Thursday, June 28, 2018

EASING BACK INTO RV LIFE IN THE US: Bisbee, Arizona and the Queen Mine Tour

We Finally Toured the Queen Mine, a Historic Copper Mine
    Returning to the United States after eight months in México can bring on major culture shock so we try to ease back into the madness. We find spending our first three days in Bisbee, Arizona is a good way to transition back into American life. This historic town moves slowly and, in many ways, still appears to be stuck in the early 1900s. It’s a perfect place for our shift from laid-back Sayulita, Nayarit to RV life on our way to Oregon.
View of Historic Bisbee, AZ from the Queen Mine RV Park

     We always stay at the Queen Mine RV Park, set on top of a hill above the old copper quarry, overlooking historic Bisbee. The entrance to the RV park is just past the Queen Mine Tours Visitors Center. Every time we pass the Visitors Center I say we should check out the tour. This year we decided to do it.

     The tour into the now closed copper mine was well worth the $13.00 price of admission.  After we were each outfitted in a reflective vest, hard hat, and mine light, we climbed aboard the mine train.
We Were Outfitted and Ready on the Mine Train

     Our tour guide, Pete, explained the safety rules and that once the train was inside the mine shaft, he would stop the train and make sure each of us was okay with being underground. The narrow tunnel is not a good place to be for a person who is claustrophobic.
Entering the Narrow Queen Copper Mine by Train

     Pete then climbed onto the orange battery-powered train engine, rang the train’s bell, and we moved forward toward the mine entrance. When the train was entirely inside the tunnel, the doors to the outside mine slammed closed and Pete stopped the train. He walked along each train-car, checking that all passengers were okay with being underground. Then he climbed back on the engine and we proceeded deeper into the earth.
Pete Climbed Back on the Engine After Checking All Passengers
     Pete is a retired miner who had actually worked for years in this mine and had some wonderful stories to tell us. Not only did he explain the process of mining the copper, he had many personal stories about the fun-loving pranks the miners played on each other.
Pete, a Retired Copper Miner, Told Stories of Pranks They Played 

      He told how in the early years, they trained mules to haul the ore out of the mine, and how hard the young guys worked to exceed their weekly quotas of ore in order to receive bonuses.   
Mules Hauled Four Cars at a Time, Loaded with Oar

     He explained that the focus was to extract the high percentage of copper, with silver and gold as byproducts. 
Stunning Azurite, One of Two Copper Carbonate Minerals in Nature
     Back in the Queen Mine’s museum area, we saw samples of the many ores, not just copper, that were extracted from this mine, including the stunning Azurite, one of the two copper carbonate minerals found in nature. There were also old mining tools and the mine’s Safety Scoreboard, emphasizing the importance of safety to avoid lost time accidents.
Queen Mine's Safety Scoreboard

History of the Mine from Bisbee’s Website:
Bisbee’s Queen Mine was one of the richest copper mines in history. The mine opened in 1877 and eventually closed when Phelps Dodge discontinued mining operations in Bisbee in the mid-1970’s. The Queen Mine opened once again as a tour for visitors in 1976, nearly 100 years after the mine originally opened.

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Terry L Turrell, Author

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018


It's Too Hot and Humid for Us!

June Rain in Lo de Marcos
     When Tropical Storm Bud was off the shore of Jalisco in mid-June, the rainy season started in the state of Nayarit. We normally stay at our home in Sayulita until the end of June or early July, but it became too hot and humid for us this year. Then the power was off and on for a week, which is generally tolerable as we have the ocean to jump into when we need to cool off. But this year it was off during some nights, too, and we couldn’t run our air conditioning. When I’m too hot to sleep, it’s time to head north.
     So, we moved to our motorhome in Lo de Marcos. The power was on there, though the rains continued. We spent several evenings sitting outside under our awning, watching and listening to the rain fall (view the video above) while we enjoyed a glass of wine and a light dinner of cheese, crackers, green olives, and apple slices. 

