, not even a vending machine.  You can see the town about 3 miles away in the distance. 

These are the vacant shops from when this border crossing was safe (this and the next picture).  It's a real shame that the drug crime is so bad now!  There were several border patrol helicopters covering the area too.

Picture looking from where our truck is parked toward the border crossing.  That is Patty up ahead.

The border crossing view from the US side.

Patty walking toward the historical marker for this crossing site.

The historical marker for this border crossing.  This site has been in use since 1740s.  

Picture of the cable that connects from this tree to a tree on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River.  The cable is used to take the barge across the river by hand.

Picture of the crossing from the US side.  The barge is picking up vehicles on the Mexican side.

The barge returning to the US side.

We didn’t know how to pay to get back.  There was no pay shacks like on the US side and not even a "bad" sign to tell us what to do.  We asked one of the military guys if they spoke English, but no they did not.  So we just got back on the barge and they came around and took our money, $1 each to return. 

We are on the barge going across to Mexico.  

Looking back at the US side.

We are back to the US.  We couldn't take pictures on the Mexican side.  Note the dirt road, very primitive! 

I asked the US border crossing agent that checked our passport about going into the city on the Mexican side.  She was very nice and said that she would not even cross the border let alone going to the town.  I said that I might if I had a group and someone knew what they were doing.  She said she wouldn’t even go then!  OK, we have now been there and done that, no more dangerous Mexican Border crossings for us!

Since we were going to leave this past weekend, we took on some chores that we only do when we are leaving.  I cleaned out the basement of the RV.  I took everything out and swept out the floor and then rearranged the items we keep in there. I try to do this a couple of time a year.  We also had the inside rug professionally cleaned.  We do this once a year professionally and then once we steam clean it ourselves during the summer.   There is not a lot of carpet but it is a pain to clean as it has many corners and needs to be done with a small handheld cleaner tool.  I also checked the air pressure in all 4 of the RV tires.  I was really amazed that all of the tires were exactly what they should be, 115 lbs.  I didn’t need to add any air which doesn’t happen that often after sitting for 5 months.  I fixed a storage drawer and tightened some loose screws in the dining table base as some other items that I had been putting off.  We are now ready to travel!

The guy charges $60 to steam clean the Rig.

Taking all of the stuff out of the "basement" to rearrange and to vacuum. 

I'm sort of OCD about the wheels and tires on the RV.  Since these are custom wheels and tires I like them to be clean so I hand clean the wheels every week or so while traveling.

Not much happening in this upcoming 2 weeks as we wait to see the neurosurgeon here on May 1.  The biggest event will be me getting a new pair of glasses at Walmart.  So the next Blog post will be probably after the 1st after we see the surgeon.
This ambulance is decked out for breast cancer.  We thought the sayings were funny on the side and rear.  On the right side rear it says "A feel a day keeps the doctor away". It's printed in silver so very difficult to see.

Then there is this one, "Feel For Lumps Save your Bumps"

This is just a random sculpture at Natures Resort. 

Stay tuned!

5th month in Texas for the winter

March 14 – April 11, 2015   

We are now in our last week here in the RGV in south Texas waiting out the winter.  The time really goes very quickly when you are having fun!  We are looking forward to moving again and seeing more new stuff, think that is called hitch itch.  The only “fly in the ointment” is that we may need to stay a couple of weeks longer if Patty needs to have bowel surgery.  We have 10 extra days before we need to leave so I can attend my high school 40th reunion in Crawfordsville IN.  We won’t know the answer to that question until Thursday this week (3 days before we are scheduled to leave) when we have the final procedure done at the surgeons office.  We will weigh the options then and decide what to do next.

I decided this season I would work on my golf game by playing more.  I was only playing 1-2 times a year for the past 6-7 years.  Well, I accomplished that goal and played something like 35 rounds this season here.  At first, back in December, I started scoring in the 105-110 area.  I would have days where I was as high as 118 and then back to 108, but not really improving much.  It felt like I was actually getting worse by the time March rolled around.  I was now making some really good shots but not in any kind of consistency.  Finally, mid-way through March, I shot a 98 followed by a 97 and then a 103, and then this week a 99.  

This is where I shot the first under 100 score.  Nice course, however the greens were very dry so not very green.
What happened?!  I think a couple of things, the first being the biggest.  I think the clubs I use are too long for me.  I noticed that when I choked up just a little on my fairway woods I was hitting much more consistently.  I then tried this with all of my clubs and it seems to work!  The second thing I did was to “take my head out of my ass”, that’s what I call it anyway.  It means that I tend to play very fast and not think about what I am doing, just hit the ball as quickly as possible. I am now consciously trying to think through each shot.   The key here is that I am trying; I still catch myself hurrying through a shot.  I am now ready to go to the next level and be consistently below 100 and maybe get to the low 90s.  That’s my goal for next season.

