Will I clear the medical hurdle?

Well the US emigration adventure is moving forward. On August 11th, 36 days after applying, I got the approval letter from the US Embassy, which allows me to proceed to the next step of the visa process.

Then another eleven days later, on Saturday August 22nd, I received the crucial LND number that allows me to fix a date for my medical examination – probably in late September. If that goes well, and I pass muster, then the final step will be the interview at the US Embassy in London.

This all presumes that we can fix the medical date for late September. The medical is only valid for six months, but most of those are winter months when it could be hard to move the animals to the US – they can’t fly if it is too cold or too hot. Without a house, moving is near impossible. And my brother holds the purse strings, so everything is on hold until he gives the go-ahead, which could be next year.

However, there is a more immediate concern. Ironically, my MS shouldn’t be the problem, except the stress on hyper-drive. I have all the relevant documents from my doctor and health experts – the local practise put all my records on a disc. These go back quite a few years, well before I was diagnosed in 2000. Although I will have to sign up for medical insurance in the US, having a disease like MS is not a ‘fail’ as such. And once I ensure that I am fully up-to-date with my vaccinations, then there shouldn’t be a problem – I hope.

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So what’s the problem? Why the hurdle?

The examination is at Knightsbridge in London, a six and a half hour drive from Harlech for us. I no longer drive. Juanita doesn’t have a full UK licence so we can’t use the motorways. And like many people, she doesn’t want to drive in London. Even though I’ve lived there and driven extensively in the capital, I totally sympathise. It’s a stressful task. So we’ll be looking for some form of chauffeur… well a kind friend.

Incontinence is a problem already solved, and I’m prepared for the exhaustion, but then there is my car sickness, which had been banished for numerous decades, but that problem has now re-turned in all its childhood nastiness. (See “The Candle”.) Maybe my worsening MS might be at the root of the sickness. When we moved up here in February 2014, I had no severe sickness, even though it was an eight hour journey. However, when the Red Cross drove me to Bangor Hospital, I felt terrible. Maybe the same pills that I took for the 2014 move will work for the trek to London.

Let’s hope they do. Otherwise, I’ll be the wrong colour when I see the US doctor… and the US Embassy official a few weeks later.

Should these be called hurdles or fences? What else looms? Beyond the house purchase and sale, I see a huge water jump. That’s massive – and another post. Where do you think that jump lies?

(Source: ithoroughbred)

(Source: ithoroughbred)

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Why move to Idaho?

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Before I answer that crucial question, welcome to the first Pick’n’Mix blog post. I will attempt to post something at this same time and on this same site every week. And rather than having a specific topic, this will be whatever seems tastiest – as suggested.

Anyway, when I announced that I was attempting to emigrate across the pond to Idaho, some people questioned that choice?

“Why move there?” they asked. “There are better places for your MS – Switzerland or Spain.”

True. My multiple sclerosis gets worse in damp, cold weather, and in humid, hot weather. And sadly Wales has ticked the first box, this year. The second rules out many places in the more distant East, like India or Singapore. However, the key thing is having family and friends that can be supportive. A non-starter in this park home estate, where I seem to have a communicable disease, and when my family show no sign of caring what happens to me.

But I have another family that does care, and they are in Boise, Idaho. They may be step-kids and step-grandkids, but they are ready to be there for both of us. In fact, they have already showed they care, both in words and deeds. For instance, when my wife, Juanita, and I were with them in 2010 and 2011, they did everything for us from putting us up to carrying me when I couldn’t walk.

So that’s why we are moving back to Idaho, even if the move is complicated – especially by my brother. I need to get the right US visa and as well as copious documents, that includes a medical, which means an eight-hour drive to London. Then a few weeks later an interview at the US Embassy, again in London.

We need to buy a house, which is why we need my brother to guarantee the finance, which is mine for life. Then we have to sell our home in Wales. There is the shipping to arrange, and four pets to fly there, when the weather is right – they can’t fly when it is too hot or too cold. And I’m in a wheelchair so flying is a nightmare.

Before you ask about the culture shock, I should say that I escaped to Canada for three years and had Landed Immigrant status there. Yes, the US is not Canada, but it meant leaving home. And haven’t I already done that when I moved to Wales? This is not the country that I grew up in. The familiar haunts have been left behind. I’d already taken steps away from the equestrian world that I worked in, and I haven’t established similar contacts here.

So I’ve left home, and we are already in another country. Another country where the first language is not English, and we hear Welsh when we go places, even during the tourist season. Yes, the Americans do things different, whether it is driving on the wrong side of the road, or they arm their police. But it was the same in Canada, where I first passed my driving test, and almost joined the RCMP.

The 10 Best Cities to Move to in 2015 - http://www.simplemovinglabor.com/blog/the-10-best-cities-to-move-to-in-2015#.VQXcaHY3dgs.facebook

The 10 Best Cities to Move to in 2015 – No 2 Boise. Image courtesy Bob Young

Oh wait, American-English is not the first language spoken in Idaho. It was either Coeur D’Alene, Nez Perce, Kutenai, Northern Paiute, or Shoshoni, depending on the area. Around Boise it would have been Shoshoni. So I guess we need to learn that.

And those that said Spanish, go stand in the corner. The name Boise has French origins, French-Canadian fur traders travelled the territory in the late 18th and early 19th century. Boise may be from “La rivière boisée”. And any settlers from the Iberian Peninsula of significance were the Basques. Even a Brit knows that.

