My time has come!

From a go slow to full steam ahead! Last Tuesday I had a phone call asking me to attend the Clinic in Medellin to see the Anaesthetist on Thursday, regarding my forthcoming Hip replacement, nice man, and he proved we are all human, as he misread one of the blood results and thought I had a serious problem, thank goodness Marcela was with me, admittedly the copy of my results was not the best, and he didn’t see the fullstop between the result, so instead of seeing 2.3456 he saw 23456, scary for a moment, then we all had a laugh.

He OK’d me for surgery, and said it would be before the end of the month, having seen some of the others waiting for a consultation, I wasn’t in the least bit concerned about my weight!

The following morning, we were just about to leave the house, when I had a call from the Clinic, to say my surgery was being entered in the list, and it was agreed I will have it on January 24th, I have to be at the Clinic by 7am, the surgery will be between 9 and 9.30am, it will be done will a Local anaesthetic, so if they are shorthanded, I will be able to help out!… joking aside, I am not sure how I feel about that, however a former Colleague of mine, says she had that procedure and it was fine.

Now it’s rushing about, getting the last bits and pieces, and trying to organise everything, before I am totally incapacitated, for a few weeks at least.

Saturday, we are going to fetch Marcela’s Mum, who is going to help her for the first two weeks, if nothing else, to control the dogs!

The idea was that Marcela would spend the night of the surgery at her Mum’s house, or in a city centre Hotel, but that has been hit on the head, as the Clinic state, that my ‘Companion’ has to stay with me 24/7. We don’t know, but think she will probably only have a chair in the room, I suggested she could sneak into the bed at night time, we could see how incapacitated I am!! In Colombia, Nurses just deal with medical matters, they are not there to pandser to the Patients, that is the job of the family.

I have also, given in for a bit of peace, the Surgeon suggested that it would be better if I returned home in a private Ambulance, something not covered by my Health Cover, and because we are not just down the road, it isn’t cheap, but Marcela was getting really stressed at my refusal to consider it, she has already done so much, and has more on her plate than me being awkward, so an Ambulance it is!

I think that just about brings me up to date, please bear with me, if there is more than a week until my next update, it will all depend on how the surgery goes.

Oh Dear!

I am beginning to wish this year were over! Hardly encouraging, when it has only just begun.

I received my blood results ahead of time, and they were not good, my platelets were well below the standard and my monocytes well above, which although I always said it would not worry me…did! My father died from Leukemia, and this was how it started, I managed to get an emergency appointment with my family Doctor, on the 4th, my Birthday, he told me not to worry, as the result could well either be a blip, or an outright error, but he did concede that as they stood, the results could put a stop to surgery, he then gave me an order for more blood tests, and those I had last Friday.

As stated it was my Birthday during the week, 64, something I rather not be reminded of, but they don’t go away! Marcela took me out for lunch, and it was lovely.

Unfortunately until today, the weather hasn’t been brilliant, but that has had it’s bonus’ because I have been able to get some work done, a couple of hours each morning, much to the disgust of Marcela, who thinks I am taking unnecessary risks, working up a ladder. However as our neighbours had decided to massacre our flower hedge, by cutting it back to the fence, and in so doing cutting some of the main stems, I decided I might as well lower the whole growth, and make maintenance easier.
This is a photo of thier handiwork

So I have brought the height down from above the razor wire

Original height

I can now easily reach the top of the hedge / flowering plants, to keep them in check

it also surprisingly lets more light in onto the patio. My neighbour the other side of the one causing the damage, was also raising his concerns over my antics this morning, but as I said to him, this work wont do itself, and I am doing it a little at a time, which is frustrating, but at least it’s getting done.

This morning I also got my blood results from the latest tests, and they are all fine, so it looks as if our Doc was right, that is something less to worry about.

Happy 2022

Well, it hasn’t been the sunniest of Christmas’s in terms of Health or climate, the country as a whole has been struck down with flu, mainly due to the change in climate, as Summer creeps in late.

Our family was no exception, Marcela thinks my Brother-in-law brought it here, he then left on 27th, to work this week, (returning today) after which the whole family was struck down, I didn’t see the Sister-in-law for two days, she used it as an excuse to stay in bed and watch TV. I had a light dose of the flu, having had my flu jab, I think I escaped the worst.

