Our last post for a week or more...

Ironically, we arrived in South Africa, one year ago today. Its been a fantastic year and we're both grateful for the stunning experiences we've had in the bush.  Now, let's see if South Africa can deliver me good health!

This will be the first time since March 2012 that we'll have been incommunicado on this blog for a week or longer.  However, we're so looking forward to sharing the good news that my recovery process is in place and all is well after tomorrow's triple coronary bypass surgery.

Tom will be posting notices on Facebook that are open to the public so feel free to check there if you'd like.  I'm easy to find my name with a few clicks. 

As mentioned in yesterday's post, we decided to leave Marloth Park to come to Nelspruit one day earlier than planned.  The water and power outages weren't something either of us felt like dealing with especially in the hot weather.

As it turned out, the power was out all last night.  That would have been one tough night. We are glad we left.  We spent the night at the lovely Leaves Lodge and Spa, a few minutes drive from the hospital, giving us peace of mind for being so conveniently located.

Today, at noon I'll check into the hospital for the prep required for this type of surgery which includes x-rays (for placement of the heart), blood tests (as a baseline) and a litany of other pre-op procedures you can well imagine.

This morning we headed to a Vodacom store to purchase a SIM card for Tom's phone.  During this past year in South Africa, we never had a need to call one another since we were always together making the SIM in my phone sufficient. 

But, now with him living at the hotel and me in the hospital, we'll need to be able to phone and text one another although he'll be with me most of the time.  Once I'm out of ICU, he'll bring dinner some nights since I'm certain the hospital food won't fit my way of eating. 

When I stayed overnight in the hospital last week after the angiogram, after not having a morsel of food all day, they brought me one chicken leg and a cup of plain spinach, not quite enough nourishment for this patient.  We'll see how that goes.

Now, the waiting game is on regarding the insurance company coming up with the money on time.  With a two-hour time difference between here and the UK, they may only be getting into their offices now and, it takes a few hours to process the funds.  I won't be admitted in time for the noon pre-op until after the insurance provides the funds.  We wait.

And so, dear readers, I wrap this up now again thanking all of you wonderful people for your thoughtful and kind well wishes and prayers.  Please keep an eye out for a post in about seven days or, if I'm healing quickly, perhaps even sooner.

Take care...


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Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2018:
Due to a poor wifi signal, I'm unable to add the year ago photo.

No water in Marloth Park...Electricity teetering...The insurance challenges...

Due to problems with the electricity supply from the provider, Eskom, the water processing plant in Marloth Park is unable to function.  They are working on a solution but it could be days.  Also, it is possible we'll lose electricity as well over the next few hours.

Today is a scorcher, well into the 37C, (99F) range, with high humidity and tonight could be another one of those impossible-to-sleep nights without any relief by taking a shower without the water supply. TIA (this is Africa).  It's the way it goes.

I won't say, "thank goodness' we're leaving here tomorrow morning at 9:00 am for the hospital for triple bypass surgery.  That's not exactly how we feel.  Fortunately, we were able to take quick showers this morning using some of the remaining water in the tank.  Thank goodness that yesterday, I'd done all the laundry for items to bring to the hospital along with clothes for Tom for the week or more ahead.

As I was writing the above few paragraphs the power went out and came back on. about an hour later.  Subsequently, with no water and most likely no power we decided to spend the night in Nelspruit instead of heading out tomorrow morning.

Now back at the lovely Leaves Lodge and Spa who so kindly, have provided us with a discount for the long term stay, we have power, water, and good aircon.  We're set for the night.  Tomorrow, we have to check into the hospital by noon to begin the prep for Tuesday's surgery.

Somehow, I feel better being in Nelspruit three minutes from the hospital.  Now that I know that three of the four main arteries to my heart are 100% blocked, there's a smidgen more peace of mind until tomorrow.  Plus, I'm on medication to prevent a heart attack and, I have an ample supply of nitroglycerin in case of an emergency.  Wow!  Who knew?

Now aware of my situation it makes all the sense in the world to me.  In the mornings when I'd shower and dress for the day, I found myself feeling tired from these simple tasks.  At times, merely walking to the laundry room with an armful of dirty laundry made every step feel as if it were a chore. 