     The rain brings insects, some pretty, like butterflies that flit through the area. Others, such as scorpions, spiders, cockroaches, and other beetles, would start moving into our house if I hadn’t put down a barrier of Home Defense before we left. Knowing we could sleep in our bug-free, air-conditioned RV during the rainy season in the tropics lightened our moods.
So We Drove Our RV North to Sunny Mazatlán
     But the rain and gray skies continued, so we drove our RV north to Mazatlán, where we found blue skies and lower humidity. We love this beautiful city, so we decided to stay for a week, revisiting some of our favorite restaurants and exploring new neighborhoods. Our first night in town, we always go to FISH (Fresh International Seafood House) for our favorite dish, Shrimp and Chips with a fresh green salad. It was as delicious as always.     
San Fernando RV Park in Mazatlan Has Refreshing Pools
     We enjoyed our week at the San Fernando RV Park, the only RV park still open in the center of the Zona Dorada, two blocks from the bus route. The pool was clean and refreshing, the managers friendly and accommodating, and the park was quiet as we were the only RVers there during this warm month. It was like being on vacation! Well, except it appears they are using the park for an event center right now as there were rather large afternoon and evening parties around the pool for three of our seven days. The music was a bit loud, though nothing that earplugs couldn’t solve, and ended by 9PM.
Clear Blue Skies and Palm Trees of Mazatlán
      Walking through the Golden Zone to Ristorante Villa Italia on Avenida Camarón Sábalo for pizza, we couldn't get enough of the clear blue skies and mature palm trees of Mazatlán. Strolling to dinner that night gave us just over a half-mile of exercise, not a huge amount, but better than nothing. The bus ride back in the air-conditioned tourist bus cost us 22 pesos total, a little over $1 US, a benefit we appreciated after two glasses of Chilean wine with dinner.
Isla de Pájaros, Bird Island
     A walk down the beach to Chile’s Pepper for a lunch of chicken fajitas gave us a prime seat to watch the action around Isla de Pájaros, Bird Island. A group of five kayakers were paddling to shore from the island, a small cabin cruiser passed between us and the island, and a boat pulling a parasailer cruised by. The view from the beach in the Zona Dorada hasn’t changed much since we were last here. Things are relatively quiet this time of year since most of the gringos are gone and the Mexican family summer holidays have not yet started.
     The Plazuela Machado in the Historic District is still gorgeous. The newly refurbished Malecón with a two-way bike lane is the biggest change. It's great to see many cyclists and rollerbladers cruising along the seawall, separated from the strollers and joggers.
The Original Pancho's in Mazatlan
     Major changes are happening along Avenida Gaviotas, with a new Marriott, condominiums, and commercial high-rises in various stages of construction. As we walked to dinner for a Father’s Day treat at the original Pancho's restaurant overlooking the ocean, we hardly recognized the neighborhood for all of the changes. Pancho’s had the same charming ambiance, though, with some new Mexican pottery on display that was worth a photo. The restaurant was especially quiet, so we were pampered even more than usual. 
Beautiful Mexican Pottery at Pancho's
     The Camarones Especiales, large prawns stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon, then broiled to perfection, were decadently delicious. After sharing that meal, we splurged on an extravagant dessert of chocolate cake a la mode. Another of our good memories at Pancho’s.
     After eating all of this rich food, I decided we needed to attend a Zumba class. Checking for nearby classes, I found one listed at Parque Tabachines, Tabachines Park, just a mile bus ride south on Avenida Camarón Sábalo and then another mile-long walk down Avenida Lomas de Mazatlán. We found the park, but no Zumba class. Instead, we found an outdoor gymnasium with various types of workout equipment.
Terry on the Mechanical Cross-Trainer
Jon Doing Pull-Ups on a Weight-Assisted Machine
     We exercised for about forty minutes, completing the circuit twice. After walking the mile back to the bus stop, we had reached our 10,000 steps for the day. That’s enough that we could have dinner at Ristorante Villa Italia againmaybe Fettuccine Alfredo with Prawns this time.
     We exercise so we can eat these delicious, calorie-laden meals. We splurge on restaurant food while we are in México because once we hit the United States, prices will more than double. Living in México is like being on vacation full-time, with a 50% discount.

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     When they fell in love, it was powerful. Then Jake was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. Could Lindsay tolerate the chaos from Jake's wild mood swings? Would newly discovered gene assays and blood tests indicate choices for a better treatment? Would escaping their stressful lifestyle and moving to México give Jake and Lindsay the new start their relationship needed? 
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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico June Newsletter--Exciting News!

