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Monday, November 9, 2015 5:23 AM CST

We are in Florida. Our flight down was uneventful, as was the drive for Gary, in our car. Everything went smooth as pie. (Cindy just told me that smooth as pie doesn't make sense). The past two weeks have been packed with packing, organizing, seeing friends, last minute doctor appointments, and over-thinking-it-double-checking.

This year I thought I had everything, then the day after Gary Scott left with our car, I saw Cindy's umbrella chair sitting on the shelf in the garage. I had brought it home from Florida last April to repair it in Guttenberg. Then I put it on the shelf in the Cedar Rapids garage, so I wouldn't forget it.

Cindy must have the umbrella when she sits on our porch down here to protect her skin from the sun. Since Gary was reluctant to return from Nashville to pick it up, I went on eBay and found a new one. It will be here late this week.

Also, since I had time on my hands and a few more days to think about it, I shipped the forgotten one to Florida as a backup. As Cindy always says when she sees a 2-4-1 sale..."Two is better than one".

We saw lots of friends during the last two weeks at home. Had lunch with Suzanne Duggan, my former manager at Rockwell. This has become a yearly date and seeing Suzanne is always nice, to catch up with what's going on in all our lives.

Our flight down was very smooth and we arrived early. This year we put all our luggage in the car (except the umbrella chair) and so we didn't have to wait an hour at the carousel before we left the airport. First year for that and it was very nice, to just walk out of the terminal and meet Gary at the front door with our car.

While we were waiting for our flight to leave in Cedar Rapids, I ran into Dr. Ghosh, Cindy's Oncology doctor. We had a nice talk. He was heading to Orlando to accept an award for top cancer clinics in the country having "most patients alive, more than two years following diagnosis".

We talked about the irony of this award and his fight to keep in business in Cedar Rapids. The medical community in town is trying to run him out of business because he won't play by their rules. Which means, he won't make profit the center focus of his clinic. It's a crime what they are doing to him.

Of all Cindy's physicians, we have never had a more caring and compassionate doctor. Every year, he returns to his native country, India, and spends time doing free work in the clinics over there.

When Cindy had breast cancer, she had to go to Fittings Unlimited to get a prosthesis. The woman who owned the shop told Cindy this story… Her daughter was dying of breast cancer and one night as she sat in her daughter's hospital room, in a dark corner, in walked Dr. Ghosh, at 2 am. He didn't see the mother, as the room was very dark.

Dr. Ghosh went over to the bed, sat carefully on the edge of the bed and placed his hand on her daughter's hand. He sat there quietly for about 20 minutes. Never said a word. Then he got up and walked out of the room. Her daughter died peacefully later that day. I get teared up every time I tell that story. A great man.

One more story about Dr. Ghosh. When he first came to Cedar Rapids, fresh out of medical school. My father was one of his first patients. And the very first patient he lost. I sat with Dad as Dr. Ghosh told him he had about six months to live, after my dad insisted he know (Dad died six months later).

It was shocking at the time but Cindy and I have sat and heard that diagnosis ourselves (less than 3 months to live for Cindy but she fooled everyone) and I understand how hard that is for the doctor. Years later, when we "ran into" Dr. Ghosh again for another of Cindy's cancers, he remembered me immediately and told me what a fine man my dad was. It had been about 12 years since I last saw him.

Sorry, got off on a tangent. The weather down here is mid-80s and very humid. We turned on the a/c so we could unpack. Actually so I could unpack. Cindy and Gary sat out on the porch, visiting and enjoying the view. Until it started raining.

We then headed out to Aqua Prime for our first Florida meal. Cindy and Gary had steak, I had scallops. They both said, no more steak in Florida!

It was a gentle rain all night and it looks like more for today. But we are in Florida, I see that it's below freezing back in Iowa. We will be getting settled in for the next week, and Gary is staying till Thursday. So another busy week.

The sun is rising above the horizon as I finish. Beautiful! Let the winter begin.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 5:07 AM CDT

We are nearing the last few days at the cabin, before heading to Florida for the winter.

I did find the cause of the water heater leak. It was caused by the pressure tank (part of the water pump), not being properly pressurized…which forced water out of the pressure-relief valve on the water heater. Once I drained the system and properly pressurized the tank, it solved the problem with the water heater. Class dismissed.

We were again back and forth to Cedar Rapids over the last couple weeks. We had dinner dates with friends on a couple different nights. One of the dates included me shooting skeet in their back yard. First time for me, it was fun. Once I figured out what I was aiming at, I couldn't miss.

Cindy and I took our yearly drive up into Wisconsin to enjoy the fall colors. We stopped and stretched our legs in downtown Gays Mills. This is usually as far as we go. We had recently heard about a place called the Rockton Bar, in Rockton, WI. It's about forty minutes north of Gays Mills. So after a drink in Gays Mills, we decided to head that way to check it out.

The Rockton Bar (has a website), is famous for BBQ chicken. They cook about 1000 chickens a day and the crowds are huge. Each order is for 1/2 a chicken, so that is a lot of customers. We found out after arriving that the chicken BBQ is only on Sunday and we were there Friday.

We always thought the views along the Mississippi River were spectacular so we were unprepared for the even more beautiful scenery as you drive towards Rockton. Simply amazing. Rockton is located along the Kickappo River Valley, just outside a State Preserve.

It is also right on a horse trail so they get lots of customers who ride up on horseback. Cindy said, she saw more chaps and spurs in that bar than she's ever seen in her life (in person).

On the way back we stopped for a bit in Prairie du Chien and then on home, fairly early (for us) on a Friday night. I tried to sit with neighbor Steve, at his campfire but within five or ten minutes I was freezing. We hadn't seen Steve in a month, with all our traveling, and he wanted to catch up with the latest news.

It was very cold that night, so Cindy and I closed the evening out watching a movie and drinking hot chocolate, while finishing off the last of Cindy's homemade-chocolate-chip cookies. Got to empty that freezer out.

The next night we were back in Prairie du Chien. While visiting with friends Pete & Julia about our Rockton trip, Julia asked if we had stopped at the Village Green, a shop on Main Street in Gays Mills. We hadn't. Julia told us how neat a place it was.

A half hour later, Cindy and I were at Black Angus, for dinner and an old hippie and his wife came in and sat right beside me. He immediately struck up a conversation and asked if I ever go to Gays Mills. I told him we were just there the day before. He (Joe Brandt) said, "I own the Village Green".

You can imagine the conversation that flowed after that coincidence. We enjoyed talking to Joe and his wife for about an hour. They were a lot of fun.

Then our friends Jeff & Carol arrived and we went to our table for dinner. They had just returned from a two week trip to Hawaii, and we heard all about it. Lots of laughs and story telling ensued.

The next two weeks will be spent organizing and packing for Florida. Trying to keep the pile to a minimum. After five years, we should have this down pretty good but the pile still remains high.

There are a couple more doctor appointments for both of us and son Aaron, in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. So we are heading back to Cedar Rapids today.

We also have a trip to Des Moines this week, to visit family, following the recent death of one of Cindy's cousins, Jeff Loudon. Jeff was only a year older than Cindy. He had been in failing health for a few years but his death was sudden.

Next weekend will be our final weekend at the river. There are several chores left to do to complete our seasonal wind-down in Guttenberg.

The next update will come from Sunny Florida!

Monday, October 5, 2015 4:25 PM CDT

Our grandson Jacob is now driving. He's growing up so fast.

This weekend we had Jacob with us for three days while his parents traveled to South Dakota. I had Jacob behind the wheel often. He is going to be a pretty good driver. I contribute a lot of his skill to his golf cart driving since he was old enough to hold onto the wheel.

This weekend, he got in some highway driving and then some night driving. All done with skill and 'both hands on the wheel'. I even heard his phone ding with text messages while he was at the wheel and he didn't instantly grab for the phone. A major accomplishment for any teen.

We were behind the wheel a lot ourselves. Lots of travel between Cedar Rapids and Guttenberg. Trying to fit in as much time with friends as we can before heading south for the winter. Now I realize that I left one of my medications in Cedar Rapids so there may be an extra trip.

We drove to Iowa City last week too. Cindy had another round of treatment at the Iowa City Dermatology clinic. She looks a little wounded. She has burn spots on her hand, chest, leg, even on her face, where they removed a few spots near her eye and nose. Vaseline is her friend, nature's band-aid. I told her she is getting too slippery to hug.

I have a doctor appointment as well, just before we leave for Florida.

This month will go fast. Hoping to do a leaf-looking trip to Gays Mills, Wisconsin. Always a gorgeous drive. For now, we are readying the Summer place for the winter season.

Lots of little things to do yet in Guttenberg to prepare for winter. For one, figure out why my new water heater is leaking occasionally. Not all the time, just a cup of water on the floor every few weeks. The last water heater lasted 28 years and never leaked a drop of water. Grrrrr!
I have a plan though.

Enjoy the Fall colors!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:22 AM CDT

Where did September go??!! That month sure went fast.

Cindy and I did some traveling in September, so that may have sped things up a little. First we had our trip to Chicago with Aaron.

The three of us drove to Chicago during the middle of the week, so traffic was not too bad until we reached Chicago. I won't go into how bad that was.

Aaron attended a rock concert at Wrigley Field. He saw AC/DC. Pretty awesome show. Cindy and I stayed at the hotel in downtown Chicago, instead of doing the rock concert.

We stayed at The Palmer House. One of the oldest and largest (by number of rooms) in Chicago. It is beautiful. You can read the history of the hotel on their website and see photos of the grand room where we had dinner. The history of the place and the artwork is amazing.

After we returned to Iowa, Cindy and I headed back to Guttenberg. On one of the nicest days after we returned, I pulled the boat and prepared it for storage. The whole process went smoothly, and the boat is now tucked away till next year.

Last week we left Guttenberg on Tuesday and came back to Cedar Rapids for the night. We went out to eat in Cedar Rapids and saw friends we hadn't seen in awhile. The next day we took off on another road trip.

This time we headed to Kansas City. Cindy has wanted to stay in the Country Club Plaza, south of downtown KC. We did it several years ago but it was our first stay there and we didn't know what we were doing. This time, I had done plenty of research and mapping and we had a game plan.

We stayed at the Sheraton, right in the center of the Plaza. The Plaza covers an area, 3 by 5 city blocks, so it's very walkable. The one thing we forgot was how hilly the area is though. After we got checked into our room, (which was bumped up to a suite for us, which was nice), I decided to walk the Plaza to see where we would go. Seeing in person is better than looking at maps and websites.

The first thing I noticed was the hotel entrance sat on a hill that was almost 45 degrees down to the street. Or, there were steps, very steep steps and a lot of them. Right away I knew we had an issue. Then I walked the entire Plaza and noticed how hilly it was and how muggy the weather was. I was a sweaty mess by the time I got back to the hotel.

Plan B. After waiting to stop sweating I took a shower and Cindy hopped aboard the wheelchair. Out the front entrance and into an Uber car. Our first Uber driver told us that anywhere we went in the Plaza would only be $5. Sweet. I told the driver that was good because we didn't intend to ride more than a block or two at at time.

There are a lot of neat places there but we finally settled on the Capital Grille. It was a very nice place and a very expensive bill but we had a great night.

The next day we checked out of the Sheraton and headed south again, to Wichita, to see cousins Phil & Julie and their son Logan. More fun ensued. Probably too much fun. A fun time always at the Hower house in Wichita. They are great hosts.

This year we met all the neighbors, who we hear so much about.
The last night there, we all gathered in their driveway for some fun and then later we watched the 'Super Blood Moon' eclipse. It was a perfect night for viewing it, with a completely clear sky. One of the neighbors had a big telescope set up for viewing. I tried to see the eclipse through the telescope but we couldn't get it focused.

We stayed in Wichita till this Monday morning and then Cindy and I made the long drive home. We drove the truck and I had the entire backseat turned into a very comfortable bed for Cindy. She slept much of the way, or read her kindle, stretched out like a cat, which is how she relieves her pain.

We have several things going on this week and much of next, so cabin time will be slim to none until mid-October. We will mostly be in Cedar Rapids. Pretty soon I will be remarking how fast October went and then we will be in Florida.

Looking forward to the Fall colors.

Friday, September 11, 2015 11:44 AM CDT

We really feel the Fall season approaching. The Labor Day weekend was the busiest we have seen on the Island for some time. But right after that, the visitors disappeared. It has been very quiet.

We had a great Labor Day weekend. On Sunday our friends Cindy & Sam Garwood came up for the day. It was too windy for a boat ride but it was a beautiful day. We took them over to Elkader and had lunch at Schera's. They drove back to Vinton Sunday evening. We had a very nice time with plenty of laughs.

I have been doing small projects around the cabin and garage. Yesterday, I had Bob The-Tile-Guy over for some work upstairs. He cut out a couple spots on the tile floor, for heat vents and another hole for an added cable TV point. I should have had these things done when we built two years ago but there is always something you don't think of at the time.

Cindy has been spending a lot of time on her projects, in the garage at her work space. She made a nice, multi-part wall painting for the cabin. It looks great. Cindy is quite the artist. She is still spending Thursdays at the art gallery downtown. But next week will be her last day there until next year. We will be either traveling, or in Cedar Rapids most of the time, for the next six weeks.

I was getting to the point where my injured shoulder was not much of a problem. Then I forgot all about it and pulled the mower cord last week. I am now back to babying the right side and sleeping fitfully at night. Damn! I still want to avoid surgery as long as I can. Looks like grandson Jacob will have some lawn mowing in his future.

Next week we will be in Chicago for a couple days and then our son Aaron will come back to Guttenberg with us for the weekend. The annual Car cruise is next Saturday in Guttenberg. They usually have a nice size turnout, I think it was over 300 cars last year.

Cindy is feeling pretty well these days, although still plagued with swelling in her ankle. After surgery the doctor said it would take a year for that to stop. Well, it's been a year. They probably meant that a patient with Two legs would have swelling for a year. Having only one leg, puts added stress on the one ankle.

It's a delicate balance. On the one hand, over use strains her one leg but riding in her wheelchair or scooter, creates dependency (which she rabidly avoids). What to do? Cindy just keeps moving, and moving forward, the best that she can.

Enjoy the coming Fall weather and scenery.

Monday, August 31, 2015 8:32 AM CDT

The close of Summer is approaching. Labor Day weekend for us, means that we probably won't spend much more time on our boat. One reason is all the other activities that we crowd into the end of Summer.

Last week we took the ferry across the Mississippi River and went to Potosi, Wisconsin. Cindy's brother Kevin and wife Buffy went with us. It was Kevin's birthday. The ferry ride was fun, although Buffy was apprehensive. On the ferry ride back across, Buffy was much more relaxed, she even got out of the car.

There is a brewery museum in Potosi and a restored restaurant/brewery. While we were there, my friend Larry Eckhart stopped by to see us and we had a good time. Larry lives just outside of Potosi.

We went to Boomtown in Vinton on Saturday night. Our friends Jeff & Carol Brown rode with us from Guttenberg to Vinton. We hauled Jeff & Carol's motorcycles to their home in Marion, then pulled the empty trailer with us to Vinton and back to Guttenberg later that night.

The Boomtown fireworks were spectacular as always, at least the finale. There were a couple long pauses, which were aggravating. One pause followed a loud ground level explosion. We never heard if anyone was injured.

We sat in the front yard of the Schoonover home. Schoonie died recently and so we really wanted to be there for his wife Mary. Jeff also used to work for Schoonie during the time period that I was there. In fact, it was while working on the deck with Jeff that we talked each other into going back to college and did so about the same time.

It was a late night by the time the four of us got back to Guttenberg. After Midnight is late for us now days. However, it does help that I am sleeping much better these days. Not every night, but most nights. Small victories.

September will be busy. Cindy and I are going to Chicago with Aaron in a couple weeks. Aaron is attending the AC/DC concert at Wrigley Field. Cindy and I will be staying at the Palmer House hotel right downtown. Everyone tells us that it's pretty ritzy. It should be a fun time.

Friday, August 14, 2015 1:06 PM CDT

It seems as though it has been a long time since I've written an update. Tom usually handles this chore. I feel like it is an appropriate time to say how much I appreciate all of the people who seem to be keeping track of me and (mostly) silently wishing me well.

Tom and I recently attended my 40th class reunion and several folks told Tom that they had read the blog and were wishing us well while keeping track of what/how I'm doing.....I want to thank EVERYONE who reads and who supports us through their positive thoughts!

Grandson Jacob's 14th birthday is coming up on August 21 so it seems that it is the right time to share some thoughts.

As a brief summary, I was originally diagnosed in 1996 with my sarcoma cancer...after that initial shock and the eventual above-knee amputation in 1997, things seemed to be swimming along nicely. Not to forget that Mom's breast cancer and treatment and mother-in-law Sheila's lymphoma cancer treatment were both happening during this same time...yikes, what a year.

Then, Nikki and her children, Kyrstin and Lucas came into our lives in 1998 or so and our oldest son Michael was happy and settled again. They married in 2000 and in 2001 our grandson Jacob was born. What a joy to have him in our lives. He was (and is) a wonder.

Then, BAM, right around his first birthday in 2002, my breast cancer diagnosis. Another year of uncertainly, treatments and all that that entails. Just as things were winding down with my treatments, another shock, we learned the breast cancer had spread to my brain. At the time, we were given very dire predictions and very long odds of survival beyond just weeks.

Honestly, my worst fear at that time was that my grandson would never know me......I knew he would hear about me, I knew that Tom and the rest of the family would talk about me, but I wanted him to KNOW me.

So, that is why I'm writing today.....I'm so grateful and happy to say that Jacob does KNOW ME. I'm confident now that he won't forget me. All of his life he has known me as his gramma who is just a little different (you know, the one leg thing is pretty obvious), and of course there are other ways I'm different, but we don't need to go into those here.

Obviously, those who read this blog know that since 2003 there have been many other cancer scares for me and ongoing health issues. And, in 2004 my Mom passed after yet another bout with cancer. My sister, Karla died just last year from her struggle with several cancers.

So, things aren't always 'sunshine and daisies' as I like to see them. But, right now, today, things are going well and what I continue to focus on is moving forward, one day at a time. (as Mom always said)

I've had many doctors tell me that I'm some kind of a 'one in a million' miracle or something. I don't know about that, but I do believe that keeping a positive attitude, surrounding myself with positive people and doing my best to take care of my health has to have made the difference. I'm really no different from any other cancer patient....other than I am certainly luckier than many since I'm loved and supported by so many people.

My biggest supporter and the guy who should get most of the credit is Tom. He is the love of my life, my best friend and I know that I could never be cared for any better by anyone. He worries too much, but in the end, it usually works to my advantage as he takes care of even the smallest details! :o)

I'm grateful to see Michael really bloom into a wonderful father and to have Tom be promoted to the BEST Grampa ever! Our son Aaron has grown into a very responsible man who quietly supports me and worries almost as much as his Dad. We are so proud of our youngest son who has had to deal with his own health issues throughout his whole life. He just works steadily along, not complaining, just living life and doing his best to enjoy every day.
We have the greatest boys ever!

Nikki has always been a great Mom and she has proven to be a wonderful daughter who helps us in all kinds of ways! The biggest way is that she makes Michael happy, that is the best thing she does.

There are still many things I want to see in our future, Jacob's graduation, his 21st-birthday trip to Vegas. And many, many more days on the river, reading on the porch, golf cart rides around the Island, and winters in Florida making new friends and seeing new sights. I wish all the best to all of you...one day at a time.

I love you all and, again, thanks for your good thoughts and positive vibes!

Rock on, Class of '75.

Hugs, C

Monday, August 3, 2015 8:24 AM CDT

Cindy had a great time at her 40th Class reunion(s). Two nights of fun.

What a perfect night Friday was. The first-night reunion party was held at the farm of Nola (Harmon) Drake & husband Glenn, starting around 5 PM. There were around 35 class members who showed, as well as many spouses. So a pretty good crowd. I will post the picture taken that night. Another half dozen members didn't make the photo, as they arrived later.

Shortly after dark, the Blue moon rose above the trees. It was a cloudless night, with very little breeze. By Midnight, there was dew on the ground. Not quite chilly, but enough that the remainder of people still at the party, gathered around the bonfire.

I am glad that we took the golf cart. Cindy didn't have to use it much, but after it got dark, she would not have been able to navigate on her crutches. Having it there was a big comfort.

Cindy and I were the last group to leave…around 2 AM! I parked our golf cart in their metal shed and we headed to the Cobblestone Inn. We were staying so close to the party that we could see the farm treetops from our window at the Inn. If not for the cornfield, we could have seen the buildings too.

Early the next morning, I was outside cleaning up the coolers in the back of our truck. Another class member, who was staying at the motel, walked by from his car, looking much worse for wear and he muttered to me, "Short night".
I got a laugh out of that. He looked pretty tough. He wasn't there Saturday night.

Saturday night was a little more subdued. I think Friday took the edge off for some class members. There were probably another dozen classmates who came Saturday, who hadn't attended Friday. It was an enjoyable evening and we were back at the hotel by Midnight.

Cindy really enjoyed seeing everyone and so many commented on how good Cindy looked. I know that a lot of classmates think about her and worry that she's okay. Very tender and heartwarming for me to witness.

At the same time as the reunion, our son Aaron was attending a Lollapalooza concert in Chicago, at Grant Park. I drove back to Cedar Rapids Saturday morning to take him to the airport. Once he arrived in Chicago, he rode the L-train from O'Hare to downtown.

He had never ridden a train before. Everything went well, and he checked in to his hotel, right across Michigan Ave, from Grant Park. He had a great time. Aaron flew home Sunday and was safe in Cedar Rapids. So Mom and Dad were able to quit worrying just in time for a much needed nap in Guttenberg.

Well, it was more Dad worrying than Mom. As she reminded me, "he's almost 40!" I agreed that she was right...once he was home.

I head back to Cedar Rapids tomorrow for a doctor appointment. On the way back to Guttenberg in the afternoon, I am taking Cindy's little scooter out to the Larry & Diana Johnson farm for another party on Saturday night.

Their son, Cody, is getting married and the party is in their new "barn". I don't know what to call it It's not really a barn. Maybe shed?, garage?, small town?. It's the biggest building I have ever seen. Much too big for Cindy to be able to walk around, so she will be riding her scooter.

Last night (Sunday), Cindy and I went over to Prairie du Chien, and had a nice dinner at her favorite place, Black Angus. It was a perfect ending to her Reunion weekend.

Today we are on the porch having coffee, Cindy is reading the paper (on her iPad) and I am typing away. The humidity is gone and it is very pleasant. Clear sky and I can see the moon, not quite full anymore but pretty visible on this beautiful sunny morning.

Have a great week!

To see the class reunion photo taken Friday night, click on the link above, that reads, "Click here to see more than 100 photos".
The reunion photo is in the Memorable events folder.

Monday, July 27, 2015 2:20 PM CDT

Cindy is doing fine now. All signs point to being back to her old self. She was doing much better late last week but not quite up to her usual energy level. Then on Saturday, Cindy slept for much of the day and I told her she was backsliding. That got her going. Hasn't napped since.

Cindy's recovery is just in time for her class reunion this coming weekend. Cindy has been looking forward to this reunion for several months now. We are going for both nights. Friday night for the campfire party and Saturday night in Vinton (in Air conditioning).

After checking the farmyard again and conferring with some of her classmates familiar with the grounds, we decided the golf cart was the way to go for the campfire party. So I will be trailering our golf cart to Vinton from Guttenberg on Thursday. Now that I have made the decision I feel much better about it. She will be comfortable, mobile and safe.

We are back to enjoying our time on the river. Out on the boat this morning, as a matter of fact. Now I feel like a nap. Wonder if Cindy will join me??

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 2:09 PM CDT

Cindy is on the mend! We are now back in Guttenberg, after seeing her doctor in Cedar Rapids this morning.

Things are much improved from last weekend. We saw Dr. Pope this morning and after checking her out and going over the data, he is going with the kidney stone for diagnosis. He said, If it was a stone, then the antibiotic is doing its job and that is why she is improving.

Dr. Pope then ordered more blood tests to rule out a few other things, which we should hear about this afternoon.

He admitted that this weekend he had the same feeling the Guttenberg Doctor had….another brain tumor. This morning he looked over her MRI brain scan from May and counted the time since. He said, "It's only been 3 months since the MRI. However, we are dealing with Cindy, who is always different".

Cindy is weaker though. Dr. Pope and his nurse both commented on how weak she is today, versus her appointment in May. I hadn't really noticed that as we haven't really been out and about much for the last week. After they mentioned it, I concurred that she is not moving like she usually does.

Yesterday, after returning to Cedar Rapids, we went to a movie, Cindy was feeling a little housebound. We went through the theater lobby, which is carpeted. Then there was an area of tile. As soon as Cindy stepped on the tile, her left crutch shot out from under her. As I stepped up to catch her, I slid on the tile too. It was like coated with butter.

How she didn't go down is a mystery. Both of us were horrified and just looked at each other. I grabbed her and helped her against the wall and said, "DON'T MOVE!!" I then ran over to the ticket taker and asked if there was a wheelchair available.

He looked around and came up with an office desk chair with wheels. Good enough. I wheeled Cindy off the tile area, in the chair. That near fall had both of our hearts racing. We got to our seats and started eating our popcorn without even talking for awhile. That could have been a disaster.

Last night after getting home from the movie, I found out that my old boss, mentor and good friend, Richard Schoonover had passed away. Much of where I am today is due to the support I had from Schoonie early in my adult years. He and his wife Mary have always been there for Cindy and me, whatever we needed.

A funny story that I always tell about Schoonie. When I was around 27 or 28 years old, I had a young employee on my crew and he had gotten into some trouble with the law.

Schoonie and I were talking to him, trying to lead him down the correct path and Schoonie said, "you need to live your life more like Tom here. You should make Tom your idol…….No, you should be like ME, make Me your idol!"

Of course this 19 year old kid could not relate to a nearly 50 year old man, who had never drank or smoked in his life. But it was a hilarious and absurd thing for Schoonie to say and he knew it.

Tomorrow I am returning to Cedar Rapids to take Aaron on the Ragbrai ride, from Cedar Falls to Cedar Rapids. Cindy is going to stay in Guttenberg and rest up. The drive takes a lot out of her, especially when she's already weak.

If more news develops with Cindy I will update immediately. For now, as I said last update, we're going with the kidney stone as the diagnosis.

It is absolutely gorgeous outside today.

As I finished typing this Dr. Pope called…all the blood tests were good except the liver function. It is better than last week but he wants to check the liver again next week. So another blood test early next week.

Friday, July 17, 2015 4:38 PM CDT

UPDATE: Monday, July 20, 2015 5:38 AM
Cindy was much improved on Sunday. She was awake for most of the day and felt a lot better.
We are heading back to Cedar Rapids today to see her Internist, Dr. Pope, for a more thorough exam.

Friday, July 17, 2015 4:38 PM Original posting:
Just when I think we can get through a dry period, with nothing wrong with Cindy, she comes up with something "new and exciting".

For the last week, I have been carefully (and silently) observing Cindy. Even her actions while sleeping had me watching her at night. Especially Tuesday night. Something was just not right.

We had our friends Lori and Will and kids, here from Florida. So during the day, lots of activity going on. We were on the boat Wednesday for much of the day and then that evening we went across the river by boat, to Taco Night.

While there, I noticed Cindy kind of fading away and I kept asking her if she was okay. It was extremely noisy in there, as half the town of Guttenberg had the place filled to the rafters with people. I thought part of it was just sensory overload.

By the time we left, Cindy could not really navigate at all on her crutches. We got her out the door and down two steps and right into her wheelchair. We wheeled her back to the boat, and home, straight to bed, before 8pm.

She was not even awake to give hugs to Lori and family, since they were leaving early Thursday morning.

Cindy slept all night and pretty much all the next day. She was up for a few hours Thursday evening but then slept all night and all Friday morning.

By noon, I was pretty worried, as you can imagine. So I called her Internist, Dr. Pope, in Cedar Rapids and after filling him in, he said to take her to the Guttenberg ER.

When I tried to wake Cindy to tell her we were about to go to the hospital, I had a hell of a time shaking her awake. After a quick douse in the tub, we headed to town. Dr. Pope had forwarded all her records to Guttenberg Hospital and the staff was waiting at the door for us when we arrived.

After much testing and probing and prodding, they found that one of her kidneys was very swollen and there was blood in her urine. Eureka, (for now), a possible kidney stone (but no sign of it on the CT scan, it may have passed).

There is also something going on with the liver so we will be heading back to Cedar Rapids, Monday so Dr. Pope can dig a little deeper, per his instructions.

If the antibiotic has her improved by Monday, I'm going with the kidney stone for the answer. So keep your fingers crossed and root for the kidney stone. I wonder how often that happens….rah rah kidney stone, piss boom ahhhhh?

We are back home now after half-a-day at the hospital. Cindy is already back to sleep.
A Friday night at home!! A rarity for us in 41 years and only done when Cindy is down.

Monday, July 6, 2015 6:12 AM CDT

Today, July 6th, is Cindy's birthday! She is 58 years old.

Hard to believe that we made it this many years. When Cindy started this journey she was 38 years old, and nobody then was talking like she had 20 years to live. Or anything close to that.

Of course it's been quite a ride, as anyone can see from reading the Journal History on this site. Every once in awhile I do just that, I go back and read it all in one sitting, like a book. It's overwhelming every time I read it. And the Journal doesn't even cover the first 8 years! As all of her doctors now call her, "Cindy, the Miracle Girl".

Since the last update, we have continued to enjoy our rainy summer. Throw in a couple Stormy Mondays in a row and there is enough excitement to go around. Last Monday, the second Monday in a row, we had a storm that had me seriously considering digging a basement to hide in.

After the first Monday storm, I went out and bought a generator. We were without power for about five hours that day. I had been considering a generator for several years but after the need passed, I would forget about it. But now we have one. The second Monday storm, the power was off for only minutes. So I haven't had a chance to use it yet.

Our entire family was at the cabin(s) over the Fourth of July holiday. Grandson Jacob even had two buddies here for a couple days. The golf carts got a good going over this week. We had all three carts on the go most of the time. Since they're all electric carts, the chargers were spinning the electric meter big time.

There was an incident late one night with Michael & Nikki's golf cart. Jacob and his friends were out on their cart around Midnight. Jacob hit the brakes hard, (for a reason yet to be determined), which catapulted one of the other boys through the windshield! No one hurt but the Plexiglas windshield is now in the garbage.

Due to the rainy weather, we haven't been out on the boat much at all. Hoping that it finally dries out, as it usually does, for July and August. The entire Holiday weekend was very nice. That might be the start. There is still a lot of summer left.

At the end of July we will be heading back to Vinton for a couple days to attend Cindy's 40th class reunion. It's a two-night affair. Campfire party the first night, at the country home of a classmate.

I have been pondering the logistics of that night. Getting Cindy around safely, on an unfamiliar, grassy, farm yard...in the dark! I'm considering hauling the golf cart to Vinton but that might be overkill. I'll figure it out eventually.

Well, as I finish this post, I can see on the radar that another rainy day is on the way. At least it's not the weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2015 7:00 AM CDT

Lazy days of summer. Not much bad stuff to report, which is always good news. Cindy did have some issues with her knee last weekend but it's okay now.

We think she got bit by some kind of bug, right below her kneecap. Her knee hurt a little Friday night and by Saturday afternoon she could barely walk. She was in a lot of pain. I was worried she had a stress fracture or something "structural" like that.

She applied ice packs and kept her leg elevated all day. By the time we went to bed, she was in agony. But Sunday morning it felt a little better. Gradually it just got better and she is now okay. Strange.

Again, I keep repeating myself…Cindy's mobility is such a fragile thing. It can change in an instant for her. It's just a good thing we both have short memories about such things.

I went back to Cedar Rapids by myself on Monday, to see Dr. Hart, the Orthopedic specialist. We looked at the MRI results and there it was, clear as a bell, a torn rotator cuff. Just as we suspected. I also have a tear in my bicep tendon. Didn't foresee that.

We talked about options and Dr. Hart said that surgery would fix it pretty easily but recovery would make my right arm mostly immobile for about 3 months. Coming off a bad weekend with Cindy's knee, my ability to care for her was very fresh in my mind (like it isn't always there).

So we talked about a wait and see approach. I told him that I have really good motion in my shoulder, it doesn't limit me too much. The main thing was the pain that interrupts my sleep. But that has been better since the cortisone shot.

We decided that I would let it go for this summer. Definitely not do any surgery in Florida and then see how it is doing next Spring. The key timing would be to do the surgery here in Iowa, where I have family and friends around to help out with Cindy, if needed. So that's where we are with my stuff.

Jacob is doing fine now, after recovering from his tonsillectomy. He had a rough couple weeks but one day it was just all better. Kids are so resilient.

Nikki has her voice back a little. It kind of comes and goes. She is seeing a speech therapist and that has helped. I stopped over to see Jacob the day I was back for my MRI. Nikki and Jacob were texting with a voice app, in place of talking. Very funny. As I headed out the door to leave, I heard Jacob's voice app say, "love you Gramps".

Also while I was back in Cedar Rapids for my MRI, I bought a new vehicle for Cindy. I didn't say anything to her about it beforehand. When I pulled up she thought I was just doing a test drive. I said, "nope, it's yours".

However, it's been a week and she still hasn't driven it once. Just hasn't needed to go anywhere, she probably will today. Cindy doesn't get too excited about things.

Yesterday we got out on the boat for the first time this season. Nikki is here with her friend Rennie and they rode along with us. We went across the river to Glen Haven, a little village consisting of just two bars and about two dozen homes. One of the bars is named "The Bar Up the Street". Every Wednesday night they have Taco Night. Half the town of Guttenberg is usually there for tacos. It's a fun thing to do.

We haven't been there in four years because the docks are not in good shape. But yesterday we took Cindy's wheelchair and found a good place to dock the boat. It wasn't too bad and it all worked out just fine.

After we all had our fill of Mexican food, we headed back to the boat. It's about a quarter mile walk from "The Bar Up the Street" to a rail road crossing, right before the docks. Of course a train came just as we approached the tracks, so we had to wait for that to pass. Which it did at 70 mph! Thrilling, when you are up close. Or "terrifying", as Nikki said.

It was a beautiful, slow boat ride home. On water as calm and smooth as glass, as the sun set behind the bluffs, with a perfect evening sky. Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Here's hoping for many more like it this summer.

Monday, June 8, 2015 6:50 AM CDT

A busy two weeks. We have been finishing up the modifications to the cabin, swapping furniture with our stuff in Cedar Rapids and finally, some outside landscaping. Cindy is now all set up with her new, consolidated art space. She is busy getting it all organized.

Along with that, we have been back and forth for medical stuff. None of it for Cindy, for a change. Our grandson Jacob had his tonsils removed, I had a consultation with my Orthopedic doctor and our son Aaron has been doctoring for a hip injury.

Jacob went through the surgery like a champ, everything went fine. Aaron had X-rays and trip to his doctor, at the same time as Jacob's surgery, so I was back and forth around Cedar Rapids that day.

Nikki still doesn't have her voice. Although, for one evening, at the cabin, it came back to almost normal. Then just as mysteriously went away again the next day. Very puzzling and very frustrating for Nikki. All the tests showed that surgery is not the fix for this problem.

Also, since the last update, Cindy and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary, on June 1st. We went to Black Angus in Praire du Chien for dinner, even though it was a Monday night. It was like we had the place especially for us. A nice evening and good food, as always at Black Angus

This week I head back to Cedar Rapids for an MRI of my shoulder. Something that should have happened a month ago.

Get out and enjoy the summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2015 6:54 AM CDT

Today is the 44th anniversary for Cindy and me. On May 23, 1971, Cindy's mom allowed us to begin dating. We'd been sneaking around for about a year but after this date, we were officially a couple.

Our wedding was on June 1, 1974, another celebration just around the corner.

What a busy two weeks! Cindy and I have been on the go, in all directions since we've been back in Iowa. Every morning when I wake up, I first have to get my bearings because I'm not sure which bed we're sleeping in. We have been back and forth between Guttenberg and Cedar Rapids frequently.

The news, Most importantly on the medical front, Cindy passed all her tests with flying colors! It's such a good feeling, every year, when Cindy gets the "all clear" results from her doctors.

In all, Cindy saw 7 doctors and had 6 different procedures, most of which occurred this week at the University hospital/clinic in Iowa City. It is hard to convey how much of a relief this is, each time Cindy goes through it. We don't realize how much it pushes out everything else, until after we're done.

Cindy did have some skin cancer but not as much as she usually does. They removed a few spots, I think five in all, and then prescribed some ointment for other areas. I think it's gold ointment, since it cost about $200.

When Cindy asked the pharmacist, what's going on with these crazy prices, he said, you can thank the "AFFORDABLE-care" act for this lovely result. I had another pharmacy tell me the same thing last week, when I paid over $200 for one of my previously, $7 prescriptions. Oh, the howling that will soon be heard across this country, once awareness is wide-spread.

Now we just need to get our daughter-in-law Nikki healed up. She has been without a voice for about two months. Lots of tests and doctors for her too and still no diagnosis. It could be a combination of things and not just one smoking gun. It's very frustrating for her not having an answer yet, but together our family makes a great team, having lots of experience dealing with the medical community.

On the fun-work front, all the big projects are complete at the cabin. The bedroom tile is down, the kitchen is remodeled and the water heater is installed. The only mishap was during the water heater installation, which is in a second closet in our bedroom. Fortunately I had Bob Plumber there to help me.

After unhooking everything I unscrewed the valve to drain the old water heater but no water came out of the valve, (since it was apparently broken inside). So we thought we could just put it on the dolly and roll it out of the house full of water. Not so much.

As we wrestled the heavy tank onto the dolly the valve just fell off and water began gushing out of the bottom of the water heater. Bob was frantically holding a sopping-wet bath towel against the valve, trying to staunch the flow.

Luckily for us, Paul Electrician showed up right at that moment, He happened to have a fitting in hand that he screwed on where the valve had been. Stopping the flow of water before we lost the entire 30 gallons on the bedroom floor. We only lost maybe a couple gallons and the carpet we were tearing out, absorbed most of it. After running fans all night, by the next day it was dry enough for Bob TileGuy to begin laying tile in our bedroom.

The funny thing is that I had talked on the phone to Paul Electrician the previous day about a light-dimmer issue but didn't expect him to show up. I told Paul it was like he's Batman, showing up at the precise moment he's needed. Paul then took a look at my light-dimmer issue and solved that problem for no charge. I in turn, gave him my old water heater for free, since it was still working fine…just needed a new drain valve, which Paul had in his truck.

I also got our boat in the water during all this weekly activity. That is the sign for us that Summer is officially here. The new boat motor started on the first turn of the key, the old motor always fought back on that first start of the year. The boat is now docked in our slip at the marina. Good feeling.

This week, Cindy and I have NOTHING planned. We have no medical appointments (other than physical therapy for my shoulder, two days a week at the Guttenberg hospital), and no activities planned. We are going to sit on the porch, read, try to sleep past sunrise, ride the golf cart around the island, maybe go boating and just generally Chill.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Monday, May 11, 2015 7:10 AM CDT

The rain has finally arrived. It was getting pretty dry around here but things are getting nice and green now. It could be a little warmer but we know to be careful what we wish for.

Cindy is about 1/3 done with her doctor marathon. One appointment this week and then six more in Iowa City next week. So far, so good. The big ones are next week, primarily the MRI of her head. Always a nail biter, even though Cindy takes it in stride…on the outside. Her leg pain usually worsens right before the test, for about a week and we know it's stress causing the increased pain.

The last appointment, in a couple weeks will be for her skin cancer. Cindy has some spots that are obviously cancer, so they will remove those. After that, we can relax for the summer.

I have already started our building projects at the cabin. We are finishing the last of the tile project, completing our bedroom floor. Since our water heater is in a closet in the bedroom, I am replacing that too.

I found the manual for the water heater while preparing the room for Bob TileGuy, (who lives just up the street). The heater is about 30 years old!! Still works too. But why take a chance, as long as I have to remove it to tile under it, out it goes.

Bob Plumber, who also lives nearby, will help me with the heater, since my shoulder doesn't allow for much wrestling at the present time.

Another project going on at the same time, is a kitchen remodel. I am turning our 10 foot long, community-dining table and island, into a 6 foot counter-height table with (taller and shorter) island underneath.

Chris TheCarpenter, who lives a little further down the Island road, came over Sunday and we cut the table top down to size. He is so talented. Easily the best carpenter I have ever worked with. However, all I needed him for this time was the counter cutting/mending. I will be doing the rest of the project myself.

Last week I saw Dr. Hart, the orthopedic specialist. He checked my shoulder and said it appears to be a tear in my rotator cuff. BUT, due to the new Obamacare rules, he can't do an MRI to determine exactly where the injury is until he jumps through the appropriate hoops.

Meaning, he can give me a cortisone shot, which he did, followed by my going through Physical Therapy for a month to determine if it's a "real" injury.
Once the therapy is done and I still hurt (more?), then we can do the MRI, followed by arthroscopic surgery, most likely.

Dr. Hart's comment about Obamacare was nothing compared to the 20 minute rant we received from Dr. Ghosh, Cindy's Oncologist. I'm not even sure what question we asked that set him off, I think it was something about the weather.

Apparently, a lot of doctors do not care for Obamacare. Two of Cindy's doctors in Florida and Cindy's internist in Cedar Rapids have all also complained loudly to us.

Since the majority of people rarely use their health care insurance, and not all of the people that do, will have issues with insurance, (at first), it will take time for the rest of the country to become aware of what's going on with our healthcare system.

It is kind of ironic that one of the primary arguments for Obamacare was to reduce the number of people showing up at the ER for minor treatment. And now that number is rising even higher.
As Nancy Pelosi stated, "we have to first PASS the bill, to see what's IN the bill".

Stay healthy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 8:28 AM CDT

We are back in Iowa. Gary Scott flew down to Clearwater on the Sunday before we left and we had a few days with him, hitting some favorite spots for dinner.

Gary left Florida very early Wednesday morning with our vehicle and then we cleaned and packed the rest of that day. Our flight home was at 7 AM on Thursday so it was an early morning for us.

I called for an Uber ride at 4:45 AM and our ride to the airport went pretty smoothly. The airport check-in, not so much. We have never seen so many people at that airport, all flying on Allegiant. We had priority check-in (called a wheelchair) so it didn't go too bad for us but it was still almost a half hour wait.

Getting through security is another matter entirely for Cindy. I hope they give terrorists as thorough a going over as they do a disabled woman in a wheelchair.

Thursday night we took Aaron out for his birthday dinner. His birthday was on Wednesday. Gary showed up at the restaurant just as we got there, so we exchanged vehicles. Gary had left his car in our garage, so that is what we drove to the restaurant.

Gary was exhausted, after driving 12 hours, for two days in a row, so he didn't stay with us for dinner. When we left the restaurant we had a surprise when we opened our car doors. We had forgotten that the back of our SUV was loaded to the ceiling with all our luggage, boxes, totes, sacks, wheelchair, etc. And the seats were folded down. Aaron had no place to sit!

He managed to lift Cindy's wheelchair up enough to squeeze under it and find a spot to sit (lie) until we got home. It was only a five minute ride and he's young. Although not so young after that birthday, he's 38 years old now!

Friday morning we anxiously headed for Guttenberg. Everything was in fine shape. Always a worry, until we get there and check things out. Michael, Nikki and Jacob came up later on Friday and we had dinner at a new place near Guttenberg.

Saturday and Sunday was unpacking, yard work, charging up the golf carts and just getting things in order. Late Sunday afternoon, just as I was heading into the house and done for the day, I decided to hook up the garden hose, almost as an afterthought.

This involves climbing down into the water pump pit. It's five feet in the ground (insulated against the winter freeze). As I climbed down the ladder I accidentally hit the pressure line with my foot and snapped it off the water pump. Instant shower! Plus, no water for the cabin.

I was able to shower in the Guest house but it's upstairs and not easy for Cindy. Cindy was able to shower at our friends', (Jeff & Carol Brown), new home, just up the street. And we have a bathroom in our garage so we were good for the evening.

Monday morning I repaired the water pump by 7:30 and it only took me one trip to the hardware store. A record for any plumbing job!

We have lots of construction projects on schedule for this summer at the cabin. We're anxious to get started. It's a lot of work but it's also fun work.

It's good to be back in Iowa. Can't beat summer here. Have a great summer, wherever you are.

Sunday, April 12, 2015 9:22 AM CDT

We are heading back to Iowa next week. It's too hot here!

Just kidding. But it is mid-80s everyday now. The temperature at night rarely gets below 70 anymore.

Cindy and I decided to move our flights to a week earlier from the original date. Our friend Gary Scott will fly down next Sunday, April 19th. We will be packing and cleaning while he is here, and then Gary will leave with our vehicle, early Wednesday morning. Our flight home is early Thursday morning, April 23rd.

We are starting to call the view from our porch, Sea World. The water activity is really something. Just the other day we had two manatees in our "pond" below the porch. This caused quite a stir in the neighborhood. Several residents were hanging over the railings on their balcony, as well as all the swimmers at the pool, out of the pool and looking over the fence.

At first we only saw the one manatee and there were lots of people walking along the dock taking pictures. Me included. I put some of the pictures on the photo page for this site. They are in the Clearwater 2015 folder. I will try to get some better pictures from our neighbor. He was standing on the dock and the manatee swam right beneath him. The second manatee appeared about an hour later.

While this was going on, a family of dolphins came into the marina and they were the most active dolphins we have had here yet. They were leaping out of the water, chasing fish, while swimming upside down and leading boats into the marina, swimming right at their bow.

Then, a pair of Devil rays appeared. This is the home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball team. Now we know why. There are a lot of them here. They look like regular sea rays except for the two devil horns coming off their heads. The horns are actually fins. Like the giant Manta Rays have.

These rays were obviously mating. Something new for us to see. If that was not enough, it spurred the dolphins to do the same. Pretty soon, a male and female dolphin were having quite a time with their "water play".

The male was on his back, under the female and then the female rolled away and Cindy loudly exclaimed, "Oh my god, look at that pink porpoise penis!!" (Say that three times real fast). It was sticking straight up out of the water, for all to see.
Yep, that's what it was. Well, technically dolphin penis but Porpoise sounds better.

Schools of fish that we can't identify, not mullet, have also been frequent visitors. We are used to seeing large schools of mullet. But these fish are shiny and move around a lot, creating a shimmery water surface. They are also larger than mullet, which are 12-18 inches long.

Finally, this morning we watched two tarpon having sex. There are a couple of tarpon who lurk just below the water surface on most days. We can see them clearly from high above. They are between 5 and 7 feet long. Most of the time they stay very still, looking like a floating log, until a fish gets near them and then they explode into action, taking the fish. Very neat to see.

Apparently the warm water is what creates the perfect environment for our little Sea World. Outside temps have been in the 80s everyday for several weeks now, so the water is quite warm.

Monday (13th) is my birthday so we are going out with our friends Lori and Leah. Last year they came to the Rehab center where Cindy and I were "residing" and we had a birthday party in the lobby. We will try to pick a better location this year.

The rest of the week we will be saying good bye to local friends, and beginning to get organized. I think we have a date with friends every day this week. Then Gary arrives Sunday.

If you live in Iowa, See you next week!. If you live in Florida, See you next November!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 9:55 AM CDT

Not to keep repeating myself about the weather in Florida, but it is absolutely beautiful! It has been sunny with low humidity, hardly any rain (we did have one day of rain a week ago Friday), and just a gentle breeze. If it was like this everyday it would be hard to ever leave.

But of course we are leaving, in just a few weeks now. We are both getting anxious to head back but don't want to pull the trigger too soon. A couple years ago we headed back in mid-April, to start the guest house building project, and the weather was horrible in Iowa.

We drove down to Sarasota a couple weeks ago and had a nice day. We did eat at the Columbia restaurant on St. Armands Circle, so we now have 5 of 7 Columbia's under our belt.

We then drove up Longboat Key to Bradenton, on the way home. The traffic down there is beyond belief, basically stop and go, at a crawl, for the entire length of Longboat Key Island. We still think we are in the best location in Florida.

Once we got to the mainland, in Bradenton, we stopped at a National Park and Cindy obtained her free pass to any National Park, Preserve, Monument, Forest, etc., in the United States. Plus a free pass for her companion:-)

The traffic on Clearwater Beach the past month could rival the Sarasota area. Yesterday we drove over the Sand Key bridge, up to Clearwater Beach and we could see the other bridge from downtown Clearwater. Traffic was stopped coming out to the island. This was a Tuesday, at noon!

Just to explain the location. The bridge from downtown Clearwater, comes out to Clearwater Beach, at about the middle of the island.
At the southern tip of Clearwater Beach is the Sand Key bridge, which heads south down Gulf Blvd. We live just two miles south of the Sand Key bridge, on Sand Key island.

We wanted to check out a new place just at the north end of the Sand Key bridge. It has been under construction for two years, with the name 'Shuckers' displayed on the sign above. Apparently that project ran out of money so the owner of the nearby Brown Boxer, bought the building and renamed it 'The Reef'.

The Reef is a very nice place. We stopped in and had lunch while looking out at the boat traffic passing under the bridge. A couple was sitting across from us, on the outside bar. They asked if we were full time residents. We told them we lived here six months and in Iowa for six months.

The woman exclaimed that they were also from Iowa. So, friendly chatter ensued. Turns out they live in the condo building, right across the harbor from us. We actually look right at their porch while we sit on ours. Cindy spotted them last night sitting outside.

Other than enjoying the weather and our usual Florida routines, we are having a great time. I love being able to walk outside everyday, shorts and tee-shirt, usually in one of the nature parks nearby. Very peaceful.

We will be home soon and then Cindy will start her round of doctor appointments. That will be a whirlwind of trips to Iowa City mostly but also some Cedar Rapids appointments for her.

I am having trouble with my right shoulder so I have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist (Dr. Hart) the day after we get home. Our friend, Dr. Abernathey got me in so I didn't have to wait. Hoping it doesn't need surgery, kind of need my right arm. But the pain wakes me up every night so it's time to do something.

Heard it's in the 70s in Iowa. Sounds nice, hope it holds up.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 12:58 AM CDT

Weather here has now become constant, highs in the 80s, lows in the high 60s. Sunny everyday. We haven't had rain in awhile now. It's actually pretty gorgeous. One of the reasons we came here.

But time here is now growing short. Cindy and I have been talking about what final things we want to do before we leave. Our heads are not totally in the Florida game. We miss the kids and friends back home. Won't be long. We may even leave early, due to some unforeseen business issues. Nothing for sure but we're at least talking about it just to be prepared.

Cindy was once again correct. In the last update I mentioned that Cindy thinks I should only write about what we've done, not what we're GOING to do. Well, the trip we had planned last week was called off at the last moment.

We had planned to head south last Wednesday, to Sebring, to see our Guttenberg friends, Mel and Linda Hall for a few days. Linda called the night before we were to leave, to tell us that Mel was pretty ill. They were still doctoring and didn't know results yet.

So that trip and the return trip through Sarasota never happened. Mel is now doing better but they need to return to Iowa the first of April, so we will save that Sebring trip for next year.

The Spring Break period is in full bloom. It's just crazy on the streets, especially on the weekends. We try to stay around home on the weekends to avoid the madhouse. Last Friday while we were at Columbia, we heard several sirens.

Turns out a pedestrian on Clearwater Beach was struck and killed by a truck, in the legal pedestrian crosswalk. It was just a mile from where we were, so traffic came to a complete stop on two bridges.

On Saturday and Sunday the southbound traffic in front of our place was backed up for miles. This lasted for about three hours. It's Nuts!

Fortunately for us, it's pretty nice just sitting on our porch and watching the activity and enjoying the Florida weather.

See you soon, in Iowa.

Saturday, March 7, 2015 1:31 PM CST

Our weather has definitely turned. It's now warm here on most days. Of course, we're almost to mid-March, in Florida, so it should be warm by now. The previous three winters, we had this type of weather throughout our time here but this year was mostly cooler.

Cindy is getting back into the swing of things as far as daily workouts. Her ankle is not swelling all the time now. Following her ankle surgery last August, the surgeon told her that she may see swelling for as long as six months. That proved to be pretty accurate.

Speaking of ankles, last year we ran into a Vinton friend at the Clearwater airport. Mike Hessenius and his wife flew down on the same plane as us. As we were waiting for our luggage, Mike and I talked.

He was riding on a little scooter with just his leg resting on it, due to an ankle injury. That is how he got around. He said that he had several surgeries to fix it but it wasn't getting better. This had been going on for years. I asked him at the time if he considered the "nuclear option" of amputation. He wasn't ready.

I got an email from Mike Hessenius last week and he told me that he had his leg amputated in December, just below the knee. He was upbeat and said he was doing great on his new prosthetic leg. Mike said they were coming to Florida sometime and shipping their motorcycles down to tour around the state.

We had contact with another Vintonian last week too. We saw Brian Morrow in Columbia on Friday night. Brian was last here in December and he met our son Aaron at Columbia. Brian and Aaron were classmates. He was down again for a conference in Tampa.

Brian and a friend came over to Clearwater Beach just to eat at Columbia and he said he figured we would be there…it's Friday night! Brian said that Chuck Wilson (from Vinton, naturally) was also down at the conference but we never got to see him.

Tomorrow we are expecting company from another person we knew in Vinton. The former Kathy Hiler, (who is now Kathy Lange), is stopping over with her husband Lance, and a friend who lives near us in Indian Shores. Cindy is going to make a pot of soup and we will be entertaining at home on our porch.

Kathy was married to a friend and co-worker, Jim Hiler and they lived right next door to us when they were first married. In fact, when Cindy and I took our first trip to Vegas in the 1970s, Jim and Kathy, came along for their honeymoon trip.

Kathy is now married to Lance Lange and they have a home on Lake Delhi. They are down in Clearwater, visiting a friend and then going down to Ft Myers to see Kathy's aunt.

I finally got together with Matt Elflein and picked up Cindy's wheelchair table. He is the guy I wrote about the night we went to the Bob Seger concert. He designs wheelchair accessories and he had one of his tables on his own wheelchair at the concert. It is a pretty handy accessory for Cindy. It also has a cup holder attachment. It's all very easy to put on and take off.

There is currently a movie being filmed near us. Just as we cross over the Belleair bridge to come out on the island, we saw the film set at one of the island homes. Lots of police around directing traffic during the day, so no lingering. We read that it is the new Tim Burton film.

The only actor I know that is in the film is Samuel L Jackson. Haven't seen him around though in any of our hangouts. We hear all the time how many famous people are in this area but we just don't see them.

However, we finally did see an actor at Columbia last week. From where I was sitting, I was looking right at him all night. Apparently we've seen him several times because he is there often. I just didn't know he was 'famous'. His name is Michael Milhoan. I will let you look him up, if you care.

Early in the week, we were on the porch about an hour before sundown and I happened to notice lots of red lights on the Belleair bridge. It's about a mile away but we can see it clearly. I got the binoculars and began watching the scene. The bridge was empty, except for dozens of emergency vehicles. They had stopped all traffic from either direction, due to a traffic accident.

This went on for over four hours. That created a huge traffic problem on both sides of the bridge. The cause of the accident was a young kid in a Mustang. He had been going 50-60 mph and lost control, flipped the car on its side and slammed into several cars. Nobody was killed. I don't know how he got up to that speed. It's a two lane bridge with a speed limit of 30mph and the traffic is usually bumper to bumper.

Next week we are heading down to Sebring, Florida to spend a few days with our Guttenberg friends, Mel and Linda Hall. We met up with them a few years ago in Sarasota, kind of the half way point.

On the way home from Sebring, we plan to go through Sarasota and have lunch at the Columbia on St. Armand's Circle. That will complete four of the seven Columbia restaurants that we have been to this year.

Cindy wants to visit all seven, but I don't think we will complete that goal this year. The farthest Columbia is in St. Augustine, which we are sort of planning for April.
Who knows if we will get there. Cindy always tells me not to write about stuff we haven't done yet. See how that's working out?

Hope everyone and everything up north is warming up.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 9:42 AM CST

The weather is warm now but we have been experiencing severe sea fog. Most of the day we can't see the ground from our porch. The fog rolled in Sunday night and has been with us ever since.

Sunday, just before sunset, Cindy spotted a huge oil tanker on the horizon, about 15 miles away, just sitting there. At the time we didn't know why. We found out that there are several ships stranded offshore, waiting to come into Tampa harbor but it's unsafe with the fog.

There was also a Royal Caribbean cruise ship waiting offshore, trying to get into Tampa. It was supposed to leave with new passengers Monday night. The luggage for the new passengers is locked up in Port Authority so they have nothing with them, while they wait for the ship. Two days without their clothes. At least the people at sea have their things with them but their flights home are all messed up now.

The Coast Guard finally escorted the cruise ship into port on Tuesday night. That was the only ship they let in. The Coast Guard spokesman said it's the first time the Tampa Port has been shut down due to just fog.

Also, due to this fog, a speeding boat, with seven people aboard, crashed into a restaurant along the beach, south of Apollo Beach, Florida. This is just across from Tampa, to the east. There are some spectacular photos online if you search for 'boat crashes near Ruskin'.

We were riding down on the elevator last week and the elevator stopped on a lower floor. The door opened and a woman was waiting to get on. The woman gave CIndy the "ol' up-and-down look", that we're both used to now, and then she stepped inside the elevator.

She sidled up beside Cindy and after the doors shut, tapping the crutch she said, "So, were you injured recently?"
Cindy was a little taken aback and said, "Um, well, I had my leg amputated several years ago, due to cancer". The woman was shocked, then apologized profusely and said she did not see the one leg, just the crutches.

That was a new one…almost. Reminded me of the time at the airport when the female TSA agent wanted Cindy to walk through the screener...after the agent took her crutches from her. The agent was standing 10 feet in front of Cindy, looking directly at her. Then the woman actually said, "Can you walk through with a cane?"

I was standing outside a business yesterday, about to enter, when the door opened and a young father and his one-year old son came out. The little boy was bald as a cue ball and obviously just learning to walk.

He was very unsteady on his feet but determined. He walked right towards me and on around me, heading where he wanted to go. The father said, "Jason, this way, come on, Jason, we're going this way."

Jason kept on going his own way, so the father held up a Donald Duck toy and said, "here's your Donald". Jason stopped in his tracks and spun around, saw the toy and immediately began spouting Donald Duck sounds (he couldn't talk actual words yet).

Jason sounded so much like the real Donald Duck that I burst out laughing. I have never seen or heard anything like it. It was so funny. The dad started laughing too and said, "he really likes his Donald".
Then Jason turned back around and hurried down the walkway, his own way, spouting Donald Duck, with his dad hurrying after him. I wish I would have caught that on video, it would have gone viral on You Tube.

It's definitely high season down here now. There are so many people. Over the weekend, the south-bound, evening traffic past our place was stopped or just barely moving. The traffic was backed up for over two miles. This went on for about two hours during the dinner period. Have not seen that before, near our place.

We are now in our final two months of Florida time. Cindy isn't ready to talk Iowa yet but I can definitely see it over the horizon. And, we are both missing our kids. I'm sure the time will go fast.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 5:33 AM CST

Brrrrr! The weather has been the coolest stretch in the four winters we have been here. The temperatures have been downright cold sometimes. Like today. It's only in the 40s for highs and may get down to low 30s overnight.

Cindy had an appointment with her dermatologist last week, to follow up on the spots he removed in December. He looked at her cheek where he had done the laser treatment, in December. The laser treatment removed the little "divit" that was created from a slice Iowa City removed a few years ago. Now that spot looks pretty smooth but is pretty red in color.

Dr. Miller said that he can do a different type of laser treatment that removes redness. But first, Cindy has to try this prescription gel to see if that works instead of the laser treatment. Dr. Miller will check it again in late April and do the laser if he needs to, before we return to Iowa.

Cindy does a really good job of avoiding the direct sunlight exposure but the cancer spots just keep popping up, everywhere. It's mostly due to all the radiation she has had. Cindy is resigned to having a close relationship (every few months) with dermatology from now on.

Cousins Phil and Julie left yesterday, back home to Wichita and much colder temperatures. Maybe not all that much colder, given what's going on here today.

We had a great time with them, hitting a lot of our favorite spots. Phil had compiled a wish list of places and things they wanted to do and I think we checked most of them off his list. However, we didn't get to show them Dunedin, which was on his list as well as ours.

There was a large festival going on in Dunedin and we couldn't get close to the downtown. People were even parking their cars on one lane of narrow streets and just walking away, leaving only one way traffic on that street.

One day we drove over to Tampa and went to the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City for lunch. Phil & Julie were pretty amazed at the size of the place and all the interesting architecture. We had a great lunch and then came back to the island for more fun that night.

Now that our visitors for this season have pretty much petered out (unless we get pleasantly surprised), I got out the tax stuff. I'm spread all over the dining room table with the computer and all our tax records.

It's a week long process. I usually quickly complete our taxes and then do them for our son Aaron. Then I slowly and repeatedly go over them again, throughout the week, until I'm sure they are accurate. Then I file. Pretty good system and I enjoy doing it. Kinda therapeutic for me. Yeah, I know, kinda sick right?

That is pretty much all that we have going on for the rest of this week, while we hunker down inside, waiting for the weekend. It's supposed to be 80 degrees by Sunday…and sunny. Don't hate.

Friday, February 6, 2015 9:24 AM CST

The weather has still been a little on the cool side but not bad. The days are mostly sunny and if you are in the sun, it's very nice out. Temps in the upper 60s during the day and cooler sleeping temps at night with the windows open.

Very busy week!

Cindy stayed home Saturday while I went to Punta Gorda with Aaron to the Muscle car museum. It is about a two hour drive, each way, which is too much time in the car for Cindy. She had some painting projects that she wanted to work on, so she kept busy without us.

When Aaron and I arrived in Punta Gorda, there was a rally going on in the museum parking lot, which turned out to be a nice surprise. It more than doubled the number of classic cars we got to look at.

I found my first car, or a replica of it, inside the museum. A white, 1964 Chevelle Malibu, with red interior. I am sure many have said, "I wish I still had my first car". That is my wish too. I posted a picture of the Chevelle I saw, in the Clearwater 2015 folder.

Aaron flew home on Sunday and then we had a few days of Florida stuff. Cindy had art class one day, jewelry-making class another day and I helped our friend Lori with her parent's beach condo maintenance. Another day I had to take one of our porch chairs to a welder for repair. Too much rocking on the porch!

Our friend Gary Scott is in Orlando for a week, along with his sister Sandy (from Seattle) and his brother-in-law Tom (from Des Moines). The three of them drove over from Orlando on Tuesday to check out the Clearwater area…and visit with us. We met up at our place and had drinks on the porch.

Had a nice time with them. They couldn't spend the night, as Tom was housesitting a couple of dogs for his cousin in Orlando. So they left, after watching the sunset. Gary will return at the end of April to drive our car back to Iowa.

We went out to dinner Wednesday night with Mary Sheldon (the 92 year old stock trader). She wanted to take us to the Beachcomber up in Clearwater Beach. We have not been there since we vacationed in CWB in 2008. It's a very nice restaurant but it's usually too crowded for us to desire to go there.

Mary has recovered very well from her broken hip, last summer. She does carry a cane now which is amazing that she didn't use one before. Mary told us that she left it upstairs when she was waiting for us but then decided to "run" upstairs and get it. She's a pistol.

We went to the Bob Seger concert on Thursday night at the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. We drove over early and went next door to the arena, to the Columbia restaurant. First time there for us. The River walk area in downtown Tampa is pretty cool. Lots to do and there is a great aquarium which we need to take grandson Jacob to see.

The concert was fantastic. We have never seen Bob Seger before. He still sounds great and he put on a two hour show. Some of his band members have been playing with him since the 60s.

Cindy and I had great seats, in the handicap section of course, which allows us to see even if everyone else is standing. However at this stage in life, most of his audience remained sitting….rocking and swaying and arm waving, but sitting.

While I was on the way back from the restroom, I walked by an arena staff member who was in a wheelchair. He had a neat contraption with a small table fitted to the wheelchair. I walked on by him, but then couldn't resist, so I circled back and had a talk with the guy. His name is Matt Elflein.

Turns out he designs them for wheelchairs. Matt was injured ten years ago and said he got frustrated with wheelchair options. So he designed his own and then got a patent and started his own company.

After I returned to my seat I told Cindy about it and then we both went back out and talked to him. He gave us his card and said that he is in our neighborhood frequently at the Marriott. He designed the small tables for their deck chairs at poolside. I'm sure we will see him again.

Next week Cindy's cousin Phi and Julie, from Wichita will be here for a visit. Can't wait to see them. There will be lots of fun and laughter. Very funny people.
Not funny looking, just funny haha. (Just kidding P&J).

Looks like the weather is going to continue low 60s during the day for the next week. Oh well, it's not snowing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 5:13 PM CST

The weather has been cool this week and very windy. But now that our son Aaron is arriving tomorrow, the weather is getting its act together and it will be warm and sunny, with little wind.

We got a surprise visit this week. On Monday morning Cindy got a text from Patti Becker. Patti and Cindy worked together at Aegon. Patti and her husband Dennis were down for a dentist convention.

Dennis is co-owner of a dental prosthetics lab in Cedar Rapids (DPS). They were staying just down the street at the Marriott. One of our favorite hangouts, and next door to the Columbia.

The strange thing is that we haven't seen the Beckers in at least five years and just that morning, when I awoke, I spent about five minutes thinking of them and wondering what they were up to now.

I was puzzled as to why they popped into my head just now. So it was very weird to get that text just two hours after having that experience. This isn't the first time for such an ESP(?) experience for me. I have them all the time.

Anyway, we got together with them that night and took them to Aqua Prime for dinner. After giving them the $2 tour of our condo, having some wine on our porch and watching the sunset.

The next day we met them again for drinks at the Marriott after they finished golfing. The other co-owner for DPS, Kris and her husband John also were there. Later, Patti's brother Duane and g/f Donna joined us. Duane lives in Dunedin, which we were unaware of until that night.

Patti's brother Duane, has one arm, and he sports a very cool prosthetic arm. Cindy and Duane eyed each other as compatriots. haha. Actually, that is pretty accurate. Whenever Cindy is around other amputees, there is an unspoken respect that crosses between them. I can see it clearly.

They all had reservations at Columbia and asked us to come with but we declined. So we parted ways and they went next door for dinner. We made plans with Patti and Kris to go out for breakfast on Wednesday.

I wanted to take them to the Frog Pond. Very cool breakfast spot down in North Redington Beach. Dennis and John were going golfing once more before their convention meetings started on Thursday, so they didn't come with us.

We had a great breakfast with Patti and Kris. Then I drove them down to John's Pass to show them the sites. After bragging about the "Royal Red" shrimp, continuously, they had to have some. So we stopped at the wholesale market at Crabby Bills and Kris had some shipped to Cedar Rapids.

Well, as I am typing this, the sun is setting in the water and it is crystal clear sky tonight. Can't miss it. Later.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 4:40 AM CST

More of the same with the weather. It might be a gorgeous, sunny day that has temps in the 70s, then it's followed by a gloomy day that is cooler than normal. But we never wear coats, or long pants, and we are outside everyday. We'll take it.

Just by chance, we ended up going to a movie on one of the beautiful days. It had been gloomy the day before when we made the plans. We just never know.

We went to see the movie, American Sniper, at 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, assuming that there would be fewer people there at that time. We went to a 12-plex, (also assuming), that if we couldn't get in, we could see one of the other 11 movies advertised for that day.

There were so many people there that they started showing it every hour on three of the other screens. People were lined up for the next showing for an hour later, when we went in. When we came out after the movie, the line of people was clear out into the mall.

Cindy is usually about the only person at the theater in a wheelchair. But this time there were several people in wheelchairs or disabled in some way, mostly veterans. There was only one space left for a wheelchair and companion. That is how we got in without having to wait for the next showing. Last seat in a full house!

It was a great movie, everyone applauded at the end. I don't know how often that happens but I only remember it happening once before, in our limited movie-going experience.

Our neighbors, Footsie and Fran are leaving tomorrow. We will miss them, especially Footsie, who we talk to almost everyday. They are heading over to the east coast of Florida for three weeks, followed by another 10 day cruise, (this is their third cruise this winter). Then they are heading back to New York City, till next November.

They rent their condo to the same people, for three months (Feb-Apr) every year. The renters are nice people from Canada, but they aren't like Footsie. Did I already say, we will miss him?

Our son Aaron arrives in one week, for his second visit. We can't wait to see him. Even with daily emails, FaceTime, or phone calls, it's not quite the same as being together.

Aaron had a little trouble at home last week. He got home from work before sunrise and the garage door broke when he tried to open it. The temperature was 7 below zero and I think it was frozen to the ground.

The opener tore the bracket loose from the door. Luckily for Aaron, one of the other condo residents was up and she let him in the building.
Our friend Jeff Brown to the rescue. He mended the door right away and Aaron was back in business. Thanks Jeff.

I have been entertaining Cindy with my new discovery. I found the website that has every Vinton newspaper, photocopied clear back to the mid-1800s. The website was created by the Benton County Historical society.

I will pick a date and read the paper for that day, usually coming up with something that sparks great memories. For instance, I happened to find one day, completely at random, the public notice of Cindy making the Junior High honor roll. Along with her good friends Lisa Mahood and Cindy Truax.

Another time, I opened an edition from 1957 and saw an ad listing the Cronk Cafe for sale. I couldn't remember where Cronk's was located. This sparked research that uncovered the continued history of that building…next it was Briggs Cafe, then Hilda's Flower shop and finally, in 1974, the huge fire that destroyed the building, (which Cindy and I witnessed from across the street).

And in the same 1957 edition, on the front page, an article about my friend Tom Spencer (Tommy, age 11) and his mother, traveling to Bethesda, Maryland to visit his wounded Navy brother.

What did we do before the internet? Oh yeah, we went to the library. I still remember going to the library as a youngster and doing research on whatever interested me. I loved that quiet, alone time, very peaceful. I attended kindergarten in the basement of that library, since the new elementary school was not yet built. So many memories.

Even later in life, when I first started working at Rockwell-Collins, there was a small library (pre-internet) in my building. I would go there at noon and just get lost in the literature.

Cindy had the same experience with her Aunt Irene, who was a librarian in Eddyville, Iowa, prompting Cindy's love of reading and spending time in libraries.

Cindy went on to become the President of the board for the Vinton Library. While president, Cindy oversaw the design and construction of the new addition to and renovation of the old Carnegie library building.

Now it's today and we are enjoying retirement in Sunny (and sometimes gloomy) Florida. Hope the winter in Iowa, and everywhere else, remains mild the rest of this year. It's definitely better than last year. Have fun.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 1:23 PM CST

The weather is doing that usual cycle of mid 70s to low 60s. Never stays the same more than a week at a time. But not much rain this time of year. We did have a lot of rain one day last week though. It pretty much poured rain all day.

That night we met Ron & Melba at Cesare's for dinner. It's a very nice Italian restaurant that Cindy and I have been to about five times this winter. We apparently really like it. They make all their own pasta and the lasagna just melts in your mouth. Every other dish is fantastic as well.

During dinner, Ron told us that they are going to move one of their yachts up to Tarpon Springs to have it pulled out of the water for bottom repair. He asked if we would like to ride along.

Once we discussed the logistics of getting Cindy aboard (almost impossible), we decided that I will ride with Ron on the boat and Cindy and Melba will go have lunch by car. The girls will then pick us up in Tarpon Springs. It will be a good 2-3 hour boat cruise (think Gilligan's Island).

With the move of Ron & Melba's boat, Cindy will be riding with Melba and so I won't be worrying about her (haha, you know I'm lying a little bit). Not sure when that trip will occur, probably later in February.

During our dinner, Melba told us more stories about the cruise they had just been on and the cruises they have planned this year. They will be in Europe, on and off cruise ships, for most of the summer and fall.

She also regaled us with tales, like that of her friendship with Frank Sinatra's wife, Barbara. They were very close friends and neighbors. Along with several other stories from her California period. Being kidnapped as a realtor, and her dramatic escape. And many other stories. What a life!

Ron told us more stories about his life in the FBI and he still does a little work for them even now. I have read up on his history, he had quite a career.

One of his stories was about Hurricane Katrina and how it wiped his home off the map. He had a beautiful home, right on the beach at Gulfport, Mississippi.

Ron lost every piece of memorabilia from his family life and FBI career, then his wife got cancer and died a few years later. He still owns the lot and I looked at it on Google maps. Nice location.

His brother-in-law, owner of Hagar Slacks, is sending a private plane for them next week to take them to Texas for a family wedding. So they were heading back to Gulfport the next morning. Ron & Melba are on the go all the time.

I told Cindy after dinner that we should have a secretary recording all these stories. It's hard to keep up. Ron and I have really hit it off and formed a pretty close friendship. Plus he loves Cindy of course.

I think I mentioned in previous updates, Ron & Melba are just friends, not married. They both lost their spouses about 4 years ago and got together about a year later. Not that it makes a difference, just noting the details. That is why each of them has such a different past and so many diverse life stories.

Our friends and Guttenberg neighbors, Mark & Becky Mather returned to the area last Friday. I picked them up at the Clearwater airport and drove them to their boat at the Dunedin Marina.

Later that weekend, they moved their boat to Indian Rocks Beach, where Jimmy Guanas is located. That is the marina where we spent Christmas evening with Michael, Nikki & Jacob. We had lunch there Sunday with the Mathers, their treat…thanks Mark & Becky.

Mark offered to let me ride along during their move on the boat, from Dunedin to IRB but it was a little short notice. Cindy would have had to do a lot of stuff on her own to meet us there, which I was pretty uncomfortable with. So I passed on that boat-ride offer but it was much appreciated.

They are continuing their trek on the Great Loop this week. They plan to boat down the west coast of Florida and winter somewhere south of here. Next spring Mark & Becky will travel up the east coast and into Canada. Not sure when they will complete their first "Loop" but they are still officially Loopers now. You can follow the Mather's blog at http://marabeel.blogspot.com.

We have been on the go a lot. It seems that we get antsy if we stay home more than a couple days. Our son Aaron will be here in a couple weeks and then more company after that. LOTS more activity planned for February, going to be very busy.

Cindy has another dermatology doctor appointment in a couple weeks but other than that, she is doing fine. Loving the Florida life, Cindy thrives down here.

Stay warm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 1:22 PM CST

We are in for cooler weather this week. It could get down to 39 tonight. Of course the low in Iowa will be about 20 BELOW ZERO, so we aren't complaining. Plus, our weather will be back to the 70s in a day or so.

I finally went on a boat ride in Florida. I went with Darrell Cushman, his brother Paul, Paul's son Randy, and Lane the boat salesman. Lane drove the boat. He was not good at it. We ran aground twice. This was with a brand new boat!

By the time I realized what we had for a boat captain, we were entering the Gulf waters and out to open sea. I then thought to myself, "I'm the only one onboard who has experience driving a boat, and I have never been in open waters". Not exactly a fun ride after that. Next time, I will make sure that I know who I am going out with.

Had a good time on New Years Eve. We went to Villa Gallace with a group of friends from our building. First we all met up for cocktails in the unit of one of the group. Then we all departed for Villa Gallace.

The place was packed and we didn't eat for a couple hours due to the crowd. But we were seated at our table right away and we had a good time talking with everyone.

One of the couples in our group was a gay couple, Tony & Darren. This really confused the waiter, when he was told that there would be separate checks for each "couple". He finally got that straight. haha

Afterwards we went to one of the neighbors for an after-dinner party. We left for home just before midnight and Cindy and I stayed up till just a few minutes after midnight. We waited on our porch to see the fireworks, followed by the noise of conch horns on boats and shouts of celebration from the neighborhood, then off to bed.

We both have been catching up with rest, after the holidays and having company. A lot more reading time. I counted yesterday a total of nine books I have read in the two months since arriving here. Cindy's reading list makes mine pale in comparison. She has probably read 20 books in the last two months. She's quite the reader.

We lost a Vinton friend today. Don Gregory died of complications from COPD. The last few years have been tough for Don. Don and his wife Sue have been friends to both of us for 40 years. Cindy met Sue when she worked with Sue at the Vinton State Bank, many years ago. The four of us became friends soon after.

Don had a sense of humor that was unforgettable. Just thinking of Don, always brings a smile to my face. I can crack up laughing in an instant, just recalling something that Don said with his dry delivery. Or at some observation he would make about something or someone. Great memories. So long Don.

Hope you stay warm, if you're not in Florida. We'll be fine.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 6:08 AM CST

The weather has been gorgeous the last few days, and looks to continue that way. Sorry Iowa. At least you don't have snow, yet.

Cindy has been doing a little better with her leg pain. Not everyday but she has some days where the pain is under control pretty well. It's incrementally improving.

She went to her dermatologist the day before Christmas and had several cancer spots removed. Most of them on her leg but also her arms and face too. She has to treat all the spots with peroxide and then cover them with Vaseline, several times a day.

Cindy had one spot removed last year, on her face, and it left a small divot. So Dr. Miller used a laser and treated that spot to smooth it out. This created quite a wound. But it should look better in a few weeks.

We had a wonderful time with the kids. Michael, Nikki and Jacob were here last week. There was lots of dining out at different places and lots of seafood consumed. On their final night we went to a favorite steak house and we all had steak, even Jacob. Steak is not something we do very often here.

On Saturday we drove them down to St. Pete and went to the Dali Museum.
The Dali had an exhibition of Picasso works, which runs through February.

I never realized how much Salvador Dali and Picasso were linked. Their work was competitive with one another. Jacob really enjoyed the cultural experience. He walked around on his own, with the headset on, listening to the descriptions of each piece.

Cindy and I got to see the Wisconsin football team and entourage arrive on Monday. They are here for the Outback Bowl on New Years Day. The caravan came right up Gulf Blvd, past our place while we watched from our porch.

I just happened to see the large buses coming across the bridge, about a mile south of us. So I got Cindy and we prepared to watch them pass by. Quite a procession of tour buses, moving vans, and cars.

Tomorrow is beach day for the fans and team, next to their hotel, the Hilton, on Clearwater Beach. Big party! Good time to avoid CWB.

We got together with a (Vinton & co-worker) friend, Darrell & Jean Cushman and his brother Paul, for dinner on Monday night. Darrell asked me if I would go along with them on Wednesday to check out a new boat he's interested in buying. Darrell has no boating experience so he wants my opinion and advice. Glad to do it, any chance to go boating here is great…almost any chance.

Our neighbor Footsie, asked me to go fishing the day the kids left, but I was exhausted and wanted a day to rest. I'm kind of glad I didn't go on that trip. It turned out to be very foggy off shore and Footsie said it got a little scary. He was 12 miles off shore and couldn't see land. His GPS was broken so he had to use his cellphone to navigate his way home. Yikes!!

On New Years Eve, we plan to go out for dinner with some of the residents in our building. I think there are five or six couples going. Footsie organized the outing at a very nice Italian restaurant named Villa Gallace, in Indian Rocks Beach. Then we will all return home to watch the extensive fire works show that occurs every New Years Eve. We can see fireworks all around us from our porch.

Have a great New Year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014 12:05 AM CST

The weather has been up and down, just like Iowa. Three days in a row, when I got up early in the morning, the temperature was the same here as it was in Cedar Rapids…43 to 46 degrees. The only difference was that it warmed into the 70s during the day here. Makes for great sleeping weather I guess.

We spent a quiet week, recovering from our Key West trip. Cindy has had a terrible time with leg pain. It got better for a few days this week and we thought it was under control. But it came back with a vengeance on Friday and has been even worse. Saturday night she didn't sleep at all. Not sure what is causing this latest disturbance.

I'm trying not to focus on it with her because I think that makes it worse. So we are both trying to ignore the elephant in the room. Hoping it gets better before the kids arrive on Tuesday.

Early in the week, we went out to dinner with our neighbor Footsie. His wife is back in New York for Christmas with her kids and Footsie is very lonely. Remember, Footsie is the next door neighbor from New York, who looks and talks just like Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). His friends Vinnie and Joey are coming down next week for some fishing…(the story just keeps getting better).

We took Footsie to a favorite place of ours named Aqua Prime. It is a great restaurant with an outside courtyard and bar. Usually live entertainment in the court yard but not that night. Had a great time though.

Friday, Cindy and I went to Columbia for our usual Friday night out. We met a pair of twin sisters from Brazil. We had a great time with these two pretty ladies, Maggie and Monica .

Maggie and her husband have a weekend get away just down the street in a luxury condo building. Their main home is in Oldsmar, a city near Dunedin. (Oldsmar was founded by Ransom E. Olds founder of Oldsmobile).

The other twin, Monica, had a badly broken leg. She told us that she accidentally stepped off a curb while carrying a box and her foot went into a storm grate. It snapped all the bones in her lower leg.

Monica showed us her recent X-rays. Lots of plates and screws holding it together. It's been two months since her accident and there is not much healing going on. The doctors told her at least two more months of healing. The way it was broken reminded me of when our daughter-in-law Nikki broke her leg a few years back.

When these sisters first sat beside us, they were speaking to each other in a foreign tongue and we couldn't figure out what language it was. They quickly became engaged with Cindy and me and we started having fun with them. Cindy finally asked Maggie what language they spoke and Maggie said it was Portuguese (the language of Brazil).

The sisters told us that Brazil is the only country in South America that doesn't use Spanish as their official language but they weren't sure why. Being a history buff, I jumped in with a little history lesson for them about Portugal and Brazil. Have to admit I was a little shocked that they didn't know all this. It's their country after all.

Maggie texted me this morning that they went to Aqua Prime (on my suggestion) last night and had a great time. She texted me last night too, about what to order but my phone was in the other room and I didn't see it till Sunday morning.

Cindy has a doctor appointment Monday morning. It's clear down the island chain, on St Pete Beach. Dr. Miller has several locations and we usually go to the office in Palm Harbor but not this time.

On the way to the doctor, we are going to stop in North Redington Beach. We're having breakfast with our friend Lori, at a great place called Frog Pond.

Michael, Nikki & Jacob (Minikob) will arrive Tuesday, very anxious to see them. This week will be quite busy with Christmas and all the activities going on down here.

Take note…it's the shortest day of the year, it only gets better from now on.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 12, 2014 2:54 AM CST

The weather in Key West this week was a little cooler than normal, for Key West. But it was sunny and nice everyday. Cindy said as long as the sun is shining, this temp is perfect. Temperature was around the low 70s every day and only dropped to the lower 60s at night.

Cindy has been having quite a time with her leg pain. We are not sure what is causing it. Usually stress of some kind is the trigger but there is nothing (we are aware of) that is stressing her right now. I hope it calms down soon.

I think I mentioned a few times in the past few years that I was anxious to get a shingles shot. My doctor wouldn't give me one until I reached 60 years old because insurance wouldn't cover it. She kept telling me I was too young for shingles. I finally got my shingles shot just before we left for Florida.

Well, our son Aaron now has shingles. He's 37. Aaron arrived in Clearwater last week with a rash on his neck and chest. Just one side. We didn't know what caused it but thought it might be some cleaning chemical he used on his shower walls.