Well that’s enough of the history lesson from this Brit imposter. More of course next week. But that might be totally off the subject.

Any questions?

The Candle

There was a single twinkling candle on my chocolate fudge sundae. One candle for another year older, if not a year healthier. Friday August 7th 2015 was a turning point – well it felt that way for my stomach.

It churned and squirmed along with my head as we drove through the lush green Welsh scenery, across the mountains between Harlech and Bodnant. I hadn’t felt so car sick since I was a child – not physically sick, just feeling rotten. Is this because I’m into my second childhood?

But the journey was worthwhile as the food was delicious at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, which is “set in the heart of the Conwy Valley and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Snowdonia”. Best part was browsing their farm shop, and being tempted to buy some tasty treats from chili chocolate to locally sourced beef sausages. What happened to the vegetarian? Disgraceful – or not?

I did get to glimpse odd bits of the scenery on the way home. I needed to, as the fictional setting for “Fates Maelstrom” is in this locality, about 10 miles south-west of Bodnant and on the edge of Snowdonia. Through the mists of car sickness, I caught sight of some crags like the one above Crag-o-Niwl, my fictional Welsh village.

There's a crag in there somewhere! Craig Bwlch y Moch poking up out of a dense forest of rampant vegetation above Tremadog. Photo: Al Leary

There’s a crag in there somewhere! Craig Bwlch y Moch poking up out of a dense forest of rampant vegetation above Tremadog. Photo: Al Leary ~ http://www.groundupclimbing.com/newsitem.asp?nsid=185

So overall it was a good birthday, despite the childhood throwback, and a day that I won’t forget.

What next then? Well other than a birthday in Idaho on August 7th 2016. That depends on the emigration process to the USA, which entails many hurdles.

That candle also threw a light on one aspect of my writing future: where this Blog goes from here.

At the moment, I manage to blog once a month, in the IWSG monthly post on the first Wednesday. However, I feel that the posts should be more regular, for instance once a week – possibly on Monday or Tuesday.

If I go to that new schedule, then I need a new theme, as my intermittent ramblings don’t come up to scratch or muster.

There are three possibilities:

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  • Inspiring writers – a weekly blog about authors that have inspired me with their writing. The post would include my favourite books by those writers. I envisage choosing a crime/mystery writer one week, such as Dick Francis or Linwood Barclay. Then a SF/Fantasy writer the next. Like Charles de Lint or Roger Zelazny. I could intersperse these posts with interviews with published writers that I am online friends with. This is the simplest option, and more akin to the A to Z Challenge, but much more laid back.
  • Boise Skyline

    Boise Skyline ~ Copyright: http://www.visitidaho.org/photos/

    Moving to the USA – a weekly blog about the process that my wife and I are going through in trying to get to Idaho, USA. It could address the hurdles as well as the breakthroughs, and the prospects that await us. This would be more of a diary with a few suggestion for others undertaking the same expedition. I’m not sure that this would work as a weekly post, but with so many hurdles it could.

  • fd6a0b9306bea4eb33c76f2f4578481b (1)Living with Multiple Sclerosis – a weekly blog that is a chance for me to explain the condition, vent about the MonSter, and perhaps help others. Much more seat-of-the-pants than the other two, and also the disability gives me good days and bad days. Of course, I can’t help mentioning the MonSter in other posts, especially the American ones. Of course, my health is a key reason behind the move.

Of course, I could intersperse these and do one per week, choosing whatever I was inspired to write. Call it Pick-n-Mix.

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So what would you like to see me Blog about? Inspiring Writers, Moving to the USA, Living with Multiple Sclerosis, or ‘Pick-n-Mix’?

Was the first novel too easy?

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As this is the first Wednesday in August, I’m talking about ‘my debut’ for this monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group contribution.

As some of you may have noticed, my debut novel “Spiral of Hooves” is no longer available, since I parted amicably with my publishers. I have all the rights back, but I need to find another publisher. That should be easy as the novel has already been accepted by one publisher and got 5* and 4* reviews.

Life is never that easy. The first publisher that I offered “Spiral of Hooves” rejected it, but I don’t know why. Is it too long? Is it badly written? Has it passed its read-by date? Or did it appeal to the original publisher but not my next choice?

When I was preparing the document for submission, I did wonder about some scenes. Should I have cut them out, and re-edited the whole novel? That might be my next step – unless I work on the sequel next, then leave “Spiral of Hooves” as back-story.

However, I also have “Storms Compass” out with my second group of beta readers so that could be my next step. But they have had it for six weeks and only one has responded. It won’t be easy re-writing the post-apocalyptic novel with just one lot of comments.

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Of course, I have the first book in my “Snowdon Shadows” series, for which I have been wading through character sketches and interviews. Should that be next?

The option that I favour, at the moment, is to retire from writing, recognise that there are far better writers out there, and just focus on reading some great books. The pile is tumbling out of my Kindle so I need to catch up.

Just don’t mention the failing attempt to emigrate. Just don’t go there.

But tell me what you think about my options. Maybe I might even listen, for once. How do you deal with mental confusion?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with other writers – aim for a dozen new people each time. 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

We also have a t-shirt now! You can purchase it here – http://www.neatoshop.com/product/IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the this August 5 posting of the IWSG are Nancy Gideon, Bob R Milne, Doreen McGettigan, Chrys Fey, Bish Denham, and Pat Garcia!