What Else Has Been Going On – No Medical Stuff, I Promise!

The last two weeks we have been lucky enough to spend lots of time with Cori and Greg, and they have been the perfect friends.  They understand we need a lot of space right now because of the diet/nicotine withdrawal crankiness, but are also around if we want to hang out.  Plus Hobie has been great for Jack to have company although Jack is becoming quite the teenage punk.  Hobie loses patience with Jack’s shenanigans, and occasionally puts the smack-down on him, which is actually pretty funny to see.

I bought them this rope toy. Jack is faster but Hobie outweighs him!

Jack has also learned how to climb up on the back of couches (Aunt Cori taught him) and now he spends lots of time looking out our windows.  It doesn’t bother me, but I will say I am glad I decided to go with the cloth couch rather than the ultra leather because I am not sure how well that would have held up.

He learned this new trick at Aunt Cori’s!! I worry about him puncturing her leather. I tried to trim his toenails but it only went OK.

I was also able to go to Cori’s Dad’s 80th birthday party which was really fun.  Lee didn’t feel up to it, but it was good for me to get out and I really like Don who I have seen several times over the last few years. He is in a really nice independent living facility and we all really liked it.  The food was terrific and there are lots of activities which keep him busy.  About a week later, the four of us went up and had dinner with him and Lee really liked it.  The nice thing about eating there is portions are very reasonable and all of the food is reasonably good for you.  Plus the catfish was Dee-licious!



More mundane life still goes on, despite whatever else is happening, and of course that was the same for us.  In the midst of everything,  I was able to finish our taxes and was thrilled that we this year we should actually get around $1700 back.  Partly that was the new tax laws, but mainly it was that we found a new tax preparer who specializes in gate guards.  She pointed us to some deductions we were leaving on the table, which definitely helped.

What else?  Well, I also remembered Kyrston’s monthly baby present and this time I got a deer blankie. Reasonably priced and super cute.  Speaking of that I wanted to personally thank whoever bought their RV hitch through our site.  That purchase earned us $41, which was amazing.  Next month I will be able to get her a Woodland Friends wall decal for the nursery and some super cute rattle socks!  These are small things, but she loves getting the little presents and it was a really bright spot in a stressful time.


Speaking of money, Lee went and got the 100,000 mile Truck Service and finally our pre-paid maintenance package was expired.  It cost $300 for an oil change and coolant flush, but it really needed to be done.  Going forward, Lee is going to be doing those maintenance items himself, but before he started he wanted to make sure it had a professional checkout.  They did discover a tiny leak in the transmission, but this is still covered under our extgended warranty.  Unfortunately they couldn’t fit us in so I will need to take care of this when we are in Phoenix.  They also told us we needed tires, but we were aware of that.  Our plan was to cover the cost of both truck and trailer tires with our work this summer in Portland.  It’s unfortunate they all need replaced at the same time, but what can we do??  Definitely need them replaced prior to heading east in October.

Finally I need to mention a problem with our RV that I have held off talking about.  For a while, Lee has felt there might be a break in a weld in the front of our RV, and we were finally able to confirm that.  Our plan is to go get it worked on as soon as Lee’s work is finished in Phoenix because we have an entire month free, just in case it takes that long. The good news is after much research Lee found a welding shop that he feels comfortable with.  The bad news is they said they have problems getting extended warranty companies to pay for their work and we cannot stay in it while they work on it.  That means we will need to pay for a hotel or other option along with the repair possibly.  There is even a very small chance the entire rig will need to be totaled.  Obviously none of this was great news on top of everything else, but for once in my life I am not going to borrow trouble.  Whatever happens, happens and we will just deal with it.


In some respects, it is the perfect storm of events, but this is not an uncommon theme in my life.  Even before we went on the road, issues tended to pile up.  Remember when I quit my job and lost our truck engine all in the same week?  At this point, I am feeling pretty zen about everything because here’s the thing:  Lee’s alive.  If he wasn’t I would be dealing with all of this by myself.  That would be a true disaster.  As long as we are together, we will face whatever comes and figure it out.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.


Lifestyle Changes – Work and Exercise

Once again we want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support.  We have received tons of emails, links, and lots of great advice, all given in a kind and constructive manner. We are really grateful for this community of people and I am going to pass some of it along in this post in the hopes it can help others.  If this is a topic you are interested I also absolutely recommend going back and reading the comments on the last couple of posts.  There are some great tips in there.  I’m going to start with where I left off though.


We had two jobs lined up when Lee had his heart attack and the incident put both of those in jeopardy.  The first is a job working a live event at the end of March, and is a significant amount of money.  When Lee talked to the cardiologist about the job, the first question was “How physically demanding is it?”  The answer, unfortunately, is it depends.  They are long days and the work is part physically demanding and part not.  Our kids in particular felt strongly that Lee should not take the job, but since he will make enough to cover most of our March expenses it’s not that easy.  I completely left the decision up to Lee and ultimately he called and talked to the person he would be working for.  Lee has a long standing relationship with the company and they were very understanding about the situation.  They said that they wouldn’t ask anything more of him than he felt he could do and because they know his work ethic they had no problem at all saying that.  The cardiologist said he just needed to pay attention to what his body was telling him, so based on those two conversations Lee has decided to give it a try.  

One important note here is that if the heart attack had been more serious Lee would have received cardiac rehab. Basically they reintroduce people to activity under controlled conditions and if that would have been required we would have needed to stay in the area.  Thankfully because minimal damage was done, that isn’t necessary, BUT Lee has to self-monitor how he is feeling and if he has chest tightness/pains for more than 10 minutes needs to go the ER immediately.

Our second job is our third season in the Mt. Hood National Forest outside of Portland, Oregon, and again we have an established relationship with those folks.  We received texts from both of our bosses checking to make sure Lee was OK, and it was incredibly nice that they reached out.  We know they would never ask Lee to do more than he was physically capable of, but this year we do have to take a company physical.  Its a standard every other year requirement and is done by third party providers.  The physical is pretty basic.  Lift 40 pounds, touch your toes, listen to chest, stuff like that, but it’s possible there are triggers in the questions set that might set off red flags.  Unfortunately there is no way of knowing prior to taking the physical and we plan on scheduling it immediately after Lee’s work in Phoenix. If for some reason they won’t hire him, we will find a job where physicals are not required.  I honestly don’t expect that to happen, but understand that because it is a large company it is out of our supervisor’s hands.

That will get us through the summer and then we will see where we are financially.  I expect the medical bills to start rolling in soon and once that all shakes out, we will have a better understanding of what we will need to do work-wise going forward.


I wanted to start taking evening walks as soon as we got back from the cardiologist, but Lee had other ideas. Because we kind of threw everything into Greg’s truck when I packed up he knew he had to repack everything.  He wanted to ease into it and really pay attention to how he was feeling, so every day he is doing a little more.  Task based activity is still activity, and I am following Lee’s lead.  We both agree though we would like to incorporate regular walks into our routine at some point and we will see how that goes in the following weeks. Perfect world we would start moving right away, but with everything else we are handling I am OK on holding off on this a bit.


Which leads me to updates.  We are starting day 6 of Chantix, and it is going OK.  I am having a few headaches and waking up several times in the middle of the night but still feel rested in the morning.  Lee is feeling tired, but having no other side effects from any of the medicine and we don’t know if that’s from the heart, quitting smoking, or less food.  Hard to separate things out when its all happening at once.  The full dose of Chantix starts on Day 7 and we are waiting to see how we feel at that point to cut cigarettes back more.  Lee is at 11-13 a day, down from 40, and I am at 13 and we are both willing to push through if we have to.  Best case though the full dose makes it relatively painless and we are waiting to see.