By the time he left for home, it hadn't spread anywhere else but it was blistered and very red. Pretty much covered his right chest area and shoulder, with some spots on his neck. He saw his Doctor when he got home and he was diagnosed with shingles. The doctor put him on steroids.

When we checked into the Harbor Inn on Monday, the first thing the manager, Tracy, told me was that she just got back from the doctor and she also has shingles. We found out about an hour after Aaron told us about his diagnosis. Amazing!

We had a great time in Key West, as always. Spent part of the time with John and Peggy Staska from Guttenberg/Iowa City. They moved to our place, the Harbor Inn, on Wednesday after his work convention was finished.

Also had dinner one night with Mark Cisneros, a friend from Clearwater who lives across the street. Mark was in town on business like John, just separate conventions. John does heating and cooling, mostly for the University of Iowa facilities and Mark does health insurance for Florida teachers union.

Went to lots of places in Key West. One new place we went to was named 2 Cents. It was down a long alley, very hidden. But a gem of a place. Very romantic, low lights, soft music, inside and outside dining. The only thing was the name, it didn't fit…everything on the menu was well over 2 THOUSAND cents, including drinks!

Also went to Salute On The Beach. It's located on the prettiest beach in Key West...Higgs Beach. We went to Salute for lunch, with John and Peggy. The restaurant sits right next to their hotel, the Casa Marina. Also a very pretty setting at that hotel, right on the ocean. Check out the webpage for Casa Marina..

The morning we were to leave Key West, Cindy and I were sitting on our cottage porch talking to John. A woman and her husband had just checked out and she was pulling her luggage along the brick walk towards the front gate, just a few feet from us. All of a sudden she tripped and fell. And I mean went flying!

John and I went over to see if she needed help. She was in a lot of pain and with help, she was eventually was able to get up. She managed to walk out of the courtyard due to sheer will and embarrassment.

It reminds me that I don't understand how anyone thinks it's funny when people fall. However, there are TV shows dedicated to yukking it up over OTHER people falling down. They call it a blooper. It's pitiful and the supposed-humor angle just infuriates me.

This woman wasn't hurt enough that she couldn't get up but I suspect her collar bone may have been broken. Her clothes were torn and her knees skinned. Hilarious, right? Cindy and I can't get the vision of her fall out of our heads. It was a bad spill (shudder!).

That same morning, I also got the news that my cousin, Randy Beatty was found dead at his farmhouse south of Shellsburg, Iowa. He lived alone and his brother stopped by and found him. He was 54. Don't know any details yet.

We flew home to Tampa and then I finally used Uber for our ride home from the airport. I like the experience. Uber is very easy to use. And much cheaper than a cab or shuttle service. I see in the paper that Uber is now in Cedar Rapids. Hopefully that will make things easier for Aaron to get around.

Stay warm! And don't fall down on the ice!

Monday, December 8, 2014 4:11 AM CST

The weather has been much better this past week. Our son Aaron arrived on one of the most perfect days we've had so far. And the weather stayed that way for his entire visit.

We took Aaron to his favorite seafood places and he got to walk on the beach a lot. We had a great visit and Aaron will be back in a couple months.

One night we took him to the Botanical Gardens, which have a yearly Christmas light tour. It was mostly a disappointment. Not as spectacular as we had been led to believe. The lights in the Largo City park are much prettier and just More.

This morning we are heading to Key West. As I posted earlier, we are flying down instead of driving. It's only a 45 minute flight so it makes the most sense.

I was going to use the new phone App, UBER, for our ride to the Tampa airport. But I chickened out last night and booked a car to take us. We can try Uber when we return and don't have a plane waiting on us.

Well, we are pretty busy this morning, getting ready to go. Our ride to the airport will be here soon so I better wrap this up. I'll write again from Key West.

Friday, November 28, 2014 1:49 PM CST

The weather has been on the cool and inconsistent side. One day it may be sunny and warm and then that night it gets down to upper 40s. Then the next day is cloudy and upper 50s for highs. Then back up to the 70s the next day.

A roller coaster ride but we'll take it. We know what the weather is back in Iowa and we prefer this. However, we haven't been out and about much this week. Seems like there has been lots to do at home.

Cindy went to a luncheon on Monday, with her paint group at a place called Roosterfish. We ate there the first winter we were here when it was called Bella's Steakhouse. Cindy had a nice time. I had other business to take care of so I didn't attend.

We had the rainiest day this year on Tuesday. It poured all day, with lots of lightning. We met our friends the Cushman's at E&E Stakeout that night. It was raining so hard, Cindy got soaked just getting out of the car. I had pulled right up to the front awning to let her out but that wasn't close enough.

When they seated us, the waiter told us that the power had been off for two hours and we were the second table they seated since the lights came back on. Everyone who had been there eating had gone home. The people were just left sitting in the dark until they gave up and left. Kind of surprised they didn't have candles available but maybe it's a city code issue.

I think we are meeting the Cushman's again for lunch on Saturday, in Dunedin. Cindy and Jean want to go to this quilt shop over there. Darrell and I will find something manly to do.

We still haven't gotten together with our friend Mary Sheldon, (the 92 year old stock broker). She fell and broke her hip a couple months ago and isn't ready to party yet. Mary called us the week we arrived, to tell us about her fall. She wants to wait till she's fully released from home rehab before venturing out.

On Thanksgiving, we had the usual feast. Just Cindy and me. Cindy worked all morning preparing everything. It's Cindy's deal, so I stay out of the way. I do make the sweet potatoes though, a childhood recipe that I am pretty attached to. It's the only time of year we have them. I make plenty so that we always have leftovers.

Kind of a quiet week. But next week our son Aaron arrives so we'll be plenty busy. Then Cindy and I leave for Key West the following Monday.
So many activities!

Stay warm.

Saturday, November 22, 2014 11:58 AM CST

The weather here is cooler than normal. But it still gets into the 70s almost everyday. And the temps are beginning an upward trend. We had one day that was totally dark and rainy.. It was a good reading and nap day.

We had another enjoyable evening on Friday with our friends Ron and Melba. This is twice now that we have had dinner with them this winter.

If you recall, Ron is a former, Senior FBI agent, (highly decorated), who is now spending his days traveling the world with his friend Melba. Ron does still have lots of contact with the FBI and does some "contract" work for them. I've read several newspaper articles about Ron and infamous cases he worked on.

Melba is a former realtor of the Hollywood stars in southern California. The list of people she knows/knew personally boggles our minds. Foremost for me, Frank Sinatra.

Melba now does travel planning for a select group of friends from California and she is always on the go. One of the group is Florence Henderson (Brady Bunch mom) and she and Melba are great friends.

Melba has homes in Rancho Mirage, and Santa Monica, California. Ron has homes in Pensacola, Florida and Gulfport, Mississippi.

Ron is related to the Haggar Slacks founding family and Melba is related to the Bronfman family, founder of Seagrams.

Melba told us about a trip to Saudi Arabia one time when she was young. Her blonde hair stood out in that muslim country and she didn't feel safe. Sam Bronfman sent a private helicopter that day and flew her out of the country.

The stories that she and Ron have about their diverse lives make for great listening. It's almost overwhelming there is just so much. Ron and Melba were both widowed about 5 years ago and have been together since. They both have yachts and live on them, in Clearwater Harbor, when they are not on a cruise ship, traveling the world or at one of their homes.

They recently spent two months traveling through Europe on what is called a river cruise. We arrived in Clearwater the day before they returned from their cruise.

I had tried to text Ron a few times to let them know we were back and he never responded. I was a little concerned because he told us in August that he had been diagnosed with Fourth Stage-prostate cancer. Not a good diagnosis.

It turned out that Ron had dropped his phone in the river in Budapest, Hungary and was using another phone until he got home. The first Friday we were at Columbia, Ron and Melba came in looking for us. I told him we were relieved he was okay. Got a good laugh out of that.

They are leaving Sunday for another two week cruise and then won't be back in town till after Christmas. We parted late that evening, lots of hugs and promised to see them again when they return.

As we parted, Ron told us that he's doing just fine right now and will continue to take each day as it comes. He wanted Cindy to know that she is his inspiration. And whenever he gets gloomy, he thinks of Cindy and about her constant smile and then he snaps out of it.

Speaking of Cindy's smile. I was walking through the parking lot the other day at our condo and another resident greeted me and welcomed me back. He asked how Cindy was doing and during the conversation all of her history came out .

He had no idea about all the cancers and other "stuff" and he said, "How could that be, she has the most Wonderful SMILE, I would never guess what she's been through. How does she do it?"

All three surgeons at Largo hospital last year, said the same thing about her smile. Makes me smile. So proud of her.

One of the gloomy and chilly days last week, we decided to make the trek across Tampa Bay to the International Mall. A mall, yes, but a very nice one. We had a nice lunch there at one of the great restaurants located in the outside courtyard. Then bought some shoes and Christmas presents.

There is a store there called The Art of Shaving. All shaving stuff, nothing else. I have always been curious about what a professional shave would be like, with a straight razor. So I went for it. They did the hot towel thing, the whole works.

It was underwhelming. I didn't care for it. But I can now say I did it. When the barber sat me up there were people out in the mall, looking in the window at me. That was nice.

Next week is Thanksgiving and we bought a turkey and all the trimmings. We are already talking about what we will be making. Always an exciting day for us, our favorite holiday of the year.

Next Tuesday we are meeting Darrell and Jean Cushman for dinner at E&E Stakeout. They are back in Clearwater from Cedar Rapids but will return to C.R. after Thanksgiving, till after Christmas.

Also on Tuesday……our son Michael will turn 40 YEARS OLD!!!


And not to leave our other son Aaron out….he arrives for a visit on Thursday. Can't wait to see him. I'm sure there will be lots of seafood eaten during his stay.

Have a great Thanksgiving to everybody.

Friday, November 14, 2014 6:36 AM CST

Well, we heard that winter has officially arrived back home. Second year in a row that we got out just in time. The weather here is gorgeous, but I won't bore you with details.

However the gorgeous, sunny, warm mornings make for great walks around the neighborhood. The other day I was walking by a house that I know has antique cars in the garage. The doors were all open and the roadster was on the front "lawn" (it's all rock).

Anyway, I took some pictures and I was looking at the car when the owner came out and started a conversation. His name is Gene Peck. He invited me into his garage and told me his whole life story and all about his cars.

Gene was getting ready to move to a downsized home. His property is one of the largest in Belleair Beach. Beautiful too. He showed me all around. He even offered me a beer (it was 9:00 AM).

By the time we finished talking, I had passed an hour at his house. Also by this time, Cindy was texting me to make sure I hadn't fallen down (again) and couldn't get up.

Speaking of that previous fall, my rib is much better. I hardly notice it now, except if I lie on my left side. I'm starting to get bored sleeping on my right side every night.

Cindy is feeling great. She loves sitting on her porch and has started doing some landscape drawing while out there. She looks so at peace sitting out there, under her umbrella, foot up, sketching away.

By the way, we came to the same decision that we don't like saying it's a balcony, even though technically it is a balcony. So we are calling it our porch from now on. We've always been porch people and porch is the word that pops in our head when we think to sit out there. So porch it is.

Speaking of decisions. I came to another decision and bought airline tickets to Key West. We are heading down the second week of December and up to yesterday, we (I) had planned on driving.

Cindy just patiently waited me out, never saying a word, letting me come to my own conclusion that it wasn't worth the hassle of driving 4 days to enjoy 4 days in Key West.

So even though the tickets were twice what we paid last year, (which is what caused my delay), I finally bought the tickets. A 45 minute plane ride each way, definitely makes for a more enjoyable trip.

After I told Cindy I bought the tickets, I detected a very slight smile and then she told me to "now stop thinking about it" and just enjoy myself.

Since I was on a roll, I went back to my computer and bought tickets to see Bob Seger in Tampa on Feb 5th. Very excited about that too. So was Cindy.

This Sunday we are going over to Dunedin to their annual downtown festival. We are meeting our friend Leah for lunch. We have never been to the festival so we don't know what to expect, other than a ton of people.

The nice thing about Dunedin is that the nature trail goes right through downtown, so it's easy to step out of the crowd if we have to.

Well, Cindy is all ready, so we are heading out for an early breakfast. It's Friday, you know the drill. Stay warm!

Oh, almost forgot. I started a new photo album for this year in Florida. It's labeled Clearwater 2015. Just click on the link above where it says, "over 100 photos". More photos will be added throughout our stay.

Friday, November 7, 2014 3:11 PM CST

We are in Florida!!

We arrived last Sunday on a day that was described as the "coldest Nov 2nd in over 100 years"! However, It was a beautiful day, about 65 and sunny. The previous night had gotten down to 45 degrees. So not sure what they thought was so cold about it.

Anyway, it warmed up after that and has been in the 80s every day since. I think it might have sprinkled last night but it's very sunny today.

Enough of the weather. Besides, I just read that Iowa will be getting snow on Monday. Let's move on.

Our flight down was perfect. As we were getting ready to board, a former co-worker and friend from Vinton, Darrell Cushman, was getting off the plane. Turns out he lives in Clearwater off and on and has family here.

Darrell and I have been communicating since and we have plans to go deep sea fishing when he returns later this month. He goes out fishing a lot.
Excited about that.
As well as other plans that may involve me doing part-time work when I return to Iowa.
More tentative than excited about that.

Cindy is feeling great and is again outside everyday (under her umbrella of course), which keeps her spirits high. Her ankle is still swelling occasionally and she does not walk very fast but she claims to have no pain. That is the best part.

We spent most of the week with our friend Gary, who drove our car down. We went to all the usual spots. One evening we met up with Jeff Brown and Al Bergeron for dinner at Bascom's Chop House. One of our favorite restaurants. We had a great evening. Jeff and Alan were in town for Rockwell, at MacDill AirForce Base. They flew back to Cedar Rapids Thursday.

Gary also flew home early Thursday morning. I arranged to have an Uber driver pick Gary up and take him to the airport. That was my first experience with Uber. It went very well and I was impressed by the whole process. Uber has an app for your phone and it's easy to use. We will probably be using it more this winter in Florida.

We are getting all settled in now. Everything is unpacked and it feels like home again. We forgot how much stuff we left here last year. There was really no reason for a lot of the stuff we brought down in the car this year. We need to get more organized on this back and forth. It's been four winters now, we should be better at this.

Next week we have plans to meet friends on several of the days and there are a couple appointments for haircuts and such. Today is Friday, that means we will be at Columbia tonight. Life in Florida begins.

Saturday, November 1, 2014 2:14 AM CDT

I know that I wrote in the last update that this one would be from Florida. Not quite yet. We are still in Iowa. Just long enough to experience temperatures below freezing.

In the last two weeks, we've all been to the doctors and had our tune-ups. We are now ready for winter.

I had my yearly physical last week. I told my doctor about the rib. She checked it out and said it's most likely broken, not dislocated. But there is nothing to be done about it either way. Wrapping broken ribs is no longer done, due to the risk of pneumonia. The lungs need to be able to expand in order to avoid filling with fluid.

My rib is still very painful. Mostly when I lie down and put uneven pressure on my ribcage. Rolling over in bed or getting out of bed in the morning is extremely painful. Sneezing is scream-worthy.

The good news is that someone found my glasses. They had fallen out of my pocket during my walk that day and some good person found them and hung them from his mailbox.

A friend, Ken, saw the glasses hanging there, across the street from his house and he brought them to me. The glasses were found almost a mile from where I fell down.

The funny thing is that Ken is the only person on the Island that I told about the glasses. What are the odds?

Cindy and Aaron had their appointments in Iowa City last Tuesday. Aaron had an electronic programming adjustment to his implant, which was undone before we left the hospital.

It was too painful, so he paged his doctor and had it reprogrammed back the way it was. It was good that Aaron had a couple hours at the hospital to decide that the new program wasn't working out for him.

Cindy's appointment was what took so long. She had a couple X-rays done to check on her hip and her lungs. All were good. The line at Xray was very long, we must have picked the busiest day. After her check up, Dr. Buckwalter told us to have a great time in Florida.

We have been home in Cedar Rapids for the last week. We have been very busy taking care of last minute details, seeing lots of friends and getting things packed.

Poor Aaron had to carry EVERYTHING out to the car. My rib would not allow me to pick up anything. I just pointed and directed Aaron. The car was loaded to the roof.

Gary left with our car on Wednesday, so everything had to be in the car, except for one suitcase for the plane. It wouldn't have fit in the car anyway.
He let us know Friday evening that he was at our place in Florida, safe and sound. Always a relief to hear.

Our flight leaves Sunday morning. Cindy and I will have a quiet, Saturday date-night at home…dinner, movie, candle-light, wine. Then early to the airport in the morning.

See you next time from Florida.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:51 AM CDT

This is our last week in Guttenberg for this year. The weather is gorgeous and most of the days are very sunny and clear. As we look across the river, we can enjoy the beautiful colors of the leaves on the bluffs. Last year the leaves were mostly all down by the first week of October.

Yesterday, while out for a walk on another beautiful day, I fell down. I stumbled on a large rock that I didn't see, twisted my ankle badly and then fell trying to save my ankle. I skinned up my knee and popped a floating rib out of joint.

Can't hardly move now and I'm trying to remember how to pop it back in place. I had this same injury a couple summers ago, twice. I also lost my reading glasses, that had been in my pocket before I fell. Cindy and I went back twice, on the golfcart, to find the glasses with no luck.

Cindy is doing just fine. Her ankle is only occasionally swelling now. She says that it feels really good most of the time. The other good news is that the chemo treatment on her leg was almost uneventful. The leg is dark but it did not blister and become painful. Makes me wonder if they gave her a placebo, or the wrong stuff. No matter, she is doing fine and that is what we want as we head to Florida.

We did a 'Slow Roll' again this year with our friend John Fetzer. Cindy and I picked him up on his farm near Mount Auburn, last Friday night. Then we rolled down the country roads in our truck, at 10 mph, until almost midnight. We had great conversations, lots of laughs and reminiscences of old-times. At one point, we stopped at the Hitchin Post in Garrison and had some cheeseburgers and fries.

John and I have been friends since we were in the 3rd grade together. I recalled to John about the time I first met Cindy. I was living out of state at that time and John invited me to stay on the farm for part of the summer, so I could be near Cindy. He had forgotten all about that.

Our friend Marcy came to visit last week and we had a great day. We drove over to Elkader and had lunch at Schera's. A great pub on the Turkey River that Cindy and I visit a couple times each year. The food there is terrific. If you ever drive by Elkader, stop at Schera's for something to eat.

This weekend is a soup/chili contest on the island. Cindy is going to enter her Cheeseburger soup. My favorite. It's really just an excuse for an Island party but we will try to enjoy the food too.

Next update will probably be from sunny Florida!

Saturday, October 11, 2014 3:03 PM CDT

We went to Iowa City last Tuesday, for Cindy's Ortho-surgery appointment.

Her ankle looks good (they took an X-ray). The surgeon, Dr. Physical, asked Cindy if she was bearing weight yet. Cindy told him yes, since the week after surgery. He was very surprised and said most patients are not bearing weight until almost six weeks post-surgery.

However, her ankle will continue to swell for three months, possibly up to six months following surgery. This is normal and Dr Physical said she can ice it if she wants but it's not necessary. He said to just elevate it whenever possible. Cindy always keeps her foot up on the dash of the car when riding and on a footstool around the house.

Dr. Physical said that her healing is going well and he would see her again in six weeks. Cindy told him we are leaving for Florida in four weeks, so he said, "well then, have a good winter and I don't need to see you again".

Cindy has just one more doctor appointment in Iowa City, before we leave. She will see Dr. Buckwalter the last week to make sure her hip is still doing okay.

We have been coming back to Cedar Rapids more often now. Trying to see lots of friends before we leave. Tonight we are going out with Tom & Lorene Spencer, for their annual, wedding anniversary dinner.

We have been doing this for 30 years now. This is their 30th anniversary, amazing how fast time went. Cindy and I stood up with them when they were married. We looked like such kids in the picture.

We are going to the new restaurant in town called Popoli. It's in the historic People's Bank building, along the river in downtown Cedar Rapids. Cindy and I have been there a few times but tonight will be the Spencers first time.

We will head back to Guttenberg tomorrow. The leaves up there are really turning, and it's beautiful to see.

The other night there was a "blood moon". A lunar eclipse that occurred a couple hours before sunrise. We were up and outside watching it at 5am and then just before sunrise we went to the top of the hill and sat in our friends' driveway so we could see both the eclipse and sunrise at the same time. Pretty cool.

Another cool sighting was on Thursday morning. I opened the blinds, just after sunrise and there in our driveway was a Mississippi Kite bird that had just killed another bird. He was sitting on top of it, plucking feathers out of it. The other bird had not died yet.

I watched the struggle for a few minutes and then the Kite took off, with the bird in it's claws. I have never seen a Kite before and I had to research what type of bird it was.

We were all torn up at the cabin last week, with the tiling of our bathroom. No shower and no toilet. I was able to use the bathroom upstairs in the Guest House but Cindy could not do the steps.

So our generous neighbors, Mark and Becky Mather, let Cindy use their downstairs bathroom. The Mathers are traveling down the Tennessee River on their trawler, doing the big Loop, so no one was home across the street.

I had to learn how to disable their alarm system, turn on the water and water heater, etc. I only set off the alarm once. The security person came on the speaker and asked if I needed help. I must have sounded trustworthy because she disabled the alarm and had me try it again. Worked the second time.

I took the first shower in our new bathroom on Friday. We should have done this remodel years ago. So nice.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

Thursday, October 2, 2014 6:25 AM CDT

It's been a very busy week. Lots of activity around the house, both inside and out.

I keep thinking that all this yoga I'm doing will fix the bad disc in my back but not if I keep doing this construction work around the house.
Although, I did give in and hire a local kid to finish the landscaping work yesterday. It was killing my back to do all this digging so I finally listened to Cindy's suggestion.

He was a very nice kid. 6'5" and 300 pounds, all muscle, no fat. It took him about 90 minutes to finish what would have taken me at least three, intermittent hours and lots of Aleve and ice packs.

On the inside we are tearing out most of the bathroom and installing tile on the floor and around the shower. Yesterday I replaced the shower/tub plumbing. Quite a job.

I also pulled the boat and winterized it for storage, in the middle of that busy day. Always a relief to have the boat out of the water and safely put away for the winter. I usually sleep poorly in the nights leading up to that chore.

Cindy and I went to Iowa City on Tuesday to see the dermatologist. Last week I thought this appointment was at the Orthopedist about her ankle. I was mistaken. The dermatology appointment was for the chemo treatment on her leg.

Instead of just doing her lower leg, they treated her entire leg. They wiped down her leg with acetone (nail polish remover, basically) and then smeared the chemo cream from her hip to the top of her foot.

Once that was on, they turned off the lights in the room and left her on the table for about 90 minutes. We each read our iPads and computers during the wait in the dark room.

After that time expired, they brought this UV light machine into the room and placed it over her leg. Cindy had to put on goggles and lie still for 16 minutes and 39 seconds while the UV light activated the chemo. They were very precise about the time. I had to step out of the room during that process.

When the light treatment was completed, they then froze a few spots that the light didn't hit. Then they covered her leg with Ace wrap and let us go home.

I do have to mention the "they" people I refer to in the Dermotology department. It is never just one person.
The room is always filled with people, usually two doctors and one or two residents and also a nurse. Quite a team effort in Dermotology.

Cindy has to keep her leg covered for 48 hours. After the 48 hours, she is to keep applying 50 spf sunscreen and Vaseline, four times a day for a couple weeks. She also has to keep her skin covered.

Since Cindy mostly has just shorts, we stopped at the store and bought some comfortable leggings before driving back to Guttenberg. Cindy had to wait in the car while I went in to buy them.

I had a difficult time explaining to the female clerk, just what kind of leggings or pants it was that I was interested in buying…in the Women's department. The clerk asked if I needed to try them on first ;-). I've come a long ways. You couldn't have caught me dead, even buying tampons back in the day.

Cindy is out of the boot now. She couldn't wear it anyway due to the leg treatment. Her ankle feels pretty good, just a little weak yet, but not wearing the boot will help her get her strength back. Her appointment for the ankle is next Tuesday in Iowa City.

For now, we are in Guttenberg and getting things together for our trip south, one month from today!! Time flies!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 12:43 PM CDT

Fall is officially here, as of yesterday. The days are nice, near 70 but the evenings cool off very fast. By the time the sun slips below the bluffs, out come the sweatshirts.

We still ride around each evening on the golf cart but a little more bundled up. It's very quiet up here now. The only people here are the permanent residents or people like us, who will soon be heading south.

We are busy working on the cabin, both inside and outside. I finally fixed the leak in the spare bedroom. It involved removing all the siding from two sides of the house and digging a trench around both sides. Then replacing wall boards and insulation.

For now, the vinyl siding is still off the house but our contractor will be back Saturday to replace that. I am also going to remove the bathroom window, before we finish siding that side of the house. It's in the shower wall so it's not used at all.

Today, another contractor is arriving to pull the carpet from the spare bedroom and put down tile. We have wanted to do that for some time.

We also rearranged the two bedrooms, moving the bigger bed into our bedroom. We're hoping this will help us both with sleep. The first night we slept on the bigger bed, I slept 9 hours!! That is unheard of for me.

The second night I woke up at 2:00am. At 3:00am I was outside confronting a skunk!
A little back story needed here…

With all the trenching around the house, it has attracted a couple pesky ground squirrels. They have been digging all around the house and causing problems. So a few days ago I bought some of those sticky pads for trapping mice. Well, the first night, a ground squirrel got stuck in it and took off with it. I found it out in the yard yesterday. Empty, with a little hair and grass attached.

Yesterday I went back to the store and bought Rat sticky pads and a rat snap trap. I applied a little peanut butter to the snap trap and placed it under the A/C unit where nothing bigger could get at it…I thought.

At 3:00 this morning, I was on the computer when I heard the trap snap and a thump against the house. I jumped up and grabbed a light and ran outside. I could hear something dragging across the drive, behind Cindy's car and I crept around the side to see what was up. A skunk faced me, with the trap attached to the front of him somewhere, I didn't stick around to inspect any further.

I rode around the neighborhood this morning but no sign of the skunk or the trap. No smell either. I also haven't seen the ground squirrels lately.

Cindy finished her last physical therapy session this morning. We head back to Iowa City next week to see what the surgeon says about her wearing the boot. Cindy is ready to be out of it. However, she has been having pain in her foot now, along the ball of her foot. This is new.

We both are on edge all the time about the prospect of her falling again. It has us both exhausted. I don't know what the answer is. Being confined to a wheelchair is not healthy and Cindy certainly does not want that. She likes being as active as possible. Just a little frustrating right now. Hopefully this will pass….soon.

We had so much fun with grandson Jacob last week, while his parents were in Vegas. Jacob is so entertaining. He is so funny and just plain pleasant to be around.

We were back and forth to Cedar Rapids several times, due to his school and football game and Cindy's Germanfest duties in Guttenberg. On Thursday, Cindy stayed in Guttenberg to prepare for Germanfest, while I drove back to stay with Jacob. I took him to his favorite Mexican food restaurant right after we dropped his parents at the airport.

During dinner, Jacob lost a tooth. It was about to come out right as they brought his meal to the table. He stared with disgust at the plate with his favorite things, unable to eat. Then he reached in his mouth and just jerked out the tooth.
Licked his plate clean after that. He even beat me done eating.

After I saw him off to school Friday morning, I was back on the road to Guttenberg. Worked all day on the house with our contractor and then Cindy and I drove back to Cedar Rapids in time for Jacob to get to his football homecoming game. It was a long day.

Saturday morning we were up at 6:00 and headed back to Guttenberg. Cindy spent the day at the Elwick building, with Keith and his daughter Kathy and Jerry Blank. Over 200 people came to tour the Rathskeller! Keith was overwhelmed. Good job Cindy!

Sunday morning we were back on the road to Cedar Rapids, to get Jacob home and pick up his parents at the airport Sunday night. After that, we drove back to Guttenberg arriving home around 10pm.

October looks to be just as busy for us. Trying to fit in visits with several friends we want to see before we head to Florida. Glad I'm retired.

Monday, September 15, 2014 8:56 AM CDT

The fall weather has certainly arrived. We have even had the furnace running this past week for some of the time. I told Cindy yesterday that this change in weather has shifted my thinking and I am now looking towards Florida. Only 6 more weeks till we head south, it will go fast. Doctor appointments every week during October.

Cindy is getting along a little better with the boot on her foot. She gets around okay but is slow and deliberate. We both are so gun shy and worried about her falling. I think the shock of her fall in Florida last April, will be affecting us for awhile yet. I'm still having dreams about it that wake me in the night, usually with a shout that then wakes Cindy.

Cindy is still going to the Guttenberg Hospital for physical therapy a couple times a week. The exercises seem to help, her range of motion is much better. After this week, she will be done with therapy and in two weeks she will see the surgeon for the last time (we hope).

At her last session, the Guttenberg therapist called the doctor in Iowa City to confirm that Cindy needs to have the boot on most of the time. Cindy was wearing the brace sometimes instead of the boot but is now back mostly in the boot.

I took Cindy down to see the Rathskeller (that I wrote about last update). That was an adventure. Cindy went down and back up the steep steps on her butt. We were very careful.

Cindy wrote an article about the Rathskeller that was published in the Guttenberg newspaper on Wednesday, so she thought she better see it first hand.

She also had an article she wrote, published on the Vinton Today webpage last week. It was about the Ragbrai bike, donated by the Elwick family.

On Saturday we were at the Guttenberg Car Cruise seeing all the cool cars on display. It was a perfect day for the cruise. We saw a lot of cars that have not been here in previous years.

Later this week we will have grandson Jacob for 4 days while his parents are in Las Vegas. It's homecoming week at Jacob's school so we will be in Cedar Rapids for a couple nights.

Jacob really wanted to attend the football game on Friday night, so we made accommodations. We have to remind ourselves, he IS 13 years old now. Every once in awhile I horrify son Michael by reminding him that I started dating his mother when she was 13. Is that mean?

Enjoy the fall weather.

Thursday, September 4, 2014 7:39 AM CDT

Today is my brother Tim's birthday. He would have been 59 today. He's been gone for 20 years. Seems like yesterday.

Cindy had her post-surgery appointment in Iowa City on Wednesday and she got all the stitches removed. Everything looks good, still a little swollen though. We have another appointment with the surgeon in a month but we need to talk about that.

The surgeon said Cindy must wear the boot until her next appointment, especially when she is sleeping. The boot will keep her tendon stretched through the night. She also received an ankle brace that she can wear during the day, for SHORT distances, in place of the boot. Cindy gets around just okay with the boot. But it makes walking difficult and Cindy is still not back to full strength in her ankle.

Cindy also has an appointment at the end of September for the chemo treatment on her lower leg. The leg treatment will make wearing the boot impossible. Her skin will be raw and she won't be able to tolerate that tight boot against her skin. I see a schedule conflict looming in our future.

All this is really trying her patience. Cindy is pretty frustrated with her lack of mobility. Just getting out of a chair or bed and walking anywhere is difficult for her. Knowing the chemo treatment and its difficulties are looming is one more thing on the pile.

We didn't make it to the Boomfest in Vinton last weekend. Cindy just didn't have the stamina for the long trip and the long evening watching the fireworks. But she is now completely off all her medications from surgery. The extra pain meds and the muscle relaxers are no longer needed.

Last week we heard from our friends in Clearwater. I wrote about them a couple times last March and April. Just to spark your memory... Ron and Melba, have the two yachts in the Clearwater Marina. Ron is the former FBI agent. Melba travels the world and does the travel agent thing as a hobby.

Anyway, Ron told me that he recently had surgery for a very aggressive form of prostate cancer. A total surprise. Things do not look good, prognosis-wise. He wanted me to know that he uses Cindy as his inspiration. I promised that we would meet for dinner as soon as we could when we arrived in Florida.

Cindy has been keeping herself busy with the Art Gallery in Guttenberg. She can no longer volunteer down there but she has been working to promote the historic building that it's located in and working with the owner to organize several events.

Keith Elwick, from Vinton, owns the building. He and his sons John and Mike restored it back in the mid-1960's. Keith and Cindy have been talking about the building, as well as with Keith's kids.

Cindy is writing an article which may appear in the Vinton Today website (more later). There is going to be a showing of the Rathskeller underneath the building during Guttenberg Germanfest weekend.

I am going to try to get Cindy down the stairs to see the Rathskeller. This will be quite a chore but if she goes up and down the stairs on her butt I think it will be okay.

Cindy has been drumming up interest in the Rathskeller for weeks. There was an article in the Guttenberg Press last week about it and Cindy was mentioned as the contact. Cindy has received emails and phone calls from people who knew about it or worked there when it was a tavern.

Oh, just search on Google for "Rathskeller". Click on Images at the top of the Google website, after you type Rathskeller in the search box. Pretty cool, huh!

Time for my morning walk. Till next time.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 10:06 AM CDT

Wanted to get the official word from Iowa City before spreading the news. We read last night on Cindy's MyChart website that her biopsy was normal. Got the info confirmed today by the surgeon... NO CANCER in her ankle.

The healing is going well. Cindy does still have pain when she twists her foot from side to side. This is the same kind of pain she had before surgery. We will talk to the surgeon about this when we see him next Wednesday in Iowa City.

Cindy is walking better all the time. She is adjusting to having the boot on her foot. Things just take a little longer.

We are finally at the cabin. Got here Wednesday morning. I unlocked the door and I could immediately tell that we had another leak in the guest bedroom. I was hoping the work I had done a month ago took care of it but apparently not.

While we were gone we received over 7 inches of rain! Our rain gauge was all the way to the top. That was for sure a real test as to whether the leak was fixed. And it wasn't. I got the dehumidifier and heavy-duty fans going all night. The carpet is dry now but more rain expected by noon today.

So now I will have to tear off the inside wall and see where the water is coming from. What a mess! At least I'm retired and have plenty of time to do the work. Always a bright side. Buttercups and daisies, Cindy just said.

Monday, August 25, 2014 4:24 PM CDT

Cindy is up walking today. Although slow and unsteady, she's walking on her own at least. A big step for her, no pun intended.

I bit my tongue when she first came walking out of the bedroom this morning. I knew she had to do it at some point. It was still hard for me to not jump up and help her. You know how it was when your child or grandchild took off walking? You think they will fall at any moment and you want to catch them.

Cindy has to have the boot on to do any weight bearing. She also has to take the boot off and exercise her ankle, moving it in all directions, when she's sitting. So lots of velcro-tearing noise going on as she takes the boot off and puts it back on.

We also accomplished her first shower today. We managed that without getting the boot or her lower leg wet. Had to have Aaron dig out the fancy shower bench from the storage room. Cindy hasn't needed that since 2011.

I stepped outside yesterday for the first time since Friday and the heat almost took my breath away. Wow is it hot outside! I told Cindy that she wasn't missing any porch-sittin time because she would not be able to sit out in this heat.

On the way back home from my errand, I texted Cindy to see if she wanted a malt. Her response was just one word….."Silly".
So I got her a malt. Me too.

I went for a walk early this morning, well before sunrise and the humidity was stifling. My shirt was drenched when I got back. There was lightning in the sky all around but it never rained on me.

Today I had to run out for another errand but since Cindy is mobile I knew she would be fine for an hour or so. And she was. Cindy told me this afternoon that she started weaning herself off the extra pain medication, a little at a time.

But she is sticking with full strength for the muscle relaxers. Leg cramps are an issue they told us about before surgery and they were right. Not sure why the cramps. They did have to really torque her leg down during surgery, in some kind of wrap around her thigh. There are bruises from it on her upper thigh. I didn't see the clamp on the YouTube videos I watched.

Things are slowly getting back to normal. I think we are on track to head back to Guttenberg tomorrow. I have two appointments in the morning and then , if everything is still going well, we will take off.

Sunday, August 24, 2014 9:38 AM CDT

Day Two, post-surgery.

We are now past the important 36 hour mark. We learned from our doctors many surgeries ago that the most important time, is the 36 hours immediately following surgery.

The nerve endings are screaming over the abuse inflicted on them during these hours. It is when pain medication must be fully utilized to keep ahead of the pain. After 36 hours have passed, the nerves begin to calm down and pain meds can be slowly backed off.

The first thing we tried this morning was to get Cindy up and walking a few steps. Cindy has not been able to stand at all. To say it's been challenging is an understatement.

Imagine trying to get out of a chair or bed, or go to the bathroom, with just one leg and that leg is extremely weak and in pain and has a large boot on it. I'll give you a minute to try it.

The best we could manage, was for Cindy to put her foot on the ground and I would pull her up with a gait belt around her waist. She would grab the walker and try to help me. Then a swift swivel to a wheelchair, chair, bed or commode. That was it for mobility.

Needless to say, I have not been able to leave Cindy's side for very long. Well, I have not left Cindy's side at all. Last night when time was slowing to a crawl for Cindy and we were heading into Part 4 of Lonesome Dove, I told Cindy, at least we are not in a hospital with all that entails.

We are in our own home, in our comfortable surroundings, with no monitors beeping, or enduring endless streams of nurses and doctors coming in the room.

This morning, I encouraged Cindy to try to stand up from the edge of the bed. I helped with the gait belt and she grabbed onto my shoulders. Up she went. I steadied her in place and she stiffened her spine, with her head up and looking straight at me.

She seemed pretty solid on her foot. I then slipped her crutches under her arms and grabbed her gait belt. Cindy then slowly made her way from the bedroom to the couch. Success!

She did literally fall onto the couch, rather than sit, but she made it. I think we've turned the corner. We will continue to try more walking today and when we both feel confident, remove the gait belt.

So that is the current update from the Lynch house on Sunday. I have a doctor appointment on Tuesday and our goal is to head to Guttenberg after that.

Next Saturday we will head to Vinton for the annual Boomfest. We have front row seats at the Schoonover home, right across the street from where the fireworks are launched.

Next weekend also marks the unofficial end of Summer. Where has the time gone?

Friday, August 22, 2014 6:58 PM CDT

Day of surgery.

Things went well except for the temporary loss of feeling in Cindy's leg from the nerve block. This created quite a challenge in moving Cindy from the bed, to...anywhere!!

But first, the details. We arrived at the hospital a little early, just before 10:00 on Friday morning. They took us back to a surgery-prep room right away. It was a hub of activity in that room, from that point until they wheeled her back for surgery. At any one time there were at least 3 people in the room. Sometimes more.

The nurse told us that this would be where Cindy would return after surgery and I could sit in here if I wanted (Yipee!). This room was my home for the afternoon.

As usual, they could not get an IV started on Cindy's wiggly veins. A nurse tried.
Then the "expert" nurse tried...3 times, after heating her arm with a hot towel...twice.
And finally the surgical Anesthesiologist came in and tried, twice.
Finally, he brought in an ultrasound machine and found a vein.
That's a hole lotta pokin (And I meant to spell hole).

We discussed options with the Anesthesia team and they asked if Cindy wanted to participate in a blind study. Which meant they did a nerve block in her thigh, as well as the Popliteal nerve block behind her knee. Also, there was going to be a spinal block injected once she was in surgery.

Since the nerve block in her leg is a sterile procedure, I had to step out of the room. Grrrrr.
When I came back in, they were just rolling Cindy over on her back again. I saw right away that she had bled all over her gown and blanket. I mean a LOT of blood. The nurses and anesthesiologist could not find the source right away. They eventually found it. It turned out to be one of the failed IV sites in her arm.

By this time Cindy was getting pretty sleepy. She had been given a little happy meds in her IV. Soon after, the surgical team came for her and Cindy was off.

The surgery took two hours. Actually a little less, she was gone from her room for exactly two hours though. When they rolled her bed in the room, she was awake, alert and SMILING.

I spoke with the two surgeons about what transpired. There were no surprises. This should fix her ankle problem. They also told me that they sent synovial fluid and tissue to Pathology for biopsy. We will know results by the time of her two week post-op appointment.

Cindy was finally released to go home and we were pulling out of the parking lot at 5pm. The staff helped me get her in our car and Aaron was at home to help me get her in the house. The ramps I built yesterday worked perfectly. A pause' while I pat myself on the back.

We will stick around home until Cindy can maneuver okay. She is chomping at the bit to get back to Guttenberg, where she can sit on her porch and be outside everyday. There is no need for my awesome ramps in Guttenberg. Everything is zero entry up there.

Right after she woke up, she asked when we were going to the river. I said, "we could head straight there from the hospital". I was joking.
Cindy said, "Let's go!!" She was serious.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 5:32 PM CDT

Cindy's surgery is set for Noon on Friday, at University Hospital in Iowa City (UIHC).

We have to be there at 10am. It will be a very long day. The surgery itself is 2-3 hours, after a two hour wait. And then there will be a couple hours of recovery before they let her go home. IF they let her go home.

Today we got everything ready for surgery. For Cindy that meant me taking her for a facial and a pedicure. She just had a pedicure last week but the surgeon told her NO paint on her toes, only clear. So she has clear polish on her toes today, first time in I don't know how many years.

I got to thinking about getting her home by myself tomorrow and it occurred to me that she won't be able to walk at all after surgery, even up one step. Yikes!!

So I jumped into action and spent the day making two wheelchair ramps. One for the step in our garage and another ramp for the step in our hallway. Both ramps can be easily removed.

I checked with the other 3 residents in our building to make sure they were okay with the hall ramp. And Cindy made a cute and colorful sign for the wall that says, "RAMP is in Place", which we will hang when we're home.

Since I got up at 3am this morning (wonder why I can't sleep?), I spent a couple hours watching several YouTube videos of the surgery Cindy is going to have. It was pretty cool. I think this will totally fix her ankle problem.

The only thing I am still worried about, came to the surface when the video surgeons kept referring to the "Synovial fluid around the ankle joint".
Alarm bells for me with the word Synovial. Cindy's cancer in her leg was Synovial-Cell Sarcoma.

We had already discussed the cancer aspect yesterday, with her surgeon, Dr. Physical. I insisted that they biopsy the tissue they remove from her ankle joint. Dr. Physical thought this was unnecessary since it was a normal situation.

I explained that everything Cindy has had happen, has not been 'normal'. I even got Dr. Buckwalter to agree with me and he chimed in with his opinion. Since Dr. Buckwalter is the head of the department, that kind of clinches it. There will be biopsy of tissue.

I don't think Dr. Physical is used to me yet. We will get there.

Yesterday we spent most of the day at the UIHC getting lab work, exams, meeting anesthesia, etc. We didn't get out of the hospital until 6pm last night.
Then we stopped at Iowa River Power for an awesome dinner. Cindy's last, good meal before surgery.

During discussion with Anesthesia, it was brought out that a spinal nerve block will make Cindy's leg unusable for several hours.

Previous surgeries, like her hip surgery in April, used a spinal block but Cindy was kept in the hospital and in bed for days after surgery. They are trying to avoid General Anesthesia because Cindy does not come out of it very well at all.

She has never come right home after a surgery that used a spinal block. So we were unaware that her leg had no feeling for that long. There is another way to block the nerve, from the back of her knee. It's called a Popliteal nerve block. We may have to go that route.

So, that is all the news I have for now. I will try to update as soon as I can after surgery tomorrow and after/if we get home tomorrow night.

We will be staying in Cedar Rapids until Cindy and I have adjusted to the new situation. She will have a boot or cast on her leg for a couple weeks at least, with no weight bearing on her foot. This could get interesting.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 4:26 AM CDT

It's SURGERY for Cindy. The surgery will be to repair Cindy's ankle problem.

Now for the rest of the story.

As you know, Cindy has been struggling for some time with pain and swelling in her foot and ankle. It has been an issue for a couple years, with increasing frequency.

We had forgotten that Cindy had an MRI in Iowa City just days before we left for Florida last November. That MRI showed a cyst in her ankle joint but we were not told that at the time. They wanted to rule out cancer in her ankle back then and so the cyst wasn't mentioned at all and forgotten.

Cindy continued to have issues with her ankle on and off over the winter but just infrequent enough that we would kind of forget that this was an ongoing problem.

When Cindy was in the hospital in April with her broken hip, the ankle issue flared up big time and really hasn't subsided since. This summer her ankle and foot have been increasing in pain and swelling, to the point that Cindy could barely walk.

Dr. Buckwalter advised us last week that Cindy would be better off being seen at the University Sports Medicine Clinic. At this satellite facility, Cindy would be seen by doctors who are very familiar with this type of injury.

And get this, Dr. Buckwalter said he wanted her to see Dr. Physical.

We thought he was joking but no, that was his name. Well, sort of. When we got to the Sports Clinic yesterday we were waiting at the reception desk and saw his card that listed his name. Dr Phinit Phisitkul M.D. Pronounced, "Physical".

We thought that being outside the hospital, the wait time would be much better at this clinic. The parking was definitely better, but the waiting was much worse. Apparently a lot of people are seen there.

Once we finally got to see Dr. "Physical" and his staff of younger doctors, he examined her ankle and determined where the pain was coming from. We discussed options, one being that she wear an immobilizing boot for a couple months and see if it got better.

We didn't like this band-aid approach and told him that this problem had been flaring up for two years and was now just getting worse and constant. We did not want to have to deal with this in Florida and possibly have surgery there. He at first thought we were just going on a trip to Florida until we told him we LIVE there 6 months out of the year.

Then Dr. P asked Cindy, "how has this pain affected your daily life? " Cindy started crying. Like a dam burst.

That changed things. Dr. P immediately realized how much of a problem this was for Cindy. He then started discussing surgery and he said that would take care of the issue right now.

He said he had an opening for surgery the next day, or on Friday. We opted for the next day, obviously. But too many issues to clear out of the way first.

Dr. P wanted a new MRI to see what has changed from last November, so off we went to the MRI area of the clinic. It was nice that we didn't have to go over to the University. However, they needed pre-authorization from Cindy's insurance company.

We waited and waited. Finally the tech from the MRI area came out and said that it was the end of the day and it didn't look like approval was coming anytime soon and she had to go home in a few minutes. I was standing up to leave, when a nurse ran around the corner and said, "we got approval!!"

So off they went, pushing Cindy in her wheelchair for the MRI. Again a long wait for that and afterwards, out to the receptionist to set up a pre-op appointment with Anesthesiology. It was too late in the day by then, well after 5pm, so they will call us Wednesday morning.

The plan right now is to have the surgery on Friday. But we won't know that for sure until we get all the prep done.

Cindy will hopefully get a spinal instead of general anesthesia. She tolerates that much better. Cindy had a spinal for her hip surgery and even her leg amputation. She says, it's the only way to go. It definitely makes her recovery much better.

Other than that news, since the last update we have been just hanging out, icing and elevating, and Cindy putting a brave face on how she feels. At least she finally had a release of emotions and got some of this out in the open.

Cindy was much calmer on the ride home. We now have some answers and a way forward.

I will obviously be updating the page more frequently over the next week or so. Please check back here for the latest information. I will have my hands full and unable to adequately answer numerous texts and emails. Which, by the way, we are humbled by and appreciate more than you know.

I think just letting Cindy know you are thinking of her, does a world of good for her. Thank you.

Monday, August 11, 2014 8:03 AM CDT

The weather continues to be perfect. Although, everyone talks about how dry it is. The rain seems to just fall apart whenever it gets near us.

We have had plenty of company the last week and now Cindy's cousin Chris is here from Des Moines. He and a friend arrived Sunday and are here for a few days. Today we are all going out on the boat.

Cindy is still having a time with her foot/ankle. Lots of soaking in ice water, taping it and keeping it elevated. She is getting pretty fed up with this and we will probably head to Iowa City later this week. I'm thinking that she will end up in a boot or a cast, in order to give it a chance to heal.

We need to get that issue out of the way because in October, Iowa City is going to treat the skin cancer on her lower leg with chemo/UV light. That will cause her entire leg, below the knee, to be raw and sore. She won't be able to have a boot or anything else on her skin.

For now, Cindy is in a wheel chair for any distance at all and she really has a tough time just maneuvering around the house on her crutches. Times like these remind me of how fragile her mobility is.

As is usual behavior for Cindy, the outside world doesn't see anything wrong with her. Because Cindy continues to smile and say she is, "doing just fine:-)"

Saturday, August 2, 2014 8:46 AM CDT

The boat is now fixed and good as new. It should be, because I had to put a new motor on the boat. When you put the word "boat" in front of anything, it raises the price about double what you would normally pay. But it does feel good to have it working reliably now.

The old motor almost caught fire while the mechanic was driving the boat to the ramp. Smoke and everything. Very close call. It could have happened to us while Cindy was on board. Or while we were tied up at our slip in the marina, endangering the entire dock full of boats.

I will have to pull the boat out of the water again on Monday, so the Marina can install an in-dash computer that I also purchased with the motor. I will now be able to monitor all the details going on inside the motor. Love technology.

We took our first boat ride Friday, August 1st, the latest ever for us in getting out on the boat. Cindy and I left at noon and headed up river to meet Pete & Julia, who were fishing about an hour or more north of us.

While we were boating upstream, we saw a flotilla of about 150 kayaks just emerging from the Wisconsin River and into the Mississippi. We stopped and took photos. It was an impressive site.

These kayakers started a week ago and some of them were participants in last weeks' Ragbrai bike ride. Now that is impressive! A week on a bike across Iowa and then a week paddling down the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. The end point was Guttenberg for both events.

We had a great day just floating down the river with Pete & Julia. The sun was getting low in the sky when we parted. We got back to our dock around 8 pm. A very full day. It was capped with dinner at home...hot dogs and sweet corn. Then a lengthy ride around the island on the golf cart. Awesome day!

Cindy is still struggling with her foot and ankle. It is very frustrating for her, as it has really limited her mobility. She has been going to Physical Therapy at the Guttenberg hospital. But it continues to be painful and swell up everyday. We are going to give it another week and then ask for a more thorough look. This will probably mean an MRI.

Cindy's skin cancer wounds are continuing to heal but they are a daily chore. We have to clean them, coat with Vaseline and cover the worst spots with band-aids. So far, no infections. The spots they removed on her face have healed completely.

This is the second summer in a row where Cindy has struggled with her health issues. Poor girl. But we keep moving forward, it's the only way. And we have LOTS of support from our family and our many friends. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 4:38 PM CDT

Mystery solved! Details to come.

Cindy has again been having pain in her foot and ankle, to the point of barely being able to walk. The last time this happened was while she was in the hospital in Florida with her broken hip. Then last Friday, the same pain returned. But this time it would not get better with a few days of rest.

Cindy has been soaking her foot in Epsom salts, keeping it elevated and iced several times a day, since then. Her leg and foot would swell terribly even with the treatment. This morning, she could barely get out of bed due to the pain.

Today she had an appointment with the dermatology department at the University Clinic. As long as we were there in Iowa City, I figured it was worth a shot. So while we waited for the dermatologist, I called Dr. Buckwalter's office to see if he could see her today in the Orthopedic clinic.

He said he would fit her in somehow and to come on downstairs after the Dermatologists finished "carving her up".

That was my version of what they did to her. Cindy had several cancer spots cut off or frozen off her skin. We lost count of how many and where. They were all over her body.

The dermatologists are going to have her come back in a few months and do a procedure on her lower leg since it has too many spots to treat one-at-a-time.

The UV treatment is basically an accelerated chemo treatment of her whole leg from the knee down, using a light sensitive cream.

They will smear it on her leg and then let it sit for an hour, then she will sit 15 minutes under a UV light to activate it. One UV light treatment should take care of the whole lower leg, instead of six weeks of applying the chemo cream daily.

Anyway, after we got done with Dermatology, we headed down to see Dr Buckwalter. By sheer chance, he had a resident with him who had just spent several weeks with the Foot & Ankle specialists. She recognized right away what was wrong with Cindy. Tendinitis.

The peroneal tendons to be exact. These two tendons run down the outer side of the calf, around the outer ankle bone, then one attaches to the outside of the foot behind the little toe and the other one runs under the foot, at her arch and attaches behind the big toe. Both tendons were very tender to the touch.

Since Cindy only has the one foot, and she had already done several days of no activity, ice and elevation, they decided to do a cortisone injection. This injection should give her pain relief by tomorrow.

After a period of rest, she will begin doing daily exercises to stretch and strengthen these tendons so it doesn't happen again.

This is a relief for both of us. As we drove back to Guttenberg from Iowa City, we both confessed that we had been lying awake at night worrying about what the problem was. Both of us thinking that it might be cancer in her only good leg. Thankfully this isn't the case. Again….mystery solved.

We have been in Cedar Rapids since Saturday. We took Aaron home from Guttenberg and then all three of us drove over to Vinton to see the cars, at the annual Vinton Car cruise. Almost 500 cars were lined up downtown. Cindy and I saw a lot of Vinton people we hadn't seen in several years.

After we got back to Cedar Rapids, Aaron left with some friends for the Kid Rock concert at the Jones County fair and Cindy and I went to see Jackson Browne at the newly restored Paramount Theater.

Cindy has been pretty much immobile with her foot up, ever since. We did go out to eat Tuesday night with some friends but by the time we got home, Cindy was in a lot of pain.

We are now back in Guttenberg and hoping to have the boat fixed by the end of the week. Oh, did I fail to mention in the last update?? I took Aaron out on the boat last Thursday, for our first boat ride of the year and there was something wrong with the motor. Sheesh!

Had I known that, I could have used all of the last two months to have someone fix it. Since it was just sitting there in the flooded river.

Hopefully it will be ready to go by the time our friend Lori (from Clearwater) arrives next Monday.

Other than all that news, we are doing fine and enjoying our summer.

Monday, July 14, 2014 8:15 AM CDT

Here is it the middle of July and we have not been out on the boat even once. This is the latest ever for us. But the river is now dropping everyday and approaching a more normal level.

This week our son Aaron is coming up to visit and we will certainly get out on the boat with him. Aaron is staying till the weekend and then we are all heading back to Cedar Rapids. Along the way, we are dropping Aaron off at the Jones County Fair in Monticello, where he will attend the Kid Rock concert.

Cindy and I will then head on to Cedar Rapids to attend the Jackson Browne concert at the Paramount Theater. Aaron bought us tickets as an anniversary present.

We have not been to the Paramount since the restoration and are anxious to see how it looks. It has always been a beautiful place and I'm sure is only better now.

We will be staying in Cedar Rapids until the following Wednesday. Cindy has a doctor appointment in Iowa City on that Wednesday morning. We will head back to Guttenberg from there.

The summer is slipping away but at least the weather seems to have settled down to the beautiful Iowa summer that we so appreciate. I'm thinking sweet corn should be making an appearance shortly.

Our friend Lori from Clearwater, will be visiting in two weeks and we want to treat her to Iowa sweet corn and real, Iowa pork tenderloin sandwiches. Along with the gorgeous scenery of Northeast Iowa and boating and golf cart rides and evenings spent sitting on the porch. Sounds awesome.

Sunday, July 6, 2014 6:25 AM CDT


Cindy is 57 years old today. Born in '57 and now 57. I call that a special birthday, perhaps "golden"??.

Cindy and I have a friendly disagreement about the definition for golden birthdays. I maintain that since there are only 31 days in the longest month, it's much easier to reach 31 years of age, so not that special. But Cindy maintains that is the true, golden birthday.

My point is that you only reach the YEAR you were born one time in your life, and it could take you all of 100 years to make it. So matching the birth YEAR can be much harder than reaching the DAY of your birth month.

Anyway, no matter what we call this special day, it's Cindy's day and we are heading to Black Angus for dinner tonight. Cindy's birthday gift.

This week we are "trapped" in paradise. The railroad company is replacing the crossing that leads out to our island. Starting Monday morning, we won't be able to get on or off the island for much of each day, until Friday. We will be stocking up at the store today, so we don't have to leave the island.

To explain for those who have not been here...as you turn off the highway on to our island road, you immediately cross a set of tracks, then follow a quarter mile causeway that leads to the island. The railroad crossing has long been bad and we are all glad it's finally being fixed.

Flooding continues to be a huge problem. There is virtually no boating going on. River barge traffic has been stopped and about a third of our island roads are under water.

Makes for a much shorter golf cart ride and also a TON of traffic past our house. A lot of people usually drive up the back road instead of past us on the front road but currently the back road is under water.

The Fourth of July weekend is always the busiest of the year on the island and this year there were more people than we've ever seen. Since no one can boat, they are all on the island with family and friends, playing volleyball, lawn darts, riding carts, sitting around campfires, lighting fireworks and swimming at the sand pit on the north end.

Lots of commotion. And, the reason I have been up since 2:48 AM!! A bunch of people on a golf cart came speeding up the front road at that time, honking their horn the whole way and screaming and yelling. Pretty sure alcohol was involved.

Woke me out of a dead sleep and I never recovered. Went for my walk before the sun came up. Pretty sure a nap is in my schedule for today.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:07 AM CDT

Lazy days of summer…with minor flooding. We are settling in and enjoying our down time along the river. While boating is not in the picture yet, due to the river being at or near flood stage most of the month, we are spending lots of time outside.

There is gardening, landscaping, house maintenance, changes and additions that keep us busy each day. Plus lots of time on the golf cart, usually in the early evenings.

A few weeks ago we put in a sidewalk that replaced the pavers we installed last year.
A gas crew is here tomorrow to put in a new meter for the guest house so we can better heat the place in winter.
And, there is a small leak somewhere in the main house, causing wet spots along the corner of the bedroom carpet after heavy rains. I have been chasing that down and trying to get a contractor out here to help.

Yesterday morning we had a tree cutting crew here taking down part of a huge elm tree. I have been whittling away at it for a few years now. It is huge, so I only whack a hundred dollars or so out of it every year. I was amazed how much $100 bought me yesterday. A three man crew with a boom truck and wood chipper, for two hours.

While they cut away on the tree, I was painting on the porch and fixing the screen door. Ended up having to take it off and run to the lumber yard to have it re-screened. Crystal at the lumber yard, was kind enough to teach me how to do it myself. Learned a new skill yesterday. Now all I need to do is buy that special tool.

Cindy is busy with her art and craft work, sending out lots of her home-made cards and creating new art pieces. Today she volunteers at the art center in town, so she will be gone all afternoon.

The art building is owned by a Vinton native, Keith Elwick and he loves having Cindy being involved. Keith offered Cindy a space for her work table, in the rear of the Bed and Breakfast, attached next door.

Last weekend I left 'Cindy and the kids' in Guttenberg and headed back to Cedar Rapids to attend a mini-class reunion. About 10 of my former classmates gathered at Papa Juan's for a little reunion and to celebrate us all turning 60 years old. It was a very good time.

Started at 4pm and lasted till midnight. One former classmate, who moved away in 8th grade, surprised us by showing up. I had not seen Greg Grove since 1967. Greg's dad owned the Western Auto parts store in Vinton when I was growing up. Greg just retired from teaching and coaching in Iowa City schools.

The next morning I got up at 5:00 and drove back to the cabin. Cindy told me right away, that while I was gone, Nikki had an incident on the golf cart so I better be prepared.

A little later, Nikki appeared, bearing my belated father's day breakfast (biscuits and gravy- YUMM). Her face was a mess. She had been thrown from the cart and landed on the gravel, mostly with her face.

Her eyes were beginning to blacken and a contusion and scrape the size of a baseball was on her cheekbone. Wow! Nothing broken, as the Xray showed the next morning. Very lucky.

Cindy and I took a little road trip for lunch the other day to a small village called St Olaf. We heard about a little tavern there that advertises the largest tenderloin in the state of Iowa. They were right. That thing is HUGE! But also, very, very good. We split it of course.

Other than Nikki's mishap, if we can just continue the rest of the summer like this, with peaceful days and nobody sick or injured, that will be just fine with me. As Aaron always texts us on the first day of his weekend….Ahhhhhhh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 4:20 PM CDT

Cindy saw Dr. Buckwalter today in Iowa City. They did an Xray of her hip to see if everything is still in place. It was.

Afterwards we talked with Dr. B and he said that he is primarily concerned about the screws and plate staying in place. It may eventually begin to pull apart because the bone is so soft.

There is nothing Cindy can do to change that. Since there is no load on the bone, it will continue to thin out and "disappear". His word.

We talked about what that means. Dr B said that one option would be to just remove the bone and excess skin, if things get too bad. Hopefully this is years down the road.

Neither one of us liked the sound of that scenario. So I will do what Cindy does and think about Buttercups and daisies and happy thoughts.

We are back in Guttenberg now. We had gone back to Cedar Rapids on Saturday to attend Mara's graduation party. Mara (Kevin's daughter), is the last of Cindy's nieces and nephews to graduate high school.

Preparing for the graduation party, we were looking at photos and I pointed out to Cindy, the very last picture taken of Cindy when she could still walk. It was a picture of Cindy holding the new-born Mara.

So Mara graduating is a big milestone for Cindy as well....18 years and still here. Who'd a thunk it? If you click on the camera icon just below this update, you can see that photo.

Since we had appointments on Monday and Tuesday, we decided to stay in Cedar Rapids until today.

Last night, we had two tornado warnings, just as we were getting ready for bed. For the first time ever, we took cover. Well, as good as it gets in a condo without a basement. We went in the bathroom where there is no window.

Having never taken shelter before, I continued to go back and forth to the screened porch, to see what was happening. At one point Cindy was following me back out of the bathroom and I "regulated her" (as Amanda would say).

I had to say, "you can't move as fast as me, you need to just stay put". Cindy said, "well I want to see the action too". I gave in and said, "what the hell" and we went out on the porch to watch the light show.

We didn't get much in the way of wind, I think we were fortunately right in the middle of the two tornado/high-wind areas. Then we heard this morning, that at 3 AM things got really bad. We slept right through that.

I was up at 4:30 this morning and went for my walk. The clouds were breaking up and it was very peaceful, with cool temperatures and almost-full moon. Beautiful.

Temperatures expected to be in the 90s for the remainder of the week. On the way up here today, Cindy kept asking me if I was going to turn on the A/C. (I recently installed a new thermostat that I can control with my phone app). Cindy was "anxious" for me to use it today. She hates humidity.

We stopped for breakfast along the way to Guttenberg and I used the phone app to turn on the A/C. While we were having breakfast, I looked around the room and noticed that every single table had either an amputee, (3 tables), a disabled person or someone on oxygen. There were enough oxygen tanks in there to blow the whole place up.

I told Cindy, this must be Tore-up Tuesday at this restaurant. That's a new way for us to describe Tore-up Tuesday. At least we were the youngest people there, we got that going for us...for now.

Sunday, June 8, 2014 11:10 AM CDT

A quiet week ahead. Cindy is taking this week to just "be". She is totally exhausted from the last few weeks, actually month. No that's not right, two months. It's been two months today, since Cindy's surgery.

Some nice quiet time on the island will be the daily regimen this week. Perhaps even a boat ride or two. Our boat is now in the water.

Thank you to everyone for all the support and condolences and your presence during Karla's illness and funeral. Greatly appreciated.


This is Cindy….

I just want to add my very warm regards to family and friends who were there to support us throughout these past weeks, months and even YEARS. Karla's illness and death remind us again how important it is to fully live life each day and especially to acknowledge and appreciate the ones we love.

So HUGE thanks to my love of 40 + years, Tom.

I also wanted to say that I know Karla was very grateful for the loving care she received at Windmill Manor in Coralville. The staff there was wonderful and many of them commented on how much they loved her.

One of those caregivers, Sunshine, (yes, that's her name), sang to her often and sang beautifully at the funeral service. Her hospice care providers were also caring and very helpful to the family.

Our daughter Nikki was so wonderful through this time and she and Michael were there for Karla a lot, especially when Tom & I were in Florida for the winter.

I was so grateful that Nikki was with me that last day I was with Karla, the day before she died. That was a very difficult day.

Of course our son Aaron was a frequent caller which she enjoyed very much.

Karla spent many hours on the phone, each day. It was something she really enjoyed, really more than having one-on-one conversations in person.

Kevin provided support to Karla throughout her illness and especially during the times I was not able to be there. It is just the two of us now in the Jessen family, Kevin and me.....that's weird.

Kenny and Mitchel have lost a Mom much too soon. They know she was suffering and I hope it helps them to have her at peace, finally.

Their Dad, Wyndham was and will continue to be supportive to them as he was to their Mom. Wyndham was also there when Karla died, along with Kevin and her sons.

Finally, it would be nice to remember Karla if you donate blood. She was a regular 'user' and it would be nice to honor her memory in that way.

As Tom said about me, I'm ready for some down time and am happy to be here in our NE Iowa paradise!

Hugs to all,

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 2:23 PM CDT

Cindy's sister, Karla Jo Jessen Sellers passed away at 2:00PM today.
Born September 8, 1960 - Died June 4, 2014

Van Steenhuyse-Russell Funeral Home in Vinton is in charge of arrangements. The services will be held Saturday, June 7th, at the funeral home on 13th Street.

Visitation will be from noon to 2pm.

Friday, May 30, 2014 8:48 AM CDT

Another week past and another doctor appointment off the list. Cindy saw her neurologist this week. We discussed her seizure medication and also some other issues she is having with levels in her blood.

We decided to leave things alone for now. Once Cindy is fully recovered from her surgery, then we will take another look and decide if some medication needs to be changed. Dr. Ghosh or Dr. Pope will probably handle that since they are the experts in keeping all her medications from clashing.

Sad to report that Cindy's sister Karla is probably near the end in her battle with cancer(s). I kind of had a feeling that things would speed up once Cindy was back home. We've seen this before where a dying relative waits for some goal and then lets go.

Not a lot to report other than that. Kind of a bummer right now.

Friday, May 23, 2014 10:53 AM CDT

What beautiful weather we are having in Guttenberg. We are enjoying this long holiday weekend along with Michael, Nikki, Jacob and Aaron. "There are so many activities!!", as our grandson Jacob likes to say.

Cindy is finished with all her medical tests and everything looks good. Two more doctor appointments for her yet to come and then she will be totally done with doctoring for awhile. She said yesterday that she is fed up with doctor appointments.

She is doing better each day but still fighting fatigue. Right now Cindy has a motor that runs for about 3 hours at a time. Then she has to lie down. The doctors all say to her that healing is hard work.

Today, MIchael is driving Aaron down to the Quad Cities, for a rock concert. Aaron is staying at a hotel right next door to the theater, so pretty convenient for him. Then tomorrow morning, I will drive down and bring Aaron back to Guttenberg.

Tomorrow night Cindy and I are taking Aaron to the Black Angus in Prairie du Chien. It's one of Cindy's favorite places in this area. We will be celebrating Aaron's birthday and our 40th wedding anniversary.

Our anniversary is actually June 1st but we like to spread celebrations out over several days.

Yesterday a reporter for the Guttenberg Press came out and took pictures of our golf car "fleet". Molly Moser is doing a story on the proposal to allow golf cars on the city streets.

Cindy told Molly about all the golf cars on our island, and how almost every house has one out here. When she heard that we have three golf cars, she had to come see.

Molly had Cindy and me drive down the street while she took a few pictures. Then I had Molly drive while I took a picture of her. Molly had never been on a golf car before. She loved it. So we'll have to check out the Guttenberg Press next week to see if we are in the story.

The rest of the holiday weekend is supposed to be beautiful weather-wise. Get out and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 6:31 AM CDT

The weather here in Iowa has turned cold. I suppose it couldn't let Cindy and me get away entirely from missing the worst winter in our lives. I thought we were out of the woods for this year but I guess not completely.

Cindy is almost done with all her doctoring for this period. So far, so good. The big test, on Tuesday, the MRI of her head...was unchanged. They have been watching one area of her brain and it looks the same as last year's scan.

She has another test next week and two more doctor appointments. One of the appointments will be in Cedar Rapids so that will be easy. The Iowa City appointments just take most of any day. Cindy is always exhausted when we get home.

Cindy was not sleeping well prior to her MRI on Tuesday. She knows that the anticipation for this test affects her pain levels but there is nothing she can do to stop it. It is very predictable…MRI coming in a few days, BAM, no sleep and lots of pain. Now that it's over, she slept comfortably last night.

After the scan, we talked with the Radiology specialist, Dr. Buatti, about going forward. Given that Cindy has had so many cancers and her family (mom & sister) also have had several cancers, we will stick with the same routine.

On Monday, Cindy and I were with her sister Karla all morning in Iowa City. We met her at the cancer clinic. The care center transfers Karla back and forth to the University hospital, which is great because I have my hands full with Cindy and her wheelchair. It would be impossible to take care of both girls in wheelchairs at the same time.

While we were waiting, Karla told us that she had felt her wheelchair moving in the van, on the way to the hospital. Since we obviously had the time, I took a look at her chair and saw right away that one of the wheel brakes would not stay locked.

I went up to the desk and asked if they could have maintenance come up with a wrench so I could fix her chair. The receptionists acted like they called someone and we waited for the maintenance man that would never appear.

After a half hour of that, I went downstairs and found a bunch of construction workers sitting outside on coffee break. I asked them if they could help me out with a tool for the wheelchair.

Several of them offered me their tools. (That sounded bad, now that I re-read it). They offered me an assortment of wrenches, pliers and vise grips from their tool belts….that's better.

That was very nice of them. Anyway, I went back up and carefully transferred Karla from her wheelchair, to a regular chair with a pillow. Then in the middle of the waiting room, I flipped the wheelchair over and repaired the brake. No one paid me any mind.

Karla had a blood infusion and an appointment with her oncologist that morning. Cindy and I have wanted to meet Dr. Heather Thomas. We really liked her. Very compassionate doctor. The whole visit, Dr. Thomas sat on the exam table beside Karla, with her arm around her stroking her back.

We talked with Dr. Thomas and it now appears that Karla is most likely suffering from three primary cancers at the same time, breast and colon cancer and leukemia (cancer of the blood). Kind of incredible. Dr. Thomas said the colon cancer, (as a result of Gardner's Syndrome), is probably the cancer that is "winning".

For now though, Karla is not feeling much pain at all. However she vomited in the waiting area just as we got to the hospital. That has been a problem but Dr. Thomas said they would be very diligent about getting that controlled.

They have several options for getting the queasiness under control and the doctor will keep in close contact with hospice. Hospice is very good about keeping her comfortable. That is actually the purpose of hospice.

Next week we will take our son Aaron to Iowa City for his routine checkup with Neurology. That should be a quick visit, he is doing very well. We actually ran into Aaron's doctor (Dr. Carolyn Johnson) as we strolled down the hall on Tuesday. We stopped and chatted with her for a bit.

Dr. Johnson told us that for a moment she wasn't sure it was Cindy, because of her new hair color. I joked with Cindy afterwards, "so the one-legged thing wasn't a giveaway?".

Just kidding of course, there are many patients with one leg and far worse. We even saw a prisoner from the penitentiary being escorted down the hall, and he had obviously lost a very bad knife fight in the face. Yikes!

It will be good to put May behind us. The end to doctor appointments/tests and to the cold weather.

The Mississippi River has been above flood stage since we've been home from Florida. It now looks like it is coming back up even higher over the weekend, due to so much rain up north. I'm not sure when we will be able to get our boat in the water. No place to put it, the marina road is under water.

We are heading up to Guttenberg today. It will be a chilly weekend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 5:53 AM CDT

Busy week. Already this week, Cindy has seen her Oncologist, her Orthopedist, her internist and tomorrow, her dentist. Next week, more medical tests, another doctor or two and then I think she is done for awhile with medical stuff.

Everything looks good with her surgical site. The plate and screws are still in place. Dr. Buckwalter thought it looked good but warned us that the bone is very soft and things could work loose at some point.

He showed us on the X-ray, a part of the femur that is still not in position and just kind of pokes out. That will be left alone. Dr. B told us that Cindy experienced a very bad fracture when she fell. The bone was extremely dislocated and splintered….same thing the doctors in Florida said.

I saw my doctor too. A blood test and a couple more medications were added to my pile of pills. Now almost as many pills as Cindy takes, and I'm supposed to be the healthy one of the bunch.

Cindy is still having issues with her energy level. She wears down quickly when we are out and about. At the same time, some nights she can't sleep very well.
For example, last night she was up almost all night and finally fell asleep around 4 AM.

Part of the issue is her pain level. Along with the pain she normally lives with, she is having different pain in her leg and back. We are hoping this is temporary and as the bone and tissue heals, it will get better.

We are going to Guttenberg tomorrow. Cindy thinks she can manage the drive up there and she is anxious to go. I am anxious to get there as well to see how everything fared over the winter. The coldest winter we've ever experienced in Iowa.

Well, I shouldn't say "we". We didn't experience cold at all in Florida. But we did know people in Iowa who were cold.

As for us being in Florida, I don't know how many people have said to us, "I thought you went to Florida so Cindy would be safe from falling in the winter?"
Yeah, that's funny. At least we didn't suffer from frostbite.

Our son Aaron went out yesterday and found a nice bunch of mushrooms. That is a good sign of approaching summer. I hope to find some of my own this weekend or next.

It will be good to see all our friends in Guttenberg. It's been a long winter.

Friday, May 2, 2014 11:38 AM CDT

We are home in Iowa.

Our flight was grueling but we made it. It probably wouldn't have been that bad for Cindy, except we were kept waiting, on the plane, for 90 minutes while the crew waited for drinking water. I don't know who's in charge of these airport ground crews but some heads should roll. I have noticed this same problem at the Cedar Rapids airport.

Once we finally took off, we immediately hit bad turbulence, as we flew over a big storm. At one point the plane dropped quite a ways. I don't know how many feet we dropped but it was almost 10 seconds before we felt the plane "hit bottom".

Everyone was shocked. I looked around to see if all the babies were being firmly gripped by their parents. There were a LOT of babies aboard. It was easy to tell how many because of all the crying.

By the time we were in the air for almost an hour, I told Cindy that we still had another hour and twenty minutes. She told me, "don't tell me that, it already felt like forever". She was very uncomfortable.

One funny story during our trip home...well, not funny to me but Cindy thinks it is funny. Cindy was sitting at the airport and getting very uncomfortable. She got up and went for a walk to stretch out and relieve her pain. I kept an eye on her as she walked around but then she started walking all over the large terminal area.

I kept myself under control for as long as I could but then couldn't stand it. I hurriedly loaded our stuff on her wheelchair and took off after her. When I caught up to her I said excitedly, "we are MINUTES from getting on that plane for home and I don't want to take the chance that you fall again and we end up here for another month!!"

She did the eye roll thing but sat in the (safe) wheelchair and there she remained until we were on the plane. As our friend Amanda says, "Cindy just got regulated".

Now that we are home, Cindy is exhausted. I think she stored up and used all her energy just getting here. Cindy was up until 2AM due to pain in her leg. But then she slept well from 5:00-9:00 this morning.

We will take it slow for now. Cindy said she's not ready for the long road trip to Guttenberg. Next week we have lots of doctor appointments anyway so we will stick close to home for this first week.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:22 AM CDT

We are leaving Thursday for Iowa. Cindy is stronger everyday. It's amazing how quickly she recovers from these hiccups.

Our truck left this morning with Pete and Julia at the wheel. We had a great week with them, visited several of our favorite spots. Cindy was a trouper. At first she could barely get our of a chair without groans and a lot of effort. By the end of the week Cindy was masking all signs of pain. Other than a need for daily naps, she was back in the saddle.

Wednesday morning we went to breakfast with Lori. Kind of bittersweet to say goodbye to our Florida friends but anxious to see family and friends in Iowa.

Lots of doctor appointments in our near-future for Cindy and then hopefully, a wonderful summer on the river. Last year we were only out on the boat three times. We hope that this summer is much better for us.

Again, thank you to everyone for all the support over that past month. It's been pretty stressful for both of us getting through this but having you all behind us really helped.

The next time you see us, we will appear unchanged. That's how we roll. Let's pretend this last mishap for Cindy never happened.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 6:28 AM CDT

We are winding down the last few days here. The weather is very nice. On Monday, Cindy and I had another outing. We met our friend Lori at a state park that we like to frequent. We had a little picnic lunch and a nice visit. That was about it for that day, Cindy slept the rest of the afternoon.

Cindy is getting around the house much better but she still tires easily. The few times we have gone out, Cindy rides in the wheelchair. She is both a little unsure of herself and a little weak, to walk any distance on crutches in unfamiliar terrain. I am also much more comfortable having her in the chair. We just want to get home without anymore mishaps.

This latest fall and injury scared the bejeebers out of both of us. We find ourselves reliving the moment and after discussing it a bit, swearing to each other that we won't talk about it again….until the next time we talk about it. A cycle that time will fix.

Yesterday morning I took Cindy to her art class so she could say thanks for the flowers and cards and tell everyone goodbye till next year. Our friend Sandy was there and she left with us so we could go to her house, just down the street. Sandy has a beautifully decorated home, with all her art work on display.

The home health nurse came by yesterday afternoon and removed all the staples from Cindy's leg. One more step to recovery. The nurse said this is her last visit. She sees no reason to come back. Good sign.

Today I am going to stop by Mary Sheldon's home one last time this year. At 92 years old, Mary has to rely on a driving service. They are not always prompt on pickups and without a cellphone, Mary is at their mercy. We bought Mary a Tracfone as a gift and I am teaching her how to use it. She was so surprised when she opened it and wanted to learn how to use it immediately.

I had previously suggested to her that a cellphone would make her life much easier but she didn't know if she would be able to learn how to use it. I bought her the easiest flip phone I could find. Then I wrote out instructions, 5 or 6 easy steps, so she wouldn't have to wade through the instruction book all the time.

Last week we practiced a bit with it and she was so excited. This week I am going to reinforce the steps and have her practice some more, with me there.

Tomorrow I take Cindy for one last haircut before we head home. And then late tomorrow night our house guests arrive. If all goes well for Cindy, we will be back in Iowa in a week.

Sunday, April 20, 2014 7:38 AM CDT

This week is supposed to be beautiful, sunny and mid-80s everyday, mid-60s at night.

Cindy is getting better each day. I think being home has been a big plus for her, as I would expect is true for most everyone. She is weaning herself off of the extra pain medication. Mostly only taking it at night when she is worn down and tired of fighting it off.

Both of us are sleeping better than we have in months, for some reason. Relief? Who knows but I will take it. We both feel that we dodged a bullet here. How much worse this fall could have been is something that comes up often.

Last Friday I took Cindy for her first outing. She was in her wheelchair, which was comforting for both of us. We went to Columbia and it went very well. Saw lots of people we know, had a great night and Cindy held up till about 8:30. Then she started to wind down like a clock. So off we went for home. But at least we were out on a Friday night. Back in the saddle again!

We are getting things together for our trip home. Trying to weed out what goes home and what stays here. Cindy and I want to get to a point where all we take back and forth each year is a suit case each, full of clothes.

And another bag full of our electronic toys, i.e., two computers, two kindles, two iPads and two iPhones, plus a tangled mess of charging cords. That's enough to keep us occupied.

Items we have decided to leave here are, a wheelchair (we have two here), two sets of crutches (we have four pair here) and her power scooter. That is a lot to shuttle back and forth and we already have two wheelchairs and four sets of crutches back home. Cindy needs a lot of stuff to maintain that lifestyle to which she's grown accustomed.

Cindy is packing up a couple bins of her art & craft supplies, so she doesn't haul that back and forth. Also leaving her sewing machine here (she has another machine back home).

The clothes…oh the clothes that we are hauling back and forth each year! And shoes. What the hell. The only good thing about the piles of shoes is that Cindy only brings one each, almost entirely flip flops.

We need to do something about all this stuff. Cindy is going to leave several outfits here. I tend to wear the same five outfits over and over so I don't know why I have so many clothes here. Also, I have only worn two pairs of shoes this winter, I have six pair here.

Our very good friends Pete & Julia Bartachek are flying down from Iowa this week to help us get home. We are looking forward to them coming and we will have several days together showing them around our winter paradise. They will drive our truck back to Iowa and we plan to fly home.

So other than packing, the next two weeks will be devoted to getting Cindy pain-free enough to endure the flight. It's a direct flight, only a couple hours (plus airport sitting time) so it should go fine.

After the "unpleasantness" of the last few weeks, we are really looking forward to getting home. We miss everyone. At the same time, bittersweet about the great friends we are leaving behind here in Florida but we will be back at the end of October.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 5:30 PM CDT

We have now been home two full days and nights. Cindy is doing pretty well. Sleeping through the night and feeling pretty chipper. She is slow moving around but we want her to be careful, so that is okay.

The home health care people have been here everyday. The Physical therapist who came thought Cindy was doing so well that they didn't need to return. The other person is a nurse, who is checking Cindy's vitals and performing wound care.

Thursday a nurse was supposed to arrive between 10-11 AM. She never showed. So Cindy finally called her and the nurse hemmed and hawed and told Cindy she was there but the guard told her she was parked in the wrong spot and some other excuses.

Cindy said, why didn't you at least call me? The nurse made more excuses about cell reception and then said someone else would be coming at 2PM.

When the new nurse came, she told us that the first nurse is frightened of elevators and so she couldn't come up. That was a new one.

Anyway, the new nurse told Cindy that she will be back in a few days, things look good and she didn't think she needed to come everyday. The nurse will pull the staples out next Tuesday. Cindy has an appointment to see the surgeon on the following Friday, the 25th of April.

Yesterday I brought Mary Sheldon over to see Cindy. Mary is our 92 year old friend. One of the first female stock brokers in Florida. I mentioned her in several earlier updates over the past 3 years.

When I pulled up in front of Mary's condo building, she was sitting inside. I went in and she was near tears. Mary had been sitting outside with this big, beautiful lily, with several blooms.

The wind had blown it off the bench and broken off the main, central stem and damaged all the other stems. Mary was heartbroken. She so wanted to give something special to Cindy.

When we got to our place I didn't have a chance to say anything and Mary started explaining about the plant as I presented it to Cindy. Cindy immediately said, "Mary I have never known this lily any other way, and I think it's beautiful. Thank you for bringing it to me".

I could have kissed Cindy right there and then. It made Mary smile and all was okay after that. What a girl I have.

I think Cindy is feeling well enough that we will probably go out for a bit tomorrow night. It's Friday night! Of course, we will be wheelchairing it. No sense getting cocky.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 5:26 AM CDT

We are home!

Yesterday we waited all morning for the doctor to release us. Dr Weot was in a meeting most of the morning, (only 30 feet from our room) and she would not be disturbed, even though our nurses tried to interrupt her several times.

The nurses the night before had told us that patients like Dr.Weot but the nurses are terrified of her. I guess she's a no-nonsense kind of task master who doesn't tolerate wasted time.

All we were waiting for was the new prescription for pain medication. But the hospital/rehab could not release Cindy without all the paperwork signed and in order.

Finally just after Noon, we got the release. Off we rolled but in the confusion, the nurse forgot to have us actually sign the paperwork. Man, I bet her head will roll for letting us roll.

The truck was just a short distance from the door but as soon as we got out from under the canopy, the skies opened up and it POURED rain. I quickly did a U-turn and wheeled Cindy back under the canopy. Then I ran and got the truck. I was soaked. Drove back and picked up Cindy and loaded our wheelchair and we were off.

It has not rained like that since we have lived here. Cindy always tells me that I say that every time it rains here. But this was definitely the worst. The streets were flooding and I could only see a car length in front of me.