May in Sunny México

Blue Sky and Colorful Murals in Rincón de Guayabitos
Hola from sunny México!
We enjoyed a little traveling in sunny México during May, one of our favorite times of year here. It's warm and the sky is still clear blue each morning. The evening rains have not arrived yet. The beach towns are pretty quiet since summer vacations have not started, yet there are still plenty of good restaurants open, yoga classes to attend, and swimming in the ocean to cool off.
     Our friends, Phil and Leslie, were in town for a visit and invited us to join them for a day trip to Rincón de Guayabitos. We walked through the newly refurbished plaza, down a walkway lined with fresh colorful murals, a pretty route to the beach, and then miles down the beach and back. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of Pescado Zarandeado at Restaurante Pineda. Thanks, Phil and Leslie for introducing us to that wonderful palapa restaurant on the Jaltemba Bay! (By the way, part of my new novel is set in this town.)
Blue Sky and Freshly Painted Gazebo in Lo de Marcos
     A day trip to Lo de Marcos last week gave us a change of pace from Sayulita. The beach was extremely quiet—there was only one other couple swimming in the ocean besides us. Bella, our doxy, did a little boogie-boarding with Jon’s help since the water was so calm and warm, though she appeared only tolerate it for our benefit.
     The gazebo in the Lo de Marcos plaza... Click HERE to read the rest of the June newsletter. 

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Sunday, May 27, 2018


Running Short of a Prescription Medication While in México

     What happens when you are in México and realize you are going to run out of one of your prescription medications? And then you find out it’s one of those specialty medications that is not available from any pharmacy in México? That’s what happened to us this winter and we had to figure out how to have a bottle shipped to us from the United States.
How Did We Run Out? 
     Each fall when we return to our home in México, we plan very carefully and bring a year’s supply of all of our prescription and over-the-counter medications with us. But this winter, Jon’s doctor doubled the dose of one of his prescriptions, meaning he was going to run short by about 90 tablets before we returned to the U.S. in July. 
What About Having FedEx Ship a Prescription to Us?
     We had to try to have the prescription shipped to us. It was not a controlled substance such as pain pills or sleeping medicine, just a maintenance medication, so it should be no big deal, right? We’ve had two other items, a Zumba poster and a digital scale shipped to us in the past and eventually received them. But what about prescription drugs? We had to try.
     We know from past experience that FedEx can’t find our home address and the Mexican mail service is very undependable. So, we decided we could have our son send the prescription bottle through FedEx to our new FedEx office at the Lollipop Toy Shop in Sayulita.
Sayulita's FedEx Store at the Lollipop Toy Shop

     First Step: We had the Costco mail order pharmacy ship the prescription to our son in Bend, Oregon two months ago.
     Next Step: Our son packaged the bottle with its receipt, as required for international shipping, and sent it via FedEx to the Lollipop Toy Store/FedEx office, at a cost of $115 US dollars, including shipping and import tax, about the same value as the medication. A week later, FedEx sent him an email stating that his package was hung up in customs in Guadalajara, México (Aduana de Guadalajara)
Customs Office in Guadalajara (Aduana de Guadalajara)

     Customs wanted five forms completed before they would release the package:
1. NOM Letter (Whatever that is)
2. Value Manifest
3. Health Permit
4. Import Register
5.Technique Information
     FedEx also suggested in their email that we hire an importation broker to handle completion of the forms. This sounded like more money and lots of hassle, but Jon doesn’t give up easily. He googled importation brokers in Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta and contacted several of them, but none would do it (probably too much work for one little pill bottle).
     FedEx stated that they could ship the package back for another $115. We decided that was too much expense, so we were going to have them dump it in the trash. But before we knew it, another email came to our son stating that the package was on its way back to him and his credit card had been charged another $115. Frustrating! On the bright side, we could pick up the 90 tablets of Jon’s medication from our son when we arrived in Oregon this summer.

Moral of That Phase of the Story
     Don’t try to ship your medication into México. I’ve since learned that it doesn’t work to ship liquids of any kind into México either. We tried having a case of 7th-Generation Free and Clear laundry detergent shipped to us because I’m allergic to fragrances and dyes. That made it to the El Paso, Texas border and then was “lost”. We learned that lotions, shampoos, and other liquids are not allowed to be shipped internationally. But, there are other ways...

