Important update on things that aren’t working right, one of which involves surgery

Katy Perry had Left Shark.

Tim has Left Adrenal Gland.

It produces too much aldosterone, which is why it’s being ejected from the game next month. Ready for a little medical education in an RV lifestyle blog?

I’ll try to make this very long story (6 months worth of doctor’s appointments, imaging, testing, and waiting, to which I obliquely referred in this post) a little bit shorter:

Although Tim had no obvious lifestyle or dietary risk factors (genetic factors are an unknown because he was adopted), he was diagnosed with high blood pressure a little over ten years ago, in his late 30’s, and has been on medication ever since.

Within the last 3-5 years, he’s also had very low potassium levels, as in, “Sir? Are you sure you’re feeling OK? Because your readings are barely above the mandatory hospitalization mark.” Hello, gigantic horse pill potassium supplements.

Then last summer, right about the time we moved into the RV, Tim internet-stumbled upon a rare condition called Primary Aldosteronism, and asked his doctors to start the testing process.

“In primary aldosteronism, your adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone, causing you to lose potassium and retain sodium. The excess sodium in turn holds onto water, increasing your blood volume and blood pressure”

High blood pressure. Low potassium. Ah haaaaaa.

“Diagnosis and treatment of primary aldosteronism are important because people with this form of high blood pressure have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Also, the high blood pressure associated with primary aldosteronism may be curable.”

Ohhhhhhh. So… curing it means no more meds?

“Options for people with primary aldosteronism include medications, lifestyle modifications and surgery.”

Turns out that surgery is indeed an option for Tim, as the left adrenal gland was determined quite clearly to be the culprit. Had both glands been overproducing aldosterone, then the only recourse would have been daily, lifelong medication in the form of a hormone blocker — because like kidneys, you can live with one adrenal gland, but not with none.

Anyway, once the pesky left one’s out, Tim will be able to discontinue his potassium supplement for sure, and his BP meds can either be significantly reduced or eliminated entirely. So it’s a good thing, and we’re thankful we’ve got the military healthcare benefits to make it happen.

What it means though, is that we’ll be putting off our rolling adventures for another few months. Surgery is scheduled for 3/23, and it’s followed by 4-6 weeks of recovery and follow-up appointments to make sure the remaining adrenal gland picks up the slack, so San Antonio is home through at least the end of April.

Two really cool things

  1. We’re talking laparoscopic, robot-assisted surgery. Robot, y’all. Oh, how I wish I could watch!
  2. Tim’s surgeon is the same doc who saw me for follow-ups after my breast cancer surgery two years ago, and he remembered me when we showed up for Tim’s consult on Thursday. I greeted him with a cheerful, “Hi, Dr. N. You’ve seen me before. Quite a lot of me, actually!” He looked at me for a second and then said, “Oh I remember you. You’re the funny one.”

And then he drew a diagram for us, right there on the examining table paper:

The four dashes on the right side of the drawing, at the lower end of the kidney, represent 8-12mm incisions where the laparoscopic stuff goes in. If for some reason things go sideways, the doc will make a traditional incision instead, and take care of things "the old way." This will mean more pain and a longer recovery for Tim, so we're hoping all goes well with Dr. N and the Robot.

The four dashes on the right side of the drawing, at the lower end of the kidney, represent 8-12 mm incisions where the laparoscopic instruments go in.
If for some reason things go sideways during the operation, the doc will make a traditional abdominal incision instead, and take care of things “the old way.” This will mean more pain and a longer recovery for Tim, so we’re hoping all goes according to plan with Dr. N & the Robot.

And what other things aren’t working? As if a human gland weren’t enough?

Lola. She has retired as our hiking dog, and she still willfully ignores her bed in the most in-your-face way possible.

Lola.
Due to her age and kidney deterioration, we opted against surgery for her torn ACL. Thus, she has officially retired as our hiking dog. Also, she still willfully ignores her bed in the most in-your-face way possible.