When we had dinner parties, I found myself wondering how my energy would hold up with all the cooking, prep and serving required for such an event.  Now I know and yes, I am grateful but none the less, a little terrified.  This is big surgery and I'm not any stronger, braver or tougher than the rest of us.

As for the insurance...on the day of the angiogram, at a cost of ZAR 80,000, (US $5871), the insurance company turned us down claiming I had an undisclosed pre-existing condition which was not the case. 

At the time we applied for the insurance over six years ago, I provided our 20-year family physician's contact information and copies of our medical records as requested including the three prescription medications I was taking (Tom takes no medication), one of which is a low dose hypertensive mediation.

The rep at the Nelspruit Mediclinic worked very hard with the insurance company, along with the doctor to no avail.  They wouldn't approve the claim before the procedure.  As per the hospital requirement, payment must be made in advance of treatment with or without insurance company approval. 

We paid out of pocket using our debit card since we wanted to avoid using regular credit cards.  We use credit cards to pay for all living expenses and future travel costs.  We didn't want to put such a large charge onto any of our cards.

Once we paid, we began the six-hour wait for our turn for the angiogram.  When the doctor discovered the magnitude of the blockages, he knew he couldn't do any stents.  The only option was triple bypass surgery. 

I stayed in the hospital overnight and in the morning before we left the hospital we met with the wonderful billing rep Trudy, to see how much the bypass surgery would cost and, ultimately how much money we'd have to come up with.

The estimated cost for the surgery was ZAR 700,000, (US $51,370) including some but not all of the doctor's fees. (We see how that rolls out).  With the rejection on the angiogram, we certainly didn't think they consider this added cost and again, we were declined.

Our only option was to liquidate assets immediately to ensure we'd have the funds in place by Tuesday morning.  The financial institution has a three business day turnaround in releasing funds. 

We called and spoke to the rep and for the first time in our lives stated, "This is a life-threatening emergency. We need the funds to be available immediately." By midnight Friday, the money was in our account.  Whew!

In the meantime, Friday night, Kathy and Don, had invited us to dinner at their lovely river view home in Marloth Park with friends Linda and Ken also in attendance. 

Before we left the house, I decided to call the insurance company one more time as well as write a letter I'd consider one of my better uses of the English language.

At this point, we were on pins and needles waiting for the money to come through in time but we had a good evening together with our dear friends while they all fussed over me, more than I'd ever imagined possible. 

Toward the end of the evening, I checked my phone as I had several times, and there it was...the insurance company instructed me to log into our account to find a letter waiting for us...they approved the bypass surgery!  They included a claim form for which we could file for reimbursement for the angiogram.

Sharing this news with our friends, as we sat around a bonfire in their garden, only added to our sense of relief.  Last night, the six of us went to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner and once again it was a celebratory occasion in support of my upcoming surgery on Tuesday. 

They presented me with gifts, hugs, and kisses, as did Dawn and Leon, owners of our favorite restaurant who provided a bottle of champagne and Amarula shots. I enjoyed a glass of champagne while the others tossed down the sweet shot.

Again, this morning before we headed to Nelspruit, Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken stopped by to offer more support and love.  How did I ever get so lucky? Couple this with Tom's love and attention and zillions of comments and email messages from our readers, family members, and friends, I couldn't feel more loved.

May these warm wishes and prayers result in a positive outcome and I will be the happiest and most grateful person on the planet.  The pain and discomfort afterward will pale in comparison to my joy.

Thank you everyone... thank you with all of my heart!


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Photo from one year ago today, February 10, 2018:
After all the whale watching trips we'd done on tours these past years, to finally see plenty in Antarctica was a dream come true.  For more photos, please click here.

Finally a diagnosis and..we don't like it...Oh, my!..

Ms. Bushbuck always appears to have a smile on her face.  Love her and her offspring!
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
The four piglets certainly have grown over the past six months.  They are so fun to watch.
Sorry I didn't post yesterday.  With the news from the doctor on Thursday after the angiogram, I just didn't have it in me to sit down and write on my phone's small screen.  My laptop was in a repair shop in Nelspruit while I stayed overnight in the hospital.  Thankfully, they got it working again. There was an issue with the electrical plug-in.

I'll get to the bad news first, to avoid drama and anticipation.  I have three 100% blocked coronary arteries including what is called the "Widow Maker" (in this case, the 'Widower Maker).  Basically, I am a walking time bomb. I need coronary bypass surgery and I need it fast.