We Needed A Mule!
     We still needed to get the medication somehow. I’m a member of the Mexico Mule Forum, a Facebook group where people in México connect to ask someone who is traveling from another country into their area if they will bring an item down for them, usually in exchange for a small gift, gas money, or as a favor. I thought about posting a request for help on the Mexico Mule Forum to see if we could find someone who was coming to the Puerto Vallarta area and would bring Jon’s prescription medication down with them.
     And then I recalled that some friends of ours were coming to visit Sayulita in about a month. Maybe they could help. I emailed them and asked if they were willing to “mule” Jon’s medication down with them. They heartily agreed. I then asked if they would mind if we had Amazon ship a special RV tire pressure gauge since ours had broken recently and we really needed a good quality one for our motorhome trip back to the U.S. this summer. They were happy to bring that, too.
Could Our "Mule" Haul Down a New RV Tire Gauge, Too?
     Jon contacted Costco mail order pharmacy and asked them to ship another 90 tablets to our friends’ home in California, explaining that the first order had been lost in shipment. He ordered the RV tire pressure gauge to be sent from to our friends’ home.
     A month later, we met our friends for dinner at Miro Vino, one of our favorite restaurants in Sayulita, and they handed Jon his package. Friends helping friends—that’s what worked.

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     When they fell in love, it was powerful. Then Jake was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. Could Lindsay tolerate the chaos from Jake's wild mood swings? Would newly discovered gene assays and blood tests indicate choices for a better treatment? Would escaping their stressful lifestyle and moving to México give Jake and Lindsay the new start their relationship needed?
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018


A Common Question When Thinking About Moving To Mexico

Sayulita UNIMED Urgent Care & Ambulance
      Moving to Mexico at the age of 58 and Jon at 65 years old, having easy access to quality health care was high on our list of priorities. Medical and dental care seems to be one of the biggest concerns when people ask us about retiring in Mexico. At this age, most of us consider what we will do in case of a heart attack, stroke, cancer, broken bones, broken teeth, or other physical ailments. And then there are the mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and other possible disorders during aging. We want to be prepared, just in case.
Hospital CMQ Riviera Nayarit in Bucerias

Medical Care
    When we were deciding where to retire in México, access to health care was included in the Top 10 Reasons We Moved to Sayulita, Nayarit. We found that good medical and dental care are available at various clinics in Sayulita, the San Francisco General Hospital five miles north in San Pancho, the new Hospital CMQ Riviera Nayarit 13 miles south in Bucerías, and several medical centers in Puerto Vallarta, including Hospital Medasist and Hospital CMQ Puerto Vallarta 30 miles south.
Bandaras Bay Pharmacy & Medical Clinic in Sayulita

     Some pharmacies in México (farmacias), especially in small towns, have a doctor’s clinic associated with them, usually right next door. The Banderas Bay Pharmacy andMedical Services on Calle Manuel N. Navarette in Sayulita is one such service which has two doctors, does house calls, and has a phone number for 24-hour urgent care. We keep their brochure and phone number, as well as the one for the Unimed Urgent Care clinic near the Pemex gas station at the entry to Sayulita, posted on our wall in case of emergency. I recommend having a name and phone number of an urgent care or doctor handy for the area you decide to move to, preferably one who speaks English if your Spanish is not good.
Pharmacies in Mexico Often Post Common Medications Stocked

     Pharmacies in México have a good selection of common maintenance medication, most of which do not require a prescription. Controlled substances and antibiotics often require a prescription, which you can usually obtain for a small fee. However, prescription medications are not necessarily inexpensive compared to the price we pay for a one-year supply of generic drugs that we take. 
      In addition, specialty drugs and nutritional supplements are generally not available in México, even in the larger Farmacia Guadalajara, Wal-Mart, or Costco pharmacies in Puerto Vallarta. We are careful to bring a one-year supply of all of our prescription medications, nutritional supplements, and over-the-counter medications with us once a year, including fish oil capsules, calcium carbonate with Vitamin D, Vitamin C, ibuprofen, 82mg aspirin, and many others. Vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements can be found at GNC stores but are relatively expensive compared to in the United States. 
Jon at Farmacia Guadalajara 

     Fear of illness or injury while living or traveling in México is a real concern for many people. It may ease the minds of those new to México to know that pharmacies, Urgent Care Clinics, and hospitals are readily available in tourist areas of Mexico.             Here is one story of a time that my husband, Jon, needed to treat a minor health issue while in Mazatlán that I hope will help others realize that medical care is easily accessible in most areas of Mexico: TwoTrips to Pharmacies in Mazatlán: Treating a Mild Infection While in Mexico.

