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Old 04-02-2018, 07:44 PM   #1
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RVing with Medical Issues

We Retired last summer, and have started traveling much more than we were able to previously. This year, we had planned mostly off the beaten path type stuff, remote "Camping" type locations, often with little or no cell service, and of course more often than not quite a distance from any significant medical treatment facilities.

Unfortunately, days prior to our first trip of this year, I ended up in the emergency room with chest pains, kept overnight, angiogram and couple of stents installed the next morning with a scheduled stent installation two weeks out being as how the doctor didn't want to install stents on both main arteries for my heart at the same time. No biggie, and I was let out of the hospital the same day as the stent installation. Unfortunately, this left the wife feeling a little insecure, and her willingness to travel to remote locations is in question.

The day after getting out of the hospital we discussed purchasing a home use AED, and attending classes to bring both of our CPR certifications up to date as while we've both been CPR certified at one time or other we were both out of date. I thought we had pretty much worked out resolutions to most of the wife's fears when later that evening I developed severe stomach pains resulting in another trip to the emergency room of the local hospital, whereupon I collapsed from perforated diverticulitis and had to be transferred to a different medical facility for emergency surgery. The hospital stay this time was a week, the infection from the internal leakage is resolved, and my internal plumbing is temporarily routed to a colostomy bag hanging off the side of my stomach. Thanks to the recent stents, and subsequent need for blood thinners, it doesn't look like they can try to hook what wasn't removed from my colon back up for a year, and needless to say, the wife isn't receptive to traveling to any extent at this time.

I know many of you are dealing with issues much more serious than this, and managing to still travel. How do you deal with any potential anxiety issues that arise? Do you tend to stay in areas with major medical facilities? Do you still find yourselves venturing out to remote areas? Do you find yourselves still able to wander off on whims, or do you now find yourself in need of planning ahead more so that you'll be aware of what medical options there are in the areas you're heading too?

Advise from those living the life despite similar issues would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-02-2018, 08:00 PM   #2
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Life is sometimes a gamble....but. For now...I would do whatever makes your other half comfortable.
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Old 04-02-2018, 08:13 PM   #3
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we started full time right after my open heart surgery...a defective mitral valve repaired with plastic surgery....my husband has parkinsons so as we travel across the great USA we have our prescriptions filled at Walmarts...we also have doctors in California Wyoming and Florida....everything is good!!!
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Old 04-02-2018, 09:02 PM   #4
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Had to take my mother to the doc in Georgia as she caught a bug. And the rule is if it last more than 4 days, you go in. Liked the doctor and facility better in Georgia than her doctor in Pa. Strongly believe in multiple different options from different sources than just from a primary she has had for a decade..

2nd 3rd 4th & 5th options seem to have fresh looks.

Maybe start slow with a 2nd facility relitivilly close by your adventure. If that works, then branch out. Who knows, maybe in a year you will find a specialist even better to finish your needed work.
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Old 04-02-2018, 10:01 PM   #5
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Would a Sat phone give her some peace of mind? I think there are plans that charge you only for the minutes you use.
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Old 04-02-2018, 10:31 PM   #6
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Would a Sat phone give her some peace of mind? I think there are plans that charge you only for the minutes you use.
A sat phone probably wouldn't make that much difference to her as we already have an InReach device that has an SOS button for emergency services, satellite tracking capability which she makes me use when I hike on my own, and can also be used to send text messages via satellite text messaging. We use it so that folks can keep in touch with us when we're out of cell phone range.

In regards to finding a good doctor, I'm lucky in that the local hospital transferred me to the best rated and most capable hospital in the state for the emergency surgery. Even though it was the middle of the night they had me on the table less than two hours from the time the ambulance pulled up. No complaints there. The reversal as they call it is a more routine surgery that can be done laparoscopically, and I have lot's of time to pick a good doctor to preform that surgery.

I appreciate the inputs from those dealing with similar and worse and still venturing out away from the security of home. I'll let the wife see the responses which will hopefully help reduce the anxiousness. While we've dealt with more than our fair share of adversity over the years, most was the sort of thing that if anything made me look indestructible. Having something happen to shake her belief in that so severely is something we'll have to work through.
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Old 04-02-2018, 11:03 PM   #7
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Let the current surgeries heal, then start venturing. For now I think I would try to remain places with cell service and relative ease of access to help. Once you are both comfortable with that, then you can push the envelope. Baby steps - walk before you run. Her concerns are real and need to be addressed as much as your medical issues. This comes from the one on the other side - my DW has the medical issues, so I can relate to how your DW is feeling. You asked...!
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:03 AM   #8
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Let the current surgeries heal, then start venturing. For now I think I would try to remain places with cell service and relative ease of access to help. Once you are both comfortable with that, then you can push the envelope. Baby steps - walk before you run. Her concerns are real and need to be addressed as much as your medical issues. This comes from the one on the other side - my DW has the medical issues, so I can relate to how your DW is feeling. You asked...!
I totally agree on this.... start slow and near good medical facilities for the next year until your planned surgery. You kind of downplay your issues but they are certainly serious enough for concern at this time by your wife.

