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Monday, July 18, 2016

Near Death Experience

Dear Family and Friends,

I am sharing this experience because I believe that there could be someone that might learn or be helped from my experience.

I tend to only go to the doctor when I have a real problem.  I hate going on a regular basis because I dislike having to get weighed, learn of my short comings (that is how I perceived it) in taking care of myself.

Last Wednesday I had a life saving experience.  If you know me personally, you are likely aware of my difficulty breathing.  When we first visited Cuenca nine years ago, I noticed a small amount of wheezing when we would be taking walks around town.  Nothing to be worried about because it only happened rarely and only when I was exerting myself physically.

The following year we moved here permanently.  The wheezing, when I breathed, would come and go.  It was more noticeable when I was physically active.  My walking pace slowed because I was not getting enough oxygen.

I did go to the doctor here in Cuenca complaining about my difficulty breathing. He sent me for a chest x-ray, which came back negative for any problems.  He suggested that since I had high blood pressure, this could be effecting my breathing.  I even had a stress test and the doctor who did the stress test told me my heart was fine, but agreed that my problem was due to my high blood pressure.  My doctor even sent me for a breath test which also came back negative.

I decided to just live with it. I assumed that if I could get my blood pressure under control all would be fine.

A couple of years ago, when I was feeling run down and completely low on energy, I started going to a health coach here in Cuenca.  He determined, among other things, that I was extremely deficient in vitamin B12.  We got that remedied and I changed my life style (juicing vegetables, walking more and addressing my mental outlook).  I honestly felt like a million dollars.  BUT, the wheezing continued...sometimes just a little, sometimes more.

I really thought that maybe the wheezing was from the altitude and the air being thinner.  Chuck bought me an oxygen machine.  I used it every day to get the oxygen levels up in my body.

Chuck and I travel a lot.  It became apparent to me that the wheezing was not totally due to the altitude because even at sea level I continued to wheeze.

I basically resigned myself to living with it.  This decision almost cost me my life.

I can only equate this to the frog in the water scenario.  My breathing, over the years, got progressively worse.  It happened so slowly over the years and I was just "living with it."

Last Wednesday, I was on the oxygen machine, sucking in air to breath.  Since I was getting oxygen, I didn't feel like I was in trouble, but I knew that my breathing would not be better ever.

Chuck suggested we try a specialist in lung disorders. I was reluctant and said I really didn't want to go to the doctor.  At this moment, many things happened almost simultaneously.  Lourdes, our housekeeper, overheard my reluctant reaction.  She immediately went to our neighbor, David, and told him I needed to see this doctor NOW.

David, called his doctor and the doctor agreed to see me immediately.

David insisted on driving us to the doctor and waited there while I was examined.

After taking about a 5 minute history, he examined me, had me do a breath test. He determined that there was nothing wrong with my lungs.  He examined my throat and determined the problem was my thyroid.  It was extremely enlarged and instead of protruding out from my neck it had grown inward and was choking off my trachea.

He said the remedy would be surgery to remove the thyroid.  When he said this I started thinking...we have company coming to visit us, arriving today, and more company arriving next week.  Maybe I would get the surgery in a couple of weeks.  This thought never made it out of my mouth, because the next thing the doctor said was. "If I cannot get a surgeon to operate right away, we will do a tracheotomy so you can breathe.  You are at a high risk of suffocation."

I had walked into the doctor's office at 10:00am and I was rolled into surgery at 3:00pm.  Between that time I had blood work, chest x-ray and a sonogram.

My surgery went well, I woke up in recovery experiencing immediate relief.  I could tell that my breathing was so much easier.

The next morning (Thursday) I was released from the hospital and have been recovering very well from the surgery.

I owe my life to Lourdes, David, to a very smart doctor, who was not satisfied until he found my problem, and a very good surgeon.

I do not know how rare this is, but if you are having breathing difficulties, especially living here in Cuenca, don't just assume that it is the altitude.

Now, if I don't get run down by a bus, I am looking forward to many more healthy years ahead living in beautiful Cuenca.

In closing, I will quote the late comedian Minnie Pearl.."I am so GLAD TO BE HERE."

Much love,

Thursday, June 23, 2016

River Walk

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been quite cool here in Cuenca for the past couple of weeks.  The skies have been mostly overcast and we have had a lot of rain.

Today, Chuck and I, took a walk on the Tomebamba river before breakfast.