One of the Tee boxes at Tierra Santa.
Last month we had a very good outing with friends here at the park.  We took a nice hour long cruise on the Rio Grande River.  The river makes up the US-Mexican border in this area.  It is really amazing how close the 2 countries are geographically.  In some places the distance is less than a hundred yards.   As in the US, the Mexican side of the river has some very high end resorts and houses.  It was very cool to see Mexican busses that brought city kids out to play along the river in very nice playgrounds and settings that are just like the ones in the US on the other side of the river.  We had many kids follow our boat and wave and pose for pictures.  In some of the places along the river the border was on the opposite side of the boat as the river makes turns back onto its self.  At one point we were actually on the Mexican side of the border while on the boat.  After the boat tour, we had a nice lunch at a river side cafĂ© before heading back to our park.  It was a very nice day.

Our boat for the hour tour on the Rio Grande River.  Our group had the entire boat!

One of the crossing points for illegals on the Mexican side.

A Mexican river house that seems to be used as a vacation home.  Seems there are people with money in Mexico, not just poor people.

A Mexican tour boat that does the same thing we are doing but from the Mexican side of the border.

A Mexican resort for Mexicans.

One of the dams on the Rio Grande.

A US border patrol area.

This is where we had lunch on the Rio Grande.
As I stated in a prior post, our truck windshield became cracked.  The crack became noticeable back in January but I didn’t want to do anything about it until we were getting close to leaving.  Many, many windshields are cracked down here. The roads have a lot of small gravel rocks on them that they use during the winter when the temperature gets close to freezing.  Yes, it does get close to freezing here for a few days during January and February.  Last year it never got below freezing but this year it did dip that low one night. Even so, they put this rock/gravel on the overpasses that gets picked up by tires and thrown at you while driving.  Also, there are a lot of heavy farm and earth moving vehicles on the highways that have lots of rocks on them too.  

The crack early on.  The crack went most of the way to the bottom when we took it out.

Removing the windshield.

Preparing the area for the new windshield.

Last week it was time to get the windshield replaced.  I got a reference from a friend here in the park for a local guy (Ernie Rodriguez) who does good work.  I figured that the cost here would be much cheaper than doing this up north.  I do not know how much it would be up north but here I had the windshield replaced with an American made one for $250.  It was replaced at our site in less than an hour.  We are very happy with it and it even has tint at the top.  Our original windshield did not have top tint but we added tint a couple of years ago.  Now we don’t need to go through the expense of adding the tint!  Now we just need to be lucky enough to leave the area without cracking it!

Our new windshield being cleaned before installation.

New windshield going in.

On the RV front, we bought a couple of NuWave induction cooking tops.  Of course we did this before we stopped drinking so we succumbed to the TV infomercial for the item.  It wasn’t just the infomercial, we have heard of many RVers loving the induction cooktop.  For one thing, it uses electricity instead of our propane.  Usually we don't pay for electricity. We do pay for electricity here as we are long term though. The other good thing about these is that you can control the temperature in increments of 10 degrees.  I knew this would be a good thing and after using them I am really convinced that having control of the temperature is a real good thing. The main thing with having such good control of the temperature is that food doesn’t burn or boil over anymore. 

Now, for the bad part,  only one of our very new cookware pans would work with the induction cooktops.  We had to purchase all new stuff.  Now, back to the good, the new pans were cheaper than the ones we had.  We also bought fewer pans now knowing exactly what we use.  Anyway, bottom line, we love our NuWave induction cooktops (we bought 2 with a BOGO offer).
Our new NuWave induction cooktops.
We finished the Breaking Bad series a few days ago.  It was real good and I would recommend it to anybody who has not seen it.  However, I think we are the last to see it.  It was great action drama series that did have it's moments that you really needed to suspend disbelief in order to watch it.  Just how many mood swings can Walter's wife have anyway and whats up with Jesse throwing away his money?!  Anyway, we are now looking for a new series to watch all at once like this. Maybe the Sopranos.

Now, just a quick word or two about our no alcohol use policy.  We have been mostly without alcohol for the past 4 weeks.  I don’t miss it at all!  It seems the same for Patty, just have not heard her express a feeling about it.  I say mostly because we each had a beer in Mexico a couple of weeks ago.  Actually, I had a beer and a few sips of Patty’s as she decided she didn’t want hers.  Also, at our last happy hour at the park for the end of the season I was given a beer and I drank it.  We also still have our shots of Irish cream in our coffee on the weekends.  That is it!  This past month I have lost 16 lbs. which I contribute to giving up alcohol.  Oh, and better yet, my blood pressure has dropped to where I no longer need medication.  My acid reflux has gone too.  So that means I am only on one Rx now for cholesterol!  Let’s see how this goes and I will report back after a year to see how I feel about it.