We've known full-timers with serious health issues and they loved the lifestyle so much that they kept going. Their thought was that they could die anywhere and it might as well be doing what they loved. A couple of them were on dialysis and they were able to schedule it as they traveled. One had to go 3x/week. There were numerous folks with heart issues. They just did the recovery time and continued onward. Others had amputations. We ourselves dealt with cancer and multiple joint replacements and other surgeries. It really is doable if you want it to be. You can go to the best hospitals for pre-planned surgeries which is a plus. Emergencies can be dealt with. Many people live in the boonies in stick houses.

One thing I hope is that your wife can drive the RV and do the hookups. That's a very important part of your recovery process. You'll just have to talk and decide what is best for both of you. Keep positive thoughts and best of luck to you!
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:44 AM   #9
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It might help her peace of mind if you had an emergency medical service. Members of FMCA have a service included in the membership that will transport you to a hospital or whatever facility you need, even by helicopter if necessary. They will also help move your rig to wherever you need it to go. Go to the FMCA website and check it out. They now allow non-motorized rigs to join. Peace of mind.
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:08 PM   #10
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Baby steps grasshopper. This is a major hic cup in your plans but not the death knell for them. Start slow, start local, start with short excursions.
Do make sure your wife can drive the RV if necessary. Funny though no significant health issues we are about to get our first "big rig" and the DW wants to and will be enrolling in a driving school during our first month owning it




Do make sure your both sit down with your doctors and explain what you want to do and get his/her input. This will also make your wife more at ease.


This may be a long process but worth it if it works out.
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Old 04-03-2018, 04:41 PM   #11
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Thanks guys. I think maybe I was getting a little more frustrated than the wife maybe. It was somewhat painful cancelling some reservations we had through Reserve America for the April early May time frame. We were just starting to get excited by life again following the death of my daughter and grandchildren, and putting the current situation into perspective wasn't as easy as it should have been.

On further discussion with the wife, things probably aren't as bad as I was thinking. She's still willing to do areas like MOAB, Southeast Utah, the Black Hills etc that are semi built up. It's just some of the spots we love in Northern Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and unfortunately the areas down around Hanksville Utah and the Escalante area that I love to visit and explore so much. She feels those are just too remote. My dad did a remote assignment to Hanksville Utah when I was a kid so I ended up attending 4th and 5t grade in the little two room school there. That was back before it was a big crowded tourist destination, and was pretty remote. While my mom thinks she would be put in prison for doing it today, back then our parents would take us kids down to the Henry mountains and drop us off to backpack there coming back to pick us up several days to a week later. As I recall the oldest of our group back then was 7th grade, and we didn't even have a tent between us. We would build shelters using clothesline and a sheet of plastic. Back then, the area was pretty remote, in fact the road from Hanksville down to Lake Powell wasn't even paved. Those childhood adventures we key in forming my idea of outdoor adventure. My wife on the other hand grew up in and lived in cities her whole life, which results in her feeling somewhat uncomfortable in desolate areas.

The advice on having the wife capable of driving the RV is good, unfortunately, so far she won't drive the truck/5er combination. She doesn't like big vehicles, and finds just the truck alone intimidating. I'll keep working on that though. We have a little Polaris RZR that we run around in venturing into some pretty remote areas. It took me almost 5 years to get her willing to try driving that which I wanted her to be able to do in case something ever happened to me. Now that she will drive it, she loves it, albeit just on roads and easy trails. On the tough stuff she still sometimes even gets out and walks when I drive during some of the hard core Jamboree and club rides we do.

I'll look into the FMCA thing. We have pretty good insurance now, dual coverage with my military Tricare as secondary. I also have rescue service that covers search and rescue type searches.

For now, the Baby steps sound good. I'm only 59, and shouldn't be impacted too badly by taking it somewhat easy for the next year or so.
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Old 04-03-2018, 05:02 PM   #12
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Just take it easy....You can get the feel of that remoteness without being truly out there in a remote area. There is "remote" and there is "Really Remote".

My wife is the same way, she doesn't even like driving just my truck. In the last year I think the few times she drove the truck was to church one day and while in a campground to drive to the laundry.

On our longer trips (4-12 weeks) she is able to pick up her prescriptions at Walgreen's which is nationwide including Alaska.

One our longer trips she will sometimes point out or take notice where a hospital is, just in case.
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:32 AM   #13
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When you throw in, “the death of our daughter and grandchildren” I cannot imagine that pain in your lives. I am so sorry to read that. Maybe this is a good year to just hold back on the adventures and give your wife some extra hugs as you visit some places she is comfortable with. May God grant you some healing this year.
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Old 04-04-2018, 01:00 AM   #14
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Well I have to play devils advocate. I say go for it. You only live once. Most places that have campgrounds will have medical facilities somewhat close. Just do your research and find areas where you can get treatment if the need arises. Stay in areas with cell phone coverage if you can. I volunteered in Custer State Park in the Black Hills and the small town of Custer had an excellent hospital and EMTs and Rapid City was very close too. I am a partial amputee and a full timer.
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