Sunday, December 23, 2018

12/23 Almost Christmas and the End of the Year

So, what have I been doing lately?  Mostly, not a lot.

It has been raining here in Oregon almost non-stop, and it has been chilly even during the day, so I can't go out much. So, I have been doing some cooking, some cleaning, some sorting, and working on some projects that I have put off for a long time.  One was scanning and desktop publishing a cookbook from the mother's club of my elementary school.  It was put together in 1955 and has so many of the names I remember--relatives, neighbors, and relatives of classmates.  That project took me three days and at least 15 hours. I have also been busy getting my winter class ready for the new semester.  

I seem to have recovered from my kidney stone problems, but will not know for sure until I get the results of the cat scan that was done a week ago.  Other issues are also resolving, which means that as of January 31, I will be able to head south to get out of the rain and into slightly warmer California for a while.  That will feel really nice!  

Also, I have been thinking about how long I have been living in this small space and traveling.  It has been several months over six years since I sold my condo, put my stuff into storage, and took off on the road.  When I started, I was not sure I would like to do this kind of traveling long-term and told myself that I would commit to at least two years.  I was not sure if I would be bored or lonely or feel claustrophobic living in this roughly 10' by 28' space.  (That is an estimate with both slides out and not counting the cab part of my vehicle.)   I have lived in a 1,000 square foot house, a 2,000 square foot house, and an 1,800 square foot house, but I feel just as comfortable in these 280 square feet as in all of those.  

I COULD use more storage space and more cargo carrying capacity so I could bring more stuff, but I have all the essentials to make me comfortable.  (Cargo carrying capacity is the amount of weight your RV can carry without overloading the frame and tires.  It includes people, fresh water and waste in tanks, belongings, even gas in the gas tank.)  I am at the very top of my cargo carrying capacity, so I have to be careful of what I accumulate, and I cannot drive with more than a quarter of a tank of fresh water.  I am also getting tired of so many things breaking in this motorhome and having to spend so much money of repairs.

But, I have a very comfortable bed, my old leather recliner that fits me perfectly, a refrigerator and freezer full of food, a kitchen that enables me to cook and bake, even if my oven is small.  I have two internet mobile hot spots and satellite TV, so I am well-connected with the outside world. Also, I like that I have lots of windows and a good view of both sides and through the front windshield from my recliner.  Being able to look out makes it feel a lot less cramped inside.  And of course, it helps that being able to keep moving means that my views from my windows are never the same for very long. 

While I enjoy seeing new places, I also have found some favorite places where I feel comfortable and I enjoy visiting.  Most of my favorites are in beautiful places.  And many others have wildlife to watch.  For example, I am planning to go to the Las Vegas area in March so I can stay at Valley of Fire State Park and visit Willow Beach Marina.  

How much longer do I want to live the life of a vagabond?  As long as I possibly can.  I am hoping for another five years, assuming my health and money holds out!  Keeping my fingers crossed.       

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

12/4/2018 Update on my Life

So, several things have happened to me lately--some good and some not-so-good.  I have been very busy grading papers and getting ready for the upcoming winter semester, and it has been too cold and rainy to do much sightseeing in this area, but I do want to visit the university museum when I get a chance.  I also want to rent a car and go for a drive up to Portland.  

Most of my medical issues are getting resolved, but two things I did not expect have happened lately.

First, I went to the LensCrafters store at the Eugene Mall to get a new left lens in my glasses.  My eyes have been getting tired lately, and I had noticed that my left eye was getting worse.  I have really had problems reading and grading students' papers online and had to take a lot of rests.  And it has been two years since I had a new prescription, so the solution seemed evident--new prescription and new lenses.  Except, the ophthalmologist told me that It would be useless because what I really needed was cataract surgery and an eyelid lift.  I've known for some time I had a mild cataract in my left eye, but it had never bothered me before, so figured I would get it done next summer at Cleveland Clinic when I was visiting my younger son and his family.  

I also knew that eventually my eyelids would continue to droop, and I would need a lift, but like the cataract surgery, I figured I could put it off for a few months or next summer, at the earliest.  So, now I need to find someone to do the surgery near here.  Got one recommendation, but other things have interferred--like Situation #2.

So, the second thing was that a few weeks ago, I had a cat scan for some unrelated issues.  This cat scan with dye showed clearly that my left kidney was not working well and that I had two collections of stones.  One was in the ureter, near the bladder and was clogging the flow of urine, which is why my kidney was not functioning well.  And the second group was a little nest of stones in my lower kidney that was in a place that meant they could not easily pass. 

So, a couple of weeks ago, I made an appointment at a urologist, and after looking at the cat scan, they got me scheduled into the hospital to get them out--fast!  I have been a regular kidney stone former for over 35 years, but have not really had any pain with these last ones, which puzzled me, although I did have some back pain I blamed on muscle spasms. But it was not constant and did not feel like kidney stone pain, so this one completely missed me. 

So surgery was scheduled for last Thursday afternoon.  They went in and discovered the lowest stone had already passed, but they used a laser lithotripsy to blast the "nest" of stones in my lower kidney.  It meant general anesthesia and an overnight in the hospital on an uncomfortable bed, but it had to be done.  They put in a stent from kidney to bladder to help them pass, but I have had stents in the past and they typically cause pain and a lot of bleeding.  It did not help that my platelet count has been very low, making the bleeding worse, but no choice in postponing.  

So, I have spent the last few days mostly sleeping or sitting in my recliner.  I made sure I had plenty of food, water, propane, pain meds, and stuff before all this started.  But today, I had to go out to get blood tests done, and drove, plus I also did some grocery shopping--big mistake.  I have to go out tomorrow to get the stent removed, but I think I will take Uber because I had a lot of pain after getting home this afternoon.  Basically, the doctor said to focus on being a couch potato for the next few days, which I need to do a better job at.  

I am feeling much better right now, after dinner and a pain med chaser.  Got papers to grade, but luckily that is easily done while sitting. 

So, "they" tell me cataract surgery is very easy these days, but I think I am going to wait a bit before tackling that item on my to-do list.  I also really need to get a colonoscopy and a breast exam, but those are on the back-burners also.  At least I am in a place with lots of good doctors.  But, I am still anxious to head someplace warmer and sunnier as soon as I can!   

And speaking of staying warm--I got two new electric heaters that really do a much better job of keeping me warm.  They use the same number of watts, but blow the air around better, plus they have an extra safety feature.  Nearly all small electric heaters have a feature where they shut off if tipped over.  These also turn themselves off if they overheat, which is a concern when you live in a small place.  

It is going to drop down to 26 degrees tonight, and I have filled my fresh water tank and unhooked the water hose to prevent it from freezing.  I also wrapped an old towel around the area in the utility cabinet  where the sewer hose exits to keep cold air out.  There is furnace duct in that compartment which should prevent freezing down to around 20 degrees, so I should be OK.