Find the Problem, Implement the Solution

“I’m So Tired!” — Lily Von Shtupp (Blazing Saddles, 1974)

“‘Exhaustion’ has been a recurring theme lately. It’s mostly due to a serious but correctable medical condition.” —Me in last week’s newsletters.

Let me explain.

Already read Part 1: The Problem? Jump to Part 2: The Solution

“Don’t you know she’s pooped?!“: Lily (Madeline Khan) does her schtick. (Warner Bros.)

For the 20 years I’ve been living in western Colorado’s Ouray County, my allergies have been worse pretty much every year. Last year I got a referral to an allergist to work on it.

He is one of the best doctors I’ve ever seen in the sense that he actually takes his time, listens to everything his patients say, and thoughtfully considers what we say before acting. After our interview he ordered testing. No foods were implicated, thankfully, but I’m allergic to cats, dogs, horses, grass, weeds, pine, juniper and more — and we live in the middle of a pinion pine-juniper forest, interrupted only by fields of grass and weeds.

“No Wonder!”

The doctor tried a number of things, including standard immune therapy. After some months the result was …not just no improvement, but increasingly worse.

This Spring I was lying in bed reading as Kit slept, and I woke her up around midnight. “My allergies are killing me,” I said. That sort of thing gets a wife’s attention.

In the still of the night I could feel my body fighting. And with it getting worse every year, I knew I was losing. Hence “killing me,” and I meant it literally.

I know I can’t get away from “everything” I might be allergic to, but I reasoned that if I can get the incessant allergen load down so my body can recover from the 20-year exposure, it should help a lot.

The first thing we did was host a visit from a Premium reader/veterinarian who specializes in cats. She suggested a cat food designed to reduce the cat’s allergen production. Didn’t help.

The next thing we did was lock my cat, Agent 99, out of the bedroom. With Kit in the lead and me in a mask, we cleaned the bedroom from top to bottom, taking all the textiles out and washing them. 9 (as we call her for short) took it in style: she whined a bit the first night, but then settled into the new routine.

She was usually in my lap, but on this day in 2017 she hid from a thunderstorm at my assistant’s desk since the chair was free.

It helped …a little. It bought some time. But only a little. A neighbor offered to take Agent 99. Sadly, I gave her up, especially since Kit and I had agreed on the long-term solution. That helped some too — a little more time.

I’ve always had allergies, but they have gotten to the point that antihistamines hardly work; with doctor’s orders, I was taking two “24-hour” antihistamines a day, and still had a lot of trouble breathing.

I have to get somewhere different to let my system clean itself out, which will take months, maybe years. I’ve tried leaving for a few weeks, which is expensive …and not long enough. But I did and do feel better whenever we are away.

In the meantime, I’m not to be very far away from epinephrine. Most would carry an “epi pen” but, as a medic, I already carry vials of epi and syringes. I have never needed the epi, but I grow more and more dependent on an albuterol inhaler — except when I travel.

Back to the Doctor

I went back to the doctor to say I had decided to stop the immune therapy since 1) it wasn’t working and 2) Kit and I have another idea. After hashing through it all, he agreed with the conclusion: that I need to leave Colorado — which I truly love — to get away from the allergens around me.

Yellow aspen trees in the fall in Colorado's San Juan Mountains.
I really hate to leave it. A few miles from my home in Ouray County.

In May, Kit suggested that we put our semi-retirement plan into effect. It’s “semi” in the sense that we will both keep our “day jobs” — me as a writer/publisher and Kit as a coach — and drop everything else. I’ve already told our EMS chief and the sheriff that I’m retiring from the work I do for them as soon as the house sells. Kit has already retired from EMS and as deputy coroner.

Our house went on the market while I madly went through files to scan things I need, and recycle things I don’t. I still haven’t found everything I’m looking for, but there are still more boxes to go through.

We had a 10-day trip planned, and went: Utah, Montana, and Idaho, where I wrote the first draft of this. At dinner the first night the real estate agent texted: we had an offer. We accepted it. I was hoping for a little more time, but the closing is at the end of September.

As with most trips, the first day I used a lot of albuterol (nine times that first day). Each day I needed it less. But we got home over the weekend, so I know it’ll be rough again soon.

Back to my body fighting the environment. It’s …exhausting.

In summary, that’s The Problem.

The Solution? The semi-retirement: I’ve always said that I can work on True from anywhere with an Internet connection. The idea behind the semi-retirement plan, which started to form in 2015, is an interesting one that leverages that idea to the hilt.

What Does Semi-Retirement Look Like in 2024?

(Part 2, added 27 August 2023)

I really like to travel and soak up the feel of places and cultures. Kit is the same, but substitute her “loves” for my “really like”! The reason I haven’t “loved” it is because it’s such a hit on my schedule: True allows me to work “anywhere” I want that has an Internet connection, but when I get home, I spend a week of long days for every week we were gone, catching up with orders that need to be shipped, chores around the house, etc. etc. etc.

Not only have I not caught up with publishing True and Honorary Unsubscribe books, I’ve fallen further behind. I’m hoping a new, hugely-less-cluttered life will help with that too.