The diet, for me at least, has been way more stressful.  I sent Lee to the grocery store alone and he spent a couple of hours checking out products he might want to try.  I had done some research and sent him with a list and here are a few of the things he thought might work for him. Keep in mind our stance on the new diet is improving on what we used to eat, which is a pretty low bar.  Still every substitution is a step in the right direction and a good starting point for us.  Lee has lost 10 pounds since the heart attack and I have lost 4.5 so we must be doing something right.  The most important thing for us is to keep the weight off so we are doing this slow but steady.

Lee loves cookies and spent a ton of time looking for a substitute. Ultimately he decided to try these.  Added bonus, figs increase good cholesterol.


Albacore tuna is another good cholesterol enhancer, Not sure if the canned version will help as much but we will see. It has no fat, which is a good thing.


He also loves ranch so decided to give this Greek yogurt version a try at Cori’s recommendation.


Again at Cori’s recommendation no sweetener added ketchup. It tastes the same to me and I am picky about my ketchup.


He grabbed multiple bottles of Mrs’ Dash’s no salt seasoning. Lee never wants to feel like he is being “punished” through food, so seasoning is super important.


Some recipes just call for butter so decided to give this a try. Had some on my toast today and it’s pretty darn close.


Lee is switching from white rice (which is mostly sugar) to brown. This is one substitute I am not willing to make because I really don’t like brown rice.


I am willing to try the carb balance tortillas though.


We always ate iceburg lettuce, but are trying Romaine for sandwiches and salads.


I found several dessert recipes that have pumpkin puree as a natural sweetener instead of sugar and oils. Going to give this a try and see how it works.


We both crave something sweet at the end of the evening and the unsweetened applesauce is relatively inexpensive and seems to do the trick.


When that’s not enough though we have sugar free pudding cups. Only 70 calories!

Like I said, our approach is to eat a little less, try substitutes where it makes sense, and make sure we have something low in sugar and fat for those sweet cravings.  We are also not comparing ourselves to anyone else but instead comparing ourselves to what we ate formerly.  It’s much easier to feel successful when you look at how you used to eat versus what you are eating now.  Of course we could always do better, but if that is what we focus on we probably won’t.  One good example is Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.  Lee looked for a low-cal example but nothing appealed.  And we know Sweet Baby Rays is definitely not good for you.  But it’s also yummy delicious.  He thinks if he uses it sparingly it will be OK and I am fine with that. There are other places to cut back that are less unpleasant.  If we need to get more hard core in the future we will certainly do that, but for right now we are focusing on what is easy (or at least easier).


While I’m on the topic, I wanted to pass along some things friends and readers have sent to me via email.   I promise this blog isn’t going to turn into all health all the time, but since people seem interested, I want to keep sharing.  First off Kelly passed along that she is taking Krill to increase good cholesterol.  It’s a more powerful form of fish oil and they buy theirs at Costco.


Several people reached out to warn me that coconut oil might actually increase bad cholesterol so at the last minute I pulled it from the shopping list.  There is definitely conflicting info out there and at this point I am sticking with general consensus.  I did hear quite a bit from my friend Deb, who used to own an Olive Oil business, about the benefits of olive oil.  She sent me an article Coconut Oil versus Olive Oil, which was written by a cardiologist to back up her thoughts.

A reader Wendy,  reached out to me and recommended A Hackers Diet. The PDF is a free download and there is a database and excel spreadsheets for all you data junkies out there.  I’m not sure I want to track to this level at this point, but I know some people would love it.  she also wrote something really sweet and funny that I wanted to share with you. she made me laugh.

“I’ve always told everyone that a budget is way worse than a diet. Sticking to a budget and sticking to a diet are not the same. If you can master a budget, spending less than what you make, you have super powers. Now a diet – that is totally different. You can be at work and they say “treats in the break room!” Everyone swarms for free food. I never hear “20 dollar bills in the break room!” You can always get free food, but they don’t give away free money.”

I also got a really nice long email from Ed, who is a long time reader.  He said, ” We found that it was tough to go “cold turkey” and to quickly reduce our intake of meat (including processed meats).  Our American taste buds were trained to love the taste and mouth satisfaction from meat and sodium.  We found that to help us to reduce meats in our diets, we did it gradually through changing the relative proportions of the food on our plates over time.  So, for example, where carbs and meat might have been 1/2 or more of our plate at a meal, we started decreasing this in increments, in favor of vegetables.  After about 9 months, we were able to change our daily meals to 90-95% non-meat.  We do eat fish, but try to limit seafood (shrimp, crab, lobster – as these are high in cholesterol).  During our trips to the grocery stores we rarely come home with any meat.” 

He also said, “Over time, we learned to significantly reduce the amount of processed foods in our diets.  Someone told us that when you shop at a grocery store, it is better to spend more time shopping in the outside perimeter of a grocery store, as opposed to the inside aisles!   Prior to RVing, when we were working in our corporate careers, we often purchased and ate a lot of processed foods, because it was quick and easy.  As we adopted this new (to us) style of eating, we learned to read ingredient lists on all of the canned or bottled ingredients we use (including some spices which can be high in sodium).   We also now make our own sauces – for example spicy tomato sauce made with grape tomatoes, spices, wine, garlic, and nuts instead of buying pasta sauces from a jar or can.   Also, we often make salad dressings using hummus, roasted garlic, citrus, spices and vinegar, in place of cream based dressings. “

This made a ton of sense to me and seems to be a balanced approach.  In other countries, meat is not the star in most meals and with some minor modifications I think we could do the same thing.  Neither one of us feels ready to give up meat completely BUT we can certainly adjust the proportion and still get enough to eat.  I also was intriqued by the idea of making our own dressing and sauces so I could control the sodium levels. Maybe I can find a good BBQ sauce substitute this way.  Thanks for taking the time to write the email Ed, it was much appreciated, and I did tell Lee that you miss his chiming in.

And again thanks to everyone who has reached out.  The most meaningful have been the people who said what happened to Lee has encouraged them to make some changes in their own lives. I would never wish this to happen to anyone, but if one person gets something out of it, then on some level it served it’s purpose.  Certainly it has given us the motivation we need to change our lives.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Making Lifestyle Changes – Quitting Smoking and Going on a Diet

Before I begin, we wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who has taken the time to reach out in some way.  The love and support we have received has been amazing, and to a person everyone has been kind and supportive, which we truly appreciate.  Along with kind thoughts, many people have provided resources to help, which are great, and as I work through this post I am going to pass them along.  Lastly, I am humbled by how many people took the time to say how well they thought I did.  In the moment all I could see was what I could have done better, but those comments have gone a long way towards allowing me to give myself a break.  It wasn’t expected, but it was much appreciated.

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, there has been a bunch of concurrent changes.  Thankfully we have a safe and calm place to handle it, and we are being kind to each other.  As I walk through those changes, please keep in mind they happened concurrently, but for clarity’s sake I am going to tackle them one at a time.

Quitting Smoking 

This of course was a no-brainer and in some respects the most straightforward thing we need to do.  Not that it’s easy by any means, but it’s binary.  You either smoke or you don’t, versus diet changes, which are a little squishier.  Lee decided he wanted to try Chantix and I was able to get us started the day after he left the hospital.  The way it works is you gradually increase your dose over 7 days until you are at full strength.  For us, at least, it quiets the mental anguish that goes along with stopping smoking.  My best explanation is there is a screaming two year old in my head when I try and quit, and these pills make her rants much less effective.  There are all kind of side effects of course, the most common being very vivid dreams.  We have both had those, but since they are dreams and not nightmares, we both agree it is a small price to pay.  Even if they were nightmares, two months versus the rest of your life,I can live with the trade-off.  I have also been getting some headaches, but I think those are from the nicotine withdrawal.  We have both cut our intake in half while we are waiting for the 7th day.