It's scheduled at the hospital with a thoracic surgeon that works with the cardiologist I've been seeing.  They both will perform with the surgery.  I feel as if I'm in good hands based on the number of positive comments from locals who know them well.  I have no choice. At this point, I cannot fly on an airplane or even be active for that matter...too risky.

We are both shocked.  How did this happen? The doctors say there was nothing I could have done to prevent this situation.  Heredity is the driving force and as hard as I've tried to stay healthy my entire life there was no way I could have prevented this outcome.

Of course, we are very grateful a diligent doctor, Dr. Theo Stonkquist, a GP in the little town of Komatipoort had the insight and expertise to insist I have an exercise stress test at his office last Saturday when I complained of intermittent jaw pain which was later described as angina. 

Although I breezed through the stress test with relative ease, barely out of breath, the printout didn't look good.  Dr. Theo immediately contacted Dr. Fanie in Nelspruit on "Whatsapp" and sent him the report.  He was adamant we get to Nelspruit to the Mediclinic first thing Monday morning for more tests.

For the early morning appointment, we booked a hotel near the hospital and stayed two nights. On Tuesday I had a CAT scan of my arteries and failed that test and others miserably.  An angiogram was scheduled for Thursday. 

We returned to Marloth Park, spent one night and called Dr. Fanie the following morning at 9:00 am.  He was short and to the point.  I definitely needed an angiogram promptly when the CAT scan showed one artery had a 100% blockage.

In the cath lab the next afternoon, after a many hour wait for my turn, I was told I'd be awake for the angiogram with only a mild sedative placed under my tongue.  Actually, it was quite interesting watching all the monitors showing my heart and its arteries.  The doctor, anesthesiologist and about seven support staff were informative and supportive.
Ms. Bushbuck's baby has sure grown over the past many months as well.
We'd hope he'd insert a stent and I'd be done.  But, not the case.  The angiogram revealed, before my own eyes, that three of my coronary arteries are 100% blocked. If I'd had a heart attack, he explained, I wouldn't survive it.  I'm so grateful this was discovered before we left for Kenya, known for not-so-good medical care.

Toward the end of the hour-long angiogram, the doctor explained (and showed me) why stents were impossible to place.  The only alternative was a triple coronary bypass which is scheduled for Tuesday next week, a mere three days from now.

I'm on medication in the interim and was told to avoid anything strenuous or stressful.  The strenuous part is a breeze.  The stressful?  Well, I can't imagine anyone on the planet not feeling a bit stressed over such a thing as open heart surgery, including striping arteries from their legs to replace those blocked in the heart. 

However, we are both so grateful this was discovered in time and pray for a safe and good outcome and speedy recovery.  As they say, "we may be down but we're not out."  Hopefully, six weeks from the time of the surgery, we'll be boarding our ship from San Antonio, Chile.  No pressure, just wishful thinking. 

No doubt, I will be a good patient and do everything I can to recover as prescribed and we'll continue on with our world travels.

As for the posts??? We will continue tomorrow, Sunday and again on Monday while I staying overnight in the hospital for Tuesday's surgery.  As of Tuesday, February 12th the posts will cease for five to seven days until I'm well enough to report.  I can't wait for that day!

Tom will be regularly posting updates on my Facebook page which is open to the public.  Please start checking back here by next Sunday.

Tomorrow, we'll be sharing the news on how this situation has been handled by our annual international health insurance company which information may be helpful for those traveling the world, expats and those contemplating traveling.

No words can describe how grateful we are for the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, and readers from all over the world.  We simply can't keep up with the email messages, comments, and texts.  We'd love to respond to each and every one of you but there simply isn't enough hours in the day.  We can only be humbled by your love, prayers, and kindness.

A special thanks to friends Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken for inviting us for dinner last night (which was the originally planned night of our going away party - since canceled) and making the evening so filled with caring conversation, love and laughter.  Tonight, we all meet up again at Jabula, our usual Saturday night out.

Thank you...from the bottom of my "heart."

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Photo from one year ago today, February 9, 2018:

A sea of penguins.  For more details and final photos, please click here.

Sorry, no regular post today!

Tom and I are patiently waiting for my turn.  Tomorrow will be a new and brighter day and we'll post the outcome of today's findings.

