If I Were A Cat, I’d Still Have 7 Lives

We haven’t posted much for a while. Not our intention to wait so long since we got things caught up before leaving Mazatlan, MX. Sometimes life gets in the way and the blog must take a back seat to more pressing issues. Also, Lynn always writes these “tomes” but today she is the editor; a switch of roles.

Does that tell you that something unusual has been going on? Now, where to start? Well, I guess essentially at the beginning.

By now we had expected to be in Panama waiting to cross to the Caribbean. But, we are still in Mexico. Our 2010-2011 cruising season has been only about 200 miles.

We arrived in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (Marina Riviera Nayarit) February 14, (Valentine’s Day). Our best guess is, we’ll be here until November or December. It all depends on how well I recover and what the doctors’ say. What happened?

Well, I started to loose strength, have breathing issues, and a pressure in my upper left chest on the way down to La Cruz from Mazatlan. Immediately after we arrived, I saw a cardiologist in Puerto Vallarta. The cardiologist completely missed the diagnoses. It was not pleurisy as she said. (I told her I had had pleurisy and this didn’t feel like that.) Not even close.

After taking all the meds from her, I got a bit better and then dramatically worse. Worse as I’m on my hands and knees to untie a dock line and gasping for breath. Amanda (the marina restaurant manager) and her parents both suggested we see Dr. Rios. Dr. Rios is a Pulmonologist (the only one in Puerto Vallarta) and runs the emergency room at Hospital San Javier Marina very near the cruise ship mooring.

Because we do not have a car, we walk about ¾ mile (partly uphill) from the boat to the bus stop. Then travel about an hour or so by bus. All total, about a two to three-hour round trip from the boat to hospital and back.

As usual, we traveled by local bus and, when we arrived, I gave Dr. Rios my symptoms. He thought: blood clot. He ordered blood tests and a CAT scan. He was there for most of that but was called into emergency. When it was over, we couldn’t find him or his nurse/secretary. No one seemed to know where he was, either. We went home again, via the local bus. Actually, he returned just after we left and was looking for us; for very good reason.

When we got home, we called the hospital and set an appointment for the next morning. We took the bus again. This trip was filled with excitement: including swerving into the oncoming traffic to miss a very large speed bump (they make them huge here); later blowing out a rear tire; continuing on with 3-rear tires; and still later transferring to another bus that didn’t want to stop anyplace, etc. When he finally did stop, near the hospital, nearly everyone eagerly sought the exits with maximum speed.

We walked into Hospital San Javier emergency room as directed and were about to go sit in the lobby when Dr. Rios walked out of an emergency exam room. For maybe 5 or more seconds he just stood stock still and looked at me. Then he left the patient in the exam room and took us to the CAT scan viewing room saying he had news and it wasn’t good.

As we watched the CAT scan results , Dr. Rios pointed out the heart and the aorta and a blood clot that was just outside the heart in the aorta. This blood clot was stopping what appeared to my eyes as more than 50% of the blood flow. Then he proceeded to show us my lungs with clots and dead tissue; and then both legs that had clots from mid-calf to high thigh. Dr. Rios told us if any of those blood clots had moved, I would have been instantly dead.

For a few seconds I just leaned against the wall. Then it was time to get down to business. I wanted to know what had to be done and how fast it could be done. He thought we might want to go back to the states for treatment and advised against it due to movement possibility. I simply told him I wasn’t interested in going to the states and thought this was the place to do it and figured whatever had to be done could be done right here and now and that we knew the doctors here were good. Besides, we have no where to go in the states. Home is where “LA VITA” is.

While Lynn checked me in and paid a deposit, they put me in Intensive Care and immediately started medication to dissolve the clot. Within about 2 or 3 hours after our arrival, I was in the operating room having a TrapEase “filter” inserted in the large vein in the groin area. The purpose of the filter is to “trap” blood clots moving from the legs preventing them from traveling to the heart, lungs, and brain.

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Dr. Rios and the team of doctors I needed didn’t mess around. They knew what to do, how to do it, and they did it. I have absolutely no complaints, only praises, about my treatment. Everyone seemed to be “top notch.”

I was in the hospital nearly a week. Another CAT scan revealed the clots had dissolved. Dr. Rios said the dead tissue in the lungs would regenerate in time. The tissue died because the clot had choked off the oxygen supply. Next, we started to address the therapeutic thinness of the blood.

How bad was my condition on entering the hospital? Dr. Rios told us after the fact that people in my condition are not usually seen while they are still breathing. That was why the doctors he introduced us to were kind of “open mouthed” to see me standing and walking the day we arrived. Dr. Rios even took photos of my CAT scan results for his files since they were that “interesting”.