At this point there are three different approaches.  You can quit all at once, quit sometime in the first month, or gradually quit over a three month period.  Lee wants to try the cold turkey on the 7th day, but I have stressed to him that any of the three is fine with me.  He has already gone from around 40 cigarettes to 11 a day and it is more important to me that this is a lasting cure than a short term fix.  When we went to the cardiologist today,  he stressed that it was the number one thing Lee needed to do, but also offered alternatives such as vaping, or nicotine gum.  This surprised both of us because we thought any level of nicotine was bad, but the cardiologist said that any improvement was better than none. Either way, Lee would rather just quit all together.  He thinks if he vapes he would go back to cigarettes eventually. I am not sure which method I want, but am going to follow the pill’s lead.  What I mean by that, is once the pill is active in my system I will naturally trickle down and only push hard if I have to. The tricky part will be keeping my smoking away from Lee.  We realize that we reinforce each others bad behavior and are disconnecting from each other (ie: not smoking at the same times or around each other).

In a perfect world we would both be one of those people who can turn it off like a light switch.  We know ourselves though, and without rationalizing we are selecting a path that we think will be successful long-term. It’s worth noting that we both thought we would smoke less with the full timing lifestyle, but we have both actually smoked more.  Working outside of an office environment allows for more frequent smoking and that has hurt rather than helped us.  No excuse, but we fully intended to have quit by now when we became full timers.  The one plus side of this life is we have much less stress.  Many people have to make serious changes in their lives to deal with that after a heart attack, but luckily that is much less of an issue for us.  Lee feels strongly it will be much easier for him to quit, without a ton of stress in his life.

One last thing.  A couple of people mentioned books that they found helpful in breaking habits and I wanted to mention them here.


I am way more stressed about this than the smoking.  I have been lucky enough in my life to never really diet and although I need to lose 20 pounds feel pretty healthy.  Lee needs to lose about 40 and struggles with food more than I do.  The last thing we want is for him to feel like he is “being punished” and Cori has been super helpful in that respect.  Because she has been eating healthy for over a year, she has tried many of the products and shared what she likes and doesn’t like.  She also has cooked a few meals for him which have proven he can eat well and still be health conscious.  We know fish for instance will be something we eat more of in the future and Greg taught Lee how to grill fish one night, which is something we never do.


My frustration stems from the fact that I am having to re-look at everyone of my recipes and my ingredients.  To give you an idea of the scope of the problem, I have been saving recipes for the last 4 years and went through and had to pitch 90% of them.  It is going to take me time to build up a new list of workable recipes and Cori has again been helpful there. She loaned me the hard copy of Hungry Girl Official Survival Guide that has some great suggestions on products for substitution.  Let me give you an example.  Lee loves sour cream.  Should we buy low-fat? What brand? Should we switch to yogurt?  There are tons of options out there, but rather than spend a ton of money trying things I would rather get some recommendations.

She also gave me several websites with recipes that she thought were good and numerous other people have sent me those as well.  If you diet you are probably aware of them but I am going to share them here.

  • This Old Gal – Specializes in recipes for Instant Pots and Air Fryers, both popular cooking methods for RVers. We now own both and the Air Fryer is awesome.
  • Mudhustler – Lots of low calorie sweet recipes. You can have something a little sweet every day you just need to be moderate about what you choose.
  • McDougall diet – Plant based diet that can have startling results.  Probably too extreme for Lee at this point but good to know about.
  • Drizzle Me Skinny – Good Sweet recipes and weight watchers friendly.  At this point we are not going to get on a specific program, but I don’t rule that out for the future.
  • Skinny Taste –  Healthy recipes made with real food.
  • Forks over Knives Video – Available on YouTube or Amazon for $2.99.
  • The China Study – by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D is written about the largest nutritional study ever conducted.  Lee is all about the data and loves facts and figures so I thought this would be particularly helpful for him.  Thanks for recommending it Nancy!

There have been other suggestions but these are a few to get us started.  I spent hours one day looking through recipes and writing them down, so this is definitely not going to happen overnight.  In the interim, we have been watching what we eat in particular the sodium intake.  Many diet foods are super high in sodium, so that is something to watch out for.  Lowering fat and sodium simultaneously is pretty tough but I think we are doing an OK job.

The Air Fryer has been really helpful here, and the best thing so far was the chicken wings. Cori thawed them, patted them dry, and using silicone tongs rolled them in potato starch.  She cooked them for about 20 minutes and then tossed them in a variety of sauces.  They were absolutely fantastic, and had a nice crunch. We also tried pizza on a cauliflower crust.  I was concerned about the sodium levels and not that crazy about the crust so Cori put together a kit for Lee to try and make personal pizzas.

They tasted as good as they looked


HEB thin pizza crust; half fat free mozzarella and half 2% mixed, organic pizza sauce, and turkey pepperoni. She puts the crust in a frying pan and crisps.  Flips it over and dressed the pizza.  Put it in microwave for 25 seconds to melt cheese, then put it back in pan and crisp other side.  DEE-Licious.


I even got into the act and made a little desert.  It’s called an upside down chocolate cream pie and only has 137 calories. 2 TBL Cool Whip lite on bottom of plate.  1 Low fat pudding cup spread out.  4 honey graham crackers crumbled and put on top.  It did taste a little like chocolate pie.

Not pretty but pretty good!

Eating Out

We don’t eat out much, but when we do we tend to treat ourselves and the last thing we worry about is calories or sodium.  As much as I would love to say no more eating out for a while I knew that wasn’t realistic.  After the cardiologist appointment, I suggested stopping at Souper Salad, but Lee really doesn’t like that restaurant.  He countered with Chipotle and I agreed, although I started to feel stressed out.  It took me a while to figure out what was bothering me, but the desire to protect him (and tell him what to do) was really strong. Thankfully we both recognized the situation was highly charged, although we didn’t know exactly why, and took a minute.  Lee ordered a Barbacoa bowl with brown rice, beans, lettuce, and pico.  He left off the sour cream and cheese. He also had a bottle of water instead of his mandatory eating out Coke, which was great.  I had my usual soft tacos but had two instead of three and we didn’t get chips or guacamole.

As we were eating I realized it didn’t bother me if he fully knew the nutritional choice he was making, but the thought he could make a really bad choice and not be aware of it really bothered me.  For all we knew there was 1,000+ grams of salt in that bowl, which was his choice but needed to be made consciously.  He understood that and I said I wanted to spend some time researching standard “eat out” meals and get a handle on their nutritional value.  I knew it probably wouldn’t be pretty, but again since we don’t eat out a ton it should be OK.

He got double meat which I didn’t realize at first

I should mention here that Lee’s cholesterol levels (at the time of the heart attack) weren’t that awful.  That really mattered to me because two years prior his results were in range and last year during our physicals we blew off getting bloodwork because we would have needed to make a second trip back to Portland.  The idea that we could have known from those test results last summer there was a problem really bothered me and I was glad that the results weren’t horrible because I would have had trouble living with that.  Here are the results.

  • His total cholesterol was 149; well below the 200 that is borderline.
  • His Triglycerides were 81; well below the 150 that is borderline.
  • His LDL was 101; which is near optimal although a little high.
  • The big problem was his HDL which was 32.  This is the good cholesterol that prevents against heart disease and anything less than 40 is high risk.  Greater than 60 is low risk and with his other factors where we need to be.