We’re going to use our capital gains exemption and “keep” the entire proceeds of the house sale, and travel full time. But to make it a more relaxed process, we’re going to hop on a newish trend: Residential Cruising. We are going to live full time on a cruise ship that’s designed for full-time residents. We hope to jump aboard late this year in Spring 2024.

A “regular” cruise ship turns over its entire passenger population every week or three, bringing a fresh set of germs. No thanks! We want a relatively stable population that we can get to know, and create some real community. And we get to “Travel the World, Go Home Every Night™.”

The trend is for cruise ships to be bigger and bigger. Royal Caribbean’s new Icon of the Seas launches in 2024 and holds a maximum of 6,700 passengers and 2,350 crew — more than 9,000 people. Insane! But that does mean cruise lines are taking smaller ships out of service. You know, tiny ships that “only” hold 750-1,000 passengers and 400-500 crew.

9,000-person Monstrosity: Icon of the Seas on its first sea trial outside Turku, Finland, in June 2023. (Photo CC4.0 by Chakie2 via Wikimedia, cropped)

Smart companies are buying or leasing those smaller ships, refurbing them for residential use, and setting sail. That’s a reasonable size: a small town about the size of …Ridgway, Colorado.

We’ll slowly go around the world from Alaska to Antarctica and pretty much everywhere coastal in-between — political situations permitting — and still “go home every night” so we don’t have the stress of “vacation” travel.

Travel the World, Go Home Every Night.And you know me, I want to write about everything. I could hardly believe it, but I somehow managed to snag to write about all of this! You’ll like the slogan in its logo. I’ve been building out the site and Kit and I have been writing content for a full launch “soon.” Of course, you can already sign up for email post alerts there.

Feel free to go through the site, and maybe exercise the article comment functions.

Working At Sea

Can I really work? Can I really continue to produce the newsletter and write for the new site? Yes: most such ships include high-speed Internet access, knowing that “Digital Nomads” still want to work and be travel customers. More employers are allowing it thanks to the successful remote work scenarios that were reinforced by the pandemic, and the technology to allow true broadband “anywhere” has significantly improved over the past couple of years, and will continue to do so.

Even my tyrant of a boss is all in on it!

I look forward to having a gym within a short walking distance, rather than a drive. A place to walk no matter how hot (or cold) it is outside. Good food without having to make it (or clean up!) They even do the laundry.

Yes cabins are small, but mostly they are for sleep and work (some ships actually have separate office space for rent). There are lounge areas and desks all over the ship. Theaters for lectures and entertainment. Coffee and snack bars (and bar-bars). Everything is included in the price, usually except alcohol.

The best thing is, I ran the numbers: it all costs just slightly more than what it costs to own and maintain my Colorado home (when taxes, insurance, car ownership, utilities, and food are all honestly figured in).

Am I really going to give up saving lives as a hobby? Yes. While I loved EMS, and it brings great satisfaction to serve, there is also a psychological burden to being on call 24×7. Not to mention all my other side jobs, such as being the county’s “radio guy.” It all has definitely added to the exhaustion. I’m going back to the purity of writing and publishing — and, of course, letting my body heal and having more time with my wife.

The Best Part: the doctor approves. He said that during medical school, he did a “Semester at Sea” on a cruise ship, and that’s where he met his wife! He agreed that being at sea would be of great way to rebuild my strength and clean out my body.

All in all, a good solution for the digital semi-nomad I’ve been all along.

My body and I can hardly wait. The ship we are aiming for is scheduled to depart before the end of the year. [Update: Delayed.]

To subscribe to the Residential Cruising email list, click here for a form. No need to say where you heard about it. 🙂

P.S.S.: If you would seriously like to join us, pipe up in the Comments or Contact form on Residential Cruising.

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54 Comments on “Find the Problem, Implement the Solution

  1. That is the right thing to do though it is very sad. I often tell people about where you live and how beautiful it is.

    Keen to hear where you’re going to set up shop next.

    • I’m feeling extra dumb because I don’t see a place to start a new comment, so I’m taking advantage of the Reply option!

      Sorry about your cat.

      I hope this helps: I kept my cat, and my allergist put me on a steroid inhaler, which worked great. I don’t know if it covers many different types of allergens.

      I’ve also heard that albuterol is going out of “fashion” and is also for emergencies only. And the more you use it, the less effective it is.

      Good luck with the move!

      My allergist tried a steroid inhaler, and I had problems with it (not the least of which I prefer to avoid steroids!). When it’s rainy (keeps pollens down) I can go months without needing albuterol, but then the plants love the water and things bloom and make things worse again.

      As for how to start a comment, just scroll to the bottom of the page. -rc

  2. I wish you & Kit all the best in wherever you go/whatever you do & fervently hope you can finally get some relief to let your body thoroughly flush all the allergens & their byproducts out of your system. Colorado will miss you & I’m sure your brain will miss Colorado, but your body won’t miss it AT ALL once you get a permanent respite from all the area’s allergens.

    Thanks, Mike. -rc

  3. I’m torn! First so happy you found the problem and have the strength to put it in motion. Selfishly, glad to be able to continue getting my True fix bi-weekly. Sad that no more descriptions and pictures of lovely CO. But then you will continue to look out where ever you have a window and share whatever is out there. Congratulations on your success.

