Second Chance

In our last post, Rick described his incredible recovery from massive blood clots in his legs, heart, and lungs and kidney stones, and septic shock when treated for kidney stones. See post, If I Were A Cat, I’d Still Have 7 Lives.

As a follow up, this post describes our extraordinarily successful and simultaneously stressful trip to San Diego. We squeeze in two years of doctor appointments, personal shopping, boat parts purchases and fun into 10 days!

While in Puerto Vallarta, Rick had CAT scans that showed he is 100% free of all blood clots. Thanks to Pamela Thompson all of our medical records are translated from Spanish to English. With x-rays and medical reports in hand, we fly Volaris to Tijuana, Mexico.


And rode the San Diego Trolley to our motel room on the San Diego Navy Base.


This was our home for the next 10 days. Oh, the luxury of having a hot shower a few feet from our bed!

In San Diego, CA we saw Dr. Foster, our family physician and had complete physical exams, including breathing tests. We pass with outstanding results. This is especially good news for Rick because some of the blood clots had migrated through his heart and into his lungs.

Rick was given a stress test on a tread mill which he passes with flying colors. This test proves his heart is strong.

After my physical, and still in the doctor’s office, my blood pressure (BP) shot up to over 190/100. I’ve never had high BP in my life! I guess the States is hazardous to my health?

They put me in an exam room. Rick holds my hand and talks to me. His voice is gentle and his tone is soothing. As I relax, my blood pressure starts to go down and my headache begins to go away. I’m not sure if you know this or not, but Rick is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist.

Dr. Foster exams me and releases me with the advice to relax. He’s treated me for many years and decides this is a single-time event.

We leave the doctor’s office and continue working our way through our “San Diego To Do List.” By the end of 10 days we have successfully checked off 90% of the things on our To Do List. Our biggest regret is not seeing some of our old friends.

Upon our return, Merle, on s/v KENTA ANAE, meets us at the Puerto Vallarta airport. While driving back to the marina, I feel my body relaxing. After a week on LA VITA, everything returns to normal. My blood pressure is down 100 points (from the BP spike in San Diego) and my sinus headache gone!

While in San Diego, Dr. Foster, our family doctor, sends Rick to see Dr. Rayan, a Vascular Surgery specialist. This visit is unplanned and takes ½ day out of our tight schedule. Because of its importance, we sacrifice seeing some of our good friends.

Dr. Rayan is astonished at Rick’s recovery and confirms that Rick received excellent medical treatment at Hospital San Javier Marina, here in Puerto Vallarta.

Dr. Rayan says over and over, “Rick, you’re one lucky guy!”

Dr. Rios has said several times, “Rick, you have a second chance.”


Nice to know both doctors are on the same page.

Dr. Rayan and Dr. Rios both recommend Rick switch to calf-length compression stockings. This is a huge relief because they are much cooler to wear.


Back in April, 2011, when Rick was released from the hospital, he had to wear thigh-high compression stockings. We found a chaps style design that belted at the waist. The Velcro belt prevents them from slipping and requiring constant adjustment. Because the stockings hold the heat, it’s tough to wear full-length stockings in the tropics. So the calf-length is much easier to live with.

The doctors also recommend Rick switch from Coumadin to Pradaxa (dabigatran). Both medications prevent blood clots. Pradaxa is currently FDA approved for people with Atrial Fibrillation (AF). In the near future they expect Pradaxa to be approved for preventing blood clots.

The biggest difference between Coumadin and Pradaxa is Pradaxa is not influenced by food or other medications. And it is expensive, although Medicare, Part D, has recently approved Pradaxa for patients with AF.

With Pradaxa the blood “thinness” cannot be tested. Pradaxa is fairly new on the market; so long range side effects are unknown. That makes us a bit nervous.

Rick has another safety factor. He has a TrapEase filter permanently implanted in his inferior vena cava. If a blood clot should form in his legs, the filter prevents the clot(s) from migrating to his heart.


Believe it or not, we actually take time for some fun!

We play Mexican Dominoes with our friends, Pat, Lea Ann, and Melissa. Rick is the winner and I come in fourth. It is so good to laugh and relax with the Walkers.

Saturday we enjoy a very special day with my daughter and her family. They drive (nearly 1,000 miles) from the San Francisco bay area to San Diego so we can spend the day together. It feels so good to hug my daughter, Lori.

We tour San Diego Zoo from morning to dark. My granddaughters are a delight. Nichole is our navigator and April sees animals she’s only seen in books. Don, our son-in-law, and Rick enjoy guy-time together.

What a fantastic day!


