March 2020 and a new trip starting hopefully in April

It seems the year is rolling along and time seems to pass quickly. It’s hard to believe it’s the end of March already. I finally wrote two previous stories for my activities of September through February. In addition to going to the gym five days a week, reading LOTS of books, and going to the events I wrote about in the posts prior to this one, I am still cooking, baking, and making almost everything I eat from scratch. I don’t want to eat all of the cookies, bread, and other things I make so I share it with my friends and other people I know through places I go to like the grocery store, mechanics, doctors office, and other similar places.

I am still having some health issues, but I think my body is finally settling in to trying to get back to a somewhat normal rhythm. Starting this past fall my body was doing strange things, even for me. My heart was beating differently like fluttering and beating hard when I was sitting and reading, headaches were severe, severe pain in my lower back pain from my arthritis in my lumbar spine, intense pain in my left hand and arm, and a few other issues. Since my four operations in 2010, I have been having some serious and intense health issues, and pain, which I have written about periodically. I decided to get massages at least once a month, sometimes more often. I am worth spending the money and I think it’s been helping me. A friend of mine is a massage therapist, so she comes over so I don’t have to go to her studio. We get to visit for a while before my massage and I make us something to eat for after and we have a nice time catching up on life and our adventures and activities.

Christmas Eve night I ended up in the emergency for four hours due to extremely high blood pressure and a severe headache which I also had when my blood pressure was normal. I have been to more doctors and different types of doctors in the past three months than in the past two or three years. I even went and had my eyes checked and found out I needed to get new glasses since my vision got worse. By the time the doctor ordered a heart monitor and it was put on me my heart decided to start working okay and nothing showed being wrong with my heart, which is a great thing.

I went to a neurologist and she ordered an MRI of my brain and Pituitary gland to see if we can find why I got such bad headaches. I have to go back to her the end of this week for the results, however, when I went to my primary doctor the other day he said one of the things the MRI showed is that there is a micro adenoma (tumor) in my Pituitary gland. It’s very small thankfully, this could be the cause of some of my health issues and my thyroid levels being elevated. In 1982, I had surgery on my Pituitary gland since there was tumor growing in it and putting pressure on my optic nerve. It took about 18 months of tests and waiting for the tumor to grow to a size that the doctor felt it was time to operate. We are not close to that size, however, I don’t think I will go through that surgery again, it took it’s toll on my body functions and it was a little over a year recouperation time.

I know medicine has changed a lot since then. I am not concerned about this tumor. I am going to think about it like the other tumors and cysts I have now, including the large tumor in my abdomen. I don’t give them permission to be in my body. I think about them as a ball that is there, but, not attached to any organ, nerve, tissue, etc. even though I know they are. I ignore them, except when they cause pain or complications, even then I still do my best to ignore them. I visualize them gone. Something is working, the abdominal tumor has not grown in 22 months, according to the CT scan I had in January.

I am still drinking my glass of celery juice I make almost every morning and it’s helped my back pain be lessened and on many several days gone, thankfully. It’s not fun waking up with pain in several places in my body every day and not wanting to move or get out of bed. But, I make myself do it every day even if I don’t want to. Until 2010, whenever I had operations they were not four in one year, I was younger, and after several months the pain would be gone and my body was normal, whatever that is. Since 2010, that has not been the case. I have been in almost constant pain and have had health issues and complications. I have a new normal, and it changes from time to time for a different new normal. I didn’t write about it for several years, only my close friends knew what I was dealing with and going through.

Then one of my close friends who also has serious health issues told me I should write about it on my website to give hope to others. So, I went back to the beginning of my stories in 2011 and added wording about my health issues and pain. So for the past few years I write about it every now and then like this story to show that no matter what we deal with we can still live life to the fullest that we can.

