Sunday, January 30, 2011


Aileen and Mitzy cruising the streets

A Green Lacewing sitting on our car. Notice how he is holding the one antenna down so he can clean it

We went to the special ATV potluck on Monday with some of the guys from Ride Now Power Sports who came and rode today. There was tons of food left over. It was good to get out and see so many of my friends. There were lots of compliments on how I look and people happy to see me up and about already. I guess some people take quite a while to get mobile again.

Shortly after 10 on Wednesday we headed off to Phoenix. We found a Safeway for a few items then PF Changs for lunch. Aileen enjoyed the gluten free menu and the food was tasty.

From there it was off to the airport. We parked in the East Economy lot and took the shuttle over to Terminal 4. We didn’t have too long to wait when our daughter Bev came along. We had to stop at a McDonald’s as she hadn’t eaten. Just after 3:30 when we arrived at home. Phyllis, the editor, brought over a Chatterbox for proofing just after we got home so I got at that after taking Mitzy to the dog park. I took the Chatterbox back to Phyllis as soon as I was done and showed her the corrections required.

I’ve been without a computer for a few days. Mine was starting to fall apart so I made the decision to buy a new one. We drove over to Best Buy in Casa Grande on Thursday and bought it. I took it to Doug’s Computers afterward, along with my old computer, and they got to work cleaning up the new computer and transferring my data from the old one. When we went to pick up the computer late Friday, I forgot to buy the Microsoft Office pack so still couldn’t do any word processing until today when we went to WalMart in San Tan Valley.

We went for supper Friday night at Picazzo’s Pizza which has a great gluten free menu. The food was very good too. It is more of a challenge finding good restaurants now that Aileen is following the gluten free diet. Aileen has found out a lot of good information at the gluten free support group here in the parks. She has been told of several restaurants which have good gluten free menus. She is feeling much better since starting to pay attention to the gluten issue.

Bev and I went to the pool mid afternoon yesterday. She lay in the sun and read while I actually went in the pool and hot tub (first time since before Christmas) then lay in the sun too. Bev and I also went to the library for a batch of books. Bev came with me to the music jam today and I thought there were some pretty good performances.

I was lucky enough to sell two of my large framed prints in the last week or so. That helps to cover some of the expenses. Mitzy and I go for a walk from here out into the desert every morning. I have a special little backpack which is hers and contains doggy bags and a bottle of water and a little dish. With her short nose, she tends to dehydrate quite fast so we have to be vigilant with the water. When I ask if she needs a drink, if she does she licks her lips. If she doesn’t then she ignores me.

Several of our neighbours have gone on a New Zealand cruise (lucky people) so it is a little quieter here. One couple and their friends have tagged on a trip to Australia right after. It sounded pretty ambitious with flights to many of the Australian highlights over a two week span. I suspect they will be worn out when they finally return. They should be back a day or two before we head north in late February.

It’s great having Bev visiting us for two weeks and really fortunate for me with the new computer since she is a lot more savvy than I am. You will notice her influence in the new look of my blog. I’ve gotten behind in my blog reading/snooping the past few days. It’s amazing how deprived you feel when the computer is gone if even for a short while. At least we have a large library in the park so it is easy to find good reading material.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Red Rock Canyon on the way to Bryce Canyon

A natural bridge in toward the back of the Bryce Canyon road

My health continues to improve, I’m glad to report. Mitzy and I walk out into the desert everyday from here. I should take my GPS along someday to see just how far but I’m guessing over two miles. I also try to walk quite a bit more within the park. Aileen continues to go to the pool most nights but is being challenged by the too high pool temperatures for the most part. Aileen has put in quite a bit of time and effort getting things in order for the insurance company on my behalf.

