Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory

Sight for Sore Eyes 
Spring 2017

My History 
During my adolescence and adult life I have always been blessed to not have allergies of any kind. I have also, since the age of 10, worn glasses and contacts since about age 15. I have astigmatism and wear a special "rotating" contact lenses called TORIC lenses. 

Living in Oklahoma for most of my adult life, the dry air was nice to me and I survived most spring seasons without even a sneeze. Now Chris on the other hand was absolutely miserable in both Oklahoma and Lubbock with the dry air. However, that all changed about a year ago. In the Spring of 2016 I noticed I was developing some air allergens and other springtime nuisances.   

Spring 2016
My eyes, especially, were very itchy, red and watered what seemed like ALL the time. I went to my school district's wellness center for a visit with the PA who told me I as all gic to pollen and perhaps others allergens in the air and gave me a Claritin prescription. My eyes looked tired and weary ALL the time and were red, like pink eye, for quite some time. I looked terrible but did not feel bad. I twas more of a nuisance really. Within a month was better and my eyes stopped watering and all seemed well. 

Fall 2016
In the Fall of 2016 the same itchy, red and watery eyes returned. I went back to the PA at the "Quack Shack" as my fellow teachers call it and once again I was told it was allergies. I specifically had him look for PINK EYE since being an elementary school teacher aides to a lot of germs. He told me it was NOT pink eye and again gave me allergy meds, this time Zyrtec. 

I took the Zyrtec regularly and within 6-7 weeks the allergies seemed to get better. however, during that time my eyes hurt more than the previous allergy season and my contacts started to really bother me. It was during this time that I began to wear my contacts only 10% of the time. My entire adult life I have typically worn contacts at least 5 out of 7 days of the week. 

Towards the end of this allergy season my eyes got to be really red and watered non-stop, so I went back to the "Quack Shack" and the PA gave me a steroid eye drop for my eyes to help get them over the "hump" as he called it of allergy season. I took the steroid eye drops for about a week and my eyes felt and looked so much better. I was able to go back to wearing contacts regularly and felt as if I had made it over the "hump" and survived yet another allergy season. However, my "rotating" contacts were just not working for me so I wore my glasses most of the time. My contacts are "monthly" contacts and since I was only wearing them 2 days or less a week I kept the same pair for well over 2 months, which seemed fine since during those 2 months I would only wear 10-15 times. 

Spring 2017
In February of this year my eyes started watering and the itchiness reoccurred so I went back to get tested for Pink Eye as the amount of "eye boogers" and "eye crusties" in the morning was disgusting. Again, the PA told me it was not pink eye or even the allergy type of pink eye and told me to double up on the Zrytec, I did just that and the eyes kept getting worse. 

Even while Chris and I were on our Bahamas cruise my eyes were not perfect, but they were better so that led me to believe it was a little bit of allergies (In hind sight, no pun intended, it was just the HIGH of being on a cruise. Shoot, ain't nothing wrong with you on a cruise). In fact, 3 out of the 4 days my eyes didn't itch or water but again, every time I tried to wear my contacts they felt weird so I would just wear my glasses. 

After the cruise and Spring Break my eyes just went more and more downhill. I started to notice that even while I was wearing my glasses my eyes would fog over and glaze over to where I would not be able to see a computer screen or my saxophone music at church. Now despite being tested for pink eye 3 separate times, I knew this was something beyond pink eye or allergies so I went to my optometrist who then had to refer me to an opthamologist. 

Monday, April 10, 2017
On Monday, April 10th I went to the specialist to try to get some answers because at this point it had been over 2 months and I could tell my eyes were not only NOT getting better but were getting worse. During the pre-test area as the nurse testing me for the peripheral vision and other screenings I could tell that I was not able to see hardly anything. Several times the nurse said "Mrs. Davis, are you ok? Did you see that?" And I sat there with a lump in my throat thinking "NO, no I didn't see that". At this point I thought I was going to puke. 

As I met the doctor he looked at my eyes with his little flashlight and said "Oh my. Hold on we need to dig deeper". Then he put some special dye into my eye. 

Ophthalmologist- Oh wow. Oh this is bad, very bad. Wow. let me look at the other eye 

(Switches eyes on his machine). 
Opthamologist- Look up. oh my goodness, this is severe. Oh wow, Look down, wow Mrs. Davis this is really bad. 
(This continued for what seemed like 2-3 minutes or eternity really)
Me- Ummm hello just tell me already. 

