Sunday, August 30, 2015

tanned, rested, and -- resting some more

I had intended to post some observations conerning my hospital stay.  But circumstances have intervened.

The doctor removed my bandage this afternoon.  The good news is the swelling and redness are receding.  That means something is working.

There is a good deal of uncertainty of what caused the condition.  My white blood cell count is not elevated.  It should be if I have cellulitus -- even though all of my other symptoms are consistent with that diagnosis.

The doctor offered the postulate of an insect bite.  However, there is no obvious toxin ring anywhere on my leg or foot.

Whatever is causing the condition, the combination of anti-inflammatories and antibiotic cocktails seems to be working.  Slowly.  I add that "slowly" because the doctor suggested I may need several more days of hospital rest to fight off the remnants of the condition.

Amazingly, I am not yet bored.  But I am tired.  I have been sleeping rather than reading.  As a result, I have not been able to answer all of the very kind emails and comments you have been sending.  An opening for correspondence assistant needs to be posted. 

Thanks for all of them.  Please do not feel slighted if I do not respond within the coming week.  I will get around to them soon.

Right now, though, I intend to nap.  The joys and woes of hospital life can wait for another day.

And appears I will have that day -- and more.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Just a quick note.

I am off to the hospital to kick this infection. To no one's surprise (including my own), I have proven to be constitutionally unable to stay in bed if left alone.  I have the discipline of a golden retriever puppy.

My hope is that the antibiotics delivered by IV will work far better than the tablets and injections. We can debate whether I made the correct service choice when I am discharged.

The prospect of being bound by IVs to a bed for longer than 20 minutes has already made me bored and claustrophobic.  I am taking reading material.  But the moment I get bored, I can't read.  I call it my Airplane Syndrome.

I would be the world's most ungrateful person if I did not tell you how much I have appreciated your input. And I promise, we will all soon get off of this boring topic of Steve's health. And get back to interesting subjects -- like the most amazing sighting I had in my courtyard this week.

See you on the other side. I am assuming the hospital will be without internet.

Friday, August 28, 2015

my left foot

OK, class.  Take out your medical diagnosis etch-a-sketches and give them several sharp shakes.

Make certain you have removed all prior diagnoses of dengue fever, typhus, or chinkunguya are removed.  Steve has none of those.

After my temporary doctor took a look at my foot yesterday, he knew why the blood test results were so anomalous for dengue fever.  I simply did not have it.  But the symptoms I had -- symptoms associated with dengue fever -- (chills, fever, joint pain, shaking) are
the same symptoms of another common local condition.  Erysipelas.

Those of you who are classically trained in Greek already have an idea what the term means.  I had to look it up.  (After all, I am a Latin grammar school boy.)  It means "red skin."

I guess that describes the condition.  With subtle understatement.  It is a streptococcus-caused infection.  The bacteria are ubiquitous here.  All they need is a cut or abrasion to get inside the skin to set up housekeeping.

The result is a brief 24 to 48 hour display of the symptoms we have already discussed.  The infection then spreads rapidly.  That is why I woke up on Wednesday with no more "dengue," but with my new foot condition.  It turns out there is no new condition; it is only one problem.  Erysipelas.

The doctor started me on the correct treatment regimen on Wednesday.  Large doses of clindamycin
plus an anti-inflammatory.  One benefit of all these other medications is that I do not need my blood pressure medicine.  My pressure has dropped since the condition took up residence on Tuesday.

The remainder of the treatment plan is up to me.  Rest.  Elevate my foot (of course, it is not elevated right now as I type).  And probably a couple of other things I have forgotten.  Everything I have read says the rash condition can last two to three weeks.

I head to the doctor's office later this morning to get the third of my antibiotic injections.  On Monday, the doctor will request further tests, if necessary.

Several of you have raised the possibility that I should get a second medical opinion.  (Yes.  I know, for some of you, that sentence suffers from euphemistic editing.)  I very well may do that.  After all, I have become rather fond of my left foot.  Well, as fond as I am of the rest of me.

My return to blogging has taken an odd turn.  When Jiggs was dying, I promised this was not a medical bulletin site.  I hope I don't run the risk of turning it into one.

As for those etch-a-sketches, just put them on your desks.  We may need them again. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

best-laid plans

Yesterday Cat asked: "Okay Steve, this is one of those issues that does not require a long, four hour compilation essay, but I have been wondering how that blister on your foot is doing?"

I just saw her comment today.  And that is the theme of this short essay.

When I left the daily-posting ring, I had two projects in mind: to get regular exercise and to get serious about learning Spanish.  My friend Leo was the impetus for the exercise program.  During one of our conversations he said, "Life is divided into five year segments.  And the next five years will be the best years of the rest of your life."

I am not certain I agree with the predicate, but the sentiment embedded in the second sentence appealed to my hedonistic nature.  So, I joined him on his 4-mile morning walks on the last two days he was here.  And I really enjoyed myself: walking was my primary mode of transportation when I first arrived in Mexico.

If  you read the comments on my last essay, you know I developed a very nasty blister on the ball of my left foot during one of those walks.  The cause?  Probably improperly tied laces.  But we will leave the tale of the blistered foot for a moment.