Our five kids (I have two and Rick has three) are enjoying a Second Chance, too.

My daughter, Lori, recently discovered she has talent as a gifted artist! Here’s an example of her first attempt with oil, brush, and canvas.


My son, Kevin, was seriously injured in a construction accident a couple of years ago. He’s returning to an earlier passion, hand-crafting fine custom jewelry. Here’s an example:


Our other three boys, Devin, Matt, and Justin are successfully reshaping their lives that were turned upside down because of disastrous economic events that were out of their control. Thank goodness for Second Chances!

Scott on, s/v ULALENA, takes good care of LA VITA while we are in the states. He and Rick are working on electrical and wood working projects on LA VITA. Scott is a professional shipwright and we highly recommend him.

Rick and Scott are working together to rebuild our deck box. We’ll go in more detail, but here’s a preview.


Our family and friends ask, “What do you plan to do now?”

Our answer, “We are still planning to head south.”

We’ve signed up for the El Salvador Rally (third time).


From El Salvador, we plan to continue south and go through the Panama Canal and down to Cartagena, Columbia.


Our experience has taught us plans can change without notice.

Each day we work towards continuing our cruising life-style; however, our schedule is very flexible.

We celebrate each day, laugh more easily, and deeply appreciate our love for each other.

We wish to extend a special thank you to everyone that took time to read and comment on Rick’s post. We appreciated each of you that sent messages of encouragement and support.

To view the photo album for this post, click on the camera,


If you like more information about the various doctors and medical stuff we talk about in this post, click Resources: Medical.

Like most cruisers, we don’t own a car. If you’d like to know what transportation we use to get from Puerto Vallarta Airport to our motel in San Diego, California and back, to Puerto Vallarta, MX click Transportation.

10 Responses to “Second Chance”

  1. Susie Wilson on October 9th, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    The meds Rick is taking – Pradaxa – is what I may have taken after my second and third knee surgeries in Hermosillo MX. My first surgery involved Lovanox self-injections since Coumadin was not available in La Paz. I was to use the Lovanox again in Hermosillo, but at the last minute the doctor was able to obtain what was then a new medication to prevent blood clots. I never had them, and genetically I am pre-disposed clots. Anyway, it is SO much better than injections and coumadin (which is poison and involves so much blood testing and diet adjustments).

  2. Lynn on October 13th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    We were surprised to read that Coumadin was not available in La Paz. Yes, Pradaxa does not regular needle sticking and food and medication are not factors. At the same time, Pradaxa hasn’t been around for very long, so the long term effects are unknown. At the moment Rick has switched to Pradaxa and so far OK. He’s been on it about 3 months.

  3. Margaret and Ken Crabill on October 9th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Lynn and Rick,

    Glad to hear that your medical checkups turned out so well and that you plan to continue sailing. After you go through the Panama Canal, we highly recommend that you spend some time in the San Blas Islands. They are beautiful and we found many very nice people there, cruisers and locals.

    We are dedicated land lubbers now and are enjoying being grandma and grandpa to our 4 grandchildren.

    Thanks for keeping in touch.

    Margaret and Ken

  4. Lynn on October 13th, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Margaret and Ken,
    We have San Blas Islands on our wish list, that’s for sure.
    We are very happy that your grand kids are around to spoil and enjoy. Lynn

  5. David Facinelli on October 11th, 2011 at 7:33 am

    I am glad to hear that you and Rick returned to good health.
    David Facinelli
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

  6. Lynn on October 13th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Hi David,
    We hope to sail LA VITA to Florida and say Howdy!

  7. Dave and Jan sv Baraka on October 23rd, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Rick and Lynn,
    thanks for the notice of your update. Great to hear you both have a clear bill of health. I’m sure La Vita is the same and also raring to head S.

  8. Lynn on October 24th, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Hi Dave and Jan on s/v BARAKA, We feel like we’ve been given a second chance, that’s for sure. Gettin’ all our ducks in a row so our trips south goes smoothly. Fair winds and safe harbors to you guys, too!

  9. Nancy and Greg on November 3rd, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    So glad all is well and the projects are in process. Hopefully, third time is a charm and you will make it south this year.

    Greg and I will be going to the boat in Guaymas in January. After some work getting her together again after her stay in the yard we will go out to play for a few months before heading to South Dakota to work on the house.

    Wish we could get together and visit.

  10. Lynn on December 5th, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    This sure has been a year of surprises. Glad you’ll be splashing early next year and getting a chance to play in the Sea for a few months. We wish you the best of luck with your House projects. We miss our visits, too! Cheers, Lynn

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