Again, .thanks for all the prayers and we'll wishes!  Astounding!  We are so lucky to have all of you rooting for us!

Back to you no later than 24 hours from now.
Be well. 

The medical saga continues...The news isn't so good...



Ms. Kudu, Willie and Mike, and Joe.

Willie and warthogs, all getting along.

Wildebeest Willie, he's quite a guy!

Willie, six kudus, and a few pigs stopped by last night.


Basket stopped by last night.  His right ear has healed but is mostly gone. 




"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

Bushbanies

It's almost 2130 hours, 9;30 pm, Wednesday night and we're back in Nelspruit at the Leaves Lodge & Spa.  The conversation with the doctor this morning was short and to the point, "You have a 100% blockage in the artery in front of the heart (the left anterior) and you need angioplasty immediately, or possibly open heart surgery."

My mouth dropped open.  I can't believe this.  Nor can Tom.  How did this happen?  Of course, we're both wrecks.  Now, we wait in Nelspruit for the approval from our insurance company.  If they decline, we must pay the entire bill out of pocket, a huge unexpected expense. 

If we miss the window of opportunity for tomorrow's procedure, the angioplasty, we'll have to wait until next Tuesday.  The doctor only goes to surgery on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We won't make our Thursday flight to Kenya, nor will we make our one-week hotel stay (prepaid) in Kenya.

If open heart surgery is necessary, oh dear, that will be at least six weeks during which we'll have to stay in South Africa.  We'll lose tens of thousands of dollars in prepaid future travels, flights and a cruise back to the US.  

But, its the way it is and we have no choice but to figure this out.  In reality, we knew a day like this would come.  We just didn't think it would be now.  My laptop died tonight.  I am writing this on my phone.  Oh.  

I couldn't move photos around.  Will fix at later date.  Will be back as soon as possible with updates.

Thanks for all the love.  Too many to respond to but will keep tryimg.  You people are wonderful! Thanks so much.olio
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Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2018:
The seas were wild through the Drake Passage in Antarctica as we headed back to Ushuaia, Argentina.  It wasn't as wild as it could have been.  But, as usual, Tom and I felt fine, free of any seasickness.  For more, please click here.

The medical saga continues...One year ago photos today...

Icebergs are so interesting and unusual.  This was massive, many stories high,
Today's post will not include photos other than the "one year ago" photo at the bottom of today's post and a few other photos from the "one year ago" link.  See here for that post.  

We're sitting in the hospital lobby with a very slow WiFi connection, awaiting the results of the cardiac CAT scan I had a short time ago.  This test will determine if I need angioplasty or more.  
Yesterday, we'd been told to call the doctor on Wednesday for the results.  But today, the radiology department staff said they'll send the results to the doctor within two hours after which we'll see the cardiologist, Dr. Fanie Fourie, once again for the final diagnosis.

In 2007, I had a cardiac ablation in the "cath lab" at Park Nicollet Hospital in Minnesota.  I was diagnosed with an extra "electrical" valve in my heart that was causing an extremely high pulse.  Once I had the procedure, I was told my heart was now perfectly normal with no plague or other issues.

However, subsequent to having a cardiac ablation regardless of the reason, an EKG can show as being abnormal when in fact, the heart and arteries are fine.  I've been hoping for this outcome but the recent jaw pain and the few abnormal ultrasound scans yesterday have dampened my hope.
A Crabcatcher Seal taking the plunge in Antarctica.
After the ablation, within a week, I was back at the health club, pounding it out, and feeling quite fine.  There's been no incident since that period until this recent jaw pain was diagnosed as possible angina, lack of blood flow to my jaw, possibly due to one or more clogged arteries.  So here we are today at Nelspruit Hospital Mediclinic awaiting my fate.

Rather than drive the 90 minutes back to Marloth Park, by waiting for the results today, we'll avoid a return trip if I need to have some invasive procedure or surgery, providing they can schedule it within the next 24 hours.  Otherwise, we'll drive back to Marloth Park to return sometime in the next several days.

At this point, our visas run out on February 15th and we've planned to spend the night here in Nelspruit on February 14th in preparation for our early morning flight to Kenya the following morning.  Oh, so much is up in the air!

Thus, most likely today, within the next few hours, we'll know what course we must take.  If we weren't leaving in 10 days, this would definitely be less complicated.  But, with our visa status, prepaid flight and expensive prepaid photography tour in Kenya, none of which is refundable, it certainly is cause for concern, right along with the health issues.