After dropping our prescriptions at Walgreens, by the time we got home the rain had stopped. So getting indoors was not a problem. It felt so good to be home. Cindy had a bite to eat and then laid down for a short rest. She slept all afternoon.

John & Peggy Staska stopped by at 5:00 and we had a nice visit for about 90 minutes. They fly back to Iowa this morning. The rest of the evening, we relaxed and watched some TV, something we haven't done in over a week. Then we went to bed in our own bed and slept like normal people.

This morning our friend Mary Sheldon is coming over for a short visit. Actually I am going to go get her and then take her home again. Mary is the 92 year old woman we met on our first night in Florida, back in 2011. She has become a good friend and we see her or talk on the phone frequently.

Mary doesn't drive. She normally has a paid service drive her around but I told her I would come get her tomorrow. Mary has been very concerned about Cindy and badly wants to see her.

I kind of discouraged her visiting when Cindy was in the hospital because there was so much going on I didn't want Mary to make the difficult and costly trip and not get to see her. We still talked by phone almost everyday. I felt kind of bad about that but I thought it was the correct decision at the time.

We will have home health care for the next few weeks, checking on Cindy and even removing the staples from her surgical site. (There are 17 staples, for those who wonder). It will be nice that Cindy doesn't have to go appointments, they will come to her.

I got Cindy's little scooter all charged up so she has that as an option if she needs it, getting around the house. Most of the time though, Cindy wants to be up and moving under her own power. That is the fastest path to recovery.

We both want to thank everyone again for all the positive thoughts, emails, cards, flowers, visits, calls, telepathic concern and anything else that was done for us. It was overwhelming. And it certainly helped Cindy (and me) get through this. It meant so much. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 9:07 AM CDT

Hurry up and wait. As anyone who as ever been in the hospital knows, getting OUT takes forever. Cindy was cleared to go home, we are just waiting for paperwork from the doctor…as we have been for 2 hours.

She does have an infection but they are going to treat it orally. It's a very mild infection. The liver problem is starting to resolve itself and the only other issue she has is pain. The pain should continue to lessen with each day.

I already took a couple trips home with our stuff. Someone told us once that we travel like the Russian Royal Family. Lots of stuff required to keep my girl living the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. Maybe I should start calling her Anastasia.

It will be such a relief to be home and to sleep in our own bed. I'm betting we will sleep soon after we get home. We do plan to have John & Peggy Staska over sometime today to see our condo. They leave tomorrow for Iowa, so this is their only opportunity this year.

For now, we are twiddling our thumbs and tapping our toes, trying to remain a patient patient.

Monday, April 14, 2014 10:44 AM CDT

I came up with a solution for people having difficulty finding Cindy's webpage. I created a NEW Caringbridge site, which will have a link to this page. The only thing on that site will be the link to her classic site.

Also, If you ever lose your bookmark to her page, just go to Caringbridge and enter cindylynch in the VISIT box. Simple! Try it out and see what you think. I welcome comments.

Sunday was a lazy day. Just like they are in the real world, outside of this Rehab center. We started out pretty refreshed. We were exhausted Saturday night so we both went to sleep at 8:30. Woke up around 6 AM. Total exhaustion is great for getting a good night's sleep.

Some friends from Guttenberg/Iowa City were in town, John & Peggy Staska. They stopped by in the morning and I took Cindy down to the lobby visiting area. We had a nice visit.

Then in the afternoon our friends Lori and Leah came by with lots of goodies. We went downstairs again to the same quiet area. Nobody came around at all to bother us.

We had Paella, salad and Cuban bread from Columbia restaurant; carrot cake from a great store in Dunedin and some birthday gifts for me. I also had some Sangria (Cindy had Sprite) from Columbia. Yummy stuff. (Although, Cindy only ate a few bites of anything.) Had a great time, with lots of laughs. Thanks girls. It was a nice birthday.

After the party, Cindy was exhausted and slept for 3 hours. Then the nurse came in and told us that the doctor ordered her back on IV so they could administer antibiotics. The morning tests came back showing an infection. Not good news.

The tech tried for a half hour to get an IV in her arm. No good. She is a very hard stick. So then they discussed putting in a PICC line. That has to be done by a specialist in a sterile room.

The nice thing about a PICC is it's in the chest and they can draw blood (a daily occurrence) as well as give drugs. The bad thing is that if she has an infection, we are stuck here for 10 days probably.

Finally, the doctor called back and said since she's not symptomatic right now we are going to wait till morning to see how she's doing.

Cindy had an ultrasound of her liver, first thing this morning (Monday) and then extensive blood work…which were ordered "STAT". That concerned us a bit. We are waiting for the results and the doctor should be in soon also.

The PT (physical therapy) guy came up at 10 and took Cindy for her morning work out. She pulled that off in typical Cindy fashion…kicked ass! The therapy room was crowded with patients and therapists and they were all looking at Cindy in amazement. Throwing in a few "Wow" , "way to go", 'You're doing fantastic".

I kind of felt sorry for the other patients receiving their therapy. "What am I chop liver". They kind of looked a little dejected. They probably hate Cindy now.

Then her PT guy said, let's go try your truck. So out in the parking lot we went and Cindy breezed up and in the truck like it was easy as pie. I was still in the driver's seat and she whispered to me, "take off". I thought about it, but remembered the infection issue. Not ready to joke around yet.

The PT guy will come back this afternoon as well as the OT person.
PT is Physical Therapy
OT is Occupational Therapy (doing things around the house, dressing, bathing, etc.)

If the infection is not an issue, we are going to strongly push to get out of here tomorrow. More later.

Sunday, April 13, 2014 6:35 AM CDT

Well, Happy 60th Birthday to my wonderful husband TOM!

We have been talking about it for awhile now, you know the 60 milestone. Now just look where we are when it finally arrives!

This was something we didn't anticipate (gladly). But, as we usually say, it is what it is. I'm sure we'll have opportunity to celebrate again and again over the next year…..after all, you're 60 until you're 61, right???

Tom has done a WONDERFUL job of taking care of me, taking care of all the 'arrangements' around me, worrying, travel planning, etc.

It takes a lot of work to make this all run smoothly! And, believe me, I know it. He has been his usual caring, loving and concerned self.

We are so thankful for the friends and family we have near and far who have helped in all kinds of big and small ways.

This certainly was not the way we intended to spend our last few weeks in paradise, but the sun is shining and it is April 13!!!!

I'd love it if you would take a minute to sign the Guestbook, send Tom an email or a text to say Happy Birthday. His phone # is (319) 560-1189, email is cabin393@gmail.com

Prior to my fall we had planned to spend his birthday afternoon with close friends, exploring the little pubs and places of interest in the small town of Dunedin.

Some of our friends live in this community, that seems very small townish to us, which we love. It is north of us about 15 minutes, so not a bad ride.

A month ago, I had arranged with our friends to pick us up and take us to Dunedin today and we would then taxi home. Brunch at Kelly's and some other things planned for the afternoon.

The girls have been in touch and we will now carry out the plan on a smaller scale, here in the rehab center. They will be bringing all the makings for a 60th celebration!

I'll let Tom share the details tomorrow as there are some surprises (I think) in store.

The nurse told us this morning that the doctor would probably give us a pass to go out tonight but I don't think I'm strong enough for that yet. Little too early.

Finally, we both had a great night sleep. We went to sleep at 8:30 last night and slept right through to 6:00 this morning. They don't bug us in the night at the rehab center like they do at a hospital.

Have a great day and get out and enjoy! We hear it was in the 80s in Iowa yesterday. Come on Spring!!

BTW, thanks for all of the wonderful well wishes from everyone! Love to you all. I'm feeling better and stronger everyday.


Friday, April 11, 2014 9:40 PM CDT

Start reading updates at bottom of page first, then scroll up for newer updates

UPDATE: Saturday 3PM

First morning in the Rehab facility and already having complications.

Cindy's ankle problem has flared up again. This has happened from time to time where her ankle suddenly gets extremely painful and she can't put weight on it at all, or only slightly.

Another issue is that she has a low-grade fever. They are checking her for a bladder infection. Possibly caused by the catheter she had in for several days. Couldn't be helped, Cindy could not move because of the pain from her broken/repaired hip.

And, her liver enzymes are elevated so they want to do an ultrasound of her liver today. They also stopped/changed one pain medication.

That was a story too. The resident doctor came in and was talking about the liver enzymes and stopping her pain medication because it could be the cause.

I asked about Cindy's pain control because right now she can barely make the 4 hour wait in between doses of that particular medication.

Then the resident started talking about trying something different for pain but also changing several other of her medications because "maybe she doesn't need them".

Alarm bells started going off in both our heads and we looked at each other like, WTF??

Finally Cindy said, "this is not why we are here and I don't want to start changing a bunch of my medications without talking to my doctor back home.

When the resident pushed back, Cindy said, "He has been tending to me for over 20 years and is very careful about what drugs I take and how they play together."

The resident started getting her back up even more about us questioning her opinions. I started getting angry and I'm sure it showed. I pointed out several of Cindy's issues she wasn't aware of, like her seizures, phantom pains, etc. A lengthy list.

Finally, I just said that we are not changing any of her medications until we talk to her Internist back home and that is it. She left in somewhat of a huff.

I went out and called Dr. Pope and we discussed the issue. He agreed with us that you only change one thing at a time when troubleshooting a problem.

Dr Pope gave me the name of a pain med that wouldn't affect the liver and would play well with all of Cindy's other drugs.

So I went back to the resident, and told her the plan and smoothed over her hurt feelings. She was fine with us after that.

Part of the problem I think was she didn't know that we aren't new to this stuff and we have knowledgeable opinions of our own.

Probably far more than most patients she's come across in her short career as an expert.

So for now, Cindy is on her back with her ankle propped and iced.

Cindy was bummed because she wanted to get going on the therapy today. They will still work with her but won't be able to do a lot till Monday.

The therapist did come in later to see her. He did a full evaluation and we then discussed what we want to accomplish.

The main things are, being able to get in and out of bed, chair, shower/tub, and most important my truck.

We can't go home from the rehab unit unless I can transport her around town. We still have a couple weeks to go before going back to Iowa.

We have a post-op appointment with the surgeon in 10 days or so. Once we're cleared, then we will head to Iowa.

The therapist spent a couple hours with her. He had Cindy walk a little and then get in a wheelchair and we went down to the therapy room. They have a car simulator and Cindy was able to transition just fine.

I told him my truck is very different, much higher and there are steps. So Monday we are going to do it on the real thing. Out in the parking lot with my truck. He liked that idea actually. She'll do some steps first in the therapy room.

The on-call doctor came even later and took a look at her ankle. He thinks she has an ongoing issue with the tendons, that just get re-injured periodically. Never completely heals.

This time it was probably due to her favoring her little leg and not walking correctly on the other leg and foot. He prescribed a topical ointment that we had never heard of. It's currently soaking in.

Over all, all the different staff we worked with are great and they thought Cindy could get out of here pretty quick. I think by Tuesday we will have accomplished what we need.

The therapist even told her, if not for your sore ankle, there is not a lot I could really show you….you're pretty good. Big Smile, finally.

UPDATE: Saturday Midnight (not really but it's close enough)

What a day! Friday, of all days, was NOT good. It was like spending the entire day on a bus that never seems to make it to your destination. Kind of like one of those dreams where you never reach what you are after.

Most unsatisfying. And for us, two people who are spiritually enriched by the very fact that "it's Friday!". What a bummer.

As I wrote in yesterdays post, it started out on a high note, thinking that we were transferring to rehab and all would be well. Lots of promise and new things for Cindy to experience and learn.

We waited and waited at the hospital. Nothing was happening. Cindy gradually got behind on her pain meds, and the level of discomfort started rising. Then, since our transfer was "imminent", we turned down all food. So as the day wore on, Cindy started deflating. I could see it happening.

The transfer didn't occur until almost 5 PM. The guy who transferred Cindy, to put it mildly was an asshole. That is as mild as I can get. Cindy was treated shabbily and with disregard. I was in my vehicle, unaware of what was going on.

By the time we got to the Rehab center, Cindy was in an agitated state due to the rising pain levels and the lowered expectations of the rehab facility and the way she was treated by her transfer asshole. The seamless part from hospital to their own rehab wasn't so seamless.

The nursing staff had to input everything in to their system and it took from 5 PM until after 9 PM. By that time, Cindy could barely sit up. Exhausted, in pain, demoralized and pissed off. I finally tucked her in to bed and she was asleep within minutes.

We talked a bit after the nurse left (after completing her boot camp check in) and Cindy said it wasn't what she was expecting. Still trying to put on a brave face for me. It was heartbreaking

I just wanted to hug her and tell her it's okay. But, I kept up the cheerful support role, like this is all normal and it's Friday and aren't we all having so much fun!

I will tell you this. After Saturday and maybe Sunday, with Cindy in full-on physical rehab with a physical therapist….if I don't see any real need to continue, we are OUT OF HERE.

I can take care of my girl just fine. Things better improve here.

Friday, April 11, 2014 4:04 AM CDT

Start reading updates at bottom of page first, then scroll up for newer updates


I didn't have this much stuff going on when I worked a full time job. I won't bore you with all the details of the issues I'm juggling but it's got my head spinning. Doctors, lawyers, insurance people, facilities, physical therapists, long distance travel issues, on and on. With my main focus being Cindy.

And I don't even have one of those nice, claw foot tubs that I can soak in with my Calgon. Bathtubs these days are about 4 inches deep.

Never mind, I'm wandering again.

The rehab decision made last night between Cindy and me has changed and changed back. We were all set for Indian Rocks Rehab. Then a couple hours ago the Director for the other rehab center, HealthSouth, called me and guaranteed me we would have a private room.

When I toured HealthSouth yesterday it was with the head of finance. She doesn't have authority to say what room I would have. When the director, Deb, found out we weren't staying there because of the single room issue, she got fired up.

Deb called and told me that she wouldn't leave her husband alone either and she totally understood. Whatever we want, she would see to it.

Since HealthSouth had everything on one floor and was fairly new, I was swung back in that direction. Ok, we are going to HealthSouth. That was 9 AM.

Then the doctor and Cindy's case manager at the hospital came in an hour after that phone call and talked about the benefits of staying within the hospital umbrella.

Going outside would mean more paperwork, insurance gets involved, blah, blah, blah. The move to Indian Rocks would be like changing rooms.


Now we are back where we were last night, going with Indian Rocks. We are awaiting transfer now. Probably be this afternoon.

In the meantime, we got Cindy showered. She feels like a new woman. That was an issue too. Yesterday, at 5AM, both surgeons told us that Cindy could shower.

A couple hours later, the nurses were horrified at the prospect of showering a surgical site within 48 hours of surgery, so it didn't happen.

This morning, the surgeons again showed up at 5AM and during the exam asked if she showered. We told them what the nurses said, and Dr Wood said, "dammit I said it was okay". Dr Hutchison agreed and said, I will WRITE the order and give it to the department head of nursing.

A couple hours later the department head of nursing and our nurse come in and say, "they have never heard of such a thing for Orthopedic surgery cases". We argued a bit and then told them that they need to speak directly to our doctors.

So off they went to make the call. Ten minutes later Cindy and I were in the shower. At least that part was fun. Amazing how giddy two people can get just taking a shower.

The next update should be from a new home. We'll see how the afternoon goes.
The bummer is that this is Friday night.

Cindy and I ALWAYS go out on Friday night. For most of the 40 years of our marriage that has been our date night out. We always tell people, we have to be deathly ill or in the hospital to not go out on Friday. Well………

UPDATE: Friday 5 AM

Thursday was a great day. Cindy was up out of bed several times. As I stated yesterday, she even walked down the hallway, receiving thumbs up and big smiles from many.

Upon reflection, maybe all the smiles and thumbs up had to do with the back of her hospital gown being wide open. Who knows?

We talked to Cindy's doctor in the afternoon about rehab. He convinced us that Cindy would greatly benefit from rehab. I asked about the options and he gave me the list of the two best places.

I drove over to both facilities last night and took the complete guided tour for each place. I really liked the first place until I got to the bedrooms. All shared rooms. No way for me to stay with her. That was a deal breaker.

Too many things can go wrong in the night, when Cindy would be left alone. So we chose the second facility. The staff member there told me it was great that I would be with her. She even stated the obvious, "Our staff can't be everywhere at all times".

The facilities are comparable in every way. It's not a compromise to choose the one we did. The doctor even said it didn't matter which one we go with, they are both excellent.

The facility we are going to is also a part of the hospital organization she is at now, so that is a plus as far as communicating with her doctors.

The name is, Indian Rocks Rehabilitation-Largo Medical Center. It's located about a mile from the hospital, on Indian Rocks Road.

Cindy will be in one-on-one therapy for at least 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. The therapist and the doctor said it will be intense. Cindy is a little nervous but also looking forward to the challenge and the chance to maybe learn new things.

In dealing with her handicap, Cindy has pretty much gotten to where she is today all on her own. It will be interesting to see what the professionally-trained method is for her type of disability.

Not sure when this transition will take place. But when Cindy is moved, the hospital will transfer Cindy by ambulance.

Once we are out of the hospital, my focus will shift to getting Cindy physically capable enough to make the trip back to Iowa. Not sure yet how that trip will be accomplished but it definitely will be by air for Cindy.

Lots of issues on my plate, my head is spinning.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 3:57 AM CDT

UPDATE: Thursday 2:30 PM

Had a funny incident this morning. We had all kinds of staff in and out of the room and the nurse was giving Cindy her morning meds.

This young staff member comes charging into the room and throws the pillow off the chair that Cindy is going to sit in today.

The following conversation then quickly followed. I will refer to this young man as "Mistaken".

Me: What are you doing?
Mistaken: I'm taking this chair, someone else needs it.
Me: Well, that is the chair my wife sits in.
Mistaken: She can sit in that chair. (pointing to the recliner chair I'm sitting in and which I sleep on).
Me: (As I quickly rose to my feet and approached him) This chair won't work for her, it's too big and….uh, never mind….you are NOT taking that chair. I don't even work for this hospital but I am certain that I can go find one for you and be back with it in less than 5 minutes….but no matter what, you are not taking this chair.
Mistaken: Never mind, I'll find another one (as he turns and quickly walks out)

Cindy started laughing. Boy, that guy certainly walked into the wrong room.
I said, "Yes, he was Mistaken."

The nurse had kept her head down the whole time, typing into her chart and she muttered quietly, "You really have to hold on to your territory in this hospital".

Later, after Cindy had breakfast, she got up and into said chair. I asked if she wanted to try the crutches. Sure!

So with a little effort, Cindy stood up and then got aboard her crutches. And off she went. Back and forth several times inside our room and then she swung open the door and out into the hallway she went.

The nursing and rehab folks were having a stand-up meeting halfway down the long hall. Several of them, who have worked with Cindy, smiled and gave thumbs up signs. The physical therapy person, Ron, was smiling ear to ear.

Cindy walked back and forth one lap and by this time had really worked up a sweat. I was of course, right next and slightly behind her. I said quietly, "now don't get cocky".

As we approached our room, I looked in and someone was MOPPING our floor…with water!!!! So one more lap until that dried up.

Cindy is now back in HER chair. Great effort today and it's not even noon. We'll have another go at it this afternoon. But first, Cindy needs a nap.

I talked to the staff member in charge of long term care and she told me they had their own rehab facility just down the street.

It used to be another hospital but now is affiliated with Largo Medical Center. Our doctors could follow Cindy's care there.

We think we want to go home, (as in, across the bridge to our condo) instead of a rehab facility. I can take care of her needs and Cindy would be more comfortable there.

We talked to PT anyway just a bit ago, to see what they had in mind. They feel a rehab facility might be good at least for a few days.

It's now on the horizon for us to get out of the hospital. A rehab center near the hospital might be the next stop. What a difference 24 hours makes.

UPDATE: Thursday 5 AM

A new day! I expect big things today.

They got me a recliner yesterday. The nurses must have felt sorry for me half-lying on Cindy's bed. Plus, they now are aware, I'm not leaving her.

The recliner folds down completely flat. So last night around 9:00, I put it to the test. Having had only 3 or 4 hours of sleep in three days, I immediately passed out and slept without moving until 3 AM.

Cindy told me when I woke up that nurses and technicians had been in and out all night tending to her and I never moved. I woke up at 3:00 AM totally refreshed. I feel magnificent and ready for the day.

Since the last update at 2:00 yesterday afternoon, Cindy has been out of bed and in a chair once more. She had a few bites to eat at supper, did her breathing exercises, (with that funny ball and hose thingy you get after surgery) and had her IV and heart monitor removed.

She is relieved to be free of most attachments. They left the IV port in her arm, for administering pain meds but she's not hooked to the drip machine.

She does still have the Foley catheter but she will need that for a bit yet. Actually Cindy loves the catheter because getting up to pee would be a major ordeal.

I'm guessing that if she is able to accomplish getting up on crutches today, that they will remove the catheter. It's a risk for infection and they said if that occurred, the infection would go right to the metal they just installed in her hip. Yikes!!

So that is our main goal today. Get her up and walking.

Another change today is to start reducing her dependence on pain meds. It's now past the 36 hour window and the nerve endings should start calming down from having been rudely interrupted.

The pain meds make her very sleepy. We need her to be alert and focused on mobility. The trade off is that she will be in pain most of the time.

It's a delicate balance how much pain is acceptable. I will be watching that closely, because having Cindy suffer is not acceptable. If we have to go slower towards our goal, so be it.

Right now they are not pushing her too much. Lots of time in hospitals, they chase you out the door. But the doctors here are so in awe of Cindy's situation and her strength and attitude, they seem to be willing to let it be her call for now.

I continue to learn from Cindy about focusing on the moment. That is serving me well right now as I fight back thoughts about …"will she get through this current mess okay"…"will she fall again"..."what if something happens to me and I can't take care of her".

But I am working hard to not let these kinds of thoughts overwhelm me. I can't thank all of you enough for the support you have given us. That does help immensely.

Yesterday our good friends Lori and Leah brought up a care package of goodies. Lori and her daughter Sophie delivered it around supper time. It was very nice of them. Hidden in the bottom was a little something just for me. Let's just say it was a nice addition to my dinner hour, that had a calming effect on the situation.

All the flowers sent to us have brightened up the room and the staff love seeing them. Everyone comments about them.

As the day gets started here, there will be lots of activity. I will update later today on the progress.

Oh, I have had people ask, we are at Largo Medical Center on West Bay Drive, Largo, FL Room 461.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 7:51 AM CDT

Oldest update at bottom of page, scroll up to follow in order


Today was a very productive day. Physical Therapy came to the room and we got Cindy up out of bed and sitting in a chair.

It will keep getting easier but this first time was quite an adventure. Cindy was determined to get up, even though she was scared to death.

She sat in the chair for a couple hours and then ordered lunch. She is now on food too. Another milestone crossed.

Before her food got to the room, a transporter came to the room to take her down for X-rays. So we had to get her out of the chair and on the gurney. Another fun trip.

After X-ray Cindy was brought back to the room and back into the chair. Now she's getting good at it. She ate lunch, her first real food and then it was time for pain meds and a nap. Another transfer to the bed, growing confidence.

Then in walked a new doctor, he said to call him "Sonny". We liked him a lot. He had an entourage of intern doctors, I think 5 of them.

He had read Cindy's history and was just stunned. He is having all her records sent down so they can study her case.

Sonny told Cindy that her case is amazing and then he said,
"Look at that smile! Has anyone ever told you how incredible you are? What a smile!"

Cindy had her pain meds for dessert after Sonny and the gang left, and now she is nighty-night for a nap.

Big day so far and it's only 2PM.

Oh and she had her first bath today. (My sons can stop reading here).
A sponge bath while she was in the chair. Guess who got to give her that? Cleanest girl on the floor. Big smile!

UPDATE: Wednesday, 9 AM

A new day, a new post. I also posted last night at 11PM, in case you missed that update.

To follow complete story, start in Journal History, on Tuesday, April 8th, at the bottom of page and scroll up.

One correction, which most of you won't care about.

They did not use the Gamma nail system, as I stated yesterday. They used a dynamic plate and screws. She had that before when they tried to save her leg.

The difference is the Gamma nail runs up the center of the bone. The dynamic plate runs along the outside of the bone

The whole surgical team came in this morning, all 3 surgeons. The chief resident, who did the actual surgery, described it all for me. I had him draw it out, including measurements, describing the break and the repair.

They said her bone is as soft as butter. So the potential that this repair fails is a concern. Frequent checks, to make sure everything stays in place, are in her future.

I think the confusion about the Gamma nail came because the chief surgeon didn't do the actual procedure. The chief resident did. So Dr. Wood may have thought they were going with the Gamma nail, when he talked to me post-surgery.

Turned out that her femur was too short for the Gamma nail. Her femur is 160 mm long and the Gamma nail is 170 mm long.

Enough of the technical stuff. How is Cindy doing is your main concern I'm sure.

One of the big questions we've been getting from many is about going home (to Iowa), or even leaving the hospital. That isn't on the radar at this point.

Right now, getting her on her feet and walking is the primary focus. Probably won't be today but if it happens, that will be huge.

We tried to get her sitting up this morning. At least with her foot over the side of the bed and sitting up. But that didn't work, even after a half hour of the two of us working at it.

She's just in too much pain to move or even touch her leg. I had her half sitting with her foot on a box on the floor ( I stole a drawer out of the dresser for a box). Good as it gets for now.

The physical therapist was just here and they are going to really drug her up now and he will be back in 30 minutes to see if we can get things going.

Cindy will start with some food today also. She hasn't eaten since Monday morning.

As far as the sleep issue. It's better for both of us. Already this morning, I have been roundly scolded from several of you for not taking care of myself. I very much appreciate the care and concern. Thank you.

Cindy is now mostly caught up with her pain meds and getting some sleep. We both slept from 1am till 5 am. And I feel very refreshed this morning. Lots of activity around us with the hospital staff today, trying to get Cindy going again.

I won't say I'm immune from consequences of little or no sleep, but I have been through this several times while tending to Cindy and my adrenaline runs well during these times.

It pumps me up in a positive way, to take care of her. So I don't feel it as a horrible burden, which is what makes for bad stress. I do recognize my going 24/7 is not healthy and I will be 60 years old on Sunday, so I also recognize the "old man" factor. Now that things are past the surgery phase, I should be able to get more rest here and there.

Last night around 1:00 AM , I had lain across the lower part of her bed at her feet and had my legs on a chair beside the bed. Cindy said some nurse came in at 4:00 AM and turned on the overhead lights at the same time she announced "Lights!" While she was in the room she walked on both sides of the bed trying to draw blood, stepping over me twice.

None of that occurred in my world. I was sound asleep at the foot of the bed and heard nothing. Didn't move. We got a good laugh out of that. And as I said, I feel very refreshed this morning.

The sun is shining and we have new challenges today. And Cindy is smiling….not all the time yet but we're getting there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 0:43 AM CDT

UPDATE: 11PM Tuesday

Tonight, Cindy got behind on the pain meds and she is trying to catch up now, at 10pm. She is very agitated and can't lie still, or sleep. That is a total byproduct of the effects of pain.

Probably my mistake, I sneaked in a one hour nap (my first sleep in 40 hours) and Cindy was still feeling the pain-relieving effects of the spinal, so she didn't keep up with the IV and oral meds.

Had I stayed on the job, I would have pushed the pain meds. I've done this rodeo before and I know that you NEVER back off pain meds during the first 36 hours following surgery. Cindy isn't thinking clearly, that's my job. I feel bad about that.

The surgeon used what he called a Gamma nail. From what I could gather (without yet seeing any X-rays) is they pinned the bone at the top and bottom, through an incision on the outside of her leg.

Then did a small incision at the bottom of her little leg and pushed a "gamma nail" up through the length of the bone.

I will try to see some X-rays tomorrow so I have a better understanding of the technique.

The surgery took about 40 minutes, plus the time to get the spinal going.

As I type the end of this update at 11pm, Cindy is fast asleep. Love that sound. The pain meds are working. I'm smiling.

UPDATE: 5:30 PM Tuesday

Original posts are below this update

What a whirlwind of a day. Didn't know if I was coming or going. Could have something to do with not sleeping since 3:00 AM Monday morning.

The morning seemed to drag because we were expecting the surgical pick up at any moment. Then all of a sudden at 11:30 things started happening very quickly. The surgeon came in and said he wanted to get her prepped and ready to go.

So off we went. Cindy and her entourage, (me included), rolled down the hall and up to the top floor. This hospital has a surgical suite for just Orthopedic surgery.

Awesome waiting room, and Florida Keys themed rooms. Other, non-ortho surgery at this hospital is done in another, larger wing.

The head Ortho surgeon, Dr. Wood told us the three options and said that is what he and the two resident doctors had been arguing about all morning. He told Cindy, "see how special you are".

One of the residents voted to do nothing at all. Let it heal with time and deal with the pain. I thought about asking Dr Wood, which guy liked that option. So I could punch him.

Dr. Wood said that his choice would be the easiest and best for Cindy and since he's the head doctor, he was choosing that option. I liked it. But he didn't know if it would work until he got in there.

I was excused from the operating area to the waiting room. Judy and Pat Baird were there waiting for me. What a nice surprise. I didn't know they were coming. They kept me totally distracted with old Vinton stories until Dr. Wood appeared.

The surgery was over. It took about an hour total. They had done a spinal, so Cindy wouldn't have to have so much anesthesia.

She was already awake and in recovery. I asked if I could go back to recovery and Dr Wood said, only nurses are allowed back there. I said, "well, technically, I'm her nurse".

He laughed and said, "I bet you are.…sure, I will tell them you can come back".
So I said my goodbyes to the Baird's and headed back to the secret room. There was my girl, half awake and looking much better.

We are now back in her normal room. I have Cindy packed like a cocoon, with pillows I confiscated from all over the hospital. She is freezing and shivering. Something Cindy never does, except following surgery. She's usually very hot.

Things are looking much better than they did 24 hours ago.
Hopefully we can both get some sleep tonight and then concentrate on the next phase of recovery.

UPDATE: 9:30AM Tuesday

Original post is below this update.

Ok, that was a long damn night. Cindy and I didn't sleep a wink. Just kept looking at the clock and wondering when 6am would get here so we could see the surgeons.

We talked during the night and even laughed a little. About 1am I saw the old Cindy come around. The meds had kicked in and/or the pain had subsided a little, not sure.

The surgeons (3 of them) finally arrived around 7:00. We like the head surgeon. Very country-doc demeanor and cocksure of himself but with a great sense of humor. That is what I like in a surgeon.

Surgery later today but not sure of time. Right now, we are focused on pain control. Cindy is very antsy. Can't get comfortable but she can't move at all either, so that is frustrating for her. Then every once in awhile a little moan or tiny yell when the pain stabs at her.

For now, we are not thinking of all the difficulties ahead and trying to get through the surgery. Some of the options did not sound good. One horrible…removing her entire hip, leg and tissue. Very disfiguring. We are trying not to think that he even mentioned it.

I will update again as soon as we have a surgical time.

ORIGINAL POST: 2:43 AM Tuesday

Well, our winter season in Florida ended abruptly last night. Cindy was badly injured in a fall.

We had gone out to eat Monday night, at a place called Bonefish. Since we were planning on leaving for Sebring and Naples first thing Tuesday morning, we had no food in the house.

We had only been at Bonefish about 15 minutes, long enough to get a drink. Cindy got up to go to the restroom and as she stood waiting for me to get her crutches, I looked down and noticed a puddle of water at her feet.

This place has wood floors that are slick and shiny as glass. I pointed out the water and told her to be very careful. Cindy said, "I'll take baby steps". She walked about 15 feet away from me and there must have been another puddle. Down she went.

She came down straight onto her little leg, driving it right in to her hip socket. She was writhing in pain when I got to her so I knew she was hurt badly. Several patrons and the manager rushed to our side but she couldn't be touched.

I ran out to the truck and got our wheelchair and told the manager to call an ambulance. Cindy did not want to stay on the floor. We were right in the center of the restaurant. With help from others, we got her into the wheelchair and waited for the ambulance by the door.

They came pretty fast, since they're just around the corner but it felt like an eternity. The EMTs got her on the stretcher and loaded into the ambulance and told me where they were taking her. I quickly drove home and got her medication list and insurance cards.

I got to the hospital, (Largo Medical Center) minutes after they brought Cindy into the ER. They let me back with her shortly. An Xray was taken which revealed the extent of the damage.

Her little leg bone, all 6 inches of it is shattered right in half…lengthwise, and twisted around pointing the other way. Can't tell how much damage to the hip socket.

I called Dr. Buckwalter (head of Orthopedic dept in Iowa City) right away and left a message. He called me back within 5 minutes and we talked about options. He repeatedly assured me that Cindy would be okay. I needed that.

Just that morning we had had breakfast with Pat & Judy Baird, from Vinton/Cedar Rapids and I had sort of bragged that Cindy might make it a year without being in the hospital.

I told Pat tonight, what happened and he called a friend of ours, who is a doctor in this area. Dr. Steve Schirm from Vinton who now lives just down the street off of Gulf Blvd. Steve is making some phonecalls and checking to see that we have the best orthopedic surgeon.

So far we are assured by the staff we have and the Ortho surgeon will be here at 6 AM for a consultation. But it's pretty likely that they will do surgery right away tomorrow. They are already prepping her as if she will go into surgery.

Cindy is under a heavy dose of morphine and sort of dozing. She is still in incredible pain.

I have received so many calls and texts that my phone went dead. So I will try to keep this website updated frequently during the next days. Lots of stuff going on at this end.

Thanks to all our family and friends who have offered their support and good thoughts. It's almost 2AM here and I am going to try to rest a little. I'm right beside her bed, I'm not going anywhere.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 7:12 AM CDT

Lots of rainy weather recently. This week is back to beautiful but the two previous weeks had frequent rain and cloudy days.

We have a visitor this week. Marcy Hanson, from Vinton is here for a couple days. She was in town for work earlier this week. Marcy works at TransAmerica, same company Cindy worked at.

Last Friday we had dinner with Ron & Melba at Columbia, the couple I wrote about a few weeks ago. They again invited us to go for a ride on their "yacht" but not sure we will be able to fit it in to our schedule. The next few weeks will be filled with lots of activity.

This week we had dinner at Crabby Bill's with Sandy Black. She is the art lady we met previously and who introduced Cindy to the art center in Largo. Cindy has been going every week and loves it. Sandy invited us to her house in two weeks to have dinner and see all her art pieces. She is very good.

Next Monday we are meeting up with Pat & Judy Baird and the following day we drive to Sebring to spend the night at Mel & Linda Hall's winter home. The Hall's also have a home in Guttenberg, where we met them years ago.

Then from Sebring, we drive down to Naples to spend a couple days with John Ketchen, from Vinton.

The third week in April we will be preparing for our trip home. We now plan to leave for home on April 20th. Our son Aaron is having health issues, so all of this could change. But for now, we are trying to stay on track with our plans.

Saturday, March 22, 2014 6:57 PM CDT

The weather continues to be beautiful. Except, the day after our last update it rained all day. I mean downpour! The next day it was back to sunny and warm. And continues to be around 80 everyday with lots of sun.

There are boat races going on today. Lots of really fast and loud boats racing just off the coast. We have a great seat right on our balcony. Perfect weather for it.

We drove up to The Villages this last week. It's about an hour north of Tampa. We visited Terry & Nancy Gaffney, who just built a new house there.

After getting a tour of the new house (Wow!), we all got on their new golf cart and took the three hour tour. Literally. It was 3 hours. But that included a stop for lunch in one of the Village squares.

We have never seen so many golf cars in one place. And I meant to type golf Car, not cart. That is what they call them. They come in all kinds of designs and colors. Some look like Mercedes, some like fancy pickups, some cars are really bizarre. They all try to outdo each other.

There were so many golf cars on the trails, that line the main streets, that they have traffic cops to direct traffic, with whistles and hand signals. We saw our first golf car traffic jam at one intersection. .

The scale of the place is enormous. It's like Disneyworld for adults. There are so many activities you can get involved in and there are over 30 golf courses.

If you love to golf and you are retired, you should come to The Villages for a visit and maybe consider it for a winter destination. Golfing is free for residents.

This place is a contractor's dream. You would never lack for work. Terry said when the economy crashed, things slowed a little here but not that much. It's booming again now. Whole neighborhoods are constructed within 90 days. Our friend Amanda is dating a contractor from Tampa, who works everyday in The Villages (TV).

On the way home that day, Cindy and I were talking about what all we saw and I missed the turn off, which would have gone around the west side of Tampa. Instead, we hit the main part of Tampa...at 5:30pm. Yikes! It took us till 7:00 before we got through Tampa and across the Bay to Clearwater. Won't make that mistake again.

Down to the last month in Florida.

Sunday, March 16, 2014 3:09 PM CDT

WINDY today!! It is very nice but the wind is gusting to the point of making it unsafe for Cindy to be outside. The wind would most likely knock her to the ground.

Other than that, the weather is just gorgeous these days. Last night we watched one of the best sunsets (they're all good) as it sank into the ocean. After toasting the sunset we then turned around and immediately saw the full moon off the other end of our balcony.

We stayed in last night for our usual Saturday date-night. Had a great meal with wine and then watched the movie Nebraska. A very realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional family but not sure what the point of the movie was. Nobody in the movie was likable. They were certainly believable, since we know people like this, but not likable at all.

Friday night we met some interesting people at Columbia. First we met Donna & Bruce, from the Chicago area. They have a winter place in Ft Myers and were just passing through on the way back from Orlando.

Cindy was sitting down so they didn't know anything about her "predicament". As we talked, it came up that Donna's mother, Pat, recently had sarcoma cancer (so did Cindy).

Pat's cancer started just above the knee, (so did Cindy's). Pat's doctors tried leg-saving surgeries (ditto). The eventual amputation resulted in very little leg remaining (ditto again). Both women had cancer that spread to other areas.

Once we shared all the similar cancer stories, we exchanged email and phone numbers so Cindy can converse with Pat. Cindy was more than happy to do what she can to help out.

Bruce & Donna are about our ages so we had a lot in common to talk about, retirement, travel, kids, etc. It was an enjoyable evening. Hope to see them again.

After Bruce and Donna left, another couple sat next to us.
Their names were Ron & Melba. Ron & Melba had a much different story.
They are "just friends", who frequently travel the world together.

Ron is a very successful real estate property owner. He also is a recently retired FBI agent (who was packing heat, according to Melba). Ron has homes in Gulfport, AL., Southern California and Florida. He also has a 56 foot yacht that he lives on frequently.

Melba is a widow from Los Angeles, who has a 48 foot yacht that she lives on, along with homes in California. She had her yacht trucked from California to Fort Lauderdale last year.

After spending some time in Fort Lauderdale, she decided that she did not like the Atlantic side. So she moved the boat up to Clearwater on the Gulf side. She said she loves this area. Melba has a travel business, just for fun. She arranges trips for many of her girlfriends, who are in a travel club and they frequently all travel together.

Melba told us about the trip to the Mediterranean that she and Ron had just planned. Multiple cruises around Italy and Greece. They are leaving in May.

By coincidence…Cindy and I have just started planning a cruise to the same area, (first mention of it here, I was going to mention it sometime). In fact, Julie (our travel agent in Vinton), and I had just spoken earlier in the week.

We had lots to discuss with Melba because Cindy and I are newbies regarding the Mediterranean and Melba has been many, many times. We just know that Cindy really wants to see Greece and I really want to see Florence, Italy.

Anyway, Melba and Ron took a liking to us and want us to visit them in Gulfport on our way home next month. We had told them we are taking the long way home so we can see the Gulf coast and other things.

They want to show us around that area and take us out to dinner. Melba also insisted we come up to the marina and visit on her "boat". That part was mentioned before Melba saw Cindy standing up. Not sure we could manage that yacht visit. I might have to just go up and do an exploratory visit.

Aaron emailed me on Friday morning. Aaron usually texts us, so that was a clue right there. He has been not feeling well the past few days and in his delirious state, he ran his iPhone through the washing machine inside a pants pocket.

That caused a mild panic on this end. Aaron needs a phone with him at all times, (mostly for our peace of mind), but also for his difficult transportation and medical needs.

After getting our other son Michael involved in a couple cross-town trips and visit to Verizon (Michael's favorite thing to do…NOT), which ended unsuccessfully, I had Verizon Fed Ex over-night a new iPhone to Aaron. This all involved me on the phone/video chat, for at least a couple hours with Verizon, Michael and Aaron.

But all is well now. Doctors say I'm supposed to get my heart rate up at least a couple times a day. Mission accomplished.

Earlier last week I talked to Terry Gaffney on the phone. Terry has a place on the island in Guttenberg, just down the street from us. He just built a new winter home in The Villages. He asked us to come up and see the place. We will probably head up there later this week, it's about 100 miles away from us.

The Villages is a 55-and-over community that has a population around 100,000 residents. Everyone drives around on golf carts. From what I have read about it, there is nothing like it in the U.S., at least on this scale.

Cindy has an appointment with the dermatologist on Tuesday. She has a few spots that need attention and her leg is starting to look "troubled" again. We hope to put off what she can until we get back to the University hospital in Iowa. We are now getting close to our last month in Florida.

Also, since time is short here, we are starting to feel the tug of Iowa summers. Although I think Iowa got another 2-3 inches of snow last night. We will try to pack up some of this beautiful weather and bring it with us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:20 AM CDT

The good weather continues. It's now pretty much like November and December were, sunny and warm everyday. We expect this to continue until we leave for Iowa next month.

Cindy's doctor appointment was moved to next week, so nothing to report on the skin cancer front. She did go to a dentist last week for a loose filling. We were directed to Dr. Poe, a dentist in Dunedin. Really liked him. We now have a local dentist and a local dermatologist.

After Cindy finished up with the dentist we went out for breakfast at a great spot in downtown Dunedin, named Kelly's. We really like this small town. It's right on the waters edge and has an artsy, small village feel to it.

The main part of Dunedin is very walkable, with the 47-mile Pinellas County nature trail running right through downtown. The winter home for the Toronto Bluejays is just a couple blocks from the main street. As we drove around the area at 10am, people were already gathering at the ballpark for the 1pm game.

I think if we ever relocated in Florida, we would definitely look at Dunedin as a top choice.

We had the "girls" over on Sunday for our first Souper Sunday. Lori, Leah and Amanda all came over to our place. We had a great time. Cindy spent most of the morning preparing the soups and other goodies. The weather was gorgeous and we all sat out on the balcony until after sunset.

I was disappointed that the dolphins didn't make an appearance for them to see. They have been very active recently, just not when we have company apparently.

But we did have a large tarpon appear. Leah spotted it while looking through my binoculars. The tarpon was about 6 foot long and just stayed motionless behind the large sailboat directly below us.

Cindy's sister Karla is now starting to feel the effects of the ever-spreading cancer. They talk on the phone several times a day and Cindy can hear the changes in her voice. She seems very tired and sometimes just 'down'. Understandably so.

Karla is seeing her new doctor every two weeks and major worries are her very weak bones and her low blood counts. She did receive another blood transfusion yesterday.

We hope that she will continue to be as pain free as possible. So far, her pain is in her bones but does seem to be spreading from one place to another. Tylenol is controlling the pain now but other meds are on order if she needs them. The care center seems to be working out well and she is comfortable there.

Cindy is going to her art class today. She is having fun there and already has a finished painting framed for hanging. She used new techniques on this painting that she learned from the instructor. I posted a picture of her new painting.

We are still planning a trip to the Naples area in a few weeks, to visit a Vinton friend. Other than that, we are just enjoying the last month and a half at our Florida home, before heading back to Iowa.

Monday, March 3, 2014 7:18 AM CST

NOTE: This Friday morning, Good Morning America will be broadcast from Key West, Florida. If you are unfamiliar with the place and why we love it, you might tune in (or record it), on ABC.

Here it is, March 3rd, and it's currently -15 degrees in Guttenberg this morning. So glad that we haven't had to experience the worst winter in our lifetime. But do feel for those who do.

Meanwhile, it's been the most beautiful weather imaginable since last Thursday. Everyday just gorgeous!

The kids (Michael, Nikki & Jacob) are here and soaking up the sun and fun. Our grandson Jacob is such a treat to have around. He is so pleasant and helpful and cracks us up continually with his witticism and timely one-liners.

We have had some great dolphin shows, viewed right from our balcony. The warm weather has brought them in multiple times a day and they are very active.

Michael and Nikki are renting a car for the next few days so the three of them can go off and explore and do touristy things on their own. We have already introduced them all to great places to eat and filled them with all the seafood they have been craving.

Jacob has decided this is the year of new things so he has been more adventurous with food choices. He now is craving the She-crab soup, that is our favorite at a place called Keegan's. He said he wants to return so he can have a bowl to himself.

Cindy has an appointment next week with the dermatologist. She has a new, large spot under her arm that needs attention. Not sure if he will remove it but we will feel comfortable at least having his opinion.

Other than that, we are all good down here in Warm, Sunny Florida. And I do mean Warm and Sunny. Sorry.

Friday, February 21, 2014 6:59 AM CST

What a beautiful week! I know last update I said the same and this week is even better. The weather is perfect.

Cindy went to her new art class on Tuesday and really enjoyed it. When I went back to pick her up, the classmates all greeted me, "so you're Cindy's husband" and lots of "Bye Cindy" and "see you next week". Seems that they all like Cindy already, imagine that.

As we walked out the door, another man from the center held the door. I was carrying all her supplies so I couldn't get it. Another woman was standing with him.

He stopped and said to us, "I just want to say that you are the happiest woman I've ever seen, to see someone with your challenges but with such a bright smile all the time and great attitude, it's just heartwarming." The woman chimed in and said the same thing and then told me I was a lucky man.

That was a teary moment. (And yes, I know how lucky I am).

Let's move on.

We spent 2 1/2 days on the east coast of Florida, near the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). We considered this trip to be a reconnaissance trip, so that we would know what to do and where to go next time.

We left home early Wednesday morning. Getting there was easy, only a little over two hours. We stayed just west of the KSC, near Titusville. We didn't expect to get much done but some sightseeing.

The first day we spent a couple hours getting our annual passes, photo ID and familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the KSC Visitor Center. Then we walked inside the Shuttle Atlantis building. All I can say is WOW!

We kind of stumbled into this building. It had a ramp inside that kept winding up and up. I was head-down, pushing Cindy in her wheelchair, hoping I didn't slip and fall. Up, up, winding, winding until we came around a corner and a young, female guide was hurrying us up to enter the room.

"Hurry, the doors close in 10 seconds!". I thought she was kidding because I was struggling along, but she started counting down….10-9-8... We got in the doors right at the count of zero and she closed the doors behind us, leaving other people outside.

The room was already filled and the video started. I won't go into the rest of it because it was really neat and should be experienced without prior knowledge.

The second day we did the bus tour of course, taking us to the historic and still used launch pads, up close with the "crawler"...the rocket and shuttle transporter, and the assembly building. We then were dropped at the Saturn rocket museum where you walk underneath the largest rocket ever made. HUGE!

Along the way, we saw lots of alligators, sunning themselves along the canals lining the road.

All in all, visiting the Space Center is an experience that instills pride in being an American. Although, I bet more than half the people we encountered at KSC were foreigners.

We were about to head back home on Thursday when Cindy said she would like to see Cocoa Beach. Home to "I Dream of Genie". That is all I knew about Cocoa Beach. So we headed south, taking a little detour on our way home.

As we drove down the boulevard from Cape Canaveral to Cocoa Beach, I remembered that there was a rocket launch that night. I told Cindy, "you know, we don't have to go home, it would be a shame to miss that launch".

Cindy loves "Spontaneous Tom", and so whenever that Tom appears, she is all in. (The other Tom is, "Research-it-to-death Tom", not quite so spur-of-the-moment but she is pretty much all in with that Tom too :-).

So I started pulling into hotels along the street to find a room. All full. The last place said, "Where all have you been?" I told her that we started at the top of the island and were working our way south. She told me that everybody was full but the further south the better our chances. Which put us farther from the launch site.

I asked why, because of the rocket launch? And she said it is partly that but more so the Daytona 500 this weekend. Again with my lack of sports knowledge. I hadn't a clue.

I then knew it would be impossible to find a room. Cindy called back to our hotel near Titusville and asked if we could check back in. No problem. That was a relief, because now I was really wanting to see that rocket launch.

We stopped at the Cocoa Beach Pier and had some lunch and watched the activity on the beach. The beach was very crowded as far in the distance that we could see.

The sand was brown, very unlike the white beaches of Clearwater Beach. Maybe that is why they call it "cocoa" beach...duh. All in all, Cocoa Beach is a tired resort area of Florida. It was probably great in the 1960s. New development has moved on.

When we got back to our hotel, I looked online for information about the launch, realizing that they get postponed all the time for various reasons. I found the site for Live Mission Control, with minute-to-minute updates and video coverage.

Everything was a go for a launch at 8:40pm. We had talked to several people, in Cocoa Beach and in Titusville. Everyone said that you can see the launch from pretty much anywhere. Just go outside.

We waited anxiously in our room, checking Mission Control updates. Everything was for a GO to launch on time. At 8:00pm, I went outside and walked around looking for the best viewing spot and came back in and told Cindy, "I'm not comfortable with our view".

So we jumped in the truck and headed out on the road to the Space Center. The road crosses a bridge to the island and then there is a long stretch along the water where there are no trees but there are 200 foot grassy shoulders.

We pulled over on the wide shoulder and turned off the lights. It was total darkness. There are no street lights out here and the moon was still below the horizon. The stars in the sky were awesome.

Some other cars started pulling off the road, spacing out a polite 500 feet apart. I had turned our truck around facing away from the launch site. We then sat on the tailgate and waited.

Cindy said she was nervous about alligators and she kept her one, remaining foot up on my lap. I laughed and teased her but then a little later, I slyly folded my legs too. You really could not see two feet from your face. No sense tempting fate.

We waited, the minutes dragging by. Tick, tick, tick….8:38...8:39…8:40…..…8:41…8:42…8:43...WTF!!

I quickly looked on my iPhone for the Mission control site, thinking that the launch had been scrubbed. They posted that a solar event had caused a 19 minute delay. Whew! New time, 8:59.

Right on time, at 8:59, there were some bright flashes along the ground and then a bright light started rising from the horizon.

We were 4 or 5 miles from the launch pad and the sky lit up like it was almost daytime. Amazing.

The rocket rose to about 45 degrees and then the sound came. It had been silent up to that point. Incredible rolling, shaking thunder. You could hear the people in the other cars cheering.

We watched the rocket until it flamed out, way out over the Atlantic. Then we drove back to the hotel, very glad that we had stayed for that lifetime event. It won't be "once" in a lifetime, we are definitely coming back.

Monday, February 17, 2014 11:19 AM CST

Days like today are the reason we live in Florida. I wish I could convey how beautiful the weather is right now. I'll try.

There is little to no breeze, the sky is cloudless and very blue, the sea is turquoise, the trees are very green. The temperature is right at 70 degrees, expected to climb to 75 this afternoon.

Last night we watched a perfect sunset into the water…for the 3rd night in a row. Early this morning, way before sunrise, we went on the balcony to see how the nearly-full moon was lighting up the ocean (I know it's actually the Gulf but it's all connected).

This morning, Cindy and I stood on the balcony with our coffee and watched the sunrise as it first appeared and quickly rose to a bright red ball.

It doesn't get any better than this.

Last week at Crabby Bills, we met a woman, Sandy Black, who is an artist. She and Cindy got to talking about their mutual interest in painting and other craft work. Sandy told Cindy about an art group that meets every Tuesday, at a center near her home.

So Cindy is going there tomorrow, it's in Largo, just across the bridge. She is excited to find a place to paint, like she has back in Cedar Rapids and in Guttenberg. There is an instructor at the Largo center and she only charges $1 an hour.

The art center in Indian Rocks Beach didn't work out for Cindy. That is where she went last year but the people there were very unreliable as far as schedules and attendance.

Now that it's getting warmer and our time in Florida is getting shorter, we are thinking about people and places we want to see yet this winter. By coincidence, a friend (John Ketchen) from Vinton called Cindy the other day and invited us down to his winter home in Naples.

Cindy and John compared schedules and due to all the company visiting each of us, it looks like that trip will have to be later in March.

Speaking of our company, the kids (Michael, Nikki & Jacob) arrive a week from Thursday and we are getting anxious. A little trip this week will take our minds off the wait.

I am thinking this is the week to make the trek across the state to the other coast. It's only about a 2 hour drive and the weather is supposed to stay like this all week, so now is the window.

We hope to get familiarized with the Kennedy Space Center, so we can make frequent trips over when rockets are launched or when we have company.

Hang in there Iowa, Spring is bound to arrive at some point.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:15 AM CST

So far, beautiful weather this week. Upper 70s and sunny, three days in a row. We saw that it was 17 below ZERO in Cedar Rapids Monday morning, with more cold to come. Yikes!

Friday night at Columbia, we met a young couple from Pittsburgh. Christine and Michael had just gotten married on the beach. They sneaked off to Florida to get married and nobody knew about it back home. They were seated next to us and so we struck up a conversation. We ended up having a fun time with them. I posted a picture of the happy couple in the Clearwater 2014 folder.

We are busy this week with friends and appointments and taxes, so we are postponing the Kennedy Space Center trip again.

What else we are busy with, is getting a bike (recumbent trike, actually) designed for Cindy so that she can ride the trails. Getting her outside and off the Airdyne everyday is the goal.

I posted a couple pictures of the type of trike we are looking at. It's a tadpole style, recumbent trike. It has dual wheels in the front and a single wheel in the rear. The other recumbent trike style, with the dual wheels in the rear, is called a delta style.

The tadpole style is more stable and less likely to tip over. Guess which one I favor.

Cindy will be able to ride around the island back home in Guttenberg, come with me on the nature trail in Cedar Rapids and ride the back streets near our Clearwater home.

Also in our area in Florida, is the Pinellas County Nature Trail. This trail stretches 47 miles from the north end of Pinellas, at Tarpon Springs, to the southern tip of Pinellas, in St. Pete.

We went to a local bike/trike shop Saturday and Cindy rode one of the trikes on the Pinellas trail, right outside the back door of the store. There are several things we need to change before she can master this ride.

Our friend Larry Reeve, (awesome-trike owner), back in Cedar Rapids, gave us lots of information to chew on. Now I am thinking that we will wait to buy when we get back to Iowa.

There is a bike outfitter in Steven's Point, Wisconsin, (Hostel Shoppe), that we will probably buy from. We will spend a couple days there getting it designed just right. Thanks Larry. Cindy is very excited about being able to exercise outside in warm weather. I hope it all works out for her.

For now, we will stay here where it's warm. If it happens to get sunny and above 70 degrees back in Iowa, give us a shout. Oh, yeah, and leaves have to be on trees...hate bare trees.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 6:06 AM CST

The weather is gorgeous! However, there are spurts of sea fog but it usually burns off in the morning. One day this week, due to this thick fog, we couldn't see past our porch railing until well after sundown. But driving down the street, it was sunny and clear. We could see the sea fog surrounding the tops of the high-rise buildings.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a sports fan at all. Neither is Cindy. We have no interest in spending time watching sports of any kind.

Saying all that, we were at a nearby favorite place called Slyce on Sunday afternoon, sitting in their outside area, listening to a great band. I head inside to use the restroom and the manager, Jack, is posting lottery boards on the wall for the Super Bowl later that night.

I asked Jack about how it worked and he said, $5 a square and you can win $100 for each quarter score and $200 for the final score. You just write your name in a square and the score numbers are assigned to each square, randomly. There is no "educated" guessing, you don't have to be a sports nut, it's all just pure chance.

I thought, what the hell and wrote my name in a square.
Jack called me Monday afternoon and told me that I won the final score prize of $200! That was nice. Especially for a non-sports fan.

I spend a lot of my time (A LOT!) worrying about Cindy falling down...and apparently not enough time keeping myself from falling down.

Last weekend, I fell, running to our vehicle in the pouring rain. I had left Cindy at the lobby door so she didn't get wet. In a hurry to get back to her, I skirted around the car next to mine, and didn't see the parking-lot curb, sticking out from the tire of that car. Down I went.

I hit hard on my shoulder and wrist and totally scraped up my right leg along the calf muscle. Along with rolling around on the wet asphalt and messing up my clothes. Nice.

The scrapes were just about gone this week when the next fall came. Tuesday, Cindy was getting a haircut. So while I waited, I proceeded to the nearby carwash (now that sunny, 80-degree days are here at last).

It was just a gorgeous day and I was distractedly listening to a radio talk show with my earbuds on my iPhone. I walked across the carwash lot to a grassy area, where a bike rack was located.

It looked like an inviting spot away from the noise of the carwash. I leaned against the bike rack to relax a bit and listen to my show. As I leaned back, the whole rack tipped over, with me on top of it.

Again, landed very hard, injuring same wrist and shoulder and scraping the hell out of same calf muscle. When I picked up Cindy from her appointment, I was looking a little worse for wear. You know…with the blood, the dirt and the torn clothes.

Cindy just looks at me sometimes and shakes her head. She does this from a confident, solid, standing position.

We had a great time with Mary Sheldon at Alfano's this week. This is our first time back at Alfano's this year. We really like the place but it's just not as close to home as other favorite places.

Mary was anxious to hear what we thought of the condo in her building. I took the tour late last week and then stopped by to visit Mary in her condo. We think she really wants us as neighbors. While the view was great and the condo was very nice, it is not as ideal (for us) as where we are now.

We didn't make it to the east coast and Kennedy Space Center this week. We were just too busy. So next week is looking better for that trip.

We also checked out boat rentals now that the weather is so nice. We will probably do that before the end of the month.

So many activities!

Friday, January 31, 2014 10:45 AM CST

What a crappy weather week. We only had one nice day all week. Rain and cold most of the time, still raining all day today. The temperature yesterday was the coldest so far, never climbed out of the 40s.

BUT, the temps have finally made the turn. Starting tomorrow, Upper 70s and low 80s going into February and for the foreseeable forecast.

I broke down yesterday morning and turned on the furnace. The first time we have ever turned on the furnace, in three winters here. It was only 60 degrees inside our place and barely 40 outside.

And guess what, NO heat!

The furnace ran for a couple hours and the room never got above 62 degrees. Since it was only 5AM when I turned on the furnace, there was nothing I could do about it.

I went downstairs at 9:00 to talk to our building manager. He is only in the office about 4 hours a day (I want that gig). He told me that the boiler that supplies hot water for all the building furnaces was low and it took awhile for maintenance to get it back up to normal levels.

Our next-door neighbor went back to New York today. Staten Island to be exact. He is the neighbor who had sunglasses on his porch railing. (I posted a picture of the lights). We had a lot of fun talking to him, leaning across our porch railings at sunset.

I got to know "Footsie" the first year we were here. His car parking spot is near mine. I was walking to my car one day and he asked me for help with his GPS unit. I didn't know him from Adam but I walked over and got in the car and showed him how to work the unit. He was very grateful but it was a few weeks later before we realized we lived next to each other, one day while we were out on the porch.

The three of us would toast the sunset together, tell stories and some nights, talk late into the evening, covering all kinds of subjects. We couldn't see each other after it got dark but it didn't matter, we would just keep talking to each other until somebody said goodnight.

Our neighbor's full name is "Footsie" Tortora. A true Italian, right out of The Sopranos. He actually sounds and looks just like Tony Soprano, only with a beard. I don't even want to guess where he got the name Footsie.

Footsie was going to take me out fishing in his boat but the weather never cooperated with us to make it happen. Maybe it's for the best, I might be "sleeping with the fishes" if I had gone.

Just kidding, I like him quite a bit and it would have been fun to learn to fish out in the Gulf. Footsie will be back next November, so I will get another chance next year.

Footsie leases his place to a couple from New Brunswick, Canada, who have been here the past three winters. They arrive tomorrow and stay until May. All I will say about them is that we will really miss Footsie.

Cindy and I were sitting on our porch last Saturday, just before sunset, on one of the few beautiful days last week. We saw a guy along the beach in one of those motorized parachutes.

It is a chair with a propeller in the back and the parachute is a crescent-shaped type like windsurfers use. It looks very unsafe. Anyway, the guy was slowly flying along about 50 feet off the ground, following the coastline.

He went south for a ways and then we saw him coming back north. Only now, he was going very fast, about 100 feet off the ground and swaying wildly from side to side. Almost touching some of the high-rise buildings.

We wondered if this was even legal. Turns out, it's not. There are two large photos of that incident in our local paper. The police are looking for him and asking for help to identify him.

Now that the weather has turned for the better (tomorrow?), we are making plans for next week. We are going to head over to the other coast and visit the Kennedy Space Center.

We will spend a couple days over there, exploring and getting to know the area. Probably staying in Cocoa Beach.

Our goal is to make it to a rocket launch one of these days. So this trip is sort of a reconnaissance mission so we will know where to go and stay.

The Space Center website posts all the dates when a rocket is to be launched. Very crowded on those days, so it's best to have a plan.

Hopefully we can do this when the kids are here. Our grandson Jacob would be in awe if we could pull that off.

Here is to Spring!! It's coming….it HAS to.

Friday, January 24, 2014 8:46 AM CST

Cindy and I were talking about how miserable the weather has been here since Aaron arrived. Then we looked at the 10 day forecast for Iowa. Sheesh! No more complaints.

Aaron had a great time and he kept telling us that Florida weather was way better than being back in Iowa. There were a few days that the sun warmed up the porch and he was out there barefoot and wearing shorts and tee-shirt. He got a nice tan to take back to Iowa.

We took Aaron all the way to the south end of the islands one day. Stopped at the Wharf in Pass-A-Grille. Another day Aaron and I went to a racetrack in St. Pete and drove fast Go Karts. That was fun, speeds up to 50 mph. on an indoor track. We will be doing that again when our grandson Jacob arrives in a few weeks.

Aaron also got his fill of delicious seafood. That was his number one goal for this visit. We took Aaron to Bonefish, Guppys, Sea Hags, Crabby Bills and Columbia…all places with great seafood.

At Crabby Bills, Aaron had oysters on the half shell, which he loved. I told him that oysters are considered an aphrodisiac and he smiled and then said, "I think it just moved!"

Another laugh…while we were at Crabby Bills, I told Aaron that they supply most of the fresh seafood for the other area restaurants with their fleet of boats and trucks. Immediately after I said that, the guy next to us asked the waiter where the oysters he was eating came from…."Chesapeake Bay", the waiter said. That was funny.

We went to the indoor surfing place one day. A guy about my age was surfing and getting along pretty well. He never fell down once.

After watching for awhile, Aaron decided not to surf. After we left, Aaron said it was because he didn't want to hurt for a week. I was kidding him that he's almost 40, it's not as easy to recover now.

Cindy is doing well. Her skin is in good shape, one spot appeared below her knee and we are watching that. We see her dermatologist in March.

This week we are going to tour a condo in Mary Sheldon's building. She thinks we should buy a unit there. We're not sure about that idea but we are going to look anyway. It doesn't hurt to look and to keep our options open. However, it would be very hard to lose the view we have at our place. It's as close to perfect as we can imagine.

Stay Warm!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014 5:28 AM CST

Our son Aaron arrives tonight. I hope he's not disappointed with the weather. It has turned cooler and is predicted to remain below 70 for his entire stay. Evenings will be in the 40s, so probably not much porch time while he's here. But we have plenty of things planned to keep us busy.

Cindy somehow injured her little leg. She has a very large bruise on it and she doesn't know how that happened. Sometimes I think she falls and doesn't tell me but she swears that she didn't fall this time. It's a mystery.

Her hand is healing from the work the dermatologist did. Only one of the spots is a concern. The spot that Dr. Miller cut off looks like a bad cigarette burn. Cindy goes back to see him in March.

The other day, we were coming back to our island and as we started across the bridge, we noticed people stopping at the top. As we got to the top of the arched bridge, there were people everywhere, getting out of their cars and taking pictures. I thought there must be an accident or something.

We looked to the right and the most awesome rainbow we have ever seen was there. The end of the rainbow was touching the water just beyond the bridge. So we stopped and took pictures. You can see our building just beyond the rainbow. I posted it here in the photo section. ("Click on link to see over 100 photos..")

As we drove down the bridge, our rainbow perspective changed to the point that the end of the rainbow was right on our balcony. That was pretty cool too. Cindy said, "See, I told you we are living in Paradise".

Oh man, we saw the biggest dolphins we have ever seen. They came in to our harbor, below our porch, just after sundown this week. We were sitting out since it was a beautiful day, watched a perfect sunset without a cloud anywhere in the sky.

About 10 minutes after sunset, Cindy heard a big splash which drew her attention below us. A few seconds later, one of the dolphins surfaced and blew air. This dolphin was about 10 feet long and very wide.

I jumped up and grabbed the binoculars from inside so we could get a better look. Then we spotted the other dolphin. He was just as big. Usually we don't get these big males near our building. Mostly the females and their young come around.

There was a young father and his 10 year old son on the dock below us. The boy was casting a net to catch fish. I wanted to yell down to them but at the same time, I didn't want to scare off the dolphins. Plus, it's hard to understand me on the ground, since we are over 120 feet up. They never saw the dolphins.

We went to another movie this week. We wanted to see The Hobbit (part 2) while it was still on the big screen and in 3D. We thought it was the best of the Hobbit movies so far. There is a third and final installment coming soon.

We had our dinner date with Mary Sheldon on Wednesday, at Columbia Restaurant. It was a nice evening. Mary is quite a pistol for someone who is in her 90's. She had a martini, her usual drink. Mary is about 85 pounds and all of 4 feet something. A very tiny woman, who always tells us she is dieting.

We talked about all kinds of topics. When we told her we were sorry to hear about her son passing, Mary got very emotional. That was painful to see as she fought back the tears but Mary held it together as we moved on to other happier subjects. She told us repeatedly how much it meant to her to see us again. We promised to get together again before we leave.

It's a full moon tonight. Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014 9:13 AM CST

It is gorgeous here today and will be 80 degrees by noon. I just washed our vehicle and soaked up some good rays. But it looks like it will be colder again, by the time Aaron arrives next Thursday night. Weather just won't cooperate when we have company.

Cindy met with her new Florida doctor on Wednesday. Dr. Richard Miller, a dermatologist. He looked at Cindy's reports and repeated what all the doctors say about Cindy,
"Well, you're just a miracle to be even sitting here today!"
We both liked this doctor. It's good to have a doctor down here that we can rely on.

The spot on Cindy's hand had to be worked on some more, so he deadened it and starting carving away. Dr. Miller also prescribed a chemo cream for a spot on her cheek. He said that he could cut it out but it would scar her face and thought the cream would do the trick for now.

If you remember, when Cindy returned from Iowa she had some spots on her face that had been treated in Iowa and she was pretty bunged up looking when she got home to me. That is all healed but the one spot on her cheek is still red. We will keep an eye on it and Cindy returns to see Dr. Miller again in 8 weeks.

After the doctor appointment we stopped for a little something to eat at an interesting place called Tiffany's. A family owned place that was filled with old photos of New York City, where the owners are originally from.

Most of the photos were from WW II era to the late 60s. Lots of party and wedding photos, scenes from Times Square, restaurants they previously owned, etc. There was not an open space on any wall, it was entirely covered with these photos.

When I went up to pay, there was a woman sitting behind the cash register who was very old and feeble. But I could see when I looked in her eyes and the shape of her nose, that she was that same statuesque and very beautiful woman who was in many of the old photos. I smiled and thanked her for our meal and all the memories on the wall.

It was like going to a movie and then later you see how it all ends. Not sad really, just sort of heartwarming.

After that we headed over to the nearby mall and went to a real movie. We saw American Hustle. Lots of Oscar buzz about this movie but probably have to see it again to fully appreciate it. Not a bad movie but not a WOW experience either.

To back up a little, Dr Miller's office is in Palm Harbor, a town quite a ways from home. So we were taking advantage of being on the other side of the peninsula before working our way home.

The next stop, after the movie, was the town of Dunedin. This town is just north of Clearwater and is the neatest town in our area. The downtown is like a New England Village. Lots of interesting businesses on Main Street.

We stopped at Flanagan's Pub. A true Irish Pub. Only a few people here and the person we sat by was a young girl from Canada named Anna. On break from college, Anna was traveling through the country, wherever the wind blew her. She spoke French mostly but spoke a fairly understandable English.

We talked to her about America and things and words she didn't understand. It was fun hearing her take on our country. At one point, Anna needed to plug in her cell phone and she asked if there was a "power point"?

A whole discussion occurred on Power Point (slide presentation software) in America and outlets. She had quite a time with understanding "outlet".

Next we went to a place called The Living Room, just a few store fronts down the street. This place used to be a Post Office but it looked more like a bank. With a vault, that now is a wine cellar and the customer windows are now mirrored and holding wine glasses.

The food here is very good. A very romantic place to dine, with low lights, soft music and also live music every night of the week from 7-10.

The night we were there, Daryal Kafkasso was playing. He is a flamenco and Turkish music guitarist. Very soothing music to listen to in the background while talking and dining. You can hear him on You Tube.

We met our friend Leah Mosquera at The Living Room and had a nice time. She left before us to go to a birthday party for a friend, at a place down the street called Kelly's Chic-a-Boom Room.

After dinner we headed home for the end of a long day.

Thursday we drove over to Tampa and met some relatives of Cindy's. JoAnn and Nolan Craig, from Minnesota, who are staying in Mulberry, Florida. It was a very rainy, dreary day. Much like the weather has been for two weeks.

JoAnn is a cousin to Cindy's mom and she and Teresa were very close, especially during the last ten years of her life. JoAnn was with Cindy at the hospital when Teresa died.

We decided to meet at the half way point for all of us. That point happened to be Columbia Restaurant, in Tampa. To be accurate, Columbia is in Ybor City, a section of Central Tampa.

Columbia is the oldest restaurant in Florida, with six locations, including the one on Sand Key that we frequent. Pretty interesting story about Columbia, the same family running it for over 100 years. Again, all the places we mention have their own websites for more details.

We had a very nice visit with JoAnn & Nolan. They were kind of overwhelmed with Florida. We invited them to come over to our place but the thought of navigating across Tampa and then back Mulberry, was too much for them.

JoAnn & Nolan are heading to Daytona Beach next week and then working their way back home to Minnesota.

Speaking of Columbia (Sand Key), next week we have a dinner date with Mary Sheldon. She was the woman we met three years ago, on our very first night in Clearwater. I wrote about her in January, 2012 She is well into her 90s now and still quite a character.

Mary is a former stock broker, one of the first female brokers in Florida. Very successful and still active with what is going on in the Stock Market. Mary told Cindy during their phone call last week, that her son died last April, shortly after we headed back to Iowa.

I'm sure we will have lots to talk about with her.

Saturday, January 4, 2014 8:40 AM CST

Given what is going on up north, we can't complain about the weather here. But it has been more cool and rainy in Florida than anytime since we have been here.

Our visiting relatives have experienced heavy, all day rain, a high temperature of 52 degrees on one day, and chilly nights that have kept us off the porch entirely during their visit.

The trend is to warm up over the next 3 days but then dip to the coldest temps so far, by Tuesday.

Things are going well. Cousin Phil, wife Julie, son Logan & his friend Cole are here this week from Wichita. Cindy now has multiple people hovering over her and keeping her safe from injury or falling. Attention which, I am sure she just loves (sarcasm).

Last night we went to Crabby Bills to celebrate Logan's 18th birthday. It was Logan's choice for where we went and he chose his favorite place. Logan ate TWO pounds of Royal Red shrimp! Logan weighs about 107 pounds…109 now.

I have to admit they are pretty good. We all had them grilled, with butter to dip them in, just like you eat lobster. Which is appropriate since they taste just like lobster.

Today is their last full day here and the weather is expected to be sunny and warm. I'm sure we will find some outdoor activity today.

Sunday, December 29, 2013 2:19 PM CST

First day we have had all-day rain. Back in November we had one day where it kind of spit rain in the morning. This is full on rain, all day.

It rarely rains here, at least while we are here. The radar sometimes looks like rain is on the way or overhead, but very little hits the ground. Maybe it's a beach thing and inland gets it more than we do.

We have house guests this month (January), including our son Aaron. We have been making lists of things to do and see. Not sure we will do anything on the list but nice to have some options.

Cindy and I are going to breakfast tomorrow morning with Lori and her mother Karen. First time for us meeting Lori's mom, who is here visiting from Door County, Wisconsin. That is also where Lori was born and raised. A Midwestern girl, that is probably why we like her so much.

We are going to Lisa's Cafe down on Madeira Beach, just before John's Pass. A little gem, right along the Boulevard. Lori told us about it and Cindy and I have been there twice.

Lisa, the owner is very engaging and comes over and talks to all the customers, making them feel comfortable. The food is unbelievable. If you ever vacation down here, make sure it's on your list.

The ZZ Top concert was fantastic. A bit short, about 75 minutes. But being that they are 64 years old, and the crowd looked pretty much the same age, it was a nice length of time. That is all our old ears can stand.

On the way home from the concert, we noticed that several places had signs out, welcoming the Hawkeyes to town and enticing them to stop.

The Hawks have their team/fan beach party on the 30th, (tomorrow), just up the street from us. We might have to wander up there to see if we know anyone.

Yesterday we were driving down a back road and Cindy spotted a road-side nursery. They were advertising orchids for $8. We forgot our orchid back in Guttenberg so it's probably long gone. Sad, we nursed it along for six years but it rarely bloomed.

Anyway, we stopped and talked to the orchid guy and he had a very interesting life. Started several of the casinos in Atlantic City and was involved in lots of real estate around Sarasota. Now, he's retired, sort of, raising and selling orchids. Says it's a full time job.

We bought a really nice orchid (more than $8) and he gave us several pointers to keep this one going. We have heard of people having their orchids for decades and that has always been our goal too.

It was nice talking to him but Cindy was standing for a long time and there were cars nearby, rushing past on the road, so I was getting antsy.

Speaking of antsy…Cindy hit her head yesterday, hard. She was putting stuff in the fridge and came up fast and caught the handle of the freezer door. I pretty much laid awake all night, jumping at her every stir and moan.

I don't want to dwell on the last two times that Cindy hit her head and the result, (well documented here) but I will feel better when a few more days have passed.

It just brings it home that yesterday I spent a lot of time looking at some of our stock prices and doing long term planning. And in an instant I was no longer thinking past right now and if Cindy is okay.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Saturday, December 21, 2013 3:58 PM CST

Christmas already! This year has flown by. We are back in Clearwater after our fun time in Key West.

The only exciting plan for us the rest of this year, is a ZZ Top concert on Friday.

To sum up 2013 for us. The year started out good, with us in Florida and no major health issues.

When we got back to Iowa in April, Cindy had a very tough time with skin cancer, infection and pain, lasting from May to August, but she recovered and is doing pretty well as the year comes to an end.

I had a lot of medical tests and some painful injuries but it all turned out okay and I recovered fully…as much as possible given the aging process. Certainly used up all our "max-out-of-pocket" medical expenses getting through that.

Cindy's ankle is much better, and rarely swells now. That was an issue for the last half of this year.

Skin cancer is still an issue for Cindy but she has an appointment with a specialist here in Clearwater. A friend referred us to a Dr. RIchard Miller, who is the top rated dermatologist in this area. Cindy sees him on Jan. 7th.

Spending the winters in Florida has done wonders for Cindy's spirit. I now fully appreciate just how much Cindy dreaded being cooped up in the house, with her inability to freely go places. And how it affected her mentally.

Now, she is outside every single day. She is swimming in the pool beside me, as I type this, (posted a picture just now). That great smile always on her face.

When Cindy returned to Iowa a few weeks ago, She was stressed to the point of exhaustion. Some of it surely over concern for her sister but most of it from being in the snow and icy weather. Unsure of footing and knowing that she was stressing everyone who was there helping her.

When Cindy returned to Florida, the first two days she slept almost around the clock. The second day she was back in Florida, she was only awake for a total of 4 hours.

We always take it as a good year if we can get through it without Cindy being in the hospital. This is the second year in a row for that.

However, Cindy's sister Karla has not fared as well. Karla is now living in an assisted care facility and it looks like all the red tape issues have been settled. She should be able to live there for the remainder of time she has.

We hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 19, 2013 2:00 PM CST

Final warning! Last part of Travelogue.

This morning, Thursday, the weather could not be any better. Sitting out by the pool writing this last segment for our Key West trip.

On Wednesday morning we decided to enjoy the serenity of the Harbor Inn for much of the day. I posted some pictures of what the view looks like from our front porch of the Cuba cottage. Kind of like a tropical forest. Very peaceful.

The weather was beautiful yesterday too, light breeze but upper 70s, low 80s for temps.

In the morning, Cindy and I sat on the porch, reading our Kindle, iPad and computer. Do they still make books?

Directly across the street is the most famous Key Lime pie store in KW, called Kermit's Key Lime Shoppe.

If you look at his website, he is the funny little guy in the tall chef's hat, standing on the corner holding out one of his famous pies. We also posted a photo of him that Cindy took this afternoon.


I got a hankering for Key Lime Pie, because no trip to Key West is complete until you have a piece….of Key Lime pie. I got up and walked to the front gate, and there was Kermit, letting himself in to our Inn, with his own key.

I told him I was just coming over for some pie. Kermit said, if he had known, he would have brought some to us. He told me he was coming over to chat with Leonardo, the owner of the Inn.

Tuesday night we heard from Louis Petrone, also known as Key West Lou. He knew we were going to be in town and he invited us to dinner at Square One.

Lou told us that he had made reservations for us on Wednesday evening and would meet us there at 7:30.

I have written about KW Lou on previous trips. He is a retired attorney from New York. He has a home here and does a blog, called Key West Lou, a radio show, a local TV show and he writes books.

Very interesting guy. His birthday is also the same day as Cindy, July 6th, although, in a much earlier year.

Louis wrote about Cindy on his blog yesterday and then again today at www.keywestlou.com

Lou had invited us to stay at his house out on exclusive Key Haven but being from the Midwest, we felt that was too imposing. We would also have had to rely on him for transportation or rent a car.

Anyway, we appreciated the offer but we stayed at KWHI instead.

On the way to Square One, Cindy and I stopped in a small place we had read about, called Bobby's Monkey Bar. It is a locals' spot. No tourists here at all.

When we walked in, there were only two seats open but as we approached the seats, a man sitting next to the open spots, slid over and took one of the seats so we couldn't sit there.

Another guy around the corner, called him out on it and he moved over there and gave us his seats. We sat down next to two women on the corner. I immediately noticed that one of them was not really a woman.

Then I eventually noticed that the other woman was even more manly. They were either transgender or cross dressers. Not sure.

Then I turned to my left and at the other corner sat a man?/boy? dressed in a Santa's elf costume. This guy had on makeup and his face looked more like a cartoon character than a real person. But he was real.

Cindy started talking to the man?/woman? next to her and it turns out that she is a writer and had spent time at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. A world renowned institution. Our conversation was very interesting.

Our short time at Bobby's Monkey Bar was a true, Key West experience, for sure.

Then it was time to move on to Square One. Square One was on our list of places to hit this trip. Under new owners but still highly regarded.

The evening there and time spent with Lou, was fun as always. He is very political and hard core liberal. Since we don't always agree with him, he kiddingly refers to us as black heart Republicans.

After a long time at Square One which included the best meal we had in Key West, Louis then took us to one of his favorite night spots.

More fun there, meeting new people that Lou knows and then finally, home.

However, as we got close to the Inn, we stopped by a couple more places.

First stop, the Schooner Wharf Bar, right next to the water at the boat harbor and the number one tourist "must do" places. We hate it just for that reason but still we went in.

And then onto Solo. Solo American Bistro is located in the former Sports Page Grille building. It is now a New York-type nightclub.

There was a woman standing outside and we asked what the place was like. She said that she was too old for that place. I asked her age and she told me 41!

We went inside anyway. The music was booming that loud, dance club music so you couldn't hear yourself talk and the place was filled with all the "pretty people", none older than 30.

A guy seated near us kept yelling stuff at us but we couldn't understand him because the music was too loud, we thought. Turns out he was yelling at us in Czech or Russian, or some Eastern European language.

The staff quickly came over and three of them hustled him out of the place. Then they came over and apologized to us.

It was time to head home. It was after 2:30 this morning. Our final night in Key West.

Our flight leaves this afternoon. Not enough time to get in a much needed nap.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 8:10 AM CST

Second Warning! Continuing Travelogue, part II.

Our second day in Key West and the weather is fantastic. No sweatshirt needed, even in the evenings.

We headed out for the day, stopping in some shops and buying a few things along the way. The wheelchair bag serving as our pack mule. Eventually we ended up near the south end of Duval Street.

It was about lunch time and we were right in front of an Irish Pub so we went inside. The place used to be named Bogart's but the new owner renamed it McConnell's Irish Pub.

We were the only customers in the place because they just opened the doors for the day. A very neat atmosphere, pretty much what you would expect an Irish pub to look like. Lots of wood and brass.

We sat at the bar, looking forward to having lunch at an Irish pub, as we observed the activity and chatted with the female bartender, Cathy. She was originally from Ireland and still had quite an accent.

Cathy explained to us that here was a professional photography crew there taking pictures for their website. The owner was there, helping direct the shots the way he wanted. He was sort of a pushy type, not all that friendly.

After we ordered our lunch, another couple came in and also sat at the bar. The staff was scurrying around moving things and meticulously cleaning the brass rails and wood balusters.

Just as our food was coming out of the kitchen, the owner came over and asked us (more like, TOLD us) to step away from the bar while the photographer took shots of the bar. "It will only take a minute".

I was perturbed about the timing and the difficulty for Cindy to just "pick up and move", along with all our silverware, drinks, napkins, condiments, etc. But we complied.

Then they asked us to just go outside and sit at the courtyard tables to eat our lunch.

Now I was very perturbed, or much more accurately, "pissed off". Why didn't they do this before they opened for the day?

Once we got all situated at a table, we ate our food outside, (which I hate doing by the way), instead of experiencing lunch at an Irish pub. Cathy kept coming over and apologizing and telling us how stupid it was for the owner to move us.

Cathy is a fixture at this place, been there for 20 years. It wasn't her fault and she paid for our drinks to make it up. I tipped her quite generously but we didn't stick around after eating.

As we were leaving, Cindy used the restroom. I stood inside and watched the photographer set up for more shots at the bar….still. ("It will only take a minute.")

Only now he had one of the young waitresses up on the bar, in a reclining pose, wrapped in a small Irish flag around her hips and a napkin covering her breasts. This is all she had on!!

I'll let you absorb that scene for a moment.

Cindy came out of the restroom and Cathy again told her that she was so sorry for having us move.

Cindy said, "That's ok but I do have to say, I know this photo shot is supposed to be all sexy and everything, but that girl's underwear and jeans are just laying on the floor in the middle of the bathroom."

Cathy was horrified, "Oh my God!, you're kidding??"
Cindy: "Um no, I'm not kidding".

I wonder who ate their food at the bar after that photo-shoot was over?