The RV clock/thermometer. It was in here when we bought the thing, and has since decided to ignore new batteries, and submit us to 105 degrees all the time. "Honey, the thermometer's broken. We need a new RV!"

The RV clock/thermometer.
It was in here when we bought the thing, and has since decided to ignore new batteries, and make us think it’s 105 degrees all the time.
“Honey, the thermometer’s broken. We need a new RV!”

Comparatively speaking, this RV does not weigh a heck of a lot more than I do

Not the RV I’m sitting in. Our big booger weighs about 12,000 pounds when it’s empty.

I’m talking about this little red myPod, which we saw yesterday at the Austin RV Expo. It weighs 500 pounds! I most certainly do not, but I could still probably pull this cutie my own self.

Not sure I could lift it, but I'm rather confident it would fit in the bed of the BFT.

Not sure I could lift it, but I’m rather confident it would fit in the bed of the BFT.

When we hit the convention center floor in Austin, two things made it different from last week’s show in Houston (wrote about that one here and here):

  1. To save time, we were prepared with a list of only three units we wanted to see and learn more about. A fourth got thrown in at the last minute, which means that somewhere in Austin, a Winnebago factory rep probably woke up with one helluva hangover this morning. Have I mentioned that Tim asks a lot of pointed and technical questions?
  2. It’s Austin, not Houston. And by that I mean ATX has its own vibe, and it was palpable even at something as mainstream as an RV show.
    Not just garbage cans, but bins for compost and recycling too. And a man wearing a kilt. And two rows of adorable little Airstream bubbles, as opposed to the two units in Houston. Never change, ATX. Never change.

    Not just garbage cans, but bins for compost and recycling too. And a man wearing a kilt at not-the-highland-games-festival. And two rows of adorable little Airstream bubbles, as opposed to the two units in Houston.
    Never change, ATX. Never change.

    FullSizeRender 2

    I was amused by this. It’s a staging area for staging items. And apparently no RV kitchen is complete without a basket of fake fruit on the table, you know, to tempt other people into buying it. Us? Not so much. “Yes, that plastic banana looks lovely, but do tell me, does this rig have a 6-point leveling system? And what’s the R-rating on the insulation? OK, now how’s the frame constructed?”

    Found some swag I liked, but did not buy. Photos are enough. Own less, and all that.

    FullSizeRender 12 FullSizeRender 9

    Tim, as mentioned, is the data head at the RV show. I wear socks that fit my attitude.

    Tim, as mentioned, is the data head at the RV show.
    I wear socks that fit my attitude.

    The attendant at the door stamped our hands to make sure we could come and go. It occurred to me that last time I was in Austin with a stamped hand, I was the Longhorn in the family. (And the stamp definitely did not come from an RV show.)

    The attendant at the door stamped our hands to make sure we could come and go. It occurred to me that last time I was in Austin sporting a hand stamp, I was the Longhorn in the family. (And the stamp definitely did not come from an RV show.)

    And speaking of Longhorns, that's ours in the center. We treated him and his ol' buddies -- friends since freshman year of HS, and now all freshmen at UT -- to dinner.

    And speaking of Longhorns, that’s ours in the center. We treated him and his buddies — friends since freshman year of HS, and now all freshmen at UT — to dinner. They uh… they can put down a lot of barbecue, it turns out.

    Not just my reflection in an RV, but a lesson. If you visit an RV dealership on your way to the RV show, and happen to mention that's where you're headed, the sales dude just might hand you a couple of complimentary tickets. That little excursion saved us 12 bucks!

    Not just my reflection in an RV, but a lesson. If you visit an RV dealership on your way to an RV show, and just happen to mention that’s where you’re headed, the sales dude just might hand you a couple of complimentary tickets. That little excursion saved us 12 bucks!

    Until next time, ATX!

    Until next time, ATX!

RV show, Day 2: I had to grab another man

No, really. That’s how I tried to get out of there.

We went back to the Houston RV Show yesterday with a couple of RV-ing friends, Jay and Kris. I’d joked with Kris early in the day that if we couldn’t get our husbands to quit talking to sales reps (they are both big on asking questions, crawling underneath the chassis, and in short gleaning every possible detail about any rig that captures their interest), then we could try leaving — with other men.