In our usual way, we'll forge ahead, attempting to stay as optimistic as possible while in each of our minds, we roll around the worst and best case scenarios.  Its impossible not to do so and also impractical not to have a backup plan in place.
The champagne and flute carriers were loaded onto all of the 10 passenger Zodiac boats.
At this point, we've only discussed the angioplasty possibility.  The recovery for this is only a few days along with a week or two of taking it easy.  We could make it...the visa expiration date and, the photography tour in Kenya which doesn't officially begin until one week after we arrive in Nairobi giving me plenty of time to take it easy at the lovely hotel in Nairobi.

We don't, at this point, want to project any more serious treatment than the angioplasty.  Why put ourselves into a further tither of worry and concern?  Besides, all of this could be a moot point if the test results came out good enough for a "watch and see" and possible medication route which may alleviate the issues discovered.  Oh boy!  I'd be jumping for joy at that possibility!

We'll know soon enough.  We'll report back when we do.  Both of us want to express our gratitude to all of our readers who've commented and written to us by email.  Also, we know undoubtedly, that those who didn't write, are rooting for us as well.  Thanks to all of you!

We'll be back at you soon!

Footnote:  As of the time of posting today's story, it's 1400 hours (2:00 pm) and we're now back in Marloth Park.  After waiting for almost two hours we were told the report won't be available until tomorrow morning after all, at which time we're scheduled to speak to the cardiologist at 9:00 am.  Thus we decided to drive back to Marloth.  Tomorrow's post will include the decision we've made based on the collective test results.


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Photo from one year ago today, February 5, 2018:

There we were, sitting on a Zodiac boat in Pleneau Bay, Antarctica sipping on French champagne.  Was that ever fun! For more photos, please click here.

We're still in Nelspruit...More medical tests required...Time is rapidly ticking by for our required departure...


A rickety old bridge no longer in use near the Municipal campground, bird hide and the hippo pool.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A hippo and a cattle egret have symbiosis in their relationship.
It's 1430 hours (2:30 PM) and we're still in Nelspruit.  The first round of the medical tests is completed.  Unfortunately, I didn't fall into the 25% margin of error I was hoping for and tomorrow morning's test will tell more.

We stayed at the beautiful Leaves Lodge and Spa at the edge of town no more than three minutes from the Nelspruit hospital and adjoining Mediclinic.  We checked out of the hotel this morning, optimistic for a good result. 

But alas, we had to check back into the hotel a short time ago when the doctor explained more tests were necessary before a determination can be made.  Tomorrow morning, the CAT scan will be performed but we won't have results until Wednesday afternoon.

Subsequently, we'll drive back to Marloth Park to await the results.  I can only imagine our readers out there who've been through this same process ultimately ending up with angioplasty or heart surgery of one form or another.  Surely, you can relate to the worry and concern coupled with the angst of the unknown.

After a lifetime of taking care of my health, exercising, eating a healthy diet and staying cognizant of stressful situations, I'm disappointed to discover my efforts were no guaranty of avoiding cardiovascular issues in the senior years.

However, the doctor explained had I not been so astute about my health, I could have had a massive coronary and not be here to tell this story.  Of course, I'm grateful!

It goes to show that genetics play a huge role in our health. My mother's side of the family suffered from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.  As a young girl, I observed all this ill health and decided I'd take care of myself in an attempt to avoid obesity and diabetes by exercising and a healthy diet.  In that area, I've succeeded.
A giraffe we spotted in the bush before the rains.
But the powerful genetics of heart disease isn't easy to repel so here I am now trying to figure it all out, only two weeks from my 71st birthday.  Of course, I'm worried and so is Tom.  On top of that, we're supposed to leave for Kenya in 11 days, when our South Africa visas expire.  If we don't hightail out of South Africa by February 15th, we'd be considered "undesirables."  Oh, good grief.

We'd be foolhardy and flippant to dismiss this as a mere inconvenience in the realm of our world travels.  Without proper care, we could conceivably have little time left to continue our journey.  

Remember?  We've always said the only thing that would cause us to stop traveling was bad health.  Now, we're determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure we can continue on.