We went to Casa Grande one day. Aileen needed a new bathing suit and I wanted to peek at laptops since mine may be on its way out. One of the hinges is broken and the whole lower screen separates when I try to close the lid. I’m looking forward to having more RAM when using my photo editing programs. We’d heard there was a good gluten free section in the Fry’s store in Casa Grande but it turned out to be not much. Another day we went to the Safeway at Merrill Ranch which had a good selection last time Aileen was there but it was empty. It seems they decided to re-do the gluten free section and let it go empty and now have to wait for the new stock to arrive.

We went to my sister Wendy and Randy’s for supper last night. We enjoyed a game of Wizard later which they let me win. Last Tuesday we went to a musical evening at the clubhouse. The Dutton Family were great entertainment. The energy on stage was incredible, one got tired just watching. They are a large family and quite a few grandkids performed and stole the show. The family has a theatre in Branson where they performed over 200 days last year and just opened another in Phoenix. I don’t normally pay that much to see a performance but this was worth it. Aileen and I sat as far from people as we could to keep me away from perfume and colds. At one point a couple of ladies came close and one asked if they were in our way. Aileen said no, but are you wearing perfume. One lady replied not since this morning to which Aileen replied how I was trying to stay away from any. I piped up about how I was just getting over Valley Fever. Well did those ladies give me some distance in a hurry. You’d think I told them I had the plague!

I went to the local music jam this afternoon and it was an excellent show. Some of these older performers are amazing. Many of them are well in their eighties but you’d not know it by their music. I’m not back into picture taking mode yet so will try to find something in the archives to colour up the page a little. Our loose master plan for the winter had us in Quartzsite right now but given my issues we’re staying right here.

Monday, January 17, 2011


A picture taken at Bryce Canyon in October

The past ten days have shown daily improvement in my health. I started walking a little bit on the 12th and now walk 2-4 miles a day. My cough is nearly gone, just a once in a while thing now. My appetite is still not fully back but I am able to eat a wider variety of food at least. I’m still not getting enough sleep which I think is probably a side effect of my medication.

Starting on the 13th the insurance company has been trying to fly us home and offering to have a professional driver take the motor home for us. We’ve been arguing that back and forth and finally today I got the good news that I can stay for our planned duration. The downside is of course that they won’t pay for any more treatment of Valley Fever and related issues. I have two blood tests, another cat scan and a visit with the lung specialist scheduled over the next month all of which we will have to pay ourselves. I prefer to stay with the system here since it should give us the best idea of my progress rather than switching systems completely by going back to BC where Valley Fever is less known. Our daughter visited our doctor at home this morning to talk to him about treatment should I come home and when she told him how the two main drug chains in Salmon Arm couldn’t get my medication and in fact had been back ordered for months, he could not find a supplier either. Aileen managed to get my three months prescription filled at Safeway in Coolidge but used up all their stock. They said there is a shortage this year. Friends are going to Algodones, Mexico tomorrow and will see if they can bring me some.

We can get back to living a more normal life now with the threat of being sent home gone. It’s been impossible to do any planning and we’ve been letting things slip. Aileen just came home from her meeting and was overjoyed with my good news. We are going to celebrate by going out for supper.

Jacquie and Jim were over for Mexican Train a couple nights ago and Jim was the big winner. We went out for supper three nights ago to try and tempt my appetite and it worked. I managed a chef salad. Last night we went to the Canada Supper up at the clubhouse and I enjoyed the pork loin.

Just before Christmas I matted and framed five of my 13x19 inch prints. I sold one the other day to a lady who fell in love with my shot of some poplar tree trunks with bright fall foliage behind. Earlier in December our friend Linda asked if I would take some pictures of their Christmas lights, which I did. Today she came and bought three small prints and gave me more than I asked.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


My terrible rash that stated the whole process

The old sick man after 16 days has dragged himself to the highest dune. What is he asking for? Is that two legged critter an alien?

White Sands, New Mexico Nov 2010

This is the sixteenth day I have been ill. It has not been a fun time for any of us but I have to say how thankful we are for our family and friends who’ve come through time after time for us. And of course my wonderful wife who is burdened with so much more work especially dealing with the medical insurance and pushing the right buttons with the medical establishment. I tried to keep my daily journal up as much as I could throughout so I have some awareness of each day. I last posted that I didn’t have Valley Fever, or at least in the doctor’s opinion. Well, that old fraud should not be on call in emergency! He said about the only way he would consider me a candidate if I were a black man.