After getting out of the hospital, I returned to the hospital lab twice a week (still do) to have blood thinness tests (INR tests). The INR tests indicated how thin or thick my blood had become. The tests will become fewer in time as the thinness evens out to the proper degree.

After my spending so much time in the hospital, Lynn located a nice little restaurant across the street called “Terraza de Abuela” or “Grandmother’s Terrace.” It’s an “outdoor” restaurant that is shaded with a tile roof, open to the air, and has a very comfortable feeling. So, it is there that we go to await the results of my INR tests. Since I voluntarily do a fasting test, we stop there to have breakfast after having blood drawn, and wait for the results. Needless to say, we are now well known there. We’ve gotten to know the owner, her son, the waiters, etc.

One day, I was at “Terraza de Abuela” by myself since Lynn had to do other things on the boat. As I sat there, I began to feel a bit “different.” I became aware that the sky was blue, the clouds were white, the wind was blowing the flags about, and people were walking down the street.

It then occurred to me that if the blood clots had moved, I would have been dead at this time. I would not be here to see that and feel that. It would all have been going on. The sun shining, the sky would have still been blue. The clouds would have still been white. The flags would still have been blowing a bit. The same people would have been walking down the street.

The difference is that I would not have been there to see it. The world would have gone on but I would not have been there to see or experience it the way I would normally experience it. It was a sobering experience.

About a week or so after leaving the hospital, I began to have pain in the area of the filter. Naturally, I was thinking that something was wrong with the filter. The pain increased considerably. It was after 10pm. Lynn called Dr. Rios. He said, “I’ll meet you at emergency.” This time we took a 300 peso taxi (vs 32 pesos for the bus; but they don’t run that late and then there was the issue of a bit of an emergency)!

When I started to walk down the dock, the pain went from my groin area to my back. Yes. You might have guessed; kidney stones. This was confirmed via CAT scan again, there were 2 stones. (The filter was just fine.) One was still attached to the kidney wall and (hopefully) will stay there forever but realistically it could detach and begin its journey at any time.

The other stone had gotten stuck in the ureter where the two connected. (You’re only supposed to have a single ureter from each kidney to the bladder. I have two on the left side and they come together in a “Y”. (Guess I was collecting “spares” before I was born but this is an “incomplete” spare since it doesn’t connect to the bladder.)

After two days of trying to pass the stone, they had to go in with fibre optics, etc. to retrieve it the “hard way”. They installed an internal catheter from the kidney to the bladder and a second internal/external catheter from the bladder to the outside world. I was in the hospital for about another week.

At the end of the week, they removed the internal/external catheter. The internal catheter between the kidney and the bladder in the ureter was left in place because there was a lot of inflammation. The catheter allowed the ureter to heal and remain open.

The internal catheter had to be removed about a week or so after I got out of the hospital. I went to the Urologists office/clinic for that. I was “out” for the procedure and when I woke up things were going well.

Because we live so far out of town (Puerto Vallarta), Lynn talked to the doctor about staying in a motel for the night just to be safe. This was the week of Semana Santa and thousands of tourists were in town celebrating this holy Easter week. She wondered if we could find a decent affordable motel.

Then suddenly (given my luck thus far, you just had to guess there was more) I began to shake violently and uncontrollably. After vomiting a bit, I passed out and that was all I know until I woke up some time later. How long, I haven’t any idea. I was told that I had gone into septic shock (septic shock is caused by a sudden release of toxins) after the catheter was removed.

Somehow, they got an IV back into my arm and began pumping antibiotics into me. I was totally oblivious to all of this. However, I’m told that they were asking me questions and I was answering them.

Dr. Garcia, my Urologist, suggested to Lynn that I go to Hospital Versalles for observation after the septic shock had begun to be under control. He said it was a good hospital but less expensive. Dr. Garcia and his daughter, also a Dr. Garcia, took us to the hospital in his SUV. I couldn’t tell you the name of it or where it is located exactly but it was a Catholic hospital and Lynn came up with the name from her recollection. Nice but it was not like San Javier. Well, it turned out that I spent about a week in there.

Later we learned the bacteria in my system were resistant to the antibiotic they were using. As a result, when the catheter was removed, the bacteria had become toxic and flooded the body. Septic Shock happens when overwhelming infection leads to life-threatening low blood pressure. People often die from this condition.

The good news is that I’m alive and in reasonably good health although not even close to being well yet. I had to stop the blood thinner for a while due to the kidney stone/septic shock issues. Now, I’m back taking Coumadin and responding slowly. The filter will keep the big clots from going up to the heart, lungs, and brain. The blood thinness meds and my normal body functions will dissolve it and any small clots that can still get past the filter.