    Thanks, but just to clarify, TRUE is weekly. 🙂 -rc

    • I’m sure Barbara was referring to the Monday Premium True and the Friday Free True (most with *some* new content, enough to qualify it as a 2nd True fix for her).

      And congratulations Randy and Kit! How very exciting for you both to be full time world travelers. Will you finally be able to mail to Colorado residents?

      Ah, perhaps. Unfortunately it doesn’t change the Colorado sales issue: TRUE is a Colorado corporation, so we have “nexus” here, so we’d still be required to pay more in taxes and fees than the entire order total (on average). -rc

  4. Welcome to the club so to speak.

    My father was a florist and I was around flowers and grass all my life without a problem. In College I got a summer job cutting grass in a cemetery and near the end had what I thought was a summer cold. Next year, same thing, only slightly worse. After graduation I moved to Oregon for work and had less problems until I moved west of the mountains. Then, O Brother. It got so bad I developed pneumonia and walking pneumonia several times. Long story somewhat shorter I finally went to see an allergist and got the scratch test. Like you I was allergic to just about everything. I could tolerate a cat but several cats at once were a no go.

    I started to take the shots. Once every other week most of the year and then every week as allergy season neared, until the fall. Helped a lot but certain things like Golf were still a no go. Decided to take lessons and I was Ok when in the gym during the winter but in Spring we moved to outside on the grass. Stuff just poured out of me. Nose, eyes, everywhere. Regular Niagara Falls. So no golf, shots or no shots. The nice thing about them was they made the antihistamines work. Before that they didn’t work after I started to take the shots they worked. Made me very tired but they worked.

    Sort of a postscript. One day I’m sitting in the local nurse’s (Allergy Dr was in Portland) office to get the shot and my cell phone rings. One of the very early ones. Not the size of a brick but close. It’s the allergy Dr. Or actually a relation. The original one retired and a relative took over then he retired and it was a son or nephew or someone. So I was on my third or fourth iteration. I rarely went in to see them. Started to ask me how long I’ve been taking the shots. Said I don’t know maybe 15 years or so. Replied that’s ridiculous. Told him I really can’t remember, check your records. Few minutes later the phone rings again and he asks me if I had the shot yet. Said no. Tells me not to take it and to just leave. I asked if I should tell the nurse and he said no, just leave.

    This was in the early days of the web but it was to the point where you could do a search on things like Allergy Shots on Yahoo or a predecessor. Turns out that you are only supposed to take the shots for 5 years max. Any longer and there could be a rebound effect that makes the situation worse, not better.

    Somehow I had fallen into the crack between all of the Dr.’s retiring and new ones coming in and was sort of on autopilot for a long time. Luckily no adverse effects and really no allergy problems since. I have to take a pill maybe once or twice a year in the Spring but that’s about it. Still no golf though.

    Don’t know about your problems but you might want to look into the shots and see if they might help you. Just don’t take them for 15 years or so, just in case. Might get your cat back.

    Thanks, Herbert. The shots are called immune therapy, and we tried it and it didn’t work. Glad it did for you! -rc

  5. RE your allergies. Here are some other things to consider as you seek a cure:

    As a teen in FL, I suffered horribly from allergies to pollen, cat dander and similar. Moved to GA 30 years ago and noted to my new allergist that for some reason my allergy to cats is gone and in the spring our pollen counts can go to 8,000 ppm on a scale where ‘severe’ is 120ppm (which means you can write your name in the pollen on the hood of your car after parking for 60 minutes, the air has a brown haze and you can actually taste it), but no problem for me. Why? — he said two things — one, people can age out of some allergies (like cat), and two, the pollens in north GA are different from Tampa.

    Next, I have had a silent reflux for years and take protonix. Reflux gave me “reflux induced asthma” which is treated with Montelukast (Singulair). Plus I do a daily inhaler of Trelegy. I haven’t touched my albuterol in over 6 months, and hardly had to for over 3 years. My lungs are fully clear, even though I had my upper right lobe/lung removed in 2017 for a stage 1b NSCLC cancer. And I’ve had life-long post nasal drip.

    My other problem that started about 8-9 years ago was loss of taste and smell (anosmia) — do you suffer from that? It was diagnosed as nasal polyps (they are always benign), usually caused by a sinophilic reaction, and which I had surgically removed about 2.5 years ago. I do a daily nebulizer of Budesonide for that. It all helped somewhat but my loss of taste persisted, only cured by an occasional 10 day dose regimen of Prednizone (steroid) which would give me up to a month’s relief before going dark again. As a trained EMT, you know that you can’t stay on steroids due to other side effects.

    I just went on Dupixient for that (epi pen, 300 dose) every 2 weeks. Monoclonal antibody — and it seems to be the answer. My taste/smell has now returned.

    One other symptom — if you cannot take oral NSAIDS — causes vomiting — then you may have Samter’s Triad, which is asthma, nasal polyps, and post nasal drip. Don’t ask me why that trio is the reason, but about 4 years ago, I suddenly got violently ill if I took oral NSAIDs. This would further give you an indication of where to look.