According to MedicalNewtoday.com there are nine main ways to improve your HDL. We weren’t doing any of these things, but we certainly could have started last summer if we had known.  I understand that wouldn’t necessarily have stopped the heart attack, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt.

  1. Consume olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil may be more healthful than processed olive oils. (Yep. I was about 50% on this already)
  2. Follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet. I’ll be honest, cutting out carbs at this moment might be one thing too many.  Right now we are focused on eliminating oils.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Add coconut oil to your diet. I took a look at this and think we should try to add it to coffee.  Apparently a couple of tablespoons a day makes a huge difference.
  5. Stop smoking.
  6. Lose weight.
  7. Choose purple produce:  Here are some I think we can make work: blueberries, figs, purple potatoes, red cabbage, purple cauliflower, purple asparagus
  8. Eat fatty fish often. This one is unfortunate because we really don’t like fatty fish. Instead we are eating North Atlantic Cod and Mahi Mahi.  I know it’s not as good, but it’s fish at least!

After the Chipotle experience I went looking for information online about what we had eaten.  I could of course go to every single restaurant individually, but luckily stumbled across a website called Calorie King, which has a database of many restaurants.  Obviously this information can’t possible be completely up to the minute, but it is certainly close enough to make good choices. It turns out Lee’s bowl was roughly 500 mg of sodium, which is high, but not the 1,000 I was worried it would be.  I am really excited about the database though, even more so because they have an app!!  Fantastic!!

All of that being said, it’s important that Lee owns his own health problems.  I am his friend and wife and want to be here to help and for support, but I am not going to start dictating his life choices to him.  No disrespect to anyone who has that kind of marriage, but it simply wouldn’t work for us. Not to say I won’t ever give him a look or make a comment ever again, but I need to keep those moments to a minimum and stay on my side of the line.  Just like with the smoking, he needs to try, but he needs time and space to find his own way.  It would be hypocritical for me to act any other way.  The situation could easily have been reversed and if he tried to “lay down the law” with me, that definitely would not have gone well.

Lots more to talk about regarding exercise, work, and travel, but I am going to stop here.  We need to take frequent breaks, because this is a lot to process and we want to get it right.  The response has been phenomenal though, so I want to keep pushing through.  If the experience can help anyone, it is totally worth it.  Thanks for listening, and thanks again for all the fantastic support.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Moving the RV without Lee

Despite everything that happened I did sleep OK, mainly because I took some Nyquil.  I woke up at 8am and saw Greg wasn’t going to be there until 10:30 and rolled over and slept until 9am.  When I woke up I had energy and purpose and started buttoning everything up.  Because I was way more comfortable with the inside of the rig I started there, and tried to move slowly and with great deliberation.  Lee always double checks my work so I wanted to be super careful I didn’t miss anything, and by the time Greg got there at 10am I was close to being done.  During the pack up process I kept going out and talking to the gate guard supervisor who was covering.  I made sure I transitioned all their equipment back to them and left their extension cords etc with the trailer they provide.

I want to be clear here I absolutely did NOT have to move the next day.  The gate guard company would have figured it and laid no expectations on me.  I wanted to move the RV for a few reasons.  First and foremost I wanted Lee to come home to the RV already moved.  He was lobbying for us to wait until he could come and help and I absolutely did not want him in a truck five hours round trip and then dealing with the move.  Second, I wanted my stuff near the hospital.  I had to get Jack back and needed the RV and cage etc to make that work.  I wanted my bed, my shower, my clothes etc, and since I was lucky enough to have a place to take it I wanted to make it happen sooner rather than later.  Third, I was trying to do right by the gate guard company.  There was a small area they could maybe squeeze a second rig and trailer in but it was not optimal.  By getting out before the relief came it made their lives easier.

The only reason I felt comfortable doing any of this at all was because Cori was with Lee.  She got up and went to the hospital and spent most of the day with him.  She kept him entertained, talked to doctors and basically made sure he got what he needed.  If I didn’t have her doing that no way would I have left him alone all day.  It would have had to wait.  If I didn’t have their help I probably would have needed to wait for him anyway.  Several gate guard friends were close by and they certainly would have come and helped, but having a place to go and a long time friend to help gave me the courage to tackle it immediately.

During this process Greg was absolutely amazing.  He doesn’t own a fifth wheel, but the basic mechanics of slides, power, water, and sewer aren’t that different.  He also had brought his truck down which was really great because instead of needing to neatly pack everything, we just threw most of the outside stuff into his truck.  That was super important because Lee is the pack master and I would have a hard time duplicating how he packs.  Left to my own devices I probably would have thrown everything on the bed, which would have been a mess.  Because we were both a little uncomfortable we took our time and talked through everything out loud.  He was extremely kind and patient and let me work through it at my own speed.

When we got to the hitching though we both paused.  Hitching is really important, and neither of us had ever done it ourselves.  We talked it through and it looked right but Greg wanted to make absolutely sure.  If the hitch was wrong we could have severely damaged the rig or the truck.  I appreciated the fact that he didn’t just barrel through and first we called Lee.  Unfortunately he was in the middle of a room change (from ICU to step down) and couldn’t talk so then we called Bill.  He wasn’t immediately available so next I called Steve.  Up until this point, I hadn’t told Steve and I didn’t handle that call very well.  Basically it was “Hi Steve, Lee had a heart attack, he’s OK, but can you help us with our hitch?”.  I wasn’t thinking to clearly at that point. Steve to his credit, after his initial shock took it in stride but unfortunately didn’t have the same hitch.  Lee called back and so did Bill and ultimately Greg felt comfortable it was hitched probably.

The only thing that made it really tough, was Lee had written about what happened on Facebook.  I was glad he told people, because word was starting to leak out, but that act opened the floodgates.  Tons of people reached out to me and the love and support was amazing. I was glad Lee was telling people he was OK, but I felt like I needed to stop and answer every single text.  In retrospect I should have made a general Facebook announcement and waited until I was done with everything. The kids wanted more information and now that he was OK, they had a lot to say. Everyone was worried and rightly so but I was just feeling overwhelmed.  Not the best head space to be in when trying to move the rig without Lee and I really needed to focus. No one knew that of course, which again is why I should have just made a general announcement so people would know why I couldn’t get right back to them.

We finally got it done and although Greg offered to drive I decided I was going to.  He’s never driven a fifth wheel and although I had every confidence in him, I felt this was one thing I could do for myself.  He did keep the dogs in his truck because I knew Jack would be all over me and didn’t want any distractions.  Pulling out was actually the hardest part because I had to go down the oilfield road and turn around.  In retrospect we should have driven it first, but it didn’t even occur to me because we never have a second vehicle.  I went down  to the spot where the helicopter had landed thinking that area would be big enough to turn around, but what I didn’t see was a HUGE rut in the middle of the road.  No way was I going through that so I started trying to back up which I am not very good at.

Hard to tell from the picture but it was bad

Thankfully Greg saw something was wrong and he pulled up. He walked it first and then said he could get it through.  He pull the truck as far to the right as he could and the RV tipped significantly as he was going through.  In that moment I was 100% sure it was going to flip on it’s side and I think my stress meter just overloaded. Emotionally at that point I just shut down although I did feel relief when he made it through both ways OK.

Going through the first time . It seemed way worse in person.


Coming back out.

I took back over driving at that point and Greg followed me.  Right before San Antonio I did stop at a rest area and told him I was feeling comfortable and he could go on ahead.  I took a few minutes and ate some pizza, went to the bathroom, and tried to talk to Lee.  Again, he was in the middle of talking to doctors but I exchanged texts with Cori and she said things were OK.  Lee was lobbying hard to be let out of the hospital, but they were having none of that.  He hated his room, his roommate was seriously ill, and he just wanted to go home.  The enzyme tests though weren’t as low as they would like and they needed to do an echo.  He was staying another night and was just going to have to deal with that.

