Sunday, March 5, 2017

Health Detour

We took a tough 15 month detour down a dark road of severe health issues with Roy and both our cats, too!  In September 2016 we pulled into Camp Verde, AZ for the winter.  We were feeling the effects of having been on the move for the last year and Roy was starting to feel an increased sense that his diabetes needed tended to.  As stated in the last post, Roy has been battling Type II diabetes for about 10 years.  He hasn’t done well on medications and has managed it the best he could through exercise and diet, but had waned in his vigilance during the prior two years.  In September he started doing the traditional changes diabetics make to their diet and began exercising again.  In November we moved to Cottonwood.  The techniques that had been successful for Roy in the past were no longer effective and by February his blood sugar readings were getting critical!  His blood glucose reading was breaking 400, when it should have been below 100!  He discovered a vegan diet espoused by Dr. Gabriel Cousins to cure diabetes.  Through riding his bicycle and implementing Dr. Cousin’s extreme eating plan, Roy brought his blood glucose down around 200.  Eating vegan we both quickly lost 20 plus pounds.  This proved to contribute negatively to the health battle we were to face, as Roy in desperation resorted to medications, despite knowing he is chemically sensitive.  What I want to convey to you at this point is the importance of researching the side effects of medications.  Be proactive in talking with your doctor, as to what you will and won’t do!  Look for and keep an open mind to alternative treatments.  We feel it made all the difference in Roy surviving his trip through the array of medications offered by the doctor.  The doctor’s first choice in diabetes medications was Januvia.  We said no, as it was already having lawsuits.  It is a medication that you might do fine with, but if not, the side effects could be serious.  The Januvia lawsuits were in regards to the drug causing pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer!  The doctor also wanted Roy to go on cholesterol medications despite our telling him that Roy had been very sick on them when he tried them before.  Roy feels he may have acquired diabetes, as a side effect of the cholesterol drugs Tricor and Lipitor!  We have to wonder how many people would take these cholesterol drugs, if they were forewarned that there was a chance they could acquire diabetes from them!  We told the doctor, no!  Besides the aforementioned factors, how would any of us know which drug was affecting Roy negatively, if he took two medications together!  The most common oral medication for diabetes seems to be Metformin.  Other drugs are compared to it for how hard it is on a person’s stomach!  Roy tried Metformin, Glipizide and Glimepiride.  The side effects are stomach pain, nausea, loss of appetite, jitteriness, shaking, irritability and many more.  The side effects worsen with exposure to sunlight and here we are in Arizona!  Roy spent his days in bed, sick to his stomach and without an appetite.  He had to force himself to eat and couldn’t take in enough nourishment to sustain a healthy weight.  You can calculate the number of calories required daily to sustain a particular weight by multiplying 13 times the desired weight (i.e. 13 x 180 = 2,340).  The doctor didn’t seem to acknowledge side effects other than to offer a switch to another medication and didn’t address how to bolster Roy nutritionally!  It was only through our Internet research that we discovered the high calorie drinks of Glucerna and Boost.  Original Glucerna is 190 calories per 8 oz. shake and Boost comes in 3 levels starting at 240 calories for the original to 530 calories for the Very High Calorie 8 ounce shakes.  Roy lived on these at his sickest.  We learned that anything from McDonalds is high calorie for a small amount of food intake.  