On the 28th, I received a text from the Surgical Clinic, telling me to go and get my blood checks done, we thought this strange, as I still hadn’t had authorisation for the procedure, but just to be safe we went down and retrieved the order, however they refused to give me an appointment, as I don’t have a date for surgery, on our return home Marclea rang the Surgical Clinic and explained, it appears the process has been authorised, but no one bothered to tell me, Marcela was told to ring our Clinic and tell them the blood tests are required now, which she did, and I had my tests yesterday, the results will be available to download on Tuesday.

We had a suspicion the procedure had been given the go ahead, because when I went for my High Blood Pressure check-up earlier this month, the Doc’s opening gambit was, “I see you are having the hip surgery!” Nothing surprises me any more, SURA may be the most highly thought of Health Provider in Colombia, but not all their sub-contractors are on the same level, before moving here we were with IPS Confama, they were brilliant, I couldn’t fault them, now we are with IPS Prosalco, who leave a lot to be desired. SURA suggested we change to Comfama in Rionegro, but that is 30 – 40 minutes away depending on traffic, our current clinic is 15 minutes away, we’ll see how it goes.

Now we are trying to get everything organised, on the presumption that the surgery will either be late January or February, we are not in panic mode yet, but not far off. I have most of the accessories needed for post operative care, the few things I still need, I can buy this week.

That said, now it’s time to prepare for New Year, I rather think that we will be saying it a bit early, and turning in, as no one is back to 100% yet! So here’s wishing you a Peaceful and Happy New Year, may 2022 be better than the last for everyone.

Happy Christmas

Disappointingly, we still haven’t had authorisation for my hip surgery from SURA, my Health are Provider, but we wait in hope.

Marcela with much perseverance, has organised a Company who will come and look at the Solar system, and see what can be done, they will contact us on January 10th… So we will see what happens.

In the mean time, despite all the trials and tribulations across the world, I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas.

Preparing for the Unknown

Yet again things are moving at a pace. Last week, I went to see the Pain Specialist, sadly it appears that she is moving on, and I will have to start again with someone different. She didn’t tell us herself, although she dropped hints, we were told by her Secretary after the appointment. However, she believed that my hip operation is a foregone conclusion, and then issued an application for me to have another nerve block injection in my right knee, she told me to visit her on my way back from the appointment with the Hip Replacement Clinic two days later, and she would apply for a nerve block in my hip, to tide me over until the surgery. Surprisingly, I received the authorisation for the nerve block, the following day.

Two days later, I went for my appointment at Clinica El Rosario in Medellin, to be told that I would be having the hip replacement surgery, hopefully by the end of February at the latest, subject to Authorisation by SURA, my Health Care Provider. I filled in all the surgery forms, and they will be held ready, to avoid any holdups. That was great news, although it does mean that reality has set in. I certainly have no regrets at going for the prosthetic hip, it’s the only way I am going to be able to have a near normal life, there will always be limitations, but I can live with that. The Surgeon, said not to have the nerve block in the hip, as there had to be three months between the injection and surgery, she hopes to have it done by then, the injection would mean delaying the process.

On the way home, we called to see the Pain Specialist, she was in surgery, so Marcela spoke to her on the phone, informed her that the Specialist said not to have the hip nerve block, which she concurred, instead giving me a prescription for stronger pain killers, and an appointement to see one of her Underlings in January, at which time he might give me the Opoids to take before and after surgery. I was also given an appointment for the knee nerve block, yesterday. Having left the Medical Center, we decided to make another call, I had bought a new set of Tyres online for our Prado, they had been sent to a Tyre Fitters in Rionegro, for free fitting, unfortunately they seemed to be on a go slow, so two and a half hours later, we left, and made quickly for home, arriving in time to give the dogs their tea.

Yesterday, I went to Rionegro for the nerve block, I was called in almost immediately, put in the Operating gown, and along with others abandoned on beds, waiting to be moved through for the procedure, it was two hours before I was moved to the forward waiting position, it was so cold, I almost felt ill, I understand why they keep the temperature low to avoid spreading bugs, but they should ensure the patients, are either not called through so early, or kept individually warm. Anyway I had my nerve block in the knee, and was kicked out, by which time it was nearly mid day, and I was starving, as I had not been allowed to eat beforehand, so we had lunch in the Clinic Canteen, the food was surprisingly good, although a little more, would have been nice!

Today, it was up early again, and off for my Blood Pressure revision, fortunately everything was OK, and I had lost 2Kg, which was surprising, since I have been tottering around on the zimmer for the last three months!