     The next service we researched was ambulances in our area. When we realized there are three companies that have ambulances in town or nearby, Baywatch, Banderas Bay Medical Services, and Unimed Health System (Urgent Care), we programmed the direct phone numbers of all three services into our cell phones. We have the 911 emergency service in our area, but the dispatcher may not speak English and will send whatever ambulance they choose. We prefer to call the ambulance directly and make sure they are available immediately and can take us to the hospital of our choice.
Ambulance at Unimed is Associated with AirEvac International

Find a Primary Care Physician
      We wanted to establish a relationship with a primary care physician we trusted in case we had medical issues beyond that which an urgent care clinic could handle. Our dentist in Sayulita recommended a doctor she trusted for his medical expertise and that he would not take financial advantage of us as gringos by charging high prices or by charging for a false diagnosis.
     We decided to give this doctor a try when Jon had been experiencing a troubling eye pain for a couple of weeks. We rode the bus to his office in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle about 11 miles from Sayulita. As is common, his office was next to a pharmacy.
     The doctor was personable and spoke English well. He spent about a half-hour talking and examining Jon, then told Jon he should wait a week or so and see if the pain would go away. He said to come back if it didn't. When asked how much we owed, the doctor said, "Nothing. I didn't do anything." Wow! 
     Then he gave us his cell phone number and said if we had an emergency to call him first and he would meet us at the hospital, partly to make sure we weren't overcharged, since we are gringos. We felt good about our new primary care physician. The eye pain did go away in a week, a mystery to us, and we haven’t had to return to see the doctor since.

     We feel fortunate to have a good pair of dentists in our town at Dental Office Sayulita, Dra Carla Governi and Dr. Roberto Conti-Vecc. They are both skilled and their prices are reasonable, which we appreciate since we don’t have dental insurance and pay for all dental care out-of-pocket. Finding a good dentist in the area you will move to in México is as important as finding a good doctor, we feel.
     We have our teeth cleaned twice a year in Sayulita. Dr. Carla does the cleaning herself and she is very thorough. She charges us 1000 pesos (about $50 US dollars) each. I had her replace one of my broken fillings and was pleased with her expertise and price.
Dra. Carla is a Very Professional Dentist
     Jon has had two crowns done by Dr. Roberto in Sayulita and says they are the best crowns he has ever had—each one fit perfectly the first time they were placed on the tooth and required no grinding. Dr. Roberto took the impressions at his office and then sent them to a crown-making lab in Puerto Vallarta. Since the lab specializes in making crowns and uses a process that is exacting, the results are very high quality.
     To give an idea of the cost of having a crown replaced, here is the breakdown for Jon’s most recent dental work. Dr. Roberto removed the old crown and found there was not much old tooth left. Jon wanted to save the tooth, not have it pulled. But there was pain and infection in the tooth so he had to take ten days of antibiotics and then go to a specialty dentist in Puerto Vallarta for a root canal (see below). After the root canal, Dr. Carla did a core buildup of the tooth in resin which cost 900 pesos (about $45 US dollars) after the cash discount. He opted for the more expensive zirconium crown which cost 8820 pesos (about $440 US dollars) after a 10% cash discount and included the removal of the old crown.
Specialized & Advanced Dental Office in Puerto Vallarta

     To have a root canal done in our area, Dr. Roberto and Dra. Carla sent Jon to a dentist at the Specialized & Advanced Dental Office in Puerto Vallarta which specializes in root canals. She only does root canals in her practice and therefore, she is very skilled at doing them. The total cost for the root canal was 3200 pesos (about $160 US dollars).
     Since we pay for our dental care out-of-pocket, we have saved a great deal of money by having our dental work done in Mexico rather than the United States. The crown replacement and root canal cost about $645 US dollars in Mexico. If Jon had had this work done in Oregon, we estimate it would have cost about six times as much.
Health Insurance
Mexperience Offers Medical Insurance Options For Mexico