It may not be the most nutritionally sound, but when you are fighting a lack of appetite and a high rate of weight loss, it can make all the difference!  Roy got so thin while trying diet and medication changes, I was in fear of his organs shutting down.  His stamina was so low he couldn’t sit through a doctor’s appointment!  The next step was to try an injectable insulin called Lantus.  It was presented as basically side effect free.  Wrong!  As memory serves, approximately 50% of men age 60 plus will experience the side effect of severe depression, confusion and drunken mannerisms!  Seeing Roy go through these side effects was even more difficult than the more comprehendible stomach upsets.  Safety in driving became an issue!  At this point we were done with prescription meds and with the help of a woman (or angel) we met at the dog park, we were guided into homeopathic answers.  The results were instantly good in lowering Roy’s blood sugar without the accompanying sickness.  He also had happened upon the Ketogenic Diet, which is a high protein low carbohydrate way of eating and felt like a very normal style of eating to us.  There is a wonderful Facebook page of supportive people to teach you how it is done.  Here is the link:  Ketogenic Diet Open Discussion.  Two recipes you need to try just because they are soooooo good are Caulimash (cauliflower prepared like mashed potatoes) and Caulirice (cauliflower quick chopped in a blender to the texture of rice).  Cook the caulirice in a skillet with butter, salt and pepper.  You can find them in the frozen vegetable section at the store, but they are really quick to prepare from fresh cauliflower.  There is also a health tracker called My Fitness Pal that will track about anything health wise that you want it to track!  Here is the link:  My Fitness Pal.  The original homeopathic supplements Roy took were Nopal Cactus tablets and capsules called Diabetic Support, by Better Health brand.  Roy slowly worked on his stamina and neuropathy through taking advantage of the local aquatic center hot tub and lazy river.  He added recumbent bicycling, walking and lifting light weights, as he could.  He has very painfully toughed his way through the regeneration of nerves from his feet up into the upper half of his body.  He has areas that are once again feeling normal and areas still regenerating.  It has been a long hard physical and emotional journey for the both of us, but we are happy to say that as of December 9th we are on the road again!  We traveled down to Sierra Vista, AZ to be with friends and to help one of our cats that acquired a mystery ailment in February 2016.  Our cat, Odie, has been to two vets and tried many treatments.  He appears to have what is called Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex and it is indeed complex.  Here is a link to information about it:  Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex.  Thinking his health disorder is allergy related, we returned to Sierra Vista, where he spent a healthy winter getting outdoors from December 2014 through February 2015.  I met a friend of a friend via Facebook whose cat has the same thing.  He has been to 6 vets one of which is a dermatology specialist.  It is only after several vets and the passing of a year that he has some tentative results in curing the sores and itching that this disorder presents itself as.  Odie is making progress in that the sores that appeared last February have healed, but the two that arrived in April may take until this April to heal.  Our cat, Charles, gave us a scare, but with lots of money and most of his teeth pulled, he is back to his fat and sassy self!  We’ve spent almost 3 months in Sierra Vista physically and mentally recuperating and have plans to travel to Kingman, AZ on March 11th!  Odie spent a healthy summer getting outdoors there in 2015.  We are looking forward to this summer and once again traveling down the sunnier roads of life!               