    Sorry to be so long winded, and this is not an “organ recital” discussing all my medical conditions. But to give you some other thoughts on possible causes and treatments. Things to consider:

    change of venue, which you are doing (a drier climate can help). If you have a chance to go somewhere radically different from CO, such as the Oregon or CA seacoast and stay for a month — see if that helps.
    the various meds I’ve listed if you aren’t already on them or tried them.

    Hope you find relief. It is quite stressful to be short of breath to the point of needing a rescue inhaler.

    Good luck with it.

    Already tried six weeks in Calif., which was nice relief but everything came right back after I got home. What I don’t want to do is get on a cascade of drugs, especially drugs to counter side-effects of other drugs. I’m going for a long-term cleanout, which I’ll talk about next week. -rc

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. I am a retired respiratory therapist with strange allergies that increase with age. I heartily endorse your suggestion, to everyone thinking about this, to test the place before choosing the new place.

      And I want to say you have had some amazing medical folks. Every person I have discussed asthma with, I explained how everyone’s triggers are different and the best way to manage this is through self observation.

      Also, good job Randy on doing such observation!

      I pay very close attention to what my body is doing. Our bodies are trying to tell us things! -rc

    • One more thing to consider is “sick house syndrome”. How long have you lived in your current (now sold) house? If you have had any past water damage from a small leak (pipe, roof, etc) you very well could have black mold growing behind your walls or inside your HVAC vents or grills. That was also a factor for me. Forgot to include it in my longer response.

      Not only no known water leaks, but my wife is hugely sensitive to mold and has never had a problem here (nor have any guests). Plus, since the day we’ve gotten home from our trip there has been at least a little rain every day, which is keeping the pollen down so I haven’t needed any antihistamines or albuterol since I got home (yay!). But as a desert area, I certainly can’t count on that year-round. -rc

      • I had that problem.

        Got tested for allergies around first grade. My main categories were animals, pollen, and mold. Thankfully, no food allergies.

        I’d always get asthma inside my grandmother’s house, slowly building to a peak over two or three hours, but quickly clearing up 50% after only half an hour outside and gone after 24 hours. This was the ONLY place I got asthma.

        For the longest time, we thought it was either her dogs or the cigarette smoke.

        Only after my aunt, who lived with Grandma, decided to remodel the bathroom did we discover a HUGE colony of black mold hanging out at the bathtub faucet. Once that was gone, my asthma was, too.

        By that time, Grandma has completely stopped smoking, but still had a dog. So, I am 99% certain my asthma was due to black mold.

        I did the immunotherapy allergy shots, too. Ten years, all during school years. I forget how bad my allergies were before them, aside from a bad contact dermatitis rash on my legs from the weeds growing alongside my sandbox outside. Now, I just get some sneezing and small hives.

        I sympathize with not wanting to be on drugs 24/7/365. The drugs I tried in the 80’s felt futile because they either were a bit problematic or I only really needed them for the asthma at Grandma’s. My allergies are mild enough now that I don’t bother with anything.

        Probably the result of the shots. Happy for you! And great you figured out the black mold issue. Often we never learn what the cause is. -rc

  6. I have had growing issues with allergies as have you over the years although I live in a different area.

    I had tried most of the remedies you had, but eventually ended up at a pulmonologist due to allergy related allergy-related asthma complications.

    He ended up recommending some of the monoclonal antibody treatments. There are several of them out there (Dupixent, Nucala, etc) but I ended up using Fasenra.

    It reduced the eosinophil levels in my blood tremendously and eliminated many of my other allergy medications. I have not taken antihistamines since shortly after starting and have had great relief from almost all symptoms. I also have not had any of the secondary infections that used to come along every few months.

    Because of the impact it has had on me, I figured that I would at least mention it to you.

    Thanks. We did try a few drugs, probably including that class, without success. I decided I’d rather get away from the problem and feel great than continue down the drug route and feel OK. -rc

  7. I’m a cat person too. I’ve lost 3 to old age but I can only imagine your pain at voluntarily giving up a beloved friend. I look forward to reading the rest of the story and that you get the relief you need.

    • Consider wearing a mask when outdoors in Colorado too. Some people found their hay fever, allergies etc. decreased while mask wearing in 2020.

      I only stopped wearing masks in May of this year. Didn’t notice any correlation with symptoms. -rc

  8. Intriguing that you found relief in those states — they have much of the same flora and fauna as where the house is.

    The thought occurred to me also. Subtle variants, perhaps. -rc

    • Perhaps the cat dander is impossible to remove from the house no matter how thoroughly you clean. I had a lovely Siamese cat for eight years that I loved dearly as my allergies just got worse and worse. I only got better when I moved to a new house and gave Mishka to a co-worker.

      Can’t wait to find out where you end up. I’m sure it will be as wonderful as your current location. Just curious, did you consider anything the the east, NC, Tennessee or Virginia mountains?

      More on Monday! -rc

  9. Wow — I know how much you love Colorado, the volunteer EMT work you do, and the view from the dream home you built, and figured you would never leave.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more.