Before closing, I must say thank you to each and every one of our readers, family, and friends who've sent the kindest and most "heartfelt" prayers and good wishes for a positive outcome.  

During this quiet time in the hotel in the past 24 hours, I've spent the majority of my time returning email messages from kind and thoughtful readers/friends. At the moment, Tom is watching a replay of yesterday's SuperBowl game and voraciously munching of a bag of salted peanuts, a great stress reducer.

I'm sipping a hot cup of Rooibos tea and thinking about how nice it will be when all of this is resolved, one way or another, and we can go back to being excited about the future.

Be well.
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Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2018:

Many icebergs form spectacular shapes, portals, and openings.  For more photos, please click here.

We're off to Nelspruit, hotel tonight...Hospital tomorrow....Remembering....


A few months ago we shot this photo of two Big Daddies sharing pellets.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A  pair of male lions, possibly brothers, checking out their options for lunch.
It was February 4, 2014, that I dropped my then laptop and totally destroyed the touch monitor.  It was impossible to replace the monitor if parts were available since the cost to do so would be prohibitive, more than the cost of a new computer.

To see the post on the day I dropped it, please click here.  To see the post from the following day, please click here, when our dear friend and driver Okey Dokey drove me to Nelspruit to a computer store to purchase a replacement.
I wasn't thrilled with the HP laptop I'd purchased but it managed to get me through until we arrived in Hawaii in December 2014.  I ultimately purchased a new Acer model in January 2015, the one I'm still using that I purchased at a Costco store in Kona.


While in the US in June 2017 we purchased a new laptop for me knowing that our extensive travel resulted in tremendous wear and tear on laptops and didn't expect it to last more than a few years.  
Handsome male lion lounging under a tree on a hot day.
As it turned out, Tom needed to start using the new laptop we were holding for me when his laptop died about six months ago.  Finally, we were down to two laptops, no longer needing to haul a third as a back-up.

The question remained...would my laptop hold out until we arrive in the US in April 2019 at over four years old?  Now, with only 64 days until we arrive in the US (staying for 17 days) I feel fairly confident, if I don't drop it, it will last until we purchase a replacement.  It has a few issues for which I figured out workarounds. 

Replacing digital equipment is a challenge when traveling the world for as long as we have been on the move.  For us, with all of our accounting and financials, blog postings, photos and storage of TV shows and movies, no tablet can fulfill our requirements.  
Ms, Bushbuck and Baby stop by every day. They love lettuce.
Plus, I find I need the bigger monitor and easy touchscreen available on these Acer products along with a lighted keyboard.  As a lousy typist (still, after all these years) I need a lighted keyboard for nighttime typing.

Many have suggested we switch to Apple products but we've been PC users since the beginning and have no desire to change.  Also, with the higher cost of Apple products along with the added wear and tear from constant travel, this makes no financial sense to us.  

At most, in the US, we can purchase exactly what I need for under ZAR 9321 (US $700) whereby Apple products are priced three times (or more) higher.  Our philosophy is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" or, "Love the one you're with!"
A pair of giraffes at the Crocodile River.
Yes, we do try new things, obviously, right?  But, when it comes to areas of our lives of world travel, we find systems we have in place came about from years of experience, trial and error.  And yes, we're open to new technology, making every effort to research new modalities that may serve us well now or in the future.

So today, as we make our way to Nelspruit for my upcoming hospital stay (hopefully, short term) I'm reminded of that time five years ago when Okey Dokey and I drove to Nelspruit laughing at funny stories we told along the way.

A short time later, at the mall, we realized that South Africa wasn't necessarily the best place for me to purchase new digital equipment with limited options available to suit my requirements.
Giraffes wandering down a dirt road in the park.
Tomorrow, we're hoping to be back later in the day, after the first round of tests are completed and we know more.  Thanks to good wishes from many of our readers.  You mean the world to us!

To our friends and family in the US, have a fantastic SuperBowl Sunday!
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Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2018:
The whaling equipment in Deception Island, Antarctica and its housing were destroyed by a volcano eruption in 1969 and operations ceased.  For more photos, please click here.

Medical concern, off to hospital...Check out the "year ago photo" below!...Outstanding sighting!