The river is high because of all the rain in the Cajas (mountains west of Cuenca).

Here is a the view looking up river from our bridge.

We crossed the bridge and walked up the other side of the river and returned on our side of the river.  As you can see, it river is lined with Eucalyptus trees.

A nice stone bench for a crowd.  Chuck decided to try it out.

Two new condos.  They appear to be about 75 percent complete.  The owners will have nice unobstructed views of the river.

The condos aren't the only new construction.  This sign says that a habitat for amphibians is being built here.

We saw this dove searching for breakfast.

I took this picture from the other bridge.  It is down river view.

This portion of the walk was serine.  I love the twisty trunked tree on the left.

This tree had been in distress at one time.  Bobwire had been tied around the trunk in several places.  The tree survived and although some of the bark is missing is quite beautiful.

Some tree trunks are host to other plants.

Here is some wild flowers growing in the field across the street from the restaurant where we had breakfast.

We had our well earned breakfast at our new neighborhood restaurant, The Vegetable Bar.  It is located right across from the river.  You can eat inside or on their huge terrace.

We love that it is only a block from our place.

We are hoping to see more sunshine soon, but even without it, it is a beautiful world here in Ecuador.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Sunday in the Park

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are getting settled back in Cuenca after such a long trip.  At this altitude, it takes me awhile to get up to speed.  We are also getting settled into our new condo.

Sunday we went to the central park (Parque Calderon) in Cuenca because the weather was beautiful and we needed to get some exercise.

I am sharing some pictures I took while we were there.

This is just one section of the park, but you can see the weather was perfect.

I saw this precious little boy petting the stuffed horse.  The stuffed horses are in the park on the weekends.  Photographers use them for making pictures.

Here is a man relaxing as he is making jewelry.

I am pretty sure these ladies are from Canar.  Sundays are a lot of fun because many people come to town.

Our cathedral was as beautiful as ever.  The weather was perfect for taking pictures.

I don't know if you can see it without clicking on the picture to enlarge it, but between the two towers on the cathedral is a statue of a woman and child.

Here is a close up.  The statue is Santa Anna (Mary's mother) and possibly the child may be the virgin Mary.

Like every other Sunday, the people coming out of services from the cathedral are tempted with many sweets.  This meringue confection is very popular here, it is dipped up and served in ice cream.

A fun way to enjoy the beautiful weather.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Techie...I'm Not

Dear Family and Friends,

If you read this blog from Facebook, or if you have the posts come to your email, then what I am about to share does not apply.

BUT if you have a bookmark for this blog or if you follow it in Xpadorian Blogs, then if you want to know what happened between San Diego and Arizona you will have to go to this link:  Between San Diego and Arizona.  I know it is confusing but what I am confessing is that I accidentally back dated my last post.

If you don't get what I am trying to say...forget it...just come on to Arizona with us.

Chuck and I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, rented a car, and drove to Mesa.

The next day we were fortunate to get to hang out with our good friends, Charlie and Bruce.

Here we are so happy to see each other.

For all who know Charlie and Bruce, we want to report how good they looked. They have just bought a new home and are getting settled in Mesa.  It was so good to see them.  (In case you can't tell who is who, Charlie and I are the dark guys on the left of the photo and Chuck and Bruce are the white guys on the right).

The next morning we drove from Mesa to Tucson.  Audrey and Jim moved to Tucson last year and we wanted to visit them and see their new digs.

Audrey cooked us a wonderful dinner.  Lamb chops, collard greens and sweet potatoes.  What a glorious dinner.  Audrey taught me that you don't have to cook collard greens for 2 hours.  Back home, in the South, my grandmother started cooking greens by 10am to prepare for dinner at noon.

The following day, Audrey, Jim, Chuck and I drove to Green Valley about 40 miles south of Tucson.  We went to visit a couple more good friends.  Clarke and Brenda.  They too were our friends in Ecuador and they moved back to the U.S. about two years ago.

They are living the good life.  Summer months in Bend, Oregon and winter months in Green Valley, Arizona.

This first picture was so cute, I just had to add it to the post.  Chuck named it the Three Amigos.  I named the picture "Three Old Farts."  Anyway, they all look handsome and happy in their sombreros and tropical shirts.

Here is another picture that Audrey took.  You can see Brenda is looking great too.  