We moseyed along up Duval and then cut over to Whitehead Street. Duval Street, being the center of activity for Old Town Key West. Whitehead and Simonton Streets, run parallel to Duval, on either side.

We stopped at Prana Spa and inquired about a couples massage. This spa was the most unique and awesome spa experience in Key West but it's obviously changed hands.

Prana Spa didn't have openings that day but once we saw the very non-personal way it's run now, we weren't interested.

We continued up Whitehead Street, stopping in several places but eventually ended up at Smokin Tuna for the second time. Again, we were the only people in the place besides the bartender, Steven.

Steven is the spitting image of Bobby, the bartender from the first day. Bobby wasn't working until 5PM. There must be a requirement that they all look the same.

Steven wasn't as fun as Bobby…at first. The employee Christmas party was the night before and Steven got home at 5AM.

He told us that there were 10 bartenders at the party, so the owner hired guest bartenders to take care of them. The bill after 2 hours was over $3000! The owner paid for the entire evening.

Steven told us he was mostly in a fetal position in bed all day, crying, "Why?, Why?", until just before coming back to work that afternoon.

Steven eventually loosened up after doing (several?) shots of a cinnamon whisky called "Fireball". Then he was quite funny and very animated. At one point, he was even doing "wheelies" in Cindy's wheelchair.

The place eventually filled up and we got to talking to 3 couples from Maryland. This was their first trip to Key West and they had been here a week.

It was fun hearing their take on Key West and comparing notes, us being old hat and they being newbies. We had a great time with this group.

We exchanged names, email addresses, took group photos and promised to all stay in touch (usually never happens but newbies don't know that yet) and then we parted ways. They were all flying home today.

Steven had told us when we first arrived that Caffeine Carl was playing on stage at 6:00 so we decided to stay and see him. Several people have told us he is the best guitar player in Key West, as good as Eric Clapton.

At 6:00, Bobby was back at work and he introduced us to his wife. She was formerly a captain on one of the large sailboats that cruises from Key West to Boston every year. But now with a small child, she is working in an art gallery on Duval.

A group consisting of two guys, a guitar player and keyboardist, started playing music. I asked Bobby if this is Caffeine Carl. "Oh, no, Carl doesn't play till 9:00 tonight."


We meandered up Duval and stopped at Fogarty's for something to eat. Very good food here, always.

After that, we headed towards home on the quiet back streets, away from the noise of Duval. When we got to the Inn, the owner, Leonardo was standing by his vehicle.

I asked if he was coming or going, or did he even know which. He told us that he got "kicked out" of his condo because a guest needed the room. So he was sleeping at the Inn, in the St. Martin room.

I asked if he needed help unloading but there was a guy with him, helping him get settled. We said our good evenings and Cindy and I were soon in bed and asleep again, after Day Two.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 8:12 AM CST

Warning!! Travelogue portion of Cindy's page.

First day in Key West! Our limo from home to the Tampa airport arrived at 6AM!

Early start but we were excited to get there and not able to sleep much anyway. The ride from our place to the Tampa airport was about 45 minutes in pre-rush hour traffic.

Our driver was a lady from New Jersey and she knew EVERYTHING. And she told us so during the entire ride. Hope we have a different limo driver when we get back to Tampa.

The Tampa airport is very nice and easy to get around. Even though it's much larger than our airport in Clearwater.

We flew on Silver Airlines. Never heard of them before. They were very helpful and took Cindy and me out to board early.

They had to use a manual-crank lift to raise her up to the plane. I asked the young guy where his electric motor was. He just laughed and pointed to his biceps while he cranked away.

We had a nice, 50 minute flight down to Key West. The plane seats 26 and there were only 16 people aboard. When we arrived in Key West, they brought out the lift so Cindy could get off the plane but she told them that going DOWN stairs was no problem.

The four people sent out to help were pretty amazed by that and all had big smiles. Of course, this is Key West, where everyone smiles all the time. Cindy's wheelchair was waiting at the bottom of the steps (a big relief that it made the flight).

We got to Key West Harbor Inn, where we always stay and it was only 10AM, so our room wasn't ready.

We stay in a little cottage called Cuba and it's very nice. All on the ground floor, no steps, and a walk-in shower with a seat. You can see photos of all the rooms on their website.

Tracy, the manager came out to meet us and big hugs all around. She is fantastic. Tracy told us she missed us the last two Februarys and she wanted us to meet the owner of KWHI. Leonardo was sitting in her office. He lives in Atlanta and we had never met him.

Leonardo had polio as a child so he is on crutches or in a wheelchair all the time. He was a very nice, down to earth guy and really wanted to meet Cindy. Tracy had talked about Cindy with him many times.

Leonardo wanted to see Cindy's custom-made crutches. His crutches were the adjustable type and looked like they had been through a war. We talked to him for quite awhile and then finally said we were going over to Pepe's for breakfast.

I left our luggage right outside the office, on the porch, and Tracy said she would put it in our cottage as soon as it was cleaned.

Had an awesome breakfast at Pepe's. Oldest restaurant in South Florida. Many famous photographs line the wall from all the people who come there to eat.

The idea of my breakfast gags Cindy but it was unbelievably good. Creamed Chip beef on toast!! The thought of it is awful for Cindy but I grew up eating it and love it. This was the best SOS I've ever had.

We were just walking down the sidewalk, outside the gate to the Inn, when Cindy got a phone call. It was Security at the airport and they had our luggage. Cindy was confused so she handed the phone to me.

The deputy sheriff described our bag and said it was on the sidewalk outside the terminal. I quickly unlocked the gate and ran inside to the office to find Tracy. She was nowhere to be found but Leonardo was there.

I told him that our bag must have gotten scooped up with others when someone left for the airport. And that is what happened. Leonardo right away got up and offered to take me back to the airport to get the bag.

I was in a mad panic, not about the few clothes in our luggage but ALL of Cindy's medications were in the bag. The thought of not having her seizure medication and pain meds was frightening.

So away we went, leaving Cindy by the pool. Leonardo and I had a great conversation on the trip out and back.

He took me by the condo building he owns and where he stays while in town. There are rentals there as well, if the Inn is full.

He also drove down some back streets I had never been on, telling me interesting details about different places.

When we got back to the Inn, our room was ready so we got settled and unpacked. Then out for the day, roaming around Old Town Key West. Some changes since we were here last but still very familiar.

There was a cruise ship in port so there were LOTS and LOTS of parents with small children. Once we got away from the port area of town, that kind of thinned out.

We stopped at a very cool place called Smokin Tuna. The owner is the former owner of Hogs Breath Saloon. When he sold HBS most of the staff went with him to the new place.

It's very deceiving, down a small alley and behind two very old buildings. It opens up into a courtyard and is very inviting. There is a stage where many famous music acts perform. Kenny Chesney just filmed a video on stage a few weeks ago.

We talked a long time with "Bobby", the bartender and he told us many stories of all the famous people who live in Key West and come to the Smokin Tuna. He said it's funny that these people are usually not recognized.

One story from a month ago, was Dale Earnhart Jr was sitting where we were sitting and there were several fans sitting across the bar with Nascar hats on. They didn't even know it was him.

They were closing at 5:00 that day for the employees Christmas party, so we moved on to other favorites…Conch Republic Seafood Co., Turtle Kraals, Tattoos and Scars, Island Dogs.

And finally home, where we were soon in bed and asleep. Our first, long day in Key West.

Saturday, December 14, 2013 6:29 AM CST

Cindy is back home in Florida. Her plane landing was pretty cool for me.

Thursday night I had dinner at Bascom's Chop House, which is situated at the end of the airport runway. I left the restaurant when I saw on my iPhone app, that Cindy's plane was minutes from landing.

When I got to my truck, I scanned the sky for a plane but didn't see any. Got in my truck and just pulled on the main road, when out of the dark sky, to my left, a huge plane was approaching.

Her plane (Allegiant very clear on the side) flew right over top of my vehicle. Barely a 100 feet above me, if that. That was the cool part.

After getting to the terminal, the airport staff wheeled Cindy out to where I was parked and I went back and got her luggage. Her bag was the first one out of the carousel. A perfect arrival.

Cindy had a busy time while in Iowa. She met with Karla's doctors, spent lots of time with Karla at Windmill Manor and Cindy also saw her own Dermatologist for more skin cancer issues.

On Monday, Cindy and Michael spent most of the day in Iowa City at Karla's temporary home, Windmill Manor. During the day, Michael drove Cindy to the store where she bought some clothes and other things for Karla.

On Tuesday, Nikki drove Cindy to Iowa City. They both went with Karla for a consultation with her oncologist, Dr. Berg at UIHC. Dr Berg, answered many questions, that had been compiled by all family members.

The news is that Karla has 4th stage metastatic breast cancer, even though there are aspects that are still questionable about the origin of the cancer.

Further testing would be more invasive and doctors don't feel it necessary at this time. They will monitor the hormone treatment with these questions in mind and do further testing as indicated.

On Tuesday, Cindy also saw her dermatologist for a spot on her hand that won't go away. While she was there, they spotted other areas that needed attention. So Cindy now has a couple wounds on her face, one on her cheek and one on her nose.

They also froze a couple spots on her toe as well as removing the big spot on her hand. Cindy will have to do follow up with a doctor here in Florida, so we are looking for a doctor.

Wednesday, Cindy was stuck at home in the morning due to the bad weather. Schools were closed that day too.

In the afternoon, Kevin and Cindy went down and spent time with Karla. On the way home, Kevin dropped Cindy off at Michael and Nikki's for supper with them.

Thursday, Gary Scott drove Cindy to Iowa City to Windmill Manor. Cindy talked to the staff about ongoing issues over Karla's housing, while she was there.

Michael, Nikki and Jacob drove down to Windmill Manor in the late afternoon and picked up Cindy to take her to the airport.

All in all, a very productive trip for Cindy and she feels much better about Karla's situation. Well, as good as is possible.

Cindy and I leave for Key West on Monday. We have not been there in a few years and we are anxious to get back.

After wrestling with the idea of taking a ferry from the Naples area (about 2 hours south of us) or flying, we decided flying was the better option. We will fly out of the Tampa airport, a short, one hour trip.

We will be back home next weekend. Home is in Florida, if that sounded confusing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 7:19 AM CST

The weather here continues in its warm, sunny pattern. The temps are in the 80s everyday and low 70s at night. The only downside is we need A/C for sleeping. The last two winters we hardly ever had the A/C on.

Not that I am complaining. I see that it's (-)2 degrees in Iowa this morning. And right on time, a snow storm was occurring when Cindy arrived Sunday night, with 4 inches of snow.

Cindy made it back to Iowa just fine. I was able to take her all the way to security before I had to say goodbye. Then the airport staff took her in a wheelchair through Security and to the plane.

She texted me later that her plane was delayed 30 minutes. But the pilot made up the time while in air and she landed pretty much on time, in just over 2 hours.

Michael, Nikki and Jacob greeted Cindy at the bottom of the steps at the airport. They took her to their house for a nice dinner and then took her home to bed. She was exhausted.

Last night Cindy went outside on our patio and made a snow angel (with Aaron there to help her of course). Cindy has made a snow angel every year that I can remember. Except the last two winters because we were here in Florida.

Her snow angel is kinda funny looking now, like the angel is missing part of her skirt. Cindy told me this morning that she hopes that is the last snow angel she ever makes.

I posted a picture of Cindy's snow angel in the Clearwater 2014 album.

Of course, I'm as cool as a cucumber with Cindy being gone. And to help me stay that way, Cindy fell last Friday night.

We went to Columbia for dinner Friday night and as we were leaving, Cindy's crutches slid on the wet tile floor. Just as we got to the door, she went down, face first with a sickening thud.

The restaurant manager Steve and our friend Amanda were right there immediately, as we helped Cindy get up. Cindy said she was not hurt but I had her pause a moment just to make sure. Steve asked if we wanted to file a complaint.

Cindy was very upset that she had fallen in such a public way, on top of knowing that this would make me even more nervous about her flying home alone. I was so traumatized I think I was a little in shock. It happened so fast!

I repeatedly asked her if she hit her head. To me it looked like her face had hit the floor. She assured me she hadn't hit her head. (Describing this in writing has me squirming).

We got home and sat on the balcony and calmed each other down before going to bed. The next morning, Cindy said that her hip hurt on her little leg side and her elbow was sore but nothing too bad. She was very lucky.

The first day home, Cindy and Michael spent the entire day in Iowa City with her sister Karla, who is now at a care facility called Windmill Manor.

Today (Tuesday) Nikki is taking Cindy to Iowa City.

Cindy has an appointment in Iowa City with the Dermatology department this morning. Cindy has a spot on her hand that won't heal. It was treated a couple times over the summer but it just comes back.

Cindy will have to warn them to be careful how they go about removing it. The spot is near her wrist, on the back of her hand and any big injury there could interfere with her ability to use her crutches.

This afternoon Cindy and Nikki will meet with Karla's oncologist to discuss the many questions we all have. Karla was supposed to have another MRI today but they couldn't get her scheduled soon enough.

I repeat from the last journal entry, Karla has her own Caringbridge webpage now, with her son Mitchel updating her condition.

It's www.caringbridge.org/visit/karlasellers.

On Thursday night Cindy will fly back home to me on another direct flight. I will probably be at the airport 4 hours early. Anxious much?

One thing I want to mention is about this website. A friend told me that he could not get on Cindy's Caringbridge page. He kept getting an error message.

It turns out that Caringbridge had blocked his Internet Service Provider (Mediacom). He was able to get on when he was away from home, using another Wifi.

And that is a good test for anyone who can't get on…try it from somewhere else.

Once he called Caringbridge, they fixed it so he wasn't blocked anymore. They said it's a precaution against spam attacks and sometimes innocent people are affected.

So if you sometime can't get on, or if you know someone who can't, first try it from your cellphone or a computer while away from your home.

Then, call Caringbridge at (651) 789-2300.

I keep finding notes around the house, left for me by Cindy. Under my pillow, in the silverware drawer and this morning I found one in the dishwasher. All of them expressing love and assuring me that she will be fine.

It's pretty sweet. But I wonder why she assumed I would keep the kitchen picked up (the note in the dishwasher), maybe it's a test?

Now I'm wondering where else I am going to find a note. I better keep digging.

Friday, December 6, 2013 1:33 AM CST

The weather has been beautiful this week. In the 80s everyday and lots of sun.

Cindy's sister Karla is still in Iowa City hospital. Her oldest son, Mitchel has created a Caringbridge webpage for her. Mitchel and Kenny will post updates for her there.

The new webpage, authored by her sons, is a more appropriate venue for sharing Karla's personal health information.

The web address for Karla is, www.caringbridge.org/visit/karlasellers

We have spotted dolphins this week and a few stingrays. Wednesday I happened to walk out on the balcony just as a bird was eaten by a fish. That was something to see.

The other birds in the group (I believe they were seagulls) kept going back to the spot where some feathers were floating on top of the water. Then a small reef shark came along and made a beeline for the "debris field".

Yesterday, Cindy and I had a little picnic lunch with Lori at a nearby park. It was a nice time. Lori has a cold so she was keeping her distance from Cindy. None of us want Cindy getting sick before she flies home on Sunday.

The temperatures back home will be quite a shock for Cindy. She certainly won't have to pack many clothes to take home with her. The only clothes she has here are shorts and summer blouses and tee-shirts.

Cindy is doing much better with her leg pain. Just planning for the trip gave her a sense of taking control and that relieved a lot of stress. Extra pain medication had a hand in helping also.

Cindy will try to bring some of this warm weather home with her.

Monday, December 2, 2013 9:36 AM CST

The weather here has been very foggy the last couple days. They call it Sea Fog on the news. It is so thick we can't see the ground, or even more than a few feet away from our balcony. It's supposed to clear off this afternoon, maybe.

I'm afraid that we have bad news in our family again. Cindy's little sister, Karla Sellers, has cancer. We were expecting this news but it came quick and furious.

Karla is at the University hospital in Iowa City again. The doctors did tests over the weekend and they show that the cancer has basically spread everywhere, stomach, colon, bones, organs, etc.

Karla is also losing blood internally and one of her kidneys is not functioning.

Right now they are trying to determine the cancer cell type. They are suspecting breast cancer just from what they see under the scope but that would be unusual to spread to the colon and stomach.

In our family, unusual is the norm. Given Karla's history with Gardner's Syndrome, they may be mistaken.

But in the end, it doesn't matter. Once cancer has spread it is called metastatic cancer and that is a whole other bag of worms to treat.

We still don't have a lot of information but that will be coming through this week as Kevin and Cindy get a chance to talk to doctors directly.

Cindy has been having a terrible bout of leg pain. Increasing daily. There is no doubt that stress is a cause. This morning Cindy was almost screaming with pain. Very bad.

To regain some control over the situation and her pain, Cindy wants to return to Iowa for a few days. We talked over details and both agree that this is what she needs to do.

So I booked her on a direct flight for Sunday.

She will be flying alone, but I have ensured everything on both ends. Our family on the Iowa end will greet her in Cedar Rapids and take good care of her every need.

For now, we are taking things a phone call at a time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 10:28 AM CST

Cloudy and rainy here in Paradise today. Expected low tomorrow night in the upper 30s. Hope that helps you in the North feel better.

Although, by Friday the forecast is mid-70s and sunny. Sorry.

Last week I was walking on the beach on a warm, sunny day (bad segue?) and I came along a fisherman who had caught a reef shark.

He was having great difficulty getting the hook out of the mouth of the shark. The shark would snap at him every few minutes. I don't know if it's legal to catch sharks but this guy had a small crowd gathered around watching him.

I posted a photo of the catch in a new folder, titled Clearwater 2014. Just getting started filling the folder. More pictures as the season progresses.

We are getting prepared for our little Thanksgiving. Cindy is cooking a small turkey and all the fixins, which will provide plenty of leftovers (the ultimate goal of Thanksgiving dinner in our family).

Cindy is anxiously awaiting her new iPad. It was supposed to arrive last week. But shipping from China has obvious hiccups.

Yesterday the UPS driver was here but we weren't, so he/she didn't leave the package. So today, we are diligently watching and waiting, not leaving home until the iPad is here.

As soon as the package arrives, I am off to a far-off Walgreens to pick up Cindy's prescription. As I wrote about last year, getting Cindy's pain medication prescription filled down here is a big hassle.

The Florida laws are very strict about narcotics. If a pharmacy doesn't have it, they cannot tell you which pharmacy DOES have it.

You are left to wander from place to place until you find the heavily-regulated drug on hand. In a metropolitan area of almost 3 million people, this could take days!

We made "friends" with the nearby Walgreen pharmacy manager, Mike back in early 2012. Mike understands our situation and has called around to other Walgreen managers to find out who has it.

The pharmacist who waited on me yesterday took this position of not helping, so I asked to speak to the manager Mike, who was fortunately at work at the time.

Mike discreetly helped us again and after several phone calls, found the drug clear across town at another Walgreens.

That is where I am heading today. After this refill, Mike assured me that he will have enough for the rest of our stay in Florida this year.

Cindy's ankle is doing better. It still swells once in awhile. She has been riding the Airdyne but not everyday, to give her ankle some rest.

I notice that she is still dragging herself along with her weight mostly on her crutches; rather than stepping briskly through, using her foot and leg muscle to carry her weight.

That tells me that she is still favoring the ankle. When Cindy is healthy she can move right along on her crutches.

Cindy's skin cancer wounds are all healed now and her skin looks pretty good. I bought her a chair with an umbrella attached and it works very well on the porch. Cindy can still sit out on her favorite spot and not be exposed to the sun.

We have another issue going on right now but we don't know much yet. Cindy's sister, Karla is having some serious health issues. Still waiting on biopsy reports. Karla is being treated at the University hospital in Iowa City (UIHC).

As I wrote several years ago, Karla was diagnosed with Gardner's Syndrome the same year Cindy had her brain tumor and their mother was dying of Pancreatic cancer. It was a busy year.

Karla was treated at the time but the problem has now returned and it's much more serious. You can Google Gardner's Syndrome for a full explanation and understanding of how bad the disease is. I won't go into it here.

Anyway, I will continue to update on this site about Karla's situation as we find out more.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 9:04 AM CST

We are all settled in Florida. It already feels like we never left from last winter.

Gary left for home on Thursday morning, he was gone before I was up. That's early!

Although, I have to admit, my sleeping has much improved over the past year. Many mornings I am sleeping past 6AM, unheard of for most of my adult life.

Retired life is good. I think the reduction in stress (in several aspects of my life) has really helped me.

It has always amazed me that Cindy (who I stress most about) sleeps like a baby. With all that girl goes through, she remains unchanged and seemingly unfazed by it all.

Cindy and I have been to several of our favorite spots and reconnected with friends from down here. Especially Lori, who is like family.

Of course we have been in touch with Lori all through the year, via email and texts. But it was much better to see her in person. We met Lori for lunch on Thursday and got all caught up.

I organized a space for Cindy to do her painting and craft work. It is a much better spot than what she used the last two winters here. She can spread her stuff out and now has a greater working surface.

The weather here is up and down. One day it might be mid-80s and sunny and the next it's 70 degrees, cloudy and windy.

But one thing it isn't, is snowy and cold. We still sit outside most every night, barefoot and shorts. I always say to Cindy, "we wouldn't be doing this in Iowa".

We have been researching different things we want to do this year. One thing Cindy brought up is to go see the Space center at Cape Canaveral. That is only a couple hours away and sounds interesting. They were supposed to launch a rocket from there yesterday.

We also plan to finally get back to Key West this year. It will either be via the ferry from Marco Island or we will just fly a puddle-jumper from Tampa. Either way, we won't drive it. Too far and a vehicle in Key West is unneeded and a hassle to park.

There are friends from back in Iowa who live in different locations near us and we plan to meet up with them too. One couple, Terry & Nancy Gaffney, just built a new home in The Villages.

We have wanted to see what the excitement is all about for this place. One thing that I do like about The Villages, is that everyone drives around on golf carts, everywhere they go. Just like back home on the island. I like that aspect.

I got the power steps installed on the truck and they were an instant hit. Cindy loves them. She can now get in the truck without assistance. I have to admit, they work better for me too.

Well, we're off to get my first Florida haircut this season. Cindy is going along because I have been bragging to her about LuAnn. I think she can do a better job cutting Cindy's hair than the place Cindy has been going.

Cindy hasn't been very satisfied with that other place. LuAnn is going to just take a look at how Cindy's hair is right now…the way she likes it.

Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 5:33 AM CST

Addition Tuesday night:
Can't believe I wrote the update below and didn't mention Cindy's Iowa City doctor appointment from last week.

So here is that part…Cindy had her appt with Dr Buckwalter on Wednesday (Nov 6th). He ordered an Xray before we even saw him.

When he came in the room after Xray, he said, "nothing broken, I was thinking a stress fracture….BUT, there is a fluid mass around your ankle and if it was anybody else, I would bet some sort of overuse thing but since it's you, I'm not taking chances".

So off we went to MRI for a scan. Dr. B called the next day and told Cindy, it's a sprained ankle.

Don't know how she sprained it but for now, less use, nothing that causes discomfort.

Cindy asked if she can still ride the Airdyne every day. He said, as long as it doesn't hurt, go ahead. He also suggested an ankle wrap occasionally for support, keep it elevated as much as you can and let him know in a few weeks how things are going.

So that is all there is to that. Now back to the rest of the update.

We have arrived in Florida! Sunny and mid-80s for temperatures. So muggy that we have the A/C going right now.

Cindy and I flew to Clearwater Sunday evening. The flight was on time and uneventful but still with little annoyances as usual.

We were seated in the second row and two women sat down in the bulkhead seats in front of us.

The flight attendant was standing right next to them and told them that they would have to put their carry-on bags in the overhead because under the seats was reserved for each row behind.

Within one minute these two women were trying to cram their bags under the seat, where Cindy and I had stored OUR carry-on bags and had placed our feet. One of the women said, "Somebody has their bags under OUR seats".

Traveling is fun.

We did meet someone from the past. During boarding, Mike Hessenius walked by and said hello. It took me a minute because I have not seen Mike since high school some 40 years ago.

But I looked at his face for a moment and then said, "Mike?" I guessed right.

Mike, his wife and another couple are staying at the Marriott, right up the street from us. We exchanged phone numbers while waiting for our luggage and also caught up with each other for the last 40 years. Mike's brother Jim, is the prosthetist who built Cindy's prosthetic leg.

Mike was hobbled himself and was riding on one of those little scooters, where you place your knee and then push along with your good leg in a standing position.

His ankle has been fused and he told me about the two years of hell he has gone through, with several hospitalizations.

I asked him if his brother JIm had talked him into the "fake foot" option (that doctors had recommended). Mike said, no way…at least, not yet.

Gary was waiting for us outside the airport in Clearwater and off we went.

The second day was very busy with all the unpacking. I also had to drive Gary to Orlando so he could pick up the vehicle he will drive home. It was not at the first location and we ended up driving across Orlando to another site.

When I drove back through Tampa on the way home, the traffic was horrible. The reason became apparent as I approached the exit for the football stadium. There was a Monday Night NFL football game in town. What chaos!

By the time Gary and I got home and we unpacked all the groceries I bought, it was time to head out for dinner. None of us had eaten a thing all day.

Off to one of our favorite spots, Crabby Bills. Dinner was awesome, as usual.

We got home, had one toddy on the balcony, enjoying the evening and Cindy was falling asleep. Off to bed at 8pm for all of us. I think the last two days finally caught up to us.

Today, Gary and I will take my truck to the truck store to get power steps installed. These steps will make it very easy for Cindy to get in and out of the truck, which sits pretty high off the ground.

Other than that, the day is wide open.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 8:04 PM CST

I thought the next update would be from sunny Florida. However, Cindy is still having trouble with her ankle so she got in to see Dr. Buckwalter in Iowa City tomorrow.

We will probably be there most of the day. I have a doctor appointment in the afternoon but I may have to miss that.

Hopefully we can determine what is causing all the pain and swelling. Cindy is not walking very well right now.

Our vehicle leaves tomorrow for Florida (without us), with Gary driving it. He should be in Florida by the weekend (and it will take him the rest of the weekend to empty the vehicle). Haha.

Gary might be rethinking this whole deal. I thought we would only be taking a few things until I saw the PILE Cindy had prepared. Girl's gotta have options.

I did try to get her to whittle some things down but all she has to do is give me the sad eyes and I'm a sucker for that. Luckily we are taking the truck and not the Murano.

We decided on the truck because we want to take a road trip next Spring. We plan to explore the Gulf coast of Florida, all the way to New Orleans. After that we will meander over to Texas and then up through Kansas.

Cindy will be pretty comfortable in the backseat on the way home next year. I threw in a bunch of pillows and blankets. She can build a fort back there while she watches the DVD player.

We had a practice run to/from Wichita in the truck last week and she did pretty well. I think she can tolerate 4 or 5 hours at a time now, as long as she's comfortable.

Okay, the NEXT update should be from Florida, unless we get some unexpected news in Iowa City tomorrow.

Oh, and we still kept our 30 year record intact for the Spencer Anniversary dinner. We will be doing that on Saturday night before we fly out to Florida on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 2:20 PM CDT

We had a great time in Wichita with Phil & Julie and their son Logan. The trip home yesterday was quicker than normal, with hardly any traffic and great weather. Cindy slept most of the way home so we only stopped once in 7 hours.

When we unpacked our luggage last night, I found Logan's TV controller in with our clothes. So off to the Post Office this morning to mail that back to Wichita.

Cindy got a call back from her doctor in Iowa City and was told that the spot on her stomach was not cancer. Great news! All the other cancer spots that were removed are healing well, with no signs of infection.

Cindy is all done with doctor stuff for now. I have two more doctor appointments and then I will be done too.

We are in the last few days of our time in Iowa. This weekend we will get all our stuff from Guttenberg and make sure everything up there is tidied up for the winter.

We are busy with last minute details before we leave for Florida. Can't believe how much we have left to do. I keep thinking I am forgetting something.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 3:48 AM CDT

Cindy had her appointment yesterday with the skin specialist at the University in Iowa City. Dr. Stone and Dr Wood looked at all the cancer spots and decided to remove most of them by freezing them.

Except for one large spot on Cindy's stomach. That one started out to be just a small biopsy with a razor but it was deeper than suspected. After Dr. Wood took a couple tries at it, she deferred to Dr. Stone, who had to take at least 3 "scoops" to get it all.

Now Cindy has quite a gouge out of her stomach. We will wait on the biopsy results to see if they need to take more. Cindy has a pressure bandage on her stomach for a couple days and then wound care until it's healed.

As for the rest of the spots, they were all frozen. It resulted in about 40 frozen spots on Cindy's arms, hands, face, chest, leg and foot. These spots are now angry blisters.

There are more spots that will be treated with a chemo cream. But not the drug Cindy reacted so badly to this summer. This is a different drug and should not cause any problems. Cindy will use the chemo cream 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

Other than that, Cindy is good to go for Florida. The doctors were aware that we would be gone and told us we can call anytime if there are problems. They will hook us up to a Florida doctor if necessary.

Cindy has been having trouble with her ankle again. It started hurting last week and she is walking with difficulty. Cindy had this once before when we were in Florida the first winter. It got so bad that time, she had to ride her scooter around the house.

This time, Cindy is soaking her foot and ankle in epsom salts several times a day. It seems to be helping. We will take the scooter with us to Florida as a precaution. Never know when she may need it.

I had been watching Cindy over the past few weeks and have noticed that she moves with slow deliberation. Not that I don't watch her ALL the time. But it had me concerned. I am relieved to find that it's her ankle. We can deal with that.

A couple weeks ago, Cindy and I took our new annual trip up to Gays Mills, Wisconsin. We don't go for the apples, we go for the drive. It is gorgeous up around there. We found another road we have never been on and for most of the drive on that road we were the only car.

We got back to Prairie du Chien late in the day and we met up for dinner with an old friend from Vinton, Larry Eckhart.

Larry and I were close friends before Cindy and I were married and we stayed in touch sporadically through the years.

Larry is now retired and living near Potosi, Wisconsin. He has a girl friend, Kathy who came with him to Prairie. It was good to see Larry again and we talked a lot about old times.

Cindy gently guided the conversation back to the present every once in awhile so that Kathy didn't feel left out. There were lots of laughs. It was a very fun day.

Last week, I drove Cindy to her hair salon appointment in McGregor. To kill time while I waited, I drove across the bridge to Prairie du Chien and to the Cabelas store.

I was looking at some clothes at Cabelas when I heard, like through a megaphone, "Tommmm Lynnnnnnch".

I turned around and there was Larry (and Kathy) standing about 20 feet away, with a goofy grin on his face. Funny. We talked for a bit. They were just returning from a motorcycle cruise to Gays Mills. Our trip had inspired them.

When I returned to McGregor I drove around town and found a road that took me clear to the top of a bluff. Nothing up there but heavy timber and several hidden cabins.

I couldn't wait to pick up Cindy and return to the spot. That we did. Cindy was amazed that neither of us knew this existed. We have been to McGregor many, many times and have never been up there.

Earlier this summer we found our way to the top of another hill in McGregor that has been fully developed into a new housing neighborhood. Very pretty in that spot but denuded of most of the trees and forest. Nothing like the spot we found last week.

We came home last weekend because it was time for our annual Spencer anniversary dinner at Winifreds on Saturday night. But Tom called Saturday morning and told us Lorene was sick, so dinner this year was canceled. First miss in 30 years I think.

Tonight we are meeting up with another old friend. John Fetzer wanted to get together before we left for Florida. John's wife left him recently after almost 30 years. It's been tough for him.

We will meet John in Garrison this afternoon and we plan to do a "slow roll".

A slow roll is where you get in the truck and drive the back roads at a leisurely 10 mph, talking, laughing, solving the worlds problems and generally just having a good time. We will probably eventually stop for something to eat in some small town. There is no schedule to a slow roll.

We will now be spending more time in Cedar Rapids. Gathering things together for the long winter in Florida and taking care of last minute business. Time is passing quickly it seems.

Sunday, September 29, 2013 1:25 PM CDT

The boat is out of the water and stored in the shed for the winter. That officially ends our summer at the river.

Friday was a beautiful day so I took advantage of the warm temps and pulled the boat out of the water. In the past I have power washed the boat in bone-chilling winds and cold temperatures. I have even driven the boat to the ramp in snow flurries.

Cindy and I have been spending these last few weeks in Guttenberg. The weather has been beautiful so we want to take advantage while we can.

October will go fast. We both have last minute doctor appointments this month. As well as packing for the trip and putting things away for the winter in Guttenberg. And we will be taking a trip to Wichita to see cousins Phil & Julie.

Cindy has some cancer spots returning on her arms and that will have to be taken care of before we leave for Florida. Not sure what treatment they will use since Cindy had such a bad reaction to the chemo treatment. We don't want to repeat that nightmare.

Planning ahead for Florida, I already bought some tickets for a concert. We will be going to see ZZ Top at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 29th....which happens to be Teresa's (Cindy's mom) birthday. She would have been 76, hard to imagine!

We have the same front row seats we had for the Steve Miller Band last winter.
Cindy and I saw ZZ Top many years ago in Cedar Rapids. At that time we were up in the stands, far away from the stage. This will be better.

I finally added more photos to the website. The new photos are in the folder named "At the Cabin". Click above on "...100 photos from Cindy's life"

Enjoy this beautiful Fall weather.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 8:37 AM CDT

Go with your first instinct. That is a great piece of advice.

Cindy and I both initially thought that Aaron was correct about having another Porphyria attack. He was right.

Dr. Pope called last week after getting the results of the 24 hour urine test. He was very surprised to find it positive for increased porphyrins. In fact, twice the level of a normal person. Dr. Pope said that the acute phase of the attack had passed and Aaron was recovering.

But now Aaron will have to do more 24 hour urine screens so we can determine what his baseline porphyrin level is. Aaron may just have a higher level than most people.

Aaron is doing pretty good right now and is back to work. One of the things prescribed is a high sugar diet. Aaron doesn't normally eat sweets so this is another change to a diet already restricted to no wheat products.

Things are winding down at the river. Not many people around during the week and some boats and docks being put away for the winter.

Cindy and I will be back in Cedar Rapids more often now until we head to Florida in November.

Monday, September 9, 2013 9:39 PM CDT

My last update mentioned the "lull" in health problems for Cindy and me. I should have known better and included Aaron.

It appeared Aaron was possibly having another attack of Porphyria. The first signs came last Tuesday but Dr. Pope thought it was just a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

Aaron was treated for the UTI but his symptoms continued to worsen and look more and more like Porphyria.

I won't go into how terrible this disease is, you can Google the symptoms if you like. Or if you are really a glutton for bad stuff, read the Journal history on this site for July/Aug 2007.

But anyway, after several more tests and talks with the doctor, it looks like Aaron is improving and it was NOT Porphyria. Really dodged a bullet on that one!

We have been back in Cedar Rapids this week to help support Aaron with his medical stuff and we will head back to Guttenberg on Wednesday.

The annual car cruise is this weekend in Guttenberg and Cindy's cousin Bob is coming for a visit. He will have a new Guest house to stay in. Hope he likes it.

Summer is winding down but you wouldn't know if by the temperatures. The temperature is in the mid-90s today!

Friday, August 30, 2013 9:39 AM CDT

The building project is complete! Our contractor and I worked till 6pm yesterday, in 90+ deg temps, getting the last details done and the yard picked up.

All of his construction equipment is gone and the Guest house looks awesome.

I was beginning to think this day would never come.

Cindy has been very involved with the Art center here in Guttenberg. She loves it. They are discussing hosting a wine tasting during the Guttenberg Car Cruise next weekend.

Cindy is also updating their website to be more useful and posting as they ad new programs to the Creativity Center. The following week is the Germanfest in town, with even more people in town.

"So many activities!"
(Quote from the movie Step-brothers, oft repeated by grandson Jacob).

The Creativity Center is in a historic building, owned by Keith Elwick of Vinton. Keith stopped out to our house last week to discuss the building history with Cindy, so she could include that info on the website.

Keith is still pretty spry for 94 years old. Sharp as a tack.

We are enjoying the last gasp of summer. Cindy is doing very well.
This lull with no health issues for Cindy (or me) is pretty nice. Hope it continues.

Enjoy the last holiday weekend of the summer.

Thursday, August 22, 2013 7:53 AM CDT

Lazy summer days. I remember those. But not for me this year. I have been working pretty much every day on the Guest House project. But it is finally coming to the end.

That is why the delay in the update. Busy everyday and exhausted at night. Plus, on the good side, Cindy is feeling good and she is just enjoying her summer. So nothing much to write about.

Our contractor came back to work this Wednesday and now has everything done upstairs, on the inside. That is how close he was when he was injured back in mid-June...three days from completion.

The outside porch now is the big project for him. Can't wait to see the finished product street-side. However, it's raining this morning so not sure he will show today.

We gave the contractor a new goal, which is to be completely finished by Labor Day weekend. It's doable.

Last night we were told that the girlfriend of Kevin Ross was found dead in her apartment in Guttenberg. Kelli Reyerson apparently committed suicide.

Kevin Ross was the friend I found dead in his cabin earlier this summer.

Kelli came out to the island that night and was pretty hysterical. She wrapped herself around Kevin's body that night and it was difficult to convince her to let him go. She remained that way for almost an hour. Gut wrenching to witness.

This weekend is Boomtown in Vinton. Boomtown is a fireworks extravaganza! The event lasts all day but the real show is after dark when the most fireworks you ever saw are displayed.

We will be heading that way on Saturday with Jeff and Carol and our grandson Jacob. Our son Aaron will be there, along with a friend. And a few co-workers from the tuckpointing years will be there as well.

My old boss from the tuckpointing years, Rich Schoonover, (Schoonie) lives across the street from the fairgrounds, so we all have a front row seat in his yard.

Schoonie and Mary will provide chili and snacks. Mary said, just bring a chair.

This is the fourth year for Boomtown and the second time we have attended. Cindy was not getting around very well that previous time and was in her wheelchair most of the night. This year should be much better for her.

Today our friend Gary and his daughter Jessica and new grandbaby Hadley will be here for a visit. Gary Scott is our good friend who drives our car to Florida each year. It is his first time seeing the new addition. I hope the rain is passed by the time they arrive.

Have a good rest of summer...days are short.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 7:26 AM CDT

We are in downtown Omaha this morning. Last night we saw Steely Dan in concert.

What a great night!

Cindy and I drove to Omaha Tuesday morning. She survived the drive over but she was getting pretty antsy during the last hour. Cindy's leg was really bothering her but she didn't say a word.

We arrived in Omaha around 2pm. Got checked into our hotel, (Hilton), right downtown and then made our plan of attack.

First thing was to explore the Old Market District, which is about ten blocks from the hotel. Then we would work our way back to the Orpheum Theater for the concert. The Theater is only three blocks from the hotel.

The first place we stopped at in the Old Market District was named, Rock Bottom. A very cool place. We just stopped there by chance. After a drink we left there and worked our way around the entire district, stopping in several other places.

In the end, we decided that Rock Bottom was the best of them all so we returned there for dinner.

We then walked over to the Orpheum for the concert and took our seats. The place was packed, not an empty seat to be had. The opening act was a Blues band made up of three guys.

I was antsy myself by this time. I didn't want to see another band, I came for Steely Dan.

Finally, after 20 minutes of the warm up band and 20 minutes of stage set up, out came Steely Dan! Minus the main two guys...Walter Becker and lead singer, Donald Fagen.

They played for about three minutes and then the crowd roar started, as Becker and Fagen strolled out on stage. I told Cindy I was teary eyed as Fagen appeared. It's been a long wait for me to see them play.

Donald Fagen is a weird guy, kind of spastic acting but it kind of adds to the appeal. His voice sounds exactly the same as it did when I was in high school.

Incredible concert! What a talented bunch of musicians. There were 13 band members in all.

When it was over, we waited for the crowd to clear out and then Cindy and I strolled back to the hotel, it was almost midnight. We stopped in the hotel lounge for a nightcap and to come down from the excitement of the concert.

Today we drive back to Guttenberg. I think we may have to arrange the back seat so Cindy can be more comfortable on the ride. I don't want my seeing Steely Dan to be her punishment.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 9:15 AM CDT

Beautiful weather! Couldn't ask for better stuff.

Cindy is feeling pretty good. She stopped the steroids last week and within a day she told me that she felt like a normal person, with aches and pains. While on the steroids she didn't ache at all.

The rash is coming back though. Her stomach and back especially. But she has a steroid creme that she is putting on and that helps with the itching.

My rib is back in place by some kind of miracle. After the 12 hour day in the truck, running to Kansas City for a golf cart, the next day I worked in the garage.

I spent a good portion of the day assisting a contractor with sheet rock and insulation. As the day wore on, I got more comfortable moving around.

When I woke up on Thursday I was able to rise off the bed with no problem. That was not possible when the rib was "dislocated". Apparently the moving around in the garage all day, popped the rib back in place.

I have been okay ever since. It's still tender in the rib area but not that painful that it limits any movement.

I read up on the Internet and apparently what happened is common and called, "the Xth-rib syndrome". Or the Slipped-rib syndrome, if it's a rib other than the 10th one.

I have a doctor appointment for other routine stuff this week in Cedar Rapids and I will bring up the rib thing when I'm there.

We have company this weekend at the river and then next week is our trip to Omaha to see Steely Dan.

Other than that, we are just enjoying the beautiful summer weather.

Monday, July 22, 2013 3:20 AM CDT

Today is the anniversary of the day Cindy and I met. It's been 44 years!! What a ride. I never would have predicted the life we have had together. And I wouldn't trade it with anyone.

Cindy is feeling much, much better. I can't believe how the steroids have improved her skin. Her leg looks better than it has in years. Cindy still has a few days left on the steroids.

The doctor in Iowa City told Cindy that there will not be another round of chemo for her skin. She said the infection and subsequent treatment took care of the cancer and we will just return to a watch-and-wait plan. Cindy is thrilled.

We finally got out on the boat on Saturday afternoon. Cindy's first boat ride of the year. Cindy and Jacob and I went out for about 3 hours.

Had a beautiful day on the river. Jacob drove the boat while I sat back and enjoyed the ride.

Now that Cindy is feeling better, it's my turn again. Before our boat ride I had to pull the boat out of the water for some minor repairs.

During that process I re-injured my ribs. I can hardly move. By Sunday night, getting out of a chair was quite an adventure.

I'm back wearing the elastic rib belt just so I can move around. Also, probably due to the favoring of my right side, a muscle in my neck is having sharp pains intermittently.

I hope I feel better by Tuesday. Jeff Brown and I are pulling a trailer to Kansas City to pick up a golf cart for Michael and Nikki. It's going to be a LONG day.

Monday, July 15, 2013 3:55 PM CDT

The weather has finally settled into summer mode. Hot and dry most days now. Just like we like it.

However, with Cindy's skin issue we haven't yet been on the boat. This is the first time since we have owned a boat (our entire adult lives) that we haven't been on the boat in June. It will be late July before we go boating.

Cindy is doing much better. She feels better and her skin is looking great. Prednisone is a great healer. Cindy had basically open wounds on her leg and within 24 hours of starting the steroid drug, her leg was dry and pretty well healed. Amazing!

She has now been on the antibiotic for 7 days and we think the staph infection is under control. Cindy is going to call Iowa City tomorrow to see if they want another skin sample. But I think she is definitely on the mend.

Our builder is still on the mend, so progress on the Guest house is at a standstill. However, this week our friends from Cedar Rapids are coming up to install a new furnace in our cabin.

They own Colony Heating in Cedar Rapids and we also had them here last month to install the heating/air cond. unit in the Guest house.

It will be good to get all the mess over with. Our yard is back in pretty good shape, the grass is growing and the landscaping is in place. I had the builder Chris remove all his equipment from the garage so I now have that space back too.

Big excitement (for me anyway) this week. I have wanted to see Steely Dan ever since I was in high school. One of my all time favorite bands.

I received a routine email from the Ruth Eckard Hall in Clearwater announcing their Summer schedule. There it was, Steely Dan, at Ruth Eckard...then I saw the date, September 15. Damn!! We won't be there till November.

I did a search for Steely Dan tour dates and found them in Omaha on Aug 6th. at the Orpheum Theater. I jumped right on that.

We got the last two tickets in the handicap section. I also got a hotel room right near the theater in the Market District, so it will be a great night.

I can't believe I am finally going to see and hear Steely Dan LIVE. Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 6:27 AM CDT

Cindy called the doctor in Iowa City on Sunday. The "rash", or whatever it is, has spread over Cindy's entire body. Her eyes were swelled, her foot and leg were swelled and there were red bumps all over.

Cindy was just getting worse and wanted to let them know. The doctor listened to Cindy's description of symptoms and told her to come to Iowa City on Monday. So we packed up and drove home on Sunday night.

Monday we headed to Iowa City and I have to say, this was the quickest Iowa City Hospital visit ever. We were in and out in 40 minutes.

The doctor came in the room and took one look at Cindy and said, "WOW!" She then said that this kind of reaction is very unusual.

I asked the doctor what happens when Cindy starts the treatment again. The doctor said emphatically, "we will NOT be doing that drug again, there are other treatments we can try."

Cindy let out a huge sigh of relief. Being this miserable has gone on long enough.

The doctor put Cindy on Prednisone (steroids) to calm things down and also took a few skin samples to check for infection.

We thanked the doctor for getting us in so quickly and taking care of Cindy. After a stop at the pharmacy we headed back to Guttenberg.

The doctor called the next day with lab results and told Cindy she has a staph infection. A strong antibiotic was prescribed and if Cindy isn't feeling better in a few days, we will be heading to the hospital.

I thought we were headed there anyway, a staph infection is nothing to mess with. It's usually administered by IV injection. Cindy had a serious staph infection once before that almost killed her.

So we will see how it goes from here. Cindy is still not feeling well. Last night she didn't even feel up to a golf cart ride...a nightly ritual.

I will update as things progress.

Saturday, July 6, 2013 5:16 AM CDT


I'm hoping that Cindy feels better soon. Not a fun way to spend a birthday. Cindy has really been struggling with this skin cancer chemo treatment.

Her leg got so bad that she called the doctor in Iowa City on Wednesday to ask if she could halt the treatment.

The "burned" area is not just on her leg but has spread to her arms and back. Even her eyes are swollen. The treatment is affecting her whole system.

There was no way she could have made another week. They talked for quite awhile and the doctor finally agreed to stopping for now.

I have rarely seen Cindy in tears over anything that she has gone through. She will cry at movies and other emotional things but not usually for pain and suffering. Cindy is very tough.

But the pain from this treatment got the best of her. Lots of tears, very little sleep and just in pain and suffering most of the day. It's gut wrenching for me to watch, with nothing that I can do to help. It's even hard for me to write this.

Cindy still puts on a smiley face for everyone, so most aren't aware of what she is dealing with. In the past I have sometimes suggested to her that her positive attitude (that she always displays), doesn't get her the sympathy she sorely deserves.

I guess that is why I have made it one of my duties as her caregiver to let others know how Cindy is REALLY doing. It's the primary reason for this website.

Anyway, let's focus on the good stuff, which is what Cindy does.

The building project is coming along, even without our builder.

The entire family is here this week and we worked together and completed all the landscaping around the Guest house. We also tackled some other small details that don't require a professional carpenter.

I am hoping that our builder Chris will be ready to come back to work soon, at least for some of the small trim work upstairs. Light duty for awhile for Chris, until his foot heals.

And light duty for me too...I got an answer for the leg pain I have been having. The last MRI showed a bulging disk in my lower back. Plus some degeneration in a couple other disks.

So that means, less hard work and more stretching. I already do yoga and have for several years. Just going to add more specific exercises for the problem area.

Hope everyone is enjoying this holiday weekend. We have had great weather, finally.

Sunday, June 30, 2013 10:04 AM CDT

Another week, another MRI. That's how we roll.

I saw Dr. Buckwalter in Iowa City last Monday about my leg. He thinks it's getting better but he was disturbed by the pain I am having that wakes me out of a sound sleep.

So, he ordered an MRI of my pelvis and my lower spine. Two scans in one. He told me I could get it locally and send the scan to Iowa City for reading.

I was able to get the MRI at the Guttenberg hospital. I was there for four hours! Longest MRI I have ever had. Not a happy camper by the time that was over with.

Anyway, we will see this week if anything shows up as a cause for pain.

Michael, Nikki and Jacob came on Thursday and will be here until next Sunday. Aaron will be coming up on Thursday, July 4th for the weekend.

Cindy is into her 2nd week of chemo treatment for her leg. Another 10 days to go. It has been pretty tough. She struggles to sleep at night. One night she didn't sleep at all. The skin on her leg looks like someone took a blow torch to it.

I don't know how she goes through the day acting normally but she does. Most people around her are not even aware of what she is going through. Pretty tough cookie.

Cindy's birthday is next Saturday! She will be 56 years old. She just keeps getting older. That is normally admitted grudgingly.

For Cindy, aging is welcomed wholeheartedly. I like to think about Cindy having her 70th and even 80th birthday.

Sunday, June 23, 2013 8:51 PM CDT

Lots of activity this week!

First of all, we had a major flash flood. The causeway out to our island was under water. The first time ever for a flash flood, from the nearby creek.

The road has been under water when the Mississippi River has had major flooding but never for a flash flood. We had 2 inches of rain Thursday and then a total of 5 inches Friday night and Saturday morning.

It happened so quickly, the kids were here for the weekend and had gone to town for breakfast. When they returned, they couldn't drive back over the causeway.

The site seers were numerous. A lot of the Islanders had driven their golf carts down to the island entrance to watch the water flooding over the road. Quite a spectacle. The edges of the road are all washed out.

The kids called and said they couldn't get back so I got my neighbor Steve and we took his pontoon over to the marina, where we keep our boat.

The marina is on the mainland and was fine. The kids met us at the marina and we took them back to the island.

They gathered all their stuff and within a few hours, the water had gone down enough that they could drive their other vehicle off the island.

The other big "activity" that happened this weekend...
Our builder, Chris, fell on his boat dock and broke a bone in his foot Saturday night. Probably going to need surgery. So work has come to a stop on the Guest house!

Fortunately, the upstairs living area is pretty much finished so the biggest weekend of the summer will not be interrupted. All of the family will be up next week. First time for Aaron to see the progress. He will be impressed.

Finally, I head to Iowa City first thing in the morning to see Dr. Buckwalter about my leg. Cindy is staying here. It's too much for her to spend all that time riding in the car for the 10 minutes of consultation that she will miss out on. I have lots of Doctor experience so I think I got it covered.

I should be back home by tomorrow night. Hopefully with some answers about my leg.

Cindy's leg on the other hand, looks pretty bad. She started her chemo treatment again and the skin looks so painful. She is such a trooper.

All in all, things are going well. It's summer and we are enjoying life. That's all that really matters.

Monday, June 17, 2013 8:55 PM CDT

What a wonderful weekend! Cindy, Aaron and I went to Dearborn, Michigan to the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village.

It was Fathers Day weekend and there was a gathering of cars from across the country. Car years were from 1933 to 1970.

It was a beautiful weekend and most of the time was spent out in the Village looking at all the cars.

Aaron was very excited to see all the sights, cars and history. We also went out each night to very nice eating places. Something Aaron doesn't do a lot of. Boy can he eat some seafood and steak.

We always stay at the Dearborn Inn. It's right across the street from the Museum and Village and it was built by Henry Ford as the first airport hotel in America.

An awesome hotel even today. Very first class. They offer luxury rides to wherever you want to go. They will even pick you up at the airport if you fly in. Highly recommend this place if you ever go.

The drive to Dearborn was about 7 hours, without stops. We took longer getting there than we did coming home on Sunday. We made good time coming home Sunday and then after unpacking, Cindy and I drove up to Guttenberg.

It was a very long day, 625 miles and over 8 hours in the truck. But we were home and had a good night sleep.

Cindy did quite well for all the time in the truck. She doesn't do well with long car rides but we had the back seat turned into a large bed and she had books, Kindle, and movies, plus naps. So she did great and is not suffering today.

The Guest House is nearing completion. The kitchen cabinets were delivered today and we used a lift to move them upstairs. Everything looks awesome!

I have an appointment with Cindy's hero doctor, Dr. Buckwalter, next Monday. He is the head of Orthopedics in Iowa City and we hope to have some answers finally about my leg.

Cindy re-starts her chemo treatment on her leg this week. Not looking forward to the misery of that but she is a trooper and it must be done.

A few more weeks of pain and drudgery, applying the cream and treating the open sores. It's a full time job. But Cindy just does it. She is amazing.

Seeing what Cindy deals with makes me very intolerant of people who whine about minor things. Or people who have problems that are self-made and solvable with a change in attitude.

Sorry, but that is what I feel after seeing my stoic wife deal with her life filled with difficulty that most people never face.

That is my take on it, for what it's worth.

Ta ta for now. Have a good summer. I think it's finally here.

Monday, June 10, 2013 8:19 PM CDT

This rain is getting on our last nerve. It has rained up here in Guttenberg almost everyday for the last 2 weeks.

Today, I had someone come over with a bobcat and tear up the back yard to try and get grass to grow. We had it torn up last fall for the new septic and grass never really took off. You would think it would with all this rain.

The guest house is coming along nicely. The cedar walls are all up inside and the smell of cedar is awesome.

I spent the entire day in Iowa City last Friday. Had an Xray and MRI of my leg. The pain has been increasing at night and we were worried that the fracture was getting worse or not healing.

No answers as of yet.

The radiologist did not complete the report on Friday. So Dr. Mo told me that he was sending all the info to Dr. Buckwalter...head of Orthopedic department, (and Cindy's favorite doctor).

We talked to Dr. Buckwalter this morning and he will be taking a look at things but he will be gone next week.

So more waiting. The MRI really didn't show anything changed. Good and bad. Good that it's not getting worse but bad because why isn't it showing signs of healing after 8 weeks?

Cindy finally had a break on her leg treatment. But she starts treatment again next week after we return from Detroit.

For now, we are just sick of focusing on our "ailments" and will enjoy our time with Aaron in Dearborn, Michigan.

Saturday, June 1, 2013 9:57 AM CDT

June 1st. Today is our 39th wedding anniversary!

So tonight that means, Black Angus Steakhouse in Prairie du Chien. Cindy's favorite place.

The work on our Guest House is coming along. This week the well was put in, but with a hitch...it won't hold pressure. So we will have to sleeve the pipe. Not as big a problem as I first thought it would be.

The electrical work was inspected by the Fire Marshall yesterday and the plumbing is all done (except for the well sleeve).

Next week Chris (our builder) will start installing the ceiling, insulation and cedar siding. The entire inside walls will be cedar. Cindy is getting pretty excited.

I took Cindy upstairs to look at it one night this week. The tile is all installed and she wanted to see how it looked. Pictures didn't do it justice.

We just got back downstairs and inside our house when the storm hit. It was pretty bad, straight line winds and 7 inches of rain over night.

A tornado hit just a few miles north of us at the same time and then it continued across the river in Wisconsin. Destroying several campers at the state park near Bagley.

Cindy's chemo treatment on her hands is done for now and they look much better. But treatment on her leg is ongoing and her leg looks pretty bad. She is such a trooper. I know she's miserable but Cindy always maintains a great outlook somehow.

We are heading to Detroit in a few weeks with Aaron. The annual muscle car gathering at Greenfield Village is on Fathers Day weekend and it will be a great time to be there. All the cars will be from the 1930's through the 1960's.

Cindy and I have never done this trip in June. We always go in September when there is another large gathering and all the cars are 1932 or older.

As I have stated before, if you live in America, you should visit the Ford Museum and the adjoining Greenfield Village at least once in your life. The entire site is an amazing tribute to our history.

Monday, May 27, 2013 6:08 AM CDT

I put our boat in the water this week. That is the usual marker for the beginning of summer for us. Even though, the temperature dropped to 37 degrees the night after.

Anyway, the goal each year is to have the boat launched by Memorial Day and we accomplished that.

Cindy is feeling better. She was able to stop the chemo on her hands for now, so they feel and look less painful. The treatment on her leg is ongoing and is creating quite a sight.

Cindy went to the doctor on Monday and was put on antibiotics for her sinus infection. She started feeling better in that area within a few days.

Cindy was swelling a lot around her eyes, which she attributed to the sinus infection. But the doctor told her that the chemo treatment has a systemic affect and some of the swelling was due to that.

I injured myself this week and spent my own time at the Guttenberg hospital/clinic. I was moving some lumber and I tore a muscle in my rib cage.

At the time I thought I broke a rib. I felt a bulging and then a pop in my chest as I strained to move the lumber. Then immediate and severe pain.

The doctor ordered an X-ray which showed no broken rib. For now, I can't do much physically with my right arm and bending over is very painful. I bought a rib band and that helps moving around.

The broken bone in my leg is still waking me up every night with a throbbing pain. During the day I don't notice it. I am looking forward to the next MRI to see if it's healing.

We're a hot mess right now.

But the project is coming along swiftly. There are now steps so a ladder or boom lift is no longer needed. The outside is mostly complete, other than screening the front porch. The tile and carpet will be done this week.

All of the remaining work can be done inside so the rain will not slow progress. That's a relief because this rain is really something. Shades of 2008 super floods.

Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, May 20, 2013 7:02 AM CDT

Cindy is having a tough week.

Her skin cancer treatment is painful and she is sick on top of that. Cindy has a cold that has settled in her sinus and she lost her voice Friday.

She is miserable.

The cream Cindy puts on all the skin cancer spots is a sort of chemo treatment. It really burns and looks like it too. The most visible area is the back of her hands. Her leg looks pretty bad also and the doctor said the leg takes a long time to heal.

I have a chest cold but I don't feel too bad during the day. There is a lot of work on the project, so that keeps me moving. The coughing returns at night and when I first get up in the morning.

Today we hope to get the metal roof installed, if it doesn't rain. The underlayment material on the roof keeps the inside dry for now.

Once the roof is complete, all the dangerous stuff will be finished. We have had a boom lift to help with all the high stuff and it will be gone after this week.

That lift has been a real time saver. All of the siding and soffitt work is done and the building looks pretty much finished from the outside. Screening in the porch is the last outside work.

We have been in Guttenberg most of the time. We return to Cedar Rapids this week but then I will have to come right back the next day.

Cindy just told me that she is seeing the doctor today.

Saturday, May 11, 2013 6:01 AM CDT

The weather finally cooperated. Thanks to the great weather this past week, the building project in Guttenberg is proceeding way ahead of schedule. We are all excited to see the finished project.

Cindy has been having a tough couple of days with leg pain. Not sure what is setting it off but I hope it calms down soon. She looks exhausted.

The biopsy sites on Cindy's hand, leg and foot are all healing pretty well. The bandages have to be changed twice a day, so there is frequent opportunity to check the healing progress.

The Dermatology department called Friday with Cindy's biopsy results. They are all cancerous. Squamous-cell Carcinoma to be exact. So now she has to treat all the spots that are healing, with a cream that will make them look very bad. This stuff basically causes a chemical burn.

There are other spots that will get the same stuff and then we have to go back to Iowa City to find out what they want to do with the large area on her leg. Cindy is going to be a mess most of the summer.

We talked to Dr. Buckwalter about the results of my MRI and the fracture to my femur. He wants me to get another MRI in 6-8 weeks to see if it's healing.

I think the mystery is solved regarding HOW my leg fractured. Thanks to my sister Teri for reminding me about the near fall I took in Florida. After Teri brought it up, I went back through the Journal History on this website and found where I wrote about it.

While Aaron was down visiting us in Florida, I rolled off a slight curb at the Palm Pavilion and came down on the side of my foot. I remember now, hearing a clicking sound that I thought was my knee giving way.

After hobbling a few steps, I was amazed that my knee felt fine. But my ankle and foot were very sore. Then I forgot all about the sound I heard. It took a few weeks for my ankle to feel good enough to resume walking daily.

It was about a month later when I first noticed the lump in my thigh. Around the same time, (I remember now), at night I would wake up with severe pain in my thigh. It was a deep, throbbing pain.

It's all coming back to me now and the break in my femur most likely occurred from my stumble off the curb. That is probably what the clicking sound was that I thought was the knee giving out...it was the femur cracking.

It brings back the memory of breaking a bone in my lower leg back in 2000. I was out running early one morning down a dirt road and I stepped on a large stone.

When I fell, I heard what I thought was a tree branch breaking in the timber next to the road. It wasn't a tree branch, it was my leg. Hard to forget that sound.

We lost another friend this week. Kevin Ross was found dead in his cabin, just down the street from us. His brother Steve is also a close friend and he owns the cabin right next door to us.

I got a call Sunday night from Kevin's neighbor, Terry Gaffney. He thought something was amiss with Kevin but he had only looked in his windows. It looked like Kevin was sitting in his chair watching TV but there was no reaction from pounding on the windows.

After Terry called, I went down to Kevin's place. The police Chief, George Morteo lives on the island and he was there also. George and I went in the house and confirmed that Kevin was dead. From the conditions, Kevin probably died sometime Saturday evening. He was 58 years old.

Several years ago, Kevin had built a free-standing porch behind the cabin that extended out over the river. Kevin often encouraged us to use the porch, especially during the week when the island is quiet.

Cindy and I spent many weeknights at Kevin's, sitting on his screened porch. Watching the moon come up over the bluffs and reflect off the water was an amazing sight.

We continue to encourage everyone we know to not waste life. Embrace each day. We only get to do this once...and we never know for how long.

Friday, May 3, 2013 5:10 AM CDT

Again with the weather! We left Guttenberg for home on Tuesday afternoon and it was 89 degrees. We thought spring/summer had finally arrived.

We drove back to Guttenberg Thursday night and it was 33 degrees with rain and snow mix. Crazy!

Cindy and I both had doctor appointments on Wednesday and Thursday. A whirlwind of doctors that was.

Cindy was first, early Wednesday morning with Dr. Ghosh, her oncologist. Things are good there. She also met with her Internist and everything was good there.

Then I had my annual physical with my Internist later that morning. All good there too.

Cindy is all done with doctors for now EXCEPT the Dermatology stuff. This is what I have been most worried about.

She has numerous spots that don't look good. I am so glad we transferred her skin care to Iowa City.

On Thursday, I had to be in Iowa City around 6AM for my MRI. Of course that was all messed up with insurance and so it never got done until 10AM.

At least I got my walk in, going back and forth across the hospital trying to straighten it all out.

At 1PM I met with Dr. Mo in the cancer center, to discuss the results. Dr. Mo came in the room and said,
"We have good news and bad news. The good, good news is that it's not cancer. The bad news is that you have a broken bone!"

I said, you've got to be kidding me. Dr. Mo said, "I wouldn't shit you".

He pulled up my MRI scan on the computer screen and showed us. There it was clear as day, a break in my femur that goes almost all the way across the bone, just above the knee.

Dr. Mo said, I don't know how you are walking around without pain. Now that he mentions it, I have been waking at night with deep aches in my thigh and sometimes cramping. Other than that, I'm walking around and it doesn't hurt.

Dr. Mo said that the lump is a hematoma from an injury to my leg, which broke the bone.

He asked me if I had jumped off a high spot or fallen or been hit with something. There is nothing that I can recall. The hematoma is shrinking, so healing is going on.

The next step is that he wants me to see Dr. Buckwalter, Cindy's bone doctor. We need to find if there is something wrong with the bone that caused it to break internally.

Cindy will be emailing Dr B this morning and I'm sure he will get me right in to see him.

Next up, was Cindy's appointment with Dermatology. We brought all her records from Cedar Rapids and they had her extensive health history from the other University of Iowa departments.

It's always fun meeting new doctors and watching their initial reactions to Cindy's case history. Usually they say right up front, "You're some kind of miracle!". It was no different with the Dermatologists.

There were two doctors in the room, the attending physician, (Dr. Lightfoot) and the 2nd year resident. Plus a medical student, a nurse, Cindy and me, all in a room about 6 foot by 10 foot.

After looking over all Cindy's skin they came up with a plan of attack. Some areas will be treated with a cream that causes burns. Some spots will be cut off, some will be frozen and some areas will be taken care of later.

Once they started carving on Cindy, there were lots of hands and people crowded around the table, applying pressure to stop the bleeding.

They took 5 biopsies, which all bled a lot, ultimately requiring pressure bandages. The pressue bandages will stay on until Saturday.

One biopsy was on her hand, 3 spots on her leg and on big area on the instep of her foot.

The next treatment was freezing. They froze 3 spots on her face, which is going to temporarily mark her beautiful face. They froze more spots on her ear, back, arm and chest.

There are so many spots on her leg that they plan to address that area when we return. The biopsy results will be ready in a week. Once they know what they are dealing with they will decide how to treat her leg.

Dr. Lightfoot said that Cindy will be returning to Iowa City several times to take care of everything. We may have to fly back home from Florida, mid-winter. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

We left Iowa City at closing time again and drove straight to Guttenberg. It was a very long day.

We will be in Guttenberg for another week, as the building project is in full swing and I need to be here. Walls are up and the roof will be on as soon as it stops SNOWING! Sheesh!

It's actually more like rain but the temperature is hovering at freezing and the radar shows all snow. Bottom line, it's miserable outside.

With my leg issue, I won't be doing as much work on the project as I thought I would. Now I'm a little anxious about it just snapping!

That is the end of me doing any squat-thrusts or taking stairs two at a time. At least until we find out what's going on.

So, another fun-filled week, always full of surprises for our family.

Saturday, April 20, 2013 7:31 AM CDT

The weather in Iowa is unbelievable! We drove through blinding snow, (on April 19th!), to get to Guttenberg Friday morning. The ground was white with snow most of the way.

We left Cedar Rapids shortly after 6am on Friday morning. About ten miles north of Cedar Rapids we began meeting cars heading south with snow all over their hoods.

Where are these people coming from...Canada! When we got twenty miles north we ran into the snow. This morning I am looking out at the truck windshield and it is coated with frost. Enough on that subject.

We now have most of the important medical stuff completed. Cindy had a mammogram, a chest X-ray and a brain MRI this week. All good...so far.

Cindy's appointments in Iowa City took all day Thursday. We had a delay getting her MRI because of an insurance hiccup. That pushed everything back by at least an hour.

The follow up meeting with Dr. Buatti went well when they told us that the MRI looked good after a preliminary look see. The official results will come Monday.

Next up was a chest X-ray followed by an appointment with Dr. Mo. His real name is Dr. Milhem but he told us the first time we met him, "just call me Dr. Mo". He is the doctor who got Michael into UIHC for surgery last October, to remove numerous benign tumors.

I told Dr. Mo about the persistent cough that Cindy had most of the winter. There was no evidence of any problem with her lungs so we are relieved about that. There is more to the story however.

Dr. Mo was concerned about some of the large skin spots Cindy has (so was I) and wants them looked at soon. Some of the spots bleed frequently so I am anxious to get them taken care of.

We told Dr. Mo that we weren't comfortable with the Dermatologist Cindy is currently seeing in Cedar Rapids. So he got her set up with the Dermatology department in Iowa City.

The other news is about me. I noticed a lump in my leg while we were in Florida but wanted to get home before we tackled that issue.

While we were with Dr. Mo, we brought up my lump. Dr. Mo took a look and said that we need to have that checked.

The "funny" thing about my lump is that it's in the same location that Cindy's tumor was. What a coincidence. I told Cindy it must be a sympathy tumor.

Anyway, Dr. Mo told us that he would have his staff to set us both up for appointments on May 2nd.

At the end of the day something happened that we have never experienced in our 35 year history at UIHC...they forgot us in a room.

After our consult with Dr. Mo, he and his intern left the room and told us to wait for a nurse to return with our scheduled appointments.

Cindy and I were talking and laughing, having a good time and barely noticed that almost an hour had passed since Dr. Mo left.

Once I noticed the time, I got up and walked out to find someone. The two staff members at the front desk were the only people I could find. They were gathering their purses, turning off lights and setting security on the doors.

I told them that we were still back in a room. They were very surprised (don't they do a room sweep at the end of the day???). One of them was a scheduler and she said she would finish making our appointments first thing in the morning.

When we talked to the scheduler on Friday morning, she told us that scheduling us in only two weeks, having never been seen in either department, would be very difficult, if not impossible.

After that phone call, Cindy sent Dr. Mo an email and within minutes he responded to Cindy that he would take care of it. We got the phone call at 5pm on Friday that all was scheduled. We love Dr. Mo.

Next week Cindy has appointments in Cedar Rapids with Dr. Ghosh, her Oncologist and with Dr. Pope, her Internist. Both should be routine.

I have my annual physical with my Internist and I will tell her about my lump and that I am already scheduled to be seen in Iowa City.

My heart issue has been pretty much under control but I have an appointment with the Cardiologist in a few weeks anyway. Removing things in your life that cause stress is a good thing for the heart, apparently. I recommend it.

For now, we don't know any more regarding either one of us. All speculation at this point so we keep moving forward.

Monday, April 15, 2013 7:05 AM CDT

We are now back home in Iowa. The day we left Florida it was 85 degrees. It didn't even make 40 degrees in Iowa the first two days home.

We had a very bumpy flight home, having to fly over top of the large storm system that affected most of the country.

On the flight we finally met a person we know, and he was formerly from Vinton. Rich Wellner sat right across the aisle from us. His daughters Roxanne and DeAnn Wellner, were very good basketball players for Vinton in the early 80s.

Rich has a winter home in St. Petersburg and now has his permanent home outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. He was flying back to Iowa to see his daughter Roxanne, who lives in Mt. Vernon.

One of the last adventures we had in Florida was a day trip to Anna Maria Island. We had anticipated this trip all year and it didn't live up to the hype. Although it's very beautiful there, the one word to describe the area is CROWDED.

We would not want to spend a lot of time there. The traffic is non-stop and bumper-to-bumper on the narrow two-lane road.

Gary went with us and we had an enjoyable day. We ended up driving down Longboat Key to Sarasota and having lunch at the harbor. Kind of a repeat of our trip last year.

Gary agreed that where we live in Clearwater is much more preferable. It's nice to confirm your choices.

The last few days in Florida were spent cleaning and packing. Gary left a day ahead of us and drove our car home. Thanks Gary!

Our good friend Lori and her daughter Sophia drove Cindy and me to the airport. Thanks Lori!

Cindy has been having quite a time with leg pain. She hardly slept at all on Friday night and has been miserable for about a week.

We now identify the pattern. She has an MRI and other doctor appointments scheduled this week in Iowa City and her leg pain always increases before these tests. Stress does play a part in her pain.

We hope to put all the medical stuff behind us for awhile after we get through this week.

Monday, April 8, 2013 6:49 AM CDT

Weather awesome! Days left for us in Florida, few.

Gary flew in late last night and after picking him up at the airport, we sat on the balcony until midnight. It was beautiful outside, temperature in the upper 60s with no wind.

Today we finally take our trip to Anna Maria Island. The temperature will be 85 and the sky cloudless. Perfect day.

We saw a few new things during our last week in Paradise.

From our balcony we have been watching the return of the big male dolphins. They are much more active than the females and put on quite a show. The males usually don't come around during the winter months.

Once here, the males stick around our area longer than the females and their young ones. Less skittish I guess.

The big males will come into our little bay and swim for a good 15 minutes or so, splashing and jumping out of the water. They play with the fish they catch, like a cat, flinging the fish with their mouth and then catching it again.

I posted a picture of the two male dolphins we saw that day. After our trip to Anna Maria Island today, I will post a few more pictures from that area and then that's a wrap for this season. I will start a new photo album next year.

Another new experience we had. Cindy spotted what looked like a small Manta ray. By small, I mean it was about 4 or 5 feet across.

The ray we saw had the two protrusions on either side of the mouth, like a Manta ray. But it was actually a Mobula ray. Same family, just smaller.

A Manta ray can be over 20 feet across. Still, the ray we saw was much larger than the sting rays we usually see. I have since found out the sting rays we usually see are called Skates.

Another type of ray we saw that same day was a Devil ray. The Tampa Bay baseball team is called the Devil Rays.

The Devil ray is famous for flying out of the water. At first, I thought a fish had jumped but I kept watching and soon, the Devil ray was flying across the water in 6 foot leaps.

While on the balcony reading one day, I saw a couple pelicans flying parallel to our balcony. They were coming from the opposite direction that Cindy was facing. Cindy was sitting with her foot up on the balcony railing with her toes outside the metal bars.

I didn't say anything about the approaching pelicans because I was just mesmerized at how close they were going to be. As they passed the balcony, one of the pelican's wing tips almost brushed Cindy's toes.

Cindy turned just as it happened and let out a little scream. It was amazing to see them so close in flight, floating by and casually looking at us. They are huge birds.

After our trip to Anna Maria Island we will be packing and sticking close to home. It's been a great winter in Florida and now we are looking forward to being back in Iowa.

We miss all our friends and family. Even with phone calls, email, texting and FaceTime, it's still not as good as being face to face.

This will be the last entry for the Florida stay. I have been updating more frequently this winter so everyone will feel somewhat connected while we are gone.

Our first week back will be filled with doctor appointments. Once that is out of the way, was can settle into the Iowa summer.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 1, 2013 6:44 AM CDT

The weather has finally settled into warm and sunny. Just in time for us to head back home. We are into our final 10 days in Florida.

There will be lots of packing and cleaning over these last days. We will leave some stuff here. We did that last year but forgot what we left. This year we will take inventory and photos.

I have mentioned the Ryan Howard mansion being built just down the street from us. Well this week there was a big article in the local paper. Seems that you have to finish any construction project within two years. But there is no way they can finish in that time.

The house has now ballooned from 17,500 square feet, to 34,000 square feet! Some of the amenities in the house are Venetian water canals and a bowling alley.

I have been posting pictures of the house, showing the building progress. Just click above where it says "...more than 100 photos".

We went to the Dennis Miller concert in downtown St. Pete on Saturday. We have never spent any time downtown. So we drove over a couple hours early and had dinner at the Oyster Bar on Central Avenue (the main drag).

The downtown area is pretty neat. There are several blocks of sidewalk-dining-drinking establishments, little shops and of course, the Pier.

I think I mentioned it in last years journal, if you ever go to St Petersburg, book a hotel right downtown and you will be able to walk the whole area

We had a great meal at the Oyster Bar. Before we left the Oyster Bar, a couple came in and sat next to us. The woman was pretty full of herself so we were glad to depart after having to experience her one woman show, even for just a little bit.

Our seats at the real show at the Mahaffey Theater were up a level, with a side view of the stage. I told Cindy I felt like Lincoln, since the theater and the location of our box seats looked just like Ford's Theater where he was shot.

There were just two other seats in our box and guess who showed up minutes into the show? That's right, Miss Snooty-Pants and her husband, from the Oyster Bar.

She didn't stick around much, thankfully. She obviously didn't care for Dennis Miller so she was out in the lobby for probably half of the show.

Shortly after the show started, while the warm-up comedian was onstage, a ruckus occurred near the rear of the theater seating area.

From what I could see, someone was either drunk or just obnoxious and the patrons seated nearby were telling them to keep quiet. Finally a woman shouted for security. Security came over and hustled two of the people out.

The comedian stopped his act while this played out and then incorporated the disturbance into his routine.

Well, apparently that wasn't the end of the problem. Dennis Miller came out and started his act and the yelling and talking from that area increased.

Security came back over and hustled out two more people....then the fight started.

The wife of the second couple that was hustled out, began screaming obscenities and a fight ensued. Several people rushed over to get it under control.

Miller handled it quite well and got huge laughter and applause out of this situation. The rest of the show was very funny. We had a nice time.

Gary Scott arrives next Sunday night. He will stay with us until we leave but we won't make him clean or do any work.

We want him all rested up. Gary will drive our car back to Iowa so Cindy and I can fly home. We appreciate this so much. It makes things much easier on Cindy.

We're hoping the weather in Iowa has made the turn and it will be warm by the time we get home.

Monday, March 25, 2013 12:00 AM CDT

Weather all over the place, rainy, sunny, cool, warm, etc.. But still better than Iowa by a long shot. I see in the mornings where Iowa has temperatures in the low teens or single digits. And it's SPRING.

We already decided that next year we are staying in Florida for most of April, just to make sure we get past most of the winter crud.

We met a family from Iowa on Friday. Down for a one week vacation. Since the family is from Dubuque I asked if they knew the owners of Hawkeye Marine, AJ and Jeff Becker, who sold us our boat. Turns out they are very good friends. So we shared stories about AJ, who has quite a colorful life.

We saw Mario Andretti while he sat at the Kokomo Tiki bar that same evening. Later he was having dinner at a nearby restaurant and some local friends had their picture taken with him. They said he is a local now and is around Sand Key quite often.

There were lots of racers around town as the St. Petersburg Honda Grand Prix is being held downtown this weekend. Our friend Tom S. saw Dario Franchitti (married to Ashley Judd) pull into the pit area near where they were standing.

I think next year Cindy and I will go down with Tom and watch the race on opening day. He said he knows right where to go so that we will have a great view. There are so many barricades up on the streets that I wouldn't know how to navigate with Cindy's wheelchair, so I welcome the help from someone familiar with the area.

On Sunday while out walking, I saw an open house sign on a home that I have been watching since we have been here last year. They did a complete renovation of this house, and it's very nice. After I got home from my walk, Cindy and I drove over and went through the house.

Oh MAN!! What a house! Everything on the ground level, with a swimming pool outside the master bedroom. The pool is tucked into the L-shape of the house so it's very private. We were very attracted to this house.

Cindy and I have driven by this place many times and the inside did not disappoint.

On Sunday night Cindy and I dined at a place we have been wanting to squeeze in before we headed home. It's called Cesare At the Beach. It is an authentic Italian restaurant. The food was awesome. It is located right at the southern tip of Clearwater Beach.

When we walked in, there was Frank Sinatra singing in the background. Perfect! After a great meal we even had the dessert, something we never do. Cindy had the Creme Brûlée and I had the Tiramisu. Both awesome. If you ever are in Clearwater Beach, we highly recommend this place.

Our time in Florida is approaching the end for this season. We have done almost everything we had planned. Only a few things yet to do.

This coming Saturday we are going to see the comedian Dennis Miller at the Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Pete. And during the last week of our stay, when Gary is here, we will take a day trip to see Anna Maria Island.

I know that it's getting close to going home because I'm again, not sleeping worth a damn. A couple hours at a time and then WIDE awake. Cindy's worried about my stress level but I just tell her it's a family curse.

My grandmother (Dad's mother) didn't sleep well either. I can remember driving by her house late into the night (2-3AM) when I was "out and about" during my late teen years. There was always a light on in her bedroom when I drove by. I used to kid her about seeing her light on..."were you up partying Grandma?"
I understand now. That also explains why I'm typing this at 1AM.

I suppose we should start thinking about packing for our trip home. Nah, there's always tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 2:16 AM CDT

The nice weather can't get a foot hold. One day it's 80 and the next day it doesn't make 70. Now it's cloudy with chances of rain for the next week. At least it's a little humid and not chilly.

We have decided to save our trip to Santa Maria Island for when our friend Gary gets here in April. The weather should be better for sure by then.

I finally finished up all our taxes (ouch) and other business and now we are concentrating on the remaining few weeks we have here. Time seems to be speeding up.

If ever we need validation for the life Cindy and I are leading, we got it again this week. A casual acquaintance of ours (Scott Bailey) who lives near us on Sand Key, fell ill on the golf course on Wednesday. He was hospitalized and tests showed he has a fast growing, malignant brain tumor.

They did surgery yesterday to remove some of the tumor but can't get it all. Once he's well enough to travel they will transport Scott to Boston where he has some family to care for him. It doesn't sound like he has much time.

Scott just turned 50 recently and up till last week led a life of leisure from what we could see. Most days he was on the golf course. Most evenings he was at Backwaters, a popular local pub.

Scott was always in Backwaters whenever we stopped in. He lived right across the street, in the most luxurious condo complex on the island, "The Grande". A charmed life it seemed (especially if you're a golfer?).

Nuff said about that.

On a funnier note...we were at Columbia the other night. Seated next to Cindy were two people who were outspoken, arrogant and not that impressed with Columbia, or anything for that matter.

Cindy overheard what they were saying because they made no attempt to be discreet.

Meanwhile, I am having a conversation with the people on the other side of me.

Cindy sends me a text, repeating some of the rude stuff the people next to her are saying.

I pick up my phone after feeling it vibrate and see a text from Cindy and start reading it...OUT LOUD.

The message doesn't seem to make sense to me. I keep reading. Cindy tries to kick me with her little leg but she can't quite reach me...because it's her little leg.

Cindy then becomes quite agitated making an attempt to silence me, (I think she may have knocked over my drink to get my attention). Thinking back on it, I remember Cindy kind of yelling out.

I finally realize what's what and stop talking.

A bit later, with an inquisitive look, Cindy gazes deep into my eyes and says, "What's wrong with you?"

After the couple left for the dining room, I couldn't stop laughing. Cindy either, eventually.
I'm laughing now, just typing that incident out.

We're still having a good time down here in Florida.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 7:14 AM CDT

It's been cool again, with rain most of Monday night and Tuesday morning. By cool, I mean some days it doesn't get to 70 degrees.

It was supposed to be in the 80s this week but that now looks like next week. Due to the weather still not cooperating, we postponed our trip to Anna Maria Island until then.

On Tuesday we decided to go to a movie since it was rainy and we wanted out of the house. We saw Oz, The Great and Powerful.

It was a 3-D movie so we had to wear the 3-D glasses. Neither of us were much impressed with the movie but the rain had stopped by the time we left the theater.

We were watching Saturday Night Live on the recorder the other night and just before the show started, the end of the local newscast flashed by. I thought I recognized someone on the news, so I backed up the recorder.

Sure enough, it was our next-door neighbor from Guttenberg, Bob Beyer. He was attending a local Florida Strawberry festival and they interviewed him.

I called Bob the next day and told him he was on TV. Bob has a winter home about 30 miles from us. He had already returned to Iowa due to a death in the family but he remembered being interviewed. Bob got a kick out of us seeing him.

Today starts the 30-day countdown until we head home. Not that we are anxious to leave Florida but there are lots of things happening when we get home, so it's starting to creep into our daily thoughts.

Cindy has a bunch of doctor appointments right after we return. Just the normal stuff for a 5-time cancer soldier. We never expect any surprises but are always prepared for them.

I'm going to return to my part-time job, which I will have to learn all over again. Haven't thought about that job since I've been here.

And we begin a major building project at our home in Guttenberg. This is the biggest construction job we have done in the 20 summers we have been there.

Of course, I'm the "general contractor" for the project and I expect it to keep me very busy most of the summer.

For now, we will continue to enjoy the beautiful weather in Florida (it's sure to start next week....it HAS to) and focus our thoughts on each day as it comes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 0:13 AM CST

We are hoping the last of the cold weather has passed for this winter season. It is now warm and the forecast for 10 days is consistently warm and sunny.

This week we saw another new sea life experience. A Black Tip Reef SHARK appeared below our balcony. Cindy saw it first. He was swimming near the surface and had a couple of sucker fish swimming along, with their mouths attached to the shark's back, cleaning the surface. He was about 4 feet long, so not a big shark but still impressive.