    I figured I’d never leave too! But here we go. -rc

  10. I feel your suffering. I too have a long list of allergens, very similar to yours, in fact. I am getting the allergen treatment weekly and it does seem to be helping. I changed my med to Allegra, and I’m taking montelukast as well. I wish you all the best in finding where you will be able to breathe and live. Good luck!

  11. When you wrote what you were allergic to, I immediately thought “I guess they’re leaving Colorado”.

    Best of luck with wherever you find yourself. At least you’ll be able to breathe. Coming to Canada from a smoggy Johannesburg in 2010 was a revelation for my asthma.

    Sorry about your cat. That’s got to hurt.

    Just so, but at least it helped some. Glad you found improvement too. -rc

  12. I’m so sad that you have to leave Colorado. Your love for the state shines through when you talk about it. But, I relate. While my allergies are mostly under control, my asthma is getting worse because of the pollution here in Salt Lake. My husband and I are getting things together so we can move out of state in a year or two. I will be sad to leave such a beautiful part of the country and the close proximity to parents and siblings (our children have already moved out of Utah). I look forward to living with cleaner air. Good luck in your new home, and I look forward to hearing about your next steps.

  13. You may have to move to the west coast by the sea to get away from many of the pollens that affect you. My brother moved from Chilliwack BC to Campbell River and his son’s allergies diminished dramatically. His son also quit dairy foods that he was also allergic to.

    I wish you good luck with whatever you try to resolve the issue.

    Thanks, Bruce. Glad your nephew found relief. -rc

  14. I’ve had hay fever all my life and grew up in the Midwest. I joked if it’s green and outside I’m probably allergic to it.

    After I got married we moved to central Texas as a career move, and it was hell. My allergies went berserk. Fortunately the job came with decent health insurance because I needed it. I was allergic to all the flowers and trees in the area and totally miserable outside… And often inside too. And no winter to help clear it out. It was nightmarish and exhausting, constant medicine and caffeine just to get through a lot of days. When you talk about exhausting, I believe it, and it only gets harder as you get older.

    When my husband was offered a job elsewhere, my allergy problems were one of the top reasons I said, “take it!” even though I had to give up some of my ambitions.

    We ended up in the most polluted part of China for a few years but my allergies stopped. Ironically, my asthma problems stopped too, even though the air quality was terrible. My system could handle pollutants way better than pollen!

    Now it wouldn’t be the same with the pollution, but now I live in a far less polluted spot. In spring and fall my kids and I have hay fever but we have good doctors and I enjoy the winters here that knock out all my allergies.

    My allergies to animals have improved, but I did develop a food allergy — almonds. Apparently that is common for hay fever sufferers, so no food allergies for you means you got off lucky! I miss marzipan and almond cookies. And so many granola bars and nut mixes are no go.

    Definitely stay away from central Texas when you travel — the cedars there will probably be awful for you! They were horrible for me and many people I met. Likewise I am fortunate to live in northern Japan where a related cedar species is rare — I wouldn’t recommend central Japan in summer either.

    The “and it only gets harder as you get older” part is certainly one thing that worried me. I’ve seen the air in China (example for others), and am amazed that worked for you! -rc

  15. No one warned us that we would have to work this hard to regain or stay healthy as we get older. May you keep enough strength to maintain this detour as you explore this next adventure and continued journey.

  16. Ack, I’m sorry you have to make such drastic changes just to be able to live. As one who has never had to deal with allergies (except one time, it was a cat, but it was the only cat I ever reacted to), I can’t even begin to commiserate with what you have gone through. You are right to stay off the drug bandwagon, I’m convinced that my husband’s health would have never deteriorated the way it has if he hadn’t started the drug chain — drugs to treat the side effects of previous drugs. Best wishes to you. And thanks for including us in your journey.

    Thanks for following along! -rc

  17. I think you may have just gave me a direction to research with this blog!

    I served at-sea or near the ocean for 17 of my 20 year career in the US Navy. Every time I’d return “home” on leave (in Michigan) or to my wife’s home (in Mississippi) my sinuses would imitate Niagara Falls. On my return to duty, they’d clear within 1-2 days and I’d have little to no problems at all until the next time I took a trip over about 100 miles away from salt water. I recognized this as being allergic to dryland (from the “Waterworld” movie). After retirement to Michigan, I spent 20 years snorting Flonase (yeah, a steroid) to control the symptom with decreasing results. 3 Years ago I moved to Baton Rouge for retirement #2 and have had amazingly little trouble from my sinus, BUT, when I travel much further inland from here I begin to clog and run again. I always said I needed to go back to sea, thinking it was the salt air “curing” my problem.

    Your troubles, especially your escalation scale, which I’m also experiencing in the last 3 years, are telling me that I should probably see an allergist in the near future.

    I always prided myself as being allergic to nothing as a part of a fantastic health legacy from my Dad’s side of the family. It sucks to find out that I may be wrong.

    Thanks again.

    Glad to have shed some light. It sounds like you are a good candidate for immune therapy, which is an allergist’s main tool. -rc

  18. Your post about your struggles with allergies struck a chord with me; I may have an answer for you from my own experience. Maybe not.