Many refer to impalas as "McDonald's "due to the big "M" on their backside and...how they provide ample meals for the big cats.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Mr. Monitor Lizard says, "Pool time!"
Over the past few hours, I've been deliberating over whether or not to mention a health concern I'm facing at this time.  After careful consideration, and many discussions between Tom and I, we decided to go ahead and tell this story as it unfolds over the next several days.

Why reveal such a personal scenario?  I'm not looking for sympathy, empathy or attention.  Our lives are filled with wonderful feelings and experiences.  These particular words don't necessarily fall into a category of words that typically apply to us.
A herd of impalas.
If we wanted attention, we'd go on TV and tell our story.  But, we prefer to live our lives of world travel with all of YOU who, with such dedication, have followed along with us all of these years.  Your warmth, kindness, and support are all we ever need to fulfill us in writing this daily story and photos of our experiences.

Subsequently, we decided to tell this story in hopes that if only one person reads it and learns something from it that may ultimately inspire them to improve their own health, this personal expose will have been worthwhile.  

At times, people ask, "How can you let everyone in our your personal business?" When we began posting we knew we were going to forfeit a part of our private selves.  
Lonely wildebeest.
Simply writing about places we've been, restaurants in which we've dined, animals we've observed in the wild and cultures we've explored in many lands, would make us similar to the zillions of travel logs and blogs so readily available online.

We wanted to touch upon the "human side," of world travel, the pros and cons, the ups and downs and often our own personal foibles of which we have many and freely express here.  At times, our vulnerability is deafening, even in our own ears.
At times, these lone males wander and graze the bush in small or large herds, known as an "implausibility."
Thus, tomorrow morning we're driving to Nelspruit to stay in a hotel near the hospital for my 8:00 am cardiology appointment with one of the top cardiology specialists in South Africa.  (After all, it was South Africa where Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant in December 1967).

This morning, I had an exercise stress test with Dr. Theo Stonkquist in Komatipoort, one of the finest doctors I've ever met.  At the end of the test which I'd thought I'd passed with flying colors, breezing through the process, Dr. Theo informed me the test indicates I have a blocked artery.

All my life, I've made every effort to stay healthy when I witness many family members falling prey to many conditions including considerable diabetic and heart-related conditions.  I stayed slim, exercised, ate a healthy diet and did everything I could to avert such a possibility.  As we now know from science, our genes are more powerful than our dreams of good health.
This implausibility appears to be females and their young.
In minutes, Dr. Theo reached his most highly regarded colleague in Nelspruit (after sending him my results) and immediately made an appointment for me for Monday morning at 8:00 am.

We've already booked a hotel near the hospital and will make the drive tomorrow (Sunday), stay overnight at the hotel and be only minutes from the hospital on Monday morning. Most likely, I'll be in hospital overnight.

I'll have a battery of scans and tests after which a decision will be made as to the next step which could result in an angiogram and stent.  I'm hanging onto the hope that I may fall into the 25% margin of error category based on the stress test I had today.
A female lion at a distance in Kruger National Park.
However, with awful recurring pain, I've had in my jaws for weeks which the doc thinks is angina, I'm not overly optimistic that I'll fall into that 25% margin of error.  As a matter of fact, it was that very intermittent fierce jaw pain that prompted me to go see Dr. Theo on Thursday.

We'll see how it goes.  There's good WiFi at the hospital and surely, if I'm able, I will do a post on Monday after the tests, albeit short with updates.  Please understand I may not be able to post if the tests or procedures continue longer than expected.  In that case, most likely, there will be a short post, before the end of the day on Monday or sometime on Tuesday.

Am I scared?  Sure.  I'd be a fool to say this is not frightening.  I have no doubt many of you reading this, who have been through a similar situation in the past, were apprehensive and a bit frightened.  Dr. Theo prescribed three medications for me to aid in preventing a heart attack which I started immediately (including nitroglycerin in the event of a problem).

If optimism and positive thinking were a certainty for a good outcome, many of us would never worry about a thing.  But, we're human, we're infallible and we're subject to emotions ingrained in us to protect; ourselves, our loved ones; and the world around us.

Be well!  Be healthy and carry on!


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Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2018:

The captain maneuvered the ship so we could see this in more detail. This was a stunning sighting...Chinstrap Penguins on an iceberg!  For more Antarctica photos, please click here.

Looking toward the future. ..House hunting???...One year ago...shocking photo!!...