Also, there was a cormorant swimming not too far away. The cormorant had speared a silver fish with his beak and he couldn't shake the fish off. The cormorant kept shaking his head and dipping it in the water, but the fish would not dislodge.

Suddenly the shark started making a bee line for the cormorant. Cindy and I were leaning over the railing, intently watching the drama unfold. We didn't know if the shark wanted the fish or the bird.

The cormorant went crazy and finally dislodged the fish and swallowed it whole. It was bigger than his head so I don't know how he managed to swallow the fish without choking but he did. The cormorant then scurried outta there and the shark moved on to other prey.

One evening, the weather was perfect so we headed over to a place called Slyce, which we frequent often. We went inside first but it was very hot, so we headed to the outside area. There was live entertainment and a great bar to sit at outside. We know the bartender pretty well and that night he would stop and talk to us whenever he wasn't busy.

At one point, the bartender came over and said, "see that guy in the white shirt, 4 seats down from you?" We nodded, and he told us that guy is Louis Lombardi, the actor. He was on the Sopranos and several other shows. Usually playing a mafia guy.

We recognized him right away and remembered him from the show Entourage and the movie Tin Cup with Kevin Costner. So now we have seen a celebrity in Clearwater that we actually recognize. Well, we were in Indian Rocks Beach but whatever.

Cindy went to some sort of adult information program this week. She was invited by her massage therapist to speak about the health benefits of massage. The meeting was in a community center, part of a large condo complex. The attendees were all retired men. Probably most of them have never had a massage.

I was going to stay outside because I didn't want to make Cindy nervous, but I eventually sneaked in the back of the room and watched the program.

The therapist gave a speech and then introduced Cindy. Cindy spoke for about 10 minutes. She never looked at her notes, spoke flawlessly and was given a rousing applause at the conclusion.

I was so proud of her. I know she used to speak all the time in front of groups when she was working but she has been gone from that environment for several years. Cindy certainly didn't get rusty.

So glad I sneaked in to see that. Cindy said she spotted me clear in the back, about half way through and it did give her a little start but I told her it wasn't apparent at all to us listening.

Next week we are planning to head down to Anna Maria Island for the day. We want to pick a nice, warm and sunny day. Should be fun.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 2:19 PM CST

There is a cold front affecting most of Florida. Only 57 degrees today, it's getting ridiculous!

The temperatures will be in the 60s pretty much until next weekend, then it will jump to mid-80s. That's more like it.

Our trip last week to Fort DeSoto State Park was an all day affair. Even though it's only 30 miles away, there was lots of traffic and slow speed limits (35mph) most of the way. We got stuck in a traffic jam for about 20 minutes on Treasure Island.

We have been down to Pass-A-Grille, on the southern tip of our island string. But have never crossed the bridge to Tierra Verde and Fort DeSoto Park.

Have to say that Tierra Verde is a beautiful island. Mostly residential, with lots of canals around the houses on the island for their boat docks. The streets are lined with beautifully manicured lawns and palm trees. Very Florida-looking neighborhood.

We stopped on Tierra Verde at Billy's Stone Crab Restaurant for lunch. Cute place, at least 2 piano bars in the sprawling, waterside building. And a rooftop bar that is open-air and feels like Key West up there.

Cindy didn't go up to the rooftop place because of the steps. I went up and looked around and took in all the suspicious stares from the old, local fisherman, having their first(?) beer, just before noon and wondering what this stranger is doing up here.

After lunch at Billy's....yes, we had the Stone crab...we headed to Fort DeSoto Park. It's about 3 miles south and is made up of a string of five islands.

The park consists of lots of scrub grass, small trees, biking/walking trails and white sand beaches. There are several beaches with a ton of parking space available.

The beaches at Fort DeSoto were voted #1 in 2005. But I wouldn't want to make this trek just to go to a beach.

We saw the actual fort, which is pretty much an underground structure with one side exposed and what's showing is all concrete. Very plain looking structure, not fort looking at all, other than the old cannons mounted in the courtyard.

All in all the trip to Fort DeSoto was a great day but wouldn't go again. Not that impressed.

We broke a string last night. The first Friday night in 2 years that we haven't been to Columbia. Our Friday night haunt. Lori had the night off so we went to Bascoms Chop House with Lori and her husband Will. We had a great time.

I have mentioned all the celebrities in this area but we have never seen one. If we are going to see "celebrities" we should stick close to Lori and Will.

Lori told us that the night before, she had served dinner to Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) at Columbia.

Will told us that he had recently been at a bar in downtown Clearwater Beach, and sat next to Chase Utley (Second baseman for Phillies). Will talked to him all evening and had a picture taken with him, which he showed us.

Then during our time at Bascom's last night, Will saw Harold Reynolds walk through the dining area. Will went over and talked to him and shook his hand. Reynolds was a baseball player for the Seattle Mariners and is now a TV sports commentator.

Of course, not being sports fans at all, Cindy and I have no idea who either of these sports figures are. But it still counts as seeing a celebrity I guess.

We have our usual Saturday night Date-night planned.

Got a good movie from Netflix and we will be cooking Bourbon Salmon, Cindy's awesome cheese potatoes and a tossed salad for dinner, along with a great Pinot Noir bottle of wine.

Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 2:01 PM CST

Today is very stormy. Part of the storm system affecting most of the country. We have had tornado warnings this morning and the wind is blowing like crazy. I shut the windows because the rain was blowing inside.

Our windows are rarely, if ever closed. Since it's about 80 degrees outside, I had to turn on the A/C so Cindy could breathe. She really suffers in the heat.

And that damn cough of hers is still hanging on and is worse than ever today. (I'm kind of getting anxious to get back to Iowa and have that checked out).

We saw an interesting dolphin thing last week. A dolphin was below our balcony, playing with his food like a cat. The dolphin would catch a fish and then surface and throw the fish in the air, dive for it and catch it in his mouth.

The dolphin did this repeatedly. Once he finally swallowed the fish, he would find another fish and do the same thing. We have never seen that before.

Very quiet this week. We are relaxing from the Month of Company. It actually feels a little strange to not have anyone here. No plans for any guests in March but you never know if a surprise guest occurs. We love showing friends and family around our little paradise in Florida.

One thing we are planning to do this month is see some more of our winter paradise. We are going to check out Fort DeSoto Park on the southern tip of our island. That will be a day-long trip.

Then another day-long trip we are planning, is to return to Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key off the coast of Bradenton and Sarasota. We didn't spend much time there last year, it was kind of a quick drive through.

Other than that, we don't have any concrete plans for the remaining 6 weeks we are in Florida. We have talked about going to Key West but still don't know if we will go.

The thing about March is that our heads kind of turn towards Iowa the closer we get to the end of our stay here. And we will be quite busy once we are home, so those thoughts are starting to creep into my mind and crowd out Key West.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:59 AM CST

What a roller coaster with the weather. Just when I think the temperatures are going to be warm from now on, we get the coldest day we have had here in two years.

Michael, Nikki & Jacob arrived on Sunday. The temperature never got above 52 all day. But it was sunny and absolutely beautiful that day. That night it got down to 36 degrees.

Monday was warmer, almost 70, then Tuesday was close to 80 degrees. It will be in the 80s for the rest of the week.

The first warm day we were all on the balcony looking at dolphins. Jacob had taken his glasses off to look through the binoculars and had put them on Nikki's lap. Nikki stood up and Jacob's glasses went right through the railing and fell to the ground!

We could see them laying on the driveway of the front entrance to the building. Jacob and Michael raced downstairs in the elevator and Jacob found his glasses folded up perfectly as if they were gently placed there. No damage at all. Miracle glasses...the drop was about 135 feet.

Michael was recently in San Antonio, Texas and he dined at a Brazilian-type steakhouse called Boizao (pronounced Boy-zon). We told him that there is a Boizao Steakhouse across from the Tampa International Airport and Mall. So on Monday we all went to International Mall for a little shopping and then to Boizao for dinner.

Boizao Steakhouse was a unique experience (they have a website so you can check it out). The center of the large dining area held the greatest salad bar we had ever seen. It was tempting to just eat from that but we were anticipating the meat choices.

A staff member came to our table and explained how we would be served small portions of freshly grilled meat. Fried banana pieces would be on the table to "cleanse the palate" between each type of meat, we were instructed. There was going to be lamb, chicken, sirloin, filet mignon, pork ribs, etc.

The staff told us what to expect but it all came a little too fast. Gaucho chefs, came to the table carrying large skewers of meat. The chef told us what the meat was and then asked if we wanted a slice.

They went around the table and shaved off a small portion, plate-side, if we wanted that choice. We expected each choice spaced a little further apart, it felt very rushed. I posted a couple pictures of what a gaucho chef experience looks like. The pictures are in the Clearwater 2013 folder.

Overall it was something very different so we enjoyed the experience. But none of us are really BIG meat eaters (and Iowa still has the best meat anyway). We all agreed, it's nothing but seafood for the rest of their stay.

I read in the local paper that this is the height of the stingray season. Yesterday just before sunset we saw close to 40 stingrays in one group while we sat on the balcony. I don't know if you call them a "school of stingray"? but it was pretty neat to see.

We also saw a manatee. We think he was struggling due to the cold temperatures on Monday. He just kind of floated in place for a very long time. Some dolphins came along and checked him out.

Tired of that the dolphins then came right below us and one of them frolicked around, swimming on his back and doing flips.

So Jacob has some good stories to take back to his classmates in Iowa.

We are having a great time with the kids and still have plenty of time before they head back to Iowa. I hear there is a snow storm brewing back home.

Thursday, February 14, 2013 7:51 AM CST

This week has been quiet. Since the Hower family left on Sunday we have not been out much. I'm still nursing a sore foot and Cindy has been doing lots of painting and crafting. I love that she is so talented. Anyone who has received a greeting card from her knows what I am talking about.

I bought a new Kindle just for me, (since Cindy already has one), and I downloaded all the classic literature that I love to read. It will take me the rest of my life to read what I now have on there. I think the Kindle life span is what, maybe three years, so I better get cracking.

Fortunately, most of the older books are free or $1, so I don't have a lot invested. Something is twisted in our culture that a new, formulaic (made for movie) mystery novel costs $10 and I downloaded the entire works of Tolstoy and Dickens for $1. Oh well, much to my advantage.

We haven't totally stayed at home. We went to see the Steve Miller Band last night at the Ruth Eckerd Concert Hall. WHAT A SHOW!!

Cindy and I had front row seats with no one standing in front of us. Perfect! The show was 2 1/2 hours long, full of all his hit songs.

At the end of the concert, as we waited for people to clear out so we could leave, a band member came off the stage and gave Cindy a pick from Steve's guitar.
That was nice of him.

By the time the band was singing "Big Ol Jet Airliner" near the end, the crowd was on their feet and singing along. Steve sounds exactly the same and looks way younger than his age. He will turn 70 this year!

On the way to the concert Cindy and I had a dinner date with Terry & Nancy Gaffney, at a place called Ceviche, (formerly named Tio Pepe, for you Aegon travelers).

Ceviche is a great Spanish restaurant in an old historic house. It used to be the mansion of the Drew family, a historic family in Clearwater. One of the main streets nearby is named Drew Street. Ceviche is a Very cool place.

While we were there, the skies opened and it poured rain for a couple hours. I had parked our car right near the entrance to the concert hall beforehand (guaranteed good parking spot) and we had taken a cab to Ceviche.

As we were leaving Ceviche, the cab pulled up to the covered walkway but the tile was still wet. Cindy slipped sideways on the slick tile and almost went down. I held onto her with a death grip for the last steps to the cab. Crisis avoided!

When the cab dropped us off for the concert, I had to get the wheelchair out of our car and roll Cindy through the rain to the Hall entrance. We got a little damp but had a fantastic night.

The Gaffney's are friends from the island in Guttenberg. Terry is the life saver I wrote about last fall when I replaced the septic system. Terry brought his tractor equipment over and put the yard back in shape in less than an hour. Saved me tons of work!

Terry & Nancy come down to Florida every year and just look around, staying with several different friends as they bounce from place to place. Nancy said they can't decide where they want to be or if they want to buy or lease.

Terry pulled a boat down to Florida for Rusty Peck, the owner of the Delhi Marina. Rusty just bought a new winter home on Treasure Island and Gaffney's were staying with him.

This is the second visit with friends from Guttenberg. Last month we met up with Boone & Ann Schulte, who live across the street from us on the island in Guttenberg.

One night we went out to eat with the Schulte's and Boone's sister and husband, Deb and Dave Wendt.

The Wendt's are farmers from Delhi, IA. and they just bought a winter home on St. Pete Beach, south of Treasure Island.

Deb and Dave were in a motorcycle accident about three years ago and Deb is paralyzed from the waist down.

Deb was an RN and was going through breast cancer treatment when the accident happened. For some people, when it rains it pours. They are very nice people and Deb is doing well although a struggle, as you can imagine.

The following day, Cindy and I met just Boone & Ann in the afternoon. We had lunch and took them to our condo to see the view. Then we took them on a tour of Clearwater Beach.

We went up to Jimmy's Crows Nest where we had a bird's eye view of the entire area. They were impressed at the beauty of the place. It is noticeably different from the lower end of the 25 mile island. All afternoon, Boone kept saying, "It's so Clean, everything is so Clean!"

Well, that is what we've been up to for the last month. Now the time approaches for our next visitors. Michael, Nikki & Jacob arrive on Sunday afternoon. I think we're all rested up and now we are raring to go again. Can't wait to see Jacob, he sounds so much older on the phone. Growing up way too fast.

(I am writing this following paragraph again from an earlier journal entry, because some people still have never noticed the captions under all the photos....Julie ;-).

I posted a bunch of new pictures on the website. Just click where it says "...to see more than 100 photos..." above the Journal entry.
The new photos are in the folder "Winter in Clearwater 2013". There are captions below each photo.
Click on the first picture to expand and then you can scroll through the pictures in a slide show.
And if you want even bigger pictures, just click again on the picture and it will expand further.

Sunday, February 10, 2013 2:46 AM CST

While the Northeast part of the country digs out, we are having gorgeous weather. Temperatures now in the 80s pretty consistently and lots of sunshine.

Cindy's cough is almost completely gone. Just a touch of a cough right after she gets up in the morning then she's good the rest of the day. I think that issue is behind us now.

With Cindy's issues under control, now I am suffering from another case of plantar fasciitis. The symptom for this injury is pain in the heel or bottom of the foot along the arch.

Plantar fasciitis is especially painful when you put your foot on the floor when getting out of bed in the morning. Throughout the day it feels like I am stepping on a rock when I walk. So lots of limping.

The injury is from all the walking I am doing down here in Florida. If I was back in Iowa I would not be doing so much walking, I would be falling down on ice and having other injuries like that.

I have had this injury several times in the past when I was doing a lot of running. The treatment was usually a shot of cortisone but I don't want to do that down here.

Another treatment is to tape the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot, which limits how much you can bend the foot. It's effective for alleviating pain but doesn't cure it. I will continue to do the taping until I get home...unless I can't stand the pain any longer.

We had a great time with Phil & Julie & Logan. They all flew home this morning. While they were here we kept on the go most of the time. The five of us toured the length of the barrier islands with Logan as our chauffeur.

Phil and Logan went parasailing one day and Julie rode along in the boat with them. We watched from the shore. I mentioned before that I didn't think Cindy could parasail since it was too dangerous for her, especially the landing. Phil and Julie both confirmed that Cindy would not be able to safely land on the boat.

Logan also wanted to do the indoor surfing but it's out of commission till March. We stopped in one day and saw that it was all torn apart and the water pump was being replaced. Jacob was very disappointed to hear that news. He was anticipating going surfing again when they arrive next week.

This week Cindy and I have tickets to see the Steve Miller Band at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. In case you don't remember the band, their hits include, "Jet Airliner", "Abracadabra", "The Joker", "Livin in the USA", along with several other hits from our high school and early-married years. We have front row seats and are excited about going to our first concert there.

The Ruth Eckerd Hall has lots of big name entertainers. The night after Steve Miller, Sheryl Crow is doing a show. Willie Nelson was there last week.

Michael, Nikki & Jacob arrive next Sunday. This will be their second visit this winter. Can't wait to see them again!

Sunday, February 3, 2013 3:28 AM CST

The weather cooled for a few days due to the cold front that moved across the entire Midwest. It is now warm again and appears that it will stay warm for awhile now.

Cindy still has a nagging cough but she is improving. Little by little it's getting better. And the back pain she was having is almost entirely gone.

In case anyone was wondering...Yes, I was (am) concerned it could be something besides allergies or a head cold. And Yes, I was considering taking her to see a doctor if I didn't see things improving. It's still an option.

She has more energy lately and not sleeping near as much as she was. There were some days when she pretty much slept the entire day, only up for brief periods. I stayed busy, being quiet and doing stuff like taxes and other fun stuff.

One thing that Cindy didn't miss out on was our Friday night out. She has to be pretty darn sick to miss out on a Friday night. And by pretty sick, I mean, IN the hospital.

This Friday at Columbia, a couple came over after hearing from Lori that we were from Iowa. They were from Iowa too and have a boat that takes them up and down the Mississippi River. They knew exactly where our island was and even knew someone from the island.

When I told them we had met and talked to Kirk Ferentz (Iowa Hawkeye Football coach) a few weeks ago on Sand Key, I was met with blank stares. They didn't know who he was. I didn't think that was possible, someone who is LESS of a sports fan than we are.

This month on the Turner Classic Movie channel (TCM), they are showing all Oscar movies, back to back, around the clock. On Saturday night they showed Casablanca.

This movie is Cindy and my favorite movie of all time. We have watched it dozens of times but still want to see it whenever it's on.

Saturday night is our usual date-night-at-home. Together we prepare a great meal (usually seafood), open our favorite wine and dine by candlelight, then watch a movie with all the lights off. Casablanca made this Saturday date night special.

This coming week our cousins Phil and Julie, from Wichita, are coming to visit. They are bringing their 17 year old son Logan. We are looking forward to their visit as they have never been here before.

Logan has never flown on a plane or seen the ocean (Gulf, but same thing, it's all connected). It will be a fun-filled week with a TON of laughter about to happen.

P&J are about the funniest people we know. I've been doing side-stretches to get in shape for the fun. Hope all the laughter doesn't put Cindy into a coughing fit.

Monday, January 28, 2013 10:13 AM CST

The weather has again returned to temps in the 80s during the day, low 60s at night. Thursday is going to be a bit cooler, high 60s during the day, but again warm up by the weekend. It's only going to get better, as January is the coldest month. It will warm up from here.

Cindy is still not feeling the best and has a terrible cough she can't shake. We came to the conclusion that it might be allergies. Our cousin Julie sent a link to a pollen website. The map of the U.S. showed a big red circle right over top of Clearwater/Tampa. The worst pollen in the country!

Her coughing started about the time Aaron left. I remember that Aaron had what looked like a bad head cold when he went home. But it cleared up right away after he got home. So allergies may be the problem for Cindy too.

We have been taking it pretty easy lately. Cindy is just not feeling the best so we don't go far from home. Saturday we stayed inside and turned on the air conditioner, just to see if she would improve.

It didn't really make much difference and we both hated having the house shut up. We have never turned on the air or heat since we've been here. Windows and doors are always open and we are outside as much as possible.

Our friends, Larry & Diana Johnson stopped by Sunday, on their way back to Mobile, AL. They had been on a cruise from Miami and had left their motor home in Mobile. To get to Miami they unhooked the truck that they towed behind the motor home.

We went out to dinner with Larry & Diana Sunday night and had a nice evening with them. They spent the night at our place and headed towards Alabama this morning. Once they are reunited with their motor home, they will head to Texas for the rest of the winter.

We have a new neighbor, Cindy Crawford. She bought a house just south of us in the village of Belleaire Beach. We can see her house from our balcony. I also found out some other famous residents in our area: Chevy Chase, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley.

Tom Cruise has a beach house that I walk by most everyday, but I haven't figured out which one it is yet. Supposedly there is a TC on the gate at his property.

Cindy said the other night, just out of the blue,
"My new goal is to go to Las Vegas with Jacob when he turns 21.
Oh, wait, I'm a grandma, my responsible grandma goal should be...to see Jacob's graduation."

I got a big kick out of her ponderous thinking.

Monday, January 21, 2013 9:19 PM CST

The weather took a turn the day our guests arrived. Jeff & Carol Brown flew in to Tampa the day Aaron flew home. It was rainy and foggy and chilly.

I think the temperature only reached 62 that day. The next day was cloudy and cooler than normal also. We won't complain about a couple of bad days, I see that it's below zero back home. And, the weather did return to warm and sunny for us by Saturday.

We had a great time with our friends, Jeff & Carol, lots of laughs and good memories. They returned home on Monday. While they were here, we took them around to some of our regular haunts and also took a drive down the islands to John's Pass Village.

The Village is a very touristy place but it's worth seeing at least once. Carol described it as sort of "Carnival-like" which I have to agree with.

On Saturday, the four of us were at a popular spot on Sand Key when it finally happened...we saw someone from Iowa who we know. I don't know that it counts though, because this person does not know us. For those of you who are sports fans, Iowa Hawkeyes especially, we talked to Kirk Ferentz at our local pub, Backwaters, on Saturday. He was in town to watch his son.

Kirk Ferentz is the Iowa Hawkeye football coach to those who are sports illiterate....much like myself. To tell you how little of a sports fan I am, I almost addressed him as Lou Ferentz. Maybe he would have thought I was saying "Hey Yooou!", instead of "Hey Loouu!"

I did recognize him immediately as he was standing right behind me. He was very friendly and engaging. I'm sure he has a lot of people who come up and talk to him wherever he goes.

I still maintain that eventually we will meet someone from home who we know, and who knows us.

We saw something we have never seen before on Saturday. A huge "flock?" of cormorants were swimming in the canal below our balcony. I would guess at least 100 of them were herding fish into the area below us. Then they would dive and some would come up with a fish in their beaks. The others would then swarm them and try to steal the fish.

We were amazed. Most of the time we only see solitary cormorants, never this type of pack fishing. It was very interesting to see.

Jeff & Carol were skunked in the dolphin-sighting arena. Not a single dolphin appeared during their visit with us. So the cormorant experience was a nice substitute.

Another thing we did was take our guests to what is considered by many locals to be the best restaurant in the Clearwater area. It's the E&E Stakeout Grill. The food here is fantastic. I was planning on having the prime rib and garlic mashed potatoes. Out of this world good.

Some time after taking our order, our waiter, Ahmi, returned to the table to inform me that they were out of prime rib. So I ordered the salmon.

A few moments later, Ahmi returned to the table to inform me they were out of garlic mashed potatoes. How any restaurant runs out of potatoes has always bewildered me....potatoes cost a NICKEL!! Buy more!!

To end the evening, Ahmi came by and asked if we wanted dessert. Cindy and I usually don't order dessert but she had gone to the restroom and I wanted to surprise her with her favorite....Tiramisu. So I ordered that to share with Cindy.

After Cindy was back at the table, Ahmi stopped by one last time to inform me that they were all out of Tiramisu. STRIKE THREE!

In the end, it was all good and we had a very nice time, with lots of laughs, some of the laughs at the expense of E&E Stakeout Grill and Ahmi.

Jeff & Carol left around 5am the next morning. So we awoke to an empty house and we are now getting back to normal. A few days to relax before our next guests arrive this weekend.

Larry and Diana Johnson will be stopping by on their way back from Miami and a cruise. I don't think we will take them to E&E Stakeout Grill.

Today I will get back to my daily walking routine. For the past few days I have been nursing a sore ankle and foot. The last day Aaron was here, we went to Palm Pavilion to see our friend Greg perform.

Upon leaving the Palm, I didn't see a depression in the sidewalk and I badly turned my ankle. I am surprised I didn't fall down but I was able to catch myself. Probably looked pretty cool to whoever was watching. Stumble-bum.

It's been swollen and sore ever since. I told Cindy, that would have been great, to break my ankle while we are down here. I promised her that I will be more careful from now on. I'm supposed to take care of her, not the other way around.

Cindy's back is feeling much better. She told me today that it's mostly in her arm where she is feeling the pain now. It's hard for her to do much for any length of time with her right arm.

Her back is still a little sore but very tolerable. We dodged another doctor visit there...for now. This morning, Cindy started coughing. So she may be coming down with something.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 4:23 AM CST

What a week! The weather has been as perfect as could be. In the 80s everyday, mid-60s at night. Sunny and little wind. Gorgeous!

We joked with Aaron, that usually when he comes to the river, it rains the whole time he's there. But this time he brought good weather with him.

Cindy is feeling better. I was concerned and about to take her to the doctor if she didn't improve. The pain in her back was keeping her very quiet and still most of the time. The head stuff went away, so she never got a cold. But the back pain just persisted. I don't know what the cause is and it's still not healed. We will give it another week.

Aaron has done all the summer things he wanted to do. He's been to the beach for long walks. Cindy and Aaron sat on the beach one day and Aaron body surfed. He has swam in our pool. We went to the indoor surfing place and Aaron got to body surf and learned how to stand-up surf there with an instructor.

Then the ultimate, Aaron did parasailing! I went along for the ride but didn't go up. I did take pictures.

I wanted to see if Cindy could parasail, that was one reason I went along (I also wanted to make sure Aaron was okay but shhhhh). She could definitely get on the boat, I made sure that was safe for her. So at least a boat ride while someone else parasails is probably in Cindy's future.

I talked to the guy on the boat and he thought she could do it. But after seeing the harness, I am not so sure. I think her little leg is too short to stay in the harness. Also, the landing after the parasail is a little frightening to say the least.

A two-leg person has no problem but while Aaron came in for a landing I was picturing what would happen with Cindy doing it and my heart was in my throat. No way!

Too many things could go wrong in that few seconds of sticking the landing and getting unhooked, with the boat rocking and trying to get her crutches under her arms, the slick deck, the parachute tugging at the harness, etc., etc. You get the picture.

I told Cindy my thoughts and she said that she trusts my judgment but would like to go out on the boat.

The other night we took Aaron to a cool place called Slyce. As the name implies, they serve pizza by the slice, if you want it that way. They also serve Gluten-free pizza, so Aaron was ready to get back on that horse.

The bartender Brian, was interacting with us occasionally. He was telling us how he lived 20 years on the east coast of Florida and now he lives on the west coast.

We were sitting at the corner of the bar and were talking about how sooner or later we are going to see someone we know from back home. It HAS to happen eventually, given the popularity of the Clearwater Beach area for winter escapees.

The place started filling up and a group of people from Cincinnati took the seat next to us. The guy right beside me told Brian, "you look very familiar, what's your name?" He said, Brian. The guy beside me said, "Brian Novak...I knew that was you!! I'm Mark, don't you remember me?" Brian was a little perplexed at first but slow recognition came over him.

These two guys hung out together 20 years ago in Del Ray, Florida. Golfing at least four times a week together and partying all the time. Mark said he had not seen Brian in 15 years and just could not get over running into him again like that.

The people from Cincinnati had only come in by chance because their friends in Clearwater Beach raved about the pizza. Brian and Mark talked old times and made a date to play golf this week. Mark just kept saying to me, about meeting Brian, "what are the chances, what are the chances...unbelievable".

Now that is the kind of thing we had been talking about. Sooner or later we will see someone we know.

Today we are taking Aaron up to Palm Pavilion to see our friend Greg perform. Then Aaron heads home tomorrow. The week has flown by.

As I am dropping Aaron off at the Clearwater airport tomorrow, our next guests, Jeff and Carol Brown, arrive at the Tampa airport at about the same time. I hope the weather holds for their visit as well. It's rumored that a cold front may hit us for a few days. But cold here means it won't hit 70 degrees during the day.

Oh, I posted a bunch of new pictures on the website. Just click where it says "...to see more than 100 photos..." above the Journal entry.
The new photos are in the folder "Winter in Clearwater 2013".

There are captions below each photo. Click on the first picture to expand and then you can scroll through the pictures in a slide show. And if you want even bigger pictures, just click again on the picture and it will expand further.


Friday, January 11, 2013 7:10 AM CST

The weather could not be more perfect! It was a little foggy and cool over the holidays but this week temperatures were in the 80s everyday and low 60s at night. Full-on porch sittin time, day or night.

Aaron arrived late last night. I picked him up at the airport about 11pm. He was very tired, as he had only slept two hours after working all night Wednesday. So we were all off to bed by midnight.

Cindy did not go with me to the airport. She is not feeling well at all. I don't know if she is getting a cold, flu or what. On top of that, she has a very sore back, between her shoulder blades and can hardly move. Hopefully she will recover quickly. She usually does.

Aaron is up early and he is already out walking on the beach. It is absolutely gorgeous this morning.

Aaron is excited to see and do lots of "Florida stuff". One thing on his list is the indoor body surfing. Jacob did it last year and it looks like a lot of fun.

Then we will be taking Aaron to several spots to enjoy seafood. Thankfully, Aaron's gluten-free diet does not preclude eating that. He loves seafood.

Speaking of loving seafood. One thing we have discovered this year is that we LOVE Stone crab claws. We have noticed crab on many menus both in Clearwater and in Key West but we never noticed the "type" of crab that was referred to.

There are Blue Crab, Alaskan King Crab, Dungeness Crab, Red Rock Crab....and Stone crab. Seems like every bar has some crab listing on the menu. A lot of times, a menu will just list "crab" and you have to ask what you are ordering.

When we go to Crabby Bills most people are devouring Blue Crab and it looks gross. They pick and suck and get very little meat out of these critters and they are a mess when done.

Sort of like Phil and Cindy were after they ate Alaskan King Crab legs at Two-Friends restaurant in Key West. I think Cindy even lost finger nail polish over that episode.

Now that we know about Stone crab and have tried it in restaurants and at home, we are huge fans.

Another thing that is kind of cool about Stone crabs is you only eat the claws, (which grow back on the crab) and there is no mess. Just one big hunk of crab meat that pulls out and you eat in one or two bites.

If you eat it cold, you dip it in mustard sauce. If you eat it hot (my preference) you dip it in melted butter.....YUMMMM!

So when you come down to see us, look for STONE crab claws on any menu and you won't be sorry.

Currently, there is a shortage of Stone crab because octopus are stealing the crabs from the cage traps. But there are still some around. I bought some at Publix last week and we still have a dozen in our freezer.

Here is a blog detailing the art of catching Stone Crabs. You may have to cut-n-paste the link.


We had an interesting time getting Cindy's pain medication over the past two weeks. What a hassle. Since it's a narcotic, Cindy can only get it in 30 day dosages and the prescription has to be filled within 7 days of when it was written....not when we get it.

Well, it takes about 5 days for mail to get here from Cedar Rapids (for some unknown reason, which is frustrating). So by the time it got here, we only had two days. We stopped by the pharmacy and the pharmacist, who has been very helpful, could not fill it because the nurse had signed it, not the doctor.

The pharmacist immediately called Dr. Ghosh and had him send another prescription. This took 5 more days to arrive. By this time, Cindy was getting very anxious, as she only had a couple days worth of pills left.

To tell you the truth I was getting quite worried because I can't imagine Cindy being without pain medication. She has enough pain as it is on the drugs, out of control pain would be a horrible thing.

Well, finally the prescription arrived, directly to the pharmacy and they called and told Cindy it was filled. I went to pick it up and the place was packed. I was at the drive-up window and I could see a long line inside. They came over the intercom and told me "just a few minutes". Well, I waited 10 minutes with nobody coming to the window.

Another customer, a woman with little kids, pulled up next to me and pushed the button a few times. I called over to her and said that I had been there 10 minutes already.

Now an elderly man pulls up behind me and after a few minutes he gets out of his car and walks up to the window, leaning on my car. He starts pounding on the window and screaming at the pharmacy workers inside. Quite a scene!

I got Cindy's drugs shortly after and the man at the window is yelling that he is next. The women with kids starts screaming at him that she was here first. I slowly pulled ahead, sort of scraping the old gent off my car, because he's squeezed between the drive-up window and my car and standing on a ledge.

Luckily I escaped, had Cindy's medication and all was fine again in Florida.

Very relaxing down here.

Sunday, January 6, 2013 3:13 PM CST

Boy has it been foggy here! Since the New Year arrived we have experienced incredible fog. Sometimes we can't even see the ground from our balcony. Then 15 minutes later it will be sunny. Then the fog will roll in again. But the temperatures are back to warm most of the time.

A few weeks ago, we met an interesting couple while we were at Columbia on a Friday night. Greg and Kat West. They are a young couple, probably early 30s. Greg stands out because he has thick dreadlocks. We saw him a few times last winter in Columbia but never spoke to him. I only remember this because I noticed his hair at that time.

Greg and Kat are a very fun and interesting couple. They go to Europe every year and spend time in several different countries. I asked why they do that, and Greg said, "why not?" Free spirits, definitely.

We saw pictures of their most recent trip to Denmark and Paris. Last year they were in Czech Republic and Croatia and Italy (I think...there was a lot of information thrown at us in a short time.)

The second night that we spent time with them, I finally asked Greg what he does. He told us that he's a musician and that he plays at the Palm Pavilion a couple days a week, along with other venues in the area. The Palm Pavilion is located up on Clearwater Beach and is one of our favorites spots but we have not been there this year.

So off we went to the Palm Pavilion the day after New Years Day. Greg is a very talented musician. Cindy and I were very impressed. We stayed at the Palm Pavilion for a couple hours listening to Greg, had some lunch and then left moments before the fog rolled in for the first time.

It was pure luck that we left when we did. We could not see anything in the fog. I was glad to get our car home and parked before the traffic was stopped.

We saw Greg and Kat again this last Friday at Columbia and told him how impressed we were. When Cindy's cousins Phil and Julie come in a few weeks, we will take their son Logan to see Greg. Logan is a talented guitar player and I think he will enjoy seeing Greg play.

Cindy and I went to Tampa last week to the big mall near the Tampa airport. We had a hankering for a shopping trip and that is our go-to place when we really want variety. Cindy looked at the new iPad2, the smaller version but we decided to wait till they come out with a new screen for it.

Instead I ordered a new Amazon Kindle since we are reading so many books. Both of us are currently reading Uncle Tom's Cabin. Can't believe we have never read that book. It is the most read book of the 19th Century. Even more popular than Huckleberry Finn was at that time.

Over the holidays Cindy and I went to a movie. This time we went to an evening movie just to see if we would still be the youngest ones there. As predicted, the oldsters were not in attendance, since there is no "super deal" on ticket prices and 6pm would be when the oldsters are finishing up having the "early bird special". In fact, there were less than 30 people in attendance at the movie. We saw Jack Reacher. Don't bother. Highly over-rated.

Aaron will be here on Thursday. We are excited to see him. We did Facetime on our iPhones this week and I saw how long Aaron's hair is getting. I'm usually the barber for Aaron so I told him that he better bring the clippers with him.

Aaron will be flying in on Allegiant Air. The Allegiant flight passes right over our building several times during the week. It flies low enough that you can see windows on the plane. I like to think our visitors can see us waving from the balcony as they come in.

We have lots of company coming to visit over the next two months. Being as anal as I am, I put together a spreadsheet of activities, dining options, and places to see.

I told one of our friends that I would slip it under their bedroom door each morning so they can mark what they want to do for the day. I was kidding (wasn't I??). We are definitely having fun here!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 7:08 AM CST

Happy New Year!

Cindy and I brought in the New Year from our balcony. We had a panoramic view of most of the peninsula that makes up Pinellas County. There were fireworks at midnight all around the coastline.

To the east (our left), we could see the fireworks next to the Clearwater/St Pete. airport, which sits on the edge of Tampa Bay. Sweeping our view southward, we could see the huge fireworks display coming from downtown St. Petersburg near the famous Pier.

Continuing in a line along the coast, sweeping our vision slowly to the right, were displays in Seminole, Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and finally, just below us, all over the neighborhood of Belleaire Beach.

Behind our building, to the north, was a huge display going on near the Sand Key bridge. Since that was on the other side of our building we could only hear it. All in all, it was Quite a show!

The noise was continuous. It sounded like a storm was occurring with constant thunder. Those of you who live in Vinton know what it's like if you have experienced the annual Boom Town event. Although, we didn't have the smoke that Vinton has during the show. Just the beauty.

Our Christmas was very quiet. Cindy and I exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve followed by a great seafood dinner we prepared together. Then Christmas morning was just like any lazy Sunday morning. We spent the day at home, reading and sitting outside.

Cindy wanted to put her feet (foot) in the water on the beach, just so she could say she did that on Christmas Day. But the temperatures were a little cool to do that. We may try again today on New Years Day since the temps are back around 75 degrees.

Speaking of temperatures. We know that Iowa has been suffering from the cold and snow. Some of the effects of that cold front have reached us in Florida.

Sunday was the coldest day so far, a high of 59. But the sun was shining all day so if we were in the sun, it felt much warmer.

I went to the store to fetch some vittles for our New Years Eve dinner and I was the only person in the store in shorts and short sleeves. I don't know how long it takes to have thin blood down here but Cindy and I are far from it.

The nights have been cooler, sometimes in the upper 40's. Which makes for great sleeping weather with the window open. Most nights the lowest temps are in the 50's sometimes the 60's.

We still are able to be out on the balcony until an hour or so after sunset. Then a few days go by and the temps climb right back to the 70s. For instance, New Years Eve was very comfortable well into the night. We were out there at midnight.

We are outside quite often during the day and that is why we came here. Cindy says to me everyday, "We could never do this if we were at home, we would just be huddled indoors all the time."

I feel so grateful that we were able to accomplish our goal of no more winter weather. It is hard for me to convey how hard it was on Cindy enduring the cold, snowy, icy winters in Iowa.

Even a trip to a restaurant or the grocery store was a major event and usually frightening, with the danger of a fall for Cindy.

Because Cindy is such a positive person outwardly, few knew how hard it was on her spirit.

I knew. And I did something about it. Cindy was barefoot, outside on the balcony all night on New Years Eve and that look on her face was all I need to keep MY spirits up.

Have a great new year.

Monday, December 24, 2012 4:37 AM CST

The year 2012 turned out to be a great one. Cindy stayed healthy all year and was not in the hospital even for a day. Always a good thing.

And 2012 was my first full calendar year of retirement. Another good thing (at least for me).

We are looking forward to another great year ahead. See you in 2013.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012 2:00 PM CST

I created another photo folder for Clearwater pictures this year. Just click on "..more than 100 photos..." link.

Sad time for Cindy. One of her classmates died Saturday morning. Mary Weideman had been fighting colon cancer but it spread a year ago and recently treatment was no longer an option.

Cindy and Mary had been in touch with each other over the past year or so. In some of their conversations, Mary had asked Cindy how she dealt with all her cancers and how Cindy lived knowing that it might not be for very long.

So many people with cancer. Some people we know, who are not from Iowa, are astounded at how many people here get cancer. It just seems almost common to us now. In fact it amazes us when we hear from people who hardly know anyone with cancer. That's just messed up.

Another friend/co-worker of mine, Don Heck died about a week ago. I remember vividly Don's philosophy on retirement. He had told me over and over through the years that I worked at Rockwell, that he was retiring at age 57 (same age I retired) and that he was going to enjoy the next 10 years to the limit and not worry about anything after that period.

Don was so convinced that that was the way to do it...retire early and live life to the fullest while you're healthy. Don lived just over 10 years after he retired. Good for you Don, you did it the way you wanted.

Not a very cheery Christmas-time update but sometimes life doesn't work out in a cozy fashion.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 5:03 AM CST

Cindy and I went to the movie "Lincoln" the day before the kids arrived. Very good movie. That is the first movie we have seen since being in Florida this winter. We are always the youngest people in the theater down here.

The next day Cindy and I went to the airport to meet the kids. It was good to see them and get Ginormous hugs from Jacob. The weather the first day or so was not the best but it improved and we were outside a lot.

Jacob and his dad swam in the pool for a couple hours one day and Jacob swam by himself on one of the cooler days. He's a kid, it didn't bother him at all.

One afternoon we opened presents, since we won't be home for Christmas. Cindy and I got Jacob his most-desired gift, an iPhone. He was thrilled! Again, we both received Ginormous hugs from Jacob. After that he was pretty attached to the phone.

We were all on the balcony one afternoon when Jacob spotted a sting ray. It was swimming just below us and it hung around for awhile. Jacob didn't get to see any dolphins this visit. Better luck next visit.

One (more) Jacob story to pass along:
Jacob and I went to the Verizon store Saturday to have his contacts moved to the new iPhone. On the way home, Jacob saw a restaurant called Marlin Darlin and asked if we ever go there.

I said no and I told him about our visit last winter when I walked inside and nearly went down because the tile floor was wet...everywhere. Luckily I had left Cindy in the car.

Jacob said, "Yeah, I remember she fell this summer in Michaels store."
I responded with, "And people wonder why I worry so much about your Grandma."
Jacob reached over and touched my hand and said in an alarmed voice, "Oh Grandpa, I never wonder why you worry about her so much."

It's hard to drive a car when your eyes are wet. Just a note to keep in mind.

Michael, Nikki and Jacob left for home on Sunday. We had a great time with them. Lots and lots of laughter, which is always a good thing in life.

Aaron will be our next guest, just after New Years. Aaron will be staying a week and we are very anxious to see him.

Cindy has been talking about going to see the Botanical Gardens in Largo this week. There are a half million Christmas lights in the Garden and it's pretty cool. There are paved trails that wind through the garden, so it will be easy for me to push Cindy's wheelchair. There is no way she could walk that distance.

We read that Iowa is about to get socked with the first winter storm. Hope everybody is prepared.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 1:08 AM CST

We came very close to being in a car accident last week. Actually a car/motorcycle accident. Cindy and I were driving down Gulf Blvd, not far from our place. There was a long line of traffic going the other direction and a kid on a crotch rocket motorcycle was in the mix of cars. All of a sudden he lost control of the bike and it went down.

The bike started sliding, with the kid kind of on top and partly underneath the motorcycle. I slammed on my brakes but the bike came into our lane and just kept coming at us at about 30 mph.

The bike stopped about 10 feet in front of our car. All traffic on Gulf Blvd came to a stop. I got out and rushed over to see if the kid was alright and he hopped right up and began picking up his bike.

His legs were pretty torn up but he wasn't complaining. Probably in shock a little bit. He was wearing a helmet and appropriate riding clothes and boots, so he was protected pretty well.

He seemed okay and didn't want any help so everyone got back in their cars and the traffic started moving again. A few minutes later, we were at Crabby Bills and the ambulance and firetruck went by, probably to see if they were needed at the bike wreck. He had to be one sore kid the next day. And lucky.

The weather has been very foggy since Saturday. In fact, on Sunday it was so foggy we couldn't see the ground from our balcony. I know I keep saying the weather is beautiful and wouldn't you know it, we invited friends over for dinner on Monday evening and it rained.

We were going to all watch the sunset from our balcony. About an hour before Will and Lori arrived, it started misting. Then, just as they got out of their car to come in the building, the skies opened up and poured. They were soaked!

It then just got worse, and while we were eating dinner, Cindy and Lori both got warning messages on their phones due to a tornado in the area.

So yes, it does rain here once in awhile.

The kids will be here on Thursday and Cindy and I are very excited. Michael, Nikki and Jacob arrive around 2:30 on Thursday.

They are flying into the Clearwater airport, which is just a few minutes from us. I texted Jacob last night and asked how big of a hug were we going to get from him. His response, "Ginormous". Can't wait!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 11:39 PM CST

Cindy and I went to a Frank Sinatra concert at the Largo Cultural Center on Sunday. It wasn't really Frank, it was Tony Sands and his show was very good.

There were video graphics in the background that covered Frank's entire life in show business. Tony Sands sounds almost exactly like Frank Sinatra and impersonates many of his mannerisms.

The show is intended to portray that Frank is actually on stage and he did a pretty good job.

We told our friend Lori on Friday that we were going to see a Frank Sinatra show. Lori said, "Uh...that's nice.....he's dead isn't he?" That was funny.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have always been a huge Sinatra fan. There is nothing that sets the mood in a fine place to spend the evening than, low lighting, good friends sitting around the corner of the bar or secluded table, and Frank Sinatra music playing in the background.

If we walk into a place and I hear Frank singing, the place gets huge bonus points before we are even seated.

Enough of that. There are tons of entertainment opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. We have begun to pay more attention to the weekly schedules to see who is in the area.

Just over the next few months, there is Sheryl Crow, Steve Miller Band, Leon Redbone, Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, Beach Boys, Dave Mason, and Supertramp and many other notable acts

This week we went to the Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg. Fascinating! There are paintings from all periods of Salvador Dali's career, starting in the early 1920's up to his death in 1989. A very gifted artist.

On the way home we stopped at a company that provides mobility equipment. They had a large showroom of all kinds of wheelchairs, scooters, bicycles for disabled and vehicles for transport.

This is the first time we have ever been to a place with lots of options that we can see, touch and tryout. Usually the medical supply stores only have one or two options to look at and the rest is ordered from a distant company.

Cindy rode around on this power chair that was pretty cool. It has a rising seat, so she can be eye-to-eye with people when talking and socializing. She loved that option. Having people tower over her while she is in the wheelchair is one of Cindy's least favorite things.

Of course that particular power chair, was the top-of-the-line and cost over $25,000. While swallowing that fact, the salesman further informed us that the minivan to haul it around town is "not included". At least we got to see what the options are for getting around.

We had not seen dolphins below our balcony for a couple weeks. Until Saturday night. Just after sundown, they came in below us and were very active. There were four dolphins and they were tearing around and surfacing often.

We hope this continues because it's fun to watch and not as costly as the other shows I mentioned above.

This is probably getting annoying but I have to mention that the weather continues to be BEAUTIFUL!

Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:41 AM CST

We have been in Florida for three weeks today. Time is flying by. It's amazing how quickly we adapt to this being "home". It helps that we return to the same condo each year so getting settled in doesn't take long.

The owner, Bette, who lives near Atlanta, has been great and loves having us back. We talk to her about once a week. I have been fixing little things that aren't perfect (for me).

For instance, there were three light switches that didn't work right, so I replaced them. The wall switch in the guest bedroom didn't turn anything on. I fixed that and now a light comes on when you enter the room.

And the front doors took two different keys so I took them apart and re-keyed them myself to use the same key. Maybe I could get a job as a part-time locksmith. Yesterday I painted some trim near the kitchen that bugged me all last winter. It was flaking off and looked bad but now that it is painted it looks just fine.

Cindy and I went to the store to do some shopping a couple days ago. Cindy was riding around the huge store in one of those electric carts. I had my own pushcart and was not with her. There was a carton of fresh blueberries in her basket that I had placed there right after we got in the store.

Later, I began looking for her and could not find her. Then I started seeing blueberries on the floor. I followed the blueberry trail around a corner and there were blueberries everywhere on the floor. This continued for a couple of aisles. People were stepping in them and carts were smearing them with the wheels.

I started laughing hysterically because I KNEW that it had to be Cindy's blueberries. It was. I finally found her and she was laughing too. She hadn't noticed the trail until she went past a previous aisle she had been down. She quickly scooted out of there so not to get the blame...and shame.

Today Cindy went to art class. The same class she was attending all last winter. Her art class is at the art center in Indian Rocks Beach, just down the street from us.

On the way to dropping her off, we stopped at a French cafe for breakfast and had stuffed crepes. Not a fan of French food I have to say. Cindy loved it but it's not my cup of tea. Although I did have a cup of tea there and it wasn't bad.

The weather has been beautiful. I used to find it strange when I heard that people in Florida don't watch the weather reports everyday like we do in Iowa. I get it now. It's not at all like Iowa, where it changes on a dime.

The weather here is sunny and warm all the time. What the locals call cold, is temperature in the 60s during the day. We wear shorts everyday and at night we put on a long sleeved shirt sometimes. That's it. No need for a coat. Cindy is in heaven.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 3:02 AM CST

We lost another friend last night. Steve Hite died of an apparent heart attack. His wife Sue has battled cancer over several years and is not in good health, so when I got the call about Steve, I first thought it was Sue who died.

You know how those kinds of calls are confusing at first. You are hearing something so unexpected and tragic.

Steve is part of our group who attend the annual dinner every October, for Tom and Lorene Spencer's wedding anniversary. I immediately remembered that Steve had not seemed like himself at the dinner last month.

Cindy and I talked about it on the way home that night, that Steve was disengaged and was unusually quiet. Usually Steve would have lots to say and would be very inquisitive about what was going on with everyone else.

My best memory of Steve was from 34 years ago. I was working in Atlantic, Iowa, over four hours from home. Cindy called to tell me that our son Aaron had a seizure and was in the hospital.

This was the first seizure Aaron had and we didn't know what was happening. Steve was working with me and he insisted on driving me home. We left around 9:00 at night so it was a very long and agonizing drive home.

Steve was so reassuring as we talked on the way to Vinton. Although, that was just the first of many scary times in our family, I always remember the steady and calming influence Steve was for me that night.

Life never turns out like expected. Enjoy every day.

Monday, November 19, 2012 11:27 AM CST

Things are fantastic for us here in Florida. The weather is great, everyday is in the 70s and nights in the 50s, perfect sleeping weather. The windows are always open and the door out to the patio is propped open all day.

I finally got the Alaska photos posted and I am creating a new folder for Clearwater 2013, so we can post pictures from this winter in Florida.

I took a photo of the new mansion being constructed across the street from us. I mentioned it last winter. It is the beach home of Ryan Howard. He is a baseball player for the Phillies. Clearwater is the winter home of the Phillies. His house is going to be over 17,000 square feet!

Cindy is in full swing with her daily exercise routine and she has all her art stuff organized and spread out so she can work on projects. Her art room is now located in the "Gary Scott Room"....sorry Gary but you went home. In a few weeks it will become the "Michael & Nikki Room"...sorry Jacob, you will be on the couch.

We have been to Columbia both Friday nights that we have been here. We were anxious to see Lori again. We have been in contact with her all year, and counted down the days. When we got to Columbia the first Friday, Lori had saved three seats for us since Gary had arrived just in time to go with us.

Gary loves Columbia and wanted to return again before he headed home. But we had other ideas and we introduced Gary to Alfano's, the great Italian place that reminds us of RG Books. It was good to see Keith again at Alfano's and he told us that Mary Sheldon was in the night before and asked about us.

Mary Sheldon is the 90 year old stockbroker we met on our first night in Clearwater last year. We have exchanged letters and cards a few times this summer. We will be contacting Mary soon.

Towards the end of our evening at Alfano's a woman about my age sat down next to me. She had a cane and she saw Cindy's crutches lying below me. She must have thought they were mine and so she struck up a conversation with me about our mutual handicap.

I didn't get a chance to correct her because she was much more interested in telling me all about HER. She had had a stroke a few years back and was fortunate to be talking and walking again. She told me more than once, "I have quite a story to tell."

She said something about a sister in Iowa, so I squeezed in that we were from Iowa. She said her sister lived in Cedar Rapids. I said, that is where we are from. Ignoring this too, she said her brother-in-law worked at Collins Radio. I slipped in that I worked at Collins Radio. Nothing. She said, "He worked his whole career there and retired from there"....so did I.

This was becoming humorous, as nothing I said seemed to get through. The clincher was when she said her sister had children and I asked if they still lived in Cedar Rapids?
"Oh, no, they moved away, how could you ever have a fulfilling life in Cedar Rapids, Iowa".

I thought Cindy was going to come out of her chair. Cindy and Gary had been talking to each other but they were also listening to what this woman was saying. Cindy told her forcefully that WE come from Cedar Rapids and WE have a very fulfilling life. That got through.

At about that time, with this lady somewhat cowed, we got up to leave and I leaned down and got Cindy's crutches. When the woman saw Cindy on her crutches, she said, "Oh...". I just turned to her and said, "we've got quite a story ourselves", and we turned and walked away.

Sunday night Cindy and I decided to go out to eat. We had been busy all day and forgot about supper. So about 7:00 I suggested we head up to Columbia or next door to Backwaters, a small pub in the same strip of businesses. We went to Backwaters first to see if there was room for us and there was.

Sometime after we finished eating a couple came in and sat right beside us. They had a thick accent and I could not quite recognize the nationality. We quickly struck up a conversation and found that he was from Denmark and she was from Norway.

Their names were John (or a Danish version of John) and Ann. Ann really struggles to understand and speak English, so John would speak to her in their language to explain some of the more detailed points we were making.

John is a very wealthy business man in Denmark but he handed over daily operations to a son so he could travel the world for several years. They arrived on Sand Key five days ago and plan to stay for a month or so.

John said that they had just spent a month on the east coast of Florida near Vero Beach. They kept hearing that the west coast was nicer and the people were more friendly so they came to find out for themselves.

John lost his wife to cancer after 35 years of marriage. About six years ago he was on an island off the coast of Spain, licking his wounds, he said, and he met Ann who was a nurse from Norway. They began writing to each other after that trip and eventually got together. I was never really clear if they are married or not and didn't want to ask. John is about my age, maybe a couple years older and Ann is 50.

Ann smokes so she wanted to go out on the patio where she could smoke. She asked Cindy to go with her, so she did. While they were gone, John and I began discussing our obviously shared wife-life-experiences and we had a very intense conversation.

John could not get over how positive a person Cindy is. He said repeatedly that her positive spirit is why she is still here. She's an inspiration. Of course, I couldn't agree more. John and Ann both hugged Cindy repeatedly through the evening.

Late into the night, we decided to head home. Actually Backwaters was closing and they kicked us out. The four of us left and John and Ann walked with us to our car. They are staying right across the street so they declined a ride. We promised John and Ann we would see them again during their stay and we told them we can always be found at Columbia on Friday night.

Another day in Paradise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 5:18 AM CST

We are adjusting to the Florida life quickly. After a day or two back in our condo, it seems like we never left.

We never did resolve the missing-crutches mystery. When we get ready to return to Iowa next spring, I am going to use a bicycle lock and string it through the crutches and wheelchair that we leave behind. We'll see what happens then.

Gary has been staying with us since last Friday and we have been enjoying our time together. I drove Gary to Orlando on Monday so he could pick up the vehicle that he will drive back to Iowa. It was a beautiful day. Actually most all of the days have been beautiful. No rain since we have been here this year.

I have been moving things around and taking care of details to get us settled in for the long haul. Many details to keep me busy throughout the day. Cindy is feeling good and loves to sit on the balcony during the day and read on her Kindle.

Sunday we finally got hooked up to Internet and had a DVR installed so we can record TV shows if we want. Not much on TV worth watching so we want to capture the good stuff whenever it pops up.

Yesterday the three of us drove down the island string to the end of Gulf Blvd...Mile Marker 0. (We live on Gulf Blvd, just north of Mile Marker 20.) The area at the end of the island is called Pass-a-Grille. A small, historic area with lots of neat little houses and small shops.

We decided, for some reason to stop at this dilapidated, tin shack called The Wharf. You would never think from the outside that this was a place you want to enter. But once inside, we found a very inviting atmosphere.

The rear of the building opened up to a deck which overhung the water. There was a HUGE bar that stretched all the way around the inside of the building. Lots of locals here. Very good food too.

We watched a boat pull into the slip right below us and they cleaned some fish right there. Then the four guys in the boat came in with their fish in a baggy and the bartender took it back to the kitchen and cooked it up for them. Very cool! Can't get fresher fish than that.

After we left The Wharf, we continued our drive back north towards home. They were doing construction on the northbound lanes of Gulf Blvd and the bridge off the island was closed on our end, so no way around the delay.

They were letting people come over the bridge from the mainland but we couldn't leave. This created a huge traffic jam and northbound traffic was just sitting there.

At one point after we crawled about 10 feet in 10 minutes, I happened to look to the left and there was a place I had heard about called Undertow. A beach bar sitting right on the beach.

Undertow is an open building with a large circular bar. The bar top had a six inch wide trench in the middle of it and clear water was circulating around the bar. That was different but a neat idea.

There is also another bar on a patio right beside the building we sat in, that is part of the same place. Lots of locals at Undertow.

We sat and had a cool drink and enjoyed the view while we talked and waited out the traffic delay.

About an hour later, we saw that traffic was speeding by on the street. Apparently the construction guys had gone home for the day. So we left and headed home with no further delays.

After we got home the three of us sat out on the balcony until late into the night. Gary took a panoramic photo of our night view from the balcony and I will post it on the website.

That is another thing I have to do...get all the photos arranged for viewing. I still have to get the Alaska photos finished. I just haven't had time. After Gary heads home on Thursday I will start in on that project.

Friday, November 9, 2012 5:32 AM CST

We are in Florida! The flight was perfect, with a big tailwind, it only took two hours. Cindy was having some pain during the flight but she recovered soon after we landed.

Since we don't have a car here yet, we had to rent one at the airport. Our friend Gary Scott is driving our car down for us. He is currently in Georgia and making good time. We expect him here tonight or early tomorrow.

The nice girl at the Hertz counter upgraded us to a Lincoln Towncar for the same price as the car we had reserved. I told Cindy that our time in Florida is getting off to a good start.

When we got to the condo, our friend Bob, who is the condo president, was standing outside waiting for us but he looked very busy on his phone. After he hung up, he told us that we got here at an "exciting" time.

He had been on the phone non-stop trying to fix a problem. The water had been off to the entire building for two days! Our building has it's own water system and something had broken down in the water softener/purifier. They had contractors there working hard to get it restored.

However, the water was back on before we got everything unpacked in our condo. Then I had to take apart all the water spouts to unclog the screens after the water was turned back on. It was brown, dirty water after the first surge through the pipes. It's all working fine now.

I have to say that the management for the condo association is excellent. They take care of any problem as soon as possible and they are always making improvements to keep the property looking beautiful.

As we were getting settled we right away noticed that Cindy's crutches were missing. We had left a pair of her underarm crutches so we didn't have to cart them on the plane.

We thought maybe the owner's daughter had used them while she was staying at the condo this summer. The owner's daughter is the only person who stays at our condo, besides us.

We called Bob and he had no idea where they were. Then we called the cleaning woman and the owner of the condo. Nobody had seen them. It is a complete mystery.

We ended up calling Michael and Nikki and having them rush over to our house and get Cindy's crutches to FedEx right away. The crutches will be arriving soon.

Everyone involved wanted to know why Cindy needs two sets of crutches. To explain, Cindy uses underarm crutches around the house so she can carry things with her as she walks. The forearm crutches most people see her with are her "going-to-town" crutches. They look better for her clothes but are only functional for walking, nothing else.

Well, that isn't exactly right...the forearm crutches allow her to stand and use her hands without propping the crutches against something to free her arms. With the forearm crutches, she can use her hands and arms while standing and the crutch just hangs from her wrist. This is handy for making purchases or looking at items while shopping. Very handy for stop-and-go walking around.

So there you have it. Cindy needs BOTH kinds of crutches to get through her day. I told her she's high-maintenance. Haha. Everyone who knows us, knows that I'm the high-maintenance one of this bunch.

After we got settled I made a run to the stores to get provisioned up for our winter stay. I got home after a couple of hours, with several loads of groceries and told Cindy "That is the fastest I have ever spent $400." Cindy said, "No it's not". Yeah, she's right. We've blown through money WAY faster than that.

Well, the sun is just making its appearance on the horizon. Time to go watch that from the balcony with a cup of coffee. It's going to be a beautiful day!

Monday, November 5, 2012 10:53 AM CST

Good news!! But first, the back story.

Michael is recovering well from his surgery. The sites are all healing and look very good. The draining is slowing and not much coming out now. However, we still did not know the results of the biopsies this morning.

Cindy and I decided to change all our travel plans this morning because we were just too stressed about leaving without knowing about Michael. So I started the process to see what we needed to do to change everything.

As a last resort, we also sent Dr. Mo an email early this morning, requesting results if they happened to have them. Experience has taught us that results are usually known earlier than expected and the doctors sit on the results until the next appointment. This turned out to be true.

Dr. Mo responded right away and told us to have Michael contact him directly so he could inform him...(HIPAA laws you know). Dr. Mo was able to respond to Michael and let him have the good news. Michael's biopsy results show NO cancer!! We are elated!

I have been awake since midnight. A typical occurrence, especially since last week. I should sleep like a baby tonight.

We will be heading to Florida on Wednesday, as planned. The next update will be from Sunny and warm (we hope) Clearwater Beach.

Friday, November 2, 2012 1:51 AM CDT

It's been a long week but everything turned out well. By long, I mean stressful for all of us. By well, I mean that Cindy and Michael are both done with surgery and tests.

Michael came through surgery okay but it was longer than they said it would be. He had to be at the hospital Tuesday at 6AM and following his 5 plus hours of surgery, he was not in a hospital room until 6PM.

That made a very long day for everyone. He came home the following day and is recuperating. They will have to watch the surgical sites for infection. Michael has a drain in the largest site.

We won't have biopsy results until late next week.

Cindy had a good MRI on Thursday. Like clockwork Cindy began having severe pains in her little leg prior to the test. We now are aware that stress leads to pain for her.

Cindy's doctor said that the scan looked the same as the last few scans. Her next MRI is in 6 months, so we can put that issue to bed for the winter.

I know I'm not the first parent to realize that you NEVER stop worrying about your children, no matter how old they are.

That would probably explain why I'm posting this at 1:30 in the morning, when I should be sleeping.

Sunday, October 28, 2012 11:35 AM CDT

Busy week this week. Forecast is for lots of time in Iowa City.

Michael's surgery is Tuesday and he will probably stay over in the hospital. Being under anesthesia for four hours is a good hit, so I don't look for him to come home that day.

He will have drains in for some days after surgery and will have to tend to that.

We don't know when we will have results from biopsies taken during Michael's surgery.

On Thursday Cindy has an MRI of her head in Iowa City. Hoping that all is normal there. We should know that day, her doctor is pretty good about telling us results right away.

Other than all the driving back and forth to Iowa City, we will be busy packing for Florida. We are as usual, assuming that everything is fine, so we will proceed to Florida next week, as planned.

Saturday, October 20, 2012 10:38 AM CDT

Michael had an MRI in Iowa City on Thursday. The purpose of the scan was to help the surgical team devise their plan of action.

The surgery will be October 30th and will take about 4 hours.

There are four areas they will be operating on. Michael has several "lumps", (the doctors are thinking, benign tumors) that are to be removed. They will then do a biopsy on the removed tissue after the surgery is complete.

We are all going about business as usual in the Lynch family. This is not unfamiliar territory for us, just unfamiliar because it's Michael...the picture of health in our family.

We will update the page as soon as we know any newer news.

Last night Cindy was texting with a friend (you know who you are:-), and the friend said she was staying home on Friday night because she had cleaning to do.

Cindy's response had me in stitches. Cindy said, "Cleaning can wait....and by wait, I mean, until you're dead. Go have fun."

That's good advice for all of us. Go have fun!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 5:39 PM CDT

We have been reluctant to update but with all the inquiries, we thought it was time to say something.

Our son Michael is currently undergoing numerous tests/visits in Iowa City and will have surgery soon. We don't know anything so it's all speculation at this point.

Just wanted to put something out there because imagination can be worse than at least having some information.

We will update when we know more.

Monday, October 1, 2012 3:10 AM CDT

If you are a leaf looker, now is the time to get in the car and drive to northeast Iowa. It is beautiful right now! I think in another two weeks many of the leaves will have fallen. Last year, the leaves peaked right at the end of October. It is much earlier this year.

The septic system is in place and we are watering the lawn like crazy, trying to get some grass before winter. It was quite a job and ended up being more work (and money) than we originally thought. But it feels good to have it completed. I told Cindy that I have not worked that hard since my tuckpointing days, over 30 years ago. I ache everywhere.

Yesterday I pulled the boat out of the water and put it away for the winter. As I prepared to back the boat out of the slip, I noticed that someone had run into the motor on our boat, severely bending the skeg and nicking the propeller.

The lower unit on the motor will have to be removed and sent in for repair. The repairs will have to wait till spring. As an afterthought, I stopped by the marina office and asked if some honest person had left their name after hitting our boat. Of course not.

When I told Cindy about the boat, she was madder than I was. I guess at the time, I was just more concerned about getting the boat put away. The more I think about it though, I have to agree with Cindy's reaction.

Oh well, another year at the cabin and we didn't turn out too bad. Cindy has been healthy so far and that is all we can hope for. On to winter!

We leave for Florida on November 7th. It's coming fast.

Sunday, September 23, 2012 8:01 AM CDT

Summer is over. Where did the time go? This morning it is below freezing, I knew we should have brought the plants home from the cabin.

We had to come home on Saturday because I had my 40th class reunion in Vinton last night. It was a very nice time. We had a good turn out this year.

Cindy spent most of the evening with several of the wives of my classmates, who were around Cindy's age. I saw some classmates who have never been to a reunion and that I have not seen in 40 years.

The reunion was at the Vinton Country Club, the usual setting for most class reunions in Vinton. At one point we all gathered for the requisite reunion photo.

As we were lined up along the wall, the group from downstairs came up for their class photo. That group was the Class of 1962. I couldn't help but think, after seeing all of our group mingling with the older group...that will be us in 10 years. It was a stark contrast. I guess we have reached the tipping point and aging will be quite noticeable over the next 10 years.

Cindy and I look forward to it. Aging beats the hell out of the alternative. I look forward very much to being able to attend Cindy's 50th class reunion.

This week we have more fun at the cabin. Our septic leach field needs to be replaced. This is going to be quite a project, since our septic tank is partially under our garage floor. Naturally the end of the tank we need access to is under the middle of the garage.

I had to go the Island Association Board of Directors to get permission to put the field behind our garage. That property is common ground, owned by all of the Island residents. This is the first time anyone has been allowed to use common ground so a precedent was set. Luckily, I am friendly with all of the Board members so the meeting went well Saturday morning and I was granted permission.

Cindy is going to stay home while I go up to supervise the job this week. By the time Cindy is back to the cabin next weekend, the job will be completed and everything will be smoothed over and grass seed will be planted.

We are still working on the pictures from the Alaska trip. Well....not really working, just been too busy with other things to get to it. But eventually there will be a folder of some photos from Alaska. As I said before, it's hard to capture the look of the scenery in a photo, especially a photo that Cindy and I take.

Autumn is here, so enjoy the most beautiful season of all.

Monday, September 10, 2012 5:51 PM CDT

Some have been asking for photos from Alaska. Tom and I are working on getting them loaded on the website, arranged and sub-titled. Then we will link the folder to my Caringbridge page as we did for all the other photos out there. It's more work than it looks like. Especially, since Tom is pretty sick.

Tom went to the doctor SUNDAY which is unheard of for him. But I think he wanted to get ahead of this before it was full-blown pneumonia, which he gets often. Today he rested most of the day but still sounds terrible. He is now on medication and should be on the mend in a few days.

I hope we aren't building up the anticipation for the photos. Because we are not photographers by any stretch and we didn't take that many pictures to begin with.

We missed any opportunity for a whale picture since we were unprepared at 7 a.m. and then in the late afternoon we were enjoying a martini! I think they would look like my eagle pictures.....tiny little 'things' in the middle of the ocean! The glacier pictures don't capture the mass, but the colors come through pretty well.

I also just realized that we took no pictures on board the ship.....except our suite. We sailed the Celebrity Millennium. It is an older ship, but had just come out of dry dock so it was all spiffed up. It was very nice and the crew were all very professional and helpful.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures when we get them there. I'd also recommend Alaska be added to everyone's bucket list. It truly is a gorgeous place!

Friday, September 7, 2012 1:26 PM CDT


To read the entire Alaska trip report, start on September 1st, in the Journal History. This is the final entry for the Alaska trip.

We are off the ship and all checked through Customs at the Vancouver airport. Our flight leaves for Chicago in a few hours.

Everything went smoothly this morning and we had a nice, hour-long bus ride through downtown Vancouver, to get to the airport.

The bus driver gave a very good narration on Vancouver as we made the trip. Cindy and I were in the front row again so we had an excellent perch for viewing.

Once off the bus, a young, energetic sky cap latched on to us and he took us all the way through baggage collection, Customs clearance, flight security and then to our gate. That made the whole process effortless. Cindy is the pass to the head of all lines and preferential treatment all along the way. I always stick very close to her.

I started coming down with a cold yesterday so I don't feel all that well but we will be home soon. We did not do much yesterday because we were sailing all day and through the night. I thought maybe the ship moving was what made me feel bad. But this morning it was obvious I was coming down with upper respiratory stuff.

During the afternoon we got everything packed up since they take our bags from in front of our cabin at 11PM. Once that was complete we just relaxed.

Last night we went to Olympic again for dinner. They treated us very well, since we were returning customers. Then it was off to bed for our last night on board.

It has been a great trip and we would recommend seeing Alaska to everyone, at least once.

We will be home soon.

Thursday, September 6, 2012 1:44 PM CDT


To read the entire Alaska trip report, start on September 1st, in the Journal History.

I was up in the middle of the night and I stepped out on our balcony. Looking up, I saw stars. The sky was completely clear for the first time on our trip. I was up again at dawn and watched the sunrise over the mountains. Now that was cool. The clear sky continued throughout the entire day yesterday.

Cindy missed out on that since she was still sleeping. She has not felt the best the last few days. I think the movement of the ship is keeping her a little nauseated. Cindy has not been Ralph-like sick, she is just feeling sub-par and is mostly being quiet. Other than that, I think she is doing okay. Believe me, I am keeping an eye on her.

I imagine it is a little worse for her, since she is constantly trying to balance on one leg even on solid ground. Add in a slight sway to the earth and Cindy has to compensate even more.

We arrived in Ketchikan about an hour after sunrise. This town felt like Alaska, or what I had imagined Alaska to be. There are small seaplanes along the coastline in front of many of the homes. They seem as common in front of homes, as a car. We saw these planes coming and going all day long.

Ketchikan claims to be the first Alaskan city. Also, the Salmon capital of the world. Another thing about Ketchikan is that they have rain 320 days a year. However, we lucked out and had a beautiful, sunny day while there.

The town sits along the waters edge and spreads on up into the foothills of the surrounding mountains. The landscape along the coastline that we have seen, is mountainous. Or, at the very least, very high hills. Not sure where the distinction lies. Around Ketchikan, the north side of the mountains/hills has snow covering. So they are pretty damn big, whatever you call them.

We docked right in the downtown area. Or, possibly a made-up, downtown area? It looks to us to be manufactured to LOOK like a quaint little downtown. The downtown Ketchikan area may have been built to accommodate cruise ships.

Cindy again remarked at the lack of any architectural uniqueness to any of the buildings. They are all square boxes. It's like the men-folk got here first and just threw up shelter. The women came later after the ugliness and utilitarian way of things was well established.

This scenario reminds us of a house on our island in Guttenberg. Indulge me for a minute. Several years ago a new house was built a few places from ours. As we watched the construction progress we noticed that it was at least 75% garage and the rest, sleeping quarters...possibly without a toilet.

Then in the final stages we noticed the wife being around and finally a septic was put in and a few curtains were hung.

We always laughed at what we perceived went on there. The man arrived first and he built what he thought was the most important stuff. A garage and a place to lie down. Then his wife arrived and said, "what the hell are you doing?"

Anyway, back to Alaska. Ketchikan has the most to do of all the stops on our trip. And it was sunny all day. We were able to use our balcony until almost dark when it finally became too cold outside.

We left Ketchikan just before sundown and will be cruising for the rest of the trip. We dock in Vancouver, Canada tomorrow morning.

We stood out on our balcony as we left Ketchikan, as did most of the people on our side of the ship. We were looking at the coast as the houses became fewer and more spread out. A small seaplane flew in for a landing, right at eye level with us. I saw him coming so I snapped a picture. I will post pictures when we get home.

Also, as we were departing, we passed a sailboat heading the other direction. The skipper and his wife were waving at all of us and then he held up a three foot halibut that he had caught. He yelled..."halibut and burgers for dinner tonight". We could hear passengers giving him a good cheer.

Last night was another formal dress night in the main dining room. Neither one of us felt like dressing up so we went up to the grill on top of the ship and had stir-fry. We were back home before 9:00, when the cabin steward usually turns down the bed and leaves little gifts around the room.

He was a little unsure of what to do with us there, so pretty soon Judas, our butler appeared. Is everything alright? Do you need us to do anything? Are you not dining this evening?

We assured them both that we were fine and did not need anything. So they said their goodnights and left us alone.

There was nothing on TV but the political convention, which is worse than nothing on. So we rented a movie. It was the WORST movie we have ever seen. It was called "Wyatt Earp's Revenge", or something like that. It starred Val Kilmer so we assumed it had some street cred. Don't fall for it.

We were laughing and ridiculing the poor acting well before the end of the movie. Yes, we stuck it out. We turned it into a comedy.

Oh wow! I just looked up and saw out the window at the skyline. It is still dark but the eastern horizon has the most amazing colors. The sunrise is due in the next 15 minutes. The sky is completely clear, with one very bright star...possibly a planet? And we are miles off the coast so all I can see is water.

I think I have to wake Cindy for this. See you later.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 2:31 PM CDT


To read the entire Alaska trip report, start on September 1st, in the Journal History.

We were in Skagway, Alaska all day on Labor Day. Our ship arrived in port just after sunrise and did not leave until 9PM.

Cindy and I stayed aboard all day and checked out the ship. It was very cloudy and blustery outside so we did not feel like walking the long distance from port to the small village.

Cindy attended a water color class during the afternoon and I walked the ship for over an hour. It was kind of a lazy day for us. We both were tired, probably had something to do with the howling winds and heavy overcast sky.

By evening we were all rested and had a good time before and after dinner. We did not get back to our suite until after 11:00. Latest night yet!

Okay, I told Cindy that this part HAS to be in the update.

We were watching a band in the lounge next to the main dining room last night. Cindy gets up to go to the bathroom before we head in to be seated for dinner. I wait a bit and then decide that I will save her some steps and meet her as she comes out of the restroom.

Cindy comes around the corner and sees me approaching with her wheelchair. She has a very concerned look on her face and says, "What about my crutches, did you leave them behind?"

I say, "Umm...you are standing on them"

"Oh...yeah, I guess I am"

We have our moments.

After leaving Skagway Monday evening, we cruised through the night and arrived in an inlet to the Tongass National Forest. There is a small fishing village there called Icy Strait Point, which is just south of Glacier Bay.

The docks are not big enough to accommodate a cruise ship. So we are off-shore and tender boats are taking passengers ashore all day long. Since there is no way to get Cindy safely aboard a rocking, small boat, we will stay onboard again today.

As we arrived in the inlet just after dawn, I pulled back the curtains and immediately saw a whale. We are seeing them every few minutes. It is easy to spot them before they break the service because they spout water from their blow holes as they surface.

Another thing we saw this morning for the first time since arriving in Alaska...the sun! That only lasted about an hour though. By the time we finished breakfast it was overcast again.

Most cruise ships have alternative dining options, other than the large main dining room. This option is not included in the price for the cruise but the menus have more exotic choices in these places.

So for a change I checked out reservations in the Olympic restaurant. A French cuisine restaurant named for the Olympic, the sister ship to the Titanic. Rather than sinking, the Olympic sailed for 24 years. After being decommissioned, some of the beautiful wood paneling from the ship was bought and installed in an English castle for 50 years.

The cruise line bought this paneling and installed it on board in the Olympic restaurant. It is very beautiful.

The dress for the Olympic is formal, so we got all fancied up again and headed down to eat. We stopped by the Guest Services counter to see if they had some tools, as the brake on Cindy's wheelchair had worked loose.

They didn't have any tools so they called maintenance. While we waited for the guy with the tools to come, we walked over to the Martini Bar.

The bartenders here put on quite a performance, juggling liquor bottles as they make the drinks. That was fun to watch.

The tool guy showed up and he and I worked on the chair. He was not very handy for a handy man. So I was down on the floor with him...in my tuxedo. About this time, some whales appeared outside the large windows of the Martini Bar and dozens of people passing by rushed to the windows to watch. We were about trampled in the mad dash.

We got the chair fixed and headed to the Olympic. As we walked in, I heard Frank Sinatra playing over the restaurant speakers. That is a sign for me that everything is perfect. Cindy just smiled as we were seated.

We had an awesome meal. The chef brought a cart to our table and prepared Cindy's lobster right in front of us. I had the Sea Bass, my favorite seafood.

We sail through the night to reach Ketchikan early in the morning.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 11:56 AM CDT


To read the entire Alaska trip report, start on September 1st, in the Journal History.

I'm flying blind here. The satellite connection to the internet on this ship is very iffy. I cannot see my updates, so I have to rely on readers, via email, that the website is updating.

There should be four parts to the trip report so far. I was able to see the first update and that there are 3 copies of it in Journal History. I contacted Caringbridge and they should be removing the duplicates today.

Cindy was up Sunday morning before me. Something that rarely happens any morning, due to my insomnia or whatever you call it. I woke up at 6:00AM, totally refreshed, and found Cindy curled up in a chair reading in the main room of our suite.

I am discovering the secret for me to be able to get a good night sleep...become totally exhausted, several days in a row. I can then sleep like a baby.

The weather has been completely overcast and drizzly since we have been in Alaska. The temps are low 50s and lots of fog around the mountain tops. We knew to expect lots of rainy weather. But we could never live in weather like this full-time. Too depressing. Cindy and I require sun for much of our lives.

Our butler, Judas, brings the coffee around 6:30 and then breakfast between 8-9 AM. Our suite has a nice dining room adjacent to the living room. This morning, just before we ate, our ship was pulling into Juneau. Cindy and I stood out on the balcony and watched the docking process as Judas set up our breakfast table.

Very interesting how they maneuver this massive ship up to the docks. Then they throw out lines to the deck crew.

Later in the morning, Cindy went off to explore the ship. Since we are in port, the ship is stable and Cindy can walk around with crutches pretty well. At the same time, I got off the ship and strolled the main street of Juneau.

For being the state capitol, Juneau is a very small place. Mostly just a long, street, stretching along the coast, with large hills behind. Some of the houses are built up into the bottom 100 feet of the tall hills. These hills must be at least 1000 feet tall.

There are also homes across the water, on a peninsula. The water dividing Juneau is probably the width of the Mississippi, maybe even narrower.

There are only 30,000 people in Juneau, as opposed to Anchorage which has over 300,000 people. Anchorage makes up for half of the entire state population.

Juneau has no interesting architecture. Just boxy, wooden houses and stores, run down and with little character. In other words, an ugly town nestled into awesome scenery.

We relaxed for the rest of the day. Sunday evening we dressed for dinner, although not as gussied as the previous night. We went down to the Captain's Club, which is a membership-only lounge. There are officers from the ship at the club as well as the Captain sometimes.

We then headed to the main dining room for dinner. Dinner the third night was more enjoyable, since we were feeling much better than the night before. All rested up and my stomach muscles not aching anymore from all the Ralph-talk. Cindy finally got her creme brûlée for dessert.

Tomorrow morning we will dock in Skagway, Alaska at 6:00AM.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 10:20 AM CDT


To read the entire Alaska trip report, start on September 1st, in the Journal History.

The captain had been telling the truth about the weather when we went to bed that first night aboard. Around midnight the weather became very rough, with 12-15 foot seas, rain and strong winds.

The ship was rocked and rolled constantly. I slept through it until around 3 AM. Cindy barely slept at all. She had to go to the bathroom but was too afraid she would fall, and she also did not want to wake me. So she just waited until the storm woke me up.

She said she could not believe I didn't wake up, but acknowledged that she knew I was exhausted. I apologized for not waking up sooner but also thanked her at the same time for letting me sleep because I sorely needed it. What a conundrum.

I helped her to the bathroom and there is no way she would have been able to walk by herself, the ship was really throwing both of us around.

By morning I had been down to the Internet room and signed up for internet service for our iPad. Nobody on board was up and around. I didn't feel too bad yet and had coffee and some fruit. But the seas kept getting rougher the lighter it got outside.

By this time the waves seemed almost as high as our deck, which is deck SIX!! And we couldn't see farther than 50 yards away from the ship due to thick fog sitting right on the water.

Cindy slept in until around 7:00 and then we ordered more coffee from our butler. I forgot...our butler introduced himself to us as soon as we arrived. Remember, I was going to call him Jeeves. Well, his name is Judas...close enough.

Around 8:30 in the morning, I started getting a little green around the gills. A few minutes later I was introduced to "Ralph". I have not been this sick since my introduction to alcohol when I was in my early teen years. I could not stop talking about Ralph.

We called Judas and asked him for some meds, which he quickly brought to me. We never saw or heard from him again until much later in the day. The meds didn't really have any affect on my "condition".

Cindy just looked at me and tried to think about better times together...for instance, yesterday. This strategy kept her on an even keel, (much better than the ship's keel). Cindy toughed it out and did alright but we both just laid on the bed because this helped us feel just okay. It was unsafe for Cindy to be up and walking around anyway.

Around 2:00 in the afternoon, we finally got to the entrance to Yakutat Bay. As we turned into the Bay we were hit broadside by a huge wave that really rocked the ship. Immediately after this, we were in the Bay and out of the rough seas.

Things instantly settled down and the ship came alive. Cindy and I got off the bed and opened up the curtains so we could see outside. We felt better right away.

Judas came to the room with ice and told us that everyone had been sick, including the cabin crew-members. He said the ship was very quiet all day, everyone was in their cabin the whole time. Judas said he had never experienced seas this bad while on-board ship.

We cruised for an hour, way back into the Bay, to see Hubbard glacier. That was very cool. A 200 foot wall of ice, which is very blue in color. While the ship sat there we watched ice fall off the end of the glacier into the water, creating huge splashing waves. The ship sat still for about 30 minutes then slowly turned a circle so all the passengers on the ship could see the glacier.

After that we slowly cruised back out of the Bay. I was anticipating another rough night once we entered the ocean. But things had calmed down to a manageable level and the ship kept close to shore.

We sailed down the coast and entered the Bay leading to Juneau, Alaska by 10:PM. We will be in inter-coastal waters the rest of the trip, so no more rough seas. Whew!

Cindy and I got all gussied up for dinner at 8:30. It was formal night so we had to look fancy. Our table is near the center of the two story dining area, so we can see all the goings on while we dine. The captains table is right beside us. Got to hear all the gossip from the captain's crew members. That was fun.

By dessert time, I was in a cold sweat, exhausted again from our very long day. So we skipped the creme brûlée and headed back home. We were sound asleep by 10:30 on the second night aboard.

Monday, September 3, 2012 11:40 AM CDT


To read the entire Alaska trip report, start on September 1st, in the Journal History.

Our flight to Anchorage was perfect, except for being 6 1/2 hours long! We upgraded our tickets to first class when we booked last year because Cindy would have been extremely uncomfortable for that long in a coach seat.

Every seat on that plane was full. There were a couple good ol' boys from the south, sitting right in front of us. They were going moose hunting with a large group of friends. Cindy thought that was cool that a couple down-to-earth hunters were flying first class. I don't know where their buddies were sitting but I bet these two took quite a razzing after they arrived in Alaska.

When we landed, the weather was chilly, foggy and with a little rain. We collected our bags off the carousel and the cruise line people were right there. They were very helpful and we didn't touch our bags again until they showed up at our cabin that night.