So he pulls away from the machine and says I have Keratitis, a severe infection which leads to disease that causes blindness. He said that he could tell that I have had it for quite some time and while we did catch it "in time" it may not be in soon enough time. 

Of course at this point my blood pressure is sky high and I am sweating like crazy. He tells me I will need a high mega dose of a specific eye drop and antibiotic called Vigamox. He asked me in the room if I had health insurance as this medicine is incredibly high priced. I do have Blue Cross Blue Shield and I remember in 2013 when I did have pink eye the meds were $185 so I expected about the same. 

I completed the necessary paperwork and set up the follow up exam for 10 days later. I drove straight to my normal pharmacy at the Walmart near my house. Oddly enough there was NOT a line (that should have been my 1st clue that something was wrong as there is ALWAYS an hour+ wait). They gave me a 30 minute window so I went and got some groceries and then went back to the pharmacy to pick up the meds. 

The pharmacist then (After the 30 minute wait) told me that they did not have all the drops I needed and could not fill. At this point it was 6:45PM and I was DONE. She then told me that the cost of the meds would be $315 PER ML so a total of $945 for the 3 ML prescribed. I lost it and started crying because I do not have an extra $1K just lying around. 

I left and drove right back to my eye doctor to see if there was another route to take. Luckily he was open until 7 and gladly took me back in. He said that Walmart was either giving me the screws or was just wrong on the costs. He wrote me a weaker prescription for eye drops that offered a generic brand so would be cheaper but he said they would more than likely not work because my case was so severe. He then told me if this didn't work it would get worse and would lead to blindness and perhaps a hospital stay. 

I left the eye doctors office crying with the orange tears from the dye running (and staining) all over my face. I decided to go to CVS pharmacy across from my subdivision as I was just done and this way Chris could go get the prescription for me if it took a while. 

I get to the CVS counter and the tech took all my info and said "Oh no, I don't think we take this insurance anymore". Of course, I just break down and cry even more at this point. Then she entered it and sure enough, it was accepted. The total was $278 for all 3 ML. Then the pharmacists pulls the tech aside and somehow the two of them find a coupon and it lowers the meds to $80.70. I am literally saying "Thank you Jesus"  out loud as she fills the prescription and checks me out. After I had it all paid  Jessica, the pharmacy tech. and the nice Pharmacist came from behind the counter and gave me a hug and told me it would all be OK. 

That right there... Was a GOD THING! A $945 prescription to less than $100. Wow! Thank you Lord for Jessica and the CVS pharmacist! Bless them and their families! 

Now I have to take these meds every 2 hours for the next 10 days, even in the middle of night. Today has been TERRIBLE as the lack of sleep and the meds have taken a toll on me. I have felt dizzy and nauseous all day. My eyes have not improved too much as of yet and they are still fogging over and drying out and are VERY bothersome all day. I know it will take time and I am trusting God that they will heal with this regimen. If He can bring a $900 drug down to $80, I know He's got this! Now to just keep the faith and TRUST HIM! 

Please keep me in your prayers as I wander down this journey towards eye health. 

Mine Eyes have seen the GLORY... Thank you Jesus for this trial and Lord I pray that as the Great Physician You will heal my eyes! 

God is good... All the time! 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Living the Dream- The Carnival Dream 2017

11th Anniversary Cruise- 2017
Carnival Dream

In March 2017 Chris and I took a Bahamas Cruise aboard the Carnival Dream sailing out of New Orleans, LA. This beautiful floating resort took us to the following destinations: 

Key West, FL
Freeport, Bahamas
Nassau, Bahamas

The Carnival Dream... Our home away from home for the next 7 days! 

Chris and I have been on 9 other cruises prior to this one; 6 with Carnival, 2 with Royal Caribbean and 1 with Princess. This blog will include daily entries of our 7 days, a broad "Foodies" blog highlighting all of the food options available on the Carnival Dream as well as an extensive photo review of the ship. Thank you SO MUCH to all my followers... without you the blog would not be as popular as it is today! Be sure to stay tuned as the posts come through over the next few days and weeks. 

Travel and New Orleans- Slower to the Fun

New Orleans/ Embarkation- Strawberries and Champagne

SeaDay #1- Lido and Laughs

Key West, FL- Sharks and Steaks

Freeport- Our First to the Worst

Nassau- A Cold Plunge

SeaDay #2- Mastering the Art of Chillaxing

SeaDay #3- All Clammed Up

Disembarkation- Wake Up... the Dream is Over!