When we arrived at the holiday home Louise was showing us, per our request, we spotted these two young giraffes resting under the shade of a tree. 
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
This gentle little soul is "Little's Friend."  He stops by each day without Little to see what's going on.  He's easy to spot with his extra tiny tusks, much smaller than Little's from which he derived his name.
We'll be returning to Marloth Park in March, 2021.  It seems to be a long time from now but it's only in 25 months.  As quickly as time flies in this life of world travel, 25 months is not so long ago.  

Twenty five months ago was January 1, 2017.  On that date, we were living in Penguin, Tasmania wrapping up a stay of a period of three months.  Penguin was one of Tom's favorite places we lived during this past six years and three months.  See this link for that date in Penguin.

It seems like only yesterday we were living in Penguin over the holiday season.  The memories from that quaint little town are often a topic of conversation when we reminince over where we've been and what we've done.

Thus, looking 25 months into the future doesn't seem so far away.  But, this time I won't be thinking about Marloth Park as much as I had before we returned last Feburary 11th.  After a year here, my cup is full and I'll patiently incorporate this magical place into my thoughts of the future as I do aniticipating other adventures on the horizon.
The house backed up to the parklands where many animals gather which is the factor that peaked our interest.
Our wonderful friends and property manager, Louise (and Danie) will no doubt ensure we have an ideal house to rent (no, not purchase - we'll never do that!) for the short three months we'll spend here in March, 2021.

While driving through the park we'd noticed a property Louise manages that backs up to the parklands.  Often, when we drove past that property, there are many giraffes at the backside of the house which peaked our curiosity.  We asked Louise is we could see it before we leave in 13 days.

As it turns out, this house we've been renting for the past year, is ideal for our desires but may not be available in two years.  The owners intend to sell it and if it sells, it may not be offered as a holiday home by the new owners.  If that's the case, we'll have to find another house to rent.  Of course, Louise and Danie will ensure we have something suitable for our needs when we return.
They sat quietly unpreturbed by our presence.
What are our needs in renting a house in Marloth Park? Here is the criteria in order of preference:

1.  Excellent open garden space and veranda for wildlife viewing
2.  Quality unlimited WiFi connection
3.  Main floor living - In Africa, often steps to are uneven and a surefire risk for falling.  With my delicate spine, I can't take that risk, requiring a main floor kitchen, bedroom, bath and living area.  Many homes in the park seem to have a living area on a separate level from the main floor bedroom.  This doesn't work for us due to this reason.  Although we seldom spend time in a lounge or living room, (we're always outdoors) we prefer that option for rainy and/or windy days.
4.  Good kitchen for food prep preferably with ample refrigerator space and an oven.  Believe it or not, some holiday homes don't have an oven when typical tourists don't stay long to consider using an oven.
5.  Comfortable queen sized bed or larger.

In reality, these aren't outrageous requirements.  They may apply to many senior citizens for their own homes wherever they may reside or any potential holiday situations.  We've rented many larger properties with an upstairs level but met our requirements for the main floor.
Such beauty.  We'll miss all of this.
As it turned out when we looked at that house adjoining the parklands, everything was wrong.  Louise knew that house wouldn't work for us but knew we needed to assess it ourselves since we loved the location.

The main floor had two bedrooms and a kitchen but no living space whatsoever which was located up a steep flight of steps.  The veranda was facing the dirt road, not the parklands, and there was literally no where to sit other than on the dirt to observe the wildlife in the rear of the house.

Many tourists come to stay in Marloth Park for a few days while they head to Kruger during daylight hours.  Spotting wildlife in the area is all they require during their short stays.  In this case, that house could be suitable for those with no issues navigating steep stairs.

But, we satisfied our curiosty and chatting with Louise, and Danie who had come along to say hello, they assured us we'll have no worries as to an affordable suitable house for us in 25 months.  We have no doubt they figure it out for us when the time comes near.

Today, the heat and humidity have returned.  "Little" stopped by to lounge in the cement pond and dine on some pellets, apples and carrots.  As we go through the balance of the fruit and veg, we realize we won't be buying anymore produce.  

We'll finish the remaining three 40 kg bags of pellets over these next 13 days and we'll be on our way.

May your day be rewarding and fulfilling.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2018:
It was literally a "sea of penguins" along the strip of beach in Saint Andrews Bay, South Georgia Islands, Antarctica.  For more photos, please click here.