Now, it’s time to get the house ready for the family coming for Christmas, today I power washed all around the outside of the house, by which time my hip was killing, so I think that was my contribution for today. Tomorrow we are up and out early again, as I have to be at Migracion Colombia for 9.15am to collect my new Cedula (National ID Card).

How anyone has time to go to work I have no idea, since retiring, I seem to have been busier than ever, a lot of that has something to do with my body deciding it’s going to fall apart!

Progress!

There seems to be positive progress on all fronts, which makes a change.

Shortly after finishing my last post, I received a phone call from the Clinic, the process for Hip Surgery, is obviously not a short one, from what was said, it appears that I passed the paper sifting stage, and I have to attend in person next week, for an interview and examination, maybe then I will have a decision, or again, maybe there may be another hurdle to cross!

It looks like we will be cancelling yet another holiday, because if accepted on the program, it states I would receive an appointment to see the anesthesiologist thirty days before surgery, and then I can’t fly for at least three months, as April 1st is our departure date, it would certainly be cutting it fine.

The more videos we watch on the subject, a number of which I am asked to watch by the Clinic, Marcela is getting cold feet, I think it has finally sunk in that just because I am only in hospital a maximum of 48hrs, doesn’t mean it isn’t major surgery, you would think it was her going under the knife.

As I said previously, Marcela has been in touch with two or three Companies to help us sort out the Solar system, and one of them is phoning on Monday, to confirm a site visit this week, apparently it isn’t a short process to legalise the installation, and I am sure it wont be cheap, but at least we will be able to sleep at night, then my Lawyer can go after Natam Energi, had the Company tried to help us out, despite making a mess of the process, I wouldn’t mind so much, but to block access to them…

This week, I have an appointment with the Pain Specialist, I am hoping she will agree for me to have another nerve block injection in my right knee, especially important if I am going to have the hip surgery, as it is at the moment, it would hinder recovery from the surgery, at least if she agrees, I can tell the Surgical Team that my knee should be sorted, and wont cause undue problems.

I grabbed the bull by the horns yesterday, and ordered a set of new tyres for the Prado, not a cheap purchase by any means, but even though all four are still legal, they are coming close to needing replacement, and those on, have been there a few years, with the worsening condition of our access road, I don’t want to be changing punctured tyres.
They should arrive at a Garage in Rionegro this week, I will then make an appointment to go and have them fitted, also wheels aligned and balanced, all paid for in advance.

Likewise Marcela, phoned the shop having my specially made lounge armchair made, apparently it is ready, but at the Upholsterers, and they are waiting for a few more items to be ready before having them shipped back to the shop, hopefully later this week, when they will deliver it.

Slowly but surely things are coming together in a positive way, we are now looking forward to the Family coming for Christmas.

Still in Limbo

Marcela contacted the Clinic responsible for deciding if they will operate on my hip on Monday, they said the Meeting had, for some unknown reason, been delaid and was due to be held that day, with the Pacients informed of their decisions by the end of this week, so we live in hope, but are surprised at nothing!

Whether I finally have surgery or not, I am having to take precautions, because I am certainly not as steady as I need to be, so begrudgingly I gave in to Marcela’s badgering, and last week installed grab bars in the bathroom

I have to admit, I am not sure why I was so resistent to having them, I am certainly safer in the shower with them installed, I think if surgery is given the go ahead, the only extra piece I need to buy, is a raised toilet seat. I have a much higher armchair for the lounge on order.

I finally gave in, during the second to last week of November and Marcela eagerly put up all the Christmas decorations, considering she had no help, she did a fantastic job, even though I reminded her, that she would also be taking them down.

Marcela also put the outside Patio decorations up, I made a tiny contribution by putting up the outside lights, nowhere near as many as last year, but they look OK.

The Solar Saga trundles on, we have been in touch with our Energy Supplier, who has told us what documents the Solar Company, Natam, should have supplied, but haven’t, Marcela has been in touch with ‘Sebastian’, but he refused point blank to assist further, stating it was not their responsibility, and then blocked Marcel’s phone from contacting him.

This man, Sebastian Espinosa, or Yamid Hernandez, or whatever name he is using this week, professes to be a qualified Solicitor, although I have me doubts if he is qualified at anything.

I have taken the decision, that there is no point in continuing to try and get help from this man, he just wants your money, and then cuts and runs, another Colombian Con-man, and he’s good at it.

As a result we have been in touch with a couple of other Companies, recommended to us, the idea being that one of them, will do an official inspection of the current installation, and give us a report on the quality or otherwise of the work, they will then remedy anything that needs doing, install the bi-directional meter, and have the system legalised.