Perhaps we have to modify our activities, but life still happens and we can have fulfilling experiences. I refuse to be a victim and just sit and feel sorry for myself and let life happen. I choose to be proactive and live life as best I can. Some days it’s more than on other day. But I do push myself and not just sit feeling down or get depressed. It’s been ten years now that I have been going through almost constant pain, some days a lot more intense than other days. Thankfully, it’s now four days that I have not had a headache or back pain after having it for several months. My heart is pumping correctly, my blood pressure is under control. I still have other issues, and now this new tumor but it will all work out the way God has it planned.

My part is to continue to keep a positive attitude, look for all of the things I have to be grateful for… which are so very many. I focus on the positive. There are days that I tell God that I am tired of the pain and limitations I have, but then God puts people in my life that have more serious issues than I do, whether it be physical, monetary, or spiritual. Sometimes it’s so I can share the message of hope and gratitude. It shows me and confirms that I still have a purpose to be alive. It also gives me hope and inspiration.

I did not go on a trip in my camper van last year due to some health issues. I decided it’s time to take another trip this year. I am not going to let my health issues control my life again. As in previous years, I can hurt anywhere. There are three fire chiefs that stay in touch with me and a mechanic friend I made near one of the chiefs. They have been asking me to come visit them again since it’s been several years since I visited them. I think that is a great thing to do this year.

I have started getting ready for this trip. I had mechanical work done on my camper van to get it ready for the trip. I am hoping that there are no issues this year, even minor ones, but I know that if something happens I will be in a place or situation where it can be resolved. It seems every trip I take that something needs attention, my experience is that God has never left me stranded. One year the back step motor went out when the step was down, another was windows leaking water, or the refrigerator or air conditioner stopped working. In 2017, the transmission decided to stop working with no warning, another time it was minor needing to replace the auxiliary batteries. Maybe this year all will be well.

I know that God is in charge and has taken care of me all along the journey. I have driven about 80,000 miles in the camper van in the 15 years that I have owned it. My camper van had 25,000 miles on it when I bought it in 2005, and it was 8 years old. Now she is 22 years old and I am sure she has enjoyed the adventures and experiences we have had together. We have had some amazing and wonderful experiences as we traveled around the United States. Since 2011, I have documented the journey in my camper and my life and it’s nice every now and then to look back and read a story and look at pictures in the albums. There are some things I forgot about, one was holding a baby alligator at the fire station in Georgia. Or I look at pictures and remember the experience and feeling like standing in the snow at Crater Lake, Mount Ranier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

The long trip I took and went away for a few months was the summer of 2018 when I helped a family in north Florida on their farm. That was great and I had a kitchen to use because I also cooked meals and ate with the family and had a washer and dryer to use. Unless I am at a friends house, I wash my clothes and towels in a bucket and hang them on a chair to dry. If there is no shower house where I am camping I wash my hair and me using a hose at a faucet, and use a washcloth to was me. I used to go to a laundromat but found I didn’t like doing that and waiting hours for the clothes to be washed and dried.

So, since I now make all of my food from scratch I was trying to figure out how to do it as I travel in my camper van. I can’t take my Kitchenaid Mixer and attachments or my Vitamix because they are too large, as is my air fryer oven and my 6 quart pressure cooker. So, I bought a small 3 quart instapot pressure cooker and have been using it and it will work in my camper if I have electric, and maybe also operate on my generator, which won’t work for my air fryer oven since it is a more powerful voltage.

I have a Ninja master prep with three different size containers and I have been using it at home to see if it will work for my needs. I used it to make my celery juice, it doesn’t grind it as fine as the Vitamix, but it is okay to drink. I used it to make a cake batter, bread, and several other things I eat and I think by bringing two containers of the Ninja I can make foods almost the same as I do with the Kitchenaid and Vitamix. I will bring my hand crank pasta maker so I can make pasta and crackers. I only have a small toaster oven that will work in the camper with my generator, or electric if I have connections. It’s small and works fine, I have used it to bake desserts and chicken, fish, meat, etc. I would like to take my larger toaster oven, but space is an issue and so is how to run it if I am not plugged into electric.