Other Blog Posts

Carnival Dream FOOD

Once again, we owe all of these blessings to our Lord and Savior! He has truly blessed Chris and I, as well as our family! We currently have 3 more cruises booked and a few more after that on the horizon for the next 2+ years, with and without kids, and we are very excited to set sail once again.

Carnival Breeze-Summer with the kids- Summer 2017
Carnival ValorMY 35th Bday Celebration/ Girls Cruise-September 2017

NCL Pearl- 12th Anniversary and a new cruise lineMarch 2018

 Thank you so much for following along and until we meet again... 

Keep Calm and CRUISE ON!  

Living the Dream- Food

From Shark Feeding to Davis Feeding
Carnival Dream 2017

We are true foodies and love trying new things while on a cruise ship as well as enjoy our favorites. The Carnival Dream offered the FunShip 2.0 upgrades including Guy's Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Cantina but it also had Mongolian Wok and the brand new Guy's Pig and Anchor BBQ on the Lanai deck. This made for an amazing dining experience throughout the cruise. In addition, the Dream had the American Table and American Feast menus in the Main Dining Room. We also splurged and tried the Chef's Art Steakhouse on this cruise! We enjoyed every meal and the Carnival Dream is one of our favorite Carnival ships for dining! In fact, there was almost TOO much to choose from! 

I am going to highlight all of the Lido deck offerings individually as well as each night's menu from the MDR. Chris and I cruise frequently and enjoy "rating" each menu item from 1-5 with 2.5 being what you would expect from a restaurant on land. We consider a 4.0 to be about standard for most cruise food! I realize that food is VERY subjective but we enjoy reviewing these menu items to help us remember what we do like for future voyages. 

1- awful and would be fast-food level quality (McDonald's or Taco Bell)
2- decent on land offering 
2.5- par for land meals (Chili's and Red Lobster) 
3- Upscale land restaurant quality 
4.0- standard for cruise industry food 
5.0- One of the best foods (of the corresponding category) we have ever had

Guy's Burger Joint- Lido Deck 10 mid-ship
Guy's is always a huge hit with Carnival passengers so the lines are always long but they do move quickly. They are open from noon to 6PM! Tip- Get anything with the donkey sauce... you will not regret it!

The "Ringer" which featured an onion ring on top of the burger- YUMMY! 
Overall- 4.5

Blue Iguana Cantina- Lido Deck 9 mid-ship
I personally enjoyed the breakfast more than the lunch options. Tip- This dining venue is only open from 7-9AM and then 12-2:30PM but is an excellent choice for breakfast or lunch! They offered build-your-own burrito bar and tacos for both meals! Also- ask for a burrito BOWL. This was new to me and never seen except on this ship! It was a great option for trying to eat light and still taste good! Plus they offer an incredible salsa bar.

The Blue Iguana breakfast burrito became a staple on this cruise as the omelets were not cooked to our liking. 

Breakfast burrito perfection!

My very 1st Blue Iguana BOWL... This will be a new staple for me! 

Overall- 4.5

Mongolian Wok- Lido Deck 10 mid-ship
This was an Asian Mongolian BBQ style option that allowed you to choose your meats, vegetables and carbs to create an Asian bowl to your liking. Chris LOVED this but at first I had a hard time creating the perfect bowl. By the end of the cruise I was loving it. Tip- This gets REALLY BUSY, REALLY FAST. It opens at noon every day and that is the time to be there! Also, this was the main omelet station in the mornings. It too filled up quickly! 

My 1st and best bowl of the cruise! I love how they offer SEAFOOD as a meat option too! 
Overall- 5.0

Guy's Pig and Anchor BBQ- Deck 5 Lanai starboard 
Wow, this was an incredible addition to the Carnival Dream class ships. The meat was very tasty and well cooked plus they offered multiple BBQ sauces. TIP- This is venue that is not as well known during the 1st part of the cruise so the line got longer as the cruise progressed. It is only open on sea days and only from 12-2:30PM. The line looks very long but moves surprisingly FAST! 
It is a rather large venue considering it is on the side of the ship! 

The full Pig and Anchor menu! 

Guy's sauces were all unique and tasty in their own way! 

This is a serviced bar where the workers ask what you would like and then place it for you! 

The meat and sides were delicious! 

Overall- 4.5+

Pasta Bella- Deck 11 aft (just above the aft buffet)
This was a FREE lunch option that offered specialized and made to order pasta. It is a little unknown at the beginning of the cruise so try to eat there early. Plus it offers service lunch and not a buffet.
Pasta Bella times for our voyage. 

The garlic bread was AMAZING!

They even offer a full and lunch size portion of lasagna.
This lasagna had brisket in it which was well... interesting. 