Once we have the Report, I will compile a file of all the communication we have had with this man (emails / Whatsapp records/ photos), and we will make a formal complaint to the Authorities, also once I find out who licences Solicitors, a file will be going to them to. This Con-man has to be stopped, he may be able to install totally off-grid systems, but he obviously can’t do anything that needs connecting to an existing Electric Supplier, but makes out that he can, and leaves you in a dangerous situation.

As I think I previously reported, our own Electrician, insisted on being present, whilst the system was connected to the main grid, because he wasn’t happy at the lack of knowledge, ‘Sebastian’ seemed to have, he will also furnish a report.

Albeit ‘Sebastian’ stated in the end, that he would replace the damaged solar panel, that he insists still works, and may do, we never heard anything else, other than excuses, he needs stopping, and if I have my way, a stretch in Prison.

So if you live in Colombia, and want Solar installed, (he advertises right across the country), avoid Natam Energi S.A.S, or any variation of that, like the plague. I understand it’s a Mexican Company, and the work by them might be fine elsewhere, but I wouldn’t employ this man to sweep my yard, and by the time I have finished he will know it.

Yesterday, our boys went for their Christmas wash and trim, they both look smart, and certainly smell a lot better!

I’ll have to start on myself, this afternoon, it’s time to give myself a trim, I was asked the other day to recommend a Barber, so I told them to join the queue, in 45 years, I have only been to a Barber/Hairdresser once, and that was for my Wedding day to Marcela, it has always been cut by myself or one of my Wives!!!!

I seem to be getting myself organised again, last week I received my new Digital Residents Visa, and on Tuesday, we went to Migracion Colombia, in Medellin (Immigration Dept), and applied for my new ID card, it should be ready in a couple of weeks, then it’s another trip to collect it.

I think that about brings me up to date, so until the next time…

Hopefully!

To say that I am frustrated by the restrictions I am under is an understatement, if I am hobbling around the house I can use my walking stick, likewise when we go shopping, we park across the road from the Supermarket, I tried using my zimmer, but then, all I could do was watch whilst Marcela did all the work, I need at least one hand, so I use my stick.

Walk any further, I have to use the zimmer which slows me down, I can go faster, as I take all the weight on my arms, but once or twice, I entwined my feet in the zimmer, and if Marcela wasn’t there, I would have been flat on my face, I just have to take my time.

The Meetings to decide who will go forward for hip surgery, started today, hopefully I will know by the end of the month.

The nerve block on my right knee has all but worn off, so it has been a case of trying to decide which is causing more pain, the problem is that my hip wants to go in one direction, my knee in another. I bought a new knee support yesterday, it has metal in the sides, today was the first trial, I think I had it too tight, as I was cutting off the circulation to my leg! I’ll get there in the end.

Last week was Remembrance Day, I might be the other side of the World, but I haven’t forgotten and never will

Whilst putting up the Flags, a Woman passed with her son, who asked her why the man was putting up Flags, “I don’t know, it’s probably something in America”… I put her right on all counts, nicely of course!

I decided to go ahead and apply for an updated Resident Visa, to go in my new passport, but they don’t do physical Visas at the moment, which saves me a trip to Bogota, you receive a Digital Visa.

I had to go to Medellin to collect a document, a copy of a form from Migraci├│n, proving how many times, and for how long I had left the Country since my last Visa was issued, I had applied for it online, paid for it online, arrived to fight with a crowd of maskless Venezuelans seeking their free Visas, fortunately there were a number of other Foreigners waiting saw me on my zimmer, and pushed me to the front, as a result the Security Guy let me straight in. A couple of minutes later I was called through checked my ID, and told they would email the form to me… What a waste of time, an hour and twenty minutes in each direction, for five minutes at the Office, I wasn’t impressed!

Anyway the form arrived, I submitted my Visa application, and yesterday heard that it had been approved, so I have paid online, and wait for them to send me a link to the Visa, and then I will find out how long they have given me. Then it will be back to Medellin to update my ID Card.

Maybe something to do with wishful thinking, but I decided to make a footstool, to assist with getting in and out of the car after hip surgery.

five pieces of surplus plywood, and Kreg joinery, it’s done.

A couple of hours work, a quick coat of stain, no varnish, I don’t want to slip. It will only be needed for a couple of months, if it lasts it can then be put away until I have my knee surgery, it is doesn’t, I can soon knock up another!