    Short preface. I’m now 74. As a small child, my nose was always stuffed or runny from early spring after the snow melted, until after the second freeze and the snow stayed for the winter. Especially bad during and after swimming (outdoor pool or lake) my nose would run so much that other kids didn’t want to swim with me and I became Steve Snot. In order to sleep I used a small spray of Otrivin to clear my sinuses — for decades. Doctors couldn’t figure me out; hay fever was the universal prognosis but no specific allergen was discovered; no cure was available.

    In 2012 I chanced upon that excellent book, Wheat Belly by Willian Davis, MD, and recognizing my symptoms, I immediately quit eating all grains (seeds of grasses). Within five months I could breathe through my nose in any season; sleep was no longer a recurrent frustration. My eyes stopped itching and turning pink. I no longer needed either nasal or systemic decongestants. Pollen on the surface of water no longer triggers an embarrassing voluminous nasal tsunami. Frequent illnesses are now very infrequent.

    When I think about it, many grain-consuming animals have evolved more than one stomach to efficiently process and digest grains. Mankind has been eating seeds of grasses for only about 10,000 years. Obviously, some people adapt easier and faster than others and some of us just struggle on hoping to chance upon a needed solution.

    I hope that my solution will work for you.

    I like that it’s a non-drug solution, that it makes sense, and would probably work for a lot of people. I don’t eat very much in the wheat family, and feel quite good when I’m away from home, but should things not clear up fairly quickly after I leave, I’ll definitely experiment with this. Thanks! -rc

  19. As a lifelong allergy sufferer, I can sympathize. As a teenager, I went through allergy testing and scored 3 or higher on 87 of 127 different allergens tested for. One memorable testing day the nurse refused to tell me what that day’s first tests were for, and they were all ones I knew I was very allergic to. Several minutes later I got a visit from the doctor on rounds with interns, to show them a typical severe allergic reaction, and I got a shot of epinephrine as the tunnel vision led toward unconsciousness. Three years of desensitization shots later, and my allergies were much better. They improved even more after moving to Florida, until an allergy to melaleuca trees worsened. Then I did a hitch in the Navy and found two summers spent in the Persian Gulf kept me away from pretty much anything I could be allergic to. Now I’m in Michigan with few allergy problems. A move can help.

    Maybe you could try somewhere near the Great Sand Dunes, an area that is high desert and maybe has fewer of things you react to?

    My mother was always allergic to cats, until in her sixties she started taking medicine for high blood pressure and she was surprised to find she was no longer reacting to cats at all.

    I thought I was no longer reacting to cats; I got terrible itching when a kid but “grew out of it.” My guess is, that plus the pollens around me combine to push me above the threshold, and now I can’t stop reacting to the pollens from the incessant exposure for the past 20 years, and/or getting older. -rc

  20. A friend of mine described allergies as “having a bucket. Sometimes the bucket is only half-full, so you don’t notice new stuff going into the bucket. Sometimes the bucket is brim-full, so the next drop causes the whole thing to overflow.”

    This is what can cause “intermittent malfunctions”, which make diagnoses hellish difficult. “That never used to bother me!” because your bucket wasn’t full enough to overflow then.

    Hopefully, you can empty out your bucket and get it scrubbed out (to streeeetch the analogy).

    Well, maybe you can at least get out of Colorado’s stupid sales tax laws!

  21. I had a doctor put cocaine saturated cotton up my nose at 10 years old for allergies in 1970, so I didn’t mention them again until college. Then, I had allergies so bad I got a sinus/strep infection with nose bleeds.

    After eighteen months of shots, I started chiropractic adjustments after a car accident. I was really surprised when six weeks later I realized I had not had my weekly shot, and was still feeling OK.

    When my allergies get beyond the basic antihistamines, I go back to a chiropractor. (I also moved, and that helped each time for about ten years, then the allergies start getting bad again)

    Very interesting. I’m lucky to have a VERY good chiro for neck and shoulder problems, and am sorry to move away from her, but I’ve never noticed any correlation between such treatments and allergies. But hey, if it works for you, especially in the poor air quality of the SLC area, consider yourself very fortunate! -rc

  22. Sorry to read about your allergy issues. I hope you land in a place your immune system can handle! But congrats on your semi-retirement. I, too, am of the mindset that home is where the wifi connects automatically.

    Good turn of phrase. -rc

  23. I can sympathize with your battle with allergies. I’m 62 and started taking allergy shots when I was 2 years old. I am also taking much larger quantities than I would like to of anti-histamines year round. While I still suffer from them, three things have helped me that while you likely know, did not mention. All 3 are based on the principle of avoidance is better than reacting.

    1. Airconditioned house, and 2 air purifiers running 24×7 in my bedroom
    2. During peak pollen season I’ve worn N95 masks when I went outside
    3. Saline sinus rinse morning, night and when I come inside.

    Excellent principle. No AC here: Colorado has such delightfully cool nights we don’t need it. (Right now my office is 65 degrees after having the windows open all night, and closed in the morning.) Yeah, that certainly allows for more pollen infiltration. The others are done PRN. -rc

  24. Good on you laddie, to make AND implement a decision for your body’s sake… i had to do similar some years back, and approve of your decision.