Create your own pasta- 4.0

Overall- 4.0

Pizza del Capitano - Lido Deck 10 aft
This was the new style of pizza making for Carnival and it was great. The crust was light and crispy (and never burnt unlike before) and the toppings were fresh and authentic Italian.  Tip- If you go off of peak times, there is not a line. 

The Pizzeria menu is the same as before with only a few changes. 

The pepperoni pizza was VERY good, especially for Carnival, which we have found to be less tasty than other cruise lines. 

Overall- 4.5

The Carnival Dream Deli- Lido Deck 10 aft starboard (at the end of the buffet)
This was a typical deli and offered a variety of hot and cold sandwiches. It was open 11AM-11PM so it was a great choice for a late night snack. We didn't frequent the deli much since there was SO MUCH more to choose from but I found a new snack I like which was the Turkey Wrap.

(This deli service was the fastest we have experienced!)

The Carnival Dream Chef's Art Steakhouse- Deck 12 aft(we will rate each item individually on this venue)
This is an additional fee restaurant that offered high quality steaks and seafood. It was INCREDIBLE. The steaks were perfectly seasoned and cooked and easily the best we have ever had. The side dishes and other food were also superb and the atmosphere was perfect for a romantic evening. TIP- It is $35/ per person and reservations are required. 

Cocktail menu and mission statement.

Appetizer and Entree menus 

Dessert and After dinner drinks menu. 

The steak display... That 10 ox lobster was HUGE! 

Compliments of the Chef- Chicken Salad appetizer 

This was a very unique appetizer but we enjoyed it.

The bread offered. 

New England Crab Cake
Kellie- 4.5+
Chris- 4.5

Lobster Bisque with Vintage Cognac (Kellie)- 5.0
The best I have ever had!

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (Chris)- 4.0

Surf and Turf (Kellie)- 5.0
Absolutely incredible!

Spiced Rub Prime Ribey Steak (Chris)- 5.0

Kellie's Side Dishes
Creamed Spinach- 4.0 (interesting)
Yukon Gold Mash with Wasabi Horseradish- 4.5

Chris's Side dishes
Baked Potato with trimmings- 4.0
Yukon Gold Mash with Wasabi Horseradish- 5.0+

Even the butter for the lobster was served in high style. 

Wasabi for the Yukon Gold Mash

This was seriously the best steak I have ever had! 

Carmelized Washington Apples (Kellie)- 4.0
This was not what I expected but still pretty good!

Cheesecake with Hazelnut Biscuit (Chris)- 5.0

This was the biggest piece of cheesecake we had ever seen. 

Happy Anniversary- Compliments of the Chef
Chocolate Praline tart- 4.5
Carnival sure does know how to spoil us! 

The chef even gave us a complimentary glass of champagne!
Again, we were HIGHLY impressed with the service on the Carnival Dream. They truly went above and beyond for us! 

Some of the best $70 we have spent at sea! A "must try" for steak and food lovers! 

Crimson Dining Room- Deck 3 mid-ship
We had Your Time Dining and this allowed us to eat in the dining room anytime from 5:45PM to 9PM. You did not have to have a reservation and you could eat with other couples or passengers. This voyage was completely sold out with over 4,000 passengers so there was often a wait but never longer than 20 minutes and they would give you a pager. The service was the absolute best we have experienced with Carnival and was superb. The Carnival Dream offered the American Table and American Feast menu and we really enjoyed them! 

American Table Night #1 (New Orleans Embarkation) 
Appetizer Menu

Main Entree Menu

New Orleans "Port of Call" menu 

The Bread basket- Carnival is lacking in this department for SURE!

Fried Calamari
Kellie- 4.0
Chris- 4.5 (both sauces were really good) 

Tomato Soup (Kellie) - 4.0

Chilled Vietnamese Roll (Chris)- 4.5
Peanut butter sauce and noodles were awesome. 

Sweet and Sour Shrimp
Kellie- 4.0
Chris- 4.0

Roasted Chicken (Chris)- 4.0

Bacon Mac and Cheese (Kellie)- 2.0
I must have hit the jackpot on the Triumph becasue this was awful!

Nutella Tiramisu (Kellie)- 4.0
This is still not as good as regular tiramisu and VERY rich! 

Strawberry bisque from the appetizer menu (Kellie)- 5.0
They perfect this more and more each voyage! 

Apple Pie (Chris)- 4.0

American Feast- Night #2
Feast Menu 

Fried Oysters
Kellie- 4.5, these were perfect and sauce was great!
Chris- 4.0

Mushroom Soup (Kellie)- 3.5, just not as good as I hoped for. 