It’s going to be fine and I am up for the challenge. I will also bring a few canned goods like chicken, soup, beans, pumpkin, etc. Of course I will bring flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and other things to bake with. I am bringing my silicone baking cups that I can use in my toaster oven rather than taking muffin pans that take up more space. I think washing the items may be more of a challenge unless I am at a campground. I have some meat and fruit along with some food I made and froze to put in my tiny freezer to eat while traveling. While visiting the fire chiefs they said I could use their kitchens to make food if I would like to. Also, in Georgia at the fire station, like the last time I was there they let me use the shower and stay in their break room to watch television and cook. When I am at the fire stations, we usually have a cookout which is great fun.

Evidently, Google and/or WordPress made some changes and I can’t figure out what I need to modify, but it seems that I won’t be able to update my travel map buttons to show my route anymore. It was nice being able to see the routes I took for each trip. I still use maps and my GPS as I travel. Every night and morning before I head out to a new destination I look at my maps, Atlas, and campground books to see what route I want to take or maybe where I want to stop for the day.

It seems that this new Virus and all of the panic the media and others are creating because of it is changing life and causing people to panic and alter lives. Based on seeing the food supply and empty shelves in almost every department at stores it seems people think that there is not going to be food to eat or clean water to drink. Paper products and other items like alcohol, disinfectants, aloe gel, hand sanitizer, etc. are almost non existent. There are long lines just to get in to a store. The line at Costco last week to get water or paper products was from the front of the store, around the side of the building to the gas pumps. If people would just get what they need and not panic there would be enough supply for everyone.

I am not panicking or changing much of my life. It’s frustrating and I feel sad for so many businesses and people who are losing their income because stores and businesses are closed for weeks. Even the place I get my eyeglasses have been ordered to close. Government offices are closed to the public, it’s almost impossible to transact business or do normal activities. We should all be conscience all the time. We never know when we pump gas who touched the handle before us. Could have been an exterminator using chemicals and people using the bathroom not washing hands, and many others that keep compounding the germs the same as on door handles, etc. I always have been washing my hands frequently so it’s not much different than now. I use vinyl gloves when pumping gas often and also when I cook.

Yesterday, I spent several hours in the camper to get ready for the trip. I put my clothes in it and went through my cabinets to make sure I am not taking unnecessary items. Usually when I come back from a trip I restock what I used up, like hand sanitizer which I use when I can conserve water to wash hands or clean items. I didn’t replentish in November because I was not sure when I will take another trip. Usually I leave in July for a few months, since I had to have the transmission replaced and the warranty is up the end of June I decided to leave in April for a few months. Now, all of the sanitizer, wipes, etc. are impossible to get I was concerned about having some for my trip. As I was going through the camper, I found two 8 oz. bottles of sanitizer, 16 rolls of toilet paper, two rolls of paper towels, and a package of sanitizer wipes. So, I am good for the trip. I also have a bottle of alcohol which I can use for towels to make my own if needed.

Here are pictures of some of the foods that I have been making, enjoying, and sharing with others. Eating fresh soft pretzels, homemade pizza, and fresh homemade pasta tastes so much better than store bought. It also has no chemicals and less salt. I use herbs and spices rather than salt and pepper. I have been trying recipes and making foods I never made before, many more challenging and time consuming than my regular foods. One of them was Ciabatta bread and another was Kolaches which I love to eat when I am in Texas. Neither was really hard to make, but they took lots of time to make and the taste was well worth the effort.

Lasagna with homemade pasta makes such a difference from using hard store bought pasta and it’s not hard to make. My homemade wheat thin crackers are addictive. I made two pounds at a time and it only lasts about 10 days. I made a corned beef in the pressure cooker the other day and it was great to eat for several days, including making Reuben sandwiches. So, I bought another corned beef and I will cook it before I leave on my trip to eat for a few days while I am driving.

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