And when the clock hit 7:55, at a show that ends at 8:00, and our two guys had started asking yet another rep yet another round of questions, Kris looked at me and said, “I think it’s time to try that trick. I’m doing it.”

Since it was my idea in the first place, what could I do but fall in step behind her?

And that is how two very bewildered Holiday World salesmen ended up walking us toward the convention hall exit, linked arm in arm like groomsmen escorting wedding guests down the aisle. Good sports those chaps, but then I think we made their day with our conspiratorial winks and “Can you just walk with me for a second while I explain…?”

Did it work?

Hell no.

Tim and Jay noticed right away, but then called our bluff by hollering loving sentiments like, “Good luck!” and “You get the mortgage along with her!”

Much laughter ensued — from our escorts and from a small assembly of bemused onlookers.

So I put Plan B into motion and flopped to the floor, feigning Death from RV Show.

(Photo by Kris, who was probably laughing)

(Photo by Kris, who was probably shaking with laughter)

That didn’t really work either, but hey, it made for a great story, eh?

Oh, and no, we did not buy a new RV. Someone had already bought the one we were most interested in, but we were impressed enough with it to continue researching the manufacturer, dealerships, options and pricing, so stay tuned!

Sold to a guy with the same first name as my brother. "Aww, Mom. Why does *he* always get the new toy before I do?"

Sold to a guy with the same first name as my brother.
“Aww, Mom. Why does he get to have it?”

Tim came armed with a spread sheet...

Tim came armed with a spread sheet…

... and a tape measure. He just happened to find this eager little helper on the couch.

… and a tape measure.
He just happened to find this eager little helper on the couch.

But it's all for good reason. We've been burned once on RV purchasing, and he's going to make sure that doesn't happen again.

But it’s all for good reason. We’ve been burned once on RV purchasing, and he’s going to make damn sure that doesn’t happen again.

As I'd mentioned in my last post, exterior TV mounts are a popular thing, along with outdoor kitchens. I guess they appeal to folks who do a lot of tailgating. For us, they made for an easy way to rule out hundreds of RVs!

As I’d mentioned in a Feb. 10 Facebook post, exterior TV mounts are a popular thing, along with outdoor kitchens. I guess they appeal to folks who do a lot of tailgating?
For us, they made for an easy way to rule out hundreds of RVs!

FullSizeRender 2

And hey, any day that includes a hug from this guy is a good day. I met Yogi Bear! I met him!

You just can’t drape yourself over an Airstream

I know. I tried.

There's no hood, and draping myself over the top just wasn't going to work. Too many witnesses. Here's the best I could do.

There’s no hood, and flopping languidly over the top just wasn’t going to work. Too many witnesses (including that guy inside). This here’s the best I could do.

We’re in Houston for the 52nd Annual RV Show — which makes it older than we are, but younger than most of its attendees, although we were happy to see so many young families there on opening day yesterday. And by happy, I mean we didn’t grumble over dodging a few strollers, witnessing a few melt downs, and returning a sippy cup that had been left behind by a little girl who’d been understandably distracted by an electric fireplace.

Opening day is on a Wednesday. Hooray for no weekend crowds! (Remind me of this when we go back with friends on Saturday.)

Opening day is on a Wednesday. Hooray for no weekend crowds!
(Remind me of this when we go back with friends on Saturday.)

The show boasts a convention hall filled with more than 600 RVs of all varieties, from those cute little teardrop travel trailers (basically a towable hard-sided tent with a grill on the back) to conversion vans, to luxury motor homes with price tags in the six-figure range. One of those prices actually started with a 6. Not kidding. We walked through it. Meh.

Price tag for a much less expensive mobile home. Yes, you could buy an actual house for that, but would it come with a Lifetime Womanfy?

Price tag for a Mobile Suites fifth wheel, a few of which are for sale here if you want to see what such a thing looks like.
Yes, you could buy an actual house for that, but would it come with a Lifetime Womanfy?