     For those who wish to purchase medical insurance that covers health care while living in Mexicoo, the Mexperience website has a couple of good explanations and services to offer. I would refer you to their Guide to Healthcare Services in Mexico. One of their recent blog articles has a nice summary of Healthand Medical Insurance Options in Mexico.
     After reading many Facebook Expat group discussions on this subject and speaking to other expats we have met in México, I find every person does something different. There isn't a “one plan fits all”. Jon and I have looked at both Mexican public health insurance and private insurance plans for expats and we just don't feel either is a good option for us.
     Here's what Jon and I have decided—we pay out-of-pocket for health care while here in México. It's relatively inexpensive for quality practitioners and hospitals. In case of a major emergency, we will pay out-of-pocket. We are both pretty healthy, so it feels like the right decision for us. But it's not for everyone.
Medicare Can Only Be Used In the U.S.

     Jon has Medicare Medical and prescription insurance which he can only use in the U.S. so he gets an annual physical and a year's worth of medication when we are in Oregon each summer. He has his doctor write his prescriptions for a quantity to last for one year, then has the pharmacy fill it for the maximum allowed by the insurance, which is usually a 90-day supply. Then he asks the pharmacy technician to call the insurance company and request that they cover a vacation supply, usually another 90-day supply. Finally, he has the pharmacy fill the balance of the prescription for a cash price. Using generics, this is usually the least expensive route, though if a generic medication is very inexpensive, we find it is best to have the entire prescription quantity filled as cash and bypass the insurance billing altogether.
     I am 61 years old and am eligible for an affordable health insurance plan in the U.S. due to my low income. I only take out enough from my IRA to live simply here in México and that qualifies me for this inexpensive plan with a low premium and high deductible. This covers my annual wellness physical and mammogram while we are in the U.S. It also allows me to purchase a year's worth of prescription meds while in Oregon, using the same insurance billing procedure as described for Jon above. Purchasing a year's worth of generic prescription medications and supplements such as vitamins, calcium with Vitamin D, fish oil, as well as over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin 82mg while in the U.S. is far cheaper than buying them in México.

Here are a few other sources of information for Medical Insurance while in Mexico:
2.  Expat Insurance Solutions by Expats (Medical, Evacuation, Auto, Home) (Worldwide including US and Canada health insurance with WEA)

     This is an interesting article from the Yucatan Times, giving us confidence in the quality and low cost of health care we have in this country: Mexicoamong the 5 countries with the best healthcare in the world for retirees. In this article, “International Living’s Mexico Editor, Glynna Prentice, says, ‘In Mexico, I have access to two affordable healthcare systems: public and private. In Mexico’s private healthcare system, costs—pretty much across the board—run 25% to 50% of U.S. costs for comparable services. And as a legal resident in Mexico, I also have access to Mexico’s public healthcare system, which runs most people around $300 to $400 or so a year—or less,’ says Prentice, one of an estimated 1 million Americans now living in Mexico”, according to International Living. Jon and I are legal residents of México but have concerns about wait time in Mexico’s public healthcare system and so have chosen not to go that route.
     I recommend that when you consider where to move in México, you evaluate the quality of health care facilities available in the city you like and how far they are from your home. Having high quality medical clinics, dental offices, and hospitals nearby has been a comfort to us since we moved here. Though we are in fairly good health and have rarely needed medical care, we are more comfortable living in México knowing where to go when we do need it.

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ANNOUNCING MY NEW NOVEL! eBook only $2.99 or FREE on kindleunlimited!

Just Another Manic Moment
     When they fell in love, it was powerful. Then Jake was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. Could Lindsay tolerate the chaos from Jake's wild mood swings? Would newly discovered gene assays and blood tests indicate choices for a better treatment? Would escaping their stressful lifestyle and moving to México give Jake and Lindsay the new start their relationship needed? 

Available on Amazon worldwide! 
(In Sickness and In Health #1)

Terry L Turrell, Author
Follow Me On: 
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