An Interesting Pilgrimage to Tahoe with Las Vegas, and Scottsdale Too

I decided I wouldn’t bore you with all of the details of our trip to Tahoe as usual for Christmas, which is our family tradition. Nothing much about that has changed so I figured I would include Christmas and the following few weeks in January. This time I’ll only relate the things that stood out this year.

Tahoe for Christmas

This year we decided to spend two weeks in Tahoe. The first week with the kids and the second week on our own. Spending some one-on-one time with the kids is always nice; I know they enjoy it too. We know that the snow conditions at this time of year can be really good or really bad. This year they were really bad, but because we had to book in advance, we had nowhere else to go.

By really bad conditions, I mean no snow for the two weeks we were there and they never opened the nearby Stagecoach lift. When we came around the bend for our first view of the hill, it was almost completely brown. That meant that nothing on the lower Nevada side of the mountain was open. It wasn’t even cold enough to make snow. So, every day Mike or one of the kids wanted to ski, I had to drive them to the Gondola down in town by the lake and pick them up.

It did start to snow the day we left. Then there was so much snow the lifts didn’t open for a few days after we left.

Off to Las Vegas

We decided to drive to Las Vegas from Tahoe because we needed to meet our movers. For the last 4.5 years, our stuff (everything we kept from our lives before) has been sitting in a storage POD in Las Vegas. After we bought the condo in Mexico, we chose to move everything there even though we knew we would just have to store some of it in a unit in Playa. At least the storage fees are less in Mexico. Our decision required hiring a mover to take our stuff out of our box and move it to Mexico. Not a cheap proposition, but then, neither is a recurring trip to retrieve things in Vegas.

Seeing Some Shows

Mike found us a week in a nice timeshare for our time in Vegas. He enticed me with the idea of going to a few shows while we were there. We finally decided to pay the outrageous ticket price to see Cirque de Soleil O at the Bellagio. Yes, that is the water show in the special theater and it was fantastic and well worth the price.

We even splurged for a nice dinner at Julian Serrano’s Lago beforehand overlooking the Bellagio fountain. Unfortunately, the fountain wasn’t running for most of our dinner. But it was nice anyway. If you haven’t seen O yet, you really must go, it was awesome.

We also went to see David Copperfield at the MGM Grand. The show was really good especially when a giant spaceship appeared right in front of us. However, I was a little surprised to see how he had aged. It always disturbs me when I see my contemporaries getting older because of course the same is true for me. But there is nothing we can do about that.

We also found time for a visit to Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. I can honestly say that I had never been to downtown Vegas before. It was a loud and colorful experience.

Moving Day Finally Came

We wanted to review the contents of our POD and possibly donate items to lessen the moving weight and fees. We went to the POD a day before the move was scheduled, but it had been placed in the shade between and it was freezing and a wicked wind blowing. Going through our boxes was more than miserable. As a result, we managed to only get rid of a few more clothes and look at part of our belongings before we finally had to give up when we were numb with cold.

We met the movers at our box at 9 am the next day. It turned out to be an older American couple who live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the headquarters of the mover. They had a large van and were towing a trailer. This required a lot of rearranging to make room for all of our stuff even though I had described how much we had. Unpacking the POD and reloading it into their trailer took the better part of three hours. Since it was still freezing, even though today I had gloves and a hat, I spent most of the three hours sitting in the car with the heat running.

We felt pretty relieved when we saw the manager and canceled the POD rental after nearly five years.

Being Really Sick

I felt pretty ill while I was in Las Vegas. In fact, for the entire period from mid-December until about mid-February I was extremely sick. I was in bed for about half of each week, mixed with throwing up and feeling nauseous. The worst was in Las Vegas, where walking from our timeshare to the Bellagio, not far, I had to stop every 50 yards to catch my breath. My heart rate was spiking too and I just didn’t know what was wrong with me.

Back in November, I had labs done and found I had high cholesterol, so the doctor prescribed a statin. I started taking the statin around the beginning of December and I started feeling sick a few weeks later. I did a bunch of research and it felt like I was having a heart attack, so I became a bit alarmed. Fortunately, we were heading to Scottsdale to see the orthopedist because my right knee, the one replaced last February, still hurt going up and down stairs.

Next Stop Scottsdale

Fast forward a week to Scottsdale. In addition to seeing the orthopedist, I planned to get labs done again and see my GP. First, my cholesterol had gone from 280 to 120 since November, which was rather odd. After my complaint about the heart attack-like symptoms, my GP wanted me to have another test and see a cardiologist, which I did in Colorado since that was the next place I could.

Here is the really interesting thing. A few months before, my sister had mentioned that she got really sick from the statins and she couldn’t take them so she embarked on a successful campaign to lose 25 lbs. The weight loss also brought down her cholesterol. If I hadn’t heard about this from her, it never would have occurred to me that maybe this super common drug was making me profoundly ill. The first thing we did was cut the dose in half.

Another Doctor in Colorado

A few weeks later I saw the cardiologist and she told me that 3-5% of the population has an adverse reaction to statins. She also said since it had nothing to do with my lifestyle, and everything to do with the hereditary function of my liver, statins weren’t the best choice anyway. The bottom line was after trying a different statin for a few days and feeling sick again, I called and told her I was stopping the statins. I called my GP and told her the same thing.

I am now back to my usual perky self, but I’m suffering from not working out much between mid-December and mid-February. The bottom line here is that I had to figure out why I was sick on my own and if my sister hadn’t said anything about her experience it would have taken me much longer to figure it out. Maybe this tale can help someone else.

My approach now is to lose weight and monitor my cholesterol every 3-4 months when I do my regular blood work. If that doesn’t work, I’ll look into a different class of drugs to make my liver stop making so much cholesterol.

Back to My Knee

I went to see my orthopedist in Scottsdale, too. He immediately took an X-ray and said he couldn’t see anything wrong. Since I was complaining of pain and had the other, replaced knee to compare it to, the next step was a CT scan. It didn’t show anything, either. So, we moved on to a special MRI that was supposed to screen out the interference from all of the metal already in my knee. It still showed nothing except a bit of irritation in the area where it hurts.

What is Wrong With My Knee?

After playing phone tag with the doctor while we were in Colorado for about a week, we finally decided that the definitive test would be a bone scan. So I made an appointment in Park City, the final stop on our winter skiing tour. (If you are wondering, I didn’t ski this year. That is two years in a row that I have missed ski season). Anyway, the bone scan is just a scan of the activity of a radioactive dye and I got to look at the pictures in real time. The inside of the femur lit up like a Christmas tree. It was good to know that the pain in my knee wasn’t my imagination. On the other hand, that was really bad news. It means the prosthesis has moved and I need a revision of the knee replacement.

In other words, I have to go through the same knee replacement again, only worse because of the existing damage. Super bummer. We decided to do it this coming October after our summer in Europe. My knee isn’t likely to get worse and aside from a little soreness, I can walk just fine. Overall, I had a pretty mediocre winter. I couldn’t wait to get back to Playa, my happy place.

How have you determined the cause of your own medical issues, with only a little bit of help from professionals?

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