I have to wear thigh-high pressure stockings now on both legs. They are difficult to find here, in Mexico, so only have one pair and they are getting quite worn. I’ve stopped my small dose of blood pressure meds. It makes my pressure too low. I’ll probably start that again, at a lower dose, in a few days or so as the blood pressure comes up into the upper regions of the “good” zone.

The bad news is that it was expensive. To date we have spent over $500,000 pesos and we are not finished counting/paying yet. To date, we have not been reimbursed by our insurance either. It will come but with large claims like this, it takes a while to get through the process. After that it will be the “dance” to get the checks here to La Cruz to endorse and then back to our bank to be deposited. No electronic fund transfer (EFT) available unfortunately.

Until then, we just hope that there are no more emergencies and nothing else happens that costs money since our savings has taken a severe beating during all of this. With some luck we will have everything taken care of and the money back in our bank account before 1 Nov.

So, that has been our boring cruising season after leaving Mazatlan for the 3rd or 4th time in the 2010/11 cruising season. Why so many times? Small, boat things went wrong but had to be fixed before heading south. In retrospect, it was all a very good thing to have happened.

If it hadn’t been for those aborted tries to leave Mazatlan, we would likely have had all this medical stuff happen in southern Mexico away from the outstanding major medical care they have in Puerto Vallarta or in El Salvador and, chances are, I wouldn’t be around to write this. All-in-all, not such a bad trade off, considering the alternative.

Note from Lynn: We would like to express our heart-felt thanks our family and friends (those that knew of our situation) that offered prayers, good thoughts, and help. Their support, encouragement, and reassurance were very much appreciated during this most difficult time.

For more information about:

Hospital San Javier Marina: (http://96.0.254.95:8080/sanjavier/?lang=en)

Heart Anatomy: (http://www.cardioconsult.com/Anatomy/)

Greenfield Vena Cava Filter: (http://darylgdav.tripod.com/wls-information/id40.html)

32 Responses to “If I Were A Cat, I’d Still Have 7 Lives”

  1. snoozer on May 9th, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Holy Moly! Your a lucky bugger Rick.
    Rest and recupe, your not missing anything here.

  2. Lynn on May 9th, 2011 at 6:27 am

    Hi Snoozer, Yup, Rick is a very lucky bugger. Thanks for taking the time to read & comment.

  3. patio on May 9th, 2011 at 6:25 am

    wow. mayhap we’ll catch up next fall when i head south for the winter.

    patio

  4. Lynn on May 9th, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Hi Patio, We’ll be here! Looking forward to seeing you again. As you in your emails, “Cherish the moments as we know not how many we have.”

  5. Christine on May 9th, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Sheesh Rick, I am gobsmacked. You must have an angel looking out for you (apart from Lynn). All the very best.

  6. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Hi Christine, Yup, Rick’s guardian angel been working overtime, that’s for sure!

  7. Capt Jack on May 9th, 2011 at 9:45 am

    In a Blink of an eye, by the grace of God go I.

  8. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 5:55 am

    Hi Capt Jack, That is so true.

  9. Victor and Andre on May 9th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Holy Moly! What a story. Scary. Do take good care of yourself, Rick. We’re sending all the good juju at our disposal. Wow again.

  10. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Hi Victor & Andre, It was quite an amazing series of events, that’s for sure. A lot has happened since we first met in Ensenada. Thanks for the good vibs. We accept and return good vibs back to you two.

  11. Julie on May 9th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Wow.
    It is a lot to take in. First I praise God for all that occurred to have you in the right place at the right time… and with all that in mind know that He will continue to take care of you. But Wow!
    Lynn- you are a brick!
    As I was reading I was thinking how glad I am that you are having your grand adventure together, and that the health problems were not a result of the stress of the rat race…
    Many thoughts and prayers… thank you for the update!

  12. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Hi Julie, We are extremely fortunate to be able to live our dream and be able to talk about with others.

    Our years in Mexico have taught us to be most grateful for all we have experienced together.

  13. Sunday on May 9th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Hey
    That was close! You are the second friend of ours whom is alive due to the medical system in mexico. You know Doug and Trish of KMT. Same thing about delays becoming a blessing. Get better. We may head north after this season in Ecuador so we will be looking for you
    Gil & Lexi

  14. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Hi Sunday, We agree, there is much to be praised about the Mexican medical system.

    We hope to see you when you head north from Ecuador!

  15. DiscoverY II on May 10th, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Glad everything worked out for you. US $43k is a hefty bill for sure but have you estimated what the bill would have been if you were treated back in the US? And how much of that amount would have been covered by your insurance?

    Austin & Patricia

  16. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Hi Discovery II, Oh, yes, we are well aware what it would have cost in the USA. It is no wonder folks loose everything they have worked for to cover medical costs.