Marcela’s business Associate, Joaquin kindly said he would cut our grass, he wasn’t going to take any money, but since I want it doing every three weeks, I insisted.

We have also employed a Gardener to come and maintain the floral ┬┤plants growing up the perimeter fencing, weed the borders, and also lovingly tend my borders on the road, he thinks that once every three months should be enough, he is a bit pricey, but as there is a fair bit of ladder work, he says there will have to be two of them, so as long as he does a good job. Hopefully he will, it is Jaime’s Uncle, the same man who laid turf for us last year.

Hopefully by my next post, I will know if I have been accepted for surgery, keep your fingers crossed!

I’ll Know Soon

Last week we went to El Santuario to collect some packages from Jaime’s house, and on leaving the car park, I stepped on uneven ground, and my hip went, Marcela went on alone, and I waited in the car. As a result, on our following trip to Rionegro, we went to an Orthopaedic Supplier, and bought a ‘zimmer’, and a hip brace, with the help of both, at least I can get around.

I had an email from my Healthcare Provider SURA, to say that I was on the list for hip replacement, sent to Clinica El Rosario, in Medellin, and they would call me last Friday, we waited, and waited…Nothing, on Saturday Marcela contacted the Clinic, who explained SURA had been told time and again, that there were no phone calls, only emails, and that I should recieve one later that morning or Monday.

The woman explained that I am on the list, but that is no guarantee of surgery, I have to fill a questionaire, and send copies of my x-rays by email, then four Specialists make the decision for surgery or not.

Monday came, no email, today it arrived, the questionaire was in effect the Oxford Hip Score, with a couple of other questions thrown in but they were all tick box, so nowhere to add anything, any decision is going to be in the lap of the gods.

Their meeting is scheduled for November 20th, or there abouts, so I should know by the end of the month, apparently if they decide against Surgery, they give other options, what they would be I have no idea, since they don’t know that I have the same problem with my knees.

I am trying to get as many jobs done as I can, before a decision is made, just in case, but there are things I cant do, such as using the Brushcutter, because I can’t swing my hips! we are trying to get someone in to cut the grass, but so far that has come to nothing, if it gets much longer, I will have to employ a couple of cows!

In the meantime, I am looking at the jobs I have to do on a regular basis, and trying to work out what tools I could buy to do the job myself, or whether paying someone else on a permanent basis would be the better option, if I go for the latter, I will have to lower my standards, which would be hard for me to accept.

Marcela has been an absolute Star, without her, I would really have been struggling, both physically and emotionally, I will never be able to thank her enough, hopefully when all this is sorted, I will be able to make her life a bit easier.

That really brings me up to date, with not being able to get around, except at a snail’s pace, there is really nothing to report. I can only hope the Clinic dont keep me waiting too long for their decision.

Life Goes On

Over the last three weeks, my right hip and right knee have slowly been getting worse, if I leave the house, I can’t go anywhere without a stick, and then I have to be careful, if I am not walking on level ground, because my hip wants to take me in one direction, but my knee wants to go in another, listening to the bones grating is not much fun.

The annoying part, is that I feel fine in myself, and it’s so frustrating that I can’t do what I want.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my Orthopaedic Specialist, after looking at the x-rays, he confirmed that my hip has no cartilage and now the only option is hip replacement, but they don’t do that in Rionegro, it means me having to go to a Clinic that specialises in replacement joints in Medellin, but with Covid, there is a backlog, so I have to wait and see when I will get an appointment to meet with the Team, they then make the final decision, and arrange an appointment for the surgery.

This news didn’t come as a surprise, but I have to admit, I was secretly hoping that there was some other alternative. Now it’s a waiting game, apparently I should hear something next week.

Once my hip is sorted, the Specialist says he will sort out my right knee, which I suspect will result in the same procedure. Just to make my day, he confirmed that although my left hip is not as bad as the right, in time, I will need surgery on that as well.

Marcela has finally taken the plunge and tried out the hammock swing seats, which is just as well, because it was her that wanted a hammock in the first place.

Again Pepe has lucked out, Tito is quicker on the uptake, and claims his spot, albeit, he jumped down even quicker if you start swinging!!

Pepe on the other hand is showing his age, his hip is certainly getting weaker, and it may come to the point, where he also has to have surgery, but in the meantime, I bought him his own steps

They are made of foam, and just the right height, but he isn’t sure about them, and still prefers to jump up and down, hopefully in time he will get the hang of them.

And finally… a nightime view of the garden and beyond

caught before the daily thunderstorms rolled in!