On New Year’s Eve, Aileen managed to get me in to see a nurse practitioner at the clinic at our front gate. He immediately sent me to the hospital for a chest x-ray and a battery of blood tests. One of his prime candidates was Valley Fever. Yesterday I was called back to the clinic and given the definitive diagnosis of Valley Fever. I have to take pills twice a day for quite some time with blood work on a regular basis to make sure the liver continues to function correctly. Valley Fever is caused by a mold in the ground that causes a fungal growth in the lung. I was caught in a nasty dust storm Nov 20 but I was also involved in digging post holes for our RV cover after that. I guess there will be no way to know for sure how I contracted it.

I have to go for a cat scan of my right lung tomorrow morning as there was a mass noted on the chest x-ray. From there we will have to visit a lung doctor on Monday to get that all checked out. The big problem is when one goes back to Canada where the disease is relatively unknown, if they see a growth in the lung they immediately want to start cutting. It’s important to establish what is my new normal for my lungs.

I’m starting to feel a little better today and would dearly love to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. I’ve been feverish and thirsty for so long that I am drinking a lot. Of course that means I have to pee lots. For the past several nights that has translated into 40-60 minutes of sleep followed by a rush to the toilet than a visit to the fridge. I’ve been craving cold water which I used to avoid. The cold seems to cool my chest down.

Here’s my recall of the night of January 1. It was another horrible night. Pee and drink then pop a cough candy. And then some time in the middle of the night, I thought I was going to be violently ill. Aileen suggested deep breathing and that finally headed it off. Then came a period when I thought I was completely cured. I lay there making great plans for when morning came. I felt like we had gone in and twigged my metabolism somehow fooling the disease into leaving. How sad the truth was to be! I lost over 12 pounds during my ordeal but am stating to gain it back with all the liquid and a bit of solid food.

And now on to the good Samaritans who have rescued us several times these past few days. I told Aileen to go to Bud and Arlenes 60th anniversary party and enjoy herself. She did and stayed almost two hours. It was nearly six when she returned and started making supper. After only a minute or two, the power blew in the park model. I went out and found one tripped breaker. However, that didn’t cure it. Aileen finally got Jack, a neighbour, to have a look and he managed to restore part of the power. No stove but the fridge worked. He thinks one of the main breakers is faulty and will check it out in the morning. Of course my going out in the damp cold brought on lots of coughing. Man, just when you think things can’t get worse, something pops up to tell there is. We had an extension cord plugged in under the table running the internet and pole lamp. So we survived that way for a couple of days then on New Year’s Day my Uncle Jim and Jacquie went to Casa Grande and managed to find the only two breakers there were and buy them. That didn’t cure the problem. Turns out the switch to the right of the sink had shorted out. That was the pop sound we heard. Aileen managed to get one of those from neighbour Daryl so Jim fixed that up. Everything appears back to normal finally.

This morning when Aileen went to start the car, the battery was too low again. If we use the car daily the issue doesn’t come up. We put it on the charger then Jim came and looked at it a couple times. The first time he disconnected a wire from the positive battery post. Great. Car seemed to start easier. However, when she went to go for my prescription, it started but couldn’t be shifted out of park. The upshot of that was Jacquie and Jim driving her to Coolidge for my prescription. After lunch, Jim came by and followed up on the wire and found where the installer had tied it into another wire under the dash and not done a good job to boot. Jim has taken the Even Brake book home to study the install directions to see if he can make any sense out of the mess. Why do these terrible installers get turned loose on unsuspecting customers like us? It is most unethical. And so again it was Jim to the rescue. I have offered him the use my ATV since I won’t be using it again this year. I hope he takes me up on it so we can at least slightly repay our gratitude.