I continued driving and followed my GPS which took me an unusual way.  Turns out there were accidents and construction on the normal route, which Greg took, and I actually beat him there.  Unfortunately as I was turning into his driveway I cut it to close and once again got stuck.  I needed to back up and was nervous because I was in loose gravel.  Thankfully Greg got there 5 minutes later and he got it in the driveway.  He had to make a super wide turn up into the grass to get it in but he managed just fine.

At least I stopped when I saw I was in trouble and didn’t make a bad situation worse.

The next part we both knew was going to be difficult.  Greg had never backed in a fifth wheel and I knew I wasn’t great at it.  The site we were getting into was extremely tight and Lee had trouble the last time we were there.  At this point I talked to Lee but he said it was not something he could talk someone through unless he was there.  Greg and I were on our own, but I felt pretty confident we would figure it out.  I knew that Lee had pulled onto the hill to get it lined up last time and I also understood that it took numerous tries in a situation like this and was a battle of inches.  Greg was really calm and patient and we talked the entire time.  Ultimately he had it lined up beautifully and I was super proud of him.

He had to pull pretty far onto the hill in front of him to make it work.

At this point we were both really tired but there was lots left to do.  He stayed with me and watched while I hooked up power and water and he was nice enough to hook up the sewer.  The dogs were going crazy at this point glad to be outside, but when I opened the door they both came in.  There isn’t much room in the RV when the slides are in, but Hobie managed to squeeze his chunky self in there anyway and went straight to the toys.  That made me smile for the first time in two days. And one more time I want to say how wonderful Greg was.  Many men would have just taken over in that situation.  Not to be mean but in the attempt to be helpful.  Greg made me feel supported but also let me feel in control which I desperately needed in that moment.  He was amazing and couldn’t have handled it any better.  I will always be grateful.

Puupies running in the grass.


Hobie squeezing in.

I takes a while to set everything up and even though I did the bare minimum it took a while because there were piles of things I hadn’t dealt with in the button up process.  I was exhausted when I was done, but also knew I needed to get to the hospital.  Cori had just left to head back so I called Lee and told him I was on my way, but he said I didn’t need to come.  He was really cranky and there was nothing I could do to make it better and he wanted me to rest.  I didn’t fight him too hard because I was wiped.  Cori brought home some Panda Express and after eating a quick dinner I went and laid down.  I was mentally too wound up to sleep right away but at least I could rest.  I took the phone in the bedroom with me and finally got to sleep.

At 4:30am the dog woke me up because he needed to go outside.  I had a hard time falling back to sleep but knew I needed to.  I woke up at 7:10am and saw a 6:40am text from Lee saying please come and get him because he wanted to leave as soon as they released him.  That threw me into a panic and I got the dog to pee real quick, grabbed him a shirt and coat, brushed my teeth and left. I knew I shouldn’t rush, but I couldn’t help myself.  I felt late and the guilt from not going the day before came flooding in. Once I got in the truck though a couple of things slowed me down.  First I didn’t have enough gas to get there.  I stopped at one gas station but the pumps weren’t working and then found another and filled completely up.  I had the presence of mind to make sure I put my finger on the diesel symbol on the pump though.  Never making that mistake again.  That gas station had a McDonald’s in it and I went through the drive through and got a sandwich to go.  I hated to lose the time, but I knew I needed a full stomach.

I was also slowed down by the accident on the freeway.  I don’t think I have ever driven on the freeway in San Antonio without either an accident or construction and this was a doozy.  It took me an hour and ten minutes to get to Lee but it turned out to be fine. The cardiologist had released him at 6:30 am but the internist still had to sign off.  He ate some breakfast and then wanted to get dressed, which he did.  We waited another hour and finally they let him leave.  He was coming out of his skin at this point, and couldn’t wait to get out of there.  After we left we needed to stop and get his prescriptions which was tricky as well.  It took a while to fill them, but thankfully my insurance plan has an RX benefit and all in it was only $38.  While we were waiting I had a long talk with my brother and went through the medicines and after care treatment.  The cardiologist talked to Lee but he was super groggy and I wanted to talk to someone I trusted.  Once again having medical people in the family really helped.

I learned that Lee was taking Plavix (to help with the heart plaque) and a cholesterol lowering medicine.  Both of those were for long term prevention though.  The low blood pressure medicine or Beta Blocker was actually my biggest concern but was the most important.  That medicine does two things, the most important was to slow the heart down so it doesn’t work so hard.  Since Lee’s blood pressure was good throughout the event I was concerned about it getting too low, but my brother suggested buying a blood pressure machine and checking it regularly.  If the blood pressure got too low he could cut them in half but it was extremely important in the short term that he take those pills.  We also talked about the short-term recuperation, again things I would have talked to the cardiologist about if I would have been there.

On our way home, Lee started talking about lifestyle changes.  I had made up my mind that in the short term I was going to allow him to decide the changes he wanted to make and I would be open to doing them with him.  Long term if he was unwilling to make any changes that would be a separate conversation, but I hoped the event scared him enough that wouldn’t be necessary. Thankfully the entire experience was unpleasant enough he wanted to make changes.  We both felt it was important to take this seriously but also take a moment as well.  I also made sure I didn’t put lots of demands on him, because ultimately it was his decision.

When we got back to the RV he felt pretty good, but needed to rest.  He also had lots of phone calls to make.  Cori said she would make dinner and then left to go to the store and brought us back a Ninja Air Fryer.  We had looked at these before but were on the fence, but now was a perfect time to get one.  We loved our little baby fry daddy but it was messy and of course not good for you.  Cori made fish, green beans, and salad for dinner and used the air fryer to make tater tots.  They turned out really crispy and everyone really liked them.  It was incredibly thoughtful of her.  In the last couple of years she had gone through the process of eating healthier and has been a wonderful resource.  Our friend who had a heart attack a year ago also reached out and told us about the McDougall diet. He has had dramatic results from adhering to it and has lost 40 pounds and is now off all medicine.


I particularly appreciate how they both approached me being helpful but also understanding about how difficult life changes are.  A few people had made comments telling us what to do that I found rude and a little hostile.  We both knew we had to make big changes and make them quickly, but we were also dealing with life as well and it was all overwhelming.  Our plans for the next six weeks involved Lee working in Arizona and then taking some time off before starting work in Portland.  Unfortunately the cardiologist was on vacation next week and couldn’t see us until after we had to leave.  We didn’t have enough medicine to get us through to Oregon where our family physician is and weren’t all that comfortable traveling without a check out.  Lee made several phone calls and finally got someone to understand our unusual situation. They found a cardiologist to see us on Monday of next week, but it was no easy thing.  She had to go to her managers to even make it happen.

I was finding that when we talked about how we traveled people were just glazing over.  Finally I just started telling people we lived in Oregon and were on vacation and that they seemed willing to deal with.  There was a very good chance at one point we were going to need to stay in San Antonio indefinitely.  That still could happen depending on the test results.  Sometimes they want to do a follow-up catheter in 3 months.  It would be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer all of this to another doctor. And all of this might not matter except we have bills to pay.  The kids were pushing hard to have him not work the March job, but that will cover our months expenses.  We already had lost 2 weeks on pay in the oilfield and things since November have been tight.  Thankfully we had a place to stay for free indefinitely, but we needed income coming in.  I was resolved in the short-term not to even think about it, but it was on Lee’s mind.  We talked through the various scenarios but there were too many unknowns to make any decisions.  I steadfastly said we would figure it out no matter what and his health came first.  I was completely open to just getting a temporary job if we had to stay to bring some money in.