After an incredibly expensive and nearly inedible lunch purchased from the only open concession stand we could find inside the NRG Center (Kirby Cafe. Don’t eat there. Seriously. Starving is better.), we attended a seminar called “Making Electricity on the Road: Generating & Using Power Efficiently.” I made it through solar and wind generators before my mind wandered off and landed on the true ol’ Texas cowboy sitting next to Tim. You know you’re in the presence of the real thing when he’s wearing a Wrangler shirt and pressed jeans, and his hat matches his boots, which match both his belt and suspenders.

This is Billy Thibodeaux, who's been a presenter here for more than 20 years. He's got miles and miles worth of knowledge to share, and it's certainly not his fault that I am so easily distracted.

This is Billy Thibodeaux, who’s been a presenter here for more than 20 years. He’s got miles and miles worth of knowledge to share, and it’s certainly not his fault that I am so easily distracted.

Anyway, after that we meandered in and out of what felt like about 800 RV’s — yes, even though there were only 600 there, and we stuck mostly to fifth wheels, with the exception of one mobile home, and the aforementioned Airstream.

We saw lots of nifty features, some more interesting and/or useful than others.

Yes

Wine rack: Yes!

Yes

Another yes!

Ewwww

Strip of LED lights above bed: Ew and no thanks.

Why, why, whyyyyyyyy?

Bathroom with a screen door: No, hell no, and seriously WTF, y’all?

The captain is in command -- of a fold-out porch.

Relax, captain. You’re in command — of a fold-out porch.

That's Tim on the right, getting the undercarriage report from the salesman of this unit. We uh, we could be in trouble...

That’s Tim on the right, getting the Undercarriage Report from the salesman of this 2016 Highland Open Range.
We uh, we could be in trouble…

And at the end of our long day (health app says I walked nearly 4 miles), this is how we found each other.

And at the end of our long day (health app says I walked nearly 4 miles inside that convention hall), this is how we found each other. I’d taken a seat; he’d marched on.

We’re gonna take two days off to consider a few things, and then go back again on Saturday with friends, and what the hell, maybe the checkbook and a pre-approved loan too.

Strap in, y’all. Road could get a little bumpy ahead…

Departure sequence: Swear. Crank. CLUNK. Swear. Fix. Go.

Remember that day I said it was time for me to start learning how to do more of the “Tim stuff” with the RV? (It’s here, if you want to refresh your memory.)

Well yesterday, since we had to move from Point A to Point B, we chose to make it an Emily’s Learning Day.

We knew it would take a little longer to get through our pack-up-and-go routine, since we’d be doing everything together in sequence, instead of splitting the tasks into our usual concurrent lists of “He Does, She Does”.

Turns out it took a lot longer.

The landing gear motor quit working, which meant I had to learn where the cranking tool thingy is, and then use it to raise the legs manually, which meant that my arms eventually got tired, which meant that Tim took over with his stronger and fresher arms, and then that turned into CLUNK.

And that was followed immediately by, “Shit. That didn’t sound right.”

And then that turned into a delay of more than hour, because Tim had cranked the turny thingy one crank too many, and that broke the one part of the landing gear that was not already broken. So he fixed it.

Wait. You didn’t know about the landing gear issues? Ah. I swore about that first here, and again here. And since we’re picking up the second set of replacement legs this afternoon, I’ll probably be swearing about it a third time later.

Anyway, I ended up learning not only how to hook the RV to the truck all by myself (finally — and in practice, not just in theory), but also what a bottle jack is, and that we in fact have one onboard!

What broke? The fat metal pins that lock the front legs into place (which is up off the road) when we travel. To our great relief and amazement, we had a spare set on hand!

What broke, you ask?
The fat metal pins that lock the front legs into place (which is up off the road, thankyouverymuch) when we travel.
To our great relief and amazement, we had a spare set on hand! That’s one of the new ones on the left behind Tim’s head. The ol’ useless one is on the right.