We were escorted out to the motor-coach bus which was to take us to Seward, Alaska...THREE HOURS away. We were exhausted by this time. But they put us on the right side of the bus, in the front row. We had a 180 degree view through the large front and side windows. The bus was brand new and so very nice and comfortable.

We had not thought about what an opportunity this bus ride was. We were able to see a very scenic part of interior Alaska, which we would not see from a cruise ship. So we soon perked up as we took in the magnificent scenery.

I can't even describe the view except to say BEAUTIFUL! Pictures would not do it justice. I guess the closest description would be, that it looks like northeast Iowa (Guttenberg, Lansing) only the "hills" are ten times larger. But still very green. There was snow on the tops of most of the mountains.

We finally arrived at the ship and once through clearance, which took all of 10 minutes, we were escorted to our suite. One of the crew pushed Cindy's wheelchair so I just strolled along behind. As we entered the ship, we were each handed a glass of champaign.

We got to our suite and spent time on our balcony looking at the surrounding scenery. The ship left port about an hour later and we stood out there watching the town disappear in the distance.

By the time we got unpacked and settled in, we were exhausted. We did not even feel like going down to eat, which would have required getting dressed up. So we went to bed around 9:30 the first night. Which was actually 1:30 AM for us. Long day.

Just as we were going to bed, the captain came over the speakers and told everyone that we were in for some VERY rough seas, starting around midnight. GREAT!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012 4:45 PM CDT

We are on the ship!

Cindy tolerated the long travel without too much pain. It was a marathon though. On Thursday we had a four hour car ride to Chicago and another hour in the car to the downtown area. It surprised me that she did so well.

Friday we had a six and a half hour flight to Anchorage, followed by a three hour bus ride to the ship!

We started out the trip with a drive to Chicago with Michael and Nikki. Cindy and I had reservations at the O'Hare airport Hilton, so we stopped there and dropped off our luggage when we got to Chicago. We had no traffic issues up to this point.

We then drove downtown where the kids were staying at the Ritz-Carlton. It was a slow crawl to the downtown area in stop and go traffic...mostly stop. The "short" drive took at least an hour. But once we arrived at the Ritz, I turned over the keys to the parking valet and much of my stress melted away.

Their room looked out at the Hancock building across the street. So we decided to checkout the lounge in the Hancock, on the 96th floor. What a spectacular view from up there.

We then went down on Michigan Avenue (The Miracle Mile) and walked down the street looking for a quaint neighborhood pub. It was mostly high end stores though. Just around the corner was a small, stone fire house. If you watch the show Rescue Me, it was much like that, with the overhead door open to the street.

I stepped inside the door and asked the firemen where they liked to hang out. I told them we weren't interested in sports bars or touristy places, just an old fashioned pub. They told us to walk one block over, to Rush Street and we would find Pippins.

It was perfect. An old establishment with a heavy oak bar that circled around the whole inside. Very cool place.

We stayed there about an hour and then Michael walked back to the hotel to meet our limo driver. Michael returned in the limo and the driver pulled right up in front of Pippins to pick up Cindy, Nikki and me. The staff at Pippins, who had been very friendly, all wanted to ride along with us.

Michael told the driver we wanted to cruise the Miracle Mile, so we did that for awhile. Then we drove by Soldier Field, where Michael and Nikki's beloved Chicago Bears play football.

He then drove us to the Navy Pier and we got out to get something to eat. We ended up in Harry Carey's restaurant. Although the kids Hate the Cubs they did agree to go in since Harry started out announcing for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team they love.

Just as Cindy was sitting down, I noticed something on her chair. It was a small billfold. I grabbed it and looked inside and saw a Colorado drivers license and a couple bank and credit cards. I called the bartender over and gave it to her.

A few minutes went by and I called her over again, to ask her if the manager would actively contact the person or just hold it. She said, "probably just hold it".

I asked her to return it to me. As we waited for our food, I contacted the credit card company and gave them all the information about the billfold and where it could be found. You would think the manager would do that but apparently not.

After we ate we got back in the limo and the driver asked, "where now?". Since no one had any more ideas, I threw out, "the Biograph Theater", where John Dillinger was shot. Michael and I both being history nuts, found it interesting. We walked from the theater to the little alley where the FBI caught him and we could picture the whole scene.

After that, it was getting late so we had the driver take Cindy and me to the airport hotel. During the trip out I stood and reached across the limo to adjust the radio, at the same time the driver slammed on the brakes to avoid a car.

I was LAUNCHED forward and landed in the tangle of legs of the other three, upside down on my head, legs in the air and I was stuck. I could not get up and the other three were of no help since they were dying from laughter.

They were having great fun razzing me after that, until, as Nikki was talking, mid-sentence, she looked out her window and said "are we going backwards?" She was sitting right behind the driver, facing to the rear. That took the heat off me and we laughed at Nikki until we said our goodbyes at the airport. Good times.

More later about our marathon trip getting to Alaska.

Sunday, August 26, 2012 3:25 AM CDT

Just a few days to go and we will be heading to Alaska for our cruise. The next few days, as I told Cindy, "we will be focused like a laser on packing". I'm sure we will still forget something.

Jacob and his parents are here at the cabin this weekend. Last night Jacob gave his pitch to Grandma Cindy (Ol' soft touch) to buy some candy bars in support of his football team.

After Grandma agreed to buy some, Jacob said, "I feel bad doing this, they are treating us like girl scouts...having us run around begging people to buy our candy".

Jacob turned 11 years old this week so we had his favorite Turtle pie last night after our steak dinner. Quite the dessert, I was skeptical until I had a bite. Cindy wanted to bake him a birthday cake but he insisted on the pie instead.

We are finally getting the rain we need. It has been raining all night. The rain on the roof usually keeps me sleeping soundly but for some reason I'm up in the middle of the night.
I'm sure it has nothing to do with my subconsciously hoping everything goes well with our trip.

I will post updates during the trip if I have an internet connection. Otherwise the trip report will be posted September 10th.

Thursday, August 16, 2012 6:53 AM CDT

Cindy is doing fine since her fall last week. Her shoulder was stiff and sore for several days but she is moving around much better now. We both were more worried about her knee, which took the bigger hit but her knee hasn't bothered her.

Summer is winding down. There are a lot fewer people around the island and the river is less crowded, as families with kids head back to school. It's always a nice time up here when things quiet down.

We are about done for the year at the cabin. We have a wedding this weekend and then one more weekend at the river. The following two weekends we will be in Alaska and the weekend after we return is my class reunion. After that, it's about time to put the boat away for the season. We rarely go out on the boat in October.

I had to pull the boat out of the water yesterday to fix the voltage regulator. I thought about letting it go till next spring but Cindy told me that I would just worry about it all winter. I no sooner had the boat at home when a large thunder clap occurred without warning. The skies had been clear minutes before.

So I had to scramble to get the boat cover on. Then the skies opened up and poured rain and a little hail. I thought, "sure, it doesn't rain all summer but then I pull my boat out of its covered boat slip and it pours". As I write this early in the morning, it's raining again outside. The farmers probably wish I would have pulled my boat out a month ago.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 1:25 PM CDT

I spoke too soon last Journal Update, about things going smoothly for Cindy.

Cindy fell today. She was in Michaels Crafts store and as usual, the aisles were blocked and packaging was everywhere. Cindy didn't see the cellophane wrap laying on the floor and her crutch went right out from under her.

She fell very hard on her knee and shoulder. But didn't hit her head!! That is the first thing she told me but I mis-heard that she DID hit her head. I was freaked out. She soon straightened me out on that part.

Several people witnessed her fall and rushed over to help her. Cindy said her knee hurt the worst and she didn't know if she could stand. After awhile the knee felt better but then her arm and shoulder really started aching.

For those about to ask, it's not the arm she broke two years ago.

The store management took her to the office and they filled out extensive paperwork...(to cover THEIR ass). Although there was real concern by the employees present about how Cindy was doing.

They will be contacting us in a few days to see how she is feeling.

We will wait a few days to see if any follow up medical care is warranted.

Thursday, August 2, 2012 6:20 AM CDT

Cindy's eye is much better. The medication and daily soaking are working, so all in all, things are going quite well.

Not much to write about except that I love this period of normal life, without stress. I was made aware of how rare this sense of normalcy is, by reading back in the Journal History this morning. I was up early and I clicked on the History to look up the date for a trip we took.

Reading back over just the past two years was enough to remind me how rare it is for Cindy to be okay for any length of time. But the mind has a great protective mechanism. Until I read back over that last two years, I had pretty much forgotten it...or at least, moved on.

My retirement (semi?) is also the best thing I have done for removing stress. Not that I hated work, I really liked my work. But balancing work (HAVING to be there everyday) and focusing on being here for Cindy was just too much for a serial-minded guy like me. One thing at a time, with total focus.

Another stress reliever we have coming up is a trip to Alaska! We are leaving at the end of the month (Aug 30th) for Anchorage, Alaska, where we board our ship. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip that we booked last year following Cindy's seizure crisis. We thought at that time that the writing was on the wall and we should do everything we want to do....soon.

So we went all out, booking the Penthouse suite on the ship, we even have a full-time butler! I intend on referring to him as Jeeves.

Other than the upcoming cruise, we are enjoying our time at the cabin, boating to escape the heat and riding around the island on our golf cart. Just another lazy summer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 3:54 PM CDT

Cindy's eye is a normal infection!! Big sigh of relief!

The doctor in Iowa City (who we really like), did a thorough exam of her eye and surrounding tissue and diagnosed it to be an irritating infection. Cindy will be treated with a mild steroid and daily, warm soaking.

The doctor, who's name I can't pronounce or spell, is a female doctor from up around the Guttenberg area. When she said her name it sounded like chutzpah.

Dr. "Chutzpah" knew a bunch of the same people we know from around Guttenberg. She also was amazed at Cindy's extensive health history.

I kept telling Cindy later, "that doctor had a lot of chutzpah...and I don't even think she's Jewish". My humor quickly grew old with Cindy.

We also had some fantastic news about some insurance issues too so we are feeling quite good at the moment. So have a great week and weekend!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:32 AM CDT

Cindy and I are heading to Iowa City clinics next Tuesday, to see about her eye.

Whatever is wrong, it appears to be different than a stye. She has seen a doctor twice over the past month and the results are that her eye really is not getting better.

Cindy reminded me that this is the same eye she had a spot removed from a few years ago. That spot looked like just a mole and it was tested and shown NOT to be cancerous.

One thing we are concerned about is squamous-cell carcinoma. This is the type of skin cancer Cindy has and her mom also had. Teresa had numerous cancerous spots around her eye the last few years she was alive.

As usual, we are on top of things and will hopefully have some answers soon.

Friday, July 6, 2012 5:41 AM CDT


Cindy is 55 years old today. This was one of Cindy's big goals, to make it to 55. She just keeps ticking off goals she made several years ago.

We are also surviving this heat, along with all of you. Wow! Isn't this something. Yesterday I power washed the siding on our house, just to do something outside that was refreshing.

Then last night we drove over to Wisconsin to a river shack restaurant for dinner with some friends. They have very good food but inadequate A/C and the place was packed. Cindy was red as a beet by the time we left that oven.

Tonight I think we are going to Cindy's favorite place, the Black Angus. The air conditioning there should be much better.

We had lots of fun over the holiday. Cindy's cousins were here and the kids came up for a couple days. We went boating everyday, just to stay cool, as it was too hot to do anything else but sit inside.

Cindy's eye is much better but still not healed completely. She has been soaking it everyday with a warm compress. Cindy returned to the doctor last week and was told that it was probably a stye, not pink eye. Cindy said it feels like she has a thorn in her eye. It doesn't look red and swollen anymore so I know it's improving.

I was a little concerned, due to the fact that this is the eye she had cancer in and so anything unusual causes alarm (at least for me). Cindy was also having some vision problems a month or so ago and had it checked out by an opthamologist. Nothing was found at that time. I will be keeping an eye on it though....get it?

Try to stay cool.

Monday, June 25, 2012 5:40 PM CDT

Another week, something wrong with Cindy. Can't seem to go long without something popping up with that girl.

Last week Cindy's eye became very red and swollen. Finally, on Friday she went to the doctor in Guttenberg and they thought she had a bad case of pink eye. It looked like it was spreading to the other eye and her left eye was almost swollen shut.

The doctor told Cindy to be careful because it was very contagious. She was given a prescription and over the weekend, the eye improved a little but by Sunday night it was swollen and very red again.

So back to the doctor we go tomorrow. It may be something besides pink eye so they will have to look a little deeper.

If things don't improve in a few days, I will bring her back to Cedar Rapids to see an Opthamolgist here.

Other than this hiccup, things are going well. Company coming to visit this weekend until the 4th of July. Busy time!

Monday, June 18, 2012 5:42 PM CDT

It's been awhile since I updated. Cindy took over during my recent trip to Lala land. That anesthesia always does a number on me for a few days.

I read the update she wrote and saw that she explained the test results. So now we can relax about anything serious with my heart. As I told Cindy, now we can get back to worrying about her.

Actually, Cindy is doing pretty well. The pain she deals with daily has been a little more "annoying" lately but I'm hoping it passes soon and doesn't escalate. Other than that, everything is okay.

We have had Jacob at the cabin a bunch recently. He is having a ball driving around the island on his golf cart and cruising the river on our boat. Over the next few weeks he will be bringing some of his neighborhood buddies, to share the fun.

One bit of news that I have kept pretty quiet, is that I am back to being SEMI-retired, instead of just retired. I received a call from a friend while we were in Florida. He asked me if I wanted to work for him at his small engineering company.

I agreed but only if I could work just half-time. Meaning, Monday through Wednesday and mornings only. By mid-afternoon on Wednesdays I am back on the island.

The job is a lot of fun. I know all the people working there and the environment is very laid back and informal. Don't know how long I will work but so far it's not interfering much with what we want to do this summer.

Cindy thinks I'm nuts!! After I received the offer this winter, Cindy asked me why I was even considering going to work again. I really didn't have a good answer. She just shook her head at me in bewilderment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:23 PM CDT

Cindy doing an update! This is rare but Tom is sleeping off the effects of the anesthesia so I thought I would get our latest news posted.

One big hurdle now over with! Tom had his heart catheterization this morning and everything looked GREAT! So no heart problems.

At least no heart plumbing problems. He still has an electrical problem that affects his heart rhythm but it's not dangerous and the current medication seems to help.

So, we don't know the cause of chest pain but at least it's not heart related. We are home now and he is sleeping nicely. The only worry today is that the artery would bleed where they inserted the catheter.....not expected, since he was up and around at the hospital before they would let us leave. He is wearing a compression bandage for 48 hours and will be taking it easy for the next couple of days.

The rhythm thing is something he has lived with for several years and there was always the looming thought that a blockage could be the cause. When the medical test last week ruled out something else causing chest pain, the cardiologist said it's time for a heart angiogram to see what is going on for sure.

An angiogram is considered the gold standard for heart diagnosis. Plus, Tom has already had all of the other testing, all showing nothing other than the rhythm issue.

Tom's arteries are not only totally clear but they look fantastic! Obviously due to his long years of running, and never having smoked cigarettes. This was certainly a surprise though, given Tom's bad family history for heart disease.

Tom asked the doctor who did the angiogram, if he now has another 58 years. "Possibly", the doctor said, with a smile.

What a huge relief! I was up all night, just a bit worried. I didn't sleep more than an hour on the couch. Tom asked me why I don't worry all the time...like he does. I told him I like to save it up for the last minute.

I like to procrastinate and continue in my state of denial as long as possible! See how that all works out for me??

In the meantime, give your honey a hug! Until next time....C

Thursday, May 31, 2012 4:59 AM CDT

Friday, June 1st, Cindy and I have been married 38 years!!

We are heading up to the cabin Friday morning and will celebrate at one of our favorite places in Guttenberg. But I think Saturday night I will have to take Cindy to dinner at her favorite place in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin....Black Angus.

We are now in summer mode. Cindy's garden is in full bloom, the tomatoes are planted and we have lots of company coming to the cabin over the next two months. Cindy and I have been out on the boat a few times and I even got a little sunburned. Apparently the Florida suntan had faded more than I thought.

Cindy is feeling pretty good these days. She is not in pain as much now and that is nice. I was going to say she isn't in pain at all but that would not be accurate. Cindy lives with pain all the time but it's manageable right now.

It constantly amazes me how much Cindy deals with everyday but she makes it look effortless to everyone else. Anyway, I like when things are calm and we can pretend it will always be so.

As for me, not yet calm. I had some medical tests this week to rule out other causes for the symptoms I am having. It now appears my symptoms are heart related and I will be undergoing a heart angiogram next Wednesday. Not thrilled.

Monday, May 21, 2012 6:38 AM CDT

We had a great weekend at the cabin. Jacob and his parents came on Friday and then Michael and Nikki had to leave Saturday morning for events in Cedar Rapids. Jacob stayed with us until Sunday afternoon.

The surprise for Jacob that I mentioned in the last update, was a golf cart. We gave Jacob his own cart to drive around the island. He was thrilled!

Almost everyone has a cart on the island and so there is always lots of afternoon traffic, carts circling the island and people enjoying being outside. Cindy and I use our cart all the time.

While searching for a cart for Jacob, and not finding any good used ones, I decided to just buy a new one for Cindy and me and give our perfectly good, older cart to Jacob.

We had decorated Jacob's cart on Friday morning with streamers and a large sign Cindy had painted. When they arrived, I handed Jacob a key and told him he could have whatever that key fit that was in the garage.

He ran out to the garage and there it was. He was so excited he was shaking. By the end of Saturday afternoon, Jacob had completely drained the batteries on his cart. So we finished up the weekend riding on Grandma and Grandpa's new cart.

Jacob already has ideas for making the cart his own. We stripped off the vinyl stickers we had on the cart and Jacob is designing his own stickers to make it unique for him. (Lots of Chicago Bears stuff, I'm guessing).

We brought Jacob back to Cedar Rapids Sunday and on the way, we stopped by a car show in Monticello. It was Jacob's first classic car show and there were around 400 cars to view. He is very interested in cars and especially loves the muscle cars from the 60's.

As we walked through the grounds at the car show, I pointed out all the cars that I had owned....Chevelle, Camaro, Road Runner, etc. and also the cars owned by all my buddies. He was amazed and said he didn't realize Gramps and his friends had driven so many cool cars.

Cindy stayed in the car under a shade tree, reading and having some quiet time. Cindy told us she had seen enough car shows in her life and it will be quicker if Jacob and I go by ourselves.

Today we are heading back to the cabin and taking Aaron with us. Tomorrow we head to LaCrosse, Wisconsin with Aaron, so he can attend a Rock concert.

Cindy and I will stay at the hotel, since we have seen enough Rock concerts in our life and it will be quicker if Aaron goes by himself :-)

Actually, the type of Rock concert Aaron likes is a little LOUD for our tastes.

Over the weekend I got our boat out of storage and in the water and parked in our boat slip. Always a sign for us that summer has officially begun.

Saturday, May 12, 2012 6:44 AM CDT

Cindy's Neurologist called late Thursday with the results of her tests. Dr. Struthers had ordered a bone scan and some blood levels drawn on Tuesday. The blood test results showed a very low level for one of her seizure medications. He questioned whether she should stop taking it, since it is probably not working at such a low level.

Cindy and I talked it over and told Dr. Struthers that we didn't want to change a thing right now. This medication is what finally stopped the seizures last October so we don't want to take any chances for now. It may be at a low level but it also may be just at that point where it's still working to prevent seizures.

I have a couple procedures coming up, so we aren't quite finished with the medical stuff. All these appointments, (for both of us), have been consuming much of our time since we have been home. It will be good to get this all behind us.

The big one for me will be the heart angiogram, if that occurs. The tests I will have in a few weeks may rule out having to do the angiogram.

Cindy is very worried that my heart is the cause of my symptoms. I tell her not to worry but that is like the pot calling the kettle black. Especially since if it is my heart, it was probably brought on by my worrying about Cindy. We are quite a pair.

Anyway, if the updates are less frequent, it is because I don't want to dwell on all this medical stuff. Plenty of time to write about it after it's all complete and everything is good news.

We are headed to Des Moines today for a graduation celebration.

Then next weekend we have Jacob at the river...oh and his parents are coming too.

I have quite a surprise for Jacob when he arrives and I couldn't resist telling him so. He told his mom, "Gramps has a big surprise for me that he won't tell me about and it's KILLING ME!!"

Tune in next week to find out his surprise.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:09 PM CDT

All systems Go!!!!

Cindy's MRI in Iowa City today was good. She has completed all her appointments except one for next week. But all tests and scans are done and all were good.

What a relief!! I didn't worry until the MRI. While I was sitting in the waiting room, I started worrying that her string of good luck might run out with this last test. Cindy never lost faith at all. She was sure that all the tests would come out okay.

During the consultation with Dr. Buatti, following the MRI, another doctor was brought in and introduced to us. She said she had been reading through Cindy's case and she said, "Wow, what a miracle you are! We don't read many stories like yours."

I just sat there and acted like Cindy was no big deal. (Not really).

Next week she sees her Neurologist, Dr. Struthers. He is the doctor who treated her in the hospital last October while she was having the seizures. The meeting will just be a formality since Cindy has had no seizures and all her scans and tests were good.

My meeting with the Cardiologist was pretty good. But he really wants to do an Angiogram. He increased one of my meds and said if things are not better in a month or so, "let's quit messing around and just go in and look to be sure".

So, I have that to look forward to. Oh, and a colonoscopy next month on top of that. Sheesh!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 2:58 AM CDT

What happened to all that warm weather in Iowa?? It all went cold after we returned from Florida, what's up with that? The day we left Florida I was bragging that I had not worn long pants since Christmas. Now all I can say is that I haven't worn shorts for all of April.

This week is the week of doctors. Most of them in Iowa City. Cindy was supposed to have an MRI of her head on Wednesday and then another appointment with Radiology later the same day.

But the University Hospital in Iowa City called and told us that Obama was going to be there on Wednesday and we wouldn't be able to get close to the place. So we had to reschedule those two appointments to next week.

Cindy still has an appointment with Oncology in Iowa City on Friday. Aaron also has an appointment in Iowa City on Friday to reprogram his implant (for seizure control). I have an appointment with my internist on Thursday but at least it's in Cedar Rapids.

Last week Cindy had a mammogram and an eye exam. Both appointments were non-eventful, meaning two less things to worry about.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned it on this website, but Cindy had cancer in her eye when she was very young. That is the reason for the eye exam, just checking things out for any changes.

The mammogram is because she had breast cancer.
The appointment on Friday is with Oncology because she had Sarcoma cancer in her leg.
The MRI next week is because she had cancer in her brain.
The appointment with Radiology in Iowa City next week is because she had so much radiation that it caused skin cancer and other problems, including the seizure issue from last year.
Cindy also had the beginning of Uterine cancer resulting in a total hysterectomy in 2007...the surgeon said, "caught it just in time".

Just a refresher in case you don't recall how amazing Cindy's life story is. She just keeps moving forward.

I overheard Cindy a few days ago telling a friend, "I just have a few routine doctor appointments".

That is the kind of girl I'm married to.

Monday, April 9, 2012 5:09 AM CDT

We are home. The drive back to Iowa was uneventful. Cindy did not have any problems whatsoever. We also had good weather the whole way and the last two days were very easy, with little traffic. Now we are getting settled at home and looking forward to a good summer.

Cindy has several doctor appointments this month. Some of them in Iowa City at the new Cancer clinic. We heard it is very nice and we hope, less crowded. Things are always changing at the University Hospital.

I also have a few doctor appointments this month, Cardiologist and Internist. Exciting!

Actually, very routine life going on right now. We like it that way.

I called Cindy's brother over the weekend about something normal and I could tell from his voice he was expecting something bad about his sister. I think most of us feel that way about Cindy, waiting for the next shoe to fall. If we could string together a few years of normal, maybe we all could get past that attitude.

So for now, starting from January 1, 2012...it's all good.

Monday, April 2, 2012 3:31 PM CDT

We are more than halfway home. The two worst days behind us.

We just got to Franklin Tennessee. It's a very historic town. We drove thru the famous downtown and then stopped at a cool bar/grill near downtown called The Bunganut Pig. Check out their website.

There were lots of steps downstairs and the main floor bar wasn't open so we didn't stay. Traffic here is crazy so we will stick by the hotel tonight.

There are lots of famous people who live here since it's basically a suburb now of Nashville. (Wikipedia for listing, if you care).

In the morning we will drive thru Nashville and then head up to St Louis. We spend tomorrow night in O'Fallon Illinois, just east of St. Louis. Then home the next day, easy and very familiar trip the last day.

Tomorrow will be easy too. We completed the two longest drives. 400 miles on Day 1 and 365 today...plus non-interstate this morning for 100 miles. Then thru south Montgomery, Alabama (what a SH!T H@LE). Finally connected to I-65 in Montgomery and we were sailing after that. 80-85 mph.

Went thru Birmingham, AL next. Beautiful city. It started to get "bluffy" (like Guttenberg) just south of Birmingham and the downtown has lots of pretty skyscrapers. The rest of the drive north from there was just like driving thru NE Iowa with all the bluffs. VERY similar.

Once in Tennessee (oh man, you should see the Tennessee River. Beautiful!! We crossed just before the TN border), the ground flattened out a little and the trees and grass thinned out. Not as pretty.

Franklin is very pretty though with lots of old Civil War era homes. Several museums and battlefields here. The worst fighting in U.S. history happened in Franklin on one day. Four Confederate Generals were killed in the battle that day and their bodies laid on the porch of a historic plantation house. There is a cemetery in the yard there with thousands of graves of soldiers also killed that day.

Cindy is holding up well. Caught up on all her Dexter DVDs while in the backseat, slept just a little and is not having any problems.

I'm a little tense from the drive but curing that at the moment with a Highball.

Can't wait to see everybody when we get home.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 9:27 AM CDT

Sorry, part of the original posting didn't get attached. Here is the complete post.

Since this is our last day or so, the one take away thought we have that stands out is....the lack of bugs!

Yes, that seems pretty trivial but it's the truth. We leave the balcony door open ALL day and into every evening, and there are never any bugs. When we drive down the road, even at highway speed, there are no bugs on our windshield.

That is something that really surprised us. Florida is known for bugs. But apparently they are only the crawly type bugs.

Our final photo in the Clearwater 2012 folder is the last observed sunset. It was quite a ways north of the first sunset we observed in December. Spring is definitely here.

The best for last. This means the weather and the sea life, both of which have been perfect. That is what we observed from our balcony this week. We also got better at identifying the type of sea life we are observing.

Yesterday the dolphin visits were so numerous we stopped counting. They were there all day long right below us. One group was obviously the show-off males. This was confirmed in the paper, stating that the males, (who travel in pairs) have returned for the spring.

The males dance and play to attract the smaller females, who have been frequent the past two months. You can tell the males because they are so much bigger, they call them bulls.

We also saw what we first thought was a tiger shark. It turned out to be a large Tarpon, about 5 feet long. This Tarpon was following the school of mullet who frequently gather by the dozens, right below us.

The Tarpon just sat there perfectly still, just a few inches below the surface, observing his next meal. He was present for over an hour and caused several people to come out on the dock to watch him.

Another first, this week we had our first Manatee. He pulled right into one of our boat slips. A couple guys from the sail boat below us, got out the water hose to give him a drink.

The Manatee rolled over on his back and happily drank from the hose. They petted his stomach and talked to him. You could see the scars on him from the boat propellers. That is the biggest threat to Manatees. They move too slowly to get out of the way of fast boats and are often injured or killed by the propellers.

It has been a great sendoff for us. We will be anxious to return next winter.

In the local paper today, they announced that Philadelphia Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard is building a 17,500 sq. ft. home on a vacant lot across the street from us. I can't imagine what this monstrosity is going to look like.

The Phillies' winter home is in Clearwater so there are lots of ballplayers living here. The NY Yankees also have their winter home right across the Bay bridge in Tampa.

Yankee's player, Derek Jeter's huge waterfront home is much bigger (31,000 sq. ft.) than Ryan Howard's proposed home. Jeter's place is so big they call it St. Jetersberg.

As long as I am telling you about famous people, I am convinced that I saw Sammy Hagar walking across the street last Thursday, heading to a famous beach restaurant. We drove by and he was standing on the curb waiting for us to pass, with a couple of ladies on each arm.

I have been trying to confirm his whereabouts but no success yet. If it wasn't Sammy Hagar, it was his exact twin. Cindy saw him too and agrees that it certainly looked like him. For non-Rock-music readers, Sammy was lead singer for Van Halen and also had a hit song, "I can't drive...55".

For now, we are busy packing and storing. We are leaving a lot of stuff here, so next year we can just fly down. A friend has offered to drive our car down for us, which we greatly appreciate. The flight takes just about 2 1/2 hours, versus several days (for us) of driving. So the choice of flying is a no-brainer.

Even though it is so nice here now, we miss our family and friends and we are ready to come home. The next update will be from Cedar Rapids....or Guttenberg.

Friday, March 23, 2012 5:59 AM CDT

The weather is very warm now, mid to high 80s everyday and around 70 at night. Other than a sprinkle it has not rained in several weeks.

We are on our last days in Florida. Our minds are occupied with cleaning, packing, what-to-take, what-to-leave, and the route home. The time here went very fast, now that we are looking back on it.

Our plans are to return for six months next winter, at least that is what we signed up for (mid-October to mid-April). But as we well know in this family, life sometimes makes its own plans. We shall see.

I mentioned last update about going to the NY Yankees game in Tampa. I forgot to mention that we got very close to Reggie Jackson, A-Rod and Derek Jeter while they were at batting practice. It was on a practice field next to the stadium and people could just walk up to the fence behind home plate as they batted.

I would not have recognized Reggie Jackson on my own but Michael pointed him out to me, then it was obvious. That will be a memorable experience for Jacob. He was thrilled. Then he said, "I don't care about seeing A-Rod, I don't like him".

We never did make it to Key West this winter. Cindy felt so comfortable where we are that we decided that there was nothing in Key West we didn't already have in Clearwater. Possibly next year we will head down that way, hate to give it up, Key West has been our destination every year for over 10 years and there are many good memories and friends there.

It does seem different though now that I am retired and we can go whenever and wherever we want to. It loses a little something when you aren't "escaping" from work life.

These last two weeks have been filled with goodbyes to the people we have met here. On Monday we went back to Alfano's and spent time with Keith who is very much like Sam Malone from Cheers.

Then a few days ago we spent an afternoon with Lori from Columbia. We met her on Wednesday at a fun place called Jimmy Guanas, (where we took Jacob). We really like Lori and she so reminds us of the Lori in our family, who we lost at Christmas in 2008. She has the same smile and pretty face and bubbly personality that our Lori had.

Also a few days ago, we got a phone call from Mary Sheldon. She is the elderly lady who we wrote about meeting on our first night in Florida. Mary wants to take us to dinner at Alfano's next Tuesday. So we will be seeing her at last. We kept thinking we would run into her somewhere.

Then next weekend, we will be loading up and then heading home on Sunday, April 1st. We should be home for sure by Friday.

Saturday, March 17, 2012 5:54 AM CDT

We read yesterday that Cedar Rapids had a high temperature in the upper 70s. Wow! Cindy and I are enjoying temps in the mid 80s and lows at night around 65. Very nice for sitting outside late into the evening, which we do a lot.

Last night we were sitting out on the balcony and we observed Mars, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. Pretty rare to be able to see so many planets at once. We could see them with the naked eye but the telescope and binoculars really made them stand out.

The news reports stated that Mercury and Uranus were also visible but we aren't totally sure we located them. I won't do the obvious joke about Uranus...oh what the hell, why not. We can see Uranus.

The kids went home Thursday and we decompressed for a day. Cindy told a friend down here that we were decomposing, then started to correct herself but then said that decomposing is probably accurate. We had a great time with the kids. Lots of activities.

On top of all the activities, I was pretty sick for most of the time they were here. But I toughed it out even though the day we drove over to Tampa to see the NY Yankees game, my eyes were like two, bright red, burning, lumps of coal. When I got up the next morning, I had to soak my eyes to get them open. They were completely sealed shut.

I finally went to the doctor since I could barely see and he gave me some medication. The cold had apparently settled in my eyes. I also had a touch of bronchitis. Feeling much better now, just a mild cough remaining.

Another Jacob story. At the Yankees game, Jacob saw the vendors hawking peanuts, popcorn, cotton candy, etc. and he told me he had never tried cotton candy. So Gramps took him out to the food court so he could see how it's made and to buy his first cotton candy.

We left the game about a half hour later and on the way home we experienced Jacob with the biggest sugar high we have ever seen. Wow!

Jacob's parents were not amused. Gramps learned a lesson about kids and sugar, long forgotten from my younger parenting years.

We are on the downhill slide of our Florida adventure. It's been a blast but the Iowa spring is calling us home. We will be back in Cedar Rapids in 3 weeks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012 6:40 PM CDT

Things are going well in Florida. The weather is consistently warm now. It's in the 80s everyday.

Michael, Nikki and Jacob are here and we are having a great time.

Their flight to Florida went perfectly. We were all very worried about whether Jacob would freak out and not get on the plane. But he was quite a trooper, he overcame his fears and marched onto the plane, even took a window seat. He said, after hitting turbulence, "I love turbulence".

Jacob has been occupied with plenty of activities. He swims everyday in our pool, he's been on the beach, he did indoor surfing at a store in Clearwater Beach, and he even threw stuff down our trash chute.

But the trash chute wasn't the thrill for him I imagined. I forgot that Jacob does not like loud noises, so that was a short lived activity.

Last night we sat on the balcony till late into the night. It was a beautiful night outside. After dark there were fireworks some distance south of us but we could see them clearly.

Quite a show! In fact, I don't know if we have ever seen such a display. The whole time it looked like a fireworks finale.

Tomorrow we are all going to a NY Yankee spring training game across the Bay in Tampa.

I have to relate a funny story involving Jacob, (there are so many but I will just tell one).

Michael and Nikki went for a walk yesterday and when they got back to our place, Michael had some bad blisters from his sandals.

Nikki said, "you should just throw those sandals away".
I said, "aren't those the sandals Cindy and I gave Michael for Christmas??"

Everyone was silent for a minute and then Jacob, who had been sitting quietly, said in a high pitched voice, "Awwwwkwarrrrrrd".

The kids will be here until Thursday morning. We will stay very busy having fun.

Sunday, March 4, 2012 5:25 PM CST

The wind! That was the big weather story here on Sunday. As a result of the terrible storms that passed through the Midwest and Southeast states, Florida got incredible winds.

The temps on Sunday were in the 60s but it was the wind that made it impossible to be outside at all. We feel for those people who got caught in those tornadoes.

Aaron was with us last week and we had a great time. He got to experience life in Florida and he loved it. Whether sitting and sunning on our balcony or swimming in the pool or walks on the beach. He did it all.

We also took Aaron to several places to eat, to experience the seafood here.

We even did a Mexican night at a place we had only driven past before. Great Mexican food there! I know Michael, Nikki and Jacob will want to hit that place as well. Big fans of Mexican food in this family.

Aaron took the trolley one afternoon up to the Clearwater Aquarium to see the famous dolphin, Winter. Winter is the dolphin the movie "Dolphin Tale" was made about.

Winter lost her tail due to getting caught in a fishing trap and now has a prosthetic tail so she can swim.

Speaking of dolphins. They are a regular show below our balcony everyday. Sometimes twice a day. Usually just after sunrise and then again just before sunset.

But Friday night Aaron was with us on the balcony, must have been 11PM, and we saw quite a show. The dolphins were there and leaping out of the water, doing dances and frolicking just below us.

We had the binoculars and took turns observing them up close. It lasted about a half hour. We were thrilled to see this and wonder if it's a nightly occurrence. We will have to watch more closely now, before bedtime.

I drove Aaron to the airport at 4:30 Sunday morning. It kind of sprinkled on the 20 minute drive but that was it. Then I dropped him at the terminal, a hug goodbye and the skies opened up before I could get back in the truck. I mean a swamping downpour.

I don't even know if Aaron realized it since he had stepped inside the terminal by then. I got soaked.

By the time I was back home the rain had stopped and after sunrise it was sunny the rest of the day...just WINDY.

Cindy is doing very well. The ankle pain is a minor annoyance now, she is not really affected by it. My aches have subsided to a manageable level. Time and rest, I guess that is the cure.

Michael, Nikki and Jacob arrive later this week. We are hoping to get Jacob past his first flight with little excitement. I think he is feeling the stress, because Saturday morning he was vomiting, with no apparent cause.

Jacob is quite a kid. If he starts to feel emotionally uncomfortable, usually due to anticipating the unknown, he will get physically sick. I mean, a high fever and sometimes even vomiting. It is like clockwork.

Once Jacob gets through whatever the new experience is, he is fine. It's just the anticipation that causes the fever.

One exchange between father and son that we find hilarious was when Jacob recently asked Michael,
"Why do people fake knowing something when they really don't know the answer?"

And Michael responded with,
"I don't know....why do you run a fever when you're not really sick?"
Jacob was silent but seething.

The thing I am most excited about showing Jacob is the trash chute. I know, it's the kid in me... but I find it great fun to take whatever trash we accumulate and throw it down the building trash chute and hear it bang and clatter in a 140 foot free fall to the bottom.

And I KNOW that Jacob will love it. Especially beer and wine bottles. We will make sure he has lots of chances at it.

Monday, February 27, 2012 10:06 AM CST

The weekend was a gloomy one.  The weather was very cloudy with temperatures only in the 60s.  There is a large area of rain that is just sitting north of us, which caused the Daytona 500 race to be postponed for the first time ever.  

We aren't getting the rain but we are getting the southern edge of that front which is gloomy clouds, cooler temps and high winds  It should clear off today and be sunny and in the 80s everyday this week.

Aaron will be glad, because he arrives on Tuesday.  We can't wait for Aaron to get here and experience Florida with us.  He will be with us through next weekend.
I wrote the above before my walk this morning.  It's now sunny and gorgeous.  We can still see the dark skies to the north of us but it's moving east and will not affect Clearwater.
Speaking of my walk... I was passed AGAIN, this morning by another 70-plus walker.  Now I'm no speed demon by any means but I'm also not just lollygagging when I walk.  

This oldster passed me by and was more than a block ahead of me within a few minutes.  And he was no athlete, his shape reminded me more of Baby Huey.  I am going to have to re-evaluate my walking skills.  I'm really going to be peeved if I find that these aging quicksters are also the same people beating Cindy and me to the handicap parking spots.
On a sadder note, our family doctor, Dr. Sherman Anthony, (he liked to be called Tony), passed away on Saturday.  Cindy and I are both saddened by this news.  He was such a big part of both of our lives.  

Dr. Anthony came to Vinton when I was very young.  He eventually took over for Dr. Blumgren, who had been our family doctor.  Tony continued to be my doctor, Cindy's doctor, and doctor for our kids until we moved to Cedar Rapids.  
In fact, Dr. Anthony was responsible for saving our son Aaron's life Twice!  We had many scares with Aaron (and still do) and Tony was there for almost all of the incidents we had when Aaron was young.

Cindy's mom, Teresa, worked for Tony for several years.  Tony and his wife Dottie were also personal friends with Cindy's parents, often socializing with Teresa and Carl, especially over the holidays, with great parties.

When I returned to college, it was Dr. Anthony who gave me the encouragement I needed to get through school.  I talked to him several times as I made the adjustment from construction work to classroom studying.  Later, after I had finished school and was working full time in my new profession, Tony talked me into joining a book club with him, because he knew I loved to read classic literature. 

 He and I were the only males in the club and also the only working members of the group.  We would kid each other before class, sitting in the car and sharing notes about the book of the week.  Because the retired, elderly women of the group would always have their reading assignments finished...what did they have to do all day?  We had to work and also try to complete these heavy reading assignments in one week.

When Cindy had her first leg surgery after they found the cancer, she needed to do therapy.  Tony and Dottie called us and told us to come over and swim in their pool.  

They gave us a key to their house and showed me how to uncover and cover the pool.  Also, how to work the heater to warm the area around the pool, so I could sit and read while Cindy swam.  Cindy and I would show up at the Anthony house around 3:30AM each day for her swim.  It did wonders for Cindy's recovery.

After Cindy's swim each morning, I would go out for my run (yes, I ran, I used to be much faster) and then we would both drive to Cedar Rapids to work all day. I don't know how we did it all now.

Shortly after Cindy's dad died, Tony and Dottie gave Teresa the keys to their summer home in Missouri for Teresa's entire family to spend a long weekend.  We had a great time as we reminisced about Carl, boated on the lake and just relaxed.

The last few years have been difficult and sad for Dr. Anthony's family, as he was suffering from Alzheimer's.  The irony is that he devoted the last years of his medical career taking care of his elderly patients all over Benton County...then to be struck with the illness that he treated so often in his patients.

 Whenever I hear that keeping your mind occupied may prevent Alzheimer's, I laugh to myself, because I have never met a more intellectual person than Dr. Anthony.  He was still taking college courses at Coe and Cornell just before he began to have problems.  If you get Alzheimer's it is just bad luck, or bad genes.

But here's to Tony.  What a great man.  We miss him.

I'm sure that many other people have similar stories about Dr. Anthony.  He was just that kind of a person. Please feel free to share your own stories about Tony (and Dottie) in the Guestbook.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 6:26 AM CST

Cindy's brother Kevin, Buffy and Mara, (the Jessens) are here and we are enjoying our time with them. They arrived on Sunday when the weather was a little cooler and it was overcast. Still, not that cold. The sky eventually cleared before sunset and by Monday morning it was beautiful weather again.

We all sat out on the balcony in the afternoon, talking and catching up with what has been going on in our lives. At one point, Mara, with her sharp, 16 year old eyes, spotted a group of stingrays right below us. Something we have never seen. She took a picture with her camera and I posted it in our Clearwater album.

Buffy and Mara went to the beach right away Monday morning. Kevin went with Cindy and me to Frenchy's Rockaway on the Beach, for an early lunch. If you have never been here, it's a must the next time you come. We got seats right away but by the time we left, the place was packed and people were lined up to get in.

The spring break crowds are starting to arrive. We are noticing far more people everywhere. Even our condo building is filling with house guests. Lots of new faces in the lobby and elevators.

The girls came back from the beach mid-afternoon and Cindy told Mara about the dolphins who usually appear about now, right below our balcony. She kept watch and on schedule they were there. However, a small boat was leaving the docks and it spooked the dolphins so they soon were gone.

The Jessens had some travel points to use up so after spending one night with us, they checked into a nearby hotel in the late afternoon yesterday. We met them for dinner last night and made plans for all the girls to go to the beach right outside their hotel today. Cindy has not been out on the beach this winter, only me.

I'm still limping along. My shoulder and arm are getting better but my lower back is now giving me fits. This back pain is something that just flared up for no reason. Starting to think that it's arthritis or something.

For two days over the weekend I could hardly move due to my back pain. I went for a massage one day and that helped some. I'm sure if I keep up the Ibuprofen for my back, it will flare up my ulcer again. What a mess! And I'm the one who's supposed to be taking care of Cindy. Cindy said, "maybe it's because you're getting older?" Yeah, that helps.

This is something totally unrelated to anything about Cindy. But I have this immense thirst for history and I found this story fascinating, so maybe some of you will too. We were watching a news show Sunday morning and they were doing a piece on past U.S. Presidents (all of which I can name from memory).

When they got to John Tyler, our 10th President, back in 1841-45, they interviewed a descendant who is living in Tyler's house in Virginia. This guy is John Tyler's grandson!! Not his great-great grandson, but just grandson.

John Tyler was born while George Washington was President, and his grandson is still alive. I found that amazing! The show explained that President Tyler had a son when he was 65 and Tyler's son had a son when he was 75 years old. This grandson is now 83.

On a much related story, as long as I have this site hijacked, Cindy and I were in Virginia just before she became disabled, and we made a day trip to the homes of five U.S. Presidents. One of these homes was John Tyler's estate, named Sherwood Forest.

This was the only home where the entrance for tourists was not clearly marked. So Cindy and I just got out of the car and wandered around the grounds and looked in the windows, hoping to eventually find a tour guide.

Turned out this home was still in private use, by the aforementioned Tyler grandson and was not open to the public. Little did we know.

At least nobody was home and we didn't get in trouble. We never saw a soul and got back in the car and proceeded to the next Presidential home. The former occupants were all dead at the next house.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 4:44 AM CST

We had a cold spell over the weekend. Last Friday night it rained much of the night and the temperatures fell. By Sunday morning we awoke to 34 degrees. It never got past 50 for a high on Sunday.

Monday was a little better but the temps didn't get past the mid-60s. The weather was back to normal on Tuesday, sunny and near 80 degrees.

We had a quiet few days. I somehow injured my shoulder last week and it progressively got more painful. Lifting the wheelchair wrong may have been the cause. At first I thought it was my neck but the pain radiated down my right arm to my elbow and it hurt all the time, even trying to sleep. Just could not get comfortable.

So NO activity for about three days or so. I know Cindy was a little worried that it was my heart again but I assured her that this was not that kind of pain. I was back to doing yoga yesterday and also went for a long walk. The arm and shoulder feel better, just not "doing pushups" better, so I will give it some more time.

Cindy's ankle is much better. She is riding the Airdyne every day with no issues, so we have no idea what caused her ankle pain to flare up like it did.

We went to a place the other night that was very cozy and we had a great dinner. Called the Thirsty Marlin. A nice couple came in and sat next to us. While we were sitting there but not yet talking to them, a waitress dropped an entire tray of food with a bucket of shrimp and ice. Quite a mess.

Cindy had to make her way to the restroom shortly after that and the floor was a little slick when she passed the scene of the crime. The manager noticed that Cindy was moving quite carefully so after she passed he went and got a large container of salt and spread it around to dry the floor.

When Cindy came back by, her crutches went right out from under her as they slid on the salt. I was out of my seat like a bullet and got to her just as she regained her balance. I can not believe she didn't go down. She hopped a couple times and somehow got her crutches back under her without falling.

I never would have made it to her in time to catch her. The crowd of people just did a collective gasp and got real quiet. I held on to her the rest of the way through the salt trail. Cindy quietly said to me, "not bad, huh?". I was pretty proud of her for averting disaster.

After we sat down (and my heart resumed a normal rhythm), the couple next to us engaged us and we got to know them. They are snowbirds from Toledo, Ohio. It was kind of funny, Cindy and I both thought they were a mafia couple. The guy was very dapper and wearing a beautiful gold watch. His wife was very pretty, blonde and all dolled up with lots of jewelry. They just looked to us like a couple you would see on Sopranos.

They turned out to be owners of a group of restaurants in Toledo, called Mancy's, named after him, John Mancy. Pretty famous places around the Toledo area, from looking at the websites. They gave us little cards from all four of their restaurants.

John's father started the first Mancy's in 1921 and then John grew the business into what it is today. John and Faye's sons and nephews now run it. Each of the sons has a restaurant.

John and Faye were very nice and they were not at all like what we thought at first look. That's probably what they thought about us.

A couple days ago I stepped out on the balcony and I looked up and there was a blimp passing by, very close. I ran back in to to get the camera but the blimp had moved farther away by then. So the picture I posted doesn't show just how close it was to the building. It was pretty impressive but I guess you had to be here to see it.

And then yesterday we both were on the balcony and a group of three large pelicans flew by so close Cindy could have touched them. They are huge birds up close. I saw them coming but didn't have the camera ready. It was neat seeing them glide by at eye level.

Cindy's brother Kevin, Buffy and Mara will be here Sunday. Kevin has been in Clearwater on work travel but it will be the first time for Buffy and Mara. Can't wait to show them around.

Saturday, February 11, 2012 5:15 AM CST

The trip to Sarasota was great. We drove south from St. Pete Beach, across the Bay bridge to Bradenton.

Bradenton is a nice town with a historic Main Street full of sidewalk cafes, pubs and little shops. We like Bradenton. Although it doesn't have the feel that you are in a seaside community. It feels more like a nice Midwestern town. It was clean and has a small town feel to it. Its population is around 50,000.

Then we proceeded west through Bradenton and out to the north edge of Longboat Key. This is a very narrow island, about 500-1000 feet wide, that extends all the way to Sarasota.

The northern 7-mile strip is called Anna Maria Island and it is very reminiscent of Key West neighborhoods. Or even more like a Caribbean village. Everything very close to each other, small shops and places to eat and drink. Nothing upscale about it (which often is a good thing) and very inviting. You think, "I would like to vacation here!"

Our heads were turning as we tried to capture all that was there while being pushed along by traffic. Along the west side of the road is a mile(s) long park where you can park and a walking trail and of course the beautiful beach.

We both were struck by the beauty of the water around Bradenton and Sarasota. So turquoise, not the color we see in Clearwater. It's more of a pale green up here in Clearwater.

I can't imagine what this main road (only road) is like on weekends. There are no sidewalks and no turning lanes on this two-lane highway that extends all the way down the island. Speed limit is around 35 mph the entire route.

That would be the downside of living out there on Longboat Key. The weekend traffic jam would keep you trapped in your car trying to get anywhere. We don't have that problem at all in Sand Key.

As you get closer to Sarasota, the high-rise condos start to appear along the west shore, more expensive homes on the east shore and plenty of golf courses. By the time you hit the southern edge of Longboat Key, your nose is very high in the air. Many, many expensive homes and condos.

At the very end of the road there is a large roundabout with expensive shops and restaurants lining the roundabout circle, with a park in the center. This is called St. Armand's Circle.

We drove around the roundabout twice to get a sense of it then spun off across the bridge to downtown Sarasota. What a beautiful city. None of the homeless were apparent that we see in St. Petersburg and even some in Clearwater.

Sarasota is a very clean and well kept place. The prices reflect it too. Gas was 30 cents higher than it was in Clearwater Beach. Everyone has told us that Sarasota is more expensive to live in than the Tampa Bay area.

The city marina is right at the end of Main Street. This is where we captured the photo of the statue (of the famous WWII couple kissing in Times Square). We stopped at the marina and just as we were pulling into a parking spot my phone rang. It was our friends from Guttenberg, Mel and Linda Hall. They had just arrived and said they were near the marina.

As I hung up the phone, Mel was walking in front of our truck. I honked and he was surprised to see us. What an easy connection. We thought we may have trouble finding each other.

We went into the marina area to O'Leary's Tiki Bar & Grill. If you look at their website home page, the guy in the white shirt is sitting where we were at the tiki bar. This tiki bar is along the water so we had lunch there and a nice visit with the Halls for a couple hours. I saw a dolphin as we were sitting there but after it surfaced once, it was gone, so I was the only one to see it.

After parting from the Halls, Cindy and I drove down Main Street in downtown Sarasota. Very cool place. If you ever vacation in Sarasota, stay downtown and you can walk to all the shops, bars and restaurants. Lots of outside tables along the tree-lined sidewalk along Main Street, especially from the marina to Orange Avenue. And the marina is very walking-accessible from the downtown area.

Final assessment of Sarasota, Beautiful, clean....but expensive. Nice place to visit but I don't think we will live here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 6:15 AM CST

The weather has been mostly cloudy this week. We had a light rain one evening at sunset but that was it for rain. The temps are still warm, all the windows are open even at night.

I took a picture of the full moon last night, just as it passed a palm tree. I don't think I came close to capturing the beauty of it but I posted the photo in the Clearwater folder anyway.

This morning we leave for Sarasota. I have it all mapped out of course. Google maps is the best Internet tool yet, at least for me anyway. I am a mapaholic. I love that you can do a satellite view of anywhere and then swoop down to a street view to see store fronts and homes, just like you are standing there.

A couple weeks ago we were driving around the hospital in Clearwater and I told Cindy that I swear that we have been here, even turned around in that parking lot. She assured me we have not been there. It then came to me that I had done so much Google map research (of the hospital, so I would know where to go) that the memory had stuck that I had actually been there.

Last night we went to a place called Bonefish. It had been on our list of places to go but it's not like the Bonefish in Orlando, so we were slightly disappointed. The food was awesome though.

We sat next to this older man, he had some spinal deformity which made him bent a little sideways and he was a small man, so he was quite a bit below my eye level. We struck up a conversation with him.

His name is Bob Fisher. He had a construction design business in Baltimore for many years and he had just retired in 2009. He has had a place in Belleaire since the 1960s so retiring here was a natural thing for him to do.

This guy was at least 80 years old and he has only been retired for 3 years! Of course when you own your own business, you probably have a harder time letting go.

When he found out my age he was surprised that I retired so young. Through our conversation he came to know Cindy and what we have been through, so then he was very understanding and agreed that we did the right thing. He said, You have to live your life while you can, there are no guarantees of tomorrow.

Bob asked us where we liked to go and we started naming the places we have been and what's on our list. We told him that we really liked the Italian restaurant, Alfano's. He couldn't believe we knew about it and he said it was his favorite place. I asked him if he knew Mary Sheldon (the lady we met the first night in Clearwater) and he said he knew Mary very well and had known her for years.

Bob also told us that he has eaten every single meal out for 43 years. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Not a single meal eaten at home. I thought that was some sort of record. He said he always sits at the bar when he goes to fine places because you can usually get a seat right away there instead of standing and waiting for a table.

I told him that had been our strategy for years, we thought we invented it (joking), but lately everyone is figuring it out so it's a little tougher. We also agreed that you meet more people that way and get to know the wait staff better when you sit right in front of them.

He was full of interesting stories and was very interested in hearing Cindy's impressions of Baltimore. Cindy traveled there often for work during the conversion of Monumental Life Ins. to Aegon Ins. company. Baltimore is now the headquarters for Aegon in the U.S.

Cindy told Bob that she stayed often at the Belvedere hotel (awesome place), which is right near his office. He said he went to the Belvedere all the time. Amazing the people you meet when you just strike up a conversation.

Well, better jump in the shower so we can hit the road. More about Sarasota in the next update.

Saturday, February 4, 2012 7:28 PM CST

We are fine. Enjoying winter and can't wait for the rest of our family to join us over the next two months.

I just discovered that you can also view our photo albums by going to www.fototime.com and entering our email address in the Guest login box. Our email address is cabin393@gmail.com

Cindy's brother and family arrive in two weeks. Followed shortly after by a visit from our son Aaron. Then Michael & Nikki and Jacob.

This coming week we are meeting some Guttenberg friends in Sarasota. We want to explore that area as well as nearby Siesta Key, which is often touted as the most beautiful beach in the U.S.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 8:26 AM CST

Cindy is doing better this week. Her ankle is still sore and it swells if she doesn't ice it occasionally but it is much better.

Yesterday she resumed riding the Airdyne and it is going okay. We still don't know what caused the pain in her ankle.

We had one bad weather day last week. It was rainy and gloomy all day. That is only the 3rd bad day for weather that we have experienced. Our house guest Gary Scott was here for that but he also experienced all the good days after that day.

Gary left for Iowa on Monday and should be home sometime today. He flew down and drove home. We sent him on his way with a load of things we don't need here. This will lighten our load when we head home in April. We will pack much lighter next year.

There was a horrible accident on I-75 near Gainesville, Florida on Sunday morning. You may have heard about it on the news. It closed the entire interstate highway in both directions for two days. At least ten people died.

Gary was driving back to Iowa on Monday, so he took an alternate route to avoid the road closure and subsequent traffic jam. I think he got to see parts of Alabama that he never thought he would "get" to see.

Cindy has been after me for months to buy a new iPad, so she could have the old one all to herself. So yesterday we drove over to Tampa to the Apple store. It is located in a huge mall next to the Tampa airport.

A spectacular mall, for those who enjoy mall shopping and upscale dining options. The restaurants were in an outside cobblestone courtyard. I have to admit that part was pretty nice. We had a great lunch at one of them.

We had decided to buy the newer iPad2. But when we got to the store, Cindy spotted the MacBook Air computer. Wow! I was impressed that I could get a computer that is about the same size and thickness of our iPad. So that is what we bought.

Enjoying the new toy today, as I write this update on it. Cindy is now using our iPad instead of her Kindle, for all her reading pleasures. She loved the Kindle but the iPad can do so much more.

Nothing planned for today, other than grocery shopping and washing the truck. The salt air coats the vehicles so you need to keep that cleaned off.

It is enjoyable though, Cindy sits out by the pool or swims while I wash the truck next to the pool...in 80 degree weather...in February.

I will sign off now before you throw rocks at our new computer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:08 AM CST

Yesterday we went across the Bay to Tampa and to Ybor City. I had business in Tampa and then we had lunch at the main Columbia restaurant in Ybor City, which is adjacent to downtown Tampa.

It was nice to see all of the history. The main street in Ybor City, looks like the French quarter of New Orleans, with lots of balconies over the sidewalk and old brick buildings. We did not stop anywhere except Columbia. I cannot imagine going there alone after dark, very scary surrounding neighborhood.

The weather continues to stay beautiful here. The evenings are warmer too. Until this week we have not sat out on the balcony after sunset because it was just a little cool at night. But now it is very pleasant sitting out there after dark.

Our first house guest, Gary Scott, arrived late last night. We had a pizza delivered and then we sat outside till almost 11:00. Today Gary has some business in Tampa and Orlando so he will be gone much of the day. We have not decided yet where we will take him for dinner tonight...so many choices.

Tuesday night Cindy told me that her ankle was bothering her so she iced it a little before we went to bed. Yesterday morning she could barely walk on it. Luckily we brought her scooter to Florida so she was able to get around the house using that. When we went to Tampa I had to wheel her everywhere in the wheelchair.

We have no idea why her ankle is hurting, other than maybe overdoing it on the Airdyne bike?? Cindy rides it everyday, often twice a day. But this is not really much different than her workout routine back in Iowa.

She iced her ankle quite a bit after we arrived home yesterday afternoon and continued off and on until Gary got here last night. I hope it gets better soon, it is making her very unstable on her crutches and I am worried about her falling.

Cindy is bummed that her working out is curtailed. Hopefully she can get in the pool for a swim this afternoon. The pool steps will be a challenge.

Just a reminder of how fragile Cindy's mobility is. One little injury and she is hardly able to get around by herself. And people wonder why I worry about her so much.

Sunday, January 22, 2012 8:48 AM CST

Cindy did not suffer any injuries from her fall, that I wrote about in the last update. However, she does have a huge bruise just below her right elbow.

Her arm was caught in her crutch when she fell and that was the cause of the bruise. The arm she broke when she fell in 2010, was her left arm, in case you were curious.

It's been three weeks since we arrived in Florida. We are finally feeling like we live here instead of feeling like we are on vacation. Settling into routines and getting very familiar with our town. I started adding photos of the neighborhood sites. Things we see everyday.

This morning there was a half-marathon in Clearwater and the turn around point was on the street right in front of our building. I took a couple photos of the runners as they made the turn below our balcony.

Our friend from back home, Karen Hacke, had planned to run this race but due to a serious illness she had to skip it. Maybe next year Karen??

This week we welcome our first house guest. Another friend from back home, Gary Scott is coming on Wednesday.

I have some business in downtown Tampa this week. So Cindy will come along. Afterwards we are going to historic Ybor City, which is just northeast of downtown Tampa. Ybor City was known as the cigar making capital of the U.S. and the main street is now on the list of Top 10 American streets.

Also, the original Columbia Spanish restaurant is at the center of Ybor City. It is a huge, historic building, covering two city blocks. The people at the Sand Key Columbia, where we go on Friday nights, say that the Ybor City Columbia is the "mac-daddy" Columbia. Very historic and beautiful inside. Can't wait to see it and have lunch there.

Still sustaining the great weather. We have only had two days with rain. Temps in the 80's most days and always that beautiful blue sky. Sorry Iowa.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 3:29 AM CST

Cindy fell last night. A perfect example of the poor parking situation that I wrote about last update.

I had to leave Cindy at the door while I went to park. As I got to the front door I saw Cindy standing just inside the double doors. Two women, pushing a shopping cart were approaching Cindy from the opposite direction. I don't know if Cindy tried to move for them or what but down she went. She said she was okay last night but I will check again this morning to see if she is sore or moving slowly.

This is exactly why I was complaining about having to leave Cindy standing while I park at a distant spot. If more handicap parking was available I would be able to stay with her the whole time. I wonder if my angry typing shows? It's a good thing I didn't type this last night...the expletives would be flying.

Calming down now. Yesterday morning I stepped out on our balcony and just as I looked down at the water, two dolphins leaped from the water directly below me. I called Cindy to come see and then we watched the dolphins surface and dive and spray water out of their blowholes for about 10 minutes. They slowly swam out of the harbor and back to deeper water. I hope they return when Jacob is here so he can see them too.

For dining options, we have been checking out places and we already have some favorites. For the most part, we avoid chain restaurants and try to find more unique, family owned places. They seem to have more character and a more enjoyable setting for spending an evening. For instance, in Cedar Rapids, we go to RG Books almost every Friday night. One of our favorite places.

Last night we found a small mom and pop pizza joint. It was just a fluke, as the place we wanted to go was packed. So we strolled down past a couple of shops and Cindy saw the sign for the pizza place. We went in and there were plenty of seats. The pizza there was fabulous! And it's walking distance from home. We will be back.

The first night we were in Clearwater we went to a place near the St. Pete/Clearwater airport (where Allegiant flies into, non-stop from C.R....hint hint). This place was called Bascom's Chop House. It was very cozy, lots of woodwork, low lighting, soft music, all the things we love for spending an evening and enjoying a great meal.

Before we ate, an older lady came in and sat next to us. She was very dolled up and wearing quite an eye catching outfit. She was probably close to 90 years old and weighed about the same. We struck up a conversation with her and found out her name is Mary Sheldon. During the night, all the waiters, and owners came over to say HI to Mary. She is a regular and quite popular.

We talked to her the whole evening and when she left, she made sure she had our names correctly for when we meet again. During our conversation, one of the things she told us was, (other than Bascom's being her favorite place), that we had to go to an Italian restaurant called Alfano's.

Another thing Mary whispered to Cindy while we were eating was that she still worries about her weight. Before Cindy could ask her what she weighed Mary said she weighed 83 pounds!! She ate her entire steak and baked potato and also a creamed spinach casserole thing beforehand. What a character!

I looked up Alfano's location last week and it is straight across the bridge from our place, very close to us. After our movie on Wednesday we decided to check out Alfano's. Boy was Mary right about this place. Similar atmosphere to Bascom's but different menu. There was a piano in the lounge area and a guy showed up with a cello to accompany the piano player. Very romantic place and made for a nice evening.

When we mentioned Mary Sheldon, the people at Alfano's all knew who Mary was. It was immediate smiles at the mention of her name. The bartender told us that she had made a fortune playing the stock market early on. She was one of the first female stock brokers in this area and worked for many years after retirement age and still keeps up daily with what is going on. I can believe it. Mary is sharp as a tack. Hope we run into her again sometime.

Our regular Friday night place was found last week. It is just north of us on Sand Key. And we can easily walk to/from it. In fact, we walked home last Friday. Well, I walked and Cindy rode in the wheelchair.

It's called Columbia and it's a Spanish restaurant that started in 1905. This is the place where the girl fell from her chair, that I wrote about last update.

There are three or four locations for Columbia, spread around the Tampa Bay area, still in the same family. Columbia is our Southern "RG Books". Just love the atmosphere and it sits next to the water of Clearwater Bay. The waiter told us last week that the home we can see across the bay from Columbia, belongs to Hulk Hogan. He told us that he is a regular around Clearwater Beach so don't be surprised if we run into him.

After we got home last night we heard a bunch of sirens. We could see several fire trucks and they had Gulf Blvd blocked for over an hour. Traffic was really backed up. Glad we got home before that happened. This morning I will stroll down the Blvd to see what the fuss was about last night.

Sunday, January 15, 2012 10:37 AM CST

We went to see the movie Descendants the other day, (good movie by the way). It was the only rainy day since we have been here. By the time we got out of the theater it was sunny and nice again. We went to the 2PM movie thinking it would be less crowded. Plus it was mid-week, everyone is working.

Boy were we mistaken. We got there about 20 minutes before start time and the theater was pretty deserted at that point. We had our pick of seats but we chose the handicap section so Cindy had more room if she had to get up.

We thought the theater would stay deserted but then the crowd came. It was like they unloaded a bus all at once. We were the youngest people in that whole place, by at least 10 years...at least! Every single seat was taken by the time they brought down the lights. The saving grace about movies with older people is that they stay seated, so less disruptions.

So now we have had our first taste of the Florida retirement community. It's here and alive and well.

Maybe another sign of the over-flowing retirement population in Florida, is the lack of open handicap parking spots. This is frustrating, as I end up leaving Cindy standing at the curb while I travel to the far end of the lot to park. Then repeat when we leave a business, as I run across the lot to our vehicle, hoping Cindy will be okay by the time I get back to her.

The other complication is if we are going to use the wheelchair or her scooter. I end up either blocking the street unloading or I have to wheel it clear across the parking lot while cars zoom around us. Very frustrating and stressful!

Often I see no sign of a handicap license on vehicles taking up spaces. This is rare in Iowa but common here. I don't know what handicapped people do who don't have a caregiver with them like Cindy does.

There are a lot of celebrities in this area because the headquarters for the Church of Scientology is right downtown in Clearwater. You should see theIr main building!

Kirstie Alley owns a home just north of the downtown, along the water. And John Travolta and Tom Cruise are in town often as well.

John Travolta owns a home north of Orlando and we saw it from the air as we flew home from Orlando a few years ago. His airliner sits right beside the house. I believe it's a 747. Not that we are into seeing famous people, but thought it may be of interest to some.

As for non-famous people, we have been meeting some of those too. For instance, the other night we were at Columbia the Spanish place, and a young couple sat down next to us. I could tell by their accent that they were not Americans but could not hear enough to tell what country.

Later on, all of a sudden the woman somehow fell off her high chair. Man she hit the ground hard. She was very slow getting up, as a few of us rushed over to help her.

After she was reseated, her husband/boyfriend was consoling her and I could tell that she was not so much embarrassed, she was hurt. I walked back over to them and asked if she was okay and if I could drive them somewhere, since it didn't look like she would be able to walk far.

They both said she was OK and that they were staying at the Marriott next door. I wonder if she broke her tailbone or cracked a rib. She was pretty pale and not very focused, while she had been very engaged before the fall.

We talked with them a bit before they left and they told us they were from Ireland. By that time it was obvious and I had already asked them if that was where they were from. They didn't stay long after we talked.

I was walking on the beach this morning and the surf was rougher than usual. Three and four foot swells. Usually the surf just barely laps up to the beach.

That calm water is one of the reasons we like the Gulf instead of the Oceanside. The Gulf water is usually much calmer, warmer, relaxing. Instead of the constant CRASHING, and POUNDING of the ocean...that just wears us out after an hour of being near it. At least that is our take.

Others love the ocean. To each their own. At this point in our lives we are looking for serenity. We have had enough "noise", we want things to be calm and remain calm for as long as possible.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 6:27 AM CST

The past days have all run together. Always Sunny, highs around 80 degrees, daily swims for Cindy, beach walks for me, reading on the deck, sightseeing. Cindy says it still kind of feels like vacation.

One of the first days of exploring the area led us to St. Petersburg. That is when we took the photo of the St. Pete drawbridge. We wanted to see what the downtown area was like and we had heard a lot about the Pier.

The downtown area would be okay if you were actually staying right downtown and could walk it. Much further away from downtown and you want your car doors locked.

The famous St. Petersburg Pier was shall I say, over-rated. Lots of homeless people around, I encountered two of them in the bathroom and the stench in close quarters was overwhelming. The view from the Pier was awesome but you can get that same view in many other places. The overall feeling was touristy.

Another downtown site that we visited was the Salvador Dali museum. However the lobby was filled with so many people just waiting to buy entrance tickets, that we decided to come back on a non-holiday. We strolled aound the lobby and only bought a guide book. We really want to see this place, so we will go back.

A few days ago we explored northern Pinellas County, the towns of Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs. We had lunch on the deck of a seaside resort near Honeymoon Key. We have now explored the entire peninsula called Pinellas County. What it showed us is that we picked the right location (for us) in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

For trivial pursuits, there are now two Cormorants floating in the water below our deck everyday. After they finish diving for food they hop up on a boat or dock post and they spread their wings to dry them in the sun. They will stand like that, with their wings fully stretched out, for sometimes an hour. The weirdest thing. Looks like they are doing a yoga pose.

I guess after the year that Cindy and I have just gone through, it's time for us to decompress. It feels good. Although, it is still difficult for me to let my guard down completely. After more than 10 years, it's become a way of life for me to go from one real crisis to the next.

Cindy, on the other hand, seems to roll with the punches. She is such an inspiring influence to everyone who knows her. She is finally rubbing off on me. Cindy has shown me by example, how to let things go and not worry about things to come. I now often find myself stopping a harmful thought process before it takes root. For the most part, I no longer dwell on what has not happened yet. This winter in Florida may be just what the doctor ordered.

This morning (it's not light yet) it is raining. The first rain since we have been here. I can see the lightning offshore striking the Gulf waters. Quite a show! The radar looks like it may last awhile. No matter, we have plans to see a movie this afternoon...The Descendants.

We also have daily exercise contingency plans in case of inclement weather. Cindy rides the Airdyne in the workout room downstairs. And I walk the entire building...back and forth lap on all 17 floors, going downstairs, then repeat while coming back upstairs. Takes about an hour.

We also have a daily ritual. Just before the sun sets into the Gulf, Cindy and I go out on the deck and watch until the sun is completely swallowed up by the water.

We started doing the same thing at sunrise but then we realized that the sunrise looks the same here, coming up over land, as it does in Iowa. No big deal. But the sunset is spectacular! Cindy is just thrilled that we can see both from our deck.

Have a great day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012 9:13 AM CST

The Clearwater 2012 photo album is up. We will continue to add photos to it this winter.

Just click on the link above "...100 photos...".

Cindy and I were sitting on the deck the other day. I was reading a blog on the iPad about some Iowans who now live on their large boat (trawler) and do the Great Loop every year.

They cruise down the Mississippi River to the Gulf, then along the Florida coast and winter in Key West (our favorite place). Then in the spring they boat up the Atlantic coast, Hudson River, across the Great Lakes and down the Chicago River to the Mississippi River again. That is called the doing Great Loop. Hank and Ann have done it three times. And our neighbors across the street from us in Guttenberg just bought a big trawler and they too will be doing the Great Loop.

How could we not be interested in that blog!! They boat on the Mississippi River, they love Key West in the winter and they are from Iowa! Very interesting read to me.

Anyway, I was reading their blog on the deck and Hank had written about seeing Cormorants diving for fish alongside their boat and how fun to watch them.

I had never heard of a Cormorant. I asked Cindy and she had never heard of a Cormorant either. We had no idea what type of animal it was so I made a mental note to look it up later.

At this same time, Cindy is sitting beside me watching this "black duck" in the water right below our deck. She told me I had to see this...so I stopped reading and we were enthralled with this black duck. He sometimes would be underwater for almost a minute. We were so high above him we could see him underwater swimming like a sea otter. We had never seen anything like this.

I finally looked up what kind of "black duck" he was. You probably already guessed since I have pictures posted in the album.....it was a Cormorant. We had a good laugh over that coincidence.

Doesn't take much to amuse us down here in Clearwater.

This morning I was walking along the beach and I found a perfect little Conch shell for Cindy. I swirled it in the water to clean off the sand and proceeded with the rest of my walk.

When I got home and presented my gift to Cindy, there was a live conch poking out of the shell. So we put the shell in some water in the kitchen sink. The pictures posted, show the conch shell and then another shot with the conch poking all the way out of the shell.

The weather has been perfect since we have been here. There were a couple cool days at first but nothing that required sweatshirts or long pants. We are both taking a stand against wearing long pants the entire winter. I only brought one pair anyway. I don't know if Cindy brought any long pants.

It has not rained once. Keep it up!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 4:51 AM CST

UPDATE: The Clearwater 2012 photo album is up. We will continue to add photos to it this winter. Just click on "...100 photos..." above.

We have been in Clearwater for four days. It seems like home now. Cindy is doing fine and she survived the drive to Florida with little to no pain. Only the first night of the drive was a problem for her. After that, smooth sailing.

The day we arrived, the weather was 80 degrees and sunny. Gorgeous! We drove to the condo after breakfast and the guard at the entrance had our names, gave us our vehicle pass and opened the gate to let us drive through. We met our friend Bob in the lobby.

Bob is the President of the condo association and also in charge of building issues, so I have been in contact with him all year...frequently. You know how detailed I am, so you can imagine my questions throughout this year?

Bob was an original owner when the building was constructed and has an 8th floor condo and also a Penthouse condo on the top floor which is the 17th floor.

He rode up the elevator with us to the 15th floor and everything looked familiar. Our front door, #1503, is about 20 feet from the elevator, convenient for Cindy. I was a little apprehensive before Bob let us in our condo. We had a picture in our heads from a brief visit a year ago. But I had grown unsure if it was as nice as I remembered, or was that all wishful thinking.

Bob unlocked the door to let us in. He pushed the door wide open and stepped aside so we could see inside and said, "remember this?".

Oh my! The light was dazzling. I did not remember how much light came into the entire condo. You walk in the front door to a large open space that contains the living room and dining room.

The kitchen is to the right and the master bedroom/bath is to the left. Past the kitchen is a small hallway leading to the main bath and the guest bedroom.

The place is decorated in a beach cottage style, with light colors...oyster white, seafoam and coral.

After Bob showed us around and then left us alone, we immediately opened all the windows and the door to the deck. The outside deck is right off the main living area, looking south. The view is amazing.

I am currently trying to add another photo album on this website. Near the top of this page, where it says "Click here to see more than 100 photos from Cindy's life"....that is where the new album will be.

The new photo album will be labeled Clearwater 2012. Hope to have it going today or tomorrow, so check back. I had to contact the admin, it's been awhile since I logged onto the FotoTime site and I forgot how to add an album.

Before I forget to tell you, our new mailing address is:
Tom & Cindy Lynch
1621 Gulf Blvd #1503
Clearwater, FL 33767

If you are unfamiliar with the Tampa Bay area, it primarily consists of the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater. There are some smaller cities mixed in as well, Largo, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Bellaire, etc. But Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater are the three main and largest cities.

The county to the west of the actual Tampa Bay water, is Pinellas County and Clearwater is the county seat (even though St. Pete to our south is four times as large as Clearwater). Clearwater is about the size of Cedar Rapids. Pinellas County contains Dunedin, Clearwater, St. Pete, Largo and Bellaire.

The city of Tampa sits on the east side of the Tampa Bay and I don't think we will venture over that way much. It all just repeats itself, so I think we can find enough to do and see on this side of the Bay. The entire Tampa Bay area has a population of 4 million people.

Now if your head isn't swimming with all those details (see what I mean), then on to the next tidbit.....About a mile off the coast of Clearwater and St. Pete is a narrow strip of barrier islands. These islands stretch about 30 miles, from the northern edge of Clearwater to the southern tip of St. Petersburg.

The northern most island is Clearwater Beach, then you cross a bridge to Sand Key. Then the island municipalities keep changing as you drive south...Bellaire Beach, Indian Rocks, Treasure Island, etc., until you get to the southern most island called St. Pete Beach. The islands (or Keys, officially) are very narrow, about one street wide. The main street running the entire length is Gulf Blvd.

We are living on one of those keys along Gulf Blvd. Sand Key to be exact. Sand Key and Clearwater Beach are actually a part of the city of Clearwater, even though we are across the intercoastal waterway. That is why we always say we are living in Clearwater. Got it? Okay.

The first two days we were very busy unloading, unpacking, organizing and getting comfortable. The next two days the weather turned a little cooler so we did some exploring.

We already are familiar with the area we call "our town" and know where to go for shopping, groceries, etc. It's very easy to get around here. And we pretty much confine ourselves to western Clearwater and a part of Largo. The things we need are all very close the bridge to Sand Key.

On to the exciting part, which occurred yesterday while Cindy was sitting outside on the deck. She was getting up from her chair and she stumbled and dropped one of her crutches. As luck would have it, the crutch slipped perfectly between the vertical bars of the deck railing and fell to the ground.

Now mind you, we are 150 FEET off the ground! And, we are right over the main entrance. I heard Cindy yell as she leaned over the railing and watched the crutch silently somersault and tumble on the way down. It struck the pavement of the front entrance driveway and bounced into the flower garden beside the driveway awning.

I couldn't get down that elevator fast enough! I ran outside and looked around, but nobody was in sight. I picked up the crutch which was pretty shot by now and walked back to the elevator.

A woman held the door for me and she noticed the destroyed crutch. She asked me if someone needed crutches. I told her my wife does but this one will not do. The woman said, "well, you come with me, my husband has been on crutches for 60 years and he has plenty of them". I said, no that is okay, I don't want to impose on you.

She literally dragged me to her 5th floor unit and her husband was there in his scooter. They insisted that I take a pair of crutches because he doesn't use them anymore since the scooter is his primary mode of getting around.

I went back up to our place, carrying 3 crutches and Cindy was still holding her hands over her mouth in shock. I showed her the shiny new crutches and she was all better.

We actually brought 3 other sets of crutches with us but the one she dropped is an underarm crutch, which Cindy uses inside the house. Cindy uses forearm crutches when we are away from home. Luckily she didn't drop one of those because they are very expensive, custom-made, titanium crutches.

Yesterday morning we watched the sunrise from our bedroom window. And last night, from our deck, we watched a PERFECT sunset into the Gulf water.

So that is a little taste of our life in Clearwater, Florida.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 4:36 AM CST

View continuing trip UPDATES at bottom of page

We have been on the way to Florida for a couple of days now. So far, it's been smooth sailing. Sunny days and warm temps for this time of year. Monday we passed Newt Gingrich and his entourage heading to Iowa. That is the only "excitement" so far.

Cindy has been doing pretty well pain-wise. She was having some pain after the first day on the road but it settled down soon after we got to the hotel. The backseat is very comfortable for her. I have it set up with lots of pillows and padding and blankets. It looks like a large bed back there, so Cindy is able to stretch out and stay very comfortable. We have figured out that sitting for long periods is what causes the pain.

We have a DVD player in our truck, with wireless headset, so Cindy is able to watch Netflix shows and movies in the backseat, while I can still listen to the radio up front.

Leaving a day early allows us to be on the road only about 3 hours a day. When we got to Indianapolis yesterday, Cindy swam in the hotel pool for an hour. I think all these things are contributing to Cindy's mostly pain free trip....so far.

I awoke this morning around 2AM to find it raining outside. An hour later it was snowing huge flakes. I hope the roads stay clear. After today, the weather should be fine the rest of the way and progressively warmer as we move south.

We will be in Lexington, Kentucky this afternoon. We are meeting Cindy's good friend, Lisa (Mahood) Burgess, for lunch. It will be great to see Lisa.


We are in Corbin, Kentucky. Beautiful landscape! Sort of like Guttenberg only more. I wish the leaves were out so we could really appreciate the beauty of it.

We will be in Dalton, Georgia this afternoon and evening. Finally feel like we are getting there.

Tuesday sucked!! The weather was horrible all day, started with rain at 2AM and then turned to snow in Indianapolis. Got about an inch or so by the time we left the hotel.

Rain/snow till we got almost to Cincinnati and then hard rain all the way to Corbin. I mean very foggy, drenching, sideways-blowing rain. It was stressful driving thru it.

When we got to Lexington at noon, the 4-wheel drive would not disengage. I called Larry Johnson, since he has always had Ford trucks and thinking he had a quick solution. Larry said it happened to him too and he had to take it to a dealer to fix.

I let it sit while we had a two hour lunch with Lisa and her son Bobby. Which was a very nice visit.

Thanks for buying lunch Lisa, Much appreciated!

We ate in Lexington at a place called Malones. It is a very cool place. We would like to go back sometime. Saw autographs of many famous people who have been there.

When we got back in the truck and started it, the 4WD was magically disengaged. Whew!! I won't be using that again till we get home.

Since things were good with the truck, we decided not to stay in Lexington and drove another 100 miles to Corbin. I had reserved rooms in both Lexington and Corbin, just in case Cindy was not tolerating the drive.

I wanted to drive as far south as possible to escape the weather. Didn't work. Still crappy out now, but not raining. Just 29 degrees and blustery and everything wet. It should get better today as we drive to Georgia.

Cindy is doing very well with the drive, sleeping like a baby at night...although I'm awake at 1:00 or 2:00 every morning, dammit! Once we get there I'm guessing my sleep will improve. Apparently, very stressful carting my girl across the country.

I went to get gas a few minutes ago and it was a startling realization how far south I am, when I heard the thick southern accents. I was called "Darlin" three times in the few minutes I was there.

And yes, it was a female who called me "Darlin".


The hotel we stayed at Tuesday night was in Corbin, Kentucky, in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

When we left yesterday morning, we drove by the original location for Kentucky Fried Chicken in downtown Corbin. Cindy said we are drive-by sightseers. We also drove-by sightseed the Cumberland Gap and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is just beautiful but I wish we could see it again with the leaves still on the trees.

Much to the annoyance of Rocky Mountain fans we know, I have always thought the Smoky Mountains area is much more appealing. It reminds me of Guttenberg and the Upper Mississippi River Valley. An area I am pretty partial to.

The closer to Tennessee we got, the prettier it got. I frequently tell Cindy that if we ever lived somewhere besides Iowa, my choice would be in eastern Tennessee. Cindy knows why now.

One thing I have noticed while driving through Kentucky and Tennessee, is that dead coyotes along the roadside are as common as dead raccoons on the roads in Iowa. Saw dozens of them. We need more of that near Guttenberg as the coyotes there are starting to be very common.

Last night we stayed in Dalton, Georgia, in the Chattahoochee National Forest. It's beautiful here too. Everything is so green here and Cindy noticed little violas growing. The temps are warmer but still not "Florida warm".

We arrived and I saw that the hotel next door to the one we had reserved, had decks on some of the rooms. I immediately inquired at this hotel to see if we could get a south-facing room with a deck. We got it and it was $20 cheaper than the original hotel. Sweet!

We checked in and before I had carried everything from the car, Cindy was on the deck in the sun with a big smile on her face. We are getting so close.

Last night we looked at our travel plans again and changed our strategy. We now have a plan to be in Clearwater on Friday early afternoon, instead of Saturday.

Today we will drive to Valdosta, Georgia, passing through Atlanta on the way. And then Friday we will be "home" for the winter. Can't wait!


Thursday was a good day on the road. We drove almost the entire length of Georgia, from Dalton to Valdosta.

We passed through Atlanta, which I kind of dreaded beforehand but it turned out uneventful. There are about 8 lanes of traffic through Atlanta so it's no big deal. It was before noon so that helped too. I wouldn't want to drive through at rush hour.

We now only have about three hours to drive and we will be in Clearwater at noon today.

The next report will be written on the deck of our winter home.



The last hour was spent in stop-n-go traffic...mostly stop. There was an accident about 10 miles outside Tampa and the traffic was backed up for MILES. As far as you could see in either direction, both lanes, nothing but stopped vehicles.

Then we got through that and were making good time until downtown Tampa. Then stopped again for about 20 minutes. Another accident.

Finally got through it and on the bridge over Tampa Bay. Five lanes of wide open sailing as we drove across the long bridge.