It’s not a complete disaster, because we have $16K in an contingency fund for just something like this, but Lee knows once that fund is gone we need to stop traveling for a while and build it back up.  We also have the medical bills looming of course, but again I was pushing that off to another day.  It didn’t help when I got a call from the helicopter company verifying insurance and letting me know they were going to bill $57K.  We will see how all of that plays out over time, and yes, I am as sticker shocked as you probably are.  Right now though we tried to focus on what was right in front of us and that was getting the cardiologist appointment, and making some decisions about lifestyle changes.

Lee woke up the next morning and said he wanted to try Chantrix.  I called my Dad and he called in a prescription for us immediately.  We also gave me some great information on what had just happened.  One of the best pieces of advice he gave me was to try and get a CD copy of the medical procedure.  They record them now and he thought it would be good to take to any other cardiologist.  I never even thought about that. After the call, I left to get us the Chantrix.  I had to go to two different pharmacies because they each only had one starter package , but it was 100% covered by insurance which was great.   Cori also fixed another really healthy meal of pork loin, salad, and she even made a yummy low calories desert.  She has found great alternatives for sweets which should really help quite a bit.  We can’t really replace every “bad” food item we have, but we can replace them with better alternatives over time and cook things in healthier ways in the meantime.  Cori also gave Lee some things to try including Kodiak Cakes, which he really liked and Stevia, which he is trying in some recipes.

She’s been amazing through all of this and her approach is just right.  She is providing information and encouragement and giving him someone neutral to talk to.  Which was a really good thing because at some point I just mentally shut down.  I needed a minute to catch my breath and as much as I appreciated his enthusiasm, it was all overwhelming.  Let me put it this way.  I woke up Monday morning and by Friday my husband had a serious medical incident, I had lost my job, moved my home, was quitting smoking, and changing my diet. The brute force tactics are certainly called for in this situation, but all things being equal I wouldn’t have chosen to take all this on at once.  What mattered both then and now was Lee.  He is a person who needs to make quick and dramatic changes and I get that about him.  The worst possible scenario would have been he didn’t take it seriously, and I will take all of this over that any day.

So that’s where we are right now. I will continue to walk you guys through this as it occurs and we will see where it all ends up. Right now, if at all possible, we want to continue with our life as planned.  Hopefully everything will be just fine and we will continue to be able to do that. I will say one thing, no matter what happens: I don’t regret being a full time RVer.  Obviously if this would have happened in a normal house things would have been simpler in some respects, but the things we have seen and done over the last four years were worth whatever comes our way.

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What Lee Will Do To Ride In A Helicopter

Let me start by saying that Lee had a mild heart attack but is OK.  As of this writing he is home and doing fine. I decided to write about the incident because I think it is really important to share what happened.  As you probably know, Lee smokes, is a little overweight, and has a terrible family history of heart problems. His risk factors for a cardiac event were really high and the choices he made led directly to it happening.  It’s OK if you judge us for that, hell I do, but please keep in mind that people have heart attacks all the time who don’t have these risk factors.  I personally know four different people who have had heart attacks since we started full timing four years ago.  Two of them never smoked and one of the four was a woman.  This truly could happen to anyone and I think walking you through the incident may help someone if it happens to them.  That is why I am sharing this story.  I will ask in advance that you keep any post comments positive.  I am quite aware that there are many things we could have done differently and I am going to talk about those as I go through it.

To set the stage, we have been working on a gate about 2 hours south of San Antonio.  The gate has been pretty mellow and the day was just like any other day.  Around 10am, Lee ate some lunch and almost immediately started to feel bad.  He was nauseated, his left fingers were tingling, and he has sweat on his upper lip.  At first he thought it was food poisoning and then maybe the flu. When he woke me up at 11am (my regular time) he really was feeling bad.  When he mentioned the numbness I had him take a baby aspirin and go lay down.  I’m not even sure why I did that.  I have had baby aspirin in my RV since a friend of mine had a heart attack but we have never used it.  I didn’t really think he was having heart issues at that point, but thought just in case it couldn’t hurt. Turns out that one baby aspirin could have saved his life, or at least mitigated the damage.  The first thing the Squad personnel did was give him more baby aspirin.

He was laying down for less than 10 minutes when he said I needed to call 911 because his chest was hurting.  In 30 years of marriage, Lee has never asked me to call an ambulance, and I did it immediately.  The problem was the closest small town was 20 miles away and all they had was a rural health clinic.  I briefly thought about driving him there instead of calling, but because we were working the gate and I wasn’t 100% sure where to go I just called.  Again, this was a split moment decision and it turned out to be the right one.  During this vehicles were continuing to go through the gate and I was running back and forth and waving them through.  I stopped one and asked if anyone back in the oilfield had medical experience, and he said no and I should drive Lee into town.

That felt wrong to me and since at this point the chest pains were much worse, I wasn’t even sure I could get him in the truck.  I sat there holding his hand watching him writhe in pain and was sure he was going to die.  That feeling of helplessness will stay with me the rest of my life.  I need to do something, so I called my brother (who is a doctor) and he immediately took my call.  I asked him if there was anything else I could do and he said no, just baby aspirin, and felt I should wait for the squad.  That calmed me down enough to call 911 back and they said they were less than 5 minutes away.  The fire department did call me because they couldn’t find our gate and as I was outside trying to get my bearings a truck pulled in and said he had seen them down the road and immediately turned around and went and got them and led them to the gate. There were three vehicles that arrived and it was all less than 20 minutes from when I called, which is amazingly good response time considering how rural it is.

They used a portable EKG to verify he was having a heart attack and gave him some nitro which provided some relief.  They also determined he needed flown to a hospital and had a helicopter en route.  I cannot say enough about the professionalism and expertise of these young people. Our RV bedroom is very small but somehow they managed to fit four people in there and be extremely effective.  The unusual circumstances didn’t bother them in the slightest and they had the situation well in hand. While they were with him I couldn’t fit in the room and took that opportunity to call my boss.  He was on a conference call with all of the supervisors and they had someone there to cover before the squad left.  This was important because it was a one lane gate and at this point it was completely blocked by the squad vehicles.  The oil company and the gate guard company managed traffic somehow and made sure there wasn’t an accident.

I am not sure how this happened because I kept running into the bedroom to check on Lee. He was extremely upset.  He kept saying he couldn’t leave me, that he had to take care of me, and I had to keep assuring him I would be OK.  At one point when I was out of the room I heard him say he didn’t want to die and I almost lost it. My falling apart wasn’t going to help anything and I was ruthless with myself as I started putting a plan in place.  I had the dog, I was 2 hours away from the hospital, and I couldn’t go with him on the helicopter regardless.  The thought of him being alone until I got there was awful so I called my friend Cori.  Cori was staying north of San Antonio and as soon as I told her what was happening she and Greg got into the car.  They didn’t even have a location yet because I wasn’t sure what hospital but she brushed that aside and said she was on her way towards town.  She said to meet them at the hospital and bring the dog and they would make sure Jack was taken care of. Since I had no idea how long I was going to be gone, I knew I couldn’t just leave him.

