Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: WOW: Overhauling Carol!

Monday, November 5, 2012

WOW: Overhauling Carol!


in the recovery room, after the cataract surgery on my right eye
To overhaul means: to take apart in order to examine it and repair it if necessary. I may not be a piece of machinery (though many say I am close to being one) but this is how Jack Dock, an engineer and husband of Bill’s sister Rosemary, suggested I title this piece. In 2 ½ months we probably wore thin the couple’s hospitality. I have told you about our many visits to family and friends and explorations of many points of interest from the warmth of their home, but the best is that I got my chance to be examined and repaired! 

dancing after the overhaul!
This is the disadvantage of the full time RV cruising lifestyle that I clearly did not foresee (please look at http://rvcruisinglifestyle.blogspot.com/2010/04/debating-pros-and-cons-of-rv-cruising.html): inconsistent health care. I talked about ways to mitigate the disadvantage of not being close to family and friends in the post cited above but with inconsistent healthcare, especially with advancing age, the health risks of yesterday are turned into the health issues of today!

Besides, our lifestyle had us bouncing around 47 American states, 9 Canadian provinces, and 6 Mexican states in just a little more than three years. It’s bad enough that we have grown older; it is worse because we do not have a family physician who knows our history. Bill contracted pneumonia in Mexico (please see http://rvcruisinglifestyle.blogspot.com/2010/03/crossing-gulf-states.html), had arthroscopic surgery in Indiana/Ohio though not really due to RVing (please see http://rvcruisinglifestyle.blogspot.com/2011/08/ola-taking-much-needed-breaks.html), and even suffered a heart attack in Florida last December (please see http://rvcruisinglifestyle.blogspot.com/2011/12/wow-getting-scared.html). 

As for me, I have been having issues myself but we often joke about how major but easy Bill’s and how irritatingly minor and hard to diagnose and cure mine are. I had only talked about hypertension which produced GERD after the aspirins and diuretic regimen, I think, (please see http://rvcruisinglifestyle.blogspot.com/2012/01/wow-focusing-on-health.html). But I have been silent about the others, hoping they would simply go away. So Bill decided that we stay put at the Docks for however long it takes to take advantage of the good doctors the couple has.


find the wrist brace, not the grapettes!
Tendonitis. A couple of days before we arrived in Pittsburg, I had hurt my right wrist. Bill alleges it was because of 4-6-8 hours a day of incessant thumping on the computer keyboard because of various and sundry hobbies: blogging, surfing, facebooking, emailing, uploading and editing photos and creating albums, and WWF (Words With Friends). Dr. Carlson referred me to Dr. Stringer who gave me a PAINFUL steroid shot. And here I am, finally free of the wrist brace I was forced to wear for about a month! 

oral surgery on #5
Dental Care. Bill was not happy about the dental care I had with my #5. It hurt in 2008 and a dental clinic in Kent, Washington did a root canal. When I got to the Philippines in 2009, my dentist thought I had better see an endodontist. We went to one of only 2 such dentists in the country. She performed a root canal on a second root she discovered in #5. Well, I don’t think that went well and she instructed my dentist to be conservative about the kind of filling to use. 

The filling that was placed fell out just a few weeks after (in Taiwan, actually, even before we got back to the US!). I had that filling redone twice while we were cruising in the US. In March 2010 when we returned to the Philippines, my dentist and endodontist checked their work and went ahead and said it was ok and just put in another filling. About 6 months after our return to the US that last filling fell out, as well as half of the tooth. Dr. Mendez, the Dock’s dentist, referred me to Dr. Lowe, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. And now I have one brand new tooth!

Chronic Hives. The day Bill returned from the hospital after his heart attack, I had sciatica. Excruciating pain left me to be cared for by Bill who was, himself, just recovering. It eased a week after but then aggressive hives took over. I woke up with a swollen left eye one morning so we went to an ophthalmologist who prescribed antibiotic drops and tablets since he thought it was a bacterial infection. 

hives on arms and legs
But then the hives spread to the right eye, then the neck and downwards to the arms and torso and finally the legs. One day, the itchiness became intolerable we took refuge at an urgent care clinic near the campground where I was given steroid shots. We then finally surfed for a nearby family doctor who quickly referred us to an allergist. I could not muster enough confidence in these two doctors so we asked Bill’s cardiologist for a new referral.

She turned out to be a beautiful Filipina doctor whose tests led her to suspect lupus and so we were referred to a rheumatologist. He ruled it out and so we were referred to a dermatologist. The skin test was positive for hives. So we went to another allergist. Her tests revealed that at one point I had been infected with hepatitis A, which my Filipina doctor contested. We left Florida, still with recurrent hives, still dazed and confused. 

At the Unbearables reunion in Nova Scotia, Jeep gave me her bottle of liquid Benadryl (I had been using cortisone before then)! It was like a miracle lotion! I could not understand why not any one of the doctors who saw me recommended this over-the-counter gem which largely controlled my hives. But in Pittsburg, Jack’s family physician, Dr. Carlson, gave me an aggressive dose of non-sedating anti-allergy meds. Here I am a month and a half now, virtually free of hives, except for one or two that appear once in a while!


the left eye in preparation three weeks after
being wheeled for the right eye
Cataract Surgery. Nobody has seen me without any glasses, except for my grades 1-3 classmates. I have had aggressive myopia since I was in grade school. My study habits did not help at all. In 1997 I was one of the very first beneficiaries of laser eye surgery in the Philippines. Less than ten years after, however, my vision started to deteriorate again. In 2009 I had new prescription lenses done in the Philippines. 

left eye patch being removed
Back in the US only 6 months later, I needed another set of corrective lens, especially. When I was back in the Philippines in 2011 I had new lenses prescribed and, again, only 6 months after returning to the US I needed new ones again. The ophthalmologist who saw me for my swollen left eye, the start of my hives, had said I had better have my eyes checked for cataracts when I got ‘home’. 

both eyes now done!
So I went to Rosemary and Jack’s ophthalmologist, Dr. Lazenby, and eye surgeon, Dr. Bhend, and both recommended cataract surgery on both eyes. Well, I now carry 2 cards for my implants and can clearly see! I wake up every morning without having to look for any glasses (except when I need to read or look cool with fancy dark ones) to put on. Bill survived the fear of my finally seeing how he really looks with 20/20 vision!

the mass more clearly revealed by ultrasound
Possibility of Breast Cancer. But, guess what may be the biggest one? A mammogram detected a 7 mm mass on my right breast. An ultrasound was done, then the physical examination. I am supposed to have another mammogram in another 3 months to see if the mass has grown so a biopsy could be done to test malignancy. The process of overhauling may not be completely over. Still our stay with the Docks had overhauled Carol, though a somewhat bionic one! 

with my pink top ready for
breast examination
It certainly showed to us that full time RVing should not be carried to the extreme we did at our age.  It was certainly possible to full-time without being constantly on the move as we have been. Our next travel patterns shall have to change to: 4-5 months in Europe, 2-3 months visiting family and friends, and 4-5 months settling down in a normal home, in other words, move closer to the sunbirding/nesting stages (please see http://rvcruisinglifestyle.blogspot.com/2010/04/going-through-five-stages-of-cruising.html). We will be in Arizona for about 2 months looking to find a home much like the Docks’.  We now think there is wisdom in having some roots, even if, as Bill would say, we are not trees (may I add, plants?)!