    Our situation improved greatly after the move, even to now Owning our home, in a time of exploding mortgage rates, a major advantage.

    Really good that you are doing similar.

  25. I’m so sorry to hear that Randy. My son is in a similar situation. He grew up in the country suffering every year — and then went away to the big city for university and is much better.

    I’m not sure he has come to terms that he will probably enjoy life more living in a city. 🙁

  26. Wow, I’m so sorry your allergies have driven you from paradise, but I can sympathise with the suffering. I was diagnosed at age 11 with 250+ different allergies. I started with 2 allergy shots per week for about 5 years when they weaned me back to once a week. A couple of years later I was down to once every 2 weeks, then a year later to every 3 weeks and the year after that stopped getting the shots. Nowadays, I take a Wal-Zyr every day. I use a sinus flush when I get miserable and/or Nyquil. Cottonwoods here in TX set me off, but I never had any issues in Colorado Springs when the Cottonwoods shed, so it must be the difference in the water.

    We are headed back to Colorado Springs early next week until sometime in January. I can’t wait to escape this 1,000,000° heat! It was still 103³ at 8:30 last night, and Dallas set a new all-time record high low of 86° this morning.

    I hope your transition is smooth and uneventful.

    I’d rather have allergies than that kind of heat. I can’t stand anything over 5,000°! -rc

  27. I’m glad you’re finally getting some relief for your allergies. I’m so sorry you had to give up your cat. I can’t imagine what that felt like. I hope everything goes well in your new home!

  28. I am SO sorry to hear about your fight with allergies/allergens. I suffer from a variety too, pine /juniper/conifers too, as well as some pet danders. Blessedly, my pet allergies are mild enough to allow me to have my pets (after one ass clown doctor made me get rid of a beloved cockatiel & terrier; I put my foot down over the cat and found another, better doctor) with the help of Claritin and occasional inhaler use.

    I live in central NY, and there are too many fir trees, and Christmas season’s pine decorations everywhere are an issue. If I had to leave here (I grew up in Queens, NY until moving upstate at 15), I would be devastated. So I understand your dilemma. I just wanted to say I’m sorry you have to leave a place you love. Best of luck and many blessings that you and your wife find a more comfortable environment (because I loathe AZ for many, many reasons, having been there I do know that it is a haven for allergy sufferers, but the political atmosphere is something I could not tolerate, ever) to call your future home.

    Sending healing wishes on your journey. Since retiring, your newsletter is a joy to read. I hope your semi-retirement allows it to continue.

    It’s amazing how many readers know exactly what I’m talking about! Glad you have yours under control. I couldn’t handle the heat in California; I’d never be able to stand Arizona! -rc

  29. So exciting! We are aproaching a similar crossroads although for very different reasons, and it is so scary taking that big leap into the unknown.

    I hope you’ll let us know when you arrive in different countries! I’m in Australia and it would be awesome if we were passing through the same city at the same time!

    Due to its sheer size, it’ll take awhile to get around Oz. I suspect I’ll be able to plan for “Reader Meetups” in a city or three there! 🙂 -rc

  30. Congratulations on your new lifestyle. We have taken a couple of extended-length cruise, and it really does feel like “travel the world, go home every night”. I know you and Kit will absolutely love it, and I hope your allergy problems will all be behind you when you set sail. I’m jealous, but you really have earned it. Enjoy your “semi retirement status” as long as you can and want to. Best of luck, enjoy this exciting next phase of your life!!

    Thanks, John! -rc

  31. WOW I am jealous of your upcoming sea voyage and would join you if i could financially but alas! not this lifetime. Best wishes to you two adventurers. Please keep this blog going with photos videos & meditations inspired by the currents of sea and sky.

    Such blog entries will almost certainly be on since they won’t be related to TRUE. Wish you could be down the hall! -rc

  32. Doesn’t this involve giving up a lot of freedom and autonomy, because everything will have to be according to the ship’s rules? And how will you manage being seen in-person by doctors when necessary? I assume the ship will have a medical staff, but what about when you need specialists — or an ER?

    Well, I suppose to some extent, but that would be true for any sort of communal living situation, such as a retirement village (which I’m definitely not ready for yet). As for medical care, passenger ships are required to have emergency medical treatment by a doctor available 24×7, and basic visits (but not “procedures”) are covered by our rent. If it’s a big emergency (say, a heart attack), ships will usually call the Coast Guard for evac to a hospital. We will have medical insurance for such situations, which thankfully is cheaper than U.S. insurance. -rc

  33. This is amazing! I have recently read several articles about folks who do exactly this. I’m sure you have figured out all the logistics and taken time to glean from the experience of others. I look forward to following along at your new website. This is the start of a great adventure!

    Yes indeed. I’ve of course seen a lot of those articles too, especially since I’m actively researching the sector. Clearly some companies are doing a lot of PR work to get those articles, and bringing awareness to the concept. -rc

  34. Have they checked for heavy metals?

    “They” haven’t, but I paid for blood tests myself to find out, and negative. -rc

  35. “We’re going to use our capital gains exemption ”

    Does that still exist? When we sold our house last year (2022), we were rudely surprised to learn that it expired in 1997.