Saturday, April 2, 2016

End Of The Road?

What do you do when you find a location that has that special something you like, you’re feeling a little road weary, and a family member’s health is crashing?  You start to think about settling down.  It might just be home base for part of the year or looking ahead may be where we settle permanently.  We’ve started looking at housing options in regards to what we think our future holds.  Housing options are, of course, a matter of personal taste and available finances.  I’ll share just a few things we’ve discovered after living 6 years on the road in regards to housing.  Permanent structures are expensive to buy and require high priced utilities and amenities.  There is home and yard maintenance and permanent neighbors.  Getting into a home is more than we think we want to take on and financially for us would definitely impede our ability to travel.  We considered mobile home parks.  We don’t like the idea of paying for a mobile home only to have ongoing expensive lot rent.  Once again there are utilities and amenities to pay for.  The mobile home parks we’ve seen have small lots and permanent neighbors on all sides.  We agree that we could go with a mobile home, if it was on our own property.  There is still upkeep to consider.  Living in a home is isolating compared to the community found within an r.v. park.  Apartments are appealing for the lack of maintenance, but they are quite expensive and with two medium sized dogs and two cats, would be hard to find.  For our ages of soon to be 60 and 64, available retirement finances, and personal preferences, we have come back to life in an r.v. park being right for us.  Rents run around $350 a month plus electric, but water and dumpster service is provided.  Some parks provide the electric at the same low price stated.  Wi-Fi is often free.  Expansive cable t.v. is sometimes free, but generally runs $25-$35 a month.  There isn’t any yard work and one’s rig requires very little upkeep.  R.V. parks offer community activities from very minimal to activities every day of the week.  There is a sense of being looked out for by the park office personnel and people within the park.  It is a carefree lifestyle that borders on being assisted living!  One’s retirement dollars are maximized and whether one continues to travel or not the option is available.  We may upgrade to a larger rig in time.  These are just our observations and, of course, it’s all about personal choices for ones stage of life, health, and interests.  Our minds are open to options and we’ll know when the right fit comes along. 
One of the things Roy and I have fallen in love with in Cottonwood, AZ is the massage school in nearby Clarkdale.  It has unfortunately, after 20 years in the area, closed its doors forever.  We are thrilled to find that Sedona, only 17 miles away, also has a massage school (pictured)!  After living near a massage school and reaping the benefits of it, we have wondered how we could ever again live anywhere that doesn’t have one!  When planning our trek up through California we actually chose communities that we were going to spend at least a month in, by whether they had a massage school!  Here is a great website we found for finding massage schools around the country:
Roy has been battling Type II diabetes for about 10 years.  He hasn’t done well on medications and has managed it the best he could through exercise and diet changes.  The blood sugar numbers were reading high, but overall his sense of health was tolerable until recently.  The neuropathy in his feet was constantly painful and he was losing feeling.  His blood sugar was peaking at 400, when it should be below 100.  He once again tried medication that only served to make him sick 24/7.   In his recent Internet research for answers, he may have just discovered an eating plan that is going to save his life!  It is vegan and extreme, but as a nondiabetic who likes her sweets and breads, I’m finding it easy to do, as I feel the nutritional difference!  On February 15th Roy’s blood sugar hit 406, but by applying the whole raw foods diet set forth in Dr. Gabriel Cousen’s book, There is a Cure for Diabetes, as quickly and thoroughly as we could, his readings are now reaching 100 and sometimes make an encouraging dip below 100!  The pain in his feet is mostly gone and feeling is coming back!  He is riding his bicycle daily.  He has found it to be the most effective exercise in bringing his blood sugar readings down.  While we work on Roy’s health and mine incidentally, we’ll linger in Cottonwood, AZ learning the finer points of what there is to enjoy here! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Clarkdale, AZ

We decided to drive over to the historic community of Clarkdale located 4 miles from Cottonwood and 4 miles from Jerome.  Clarkdale sits at an elevation of 3,545' at the convergence of Bitter Creek and the Verde River.  The town was founded in 1912 as a company smelter town by William A. Clark, for his copper mine in nearby Jerome.  Clarkdale was one of the most modern mining towns in the world, including telephone, telegraph, electrical, sewer and spring water services.  It was an early example of a planned community.   
The town center and business district were built in the Spanish Colonial style, and feature the Clark Memorial Clubhouse and Memorial Library, both of which are still in use.  This is the town hall.  It sits on the corner of Main and 9th Street, which is the business district and boundary between Upper and Lower Cottonwood.  
The entire original town site is on the National Register, as the Clarkdale Historic District.  The mine and smelter closed in 1953.  I love the cement work!  It seems to be done this way around town on sidewalk street corners.
As many towns were in the past, Clarkdale was highly segregated.   Upper Clarkdale is the oldest part of the town and was designated for the engineers and executives.  It went from 9th Street/Miller's Hill west to 16th Street.  This is the formal park in Upper Clarkdale.  
It is hard to capture a neighborhood, but this picture was taken in Upper Clarkdale at 13th Street looking towards 16th Street.  If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see a glimpse of the community of Jerome on the mountainside!  
This is the same picture taking location on 13th Street, but looking toward 12th Street.  Lower Clarkdale begins at 9th Street.  The 2010 census for Clarkdale was 4,097. 
This community park is at 7th Street.  Many of the homes from Upper and Lower Clarkdale seem to have been built during the original development of Clarkdale.  The architectural style between the Upper and Lower sections of the community are different and seems to reflect a difference in financial standing.  Lower Clarkdale was for the working class.  The boundaries of Lower Clarkdale are east of 9th Street/Miller Hill down to 4th Street.  The Riverfront section was between 4th Street, the railroad, and the river.  It was sometimes included as part of Lower Clarkdale. 
Off in the valley across Bitter Creek between the train depot and Verde River are Fiesta and Siesta Streets in an area referred to as Patio Town.  Patio Town has run down Four-plex government housing buildings and trailers.  There is a small playground for the children.  Patio Town is located to the right side of the picture.  The Verde Canyon Tour Train depot is located in the valley.  Check out its offerings online.