At this point they had Lee stable and were moving him into the ambulance and driving him down to the helicopter, which they had landed in a patch of the oilfield.  Again the team they sent was amazing, because they figured out the logistics of where it would land very quickly.  The only thing they didn’t know was which hospital he was going to so I had to sit and wait until the helicopter took off.  That was the worst part and seemed to take forever.  It was just the logistics of moving him into the copter, but it felt like forever and I was sure the worst had happened.  During this period my sister called me and said all of the right things.  She is a nurse, and reassured me I had done the right things and then asked if she could pray for me. I said I would appreciate that and she said if it was okay she wanted to say a prayer with me right then and there.  More than anything else that act calmed me down and right after we finished the prayer the helicopter took off. I even had the presence of mind to take a picture of it taking off through the window, more out of amazement than anything else.

Helicopter taking off from oil field

Although I was calm I really wasn’t thinking very clearly at this point.  I felt like I was on autopilot and in retrospect what helped me was the fact that I had thought about this scenario in advance.  Because we were in a remote location, I had thought through the basic logistics of a medical emergency.  Turns out there were lots of details I didn’t take into account but at least the basics were covered.  I spoke to the medical team as they were leaving and got the name of the hospital and then immediately texted Cori.  She was able to get there right before the helicopter landed and was in the ER with Lee ten minutes after he arrived.  That was a huge blessing and knowing she was there I was able to not be so frantic.  I talked briefly to the relief supervisor and then packed some things for the dog and jumped in the truck.  Here’s what I didn’t take.  No coat for Lee (it was very cold) or any other clothes.  Nothing for myself in case I wanted to spend the night.  I grabbed the book he was reading and then left it on the table and he could really have used that.  I was fixated on the dog and got his leash, bed, and dog food, but nothing for myself or Lee.  I did make sure I had a medical card, my purse, Lee’s wallet, and some cash, all of which was important.  The emergency squad got his insurance information before he even got on the helicopter, so I knew I would need that.

Helicopter coming into hospital (courtesy of Cori).  we think it was same one could be wrong about that.

At this point I got in the truck and started driving.  The hospital was on the north end of San Antonio and with traffic was roughly 2-1/2 hours away.  I really focused on staying calm while I was driving and even drove through a McDonald’s to get a quick sandwich because I hadn’t eaten anything.  It helped that Cori was with him and I knew he was stable.  They were running tests and the worst thing I could do was get in an accident.  We knew it couldn’t be that bad or they would have rushed him to surgery and what I learned later was his enzymes were very high indicating something was wrong, but the EKG results were inconclusive.  I spent the time thinking and calling some people.  I called Lee’s mom first and then I spoke to his Dad, and my Dad.  My Mom is on a worldwide cruise and in Australia so I didn’t reach out to her, but I did follow up with my brother.  I also called Bill and Bryan, two of Lee’s best friends.  I tried to think of the people that absolutely needed to know, and when I was almost at the hospital I called Linda.  She was on my mind and I knew she loved us and wanted to give her a call.  Everyone was really great, but I want to give out a piece of advice here.  Anyone you notify, you will need to get up to date throughout the event and that can get a little overwhelming.  Texts were better and group texts were the most efficient, but some people I needed to speak to one on one. Just think about that when you start notifying people, because once they know and are involved you have to keep them up to date.

I intentionally didn’t call my girls because I wanted information before I did that, and I knew those were all individual phone calls.  When I arrived at the hospital, Cori sent Greg out and he took the dog and got the truck parked in a safe spot.  I went back to the ER and it took forever (it seemed) to get back to him.  Three hours had gone by at this point and I desperately needed to see my husband. He was doing OK, but he was in some pain.  Nowhere near the level of pain he was in during the event itself but it wasn’t going away and his enzymes weren’t going down. Not long after I got there the ER cardiologist came in and asked a series of detailed questions.  Based on that conversation she determined she wanted him to have a catheter that evening and left to get it scheduled.  Cori was amazing during all of this because she asked all the right questions.  I come from a medical family, I know what to ask, but seeing him laying there my brain totally froze up.  She took notes and made sure we had all kinds of information and never left my side.

One thing did occur to me after the cardiologist left and I realized this was the point where I was supposed to be my own financial advocate.  Thankfully, we have insurance, but like many others it has a huge $7200 individual deductible.  I told Cori I know I am supposed to bargain shop around at this point on procedures, and even decide whether or not to get it done, but in an emergency situation like this how the heck was I supposed to do that? I get how that works in an outpatient situation (in theory), but if these doctors weren’t in plan or the procedure wasn’t covered for some reason it didn’t matter.  Nothing mattered other than Lee not being in pain anymore.  We both knew the helicopter ride would have been expensive, Lee even said in the midst of the heart attack in the RV “we can’t afford that”, but what should I had done?  Said, “No, don’t send the helicopter, we will drive the two and a half hours and see what happens.”?  No way.  Those thoughts briefly crossed my mind and were immediately set aside.  I would deal with the bills when they came, and I was so thankful that despite the occasional urge to get rid of insurance and roll the dice we never did that. It is likely because we made so little last year they will forgive some of the debt, but even if they don’t there is a big difference between $10K and $100K.  I’m guessing here, and we will see how it all plays out long term but the idea of my trying to manage the financial aspects in that moment was just ridiculous.

One other thing I want to mention here is I truly believe that at this point they could have released him.  If he had downplayed his pain, if we all weren’t so engaged, or if we weren’t honest about his risk factors, they may have sent him home.  The EKG wasn’t showing a heart attack and for some reason they didn’t see the EKG from the oilfield.  The doctor made sure he got in though, and they kept a doctor late to do the procedure.  We stayed with him in shifts, taking turns eating and during all of this Cori had her sister come and pick up both dogs.  That was incredibly nice of Sherry because she drove an extra hour round trip to make that happen. I though at this point Cori and Greg might take off but they made it clear that wasn’t happening. They were absolutely amazing, and I can’t say enough how lucky we didn’t have to go through it alone.  Without them I would have had to try and find a boarder for Jack and probably would have left the hospital to do that.  Best case I would have been running outside periodically to check on him which would have been more pressure. Not to mention how much the moral support mattered and not feeling alone in a strange city with no family nearby.

Greg fixing Lee’s oxygen. He kept all of us in good spirits.


He got ripped off on dinner though and had to eat this vending machine sandwich.


It’s tense being in an emergency room and the fact that we didn’t know if they were going to do the procedure didn’t help.  Lee did decide to call each of his daughters individually just in case something happened during the procedure.  They were thankfully all available and they all handled it very well.  They took the time to make sure I was OK as well, which I thought was incredibly sweet of them.  Finally a couple of nurses came in and started his prep.  They took him upstairs and put us in a waiting room and told me it would be about an hour.  That wait was incredibly long, because we had no idea what they would find when they went in.  At the hour and a half mark I was really starting to get jumpy when the doctor finally came out. Up until this point, every single person was nice and professional but this guy really rubbed me the wrong way.  He acted as if he was annoyed he had to stay late to complete the procedure and explained that one very small artery was entirely blocked.  He stated it was too small to stent or bypass so they used a balloon to open it, but he shrugged and said it may not last.  Some other arteries were 40% blocked, but they don’t stent until a vessel is 75%.  They were just going to treat it with medication and lifestyle changes.  Finally he said, “He needs to stop smoking.”  and wandered off.

At that point I was enraged.  The procedure may have been routine for him but it certainly wasn’t for us, and only the fact that Cori and Greg were there with me kept me from going off.  I went and called Lee’s Mom immediately to give her an update that he was OK and just as I was finishing the nurse came out.  She was wonderful. she took us back to see him even though he was still in the operating room, and then showed us before and after pictures.  Her explanation made sense and she was very caring and Lee was alert and largely pain free.

The area point to the very small artery that was clogged shut.  You can see where the blood is flowing down and to the right, and then just stops.


And the after picture shows blood flowing again past the tiny branch and continuin down to the right.