Now on to Patty's health stuff.  We seem to be turning the corner and are headed to a good place now.  Patty gets a nerve block in her neck this coming Monday. She has damage to 3 cervical disks that the surgeon believes could be causing her itchy arms.  He is saying there is a 70% chance that it can be cured with either the nerve block or surgery.  We have decided to go with the nerve block first and see how it goes.  

The nerve block could last for a day to a year or not at all. The surgery is not as invasive as we had thought with only a small incision near the Adams apple in the front.  The recovery period is also just a few days. 

Patty saw a surgical proctologist a couple of weeks ago and was prescribed 2 procedures for diagnostics.  She had the first one last week which is an ultrasound of the bowel area with biopsies.  They are checking for any damage and any microscopic colitis.  The ultrasound showed that there is no damage which is good.  We need to wait on the lab report for the biopsies.  Thursday this week, she will have a nerve sensitivity test done in the doctor’s office.  We are hoping at this time to find out where we go from here on this issue. 

The doctor has reassured us that he can fix this; he just needs to know the exact cause so he can prescribe the treatment.  We are thinking that this will be some sort of surgery.  

On the sudden fainting front, Patty has not had an issue for the past 3 months.  Not sure why this is but could have to do with having digestion issues more under control.  She takes enzymes with her food and with that her fainting spells went away.  Anyway, we are starting to feel like that make be under control.  Our quitting alcohol may be helping too, however, the fainting stopped before we stopped the alcohol. 

The diabetes extreme low blood sugars are the newer issue, however less troublesome.  We just need to be more careful with food and testing.  Her lows are good and bad.  The good is that her overall sugar level has been the best it has been, ever.  The bad is that she no longer can feel a low coming on so she gets extremely low (in the 30s) before it is caught.  

I have become very good at knowing when she goes or is going low.  The bad is that I need to be with her all of the time to catch it.  We are together most of the time in this part of our lives, but…….  We need to plan well if she is to be away from me.  She needs to eat well before going out and have glucose tabs with her. 

The main issue for me right now is that she doesn’t present, to me anyway, going low until she is very low, around 40. We use to know she was going low when she was around 60.  At 40 she is just about lost knowing what is going on around her.  It is then very difficult to get her to take the glucose tabs and she seems to need so much more glucose now than before.  I now need to give her around 8-10 tabs before she comes around.  This could take up to half an hour.  Just a year ago, Patty would know when she was going low and a quick glass of orange juice would fix it in a under 10 minutes. 

Patty has a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) but it is very intrusive for her.  She needs to do a standard blood glucose test every few hours to calibrate the CGM. Sometimes this happens a couple of times a night.  Also, most of the time it alarms her too late, which just defeats the purpose of the CGM.  For example, just the other day, while we in the grocery store, Patty became unresponsive.  There was no CGM alarm but I knew she was low.  We didn’t have any glucose tabs so I gave her cookies from the store shelf.  After about 30 minutes she started to come around so we tested her blood sugar, it was now 45.  Just then the CGM alarm went off saying she was 54!  Patty seems to go low very fast, faster than the CGM can register it.  

OK, my unqualified opinion is that Patty doesn't eat correctly. I think she needs to eat small meals at a minimum of 3 – 6 times a day.  This way she keeps her sugar intake at a constant rate.   Maybe the CGM would work better if she was slower in going low.  Maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't go low as often either!  We are also now considering glucose injectables.  I am just not ready to take that plunge yet.  

This coming week we will get ready to pull out and start our traveling again.  I plan to wash the rig and repack the basement area.  I will also check the tires and suspension on both the truck and RV.  Also, get the propane filled before we leave.

We already have a couple of travel plans for when we leave. The plan will be determined by the actual date we leave.  We have 3 dates in mind with travel plans for each.  The first is this coming Sunday the 19th. We will take our time going north through Oklahoma and Kansas toward my reunion in Indiana.  The next date is the 1st of May which will require us to move at a steady pace up through Arkansas to Indiana. Then the next date would be the 10th of May at which time we would bypass my reunion and head toward North Carolina for an RV rally we are scheduled to attend.  I doubt we wait past this time to leave, but we could.  It all depends on what the surgical proctologist says and what we are comfortable with. 

That is it for now.  My post will now be more frequent regardless of when we leave here.  If we leave later than next week, that will mean we will be doing something that is much different for us. So, then, either way, staying or leaving I have something to post about.

Stay Tuned!