There were two other couples, that have moved to the U.S. from Ecuador, that were close by, but we did not get to see them on this trip.

Bea and Bob Wetmore moved to Ashland, Oregon and we are going to visit them on one of our future trips, but this trip we were packing too much stuff into too little time.  We did think about you two a lots though B&B.

The other couple we were close to but did not see were Linda Atkisson and Tom Peddecord.  We actually waved to them as we whizzed by White Salmon, WA on the train.

The next day, we turned our car in at the Tucson airport.  Then we flew to Atlanta, Georgia.  We went to Columbus to get all the stuff we left at my sister's house and rested a couple of days.

On Wednesday, we flew from Atlanta to Quito.  We arrived around 11pm, like most flights do coming into Quito from the U.S.  We tried out the new Wyndham hotel located on the airport property and we give it a high rating.  They picked us up at the airport and we were in our hotel room getting ready for bed 10 minutes after leaving the airport.

The next morning, Thursday, they delivered us to the airport.  We flew to Cuenca and arrived home around 3pm.  I did not even start to unpack.  I went straight to bed and slept for two hours.

When I woke up, I found Chuck at the computer planning our next trip.

It is so good to be back home.


Monday, May 30, 2016

San Diego...Old Town and Zoo

Dear Family and Friends,

We timed our travel so that we left Los Angeles and arrived in San Diego without being in rush hour traffic.  Even so, we were in heavy traffic...but at least it was moving. Chuck is a patient driver and that is what it takes to deal with the traffic.

We had two days to spend in San Diego.  On the first day we went to Old Town. It is dubbed the birthplace of California.  It is where the first Europeans settled in the mid 1700's.

Video Tour of Old Town

Below are Matt and Chuck cooling their heels under a big old shade tree.

Walking around Old Town is like going back in time.  Many of the employees of the park wear period costumes.

Here is Matt making friends with an antique cigar store Indian.

and posing in front of an old Wells Fargo stage coach.

This photographer was taking this ladies photo.  The camera was an antique and in order to have her photo taken she had to hold very still for several seconds.

On day two we headed off to the San Diego Zoo.

We spent the entire day touring the zoo.  We started our tour by visiting the flamingos.  In the picture below, they were squawking and carrying on over who gets which nest.

This flamingo was sleeping through the whole affair.

Here is a close up of one of the majestic birds.

This peacock obliged the crowd by displaying his beautiful tail feathers.

Oh goodness...the giraffes.  I loved them.

The child below is staying real close to mama.

They have such cartoon like faces.

This adorable Koala Bear was busy napping away.  We have a trip planned for Australia this fall.  Hope to see a lot more of these adorable fellows then.

The cane wall and the stripes on this young zebra made an interesting picture. Did you know that when zebras are born they are brown and white striped and as they mature their stripes turn black?

These are Meerkats.  They are native to the southern planes of Africa.  They live in large groups.  The second one from the left is sitting on his hind legs. This is very typical.  There is usually at least one in the group that keeps an eye out to guard and warn the others if danger approaches.

I would say that this is a very tired camel.  He has one hump which makes him a Dromedary.  A camel with two humps is a Bactrian camel.  We learned that the hump on the camel's back is made of fatty tissue...not water tanks.

Not all animals are destined to be cute and cuddly.  But there is something about this wild African pig that is cute to me.  Maybe it is his tiny ears and big head.

Here is a Gazelle enjoying the sunshine.  The Gazelle is a type of antelope.  They can run at very high speeds.

This baby Gazelle is so adorable.

When we were in the Galapagos Islands, last December, we were told that there were a couple of giant tortoises at the San Diego zoo.  We found them.

I am not fond of snakes.  That is one of the reasons I have not been to Ecuador's Amazon Jungle.  But this snake is so darn cute.  It looks like it has a puppy dog face.  It is called a Green Tree Python.  Although they are not poisonous they will don't be petting them.  No danger of me doing that.

We had a wonderful day at the zoo.

Here we were in southern California and had to make our way back north.  We could fly but that is boring.  We decided to cruise north to get ourselves back home.  Chuck's sister, Audrey and her husband were already on the ship.  They had spent the last few weeks cruising the South Pacific.  We joined them for a three day cruise from San Diego to Vancouver, B.C.

Here is the scene as we cruised away from San Diego.

Audrey and Jim had champaign waiting for us in our cabin.

I will continue this tale on my next post.