    Was it this exemption?

    It would be great if it existed because we paid a boatload in taxes!

    If there is another exemption, let me know, maybe I can get that money back.

    No, this one. If you and your wife get a bunch in taxes back, I’ll be happy with just 10% of your refund. 🙂 Seriously, though, if you were in the home for a long time and sold in a hot market in a good neighborhood, you probably had gains exceeding $500K and thus yes, you probably paid a lot of taxes. We’ll have less than a $500K gain. -rc

  36. What an appropriate and interesting concept for 21st century living! I’m curious as to how this affects your voting status. Do you declare a legal “place of residence” of your choice, or are you automatically classified based on your mailing address, port of origin, etc.? To what state/municipality do you pay taxes? How hard is it to make and receive purchases from internet retailers? A good remailing service would seem to be a necessity to act as your dry-land hub.

    I’d be willing to bet that if this becomes relatively commonplace, there will be a host of new services created by savvy entrepreneurs especially to serve this new market. I look forward to your reports on the progress of this venture. (Should you be so inclined, I suspect there’d be quite an audience down the road — or, should I say “down the coast” — for a book about your experiences. Might make a hell of a movie, too. Best of luck, with fair skies and calm seas to you always!

    Very perceptive. Friends have a mother-in-law apartment in their house so we’ll be renting that as our permanent domicile, and they can forward mail as needed. My bookkeeper will check my PO Box in Colorado and scan things as necessary and email. But you’re right: not everyone has such resources and will need some sort of service. -rc

  37. I too suffer from allergies compounded by a move to New Mexico, pneumonia and COVID all in 2021. I am on oxygen at night and during the day sometimes. The best thing I did was buy a small air cleaner with a washable filter instead of disposable. You might want to look into one for your ship cabin. Mine is smaller than a shoe box and it amazes me on how much dirt is on it when I rinse the filter once a month. I also switched to oral albuterol tablets over the inhaler. Trelegy worked the best but it cost over $300 a month under Medicare and a supplemental insurance. Good luck with your adventure and I look forward to reading your blog!

    Huh! I’ve never heard of albuterol tablets. I guess that’s a way to make the drug more expensive…. Email me the filter info, please, and I’ll update this with a link. Thanks for your best wishes. -rc

  38. Well, that “one ups” us….we actually left your neck of the woods in the four corners (Aztec, NM) and traveled to the four corners of the country by full timing in an RV for 3 years. Here’s hoping you can get away from the allergens AND the meds…while helpful, they certainly extract a long term toll.

    The two ideas are similar in many ways, but without having to pay six figures for the “boat” and doing the driving. 🙂 -rc

  39. This is thinking outside of the box! For you and for your new landlord.

    Downsizing will be hard but, I’m sure, well worth it in the end. Have you thought about volunteering as the “Floor First Responder”? I don’t know how big the ships are, but between you and Kit, you have a wealth of knowledge that might be used to augment staff in certain circumstances.

    I’ve decided to not make that a job. If I’m on the scene and witness something, that’s different, but I don’t want it to be my responsibility. Let them hire the folks they need, and I’m happy to help them. (And keen insight to recognize the “landlords” thinking outside the box! The Covid cruising downturn seems to have been a big driver.) -rc

  40. Sad to know you’re leaving Colorado, but cruise ship living is a dream of ours, too, and we know you’ll have a wonderful time. Enjoy the adventure!

    Fair Winds and Following Seas.

    A most appropriate idiom here! If it’s a dream for you, definitely sign up for the notifications at — we’ll be doing a lot of articles on how to decide, plan, and prepare. -rc

  41. Wow, what a great idea! I could totally get on board with a plan like this (hahaha) when C and I are ready to semi-retire. Also, someone at the cruise lines really messed up by not securing that URL — lucky for you! I’d definitely like to follow along with your at sea adventure. Congrats!

    Yeah, I really lucked out in getting that domain. The funny thing is, I thought of a second one that was not as good that I was going to also buy and point it toward …but THAT one was squatted! -rc

  42. Arcie, Good luck to you and Kit. There is something cathartic about cleaning out a house and moving. Our recent trek from VA to OR proved that to us. One gets rid of a lot of “stuff.” Sorry to hear that we no longer have a stopover in CO, but am happy to hear that your health should improve. I keep sharing GOOHF cards — another on Thursday this week with more smiles. I am guessing that those will continue?

    Yes, GOOHF cards will continue, one way or another! (I think I have someone lined up to do the shipping.) Congrats on your successful landing in Oregon! -rc

  43. Sorry you have to leave Ouray, I touristed through there a couple years before you moved there (took a break from camping at the Texan Hotel I think it was; loved them!), and loved the area.

    Good luck on your residential cruise!

  44. I’m so far behind on my reading I just saw you were leaving Colorado. This weekend between a hangover and exhaustion Saturday and lousy weather Sunday I began to catch up on my reading.

    Sounds like a great solution I should look at for retirement as well.

    Good Luck.

    First time I’ve seen a benefit from a hangover! -rc


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