It's 79 degrees and sunny right now. We had to dig through some luggage right away to find shorts and short sleeve shirts. Plus, it's Friday night, Cindy and my special night, going on 38 years.


Sunday, December 18, 2011 4:46 PM CST

We are pleasantly surprised that this December has turned out to be one of the mildest in memory. And this coming week, the daylight hours will start getting longer...always a positive sign. Cindy has been able to get out of the house regularly with no worries of ice and snow. However, not all worries can be alleviated.

One day this week, Nikki took Cindy shopping to finish the last of the gift buying. It was raining and Nikki was VERY worried about Cindy falling on the wet pavement or slick, wet tiles inside the stores. She followed Cindy around like a shadow. Cindy told me that it was like shopping with me, (mother hen) so she decided to just come home.

When Nikki and Cindy came in the door, they were laughing at how the shopping was a bust. Nikki said, "I am not going to be the one "on watch" and have Cindy fall and get hurt just days before you head to Florida!!" Cindy was fake annoyed and I just said to Nikki, "Good Job!"

We have been busy seeing friends before we leave. Last week we had a dinner date every night. This week we have three days of appointments to finish up and then it will be Christmas weekend.

The weather forecast continues to look good but I am hearing whispers of a huge storm developing south of Texas. We'll see what happens. One way or another, we are on our way to Florida after Christmas day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011 10:51 AM CST

Cindy saw Dr. Ghosh on Friday. He is her Oncologist (cancer dr). We talked about the pain in her leg and he suggested another medication. The list of her meds just keeps growing. But if it helps, what the hey.

We had a nice visit. Dr. Ghosh asked all about our plans for Florida this winter. A little later, Dr. Ghosh looked at me and said, "So Tom...Florida in the winter....are you less stressed now?" I told him, "No...we aren't there yet." He just laughed.

Dr. Ghosh is funny, he's always asking about my retirement. When I "retired" the first time in 2005 to take care of Cindy, he was very curious about it. I was only 51 and he was talking about how he also wanted to retire soon (we are about the same age). He said at the time, "So, Tom, how much money do I need to retire?" That cracked me up.

This morning there was an eclipse of the moon. It was beautiful, clear sky, full moon, something to see. So Aaron, Cindy and I grabbed a cup of coffee, Cindy in her pajamas and off we went to the country for a clear view. We watched for about a half hour, until the moon dropped below the horizon. By that time the sun was coming up behind us. Little moments. Don't let them pass by.

Sunday, December 4, 2011 4:58 AM CST

Cindy saw her Neurologist, Dr. Struthers, last week. The doctor's first words were, that he was VERY surprised that he hadn't heard from us since the hospital stay....he said, "you were so bad in the hospital, I was pretty sure that I'd hear from you". I think he actually said he was 'shocked' that he hadn't heard from us.

Cindy told him that she didn't remember much of the hospital stay. And he said, that was understandable since Cindy was so drugged up and having such frequent seizures.

So, no changes in meds....mostly since we're going to be gone for over 3 months and he didn't want to upset anything.

Dr. Struthers was intrigued about the head trauma preceding both (March & October) seizure events. He said those injuries could very well have something to do with it.

He also asked about flying and we told him we were driving to Florida. He said it was very hard to tell and that someone with a brain trauma is always susceptible to seizure for no apparent reason. We told Struthers that next year we had a flight planned, thinking that we would be more comfortable by then. He thought that was fine, and said "you have to live your life".

There were no answers from Dr. Struthers, regarding Cindy's leg pain. It continues to be a big problem.

Friday night Cindy slept maybe one hour. She was on the couch when I got up at 4 AM and I had her go back to bed. But she didn't sleep and was back up at 5:00.

Cindy's internist, Dr. Pope, thinks that the extra seizure medications are causing the pain meds to be metabolized faster through her liver. That would explain why the pain meds don't seem to be working.

Not sure what we do about that. This pain is becoming very disruptive to Cindy's quality of life. We will continue to pursue some remedy.

Christmas is coming fast.

Sunday, November 27, 2011 4:18 PM CST

Thanksgiving week went off without a hitch.

Well, one small hitch. Cindy had a doctor appointment last week and I wrote on the last update, that we were not expecting any surprises. But there was a fairly large skin cancer on her leg that had to come off. After removing the spot, it would not stop bleeding. Kind of a tense hour but got it under control finally.

We spent the weekend at the cabin. Very gloomy. Lots of rain, cold, wind, just blah weather.

Cindy is still having a tough time with leg pain. Today the ride home from Guttenberg was particularly hard on her. She was in so much pain, she hardly spoke the whole way. She just focused on the pain and tried to picture herself at home.

I wish there was something I could do for her. It's very tough to watch.

As far as the seizures...One revelation came to both of us as we drove by the cabin of a friend of ours this weekend. We had been at this cabin just a day or so before Cindy started having the seizures in October.

While we were there the last time, Cindy banged her head really hard on some cupboards in their bathroom. We both had completely forgotten. The area of her head where she hit, was on the rim of where a section of her skull was removed. Cindy told me at the time that her head really hurt.

The first time Cindy had seizures was last March. The night before we had banged our heads together getting into bed. The next morning at 4 AM Cindy had her first seizure.

So now, besides the plane rides preceding the seizures, we have head injuries to add to the mix of clues as to what is causing these seizures. I'm thinking that the head injuries are a bigger clue.

For Christmas, I added a helmet to Cindy's Wish List.

Cindy has her appointment with the Neurologist on Wednesday of this week. We will relate the head injury information and see what he has to say. As well as discuss the pain management for her leg.

Monday, November 21, 2011 7:11 AM CST

Thanksgiving week. Our favorite holiday.

We will be going to Michael and Nikki's for dinner that day. Nikki loves to do the cooking and she does a fantastic job.

Our son Michael's birthday is November 25th and he has always celebrated by taking off work the entire week of Thanksgiving. He calls it "The Week of Michael". Funny.

Cindy has a doctor appointment this afternoon. A follow up from last month's appointment. Not expecting any surprises.

We are gradually putting things together for our winter in Florida. We have quite a pile started. I am getting a new topper installed this week on the truck, so that means we will have lots of room for "stuff".

I'm thinking it will take me the first week to unload the truck once we are there. Cindy gets out of all this loading/unloading and hauling....cheater! I told her she is carrying this handicapped thing too far.

Of course, I'm kidding. I think everyone knows how I feel about Cindy.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011 3:30 AM CST

Cindy is doing pretty well, other than the leg pain that flares unexpectedly. We thought the pain was behind us this last week but then Friday it came back with a vengeance. She was up all night.

She slept ok Saturday night but it was mostly from exhaustion I think. Sunday night the pain returned.

Other signs point to things getting much better. For instance, last week Cindy graduated back to the regular shower in our master bathroom. She has been using a handicap shower seat in the bathtub of the guest bathroom, due to her lack of balance. But Wednesday she tried standing in our shower and it went just fine.

Cindy is also back to riding her Airdyne bicycle twice a day. This is the easiest and safest method for her to get her exercise. When we get to Florida, Cindy will be able to swim everyday, which she is really looking forward to.

We went out to eat at Winifreds with some close friends on Friday night. This was an annual wedding anniversary dinner for the Spencers, that we missed in October. Cindy was still in the hospital at that time.

This year was the first time we have missed that dinner celebration in 26 years. At least we made it, even if it was a month late and a do-over for the Spencers.

We even made it the year Cindy was receiving chemo. On the way home from that dinner, Cindy was losing hair by the minute and we shaved her head when we got home.

Another year, Cindy had just had three brain surgeries in the weeks prior to the annual dinner. We made it that year too, although Cindy was so weak, that she had to be wheeled in her wheelchair everywhere she went. She was unable to walk and was hardly able to talk. Cindy had insisted that we go.

As I look back, reflecting on what Cindy has been through, it continues to amaze even me.

Given all this reflection over that past few weeks, due to LOTS of time waiting for Cindy to recover...I have decided to take her on one of our dream trips this year. This summer, we are going on an Alaska cruise. We will be gone 10 days including a short trip to the Chicago downtown area. Then a first class flight to Anchorage, Alaska to meet our ship. We fly home from Vancouver, Canada at the end of the cruise.

No more waiting to do things. That's how we roll.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 8:49 PM CDT

Good Day! This is Cindy. Since I’ve been home over 3 weeks, I guess it is time that I give an update, instead of Tom. Tom has taken very good care of me and I feel so lucky to have him.

Tom has been such a huge presence for most of my life and he has never failed me. This has been so difficult for him.....I often say that I feel like my illness is easier on me than it is on him. I was conscious enough to still see his face when I first started having the seizures, and it broke my heart....he was devastated, thinking the worst (so was I, actually). Tom has never left me alone in a hospital and this time was no exception. I am so glad that he was retired and that his work stress wasn’t added to my health crisis.

Tom seems to be doing well through all of this. Sleep is sometimes a problem for him (as it has been for a long time). But, his heart problem seems to have stabilized and that is very important. He always says he needs to take care of himself so that he can take care of me. I will do my best to take care of him now that I’m feeling better. We make a pretty good team!

My boys and my girl (so lucky to have such a great daughter added to our family) have taken very good care of us as well. Any help we need, they are there. Nikki made us several meals and with that we get a bonus visit from our ‘perfect’ grandson, Jacob. He is a definite bright spot! Aaron is such a help around the house, glad that he is so close. And Michael is steady as a rock, such a calming influence for all of us.

I am feeling better and stronger each day. My hair color is slowly returning to ‘normal’ and after my haircut this week it should really be better. The pain in my ‘little leg’ is pretty much under control. I think I’ve broken the cycle and that has helped my sleep. Good sleep makes everything seem brighter.

And, the weather has also helped (that is until today). It has been a lovely Fall and I’m so glad we stayed in Guttenberg that first week of October! It really was our final hurrah! Now it seems that the beautiful weather is at an end and the rainy, dreary days are upon us. At least for a few days.

I’ve been getting out some and it does help to keep busy. I’m going to a watercolor paint class on Wednesday mornings and after our session today I met a very dear friend for lunch. It was so nice to catch up with Cindy Garwood and to laugh together about all the things we have in common!

Tom and I are very excited about going to Clearwater, FL in late December. We will miss the kids and grandkids, but not the snowy, icy Iowa weather. Aaron will come down in early March and Michael, Nikki and Jacob will come for Spring break. We have a few other guests who plan to come see us as well.

Since we are now driving, it will be nice to have the truck and Tom is getting everything prepared so that it will be both roomy and comfortable to drive that very long drive. The good part is that we really will have plenty of time and room in the truck to take things we may or may not need. It will also be nice to have our own vehicle once there. Can’t wait for my daily swim in our pool!

Thanks to all who have called, emailed, sent cards or just sent positive thoughts our way. It is all much appreciated and touches me very much. Take some time today to be good to yourselves!


Monday, October 31, 2011 10:46 AM CDT

A good weekend. Cindy is feeling better each day. The pain is still bothering her but not "climb the walls" pain so much now. It's a more manageable pain.

With the pain reduced in intensity, she has been able to sleep during the night and consequently, I have been able to sleep too.

We went to Guttenberg Friday morning and went out to eat that night at Bill's Steak House in Clayton, just a few miles north of our island. Our neighbors happened to stop in and they ate with us. Cindy does much better with more activity and so Friday was a good day and night for that.

On Saturday morning we finished all our winterizing of the cabin and headed back home. We were going to stay home in C.R. and cook the steaks we had left from the cabin freezer...but apparently defrosting them on the dashboard on the drive home to Cedar Rapids, doesn't work that well. The steaks were still hard as a rock.

So we went out again on Saturday night and had a nice time. Being ignorant of Halloween festivities, we (I) didn't count on all the Halloween revelers also being out that night. Every place was packed! Lots of interesting costumes. We were dressed as party poopers.

This week Cindy has activities for most days so she will keep occupied and that will help keep the pain at bay.

I am busy planning our next adventure. I don't remember if I mentioned in previous posts, that we are spending the winter in Florida. This plan was almost derailed by Cindy's recent "trouble", but Cindy insisted that WE ARE STILL GOING!!

The compromise is that we are driving instead of flying. I have come to the conclusion that flying may have contributed to her seizure and leg pain issue. Both times that this has happened, we were just on a plane. The doctors agreed that pressurization of the plane and altitude changes could cause tiny blood vessel changes in Cindy's brain near the tumor site.

Since we are driving, this raises another issue that Cindy has. A long ride also causes leg pain....sheesh!! So we will take several days getting to Florida to lessen the impact.

The airline tickets were purchased months ago but Aaron will be able to use them to come see us this winter.

We will be living in Clearwater Beach, part of the Tampa Bay area. We leave for Florida a few days after Christmas. It is nice for Cindy to have something to look forward to. If you are in the area, give us a call.

Thursday, October 27, 2011 7:28 AM CDT

Cindy is very grateful for all the cards and emails. Some very nice things were written and it did her good to have that encouragement and reassurance. Thank you.

Although things are improving, Cindy did not sleep at all last night. When I woke up at 4 AM, she was in the living room reading. I hope that she can sleep today sometime. Lack of sleep is a trigger for seizures, so we want to avoid that.

The issue now is mostly pain. I have not seen any evidence of seizures and Cindy's motor skills are getting better each day.

We went out for dinner last night with some very good friends. Activities like that are what Cindy needs to keep her stimulated and moving forward. We were able to forget all our concerns for a time and just enjoy ourselves. Laughing is great medicine.

I bought Cindy a new wheelchair yesterday. Being a technical person, I thought it was very cool with all the incremental changes from her old chair. One new thing is that the wheels pop off with a push of a button for easy storage. Cindy thought it was black, like her old chair. She's not as easily impressed.

This weekend we will head up to the cabin for one last time before winter sets in. I have lots to do getting all the outside stuff put away and winterized.

Keep the best wishes coming. Cindy loves receiving them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011 3:35 AM CDT

Cindy continues to improve each day. There is still some leg pain that she is dealing with.

The pain seems to be at it's worst just before bedtime, which raises the anxiety level and most likely contributes to more pain. A vicious cycle. However, overall she is sleeping much better.

Friday night I took Cindy to our favorite place for dinner. This was our first social outing since October 8th. She did pretty well but it wore her out completely. When we got home she immediately went to bed.

Our life is steadily returning to normal. Cindy is amazing in how she snaps back from these health crises and again becomes that positive beacon that we all have come to rely on.

Cindy would welcome phone calls and emails now. The more normalcy the better.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 8:53 AM CDT

MUCH BETTER!! Cindy is getting back to her normal self.

Although, last night she was awake from midnight to 4:00 AM. When I got up around 3:30, she was sitting in a chair in the kitchen. Cindy said, she wasn't having too much pain but her mind was racing with all these thoughts.

I told her that was good, her mind is occupied with life stuff, not pain and seizures. I suggested that she return to bed to try to sleep now and she did...she slept till 8:30.

This morning she is doing normal around the house stuff. I love having my Cindy back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 7:05 AM CDT

The nights are the worst. Cindy's leg pain gets completely out of control just about the time we would like to go to bed. Last night Cindy was still up after midnight, constantly wiggling her leg and trying to get things under control.

She is asleep now but I don't know how much she slept through the "night".

During the day the pain subsides to a manageable level and Cindy is able to focus on other things.

Yesterday, one of those things was to put color in her hair. She could not find her usual color product so she used a new product. You are probably way ahead of my story.... Cindy's hair came out black. I don't mean a little dark, I mean coal black! We both had to laugh and this was the bright spot of the day for us.

I was kidding her and even our son Michael called her Elvira. After I did some web research we tried several concoctions. Shampooing with Dawn soap; shampooing with a mixture of honey and Selsun Blue, after letting it sit a half hour; multiple shampooing, etc.

Finally I found a product at the drug store that was hailed on the internet. It's called Hair OOPS. That did the trick. The product had to sit in her hair for 20 minutes then she had to sit under the shower spray for 20 minutes, to rinse it out. The black color is gone.

Today I am going to take her to her Art class. This is something she looks forward to and she has not been to class for almost a month.

The seizures have not reappeared. I keep reassuring Cindy that things are getting better. We have lots of normal moments now. If we could just get this damn pain under control.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 3:47 AM CDT

I'm sitting here unsure of what I should type for an update. Normally the words just flow through my fingertips. Now I'm just staring at the computer.

Cindy is not having a good time. That is about as cheery as I can come up with. She was staying awake longer each day which is an improvement but now the pain in her leg is becoming unbearable.

Cindy has been up most of the night, sitting in a chair. I didn't hear her get up but I had a nightmare about her falling (a frequent nightmare for me) and it sat me straight up in bed. That is when I noticed she was not in bed with me. I came out of the bedroom and found her in a chair trying to calm her leg pain. She looked so exhausted.

I insisted that she return to bed and try to sleep. She was worried about me now being up but I assured her that 3:30 AM was my usual wake up time when I was still working so I would be fine.

Yesterday Jacob was here for most of the morning. That kept Cindy in good spirits...the best she has been since coming home. But she finally wore down and by Noon she had to lie down for a nap. You could hear it in her voice, she was quieter and quieter like a clock running down.

I wish I could report that Cindy is feeling better but I can't. It now seems like a race to get her spirits lifted before this pain and exhaustion overwhelms her. It's heartbreaking.

Sunday, October 16, 2011 8:34 AM CDT

I am hesitant to post an update but I know that many are concerned about how Cindy is doing now that she is home.

I didn't notice any seizures on Saturday but Cindy was hardly awake all day. She is having difficulty staying awake. I have encouraged her to walk around the house to keep awake and to get her strength and mobility back. But she was only awake for a handful of hours yesterday.

Cindy can now get up and around on her own which is a huge relief. However, Cindy is emotionally really struggling. This has been a terrible blow to her spirits and her usual positive nature. I didn't even want to update until she feels more like herself.

So if the updates are a little slower over the next days, it's just because I don't want to publicly dwell on her emotional struggle. But believe me, I am working hard to help her get through this rough patch.

I will update immediately if things turn worse or if things improve significantly.

Friday, October 14, 2011 5:27 AM CDT

Read the Journal History from Monday to catch up with what is going on with Cindy.

Cindy is doing better. I think I can now safely say that and not jinx anything. The seizures have definitely decreased in number and intensity.

In fact, yesterday afternoon, it struck me that what I was now seeing resembled more of a drug overdose than a seizure. She certainly has near toxic levels of several drugs in her system, as they try to combat this crisis.

I have seen Cindy when her Methodone level gets out of whack and it was very similar to what I saw yesterday afternoon.

So after that revelation, I started watching her more closely (Cindy will tell you that I could not possibly watch her more closely).

To summarize up to this point...Cindy had two very minor seizures yesterday morning and lots of activity keeping her up and busy. We walked every hour and as I wrote yesterday, there were all kinds of people coming in the room. At noon she was so exhausted she couldn't hold her head up or keep her eyes open. So right after lunch I had her lie down and rest.

Cindy slept for almost two hours and then I forced her awake. It was hard getting her up but we have to get this stuff out of her system and get her mobility back up to snuff.

After she was up, she had what I thought were a different type of seizure, every hour. While we were on a walk she had one and then it hit me. I've seen this before...when she gets too much Methodone in her system!

I couldn't wait till the Neurologist came in the room to see us. When he arrived around 5:00, I immediately put it to him and he quickly agreed that the other meds were probably increasing the effects of the Methodone. He said, the seizure meds also would have that effect at near toxic levels. I told him that Cindy had a dose of Methodone at noon and she was zonked out shortly after that.

Last evening we had supper, provided by our lovely daughter Nikki. Thank you Nikki we love you and appreciate all the support. We also love that you and Michael bring Jacob up with you...it brightens our day to see him, and he's such a great hugger.

After supper Cindy started struggling to stay awake. I mean really struggling, her head was rolling all over the place. I kept kidding her to keep her awake but all she could do was smile and say she was trying to stay awake. Poor girl, it was pitiful.

The nurse came in and said they noticed on camera that she looked very tired in her chair and maybe she would be more comfortable in bed? So that clinched it. They gave her her medication for the night and she was OUT by 8:00 last night.

During the night, I had fallen asleep and was startled awake at 3AM when I felt the bedside commode bump between her bed and my couch. Cindy had gotten up and on the commode by herself! That is the first time she has gotten up on her own in almost a week. She told me that she didn't want to wake me. Necessity is a great motivator!

So I think at this point, if she looks good this morning, I am going to try to take her home. I can handle everything she needs at home as well as I can here. The nurses have let me tend to all her needs except the drug dispensing.

If Dr. Struthers thinks we have the right drug "cocktail" and if Cindy does not have repeat seizures this morning, I will push for us to go home. Fingers Crossed!! If things turn sour at home I can always bring her back.

UPDATE: Friday 8:30 AM

The Neurologist was just in to see us and he agreed to let Cindy go home this morning. WOO HOO!!

We will now start the usual slow-walk out of the hospital, so it will probably be this afternoon. As any of you know, getting released from a hospital stay is agonizingly sloooow.

I feel comfortable taking her home. As long as the non-stop seizures are not happening we will be fine. Dr. Struthers said that if that happens, to bring her right back.

UPDATE: Friday 2:00 PM

We are home! Cindy is sleeping already and I am about to engage in the longest nap of my life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 5:37 AM CDT

You can read the Journal history from Monday to get caught up with what is going on with Cindy.

Wednesday may turn out to be a turning point. I don't want to get too excited, like I did on Tuesday when she went one lengthy period without seizures, only to be disappointed when they returned.

I have tried very hard to keep my emotions in check in front of Cindy for fear that she will think I lack hope for her recovery from these constant seizures. Instead, I have tried to cheer her on and talk about even the smallest signs that things are getting better.

We've been in tougher spots, when it looked like Cindy would not survive. In those times, Cindy was stronger than all of us. But this time Cindy doesn't fear death, she fears living like this.

Given all that, I AM getting a sense that things are improving.

As I wrote yesterday, Cindy went several lengthy periods without any seizures. The longest being in the afternoon. She slept about three hours in the afternoon so I kind of discounted that time, but when she woke up around 4:00 PM she was fine. Cindy was more animated, we went for a couple walks and she was doing much better mobility-wise. I have a sturdy belt attached around her waist, which I grip with one hand while she walks.

Around 7:00 last night we went for a walk and we were just a few steps out of the room and she sort of zoned out. Not really like the other seizures but she was having a small one. We returned to the room ( I now drag a wheelchair along with my free hand) and we sat for a few minutes. Cindy soon recovered and wanted to go again. We then made an entire loop around the 9th floor. The longest she has walked so far.

When we got back to the room she wanted to watch a movie. We haven't had the TV on as it is too distracting. Cindy was her old self, we laughed and kidded with each other and had a great evening. Three nurses came in and joked around and asked about Cindy's life. They are very taken with her...imagine that. Cindy was pretty much back to her old self. Then at 9:00 the seizures returned.

Over the next hour she had three seizures. That was so disheartening. Then it occurred to me that she didn't get her seizure meds until just before 10:00 last night. I reassured her that the medication had been at a low point and that is what caused these latest seizures. Now that she had her nightly medication, she would be okay.

Cindy did not have any more seizures and she slept through the night.

I really do think today will be much better. I have plans to get her out for a walk every hour.

This morning at 4:00 AM the Blood lab technician returned and she looked very much like the disaster tech from yesterday. I asked her if she was here yesterday and she said, "No, that wasn't me, that tech is no longer on campus....fortunately". She then stuck Cindy once, got what she needed and was gone in less than five minutes.

Oh, I also wrote a letter/email to the Mercy patient advocate office yesterday. It's about the hospital employee who comes in Cindy's room everyday and asks questions about Cindy's progress, stating what Cindy should be trying to do to get better and telling us that insurance may force us out.

This is inappropriate and I am getting it stopped TODAY. Expecting a call from the Advocate office at 8:00 this morning. Yeah, just try and challenge me when I am protecting Cindy....they don't know me very well do they?

I will keep updating as the day goes on.

UPDATE: Thursday 11:00 AM

Cindy has been up since 6:00 this morning. I have been keeping her pretty busy, plus all the doctor and therapist visits.

We have been walking every hour. Cindy is very unsteady and weak in her leg. There is no way she could get up out of a chair or walk, without help.

The seizures are getting more mild and she has only had two this morning. They were an hour apart.

The Neurologist wants to watch her for today to see if we are on track, or if the medication needs to be changed again.

It's a little more sunny today, don't you think?

UPDATE: Thursday 12:30 PM

Ok, since I updated an hour ago, Cindy has had three more seizures. She is obviously tired with all this activity and it's probably causing the increase in seizures.

So she is now napping with a Do Not Disturb sign on the door.

I hope the sleep helps because we were making such good progress up to now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 5:39 AM CDT

If you just came to this posting, you can go back in the Journal history to Monday's post to catch up with what is going on.

Yesterday's euphoria quickly gave way to disappointment. When Cindy woke from her 2 hour nap at 5:00 PM, she promptly had a seizure. She then had seizures every 20 minutes.

The only bright spot was during the supper hour she didn't have any seizures. Something about eating?? When the seizures first stopped yesterday it was as she ate her lunch. I am looking for any clues and that was the one that stood out.

During the night I slept pretty hard for about 5 hours so I don't know if she had any seizures but since I have been awake at 4:00 AM there have not been any...Another clue perhaps? They stop when she sleeps? That wasn't the case the first two nights. So maybe something is happening and we've turned a corner.

This morning started off badly. The lab person came in at 4:00 AM and attempted to draw blood. She did. She drew blood from at least 4 sticks, eventually poking the end of 2 fingers and squeezing them to draw blood. Cindy's fingers were a bloody mess and she had two twisted arm wraps covering the other spots.

After a half hour of this nonsense, as I laid there pretending to be asleep, I finally had enough so I rose up and asked her if she was about done. The tech said she was almost finished and I told her, "you are NOT sticking her again". She left apparently satisfied she had drawn enough blood, or inflicted enough pain on Cindy, whatever.

About a half hour later another tech came in. She said the first tech didn't draw enough blood. Of course she drew my wrath about the first incident before she drew any blood from Cindy. She proved to be very competent...she was probably the boss. She stuck Cindy once and was done. I thanked her and told her I appreciated her competence and nice manner.

We will see how today goes with the seizure activity once Cindy is awake and I will continue to update throughout the day. Keep your fingers crossed. Cindy has her bloody fingers crossed, that's for sure. Oh, yeah, that reminds me, I will have to get some warm water and clean up her fingernails from the mess the Blood lab left, (can you tell I'm still holding a grudge?)

UPDATE: Wednesday 8:00 AM

I woke Cindy up just before sunrise. I wanted her to watch it with me. After she sat up in bed she had a seizure. Damn!

She had not had a seizure since 4:00 AM, I had been watching her closely as she slept.

Cindy was hardly able to take the few steps over to the window but I helped her along and we got there just as the sun broke over the horizon. She was able to stand for just a few minutes, she is very unstable.

The seizures are now coming every 15 minutes.

UPDATE: Wednesday 3:30 PM

Cindy ate breakfast and did not have a seizure for 90 minutes. Then she went a span of 35 minutes to the next seizure. Finally, she went another 90 minutes without a seizure.

During the last 90 minute span, I did her shower, we talked, she was sitting in a chair and then we went for a walk.

It was during the walk that she had her last seizure so far. We were at the farthest distance from the room so I asked a nurse nearby to get us a wheelchair while I held her up. I had a belt around her waist which I had held onto the entire walk.

The seizure she had during the walk was the mildest so far. I then wheeled her back to the room and at that point she was exhausted. She has been asleep ever since. No seizures while she is sleeping. I am going to rouse her now and try to get out walking some more.

She is very weak and struggles to stand on her own or take steps but we will keep working on that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 8:38 AM CDT

You can read the journal history from yesterday to get caught up to date about the current situation. We are still at Mercy hospital.

Cindy is doing about the same this morning. I thought during the night that the seizures had subsided a bit or that she was sleeping through them. However they are still 15 minutes apart.

We both were able to sleep last night from 10:00 until 4:00 this morning, (about our usual wake up time), so I feel much better. Cindy is having lingering effects from the drug they gave her to sleep.

Jacob came to see Grandma last night and we timed his visit so that it was between seizures. It worked out well and I think when Cindy is ready to see friends that we can do something similar. She is just not ready to see people right now.

We are both coming around to the realization that our lives may be very different from now on. It's a sobering thought. Lots of people live through much worse and Cindy has defied the odds up to this point. So we have been pretty fortunate in the big picture.

Update: Tuesday Noon

Cindy is still having seizures every 10-15 minutes, lasting 2-3 minutes each...leaving a pretty small window of time for her to have a "life".   I time everything she does... eating, shower, walking, bathroom, etc., so we can get done between seizures.  

I just got off the phone with her doctors in Iowa City and they are willing to help if we don't get any progress here in Cedar Rapids.  That was encouraging for us  to hear.

I told them that a Mercy rep was making noises like the insurance company was about to force her released. The Iowa City doctor said that that won't happen down there, they have people who will handle the insurance issue.

For now we are continuing to try every drug available, which is the usual course for trying to stop seizures.

UPDATE: Tuesday 3:00PM

I don't want to jinx this but Cindy has not had a seizure since 1:00PM!!!!

They started her on a new drug at noon and it seems to have broken the cycle. Cindy has not gone longer than 20 minutes without a seizure, since Sunday afternoon.

Time will tell if she has another seizure (and we can live with occasional seizures) but we are hoping we are on the road to recovery and she does not lapse into a short cycle again.

She fell into a deep, much needed, sleep and the doctor put a sign on our door so nobody walks in for an hour or two, in order to capitalize on this new calm period.

I'm so damn excited I could bust!

Monday, October 10, 2011 1:08 AM CDT

It has been a very long day. Cindy started having seizures again today...Sunday, just realized it's 1:00AM on Monday. We just got settled in her room. We have been in the ER for over 6 hours.

Cindy is still having seizures. They were about every ten minutes apart. They subsided somewhat in the ER while on IV drugs but now the seizures are returning, about every 20 minutes.

My famous sixth sense has been going off now for a couple weeks. I really need to get tuned into that feeling so I am not so taken off guard when something finally occurs.

I will update when I know more, I am pretty tired right now and it's going to be a long night..what's left of it.

UPDATE: Monday 7:30am

Terrible night. Cindy's seizures did not stop and now are lasting longer. They are trying lots of drugs but have not found the formula.

UPDATE: Monday 8:45am

The doctors have loaded Cindy with IV seizure meds, which seem to work a little, as the oral meds are having no affect on stopping seizures.

Her seizures are still occurring but they last a shorter period. Cindy is very upset and frustrated. We will be here another night for sure. Please no visitors right now, Cindy does not want to be seen until things are under control.

UPDATE: Monday 1:00 PM

Things are still the same, except Cindy is getting much more worn down.

We know from experience with Aaron's seizures, that being tired can bring on more seizures. Cindy has only slept about 2 hours since yesterday and that was interrupted 2 hours of sleep.

Don't know what else to say, except that we can't live this way. Something is going to have to happen soon. There is no way I could bring Cindy home in this state, having seizures every few minutes. She is having one as I type this.

I gotta go.

UPDATE: Monday 1:06PM

The nurse just came in as Cindy was coming out of her seizure. The nurse told us that another IV of seizure medication is ordered and that the Neuro team is coming up to the room to do an EEG.

UPDATE: Monday 7:30PM

This is the last update for Monday. We have done all we can for this day and I am also totally exhausted.

The EEG confirmed the type of seizure Cindy is having. The Neurologist, Dr Struthers, says that they are not a dangerous seizure...Cindy is conscious and aware of what it going on during them. She can even respond to some questions during one.

A couple hours ago, I asked her to start counting when they begin and see if she can keep track of her counting out loud during the entire seizure. Cindy thinks it is actually shortening the time of the seizure. She is encouraged by this. She (we) needed something to hold on to.

Cindy is very down. This ongoing seizure situation seems to have no end. They are still occuring every 15 minutes, like clockwork.

Dr Struthers seems to think that she is stuck in a cycle and until we can break the cycle with medication, this will continue.

So right now, Cindy and I are trying to adjust to maybe this being something we have to live with for awhile.

Tomorrow I will start a new thread.

Friday, October 7, 2011 9:05 AM CDT

What a week! The trees are beautiful along the river right now. If you want to see them, this is the weekend.

We were going to go back to Cedar Rapids this week but by Monday, it was obvious that this would be one of the best weeks this fall. Temps in the lower 80s and sunny everyday. So we decided to stay at the cabin.

On Monday a friend took me fishing for the first time and I caught several fish. This was the activity I had been saving till retirement. I peppered my friend with all kinds of questions about rods, reels, line, hooks, technique, etc. etc. After about 4 hours of fishing, I had been quiet for awhile and my friend asked me what I was thinking about. I said, "I was thinking about what kind of fishing boat I need to buy". I thought he was going to fall out of the boat laughing.

On Tuesday we drove up to Gays Mills in Wisconsin. We have never been there but always hear about the apple orchard harvest that occurs there this time of year. The drive was gorgeous. We took the highway that runs along the Mississippi River, on the Wisc. side, up to the Gays Mills corner then drove through the valley that leads to Gays Mills. Never been to Vermont but I can't imagine that it's much prettier than here.

Cindy is fighting either a head cold or allergies, we haven't determined which yet. She is doing ok but told me that she doesn't seem to have much stamina. So she is going to try walking outside more to see if that helps improve things.

Saturday we head back to Cedar Rapids. We have several engagements over the next few weeks so we won't be back to the river much from now on. Summer is over.

Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:00 PM CDT

We are finished with medical stuff for awhile!! Cindy, Aaron and I all had appointments this week.

First of all, Cindy had an MRI that showed NO CHANGE in the spot in her brain! Very good news. Dr Buatti told us yesterday that he thought it was ok but that was not official since Radiology had not read the scan. You never know, (especially with Cindy) so we have learned to wait until it’s official before telling people.

Today Aaron had his VNS implant adjusted. He is now down to just 1 minute intervals between the implant firing. It fires for 30 seconds. So Aaron is almost at the point that the implant is stimulating the nerve all the time. Aaron told the doctor about the bean field incident...at midnight....and her eyes bugged out. We hope to avoid that sort of incident in the future.

I had blood tests this morning. Oh, I guess we aren’t completely done with medical stuff, since I have a doctor appt. next week. That is what the blood tests were for.

We are back at the cabin but time here is winding down. We will soon be spending less and less time here and more time in Cedar Rapids. Probably another couple weeks, then the boat will be put away for the winter. Always a sad time for us. But we’re pretty happy right now about the MRI results. Next MRI is in 6 months.

Sunday, September 18, 2011 11:21 AM CDT

Our trip to Dearborn was great. Had a very nice time, saw lots of old cars and saw parts of Greenfield Village that we never toured before.

It rained a little the first morning, so we toured the Henry Ford Museum so we could stay inside. Then the afternoon cleared and we went outside to Greenfield Village, which is next door. This year we went through most of the old buildings, something we have never done in the past.

In these buildings there were many small shops, each dedicated to a skill from the past. Tinsmith, glass blowing, printing, weaving, pottery, blacksmith, wagon building, machine shop….each in a dedicated building that took you back 150 years. Very authentic and the next time we go, we want to take Jacob. We think he would really enjoy it. He’s so curious about how things are made and he loves automobiles, says he wants to design them.

There were lots of people in period clothes walking around the Village, which made the experience pretty neat. And a whole section dedicated to the bicycle....the old type with the 6 ft tall front wheel. One girl fell off one of these bikes and was being loaded into an ambulance when we went by.

The Old Car Festival was also going on in Greenfield Village. There were probably 600 cars, from all over the U.S., parked everywhere and also driving around the Village streets. No other cars allowed in the Village, so that is all there was for traffic. The oldest cars were from 1896 and the newest were from 1932, nothing newer than that. We still can’t believe that so few Americans know about this place.

Since we have been home it has been a flurry of research for me. We have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, so I have been planning a trip at the end of October. Don’t know if it will all come together but we would appreciate any input from anyone who has been there. Keep in mind that Cindy will be in a wheelchair so some ideas may not work for us.

This coming Wednesday, Cindy has an MRI in Iowa City. Hoping there is no change in the spot in her brain. Then on Thursday we take Aaron to Iowa City for more adjustments on his VNS implant.

Sunday, September 11, 2011 4:45 AM CDT

Cindy and I are in Detroit. Well, actually Dearborn but it's all one big place.

We had a good flight but lots of headwind so we were 20 minutes late getting in. No big deal, a non-stop flight and we were not in a hurry. Michael arranged for a limo to pick us up which was very nice.

The driver was named Adnan, from what I could understand. Very professional and we chatted during the ride. After he told us he came here from Iraq, I resisted the urge to say, "so, Adnan, any plans for this Sunday?"

We stayed at another hotel the first night before moving to this hotel, right across from the museum and Village. Henry Ford had this hotel built for his company visitors who flew into the airport across the street. The airport is now the Ford Proving Grounds, but Ford still owns the hotel....it's managed by Marriott.

The trip is going well and we are having a good time. Last night at dinner we were discussing how many trips we have made to Detroit. It's 4 times that we have made the trip. For some reason we had blocked out Trip No. 2.

That was the trip we had to abort an hour from Detroit after Cindy developed an infection in her brain. She ended up in the Critical care unit and almost died. Luckily, we had some great friends, who arranged for a small jet to come pick us up and take us home. Cindy then had two more brain surgeries and spent the better part of a year recovering. Amazing how the mind can block out unpleasantness.

Speaking of which, we had some unpleasant news from Aaron the day before we left. He told us that last week he had been riding his bike to the gym to work out...at midnight...and he had a seizure. When he came to, he found himself lying under his bike in a bean field!!! Aaron was not hurt, which is a miracle.

The implant is doing it's job MOST of the time but still needs tweaking. Aaron has an appt. In Iowa City the day after Cindy's MRI in Iowa City. So we will be burning up I-380 for a couple days next week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 3:36 AM CDT

The last weekend of summer. It's official. This summer just flew by. There were a ton of people on the island this Labor Day weekend. I'm guessing all having their last hurrah for the year.

Due to the cooler temperatures that have now arrived, we never got out on the boat at all for the holiday weekend. We also did not participate in the golf cart parade. Most islanders just lined up along the street and watched the parade. There were some funny cart decorations and some very clever ones too.

Sunday evening I took Cindy to her favorite place for dinner. The Black Angus in PdC. We met up with our friends Jeff and Carol and we had a great meal. That was probably our last trip there this year.

This coming weekend Cindy and I are flying to Detroit, Michigan for the Annual Old Car Festival at the Henry Ford Museum. I considered driving but finally came to the conclusion that it would be torture for Cindy...9 hours each way in the car. Cindy can not tolerate more than a few hours in a vehicle, it creates so much pain that she is miserable for days afterwards. The flight is non-stop from Cedar Rapids.

I think this is our 3rd trip to the Old Car Festival. It is really something! In fact the whole Museum and Greenfield Village is a spectacular showing of American history. We are constantly amazed that so few Americans even know about the place.

Cindy has her MRI in Iowa City in 2 weeks. Hoping that there is no change to the spot in her brain. Maybe then I will be able to sleep past 3AM.

Monday, August 29, 2011 2:43 PM CDT

What?? I can't hear you.

Just kidding. The Peter Frampton concert was awesome! And LOUD! We had seats right up front and realized that we were going to be blown away by the speakers and so we moved back about 20 feet. The view we had was perfect and so was the weather. We didn't know until the day before, that the concert was outside. But it all turned out fine. The stars were out and the temperature was perfect.

We had a great weekend at Riverside Casino/Resort. The place reminds us of Caesars Palace in Vegas.

We are now back in Guttenberg and have discovered that we are surrounded by coyotes. I have seen a coyote three times this summer on my morning walks but thought it was a fluke. But now we are hearing them at night with their creepy howling. I talked to a couple neighbors and they have seen them up in the yards, not just back in the timber. I also heard that we had a mountain lion on the island in June and it was seen chasing a couple deer across the field...witnessed by 3 different people.

Last week I was walking and it was pitch dark out, then I began to hear the coyotes really howling. Made the hair on my neck stand up. Not so sure I should be walking in the Pre-dawn hours. Yikes!

Cindy is busy making banners for our golf cart. This coming weekend is an Island Golf cart cruise. Everybody decorating their carts and cruising the island in a parade. There are about 5 miles of road on our island so it's not a short trip around. Should be fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 4:08 AM CDT

We had another great week at the cabin. The weather has been perfect. Although a little dry, but yesterday we got about 2 inches of rain during the morning hours. First good rain in several weeks.

Cindy almost fell again yesterday, coming in the door. She hopped sideways a few times and fell against the cabinet near the door, catching herself. We looked at each other like, "Wow, that was close". Gets the heart pumping, that's for sure.

Speaking of heart....my heart has been working pretty well. I have another appointment in September with my cardiologist to check how things are going.

This weekend we are heading to Riverside, Iowa. Our kids bought us tickets to the Peter Frampton concert and a night at the casino hotel. Thanks Kids!! We love you.

We wore out our 8 track player and album turn table in our early married years, listening to Frampton Comes Alive. One of our favorite albums ever. That album may have been responsible for Aaron :-)

Have a good last week of Summer! Booo!

Monday, August 15, 2011 8:05 AM CDT

Beautiful weather!! The past week has been awesome. Cindy has been able to get outside more since the heatwave has passed.

The downside is that Cindy fell while working in her flower garden. I was on the porch reading and saw her go. My reflexive shout did not prevent her from going down. Scared the crap out of me but Cindy was okay. HATE when that stuff happens.

This is the first fall for Cindy this summer. We have been super careful since the fall last year in June, which broke her arm and almost ruined our summer. Cindy was unable to use her arm for over 12 weeks after that break.

Most people don't realize how a small injury for Cindy, like a twisted ankle, sprained wrist, stubbed toe, etc., can totally incapacitate her. I do. I think about it all the time. That is why it seems like I'm always on guard around her...because I am.

A quiet week ahead at the cabin. Nothing planned, other than getting satellite tv installed today.

Next Sunday is our Jacob's 10th birthday. Can not believe he's that old.

Monday, August 8, 2011 10:15 AM CDT

This week is supposed to be much cooler and less humid than the last few weeks. That is good news for Cindy.

She was really struggling with the heat. She just didn't feel like doing much at all. I don't know if the staph infection contributed to her Blah feeling but it probably didn't help. The infection seems to be all cleared up now and Cindy went swimming this morning.

This week we will head back to Cedar Rapids for some appointments and to see the kids. I built a handicap platform for the kid's house so that entry/exit through the back door will be easier for Cindy....and Nikki when she's on crutches, which seems to be pretty often. Can't wait to get it all installed and carpeted.

I have a haircut in Vinton on Wednesday and Cindy will come along so we can both see the changes in our hometown. Friends keep telling us that it looks so different with all the trees gone. Vinton lost 75% of its trees!! The town will never look the same, in our lifetime.

The summer is flying by, can't believe it's already August. Next weekend we have more company. Cindy's cousin Bob is coming for the weekend. Bob is the cousin who lost his wife Lori on Christmas day, 2008. It will be good for him to get out on the boat with us and spend some river time, it's very healing.

Sunday, July 31, 2011 9:08 AM CDT

Cindy's doctor called Friday night and confirmed that Cindy has a staph infection. So no swimming for at least 10 days. Cindy is not happy about that. Her arm is looking better but it's still a little swollen.

In order to take her mind off the no-swimming, I installed a new bathroom vanity at the cabin this weekend. She is thrilled! Cindy hated the original, built-in bathroom cabinet.

We actually found this vanity on the island while we were out riding around on our golf cart. Cindy saw it beside the road, in front of a house that was being torn down. The vanity had a FREE sign on it so I buzzed back to the cabin and got my truck and a friend and we loaded it up. It's an oak vanity with a cultured marble counter/sink. Very nice....and FREE.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 4:46 PM CDT

Couldn't go too long with this great summer without something happening.

Yesterday Cindy showed me her arm and there was a spot that was swollen and red, about the size of a very large grape. My first thought was to take her to Cedar Rapids. But intead, I took her to the Guttenberg hospital, (which is brand new and very nice) to have it checked out.

The doctor cut it open and drained some of the fluid and took a culture for pathology. We won't know what it is till later this week. She thought it may be a staph infection so she put Cindy on an antibiotic right away.

So no swimming for Cindy for now. She's bummed about that.

We are heading back to Cedar Rapids Wednesday morning to take care of some things. If the arm doesn't look better we will see her doctor while we are in Cedar Rapids.

We will return to the cabin on Thursday morning.

Sunday, July 24, 2011 3:37 AM CDT

What a great week at the river. We started the week with Aaron here for 3 days. Got out on the boat with him a couple days and had a relaxing time.

Then our grandson Jacob came and we had him to ourselves for 3 days. What fun!

Finally, Michael and Nikki arrived after their golf trip to Eagle Ridge in Galena. A full day of boating yesterday. Jacob was in the water all afternoon, doing flips off the front of the boat and keeping us all entertained with his antics.

A great summer so far.

Friday, July 22, 2011 11:31 PM CDT

Today is our first anniversary!!! I met Cindy on July 22nd, 1969!

I can't improve on that..our children, our grandchildren.... All else followed this date.

I love you Cindy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:33 AM CDT

What a mess!!!

I am talking about the aftermath of the storm on Monday morning. Vinton and Garrison had straight line winds of over 130 mph for a sustained period of time. The local news has been covering the damage, mostly in Vinton but it doesn't do it justice.

Cindy and I went through our hometown of Vinton and Garrison on Tuesday and we could not believe what we saw. Utter devastation. Every home in Vinton was affected to some degree. The loss of trees in the thousands. I can't begin to describe it. It will take a week or more before power is fully restored to the towns.

The one thought that we kept repeating as we went through the streets was "how could no one have been hurt or killed?" Simply amazing. We heard several stories of how frightening it was. Awakened at 5AM to the loud roar of the winds, house shaking or moving on the foundation, debris filling the air, windows breaking and blowing in, trees hitting the house, for over 15 minutes.

I am left speechless about anything in our lives after seeing what so many of our friends are going through in Vinton and Garrison. Cindy and I wish them well and hope their lives return to some kind of normal very soon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 5:24 AM CDT

Today is Cindy's birthday!!! Cindy is 54 years old today.

Send her a text or email, it will make her day. Tonight I am taking her to her favorite place, The Black Angus, in Prairie du Chien.

I love you Cindy,


Monday, June 27, 2011 3:40 PM CDT

All is well...still. Nothing to report healthwise. Cindy is swimming most every day and staying active out in the yard with her garden. She is also doing a lot of painting. Cindy is quite the artist!

I spent three days renovating our yard shed and then painting it today. Now that the new doors are all white and bare looking, I suggested to Cindy that she paint a scene on the doors. So she is on the porch doing some sketches for ideas.

Aaron had his appt in Iowa City last week and they made some adjustments to the implant. The frequency was increased, so now it's more active. Aaron then had a small seizure on the way home from the hospital. Kind of disappointing but the doctor said it will take a whole year for the implant to really prove itself.

So far retirement feels like a long vacation. The weather hasn't been the best till this week. Beautiful outside today. I have been busy on projects around the cabin pretty much every day.

Sleep eludes me. I'm still up most mornings around 3AM. Hoping that gets better, I would love to sleep 7-8 hours in one stretch. What a pleasure that would be.

Saturday, June 18, 2011 8:05 PM CDT

A great weekend at the river. Aaron came up with us on Thursday and we boated all day Friday. Summer is in full bloom. Had a great time.

We did have a few glitches this weekend. We were at the swimming pool early Friday morning while Cindy was swimming and Aaron had a pretty long seizure in the truck. I "zapped" him twice with his magnet and it didn't have much affect. The seizure lasted a good 5 minutes. Aaron has an appt in Iowa City this coming week so we will see about turning up the power on the implant.

Another glitch was while we were boating, we came across a drowning on the Mississippi river. It was a sad thing to see. About 30 people gathered along the shore while they looked for a loved one. We went by and docked at Clayton to have dinner near the dock and several community fire departments scambled their rescue boats for the search while we watched.

The victim was a 32 year old man from Prairie du Chien who was trying to get his family out of the current. They all made it, he didn't. Sad!

They found him later that night.

Another reminder about how precious every day is and how the little things really don't matter. Hug your family members.

Monday, June 13, 2011 3:13 AM CDT

It's been a quiet week. We are settled in at the cabin and enjoying the summer. The weather could pick a trend, first it's steamy hot and then it's chilly and rainy, but we will take whatever comes. It's still summer.

It's nice to have nothing going on that sets the heart aflutter. We could use a couple years of nothing going on, that would be nice. The worst thing that happened this week was our grandson Jacob dropped his iPod and broke the glass screen. Although devastating to Jacob, if that was the worst thing, I would say we are doing well.

Cindy feels pretty good and the swimming in the mornings is fun for her. I am still working on getting more sleep, although this 3:13 AM posting is sort of a giveaway that I haven't quite gotten that under control. But I'm working on it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 4:12 AM CDT

I am retired. After a few missteps last week which involved me driving back to Cedar Rapids, two mornings in a row, to take care of my security clearance...I am now "officially" retired.

Cindy has been swimming every morning and I brought her stationary bike to the cabin so she can ride that also. She is feeling pretty good right now and she has me to watch her like a hawk, full time, which I'm sure she loves.

We went out to dinner on June 1st, to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary. Cindy loves going to the Black Angus in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. We had a great meal and a great night.

I'm still pretty jittery when I hear noises that don't sound normal. For instance the other morning, she was in bed asleep (I thought) and I had just come in from filling the bird feeder. I heard weird noises in the bedroom and I ran in there at full speed. Cindy was talking and chuckling on the phone with Aaron. That isn't what it sounded like to me, and it scared the living daylights out of me.

Cindy said, "your retirement years are not going to last long like this".

Serenity now.

I think I'll try some meditation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011 1:53 AM CDT

Cindy had an MRI in Iowa City yesterday. Dr. Buatti told us that the radiologists who read her last MRI were concerned about a spot in her brain. This was something we had not been told at the time.

The MRI yesterday was the same. The spot is still there but there has been no change. So Dr. Buatti wants to do another MRI in 3 months just to be cautious.

Cindy had a miserable day yesterday. I don't know if it's nerves due to the anticipation of the MRI or what but her leg pain was pretty unbearable all day.

While we were waiting for the MRI results, we headed to the cafeteria for something to drink. As we were heading down the hall, we ran into Dr. Milhem, the Sarcoma Cancer specialist who Cindy saw in March.

We did not immediately recognize him since we had only seen him in person one time, for about 20 minutes, 3 months ago. We have exchanged several emails, and he is the doctor who saw Michael right away last month for his suspicious lump. But he had not SEEN us since early March.

Dr. Milhem knew us and stopped to talk, he even greeted both of us by our first names. We were stunned. After we parted, we both looked at each other and said, "WOW, that was impressive". How could he remember a patient like that?

Well, I said the next journal update I would be retired. But I wanted to share the MRI results as soon as we could. So the NEXT update I will be retired.

Friday, May 20, 2011 3:09 PM CDT

On the last journal entry, the date for Cindy's MRI was incorrect. Cindy has an MRI on May 25th, in Iowa City, not May 24th.

I have a haircut on May 24th. Haircut-MRI, they both have to do with the head, I can see how I mixed that up.

Also next week, May 27th is the date I retire. My co-workers have been telling me that I smile all the time now. I hadn't noticed that I was doing that...on the outside. On the inside I am certainly smiling.

Another date next week, Saturday, May 28th we have a big party, celebrating three children graduating from High School.

Cindy's grandson Lucas
Kevin's son Alex
Karla's son Kenny.

Teresa would be so proud that all 3 of her children have a family member graduating this year. The graduation party and golf outing will be at the Shellsburg Country Club. Teresa so loved big parties.

The next journal update I will be retired. Ahhhh!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 12:09 AM CDT

Things are going smoothly. Cindy is feeling okay and the warm weather and sunshine are helping a lot with that. She still is tired much of the time but we're hoping being outside will change that soon.

Cindy has an MRI scheduled in Iowa City on May 24th.

I have another appointment this month with my cardiologist but not expecting any changes. My current medication seems to be working pretty well. Very few incidents....not "cured" but at least the heart problem is not hampering my lifestyle. My lifestyle is getting more relaxed as the end of the month approaches. Retirement is looming large!

Michael, Nikki and Jacob are coming to the cabin this weekend. Our first company since moving back in.

The river level is almost back to normal at Guttenberg. Can't say the same for the people down south. Those southern states are really getting hit hard by the floods. I wonder what will happen when it gets to New Orleans?? I feel for them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011 3:49 PM CDT

We have completed the move back into the cabin in Guttenberg. Thank you so much for all the helpers.....
Aaron, Michael, Nikki, Lucas, Jacob, Pete, Julia, Marcy, Aaron G., Kevin, Gary, Mike S., Karilyn, Abbe and Dave. Could not have done it without your help.

We are going through everything and have hauled lots of stuff to Goodwill, Stuffs, and the dumpster. It will be a new, fresh and less crowded home when we are finished.

Next up, the yard work. But thanks to our helpers this weekend, at least our porch is clean and all set up, so we will have a place to take breaks while doing the yard and garden.

While sitting on the porch on Saturday, our first Oriole appeared and chattered at us, wondering where his grape jelly was. Usually we get the first Oriole a few minutes after putting out the jelly for the first time.

This year, I didn't even have the feeder in place, he just saw us sitting out there on the porch. I jumped up and had the feeder up and jelly loaded toot suite. Mr. Oriole returned in a few minutes and began feeding.

Twenty more working days till retirement!

Friday, April 29, 2011 2:24 AM CDT

Michael does NOT have cancer!! What Michael has is called a lipoma.

The doctor in Iowa City told Michael that he did the right thing coming to him due to his family history with cancer. He will return to Iowa City in a few months for another check up and to see if there are any changes to the lipoma he has.

What a relief!

Thursday, April 28, 2011 6:27 AM CDT

When it rains it pours. Our son Michael, (the only one of us who hasn't been in the hospital this year), is heading to the University Hospital and Clinics today.

Michael has a suspicious mass that needs to be looked at by a specialist. He didn't want to tell us right away due to all the other stress we are under.

Michael went to his doctor Monday and had a CT scan, thinking it was a hernia. The CT scan was inconclusive and the doctor's opinion was that it was NOT a hernia.

Since Michael carries the same gene that Cindy has, that led to her sarcoma cancer, we were very concerned. So Cindy and I were able to arrange for Michael to be seen right away by her sarcoma cancer specialist, Dr. Milhem, at the UIHC.

Needless to say, we are pretty anxious to hear what happens today.

Monday, April 25, 2011 12:23 AM CDT

The Flood of 2011 has passed!!! Our home in Guttenberg is safe.

Instead of a historic flood for the Mississippi River, it ended up as Number 7 for all-time highest crests. What a relief. However the lower Abel Island was completely under water.

We have some good friends on Abel Island and there will be lots of clean up there but most of those homes are built up high and so not as devastating for them.

This weekend I put the water pump back in and brought the trailer with our belongings back to the cabin property. We will unload everything next Saturday with the help of some great family and friends. We will soon be back to normal, ready for summer.

I announced my new retirement date to our kids and I have to relate what my intelligent daughter-in-law Nikki said to me.

When I said that I had picked another special date to retire (June 1st, our anniversary), Nikki said…..

“Why does your retirement have to be tied to a special date? Why don’t you just retire and then THAT date will be special…it will be the date you retired.”

What a smart daughter I have. Love her to death.

Cindy is doing well. Still tired much of the time but I think it's partly because she needs some sun. That should do the trick. We have an MRI scheduled in May, so that is the next doctor thingy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 6:24 PM CDT

My friend Tom Winsor was buried yesterday afternoon. At the gravesite, I was introduced to the two men that Tom was working with when he died. When I told them I was Tom Lynch, they both immediately said how often Tom spoke about me and how much he respected me.

Later last night (in fact, after midnight) I returned to the gravesite with Tom’s daughter and her husband. They wanted to place some flowers on his grave. As I stood at his grave, I thought about his co-workers’ words and it hit me that Tom was underground now and that relationship was gone forever.

I have lost other friends and relatives in my life, so this isn’t new for me. But few if any have had such a life-long and enduring influence on my life.

Next phase. I have struggled with returning to work at all. But I told Cindy that I didn’t want this loss to define my retirement, which should be a happy event. So as a compromise, I have cut the remaining work time in half and instead of retiring in July, I will retire June 1st. That date is our 37th wedding anniversary.

So back to work tomorrow and on with our life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 4:01 PM CDT

Today is Tom’s 57th birthday! Happy Birthday to my best friend, I love you!

This afternoon we got the devastating news that our good friend Tom Winsor died late this morning. He turned 62 just three weeks ago. He has had some health issues over the past few years, and was planning to work one last year.

Tom was at work, tuckpointing a Care Center in Boone, Iowa. Tom told his co-worker he just wasn’t feeling right and was planning on getting down from the deck they were working on. The kid he was working with turned his back and then heard Tom hit as he fell from the deck. He didn’t make a sound, so they’re pretty sure he was dead when he hit the ground. It is the way he would have wanted to go, but we are lost. He was one of Tom’s best and oldest friends.

Hug your family and friends and let them know how much you care.

ADDITION -Thursday morning:
Tom received this email from his younger sister this morning. I think it sums up my Tom's loss perfectly......


I remember well when Tom Winsor came into our lives. We were living on 4th Street. The time coincided with you no longer saying "Mommy" and "Daddy" and instead said "Mom" and "Dad." You even stopped being known as "Tommy" and insisted on being called "Tom." It was the time of you leaving your childhood behind and becoming a man. Tom Winsor became an integral part of your life even before Cindy. I remember how you admired him back then. Between you and Teri, Tom Winsor was so enmeshed in our family that I've always believed he was a member of our family. I've always laughed and said that I could never name a son "Tom," because we had too many already with you, Dad, and Tom Winsor. Samantha had, for a couple of years, a boyfriend named Tommy and I always told her that he must be "the one" just because of how prolific the name was in our family -- again including Tom Winsor.

What I'm trying to say is that even though I didn't personally know him, I do recognize his importance in your life, and the loss you have suffered. I'm so sorry.

I love you.


Sunday, April 10, 2011 3:38 PM CDT

If I have more weekends like this, the next 12 weeks until I retire are going to seem endless.

We had Jacob overnight which is always a pleasure and spirit lifter. After he left this morning Aaron had a seizure that was stronger than we have seen since the implant.

I had to hit him 3 times with the magnet and the seizure still hung on for awhile, although with less intensity. We may have to have Iowa City adjust the programming of his implant.

Cindy is having headaches and has been sleeping much of the day. She tried to read on the porch with me but she kept nodding off. I asked her how she was feeling and she said she couldn't shake the headache.

Not very encouraging but I am planning on sticking it out at work until July.

On Thursday night and most of the day Friday, I had pain in my foot so bad I could hardly walk. I don't know what that was about. I kept off it all day Friday and iced it and that seemed to help. It's better today. There is nothing that I can think of that would have caused an injury, it was more like a nerve pain.

On top of this, the recent rain storm has greatly increased the flood level for next week. Just when you think you're out of the woods......

Quite the bummer update. Let's hope next week is better.

On a humorous note, I just read that April 11th, 1954 is considered the most uneventful day of the 20th Century. Thankfully it was not two days later on April 13th, 1954 because that was the day I was born...but it was close.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 7:46 AM CDT

The news is out!  

Tom has announced his retirement date to everyone at Rockwell, so he can't back out now.  Tom is retiring July 15th, the same date he started, 26 years ago.  He has plenty of vacation so his actual last day at work will be July 1st.

We are so excited and relieved for him.  This year has been one of the most difficult that we can remember, with all the health issues....his mom, me, Aaron and Tom himself with his heart issues. It's time!

For now, our plans are to spend the summer at the cabin and just relax. So we are hoping it doesn't flood xxxxxx (fingers crossed). Visitors welcome of course, just give us a call to work out a date.

I am feeling pretty good.  No seizures this month and believe me, Tom is watching me like a hawk for ANY sign of irregular behavior.  Damn, no more trying to dance, he might call an ambulance on me :-)


Sunday, April 3, 2011 7:04 AM CDT

Cindy has another doctor appointment on Monday.

Things are going okay for Cindy. No seizures that we have noticed...for Cindy... Aaron had two seizures this weekend.

I used his stimulator magnet both times and it worked well. The second seizure Aaron had was bigger and I had to use the magnet twice. I don't think it worked the first time, possibly due to my incorrect placing of the magnet on his chest.

Aaron's Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) implant was well worth the trouble. We feel much better about his seizure control. For me, I am a little less jumpy over every noise in this house. That has to be good for my heart.

Now if we can get past the Mississippi River flooding unscathed and get to the bottom of Cindy's unexplained seizures, I will have the heart of a 20 year old again.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:46 AM CDT

UPDATE Friday, April 1st:
Dr. Buatti called yesterday and wants to do another MRI but not for 2 months. He thinks he has a good enough scan and instead of repeating it right away, he wants to wait to see if there are changes. So next MRI will be in May.

Thursday, March 31:
Yesterday was a bust. We went to Iowa City to see Dr. Buatti and he was out with the flu. A phone call from them would have been nice, but they apparently felt that a staff doctor would fill in just as well. Not bloody likely!

So we are waiting to hear back from Dr. Buatti sometime in the next few days.

One thing that we did learn at the appointment, was that Cindy's MRI was NOT complete.

I had concerns about that scan which was done while she was in Mercy Hospital, because she had a seizure before they finished the MRI. I have brought this up repeatedly with no reaction during previous consultations.

The staff doctor at U of I said that she noticed there were no side views in the MRI file. I told her about the seizure and she said she would have them review the entire scan again, so that Iowa City has it formally documented. This may lead to another MRI, I'm guessing.

The staff doctor was a little puzzled by Cindy having multiple seizures. She said that one seizure could easily be explained away but it would be "unusual" to have multiple seizures after all these years.

The word "unusual" when it comes to Cindy is the standard. Almost everything Cindy has had happen medically, was "unusual". That is why we like to stick with doctors who know her history and how unusual she is. I prefer the word "special" myself, when talking about Cindy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011 11:55 AM CDT

Last week was a blur. Appointment after appointment.

On a good note, Cindy had no (observed) seizures. However there were more than a few times I was awakened by what could have been small seizures. Time will tell.

On a bad note, Cindy was told a week ago that she is being forced off Aegon health insurance and onto Medicare....which had a sign-up deadline of March 31st. So a crash course in the intricacies of the Medicare choices took up several days. We met with a Medicare counselor on Friday and I think we have that issue under control now.

On another good note last week, the recent cold temperatures has slowed the snow thaw up north. The Mississippi flooding threat has now been lowered substantially. We are not out of the woods yet and won't know for sure for a few more weeks. But I feel MUCH better about that "distraction" that we certainly didn't need right now.

Cindy has an appointment in Iowa City this week with Dr. Buatti, her radiologist who treated her after her brain tumor was removed. We hope to get some answers about the seizures.

On a final good note, Nikki came through her surgery very well and is on the mend, although now carrying a metal plate and 7 screws in in her leg.

Monday, March 21, 2011 6:06 AM CDT

UPDATE - Wednesday March, 21:
Our daughter-in-law Nikki, is having surgery today to repair her broken leg. It has been 10 weeks with no improvement.
The surgeon is going to put things together so the bones will stay in place and heal.

A new week. Things are going better for Cindy.

I left her with Nikki on Saturday while several of us went to Guttenberg and emptied out the house. Thank you Nikki.

I can't thank everyone enough for all the help with the moving. It went pretty fast and we were able to fit everything in the trailer I borrowed. Now let's hope that the river doesn't pass the 23 foot level at Guttenberg. I think that level is all our place could stand without getting water, any higher water and we will be in trouble.

The big problem for all of the island residents is that once the river is at the 19 foot level, the road out to the island is under water. So everyone needs to have their home secured before that. Can't change your mind once it passes 19 feet.

Thanks to Pete, Julia, Marcy, Gary, Kevin, Lucas, Michael, Karilyn and Schoonover Tuckpointing.

Especially Julia, for taking the bull by the horns and getting this "project" moving. I needed that mental kick in the rump to get started.

We are heading to Iowa City this morning for another appointment. Our life is revolving around appointments these last few weeks....and the next few weeks also.

I met with my cardiologist on Thursday and he increased my medication, which promptly made me sick on Friday. So back to where I was with the medication. Other than that, I am feeling well. Another test on the 30th.

Cindy had her appointment with the skin doctor on Thursday also and found several more cancer spots. We knew they were suspicious, so not really surprised.

The spots on her legs are pretty big and it will get ugly removing them. There are other spots on her chest and one on her nose. I am hoping nothing flaws that beautiful face of hers. It should heal up nicely.

Cindy is sleeping better and her spirits are pretty good. But she it seems to me that her actions are more deliberate about everything she does. Nothing wrong with caution.

I continue to be jumpy about every tick and noise in the house. Can't wait to have some more answers.

Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:17 PM CDT

Hello from Cindy. Where to begin….obviously, this has been quite a week for us. I am feeling sooooo much better knowing that our biggest fear has been mostly alleviated. As you know our news on Friday was very encouraging ruling out cancer in the brain. We still have a ways to go on the medical front in order to figure out what is going on.

I have been silent this past week only because I was not only physically, but emotionally just wrecked. I was as scared as I can remember and only now can I even acknowledge that.

I come through all of this humbled and so very thankful, first of all for my wonderful husband who got me through it with his constant and continued love and support. I could not have done it without him.

Next, my kids & grandkids and extended family who, what can I say, just plain love me! :0)

And, of course, our friends who have offered so much encouragement in their words and in their positive energy and offers of help as we also struggle to manage a flood in our near future.

Once again, we are so very appreciative of our family and friends who always step up when we need them. We love you all.

Also know how comforting it is for me to know that Tom has so much support as he often feels so alone when these things are happening. He is so strong for me, but I know a lot of his strength comes from the support he feels from all of you, for that you have my gratitude.

As I was composing this in my head it seemed so much more eloquent, but I guess it is enough that I just say ‘thank you’ and ask that you heed the wisdom of words written by our grandson, Lucas, a few years ago, (when he was 14!),….here is the last stanza of his poem titled “Where I’m from”.

I am from sunset to sunrise
From living every moment as your last
From living in the present, not in the past
From taking in the memories that last
Keeping them inside my brain
Until we announce defeat
To look back at the good things
Life is sweet, so sing along to the beat
Live life for what it is worth
Live in the moment, starting from birth

As always, we will move forward managing this new challenge, always looking for that new ‘normal’!

Cheers and Love to all!

If you just came into this story and wonder what is going on with Cindy, click on "Read Journal History", right below this line. The March 6th entry has the whole story.

Friday, March 11, 2011 4:06 PM CST

I think we have eliminated cancer as the cause for Cindy's seizures.

..................Pause for cheers!....................

Dr. Milhem thought the scan looked clear and we talked about the possibilities of undectectable cancers, which is what we suspected. And he assured us that that type of cancer growth in the brain would not cause seizures. There would have to be a mass, pushing on stuff.

He thinks Dr. Buatti should "drive" from this point. They consulted and the next stop is Neurology.

There is a strong possibility that something has changed in the blood vessels of the brain, which may be detected using an MRA scan (not MRI) to see the vascular parts of the brain.

This diagnosis could also explain the increase in her phantom pains, which have not been controllable since this started.

Dr. Milhem thought the urgency is alleviated for now, so we can slow down and get this figured out.

We are back home and preparing to enjoy our weekend. Please do the same.

UPDATE Saturday, 8:00AM:
While we were with Dr. Milhem yesterday, he discussed the amount of radiation Cindy has been exposed to in her life.

He told us that they are finding, just in the last year or so, that doing diagnostic tests involving radiation and other procedures, greatly affects the long term health and life of the patient.

They are now putting more emphasis on the necessity of testing, especially when the patient is not symptomatic. Just exploring for cancer when the patient is not showing any signs, is not something they are recommending anymore.

Since Cindy's symptoms are all seemingly brain related and her MRI scan is clear, he thinks we should just wait to see if anything develops in other parts of her body, before doing any more tests.

He found Cindy's health history very interesting. The diversity of multiple malignancies that she has had makes her an interesting case study. Dr. Milhem wants to continue to follow her from now on. We both really liked Dr. Milhem.

We are heading up to Guttenberg this morning to get started on the Cabin Project. Cindy will stay at the house of a good friend in Guttenberg, along with Nikki, while we get started on the cabin.

Cindy slept well last night and the anxiety has been greatly reduced. Which will help her cope with this health problem she faces. The future doesn't look so gloomy now....for either of us.

If you just came into this story and wonder what is going on with Cindy, click on "Read Journal History", right below this line. The March 6th entry has the whole story.

Friday, March 11, 2011 7:40 AM CST

Cindy and I both slept very well last night.

I was up early and sitting in my chair reading the paper when I heard Aaron in the kitchen having a seizure. I ran out there to try to use his wrist magnet to stop the seizure but he was already coming out of it. The implant is working well.

Then about an hour later I thought I heard Cindy having a seizure, so I rushed into the bedroom to see how she was. All clear!

Geeez, I must be developing the best hearing in the world, being on constant alert in this house. I have to laugh a little. I must look like an insane person to an outsider.

We are on the way to Iowa City this morning. We will let you know what we find out. Probably just a lot of testing today though. We aren't expecting answers right away.

If you just came into this story and wonder what is going on with Cindy, click on "Read Journal History", right below this line. The March 6th entry has the whole story.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 4:11 AM CST

More updates will be at bottom of page.

Let's make this a Brand New Day.

I was starting to feel that my continual updating on the last posting was keeping us stuck in the same situation. So maybe if we start fresh, Cindy will get better.

Cindy was up for 3 hours yesterday morning. Then she napped for quite awhile. She got up mid afternoon and we had dinner together last night. After that, I put in a movie that she liked. She promptly fell asleep. And I don't mean dozed....she was OUT. This was shortly after 6PM.

I finished watching the movie (and watching Cindy) and then I woke her and we went to bed. She slept well, so did I. I have not observed any seizures since the small one Tuesday morning.

But this tiredness and lethargy Cindy is displaying is unsettling. I don't know yet, what to make of all this. The doctors are at the same place, we are just waiting day to day to see how she does. Until there are other symptoms, there is really nothing we can look for.

I was just reading back over the Journal History and I came upon this entry from Nov. 18, 2010:
"Cindy is doing well currently. Things have been very calm healthwise, which is rare for us. We are enjoying this life without crisis period."

For some reason I chuckled at my naivete over that remark.

UPDATE Wednesday, Noon:
We just got Cindy into the Cancer clinic at the University of Iowa for this Friday. Dr. Buckwalter (Cindy's hero) hurried things along for us. She will be seeing Dr. Buckwalter's associate professor, Dr. Milhem.
Cindy has gotten increasingly tired and just not herself. I am very concerned and glad that we are doing something proactive. This waiting and watching thing is not for me.

UPDATE Wednesday, 1:00PM:
A bit of good news...Cindy's art class instructor just called and told me that Cindy's painting was sold this morning, the first one sold!! The money goes to a local charity.
Cindy is lying down again, so I will tell her when she wakes up. She will be glad to hear something positive. Much needed right now, her spirits are pretty low.

UPDATE Thursday, 3:00AM:
Cindy actually had a good night. She slept well and is still sleeping, (well, it is only 3:00 AM). We talked a little as I was getting up and she told me that she felt pretty good.
I think going to Iowa City Friday, to seek more answers, has given her some hope. And just doing something does remove that feeling of helplessness...for both of us.

UPDATE Thursday, 4:30PM:
Tough day today. Cindy is having a pretty hard time emotionally. But we are working on that. She is a tough girl. Toughest I have ever seen. And I can't do this without that girl, so we will figure this out.
I got her out for the first time today for a few errands I had to do for the "cabin project". I even took her in Target and she helped me pick out some things. I bought her some new shoes. That brightened her day. Then we came home and she was completely worn out...slept 3 hours.

Tonight we will go over to the Kids' house and take our minds off things for a bit.

The head of the Radiology dept in Iowa City just called an hour ago and wants to see Cindy. Apparently Dr. B told him we were coming down Friday morning. I don't know what we would do without Dr. B.
Cindy was treated by this radiologist doctor for a few years. He is the one who did her brain radiation. The more doctors the better. Get their thinking caps on and figure this out!

If you just came into this story and wonder what is going on with Cindy, click on "Read Journal History", right below this line. The March 6th entry has the whole story.

Sunday, March 6, 2011 3:49 AM, CST

The latest updates will be at bottom of page.

Pretty tough day in our family today.

Cindy had a bad seizure at 4:30AM Saturday morning. When we got in bed that night Cindy and I had clunked our heads together. So when she had the seizure I was worried that there may be some bleeding I called her doctor and he told me to take her to the ER right away.

We went to Mercy hospital and they did a CT scan of her head to see if there was any bleeding in the brain. The CT was okay. Her Potassium was a little low so they gave her some of that.

We checked out of the ER intending to get an MRI on Monday to see if there was another tumor in her brain. They wouldn't do an MRI on the weekend unless it was an emergency.

Well....we got home and Cindy went back to bed because she was exhausted. I layed with her for a bit to make sure she was okay. I thought maybe she had a small seizure while I was with her but not sure.

About an hour later I was in the other room and I heard Cindy having another seizure. I then took her back to the hospital ER. She had two more seizures as I drove her there, the last seizure was a pretty long one in the parking lot.

This time it was considered an emergency so we got the MRI that we wanted. But she had a seizure during the MRI so not sure how that affected the results.

The results show NO tumor so we are somewhat relieved but not satisfied.

She had numerous smaller seizures in the ER and is also still having them in her hospital room.

We will be here until we get this figured out and get her seizures stopped or under control.

UPDATE Saturday, 10PM:
The drugs are stopping the seizures tonight. Cindy is feeling better. After talking things over, Cindy admitted that she had a small seizure early Friday but didn't know it was a seizure. So the head conk is not the cause for what is happening. We will keep digging.

UPDATE Sunday, 3:30AM:
Cindy has had a good night. Her cousin Chris drove up from Des Moines last night arriving just after 10PM. We had a nice visit and Chris left around midnight.
Cindy was engaged and animated through the whole visit even though she was tired. Probably the most alert she had been all day.
She has been sleeping comfortably. I have tried to catch a little sleep but I startle at every move she makes in her sleep. This sleep thing may take some adjusting time...for me.

Until we are past this acute phase, I will keep updating this page. I don't want new readers to come in, mid-story and wonder what the Hell is going on??
We expect the neurologist in this morning.
More later.

UPDATE Sunday, 9:30AM:
The neurologist stopped in around 7AM and thought Cindy could go home later today. But he said if she had another seizure, her medication needs to be increased.
Cindy just had another seizure...very disappointed.

UPDATE Sunday, Noon:
Cindy's internist, Dr. Pope, was just in the room. We talked over the situation and he wants Cindy to stay another night in the hospital. We are okay with that, no sense going home and having more seizures.
Dr. Pope increased her seizure meds to really load her up. She is getting that medication now through her IV.
I am going to try and sleep for a bit, I have a splitting headache. No sleep for 32 hours will do that I guess. Who knew?

UPDATE Monday, 5:00AM:
Cindy did well last night. No seizures since they doubled down on the medication yesterday.

I was finally able to get to sleep around 11:00 last night, the nurses stopped coming in the room after that. So I got close to six hours of sleep, I feel fantastic this morning!
At 6:00 this morning, I have to go get blood drawn for my doctor appt.

I did not mention it before but they have a camera focused on Cindy 24 hours a day, to keep an eye on her movements. That is a comfort while I am gone for the blood draw.

Cindy said that now she sees how the people on reality TV live with the cameras on them and forget they are there. It's still a little creepy to me.

Some friends have asked about my heart condition. My last visit to the cardiologist was good. He said that the drug I was on was working well but I could not stay on it any longer...too many bad side effects.

He started me on a new, similar drug but also said he wants me to have the angiogram if this drug does not keep my heart in order. The other drug could have been suppressing angina type events.
For right now though, I feel fine in the heart department and it has certainly been put to the test.

We hope to go home from the hospital today. Fingers crossed please.

UPDATE Tuesday, 3:30AM:
We got home from the hospital Monday afternoon. Cindy slept ALL afternoon, until almost 6:00 last night. She was up for about 3 hours before returning to bed and has slept all night (if you consider 3:00AM all night).
It bothers me that her breathing is very shallow but I have checked her a few times and she responded that she is okay. Nervous Nellie!
I'm a little afraid to leave her alone yet so I will be staying close by. There are other things going on that need my attention though.
My mom had surgery yesterday to remove a kidney. I'm her only family member in the area.
And...they are predicting record flooding on the Mississippi River in a few weeks, so I need to empty our Guttenberg home of all furniture and clothing. Not sure when I can tackle that one.

Thank you all for your thoughts and support. MUCH appreciated.

UPDATE Tuesday, Noon:
Cindy was up for about 3 hours this morning. The cleaning lady was here and Aaron was up, so I stepped out to see my mom at the hospital while Cindy was with someone.
By the time I got back, Cindy was back in bed. She is very tired. I am pretty sure she had a small seizure this morning while she was up sitting in the chair.

I have been overwhelmed by the support we are getting. Very humbled right now. But I am coming up with a plan to take care of emptying the cabin. I will post something soon regarding logistics of the move.
Thank you all again....and again.

Friday, February 25, 2011 6:06 AM CST

We are home from our trip to Key West. We had a great time and the weather was perfect. It was 80 degrees every day and almost 70 degrees at night. Never needed long sleeves once and it never rained. I don't think we have ever had weather so perfect while in Key West. It paid to wait a couple weeks later than when we usually travel there.

Aaron had his first seizure this morning. Cindy and I both saw it. I was able to stop it immediately with his wrist band magnet. Amazing!!

He was back to himself in less than 5 minutes from when the seizure stopped. Usually he goes to sleep for awhile and he isn't coherent for at least a half hour.

I think the implant is working all the time because it's been 2 months since we have observed a seizure. He has never gone that long without us seeing a seizure. Aaron may have had a few seizures but the frequency is way down.

We are pretty happy with the results. I still can't believe how the seizure stopped as soon as I swiped his wrist magnet over the implant. We can't wait to tell Iowa City.

We are looking forward to a quiet weekend, getting back to our Iowa routine.

Friday, February 18, 2011 6:35 AM CST

We are in Key West. What beautiful weather here. I don't think we have ever had this many good days strung together. The forecast for the next week is 79 and sunny everyday and upper 60s at night.

Getting here was a journey. While checking in at the airport the TSA person was most unhelpful and clueless. I don't know why there is an issue about them profiling passengers, because TSA agent #1 did not even notice that Cindy had only one leg.

She kept insisting that Cindy could walk through the scanner if Cindy was given a cane. I finally had to say..."for God's sake, she only has one leg, how is she going to walk through without her crutches.

Nikki and Michael flew with us on the same plane. (something we swore we would never do again, at least while Jacob still needs one of us to raise him.

Anyway, Nikki also had problems with TSA. They made her remove the boot she is wearing on her broken leg. As well as receiving quite the grope job.

Once that was over we flew to Atlanta, where we entered the concourse and found that the elevator was not working. One of the managers for the airport was standing at the elevator shooing people towards the escalator. Since it wasn't obvious to him that we needed the elevator, you know, with the wheelchairs and everything, I asked him how the largest airport in the country could have no other option when the elevator broke.

We headed for the escalator in disgust and he followed along, apparently shocked we would attempt such a thing. We got there at the same time as a large group of service men, in their desert fatigues. These heroes separated, some in front and some behind Cindy and left her plenty of steps on both sides, to maneuver. I was in front of Cindy on the way down, to catch her. The soldiers above her on the steps were totally focused on her to help if needed. The soldiers below me were turned around watching just in case. This was a very long and high escalator.

It brings tears to my eyes even thinking about that. This country will be fine as long as we have people like these, protecting us.

The airport manager was following behind them, with the wheelchair tipped up on the big wheels, coming down the escalator. After we got Cindy down, he went back up and brought Nikki's wheelchair down.

Then the pain began. Cindy was having stabbing pains in her leg and so she took some more of her pain medication but it wasn't working. By the time we got on the plane Cindy was in incredible pain. I wasn't sure we could even fly. We were in our seats and Cindy was trying to stifle shouts as the pain surged through her. I don't often see Cindy near tears over pain. She is a very tough girl. But this was bad.

By the time we arrived in Key West she was exhausted. We got to the Harbor Inn and met Cindy's cousin Phil and wife Julie. The warm, sunny weather and the relief from being "home" and the extra pain meds, finally helped calm the pain. We sat by the pool till dark and enjoyed our first evening in Paradise.

Sunday, February 6, 2011 5:39 PM CST

The angiogram scheduled for Tom on Monday, has been postponed. The medication is working well enough for Tom that we have decided (with the doctor approval) to wait till after our trip to Key West.

Tom has an appointment with the cardiologist on March 3rd and we will discuss where to go from there.

There are several reasons to wait and the doctor felt that since there have been no more symptoms of chest pain or jaw pain it would be okay to wait.

We are all somewhat relieved to tell you the truth. The difficulty Tom had after the heart procedure in July layed him up for almost a month.

Nikki is pretty disappointed that her broken leg is not healing. There has been no change after 3 weeks. We are prepared and have a new wheelchair for her to take to Key West. When we get back home, Nikki will be seeing an orthopedic specialist.

We are a banged up bunch but we intend on having fun regardless. We will make the best of it.


Monday, January 31, 2011 5:42 AM CST

No more heart incidents for Tom. He is now on a new medication that is more powerful and it seems to be working pretty well in controlling the heart rhythm.

Tom is sleeping better than he has in quite awhile and it must be due to the medicine. However, this is a very short term drug. The doctor said he can't be on it for more than 4-6 weeks. Just long enough to get through the angiogram, scheduled for next Monday, Feb 7th.

We were concerned about waiting so long for the angiogram but the cardiologist thought that the drug would keep things calmed down and also Tom has only had that one incident involving pain in his jaw. If he had any symptoms like that again, they would do the angiogram immediately.

We leave for Key West on Feb 16th. Nikki will also be riding in a wheelchair due to her broken leg, so I will have a partner beside me as we are pushed along the street. It will be nice to have someone at eye level with me to talk to, instead of talking back over my shoulder all the time. Can't wait!!! This weather has kept me locked up in the house for too long.

Oh, and the big news, Tom is retiring this year!!

The awful time we both had this year with our health issues was the spark he needed. It's time for Tom to slow down and enjoy himself.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:28 PM CST

This is Tom. I met with my cardiologist, Dr Chawla, or as he calls himself, "The Electrician", and he talked about where we go from here.

First off he is changing my heart medication to something more aggressive, for 6 weeks, to see how I respond.

Next, he scheduled an angiogram with Dr Kettelkamp, or as Dr Chawla calls him, "The Plumber".

This procedure will be on Feb. 7th, first thing in the morning. Chawla thinks there could be a blockage they haven't detected, that is near where the PVCs are coming from.