I found out later after talking to my Dad, who is also a doctor, that the heart often does a natural bypass in situations like this.  Blood over time will flow to different areas, which probably happened in this case which minimized the damage to the heart.  Without a stent there was no way of knowing if the plaque would continue to move and another event could have happened at any time. They actually kept Lee in the hospital for two days to observe him, which my Dad felt was a good thing, and administered medicine and monitored his enzymes while he was there.

We all waited until Lee was settled into his ICU room and made sure he got something to eat.  He was starving, which I thought was a good sign and since it was late they fed him jello and turkey sandwiches.  I offered to stay, but he said I didn’t need to, and Cori offered to get me a hotel room with points she had.  At that point I had no clothes or toothbrush and just wanted to go home.  Greg was coming down first thing in the morning to help me move the rig and I just wanted to go home.  I made the very long drive home and ended up arriving at 1am.  I talked briefly with one of the gate guard supervisors (four of them covered our gate in shifts until they could get a permanent replacement) and then started to clean the house.  It was absolutely trashed and I couldn’t even start buttoning things up until I at least did the dishes and picked some things up.  At 2am I went to sleep and set my alarm to get up at 8am to start the move process.

I’m going to stop this post here and I’ll talk more about what happened in the next post.  Again, Lee, is doing well, and we are putting a plan in place for lifestyle changes that I will cover in more detail during the next post.  I am incredibly grateful for all the love and support we have gotten from the people in our lives, and from strangers.  Once again I will ask that you limit your post comments to items that are constructive and/or positive.  It was difficult reliving this again to write this post, but I really felt that it was important to share.  I also recommend that you read a post  written by Les and Sue about their experience. He was very healthy, had regular exams, ate well, had excellent blood pressure, good cholesterol,  and didn’t smoke and he had a major heart attack while living in his RV.  When I was going through our experience, I remembered some of what she had written months before and I found it very helpful.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

February 2019 Budget

Another good month, with expenses only hitting $2,718.  We made $3,775, so another thousand dollars put into savings.  The only big unexpected purchase was our Nighthawk Hot Spot, which was $216. It’s working great though, and since internet is such a big part of our lives I don’t begrudge the purchase.  Also, as an FYI I finished our taxes and sent them to the accountant.  We made roughly $16K last year in 1099 income, and had about $3500 in expenses we could deduct along with $3300 interest on the RV loan. There were major changes this year to the tax code, and I am really not sure how all of that is going to turn out.  It might end up being better for us to just take the standard deduction and not itemize.  We’ll see.  I’ll let you know when the accountant gets back to me.   For more details on this month you can see below.



Groceries – I adjusted the budget amount to $700 a month for this year based on prior spending and that seems to be a much more manageable target.  Unfortunately we are extremely limited in grocery stores within a one hour drive and the prices reflect that.

Entertainment – My favorite author came out with two new books in the month of February, which was great for me to read, but hit this category a bit. Lee also got a book. Normally we don’t buy books brand new, but he really loves Stephen King and couldn’t wait to get it later.  I also bought my own copy of Open Road, and seeing myself in print was a pretty special moment.  Unfortunately due to printing in color, the trade paperback version is kind of expensive, but I wanted a copy for myself.  It turned out really good.

Insurance –  Now that the new insurance company is in place I need to adjust the budget amounts.

Cigarettes – We buy what we need quarterly and since we will be on the move in a couple of weeks, pre-bought what we would need.

New Equipment – New wifi hotspot, I talked about that above.

This month was fine and we are working until March 18th and then moving on to Phoenix where Lee picked up a week of live event work with a good friend and company he used to work for.  We have saved more than enough to cover our costs until we hit Oregon, and then will start making money again.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Mouse, Gate Guard Ladies, and a Rattlesnake

I know crazy title…right?  But it’s been a crazy kind of a week, and things were all over the place.  Before I get into it though, the very best part of my week was getting the results of Kyrston’s ultrasound and finding out she is having a baby boy!!  I loved having daughters but have always wanted to be able to do the boy stuff!  So that’s pretty cool. And the baby looks perfectly healthy and normal which is the most important thing.  He’s definitely photogenic as you can see from the picture 🙂

Baby Boy Klouse

OK, so back to the week.  Well, first of all we had a mouse and it was a big one.  We see signs of mice pretty regularly in the belly of the RV, but rarely do we see them in the rig itself.  It was a quiet night and I was watching TV, when a fat one scurried across the living room floor.  Jack was napping and didn’t even see it, but the next night he did and spent quite a bit of time growling at the area by the sink.  He kept looking at me as if he didn’t know what to do and I wasn’t sure either.  On the one hand if he caught the mouse that would be good, but then I would have to deal with it.  Ultimately he didn’t go after it and Lee caught it in a trap the next day.  That was a relief!

The next day was more excitement because I was meeting up with a group of Gate Guard Ladies.  I have been in a Facebook group with these women for a couple of years, but have never been close enough to attend one of their gatherings.  This lunch was in Cotulla, only 30 minutes away, and I was thrilled I would be able to go.  I was a little nervous of course because I had never met any of them in person, but turns out they were a great group of women and the Mexican restaurant they picked was pretty yummy.

Small Mexican restaurant


The restrooms were clean and had this VERY unique “redneck plunger” in the corner which cracked me up. I have a couple of friends who might like one of these.


Wonderful group of women. As you can see I’ve put on a few pounds gate guarding.  I’ve been baking quite a bit and it’s definitely having an impact lol!

As someone who is blessed with a really close group of full timer friends, I always find it interesting to see how new groups of full timers I encounter will compare.  What I affirmed was that there are as many ways to live this lifestyle as there are people living it.  There were people in the group that were brand new full timers and others who had been on the road for ten years.  One thing that I found interesting was several of us started full timing with little RVing experience, which is more common I think than people realize. Most of these women gate guard most of the year and although they have tried other jobs, they prefer it because of the freedom.  There is relatively minimal hassle or drama in these gate guarding jobs and many of the women tried camp hosting and much preferred this type of work.  One thing we all agreed on was it was a good way to sock away some cash and although we all had vastly different approaches to how we covered the hours, there were lots of commonalities.  The conversation just flowed and I really enjoyed getting to know them.  And if you are a woman who ever gets a gate guarding job, I highly recommend this group.

I was the first one to leave because I had to stop at the store and get home to relieve Lee.  He starts his day at 3am and I didn’t want him to work too late.  I was barely home and we had just unloaded the groceries when we had a unsettling incident.  One of the oilfield guys pulled in and told us he had seen a huge rattlesnake on the road heading towards our rig and intentionally run over it.  He knows us from this and other gates and was trying to help us out.  Unfortunately it wasn’t completely dead, so we watched to make sure the road was clear and he ran back over it again.  Super nice guy!

Lee talking to the driver


This was the snake in the road we could see it was still moving


A huge semi came down the road but missed it!


So the driver backed over it again for us!


Lee went out later and took this pick. He said its body was as big as his arm.


Although we have had one up close and personal experience with a rattlesnake in Arizona (see blog post here) this is a little different because now we have Jack.  I take him for walks at night and he loves going into the nearby brush, but I’ll need to make sure he stays in the road.  I’ll also have to make sure I wear the head lamp when I go out and it becomes very important to always look down.  This is the first time in three years we have seen one even this close and we have been really lucky.  In the past we were at gates with lots of hawks and/or road runners and they do a great job of keeping them away.  Plus, we usually leave before it gets warm enough to have to deal with them, but the past couple of days have been on the warm/humid side.  In any event we will keep an eye out and it caused enough excitement that it was definitely worth mentioning.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.