Lobster tails x2 (Kellie)- 4.5
Chris- 5.0

Prime Rib (Chris)- 4.5

American Feast #1 Desserts

Vanilla Creme Brulee
Kellie- 5.0, the best I have ever had on Carnival. 
Chris- 5.0

Anniversary Chocolate Cake (Kellie)- 4.0, too much chocolate

American Table Night #3- Key West
(We were in the steakhouse) 
Night #3 Full Menu 

American Table Night #4- Freeport 

Appetizer menu 

Main Entree Menu

Freeport "Port of Call" menu

Cajun Flatbread
Kellie- 4.5, interesting mixture of textures and tastes
Chris- 4.5

Spring Rolls
Kellie- 4.5, never disappoint
Chris- 4.0

Crab Soup from Port of Call
Kellie- 4.0, not quite a "gumbo" but really good. 
Chris- 3.0- I didn't like it as much 

Greek Salad (Kellie)- 4.0

Meatballs (Chris)- 4.0

Oysters Rockerfellar
Kellie- 2.5, not good flavor
Chris- 2.5

Junakoo POt from Port of Call (Kellie)- 4.5, WOW... new Port of Call FAV 

Veal Parmesean (Chris)- 3.0
The whipped potatoes were also good 4.0

Succotash (Kellie)- 2.0, good but basically just grilled veggies so nothing to brag about!

Night #4 Desserts 

Vanilla Ice Cream (Kellie)- 2.0, not Blue Bell
(MAN, Carnival LACKS SO MUCH in the desserts category). 

Rhubarb Pie (Chris)- 3.5

American Table Night #5- Nassau

Night #5 Full Menu

Kellie- 4.0, more bacon and peas than I remember
Chris- 4.0

Conch Fritters from the Port of Call
Kellie- 5.0, the best I have had
Chris- 4.0

Kellie- 4.5, this dish is so EASY but is ALWAYS good!
Chris- 3.5

Swordfish Steak (Chris)- 2.5
Rice Pilaf (Chris)- 3.0

Mashed potatoes with Berenice sauce (Kellie)- 4.5, new found favorite side from Steakhouse

Sticky Toffee Brioche
Kellie- 4.0, not as good as I remember from the Valor but still good. 
Chris- 3.0
International Cheese PLate (Chris)- 3.0

American Feast- Night #6
Night #6 (2nd formal) Full Menu 

Clam Chowder
Kellie- 4.0, too much potatoes
Chris- 4.0

Crab Cake
Kellie- 5.0, on standard with the one in the Steakhouse
Chris- 5.0

Short Rib Duo
Kellie- 2.5, meat was too fatty and tough. I was not impressed
Chris- 3.5

Spanokipita (Kellie)- 4.5, surprisingly good

Special St. Patrick's Day Corned Beef (Chris)- 4.0

Grand Mariner Souflee
Kellie- 4.0, better than usual 
Chris- 4.0

Special St. Patrick's Day cheesecake- 4.0

American Table Night #7

Ricotta Ravioli (Kellie)- 4.5, can be ordered as an appetizer size

Mango Cream Soup (Kellie)- 5.0, another chilled soup victory 

Steamed Mussels (Chris)- 4.5

Tiger Shrimp Creole
Kellie- 3.5, not near as good as I remember 
Chris- 3.5

White Chocolate Banana Pudding (Kellie)- 4.0. excellent with the vanilla sauce

Carrot Cake (Chris)- 4.0

We chose our favorites from these menus: 

Favorite Appetizer- Conch Fritters (Port of Call) and Crabcake from Steakhouse 
Favorite Entree- Surf and Turf from the Steakhouse
Favorite Dessert-  Vanilla Creme Brulee 
Biggest Surprise- Junakoo Pot and Spanokipita
Biggest Disappointment- Bacon Mac and Cheese 

Favorite Appetizer- MDR Crabcake 
Favorite Entree- Ribeye from Steakhouse
Favorite Dessert- New York Cheesecake from Steakhouse  
Favorite Side Dish- Yukon Gold Mash with Wasabi 
Biggest Surprise- Yukon Mash & Vietnamese Roll 

Biggest Disappointment- Swordfish Steak 

We love cruising and EATING on cruises. We use this blog as means for us to know what to order and it is fun to look through and get our mouth watering while we are dieting! 

Thanks for following along! 

Until we meet again... Keep calm and CRUISE ON! 

God is good... All the time!