Monday night I went to bed feeling quite normal.  In the early morning, I started shivering with one of the worst sets of chills I had ever experienced.  And my mind was stuck on one of those thought loops that keep me from sleep.  I kept thinking: "I am parking a car in Canada where there are two spaces; in Mexico there would be three" over and over.

That was tied to a very bad headache.  None of that worried me too much until I started having sharp chest pains.  As far as I knew, I was having a heart attack.

I called a taxi and went to a local clinic.  I woke up on Tuesday morning with all of my joints hurting.

After a blood test, my temporary doctor (my treating physician is in Canada until winter) diagnosed either dengue fever, typhus, or
chinkunguya.  He would not know until I return after another blood test at the end of the week. 

Whatever it was, I had no strength; walking was difficult.  I could not eat.  I could not even drink water.  All he could offer was a bushel of drugs -- and sleep.

When I woke up this morning, I felt amazingly well.  No headache.  No chills.  No pain in my joints.

Well, that is not quite true.  When I flexed my left ankle, there was a stabbing pain.  The foot was swollen and red.  The discoloration went half-way up my calf.

To answer Cat's question, the source of trouble was the blister on the bottom of my left foot.  I have kept it clean and anointed with an antibiotic ointment.  But that was not good enough.

I am now back home after an antibiotic injection (with two more daily shots on the way) and more tablets.  (I had Air Force friends who went through less treatment for their social meanderings.)

So, that's the long answer to the question of what has become of my blister.  And as for my Spanish lessons, the answer is the same.  I have been off of my reading schedule since Saturday.

When I have something more positive to report, I will be back.  Until then, I am going to get some rest.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

toying with the story

OK.  I know I am going to be accused of playing with my food, but I need to explain a few things about yesterday's announcement that Mexpatriate was closing down.

The tone was a bit ambiguous.  It needed to be that way.  But, in doing that, I unintentionally created worries where none need be.

I do not have a life-threatening disease.  Re-reading the announcement, I can see how I may have created that impression.  I actually feel quite good.

But that answer begs the question, doesn't it?  At least, it avoids the real question: an explanation why I am doing what I am doing.

The answer is quite simple.  I regularly spend four hours each day working on my essays.  It is a lot of time I could use for other purposes.  And I have two in mind.

First, I need to start getting serious about Spanish.  Almost everyone who visits me is appalled at how little Spanish I speak.  Leo being the most recent.  They are correct.  I have been getting by by getting by.

I will need to speak Spanish fluently to attain Mexican citizenship.  And to do that, I am going to start dedicating time each day for academic studies, and then applying it on my regular walks through town.

"Regular walks through town" sums up my second project.  When I moved to Mexico, I cooked healthy meals for myself -- and I walked everywhere.  When I moved to Barra de Navidad, I started eating only in restaurants after driving there.  I have paid the price for that.

I have joined Leo on his 4-mile morning walks.  Barra de Navidad has a spiffy walkway just perfect for that task.  My idea is to walk to the fitness club (just off of the walkway), ride the exercise bike there, and then walk back to the house.  Daily.  That should eat up almost all of the time I once devoted to writing my essays.

There was another factor.  But it is personal, and there is nothing to be gained by discussing its details.  Just trust me.

I have truly appreciated your comments.  And it has caused me to re-assess whether going cold turkey is the answer.  I know several bloggers who publish on an irregular basis -- or on a limited schedule. 

Here is what I would like to try.  I am going to keep accumulating writing material.  From time to time, I will publish an essay.  Maybe it will be on a regular schedule.  Maybe sporadically.

But watch this space.  A slimmer Steve and a slimmer Mexpatriate may work out just right.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Everything has a season.

So says The Preacher.  And it is true of most things -- even blogs.

I started writing this compilation of essays in December 2007 after a brief visit to La Manzanilla in an effort to develop plans for retirement in Mexico.  I wrote about those plans and my move south with my faithful companion Professor Jiggs.  And you know most of the rest of the story.

The blog has gone through name and format changes.  And it will now go through another major change.

Our lives change.  And I have certain events in my life recently that have convinced it is time to shut down Mexpatriate to allow me to pursue other endeavors.

It has been a fun ride.  For all of you lovely readers out there in the dark who have been reading my work, I thank you.  For those who have ventured to write comments, I thank you for the conversations.

But everything must end.  And this is where it does.


pooling my lights

Any good story should have suspense and conflict.

However, modern television and movies seem to have ripped both elements from their story-telling.  So, shall I.

As you can see by the photograph, both lights in the pool are now operating.  That is the first time I have seen the pool fully lit.  As I was cropping the photograph, it occurred to me why it looks vaguely familiar. 

Te lit-up pool has characteristics similar to those memorial fountains found in medium-sized Western cities.  If I turned on the water feature, all of the elements would be there.

I should have lit up the full house -- on both floors -- to give you an idea how creative the architect was in her use of light in combination with the lines of the house.  Night-time here can be a visual feast.  But that can wait for a future essay.

I wanted to be here when the pool guys showed up yesterday.  When we left on sme errands, I left the repaired lights sitting on the edge of the pool.

Watching the re-installation would have been fun.  But knowing how electrical connections are often accomplished here, I may be just as glad to have missed it.

Instead, Leo volunteered to be the guinea pig in entering the water first.  He survived.  As did our friendship.

Now, I can share my pool with guests -- a lit pool that will be certain to attract every mosquito in the barrio.  But it will certainly be pretty.