It began simply enough. Dave’s right eye became red and inflamed, which we first noticed on a Saturday 2 weeks ago. As it became worse on Sunday, Dave located an local ophthalmologist within walking distance and visited his office first thing Monday morning. The initial diagnosis pointed to a few possible causes, but nothing definite. However, the treatment for all of them was the same. We began a regimen of drops in his eye every 2 hours during the day along with some soaking of his eye to deal with any infection. He was to go back in a week for another check.
Unfortunately, Dave wasn’t responding well to the initial treatment. So the doctor added another drop to add to his treatment the next day. This one kept the eye dilated. This, plus the underlying ailment, caused the eye to be extremely sensitive to light. After trying some rather unusual methods of covering the eye, which we didn’t manage to catch with a camera, he finally bought an eye patch, which worked well, but made him look the part of a pirate. Aargh!
After some initial improvement, the eye got increasing more painful. It was just his luck that it worsened over the weekend. By the time of his Monday morning appointment, he was anxiously seeking some relief. It turned out that the diagnosis became more specific as iritis, and part of the reason for the pain was the fact that the iris was attached to the lens in one spot, causing it to open in an oblong shape. The doctor detached the iris, and again switched medications. Dave was in the unlucky 10% that didn’t respond to the original treatment. That now meant we needed to put drops in the eye every hour, and although he didn’t require that we do it 24 hours a day, the closer we came to that goal the better. The eye’s immune system had overreacted to a perceived threat in the eye and we needed to get it back under control. If this didn’t work, we would have to travel to Miami to see a specialist and perhaps he would need to get a shot directly in the eye. Ouch!
We were now joined at the hip. Every hour during the day and usually 3 times during the night, Cathy was applying the drops. Although a little exhausting, the rewards were in the improvement in Dave’s eye. By the next visit (now only 2 days later), the eye no longer hurt and its light sensitivity was decreasing. By Friday, the doctor was beginning to discuss the possibility of weaning him off the medicine. It looks like we’ve turned a corner, but we’re still not sure what the future holds. Any overnight trips north will be impossible with both of us up every hour to administer drops. The next week should be tell us a lot about what he’s looking at long term.
Spending so much time on a mooring ball and away from shore power had Dave monitoring the batteries health frequently. He wasn’t liking what he saw. The voltage kept dropping faster than made sense. In the past month, we had twice run the generator for long hours (11 at one stretch), sometimes on successive days to allow them to be equalized. The voltage still dropped faster than it should. In the process of reconnecting the batteries after one of these attempts, Dave discovered that the positive terminal on one of the batteries was broken. This meant that 2 of the 4 batteries in our house bank was offline, and probably had been for a long time. How long was hard to say.
It started to explain the funny readings on our battery monitor. It thought we had 440 amps available, when in fact we had only 220. As a result, we were running the pair that was online way down beyond what is recommended. This was not good. Since batteries in a bank should be the same approximate age, if we had to replace any 2 of the batteries, we would likely have to replace all 4. We weren’t sure we wanted to start shopping for batteries now.
Dave called his contact at Trojan to see what he recommended regarding the broken terminal. He said that it might be possible to repair it by insertiing a bolt into the soft lead of the terminal. This turned out to be simple enough to install, and the batteries came back online.
Even with the repairs to the battery, Dave still wasn’t sure what the health of the batteries were. Although the battery monitor was no longer showing the disturbing voltage drops, Dave was reluctant to let the amps drop too low before recharging. If we could take advantage of the sunlight in the lengthening Florida days, we could be charging the batteries throughout the day. He found what he was looking for in some flexible solar panels. Although these are no longer made, he found some used ones on eBay that would mount easily on Orion’s foredeck and then plug into the DC outlet in the cockpit to start feeding power to the boat from the sun. How easy is that!
The panels arrived within 24 hours of his ordering them, and as Dave eagerly unwrapped them and prepared to hook them up, he had to stop. The plug at the end of the wire from the panels was an 8-pin connector. Nothing like the plug he expected to see. Since we were still experimenting with this new source of power, he didn’t want to invest a lot of money in rewiring these panels to plug into the DC outlet. So he started looking for a cheap interim solution nearby.
He found it in a trailer wiring harness. He wired one end into a DC plug and then wired the two panels together into the other end. What the wires strung along the deck and through the cockpit lack in elegance, they make up for in utility. The panels began pumping up to 4 amps an hour into the battery bank. Woohoo!
It’s still a work in progress, but so far it’s looking promising.
With Dave’s eye problems, our socializing was obviously extremely limited. We managed to make a trip to Docksides to say goodbye to Fran and Floyd, a couple from British Columbia who we met while here. We were also excited to greet Jed and Page on Watercolor as they joined us in the harbor this past week. While Dave was recovering, we mostly caught up on our DVD’s in the evening.
At the end of February, we received some thrilling news that our many prayers for the needs of a family member were answered. Bill (Cathy’s brother-in-law’s brother) was in need of a kidney, and had been terribly disappointed when he had lost an opportunity to receive a donation earlier in February, when he contracted pneumonia. After this devastating disappointment, what happened at the end of February can only be described as a miracle.
Bill received a phone call on Thursday night to be ready for a transplant the following day. He was going to be the 9th recipient in a chain of donations initiated by a donor in Toledo Ohio wanting to donate a kidney, with no recipient in mind, just a “heartfelt call to give in a way that would make a difference.” Bill had to have a healthy qualified donor in order to receive the kidney. Again he was blessed by the generosity of others, in this case a fellow church member. So, the operation proceeded, with Bill receiving the gift of a donor from Johns Hopkins. All of the donors and recipients were anonymous.
In the weeks since the operation, Bill has seen dramatic improvement in his health. And the rest of the family is still trying to absorb all that has happened to make it possible. If you would like to learn more about organ donation, find out more at this website: http://www.livingorgandonor.org/