  17. Bob & Janet Griswold on May 10th, 2011 at 6:23 am

    hello you two, we are so grateful that you are okay. It sounds like ou were in the right place to get help. Makes for exciting blog reading, but we are okay with boring,ok? Keep it boring for all of your friends. The dogs send you their love as we do and look forward to seeing you again. Janet & Bob

  18. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Hi Bob & Janet, It was a white knuckle run, here for awhile. Does make sitting in a quite anchorage even more appealing, doesn’t it?
    During holy weeks (two), they’d fire of a half dozen (or more) huge fire crackers before dawn. And again at dusk. Scared every dog & cat within miles. Glad Shiloh wasn’t here.

  19. John & Gayle Crowley on May 10th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Hi, Rick & Lynn!! WOW, what a miracle that Rick is on the mend!! You two take care and keep in touch… Our thoughts and prayers for a very speedy recovery!

  20. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Hi John & Gayle, Great to hear from you! We are still amazed at the series events. Thank you for your prayers and speed recovery. We wish you good health, fair winds, and safe harbors.

  21. Mel on May 10th, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    SOOOOOO happy to hear you are doin’ better Rick…
    Miss you both and will continue to keep you both in my prayers.
    Melissa

  22. Lynn on May 10th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Mel, Great to hear from you, too! Thank you for your prayers. We miss you and your mom, dad, & brother, too. We wish you good health and continued success with your teaching career.

  23. Marion & Richard on May 12th, 2011 at 12:24 am

    OMG, what a series of experiences! Talk about heroic journey. So glad you’re alive to tell us about it. You’re in our thoughts and prayers. Ditto what others have said about hoping for more boring posts in the future. 🙂
    Hugs

  24. Lynn on May 17th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Marion & Richard, Yes, Rick’s did travel a heroic journey back to health. He’s still in a battle of a different sort: wearing thigh-high compression stockings. They are hot (especially in the tropical climate), difficult to wear, hard to find and expensive. These stockings help return the the blood in his legs back to his heart. The alternative to not wearing them is unacceptable. We are continuing our search for them in Mexico. In the meantime, friends are bring a pair down from the USA. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts. They are most appreciated.

  25. Karen s/v Plum Nuts on May 12th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Wow…what an adventure…I agree that Lynn must be a rock…I know how I have felt everytime my husband has gotten sick in Mexico (twice)..I’m praying for both of you..Jim’s doctor just dropped dead with a blood clot…we were stunned and very heart broken..we both loved him and he was very important in Jim’s care…you are so very fortunate, Rick..but I know I don’t have to tell you that…thank you for taking good care of yourself..I’m so glad you were able to overcome such incredible adversity..God bless you both…Jim and Karen

  26. Lynn on May 17th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Karen & Jim, Karen, I know you have been Jim’s rock, too. It is our way of helping our loved ones fight their heroic journey. It’s not easy. I was stunned, to learn Jim’s doctor died of a blood clot. It’s sobering to learn, even a doctor can miss his own symptoms. I share in your sadness over loosing your friend and doctor. Please take care of yourselves, too. Thank you for your concern and very kind words.

  27. Dena on May 18th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Wow!!! Reading it all at one time, instead of how it progressed absolutely blows my mind!! We were praying like no other with each update you would give us. I have to give it to you Lynn..YOU are a POWERHOUSE! We are so thankful for you.. and so blessed that Rick is as strong a man as he is!! What an ordeal to go through..As always.. sending our love and prayers..We love ya!!!
    Dena & Jr.

    And I loved ALL the pictures they are a fantastic

  28. Lynn on May 18th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Hi Dena & Jr., Rick (and Jr.) are very strong men. As we know, our Bradshaw men can be stubborn, but this time I’m deeply grateful. Reading Rick’s journey to health, told in his own words, makes it all the more powerful.

  29. Duane and Diane on May 18th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    This is rather late, due to some pressing issues, but I am so glad of the end result! That was a harrowing experience, and I am glad you had the strength to get through it all.

    Perhaps, we can hope, your bad times are behind you now for a long, long while.

    Best regards!

  30. Lynn on May 19th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Duane, You are a very busy guy and grateful you found time to read this post. Yes, this was quite an experience and we often reflect on how close it was. Last night (Wed 5/18/2011) we celebrated Rick’s birthday and his return to good health.

  31. Adriel V. on July 5th, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Amazing!!! Friends!!! Rick… I’m so proud to you. You are a strong man. You are always in my prayers. Thank God, everything is fine until now.
    Take care, very much. but you Rick. Your health is very important. Same Lynn, no matter… Take care both!!! I send my love and you’ll be in my prayers. God bless you!!!

    Adriel V.

  32. Lynn on July 7th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you Adriel for your prayers and comments. They are very much appreciated. Yes, it’s been quite a journey. We wish you success and good health. Lynn

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