Chawla also talked about trying the RF ablation procedure again but he would have to have a heart surgical team standing by since it's in a "touchy" area of the heart. I thought that sounded pretty risky....he agreed. So that option is on the back burner for now.

He said that once we have ruled out any blockages we can focus totally on controlling or stopping the PVCs.

On a lighter note, (not really), Nikki fell and broke her ankle, the fibula, she broke it clean in two. So she is laid up now and hoping to be partially mobile in 4 weeks when we all head to Key West.

As insurance, we will be taking TWO wheelchairs now and Cindy and Nikki will be riding as we cruise the streets of Key West.

Hopefully they don't screw up my groin during the heart procedure, like they did last summer, or we will need THREE wheelchairs.

Luckily cousins Phil & Julie are going on the trip too, so we still have plenty of wheelchair pushers.

So that is the latest from the Lynch household(s).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 4:02 PM CST

Another update written by Cindy. Yes, that means that Tom is having problems again. We had a big scare today.

Tom was at work very early this morning when he started having what he thought was terrible heart burn. The pain started in his back then quickly moved to his chest, LEFT side!

He said that he tried deep breathing and lifting his arms but the pain just wouldn't subside, then it moved into his jaw. Having lots of experience with heart attack symptoms, he knew what jaw pain usually means.

There he was at work, 5AM, all alone, in a LOCKED security room, with no one expected for at least an hour or more. So he got up and proceeded to a lunch area right outside the secure room.

Still no one around. He said he sat there figuring his options, trying to remain calm. It was a good 3 city blocks to the only guard on duty, (this is a huge building) which would then mean a 15 minute wait for an ambulance...and lots of commotion.

So he opted for driving himself since his vehicle was just a 100 feet from the nearest exit. He also told me that he picked Mercy hospital, knowing that I would be able to get in and out without having to go through snow and ice. The other hospital is a bit closer but no such "amenities" for me there. Always the caregiver!! It's going to be the death of him.

I received a call from Tom around 6AM or so, it was like "Ummm, I don't want to alarm you or anything, I'm fine, but I'm in the ER at Mercy".

When I got to the hospital, he was all wired up and the excitement had calmed down. Only one nurse in the room with him and one sitting just outside watching the pretty monitors.

"Again, (as he experienced last spring), "you walk into a trauma center and announce you are a male, late 50s, with chest pains" and it is SWARM, SWARM!!!!! He again got to explain to the staff how he is the first member of his family to reach his age without having a heart attack....siblings or parents. Oh, it's quite a thrill he said.

They did an EKG and immediately saw that his heart rhythm was out of whack again like last summer. They gave him some meds and baby aspirin and did a complete blood workup. Then the doctor said that they needed to check the blood again in 6 hours.

So we waited and waited. The pain finally subsided a couple hours later. The last blood test didn't show anything wrong but he is to see his cardiologist next week and they may recommend he have an angiogram.

We are not sure why they didn't do the angiogram when they had the catheter in his heart last summer. Oh well, at least he will meet our deductible for this year too.

So that was our day, how was yours.

Take care,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 5:20 AM CST

It is a new year! We are all back home from Florida. We had a nice time, weather a little cool for the first few days but then it warmed up and was beautiful.

Cindy is feeling well. She has some doctor stuff this month to put behind her, then we will be ready to return to Florida next month. Always a nervous time.

Aaron has recovered from his surgery and he returns to Iowa City today to have the implant device programmed. This will be the first of a series of visits until the program is working properly.

We will be headed to Key West, FL. in the middle of February. Something nice to look forward to.

Thursday, December 30, 2010 5:04 AM CST

Some great friends were there for us this week, helping Aaron get home.
Thank you so much Troy and Lynn for all you did for Aaron last night in Madison.

And thank you Jeff and Carol...and Nikki, for going to get Aaron today.

It was a long day for all of us yesterday but we finally slept well knowing Aaron was safe.

What would we do without such great friends?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 8:59 AM CST

Ok, I am done complaining and instead doing something proactive. We are staying 4 more days so that we can capture the mid-70s weather that is predicted.

We will be back in Iowa on Sunday.

Have a great New Years Eve!

Monday, December 27, 2010 2:34 PM CST

I am usually perfectly willing to rationally explain why there is no man-made global warming but today is not the day for me to be rational.

We have been in Clearwater Beach, Florida since Christmas and we have not had temps above 55 since the night we landed.

Today the HIGH is 47 degrees with 20-30 mile/hour constant wind. The beach sand is drifted like snow, in the streets.

Being outside is unbearable!

On a positive note, the swimming pool and beach could be totally ours because there is not a soul in sight.

Climate and Cancer...the two big C's that both suck and both out of our control.

Better luck in February, we hope.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 6:42 AM CST

Like clockwork, Cindy had a close call, just prior to our leaving for Florida this weekend. Cindy fell yesterday. Cindy falling right before or during a trip has become the norm.

She was standing by the desk without her crutches and was fiddling with her attempt to put on a sweatshirt. All of a sudden she lost her balance and tried to grab her crutches. She missed and flipped completely over top of the crutch leaning against the desk.

I leapt from my chair but never got close enough to catch her. She landed flat on her back and was shouting, "I'm ok, I'm ok!!" I had her lie still for a few seconds just to make sure.

We'll see if she is stiff and sore over the next few days.

We start packing tonight for our trip to Clearwater Beach. Aaron is already packed.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010 5:32 AM CST

Aaron is home and doing fine. The surgery went well and Aaron was awake when we got to his room. His neck and throat are sore and will be for a few months until he adjusts to the implant. We brought Aaron home from the hospital on Thursday.

My mom went home for one day and then I took her back to the hospital this weekend, due to complications from the surgery. Yesterday (Sunday), she had another surgery to stop the excess lymph node fluid leaking from one of her incisions. She will hopefully be home for Christmas.

We will be at Michael and Nikki's house for Christmas Eve and then Cindy, Aaron and I fly to Clearwater Beach, Fl. on Christmas day. It will be good to get away from the snow and cold. Cindy is anxious to be able to get outside again.

Have a great Holiday!!

Monday, December 13, 2010 5:38 AM CST

This month has been a busy one. My mother is currently in St Lukes hospital after going through some major heart related surgery. So lots of time at the hospital.

Our son Aaron is due for surgery this week in Iowa City, to have an implant inserted to control his seizures. The implant is called a Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS). The device is supposed to stimulate that major nerve to the brain and keep the brain occupied so it doesn't go into seizure.

That is the theory. But it will take some programming and probably a year to see how well it works. Aaron will be in the hospital in Iowa City for a couple days.

Now that the winter has arrived, Cindy is now housebound. Always a low point of the year for her.

To help alleviate the blue feelings, I booked a trip to Clearwater Beach for 5 days. We leave on Christmas day. Aaron will be going along since he will be recuperating from his surgery and unable to work for a couple weeks.

Two of Cindy's friends and classmates from high school were diagnosed with cancer this year. I don't know what's in the water in this part of the country but it's really starting to suck.

Don't wait to do the things you want in life. That's the refrain that is pounding in my head as I mull over my retirement date.

Monday, November 22, 2010 6:45 AM CST

To all our family and friends,

We hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is by far our family's favorite holiday! For us, there are no expectations, gifts, unintended guilt, etc., associated with this holiday. Nothing but togetherness, good food and relaxation.

Oh, and for this year, Thanksgiving Day is our Michael's birthday. Or as Michael has always called this entire week, "The Week of Michael". He always takes the entire week off work. Funny!

Tom & Cindy

Thursday, November 18, 2010 3:09 AM CST

Aaron finally heard from his insurance company. He was approved for the Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) implant. So we are now trying to get the surgery scheduled before Christmas.

Cindy is doing well currently. Things have been very calm healthwise, which is rare for us. We are enjoying this life without crisis period.

Friday, October 22, 2010 5:10 AM CDT

Aaron is now home and we are waiting to hear when his surgery will take place. We hope to have the implant in place before the end of the year.

Everyone else is doing well right now so we are just cruising through the fall months and enjoying each day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 5:20 AM CDT

Things are proceeding well for Aaron in Iowa City. He actually had a seizure just after they got him all hooked up to the monitors, so several members of the medical team were in the room when it happened.

Aaron was so tired. He had worked all night then went through an MRI and other procedures. He also hadn't eaten and was starving. There are EEG wires attached all over his head and he is on a TV monitor as well as a speaker. The staff is right outside his room waiting and watching.

They want to observe a couple more seizures so Aaron will probably be in the hospital for a few more days.

Today I take Jacob for his flu shot, followed by Dairy Queen. It's a yearly tradition. Jacob is not really all that into it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010 5:34 AM CDT

Cindy and I are doing fine and now it's Aaron's turn for some medical fun.

On Monday, Aaron will be admitted to the University of Iowa Hospital to begin the process for a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implant.

I won't go into the whole discussion of what the Vagus Nerve Stimulator is and what it does because information is readily available online by Googling it.

Aaron will first have to go into the hospital on Monday, be wired up and all his seizure medication withdrawn. They will then wait for him to have a seizure so they can analyze the type of seizure he has.

This wait could take several days. Aaron will be confined to his hospital room the entire time since he will have all kinds of wires attached to his head.

We are "hoping" that within 3 days he will have a seizure...that is kind of perverse isn't it. The first time we have "hoped" for a seizure.

After that happens, Aaron will be able to come home while the Neurology clinic analyzes the data. Then the maker of the stimulator will work with the Neurology department and Aaron's insurance company to make sure they will pay for it (it's $30,000 just for the stimulator).

Once approved, Aaron will return to the U of I hospital for the actual surgery to have it implanted just below the skin in his upper chest area.

The stimulator is supposed to help control his seizures, allowing Aaron to take less medication. There are side effects to all the medication he takes so we are hoping to alleviate a lot of that. Plus, just having fewer or no seizures would be wonderful.

That is what's on our plate for the fall season.

Sunday, October 3, 2010 3:41 PM CDT

We dodged a bullet this year. A post-summer flood on the Mississippi River!

Luckily we had pulled our boat two weeks ago and had it stored in our garage. The water level never got high enough to threaten our cabin but it did for several people we know who have homes on our island.

On Saturday, as the river crested and we finally breathed a sigh of relief, our son Aaron called and told us all the stuff in our freezer back home was melting.

So we loaded up and headed back to Cedar Rapids to head off that "disaster". We now have a new refrigerator/freezer in our kitchen.

I still have many things to do at the cabin that were put off in order to deal with the flooding preparations. So we will be heading back over the next few weeks to get that all done in time for winter.

But Cindy is doing fine and that is what really matters so we can't complain.

We are in the process of changing our email address.
if we haven't already notified you, our new email address is:


Please update us in your contact list. We will stop using aegwell@mchsi.com in a few weeks.

Cindy & Tom

Monday, September 20, 2010 5:35 AM CDT

Cindy is doing better and is now getting around on her regular crutches. She is not yet quite as fast as she was before breaking her arm.

She also has no feeling in some of her fingers on her left hand. She didn't notice the loss of feeling when she had the cast on her arm. We are hoping this is temporary and feeling will return with time.

Cindy has an appointment with her oncologist, Dr. Ghosh, today.

This coming weekend is Cindy's 35th class reunion, so we will be staying in Cedar Rapids instead of going to Guttenberg.

Monday, August 23, 2010 5:27 AM CDT

Cindy is getting stronger each day. She is using her underarm crutches for much of the day.

The forearm crutches are still a challenge however. There is still pain when she tries to apply all her weight on her hand, when using the forearm crutch.

Our grandson Jacob was with us all weekend (along with his parents :-). It was Jacob's 9th birthday! Can't believe how fast the years have flown by. Jacob entertained himself by driving the golf cart up and down the island road in front of our cabin.

Our entire family will be heading to St. Louis in September for a fun time at the Cardinals ballpark. This has become a yearly event. We get tickets in one of the skyboxes...all you can eat and drink and great seats.

We hope that Cindy will be able to get around better by then, (even though she will be in her wheelchair for much of the time). Crowds are a challenge!

Monday, August 9, 2010 5:57 AM CDT

Cindy is regaining a lot of movement in her hand and wrist but she is still having lots of pain there. She is not supposed to put any weight on her hand for another couple of weeks.

I am a little concerned about how the weight bearing will go, due to the pain she continues to have. I hope it is healing okay.

The crutch contraption is working well for her but it is bulky and cumbersome to use, so it will be good to get rid of it.

We are spending as much time as we can at the cabin as the summer speeds by. We weren't able to have as much company this year due to our medical issues. But for the rest of the month of August we will have company every weekend.

Both of us have doctor appointments over the next two weeks so that will keep us running between times at the cabin.

I have also started writing a book about Cindy's life. Over the years I have constantly been told by family and friends that "you should write a book". So now it's started. Man there is a lot of stuff to write about! Cindy has had quite a life.

Monday, July 26, 2010 10:24 AM CDT

We have turned the corner!

Cindy got her cast off this morning!!!! She is very excited. However, she can't put any weight on it, so she is still restricted to using her crutch with the contraption attachment.

Dr. Buckwalter wants her to start moving her arm and hand, lots of exercises everyday. Another four weeks and he will look at her arm again to see if she can start bearing weight.

At my insistence, Dr B gave Cindy a removable brace for her arm, just to wear when she is out and about....a little extra protection in case she stumbles and falls or has to catch herself with her hands. We don't want to start going backwards at this point in her recovery.

My leg/hip/general-groin area, is much better. The skin is still black and now turning different shades of blue but the swelling is down. And I can walk somewhat normally now. I am going back to work tomorrow.

My heart rhythm is still not right and it gets really wacky when I lie down to sleep at night. Sleep is a problem. I am going to change medication times to see if it helps.

The new medication I am on is supposed to help with the rhythm but it may take a month or so to really work well.

But bottom line, we are both better.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 8:58 AM CDT

Today is the day that I met Cindy, 41 years ago!! It was on July 22nd, 1969, two days after the moon landing. Happy anniversary Cindy!

We are both feeling better. Cindy has another appointment in Iowa City on Monday. They will Xray her arm and then put a new cast on. Cindy is hoping for an immobilizer instead of a cast, so she can shower by herself and just have more freedom of movement.

The pain meds are starting to work for me and the swelling is going down. I feel much better and can walk somewhat normally now.

Yesterday we were riding on our golf cart on the island, talking about both of us cheering up and having a better outlook....when we came across a man lying in the road. He had fallen while walking with his wife. While I was assisting, he died right in front of us.

Puts things in perspective instantly.

Monday, July 19, 2010 1:52 PM CDT

The latest with my heart procedure/complications.

The cardiologist had me go to Mercy for an ultrasound this morning.

First, the order was screwed up and the ultrasound technician was arguing with me about what side it was that she had to do. She kept telling me that all the documents said the left side and I was the only one saying it was the right side.

So finally I told her to lift the sheet and take a look....since my entire right side from navel to knee is black and my left side is perfectly fine. She looked and said, "Oh my!"
But we still had to wait till it was official before she started. They faxed over a new order.

Then she didn't like what she saw so she had someone else come in and look. That second tech said they needed a specialist, so a vascular surgeon/physician came in and interpreted what was on the screen.

It appears that I did have bleeding but they can't tell if it has stopped. So more rest in prone position and come back to the hospital first thing tomorrow morning for another scan.

If it's still bleeding they will take me to surgery and inject a med directly into the artery to try to get it to stop bleeding. They think they can do it without opening me up...which will be nice.

That is all I know for now.


Saturday, July 17, 2010 8:30 PM CDT

Cindy got a new cast on her arm on Thursday and it feels much better for her. The loose cast was most likely what was causing the problem before.

When they put the first cast on, her arm was really swollen, so now her arm is back to normal and the new cast fits nice and snug.

My little saga is continuing. We ended up in the ER last night because I was having so much pain that the cardiologist said I needed an ultrasound of my groin. Turns out, there had been some blood seeping out of the artery, under the skin and that was why I was having so much pain.

So today, I was ordered to stay prone and do NOTHING. That was tough, being a beautiful day at the river. But that is what I did...NOTHING. Sitting up is painful so I try to keep my leg extended and with ice applied to the injury site.

I'm not sure how it will go at work this coming week, wearing long pants and sitting all day. We'll see.

We are quite the pair right now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 8:12 AM CDT

Cindy talked with Dr. Buckwalter this morning and he wants her to come down to Iowa City first thing tomorrow morning to have her cast/arm looked at.

She has still been having pain and the cast appears loose. She was quite swollen when they put the cast on 3 weeks ago so this may be the problem.

So we will be in Iowa City tomorrow morning. Not sure how we will do but we have plenty of helpers.

I am watching the predicted swelling progress across my mid-section. The doctor told me that the black skin and swelling would eventually spread from my navel to my knees, so it's been interesting watching the slow creep...like watching flood waters slowly rise.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 1:22 PM CDT

For those that aren't aware, Cindy is typing with just the one hand since the other arm is broken. But she certainly shouldn't apologize for that.

I was on the table for my heart ablation for 5 hours. There were 10 to 12 nurses and doctors in the room staring at monitors and scanners. It was quite a crowd. I was awake for the whole thing but they occasionally gave me a shot of happy medicine so I didn't care too much about the hoopla going on around me.

After the procedure they removed the catheters and they thought that the bleeding was stopped. But after a couple hours of me lying flat on my back, very still, I noticed that my right groin area was about the size of a softball and hurt like hell. The nurse said that she would have to put pressure with her thumbs, all around the swollen area to break up the pooled blood. I said, "you're kidding". She wasn't.

I really can't expand much on what Cindy typed on the last journal update, except to say that having a nurse put as much pressure as she could on the "wound" in my groin....for A HALF HOUR...was about the most painful thing I have ever experienced. Remind you, I haven't given birth but that fricken hurt!

All I could do was squeeze Cindy's good hand. She said I was shaking all over and sweat was pouring. The nurse had to do that to get the blood stopped from draining around the artery and possibly into my body cavity.

This bleeding was also the possible reason why my back hurt so much. The escaping blood tends to pool around the spine causing excruciating back pain...which I had. So after they got the artery closed and the lump reduced to golf ball size, they sent me down for a CAT scan to see if I was bleeding internally.

I didn't get settled in a regular room until after 9pm last night. Then they checked on me every hour after that. The nurse told me at midnight that the CT scan was ok. Mind you, we arrived at the hospital to start this process at 6am.

The hematoma occured where they pulled the catheter out of the artery in my groin. For the procedure, they had to place 5 catheters...2 in veins in my left groin and 3 in my right groin-(two in veins and one large and foot-long catheter in my femoral artery).

About 10pm last night I was allowed to get up and stand for a bit. I wasn't able to walk very far, so I only took some steps around the room. This morning, I felt a lot better, other than the wound.

The doctor came in and told us again all the stuff I kind of forgot after the procedure yesterday. Apparently, they couldn't ablate the problem area because it's right near the left aortic valve (the main route for blood to the body) and doing anything there would most likely kill me (his words). So we are going to try medication. It could take a month to see improvement.

This doctor (Dr Chawla) is the area expert in doing ablation but he told us he eventually had to call in the area expert in doing angiograms to help with routing the catheter into the aorta area so he was able to exactly pinpoint the cause of the rhythm problem. Dr. Chawla said, "I'm the electrician but he's the plumber".

For now, I'm not able to drive until Friday, when I have to go in for another heart test at Dr. Chawla's office to make sure everything is ok for me to be released to work again. I also can't lift anything due to the wound healing, for a week...so any lawn mowers would be appreciated...hint hint.

This morning I had one more little scare. The nurse pulled all my tubes and monitors and told me that I could shower. Then she took me down the hall to the isolated shower room. I was finishing up and noticed blood pooling around my feet and all over the wash cloth and towel. I thought...."oh no, the artery is open!!" Turns out it was from where the IV had been in my hand. They had covered it with a wrap but it had soaked through with blood and I was flinging it around. Scared the crap out of me.

I was supposed to pull the cord when I was done showering so the nurse could wheel me back to the room...which I did. But the nurse never showed up so I ended up hobbling and bleeding all the way back. Good thing it wasn't the artery!

Other than that goof, I have to say that the St Lukes nursing staff is about the best we have ever experienced. We have always been partial to Mercy Hospital due to the logistics for Cindy getting around. But this experience with the nurses at St. Lukes changed our opinion. They could not have been nicer and more caring....every one of them...even the one who forgot me in the shower.

So that's all I have to say about that....Forest Gump.

Except one more thing, thank you to Michael and Nikki...and Jacob, for taking such good care of Cindy and me. The help was greatly appreciated.

Monday, July 12, 2010 8:48 PM CDT

first, excuse the one handed lack of punctuation, etc.... this is cindy updating on tom's heart procedure.

the heart ablation was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and started just after that. he got along fine but unfortunately it did not work. the irregularity is at/near the aortic valve (left) and they cannot risk burning there. they did burn around it but too risky to do any more. so, the doctor does not think he will have successful clinical result and the irregularities are still there.

so, the next step is to try medication. they have already started him on something new. dr. chawla said this is very rare, he has seen only once or twice in his career. we know tom is special....but, didn't want it to show up this way. :)

he also had a hematoma just as they were talking of moving him to a room for the night. so that was another delay of a few hours. by this time it is after 6 and we are all pooped. he was also having lots of back pain and they did CT scan to rule any other special things like blood pooling in his spine....it appears that was good for now as the pain got better with some good drugs. i think lying flat for so long was part of it....

he is now in his room and will be getting up shortly for the first time. nikki and jacob are having a sleepover with me at home and michael is now at his home after a LONG day at his least favorite place.

thanks for the continual good thoughts during yet another bump in our lives. keep the good thoughts for the new meds!

have a good rest of the summer!

Friday, July 9, 2010 4:40 AM CDT

We are headed back to Cedar Rapids this morning. My Uncle, Bill Lynch, died this week and I am a pallbearer at his funeral.

Bill was diagnosed with cancer less than 2 weeks ago. He had no symptoms until he fell. After not recovering quickly the doctor did some scans and found he had cancer in several areas. Michael and I helped bring him home last week.

Bill was the last of my dad's family.

Jacob and Aaron will be with Cindy at the funeral to help her get around. Things are still going slow in the recovery phase and Cindy is pretty frustrated.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 4:11 AM CDT


Cindy is 53 years old today. What a miracle!

I love you,

Thursday, July 1, 2010 3:46 PM CDT

We are back at the cabin. Me working and leaving Cindy home to fend for herself was too much for her. It's easier for Cindy to get around at the cabin and I am WAAAAY more relaxed up here.

I haven't mentioned it but my heart rhythm problem has been really messed up with all the added stress. We will chill at the cabin until my procedure on July 12th.

Now I just need to figure out a way to get Cindy onto the boat so we can go for a ride....the weather is awesome this week!!

Cindy is feeling better, the pain is reduced to more of an ache. I worried about her fighting spirit, she seemed to be getting pretty down. But yesterday she just sort of turned around. I could hear it in her voice.

Keep sending the positive thoughts.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 3:37 PM CDT

We are back at the cabin. Me working and leaving Cindy home to fend for herself was too much for her. It's easier for Cindy to get around at the cabin and I am WAAAAY more relaxed up here.

I haven't mentioned it but my heart rhythm problem has been really messed up with all the added stress. We will chill at the cabin until my procedure on July 12th.

Now I just need to figure out a way to get Cindy onto the boat so we can go for a ride....the weather is awesome this week!!

Cindy is feeling better, the pain is reduced to more of an ache. I worried about her fighting spirit, she seemed to be getting pretty down. But yesterday she just sort of turned around. I could hear it in her voice.

Keep sending the positive thoughts.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 6:50 AM CDT

We are back in Cedar Rapids for a few days. I thought I would be able to go into work today and for the rest of the week but Cindy is not yet ready to be left alone. I was a little too optimistic on what she can do for herself so I am staying with her today.

I will get her settled at home today, trip to the grocery store and other errands and then I will try to work tomorrow.

Cindy is not in as much pain but it's still affecting her ability to use her crutches. She says that her arm hurts when she uses them for more than a few minutes. So for now, she is relying on her scooter around the house.

We will head back to Guttenberg on Thursday afternoon and then stay there until July 12th, when I have my heart procedure.

Sunday, June 27, 2010 9:03 AM CDT

We talked to Dr. Buckwalter yesterday about the continuing pain in Cindy's arm. He told us to come back to Iowa City on Monday morning if the pain is still continuing.

By the late afternoon, Cindy started to feel better. We went out to eat for dinner and everything went fine. I still have to transport her in the wheelchair but Cindy is getting better at moving around on her crutches for short distances.

I am trying to let Cindy do more and more for herself, rather than me doing it because it's just easier. That is hard for me but in the end it's better for Cindy. We both realize that Cindy needs to be able to do small tasks. It's like her daily workout, it keeps her in shape. To the casual observer it may look like I am maybe mean, "why don't you get her that bottle of water, instead of just sitting there??"

Cindy is very appreciative for all the good wishes from everyone. We hope to soon be in a normal routine and well on the mend.

Friday, June 25, 2010 6:02 AM CDT

This has been a rough week for Cindy. Hopefully it will start to get better for her. She is pretty frustrated about her limitations and her arm is "uncomfortable" most of the time.

"Uncomfortable" for Cindy means Painful for most people. I have to admit she is pretty stoic about what she goes through. I wouldn't be.

Cindy is getting around the house on her scooter pretty well. The crutches are proving to be more difficult. She has only been able to go for a few steps and they are baby steps. Her arm hurts too much for her to really bear down on the crutch and when she lifts the crutch that is painful too.

There are some benefits...Cindy is unable to shower by herself so we shower together. And dressing is pretty difficult, she especially struggles getting her bra off and on. I told her that I have always been able to get her bra off in two seconds. So some of my skills have finally proved useful. I do what I can.

Yesterday was the first day that Cindy left the house. We went on a golf cart ride for over an hour. It was nice to get out of the house and the late afternoon was gorgeous.

Tonight we will go out for dinner and I'm thinking about taking her out for breakfast this morning too. Although I knew I would have to do everything for Cindy, there are a couple things I didn't think about.....doing dishes and making the bed. Those two things are near the top of my list of "hate to do" and I have never had to do either. Poor me.

I'm hoping that Cindy will do better next week. If not, we will call Iowa City and see if something else needs to be done. I'm kind of wondering if the cast on her arm is too short, thereby allowing too much radial movement in her forearm...but we'll see how it goes. Oh, I forgot in the first update, Cindy broke BOTH bones in her arm....for you technophiles, that's the radius and the ulna bones.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 4:53 AM CDT

Cindy saw Dr. Buckwalter on Monday at the U of I Orthopaedic Clinic. He looked at her Xrays and then told us that her arm is fractured in a very common location and is not too bad of a break.

He said that some doctors would want to do surgery but he didn't think the outcome would be any better and the risk of surgery and infection was a big factor. So we agreed and told Dr. B we would proceed with just trying to heal in a cast.

However, he told us that Cindy's condition makes this a more difficult process. I guess I should explain. I had assumed that everyone would understand the full impact of what a broken arm means for Cindy. But due to questions we are receiving even from people close to us, I assumed too much.

Without the use of BOTH of Cindy's arms, she is pretty helpless. Besides the normal things that take two arms, like getting dressed, opening lids, etc.....Cindy's arms also function as her balance, like the pole a high wire walker uses. That is how she is able to stand so well on one leg. Both her arms are needed to get up out of a chair, or off the floor. Both her arms are needed to walk across a room. Both of her arms are needed to go up and down steps (steps are proving to be very hard for her to do).

There are many more examples but you get the point....Cindy is pretty limited right now in what she is able to do for herself.

The healing process is going to take about 8 weeks according to Dr. Buckwalter.

We sat and chatted with Doctor B for awhile and he told Cindy that he always loves to get emails from her but he opens them with caution because he never knows what is next with Cindy. He told her that he never thought she would be sitting here 14 years later and that Cindy was nothing short of a miracle. So in the big scheme of things, reading that she had a broken arm was pretty mild, he said.

So after that meeting, on to physical therapy. The therapist was going to fix up some sort of walker but we told her we wanted to be more creative and since Cindy was so good on crutches, lets rig something up.

Back to the toolbox and out she came with a contraption for Cindy's crutch. The therapist attached the contraption and Cindy tried it out. It was difficult at first but with my help (I can't help myself from getting involved) I got it adjusted right for the way I envisioned it should work. The therapist thought it was a neat idea.

On to the workout room. Cindy tried walking and was just getting the hang of it when we saw the workout steps. So Cindy tried the steps. That was a challenge! Once she tried that a few times, she was pretty worn out.

We left the clinic and then came back to Cedar Rapids and to the mobility store. Cindy is now the owner of a pretty red electric scooter. We got the smallest one we could get so that it will fit everywhere in the house and it comes apart so it's easy for me to load in the car by myself.

By the time we got home, it had been a long day and Cindy was hurting a lot and very tired. I will have to stay pretty close for awhile, she is still pretty unsteady, still in pain and still just getting used to being so limited in what she can do.

More later,


Sunday, June 20, 2010 11:17 AM CDT

UPDATE Sunday 2pm:
We're in!!!!! Dr. Buckwalter called us back and he will see Cindy first thing tomorrow in Iowa City. He is the head of the Orthopedic department at the University and was Cindy's leg doctor.

Finally, it's not all about me. But the bad news is that it's about Cindy.

Cindy fell yesterday on some stone steps and broke her arm. We initially were worried about her leg which got scraped up and was bleeding. Cindy went to bed shortly after the fall and wasn't aware of the arm injury (you all know what a high pain tolerance she has). When she woke up this morning her arm was very swollen and she couldn't use it at all.

I took her to the Guttenberg hospital where the break was confirmed by Xray and her arm was put in a temporary cast. Cindy needs to be seen by an orthopedic doctor since her mobility is so limited now...wheelchair all the time.

So we've called on her guardian angel, Dr. Buckwalter in Iowa City. Waiting to hear back from him but I'm pretty sure we will be in Iowa City tomorrow.

I will keep the page updated as we know more.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010 6:09 PM CDT

I heard from the Cardiologist today. All the tests have shown that everything is good...except for the heart rhythm thingy. So now we can focus on just getting that taken care of next week.

They had to eliminate all other possible causes or problems that could be affecting the rhythm. Good troubleshooting technique. I figured from the beginning that RF ablation would be the cure but I also wanted to eliminate other things, due to my poor family history with heart disease.

The heart rhythm problem is still going on, with virtually no change since it started.

Cindy is relieved to hear that nothing else is wrong with my heart. So relieved, that she couldn't wait for me to call for the results....she called. Sounds like something I would do with Cindy's doctors.

The kids are coming to the river this weekend. Can't wait to see Jacob on the boat this summer, now that he swims like a fish!

Friday, May 28, 2010 5:41 AM CDT

A big weekend coming up. I am off work until next Wednesday, so lots of cabin time, and it's supposed to be a beautiful weekend.

On Tuesday, June 1st, Cindy and I will be celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary.

I have been undergoing lots of medical tests for my heart, which has Cindy and the rest of the family worried about me. That is an odd position for me to be in, I'm supposed to be the rock.

Anyway, yesterday was a full day of tests. Then the cardiologist called late yesterday and said that he is sending me to another specialist in the group, to discuss having the RF ablation procedure. So I have that to look forward to in the coming few weeks.

I hope that takes care of it and we can all get back to our normal life...of just worrying about Cindy.

Everybody have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 5:55 AM CDT

Summer is here! Our boat is in the water, that is the best sign of summer.

I am currently adjusting to being a caregiver to MY caregiver. Tom is having problems with his heart. He is feeling a little better this week but not much change.

The cardiologist still doesn't have any answers as to why this is happening or what the treatment will be. The problem has been going on for almost 2 weeks. It started with a couple trips to the ER, once in Guttenberg and then again to Mercy in Cedar Rapids.

I have to say, if you want some excitement in your life, just walk into Mercy ER and tell them you are a 56 year old man with heart problems. Talk about ACTION. WOW!!

Anyway, they were able to identify the problem as an electrical issue with Tom's heart and not a heart attack or any kind of circulatory blockage. That was a relief, as Tom is the only one in his family to reach this age without having a heart attack.

Tom was on a heart monitor last weekend and there are more procedures to be done next week. So for now, he is cutting out all stimulants and trying to reduce his stress level.

It was kind of funny, at one point the cardiologist said, "you should get more sleep and reduce the stress in your life". We both laughed out loud when the doctor said that. Is that all it takes, gee, that should be easy. Apparently the doctor hasn't met the Lynch family or know any of our history.

For now, we are carrying on, Tom is back at work this week after being home all last week. And we are spending our weekends at the cabin as usual, because there is nothing like it for reducing stress.

Have a great summer!!


Thursday, April 29, 2010 6:51 AM CDT

Finally, a good spring. The weather this year has been better than the past few years. The trees are all leafed out and we have been finding and eating morel mushrooms since April 15th, the earliest ever for us. Usually the trees don't leaf until the last week in April and the mushrooms pop just before and around Mothers day.

We are busy at the cabin each weekend, cleaning and yard work, adding another sky light over the kitchen, and replacing the stove.

Cindy is feeling better now that she can get outside and be in the warm sun.

Today we will go mushrooming one more time and Cindy will go with us. While Aaron and I hunt, Cindy will be sitting on the porch of a remote cabin overlooking the Cedar River, enjoying the serenity and beautiful view. Very peaceful!

Thursday, April 8, 2010 6:22 AM CDT

We are back from Las Vegas. We had a good time there and didn't gamble a nickel.

However, we did have our credit card swiped at a card reader. We were notified by our bank last night because we have fraud protection on our account.

Our credit card account was closed and we now have the hassle of changing all of our information to a new number. But that is better than actually losing any money from our account.

We saw the Beatles Love show while in Vegas and Cindy and I toured the new 10 BILLION dollar City Center/Aria casino. There are probably ten 50-story buildings in the complex, plus 8 lanes of new road.

We marveled at how they could build something like this in 2 years, while Cedar Rapids can't seem to just tear down several hundred rotten, wood houses in that same time.

Cindy is fighting a cold or something, her voice is about gone and she is suffering with headaches. She was fine in Vegas, except for a fall in our room.

Her arm is black and blue where her crutch jammed as she went down, straight back, flat on her back. I saw her fall but I was too far away to catch her. Cindy hit her head when she fell and was a little stunned. I had her lie still for a minute to make sure she was ok.

The next morning I looked for her to be achy but she said she felt fine. Not sure how/why she fell, her foot appeared to just slip out from under her. Cindy thought maybe the lotion on her foot made it slippery on the carpet.

This weekend we will head to the cabin, it's supposed to be a beautiful weekend. There will be plenty of yard work and cleaning to keep us busy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 5:22 AM CDT

We are busy this week packing our luggage for a trip to Las Vegas. Cindy and I are going with our friends, Jeff and Carol Brown. We leave Thursday.

We will all be staying at Caesars Palace, our favorite place in Vegas. There is so much to do at Caesars that you really never have to leave the property.

However, Saturday night we will walk next door to the Mirage to see the Beatles Love show. We saw that show last year and it is amazing. Jeff and Carol have not seen it so we were more than willing to go again with them.

Once we return home, our travels will be over until next winter....summer is approaching and we are anxious to get to the cabin as often as possible.

Sunday, March 21, 2010 2:25 PM CDT

Finally, it appears that spring is here even though the snow covering the ground on Saturday would have you believe otherwise! But, it is official today!

We have been busy this month dealing with Tom’s Mom, Joyce Pollock. She has encountered some serious health issues and that has required a move for her. Joyce has been contemplating a move to an assisted living facility and the recent problems have accelerated her plan.

Joyce was hospitalized last week and when she was released we took her directly to Windsor Manor in Vinton. It is a wonderful facility and she will be in her own apartment within the facility.

Joyce still has her car and her independence but she’ll have companionship, meals and some daily assistance with things she needs help with. She was getting a bit overwhelmed on the farm, living all by herself and I hope this is a good move for her.

It has been a different role for me, assisting Tom with his mom's health issues. Tom is always taking care of me. I welcome the chance to now help Tom however I can.

Otherwise, we are all doing well. We are anxiously awaiting our summer at the cabin. We will soon be taking a few weekends to do some of the indoor work we do to get ready for the summer season. It is always good to have a little time to do our work so we’re done in time to play for the rest of the summer.

I’m hoping to have some tomatoes again this year and the usual flowers. It is a lot of work and sometimes difficult for me to get around, but it is good therapy (mental and physical). Here’s hoping your spring is going well also.


Monday, February 22, 2010 9:28 AM CST

We are back home from Key West. Our trip was fantastic even though the weather was not as warm as usual. Most days the temps reached 70 and it was sunny all but one day, so that is better than here.

Cindy was able to be outside everyday and got lots of sun. She is reinvigorated and now ready to face what's left of this winter in Iowa. Next year we will go later in February so we will have less cold weather after we return home.

There was one hitch during our travel where Cindy had to actually crawl up the steps to get on the plane. It was on the last leg of our journey down to Key West and the plane was quite small.

The steps up onto the plane were more like a ladder...a very narrow ladder. She was undeterred and we also didn't want to be transferred to another airline with possible delays and multiple stops; since we were only a 45 minute flight away from being in Key West. So up the steps she went.

Another hitch was after we arrived in Key West. The mobility scooter that we had reserved and PAID for in advance, didn't pan out. We ended up having the credit card company refund our money.

It was not that big of a deal. She just wasn't able to go out by herself on the scooter like she had planned. There were few times that would have happened anyway, I just pushed her around in the wheelchair wherever she wanted to go.

We had a great time, met lots of new people and were taken out for a wonderful dinner by a local celebrity who has a radio show in Key West.

We just learned that a classmate of Cindy's, Kurt Karr, lost his lower leg last week, as a result of serious injury in a car accident two years ago.

Kurt and Cindy both struggled for almost two years trying to avoid an amputation but it wasn't to be for either of them. I don't know what the odds are in a small town for two people in the same high school class to have a leg amputated. Got to be pretty low percentages.

We wish Kurt well as he recovers and gets back up and walking.

Hopefully this winter is on its last legs and we can move on to just worrying about spring flooding. Life is always interesting.

Friday, January 29, 2010 10:25 AM CST

The Winter season is in full bloom and we are enjoying all the benefits of sub-zero temperatures. For instance, yesterday as Cindy attempted to leave home, the garage door would not go up due to being frozen to the cement.

Upon hitting the garage door opener button, there was lots of loud banging, clatter and finally, the chain falling on the roof of the car, followed by silence....which was deafening.

Since Cindy can only leave home via the garage, in order to avoid falling on icy surfaces, she was stuck. This was the 5th day that Cindy has not been able to leave home. She was thrilled!!

Our handyman friend came over a few hours later and determined that the door opener was broken. This resulted in more calls to another garage door fixer friend, who came over late in the day to replace the opener. He gratefully took $350 of our Key West spending money and had us up and running by sunset.

So now we can head to Key West, comforted in the knowledge that our garage door will be fine while we are gone. I also won't have to cart around as much money as I had planned.

Last night I was able to get Cindy out of the house and over to our kids' house for a visit. Cindy was glad to finally go somewhere.

This weekend we will pack for our trip. We are going to ship our luggage to Key West this year. Several people have had good luck doing this. The place we are staying at said they will have our stuff waiting in our room when we arrive.

This will make things much easier for me, as it's difficult to move luggage and Cindy in her wheelchair through the airport and in and out of shuttles.

We leave Thursday, Feb 4th and I know it will be tough to adjust to temps in the mid-70s and swimming outside in February but I have talked Cindy through it before and I think she will be fine.

Friday, January 8, 2010 5:42 AM CST

Well, I don't want to start an argument over the theory of Global Warming but.....COME ON!! This winter is ridiculous.

Even Key West Florida is struggling to stay in the 60s and temps at night are in the low 50s. We are watching the 10 day forecast for Key West everyday and hoping that temps are back to normal when we arrive on Feb. 4th. Normal for Key West is 75 degrees during the day and 68 at night. Not much of a swing.

Cindy got her new custom-made crutches this week and she loves them. They are a little taller which I think will work much better for her. The crutches are not purple like her other ones but Cindy is very talented and I'm sure she will decorate them to make them unique.

These crutches are "bead-blasted titanium". The finish looks like brushed nickel, which is currently all the rage for household metal fixtures.

We have made arrangements for a scooter while we are in Key West. This will allow Cindy to be more mobile without my help. She will be able to scoot around town by herself instead of me pushing her everywhere in her wheelchair.

We will still take the wheelchair of course for airports and occasional jaunts to nearby restaurants and shopping. The Scooter store will deliver it right to our room when we arrive in Key West. Cindy is excited.

For now, we are hunkering down and trying to stay warm. It's been a challenge to get Cindy out of the house due to the risk of a fall (her falling, not me). We don't need an injury this close to our departure for warmer locations.

Stay warm!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 7:53 AM CST

Our email is back up and running again, although Mediacom still has issues and we are getting tons of spam emails everyday. Anyway, at least Cindy can receive emails now.

Winter is officially here, I fell on the ice in our driveway last night. I am pretty stiff and sore but still able to walk around at least. I thought my knee joint was gone when I fell, I felt it give way inside the joint. I have bruises and pain about everywhere today.

So if I can't even navigate my own driveway, imagine how housebound Cindy is about now. The thought of her falling is just too scary to contemplate.

Next week the daylight hours start getting longer. So there's that.

Friday, December 11, 2009 5:45 AM CST

We are having problems with our home email. Mediacom has upgraded their system and now we can't log in.

For some reason, Aaron is able to log in to his email (which is the same account as ours??).

So, recognizing that this is the Christmas season and you may be wanting to contact Cindy, please send messages to Aaron's account at:

Or my work account at:

Just put CINDY in the subject box, so we will know it's for her.


Saturday, December 5, 2009 2:59 PM CST

This link is a video to promote breast cancer awareness and it will make you smile.


This video is on YouTube and has already had over 3 million hits. If this link doesn't work just go to YouTube and search for the 'Pink Glove Dance'.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 5:42 AM CST

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday! No expectations, just family and food.....and a nap.

We will be at our son's house for dinner and then Cindy and I will spend the weekend at the cabin in Guttenberg.

This year has been pretty tough for several of our relatives. Let's hope this next year is brighter for everyone.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, November 1, 2009 7:57 AM CST

Cindy's hand is finally healing. The removal of skin cancers from the back of her hand made for some pretty bad sores that got infected. It took about 3 weeks for everything to heal up.

She has one more test in mid-December. The rest of Cindy's test results were good.

Our grandson Jacob came through the H1N1 flu ok and is now back to school. That had us nervous due to his asthma.

His mother Nikki escaped getting the flu, with just a minor cold. She too has asthma.

Michael is never sick and Aaron is doing okay right now.

I had a colonoscopy that came back with good results.

So October was a month of tuneups and repairs for the family. After Cindy's test in December, we should all be good to go for another 10,000 miles.

I ordered a custom-made set of titanium crutches for Cindy. She will be motating in style soon. This set won't be purple like her last set but she can still use the purple crutches as fashion dictates.

She didn't think she needed the new set but I reminded her that when she had two legs, her closet contained 100 pairs of shoes. A girl's gotta have options.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 1:11 PM CDT

My updates were starting to sound routine, nothing going on in the family, everything fine. For this family, that never lasts for long.

Cindy had several cancer spots on her hand that had to be removed a few weeks ago. One of them was more concerning than the others to the dermatologist because it was so deep.

He "burned" them all off with liquid nitrogen, which basically freezes the tumors and they then fall off....supposedly.

Well, they swelled up with blood and looked pretty bad. We eventually received instructions to lance them and let them drain. Now, one of them looks pretty infected so another trip to the doctor this week.

I'm a little concerned that this may become a hinder to Cindy because of the pressure she has to put on her hand, just to walk with her crutches. I think that pressure is what was the cause of the blood swelling in the burned spots.

Another issue. Our grandson Jacob has H1N1 flu!! This has all of us scared to death. He has asthma and so does his mother, Nikki.

We are watching this very closely. His fever spiked last night to 104 and he was very restless all night, which is wearing Nikki down too.

Another scare with a huge sigh of relief occurred this morning. We were coming home from the cabin and as we approached our neighborhood, there were several fire trucks responding to a call, that caused us to pull over.

I remarked to Cindy that it was odd that two other districts were responding to our neighborhood, which already has a fire house, a block away from our condo.

Well, we followed the fire trucks....at every turn, all the way to our DRIVEWAY!!!! The fire was across the street in another condo. You can imagine, our hearts were in our throat with each turn of the fire trucks as we followed them.

There was no apparent fire going on from what we could see.

I like how some scares turn out to be nothing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009 6:46 AM CDT

Cindy had an appointment yesterday with her oncologist, Dr. Ghosh. He thought she was doing fine. But he ordered a mammogram which she will have in a few weeks. He also made some adjustments to the pain meds Cindy takes.

He also looked at the active skin cancer spots and Cindy told him she goes to Dr. Johnson within the month to have them removed.

Other than that, things are looking pretty positive.

Cindy is heading to Des Moines this weekend with Nikki, for a cousin wedding shower. We will all go to the wedding in Creston, near the end of October.

I am heading up to the cabin this weekend to put the boat away and prepare the cabin for the very short and warm winter we will be having....yeah, right!

We will at least hope for very little ice and snow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 5:00 AM CDT

Fall is here! Another summer gone.

We will be going to the cabin for another month but in a few more weeks we will be putting things away, pulling the boat out of the water, getting prepared for winter.

Even though this summer weather didn't always cooperate, we had a great summer. I don't remember having so much company at the cabin....almost every weekend someone was there sharing the fun. We have stayed over night at the cabin 4 or 5 nights of every week, since May.

On Sept. 11th, we will be heading to St. Louis to attend a St. Louis Cardinal baseball game. That will be fun. The kids are going with us. Michael and Nikki are Cardinal fans and Aaron is an Atlanta Braves fan...that is who they are playing.

We are staying at the hotel right across the street from the stadium. We also bought seats in one of the luxury suites at the stadium. There is food and drink provided, with bathroom and elevator right there, so it will be easy for Cindy. I will just wheel her right across the street and up the elevator in her wheelchair, very convenient!

There is nothing else planned until February when we go to Key West...vacation-wise that is.

Cindy does have a couple doctor appointments this fall with her dermatologist to remove some more skin cancer and with her oncologist to make sure things are still going okay.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:39 AM CDT

We are at the cabin this week....Michael, Nikki, Jacob, Aaron and Cindy and I are all here together. The weather is supposed to be beautiful. We will see, the summer weather has been more like spring or fall this year.

Along with our family at the cabin, is a roofing crew, that is installing a new roof and sky light. We had hoped to have the roofing done a few weeks earlier, which would have been nice since we had 5 inches of rain last week and there was a leak.

Hopefully the pounding on the roof will end today and the rest of the time will be quiet, except for our loud talking and laughing.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Monday, August 3, 2009 8:13 AM CDT

Cindy and I had a great 5-day weekend at the cabin but it ended poorly.

We went to bed early last night so I could get some sleep before driving home from the cabin this morning. About two hours after we went to bed, the manager of the Cedar Rapids Wal-Mart called. Aaron was there at work, having a bad seizure.

He was on the floor banging his head on the floor, vomiting, etc. They were holding him down so he wouldn't hurt himself. The manager and employees were all a little spooked.

As we talked Aaron started coming out of it, so I told the manager I would have my other son come get him because we were 100 miles away.

Aaron was trying to talk but couldn't for awhile. After he could talk, he wanted to go right back to work. Typical for Aaron.

I called Michael and woke him up, asked him go to the store and take Aaron home. Michael slept (unsuccessfully) on our couch.

I got there very early this morning and talked to both of them. Aaron was doing fine, just a little headache...and he hated missing work last night.

Another boring day in the Lynch family.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 3:38 AM CDT

It was 40 years ago today, July 22nd, 1969, the day that I first met Cindy. I posted this story a few years ago and here it is again...

I remember the day perfectly in 1969. A week long celebration was being held in Vinton for the 100 year centennial and there was a carnival on main street. I had moved to Rockford, Illinois the previous summer but I was back in town for the celebration.

My cousin Pat Lynch and I were standing in front of Michael and Dowd furniture store and I saw a group of girls coming off the tilt-o-whirl. I immediately spotted Cindy. I knew all the other girls she was with and I asked Pat, "WHO IS THAT GIRL???!!!" He told me that she was a classmate of his and he asked if I wanted to meet her.

We met up a short time later and were introduced for the first time. Man I was smitten!! (I still am). It would be awhile after that before Cindy's mom would approve of me spending time with Cindy. But the chase was on!

I remember exactly what she was wearing. A white polka dot sun dress, barefoot of course...all the girls went barefoot in the 60's, and her hair in curly pigtails, tied with white ribbons. She had very long hair at that time.

I posted a picture of her here on the photo page, taken that Fourth of July, 1969, with all her cousins in Creston, Iowa. She is wearing that same outfit in the photo that she had on when we met. Click on the “view photos” tab at the top of this page to see it.

It is hard to believe that it's been 40 years.

Monday, July 6, 2009 5:09 AM CDT

Today is Cindy's birthday. She is 52 today.

Happy Birthday Cindy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:04 AM CDT

We asked for warmer temps, they are here now! We are spending every free moment at the cabin. Lots of company and fun.

Cindy is doing well, the summers always agree with her.

Not much else to report. I love the absence of doctor and hospital trips, I can get used to this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 9:40 AM CDT

Summer is here! According to the calendar it is, but the thermometer is indicating that it's more like early April. We will muddle through, warmer boating weather will be here soon. Our boat is in the water and we have been out on the river on the few nice days we have had so far.

We had a great time in Las Vegas, celebrating our 35th anniversary. The trip went well and there were no mishaps this time. We did stop by the fine dining place in Caesars where Cindy's wheelchair was lost last year. The manager, (who promised a dinner for our inconvenience), was no longer working there. We were not surprised and really only stopped by out of curiosity.

We toured the newest casino/resort, the Encore, which is a mirror image of the Wynn resort where we stayed last year. The Encore is very nice but far from the center of activity on the strip. We'll stick with staying at Caesars, our favorite place in Vegas. We also saw Cher at Caesars Coliseum and she was fantastic.

After the Cher concert, we were reminded again of how unconscious people can be about the handicapped people who live among them.

We waited till the coliseum was empty before leaving our seats and then made our way to the elevator. When we got to the elevator there were about 20 people (half of them, able-bodied men, all of them mobile) standing around waiting for the slow-moving elevator, that was going DOWN, we were on the top floor. There were several staircases and escalators available.

A woman who was pushing her mother in a wheelchair, kindly asked that those able to use other means, to please let those of us that HAD to use the elevator, do so.

No one moved, when the elevator doors opened, all 20 people rushed on, leaving the people in wheelchairs outside. None of them made eye contact with us as the doors closed. Nice!!

I only bring this up as a friendly attention-getter about limitations some people have. I have to bitch about this every now and then after watching what Cindy faces while navigating through the world.

You'd be amazed at some of the things we see. Not pretty. But you know what always amazes us...the most kind, generous and helpful people who Cindy encounters, are teenage boys and young 20s men! Who would think! The future is in better hands than we imagine.

Cindy is doing well right now. The pain in her back has subsided for now and she is able to be more active. She is still getting tired early in the evening, which I attribute to the Methadone she is taking. I think long term pain killers is just something we will have to live with.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 8:39 AM CDT

Today is my Dad's birthday. He would have been 77 today. My dad died from lung cancer when he was barely 59 years old.

Another cancer story...Last night Cindy and I watched "Farrah's story" about the cancer battle Farrah Fawcett is going through. Man, what a tear jerker. It was very tough for us watching that because we lived a lot of what she is going through....except the dying part of course.

One part of the story that was especially touching was when they flew her home in a private jet after a rough procedure and she was lying down sleeping on the jet. That had me crying because that same thing happened with Cindy. I don't know if I told that story on this website.

If not, here it is...After Cindy's first brain surgery to remove a tumor, the doctors told us that Cindy had maybe 3 months to live. So we decided that we would take off in the car and travel for a couple months (you don't think very clearly at times like this).

We got way up into Michigan and one night Cindy started having seizures at the hotel. I called her doctor after the first seizure and he calmed me down. He told me to get her to the hospital if she had another seizure.

Cindy started having them every hour. So I called an ambulance and they rushed her to the hospital. We thought she was going to die that night. It was a very rough time. There were several doctors working on her throughout the night.

In the morning, the doctors were making rounds with some medical students and they came into the emergency overnight room where we were at. There were about 10 of them with the doctors.

At one point, the doctor asked Cindy what she wanted to do if extraordinary measures were needed to save her life. Cindy said, she wanted nothing done. They were stunned! Cindy said it so calmly, totally at peace with her fate. I’m sure that was a learning experience for those future doctors. The staff at that hospital could not have been more kind to us.

The next day the doctors moved her to intensive care and I didn't know how I was going to get her home. I didn't want her to die so far from home, and I didn't know what I would do up there all by myself if that happened.

Eventually, arrangements were made for a private jet to come and pick us up. The hospital staff helped us load Cindy in the back of our car and we took her to the airport. The airport allowed us to drive right out on the tarmac to the jet.

We carried her onto the plane and layed her on the seats that were folded down in a makeshift bed. Our son Michael and Cindy’s brother Kevin had flown up on the jet and they were to drive our car back to Cedar Rapids.

Cindy was lying down all covered up and sleeping all the way home. I still vividly remember watching her sleep as I looked over top of her out the window at the clouds speeding by. So when I saw that same image of Farrah doing the same thing on her jet, memories came flooding back.

We have certainly come a long ways since that time. Although it doesn’t look like a miracle is going to happen for Farrah, it certainly did for Cindy.

This is the week that we travel to Las Vegas. Our 35th wedding anniversary is on June 1st, so this will be our little celebration. We leave on Thursday and will be staying at Caesars Palace. I bought tickets to the Cher concert which will be at Caesars coliseum. That should be fun.

Oh, and we will be flying commercial this time.

Friday, May 1, 2009 6:04 AM CDT

April was another action-packed month for the Lynch family.

Our son Aaron recently purchased a car and began driving again, after taking over a year off following his accident last year. Aaron drove for one week and was involved in another car accident. He was on the way to work and apparently had a seizure, taking down a telephone pole.

He wasn’t hurt but the car was totaled. As you can imagine, Aaron is quite upset at the loss of his ability to drive anymore.

We had Jacob for a few days last week while his parents were in St. Louis having fun. What fun he is. And such a good boy.

Cindy and I are busy every weekend at the cabin, cleaning and doing yard work, anxious for summer to begin. Only 3 more weeks and we will be in Las Vegas!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 6:20 AM CDT

April Fools Day!!

Cindy is now getting over a bad cold. The first one this winter season. She almost made it this year without getting sick. Other than that, Cindy is feeling pretty good.

This week we will begin our cabin season. There is a lot of work to do getting the cabin in shape for the summer but it really is fun-work. Cindy has her flower garden, that takes several weeks for her to get just the way she wants it. And she also grows herbs and tomatoes.

Our daughter (in law) Nikki is now a stay-at-home mom so she and Jacob will be coming up to the cabin more frequently this summer. This will allow Cindy to stay at the cabin more days of the week while I am working.

I plan to spend 4-5 nights a week at the cabin this summer, so Cindy may spend all week up there occasionally. I will feel pretty comfortable knowing that our grandson Jacob is there taking care of her on the days that I am at work.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 7:40 AM CST

Today is the first week in March and we are looking out our window at literally hundreds of robins on the ground and in the trees. We have never seen anything like this. Usually we are thrilled to see that first, LONE robin in spring, signaling the return of warm temperatures. Hundreds of robins has to be a good sign...right?

Cindy is marching along (March, get it?) and doing well physically. She makes it to the gym during the week and rides her Air dyne daily, along with doing yoga to maintain flexibility. This activity is great for her mobility and reduces the risk of falling.

As time passes, we have become aware that we probably need to do something with the open spot on her skull. This would mean surgery...and a partially shaved head, (which is even worse emotionally). But ultimately, this surgery could save her life if she were to fall and hit her head. I hope that explains why I worry so much about her occasional spills, like the fall she took on the plane steps in Miami.

There is a risk of infection with another skull implant. The last skull implant surgery created an infection that almost killed her and took nearly a year to recover from.

This surgery is something that we are continuing to discuss and think about. It is not a decision we can take lightly.

Other than that, we are very anxious for the warm weather to return. In May, Cindy and I will be heading to Las Vegas to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary at Caesars Palace.

Monday, February 16, 2009 5:52 AM CST

We are back from Key West. We had a great time, met several nice people and we went to places we hadn't visited before. The weather was a little cool the first few days but there was no rain the entire trip. Very nice.

I always mention that the risk of Cindy falling due to ice and snow is the main reason we want to go south in the winter.

But last year Cindy fell just walking down the sidewalk in Key West.

And this year, Cindy fell getting on the plane in Miami. So, apparently I need another excuse for our heading south every winter.

Cindy wasn't hurt too badly on the plane, just scrapes and bruises...and embarassment. I reassured her that she had nothing to be embarassed about. But all the passengers were standing at the bottom of the steps and saw it happen so the fall was seen by all.

It was nice coming back to the heavy snow cover being gone. But we weren't even home 12 hours when we got 4-5 inches of new snow.

So back to the daily routine.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 6:34 AM CST

We are on our way to Key West today. Can't wait to get there.

We will be back home at the end of next week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:53 AM CST

Here it is January 20th already. Nothing big really going on today and the winter is flying by, almost half gone. One more week here in the frozen tundra then we head for Key West. We will be gone most of the first two weeks of February. Can't wait!!

Cindy is in full winter mode, not able to leave the house without being accompanied by a helper. And it's been like this for her since December 1st, just like last winter.

Cindy has been a trouper though, staying positive and keeping busy everyday. I think the Key West trip is giving her something to look forward to.

Last week on the day that it was -30 degrees outside, I was busy concocting schemes to get us someplace warm for the rest of the winter. I didn't come up with anything for this year, maybe in a few more years. My goal and Cindy's goal for the future is, "no ice or snow, EVER".

Someone told me recently that I was whining, which struck a nerve. Of course I’m "whining", but for Cindy’s mental well-being...I can take this. But that comment also motivated me to do something about it, so it won't be long now.

Once we are spending winters in a warmer climate, we will be encouraging friends and relatives to come visit and escape the winter for themselves.

As someone said recently, can't recall who..."Yes, we can".

Saturday, December 27, 2008 1:18 PM CST

This Christmas has been a very sad time for our family. Cindy’s cousin and our very good friend, Lori Hower, died suddenly on Christmas morning. Cindy and I cannot begin to express how shocked and saddened we are over this terribly sad news.

We did have a great Christmas eve with the kids. Then, we got the phone call about Lori at 4:30 am on Christmas morning. By 6:30 am, Cindy and I were on the road to their home in Creston, in southwestern Iowa.

Lori had been fine on Christmas eve, celebrating with all of the family until 2 am. A couple hours later, her husband Bob was rushing her to the hospital.

Lori walked into the hospital but she died as soon as they layed her on the table in the ER. Attempts to revive her failed.

An autopsy was performed in Des Moines to try to determine the cause. For now, the doctor is calling it a massive heart attack. Lori was only 42 years old.

Besides Lori’s husband Bob, she is survived by her daughter Megan, 22 and her son Dylan, 15 and many friends and relatives.

You can click the VIEW PHOTOS button right below this paragraph, to see a photo taken of Lori just 2 hours before she died, looking so healthy and happy. Her daughter Megan and sister-in-law Julie are in the photo with her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 11:53 AM CST

Cindy called me at work early this morning.
Cindy and Aaron were coming down the big hill on Edgewood Road this morning, just before Ellis Blvd, she lost control and slid all over the road, over the curb and down a deep ravine!!!

I left work right after she called and on the way, I notified the wrecker service and 911, telling them that we may need help since Cindy was an amputee. They said that they could send Fire and Rescue and they would carry her back up the hill.

When I got to the site, the car was way off the road and down quite a hill. The car had not hit anything on the ride down.

The cops got there shortly after I did and the wrecker came within a half hour. The wrecker company said they were backed up at least 40 calls but since she was an amputee and stuck in the car, they were coming directly to the site.

The police officer and I decided that Cindy would be better just waiting in the car and having the wrecker pull the car out with her inside....so no Fire and Rescue was called...or TV cameras, much to our relief.

As we waited with the cop, there was quite a show as dozens of people slid, spun out of control, went over the median, one car going down the ravine also, etc. One school bus slid completely sideways in the road. Several other school buses were fish tailing down the hill...( the C.R. bus barn is right at the intersection of Ellis and Edgewood).

As we watched the show, with my truck sitting on the shoulder of the road, I made the executive decision to move my truck over to Ellis Blvd to avoid being struck.
Another police car was called to control traffic at the top of the hill because things were getting out of control.

The wrecker came but the cables were all frozen so I had to assist the wrecker driver by running the controls on the truck as he freed the cable.

The car was finally pulled out and Cindy and Aaron made their way home, no worse for wear.

Have I told everyone how much I love winter weather. I can't remember if I ever mention that.

Monday, December 1, 2008 5:50 AM CST

Here we are at the beginning of December and there is snow on the ground. Not a shock for this time of year but a very visible reminder of the very limiting effect that the winter weather has on Cindy’s life.

To take our minds off the snow and ice, Cindy and I often talk about where we will spend our winter months in future years. It is a fun thing to do. Kind of like when people fantasize about winning the big lottery; only we intend to follow through on this dream.

Now that the economic downturn has affected all of our retirement funds, our retirement plans are postponed for a little while. But it’s such a good feeling to think about the YEARS ahead, instead of only months or weeks. Cindy has been doing so well recently. The future finally looks bright again.

Take time this year to enjoy your families and friends as we celebrate the holidays and the upcoming new year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 11:55 AM CST

Cindy had her girls weekend in Des Moines last weekend and they all had a great time. Can't believe how fast the time is going but anyway, we are already looking forward to Thanksgiving at Michael and Nikki's home.

Nikki is now the host for Thanksgiving, something that Cindy had done for close to 30 years, until her brain tumor.

Nikki stepped in that year and did a fantastic job, plus, she just loves all the baking and having a full house for what is our favorite holiday. Michael traditionally takes the week off, since his birthday usually occurs the same week.

Cindy has an appointment with the dermatologist on Monday to have some skin cancer removed. There are no other doctor appointments on the short horizon and we are focusing on getting through the winter without mishap and enjoying our time in Florida.

Monday, October 27, 2008 6:24 AM CDT

We enjoyed one last weekend at the cabin before all the leaves are gone. It was very pretty along the river. The weather was a little cool but it was still nice and sunny outside after the rain stopped Friday night.

Many of our friends from that area are now preparing for spending their winter months in warmer locations. Some are going to Florida, some to Texas, and some going to Arizona. It gives us something to plan for and look forward to in the coming years.

Cindy had another fall this weekend and struck her head this time. She got up in the middle of the night and somehow fell, striking the back of her head on something. Other than a lump on her head, she was not hurt but it scared the crap out of me.

I was sound asleep when I awoke to the crash/bang of her falling and knocking things over. I bet I leapt straight up in the air as I heard the commotion, yelling for her as I tried to figure out what happened.

This is the first time Cindy has struck her head, something we really fear. Cindy still has an opening in her skull from her brain surgeries, so she is very susceptible to severe or fatal injury from a blow to the head. She was very lucky this time.

Friday, October 24, 2008 7:30 AM CDT

For those of you who are not from this area,

The famous Breitbach restaurant in Balltown, Iowa, burned completely to the ground this morning.

The second fire for them. It burned to the ground the first time, 10 months ago to the day...Christmas eve, 2007.

The new place was built in just 68 days. It was beautiful. I believe we wrote about it in the journal over the summer, as we made several trips there this year.

We are still in shock.

Friday, October 10, 2008 7:56 AM CDT

Cindy is feeling better and her headaches are now pretty rare. The stress from her battle with the insurance company must have been the cause. We will take that explanation for now and move forward.

Cindy has an appointment to see her dermatologist in a few weeks to remove the new skin cancer spots that developed over the summer. This has become a routine procedure, like getting your oil changed. The number of skin cancer spots are becoming more frequent but we are staying on top of them. We both are becoming quite experienced at finding them early.

In November, Cindy and our daughter-in-law, Nikki, will be traveling to Des Moines for a girls weekend with other family members. This is the second year for this get together.

Other than that, we are sticking close to home for now. The cabin is bundled up for the winter and we will only go up there once a month or so just to check on things over the winter. We keep the cabin heated (50 degrees), so it's easy to warm it up and have a spontaneous, get-away weekend.

Over the Christmas holiday, Cindy and I will be heading to Clearwater Beach, Florida for a week of hopefully-warm weather.

Then in February we will head to Key West for 2 weeks, where the temperatures are always warm. This trip has become a yearly destination and we look forward to our time there to escape the Iowa winter. Cindy really struggles in the winter because she is house-bound when the ground is covered in ice and snow.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather!

Thursday, September 25, 2008 6:49 AM CDT

Cindy and I met with her oncologist, Dr. Ghosh, last week. Cindy has been having frequent headaches for the past few months.

Dr. Ghosh questioned her and did a few mental tests. He said, “you don’t look like someone with a brain tumor”. We thought that was a funny line, what does a person with a brain tumor look like??

The end result was that we will wait and see how things go and if the headaches don’t subside after a few weeks then he will order an MRI for Cindy.

Other than that, things are going well.

We had our grandson Jacob with us for 4 days last week while his parents were in New York City watching the Yankees play for the last time in the old Yankee stadium.

This weekend we will be a little busy at the cabin, as we start to put things away for the winter.

Friday, September 12, 2008 4:42 PM CDT

It has been awhile since the last update. We are now entering the Fall season and our routine is changing from a focus on the outside and being at the cabin.

Cindy received some very good news today. We can’t go into the details other than to say that she has been under intense pressure and stress over an insurance issue. The issue has been resolved and this cloud has been lifted. We are still in shock that the resolution came so suddenly and it’s now over.

Cindy has an appointment with her oncologist, Dr. Ghosh, next week. There have been a few health issues that we need to get checked out.

For now though, we are both very happy and just want to let everyone know that things are good for Cindy.

Big smile!!

Monday, August 18, 2008 5:09 PM CDT

The summer is swiftly coming to a close. We have had a great summer so far, no health issues or family crises. What a welcome change!

This week is our grandson Jacob’s birthday. He will be 7 years old on August 21st, and he starts first grade at school this year.

When I started this website, Jacob was only 2 years old. At that time, Cindy’s biggest wish was to live long enough for Jacob to remember her. It did not look possible at the time but Cindy has now reached that goal.

We now need to help Cindy find a new goal. Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:28 AM CDT

Cindy had her story published on the American Cancer Society website. The Cedar Rapids ACS organization read the story I wrote a while back and they wanted to publish it along with several other Stories of Hope.

They requested that the story be shortened to just one page (from 3) and changed to the first person, so it appeared written by Cindy instead of me. A lot of stuff was left out but the story is still largely intact.

They then asked Cindy to come in and read it, so her voice could be heard along with the story.

You can read the story if you go to
Then click on Stories of Hope to get to the stories. Cindy's story is the first one.

We are looking forward to the weekend at the cabin. The kids are coming up for the weekend and it's supposed to be very hot...floating in the water hot! Just like we like it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008 7:58 AM CDT

It's now the heart of the summer. Things have been going very well for our family, no major crises, no illnesses, just quiet. There is a big insurance hassle going on currently but we are hoping to get that resolved soon. We can't have total peace in our lives; we wouldn't know how to cope with that. But at least we aren't dealing with health issues.

Cindy is at the cabin for 11 days starting today. I am taking Fridays off for the rest of the summer, as I have since Memorial weekend. We have had lots of company at the cabin this summer and that will continue through August.

A friend of ours, who is now a cabin owner, reminded us last week of my statement to him a few years back:
"If you are going to be a cabin owner, there are roughly 8 precious weekends in the summer where the weather is mostly dry and the temperatures are warm, (Fourth of July to Labor Day) guard them because they disappear quickly."

We are now heading into the 3rd of those precious weekends. So much fun, so little time.

Monday, June 30, 2008 7:02 PM CDT

This is the week we most look forward to each summer. The week of the 4th of July!!

This is also the week of Cindy's birthday, July 6th. So we are spending 11 days at the cabin, and we won't be back in Cedar Rapids until July 7th.

Cindy is feeling great and so far the weather has been pretty good. It was a little windy and cloudy over the weekend but still warm enough to enjoy.

Today was one of those days you wish for in the summer...no clouds, 80 degrees and a slight breeze. Cindy and I spent the day on the boat. We're looking forward to more days just like this one.

Monday, June 16, 2008 10:36 AM CDT

We haven’t updated for a couple weeks now. The massive flooding has affected many, many people who we know and many businesses that we frequent often. It seemed unimportant to post updates about our family when so many people were so terribly affected by this flood.

Things are fine with our immediate family. We are very grateful that none of us were directly affected by the flooding. Our homes and jobs are all secure and we are only mildly inconvenienced by travel challenges and some water restrictions. This includes my brother, Kevin and his family. My sister Karla, who lives in Mason City and was without water for several days but she and her son, Kenny are fine.

Last night we went to Balltown, where the Breitbach restaurant is located. If you remember, that restaurant was burned to the ground on Christmas Eve. That was also a devastating loss. But the town and surrounding area rallied together and completely rebuilt the restaurant in less than six months.

Their grand opening was Saturday. We went Sunday night thinking that the crowd would be smaller...forgetting that it was Father’s Day. However, they accommodated us and we had a great time, visiting with people we knew and “wowing” at the beauty of the place. All the furniture and woodwork was constructed from wood out of the surrounding woods.
We hope and believe that Cedar Rapids, Vinton and the other communities will come back with the same positive spirit and quick turn around as Balltown. It was heartening for us to see such an awesome recovery from such devastation.

We have been proud of how tough Iowans have so far weathered this flooding tragedy, without mass looting and other disgusting reactions that have happened in other areas of the country after massive floods.

It appears that the cleanup job ahead will be even more trying and we hope that folks will realize that those in charge are only trying to look out for their best interests. We’re convinced that even through the trying times ahead the positive spirit will continue. Go Iowa!

Tom & Cindy

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 12:06 AM CDT

Summer is here!!

It's our favorite season. Our favorite for the obvious reasons that everyone else values summer. But it's also because summer means so many other things for us. Specifically, summer at the cabin.

Summer means time on our boat, floating down the river, sharing great times with family and friends. Lots of life-giving sun and when it gets too hot, lots of floating in the water, alongside the boat.

Summer means many cruises around the island on the golf cart in the late afternoon, sipping a cool drink, greeting all the other residents who are riding around on their golf carts, sipping a cool drink.

Summer means great evenings sitting on our porch or over at our neighbor's campfire, gazing at the stars, talking about life, laughing...mostly at ourselves. And then to bed fairly early so as to not waste any sun the next day.

Summer at the cabin has been a time and place of rejuvenation for both Cindy and me. It has been a place we’ve come many times for recovery after Cindy's surgeries and treatments. It has been a place for me to mentally and emotionally recharge after spending all my energy on full-alert as Cindy's caregiver. Cindy has said more than once, coming to this place has saved our lives.

We missed out on our time here last summer with Aaron and then Cindy being in the hospital for most of the summer. So this summer holds even more meaning and promise for us.

Ahh, summer!! It's finally here.

Now if it would just quit raining!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:49 AM CDT

This week is right in the middle of two significant anniversaries for Cindy and me. Last Friday was May 23rd and this coming Sunday is June 1st.

On May 23rd, 1971, Cindy's mom invited me over for Sunday dinner. It was the first time Cindy's parents allowed me to be with Cindy. We have been together ever since that day.

This coming Sunday, June 1st, will be our 34th wedding anniversary.

Happy Anniversary Cindy!

Monday, May 19, 2008 4:56 PM CDT

We had a nice weekend at the cabin. The weather finally cooperated. Cindy planted flowers and hostas in her garden and around the yard. While I waterblasted the cabin and put the boat in the water. It was a very busy Saturday and we were good and tired that night. So now we are all set for summer!

Cindy fell Saturday afternoon while she was in the bedroom changing clothes. I was on the computer and heard a loud crash/bang. She didn't get hurt but she is pretty stiff today. That could be from all the yard work though.

You can imagine what hearing a loud crash does to my heart, as I race to see what happened to her. I would think that by now, I would be used to it....but I'm not!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 6:45 AM CDT

The morel mushrooms are late this year. I went hunting last week with Aaron and we only found the little gray ones. So this week I am going again and taking Cindy. I’m hoping to find the large yellow mushrooms this time.

I hunt for the mushrooms in a timber area of my mom’s farm. The timber borders the Cedar River and it is very remote. The trail in has a locked gate so only cabin owners and my mom, have keys. Zeke, a friend of mom’s, has a new cabin right on the edge of the river. It’s far from the other cabins and it is very peaceful there. The trail down to the cabin is quite an adventure so we will take our 4-wheel drive pickup.

Zeke’s cabin has a very nice porch that looks out over the river. There is also a large gulley containing a trickling stream to the river. It is an awesome view and so quiet, with no sounds of civilization because of the large hill behind the cabin.

While I hunt for mushrooms, Cindy will sit on the porch and read or just take in the sights and sounds of nature. I can’t wait to see her reaction to the place.

Cindy really misses the opportunity to commune with nature. Other than on the boat, it's difficult for her to just get out in the woods and enjoy the quiet solitude. I hope she isn’t disappointed with the setting, since I went on and on about it with my description after seeing the cabin last week.

Cindy’s leg is healing but the spots where the cancer was removed look painful. They should be all healed up by the time we are boating.

Monday, May 5, 2008 6:18 AM CDT

We had a great weekend. The weather is finally turning around...a little. We were both able to get outside and do some yard work at the cabin. I wasn't able to mow, due to the restrictions from surgery, so a friend mowed the yard for me. Thanks Jeff! I was able to run the weed eater and pull weeds in Cindy's flower garden.

Cindy was busy inside also, sewing a cover for the ottoman, re-covering the dining room chairs, sewing pillow covers. Quite the Suzy Homemaker I have.

Saturday morning we went to my aunt's funeral in Mount Vernon. We were never able to contact my uncle in Arizona. I guess it's probably better now that he doesn't know until he gets back home.

Cindy had some skin cancer spots removed from her leg on Friday and they were sent in for biopsy. We will have the results this week. The doctor was certain it was the same cancer but thought it would be best to biopsy anyway for future insurance issues.

Have a great week.


Friday, May 2, 2008 6:51 AM CDT

I just felt that I had to write about this. My former manager at Rockwell, Roger, was all set to retire this month. He had been looking forward to his 55th birthday in May 08 for several years.

He intended to immediately take off with his wife and go travel the country. He joked several months ago that his camper was backed in the driveway and hooked to the car, ready to go. The news of his impending retirement had widely circulated through the department. I have never known anyone who more gleefully looked forward to their retirement and the years to come, with no sign of apprehension. Usually you hear, "what will I do with my time"; "will I get bored?"; "I'll probably be back to work on contract in 6 months". The vision of Roger smiling and whistling, while walking down the hall at work, was inspiring.

Yesterday I saw him at work and he told me he wasn't going to retire right now. He told me that his wife had been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. They just found out 2 weeks ago. A month ago she had been fine and they were in Hawaii on vacation.

I can't tell you how stunned I was. Memories came flooding back in an instant, how a life can be changed in the blink of an eye.

I know it sounds to the readers far away from N.E. Iowa that we are inundated with cancer here, and I can't explain why it's so prevalent here. It doesn't have to be cancer though, it can be anything that upends a life, a family.

I guess the point I want to make is, to enjoy each day as it comes. Don't agonize about a future that may not occur the way you envision or plan. It has become such a cliche to say these things but there is a reason why it's become so common to hear.

It took me a long time to get to a point where I wasn't planning the next 10 years to come. But I'm doing much better now, and I have to say I'm much happier.

Didn't intend this posting to be a downer, I just wanted to pass along this life message that Cindy and I have learned. So have a great day.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008 6:45 AM CDT

I am back. Mostly due to the great care from Cindy. I don't know where she got the idea that she was not a good caregiver, she has been fantastic! Just as she is about everything else she does. I can't imagine not having her around to take care of me when I need it. I actually think we make a good team, no matter which one of us is down and out.

My abdomen is healing well but I can't lift anything yet that's heavier than a gallon of milk. I just returned to work yesterday but it might have been too soon. I hit the wall about 1pm and had to come home. My doctor appointment was in the afternoon and they were surprised that I went back to work yesterday.

The doctor also told me that I need to take more pain meds, that is what wore me down...not keeping up the meds. I didn't realize I was fighting pain, since I've kind of adjusted to feeling this way for a week now.

Late last night we got word that my dad's sister, Nancy Clancy, died. Her funeral is this weekend. The only remaining sibling is dad's brother, Bill and we can't locate him. Bill and his wife are in Arizona visiting his wife's sister and they didn't leave a phone number. Hopefully we can locate him before too long.

We have an appointment this week at Cindy's dermatologist to have more skin cancer removed. Cindy has spots show up every few months and we get them cut off when we find them...mostly on her leg.

Another full week in the Lynch family. Next week should be much better...and warmer, right?


Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:38 AM CDT

Here we are the last Sunday in April already! And, we still don't really have spring. Today the temperature is currently 39 and it isn't going to get much warmer.

Add all of that to the fact that Tom is still feeling pretty rough and it was easy to make the decision to stay home this weekend.

His head is still really full feeling and he is just keeping very quiet. We even stayed home on Friday night which breaks some sort of record. We usually have to be in the hospital if we're not going out on a Friday night. He will go back to the ENT doctor on Tuesday. His stomach feels pretty good and he doesn't go back to that doctor until the next week. He is restricted to lifting anything more than a gallon of milk for two weeks, so his activity is pretty limited.

The Mississippi is supposed to crest today. All of the rain on Thursday and Friday made it rise more than we expected. So far, things are OK on the island and the river should begin to drop over the next few days.

Things should start to get back to normal in all regards this week. Have a great week!


Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:36 AM CDT

Cindy here again today. Tom is doing just OK. He is still pretty miserable. He did sleep last night for the first time since surgery. So, that should help some. He is still having some bleeding from his nose which they say could last up to 7 days after surgery. His stomach was a little sore this a.m. and it looks a little red. We'll have to watch it closely today for any other signs of infection. I sure hope we can avoid that.

Otherwise, we are doing OK. I'm an average caretaker, I'd say. He doesn't really take much care, just being here I guess is the main thing.

We have had lots of offers of help and that is always so nice. So far, I think we're doing fine. We were thinking we may go to Guttenberg this weekend but now that is looking kind of doubtful. A car ride doesn't sound too appealing to him right now. The weather will probably be the deciding factor and that isn't looking favorable.

Thanks again for checking on us.

Hugs to all,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:48 PM CDT

This is Cindy today. Tom's surgeries were completed this morning and we are in a nice private room. I'd like to say he is resting comfortably, but that isn't exactly true. He is quite uncomfortable, even with all of the pain meds. His nose burns and his stomach hurts, so he is pretty miserable.

He was the first to go into surgery today and we were in the room by around 11 a.m. Both doctors said he did well and he'll most likely be going home tomorrow sometime. He has a lot of packing in his nose and all internal stitches in his abdomen. No lifting for two weeks, no driving for a couple of days.

I'm doing a fair job in the unfamiliar role of caretaker. Not nearly as good as Tom always does with me, I fear. But, he knows I'm here doing my best.

Today is Aaron's 31st birthday. It is unfortunate that we haven't been able to celebrate with him today, but I know he understands. I did get him flourless chocolate cake that he'll love!

More later!
As always, thanks for checking up on us!


Friday, April 18, 2008 7:13 AM CDT

Hey, I love being part of a national news event. This morning, around 4:30AM, Cindy and I were sitting on the couch, reading the newspaper, when I felt/heard the earthquake that occurred near Chicago.

I felt a rumbling that was more like a rhythmic beat. I stopped reading and concentrated on the feeling. I couldn’t really tell if I was feeling it or hearing it. It was very strange and different than anything I had experienced before. It lasted about 10 seconds.

I didn’t say anything to Cindy but she noticed that I was concentrating on something. Cindy told me later that she just thought I was deep in thought, (which she says sees me do often), so she figured I would have some hare-brained scheme to talk about later.

When I got to work, I read about the 5.2 earthquake south of Chicago that occurred at 4:36AM.

We are heading to the cabin this morning and looking forward to a great weekend. The Mississippi River is supposed to reach its crest this weekend. We are looking forward to the river level to start dropping. I don’t want to worry about high water while undergoing surgery and recovery next week.

Have a great weekend. There’s a whole lotta shakin going on.

Sunday, April 13, 2008 3:08 PM CDT

Here we are mid-April already! I can hardly believe it and the weather isn’t helping convince me either! Tom’s birthday is today, he is 54! Can’t believe it was 4 years ago that I surprised him with a party for his 50th. Time flies.

All is well here. I am feeling well and looking forward to getting into the flower garden. Tom is doing fine, just anxiously awaiting a couple of procedures he’ll be having on April 22nd. He is having sinus surgery to correct some problems he has been having recently and also surgery to repair an abdominal hernia he has had for awhile. Neither of these is very major, “just old man stuff”, as he says. But, it will be me taking care of him for a change. I hope I can do as well as he has always done for me. He is a good patient and does well with doctor instructions, so I’ve got that going for me. We are pleased that the doctors were able to schedule both procedures on the same day to eliminate two separate hospital stays. He will probably be in just one night.

Kids are doing well. Nikki has been having problems with her knee for a month or so. She went back to the doctor last Friday and will be having an MRI and seeing another orthopaedic doctor soon. I hope she can get some relief soon as she is in quite a lot of pain. Everyone else is fine. Aaron got over his spring cold just fine. Michael is good and the grandkids are all very well. We had birthday brunch this morning for Tom and it was fun having them here.

We were back in Guttenberg last weekend but opted to stay home this weekend because of crappy weather and Tom’s birthday. We hope to be back up there next weekend and then will be making it our regular routine once Tom is all healed up and ready to travel.
Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 3, 2008 6:30 AM CDT

April!! Finally, a hint of spring. We are heading to the cabin on Friday and looking forward to a warm weekend up there.

We are hoping that the Mississippi River doesn't flood too bad this year. It's very disruptive. They close the island road when the water gets too high, so we are unable to get to the cabin, plus we have to pull our water pump due to rising ground water levels. We should know in a few weeks if there will be flooding. The river crest usually occurs towards the end of April. After that, it should be smooth sailing for the summer.

I have a couple minor surgeries on April 22nd (Aaron's birthday) so Cindy will get to be caregiver instead of me, for a few days. The doctors coordinated the times so I will be under anesthesia only once while they do both surgeries. Sweet!! Probably bad timing with the threat of flooding that week but I wanted to get this out of the way before summer.

Cindy is getting back in the groove. Her back is much better and she is now doing her full routine of Airdyne, weights, yoga. The gym we belong to has a swimming pool so Cindy is going to look into getting back to swimming also. During her leg-saving surgery years, she swam everyday at the YMCA and she really enjoyed that.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 24, 2008 7:59 AM CDT

We had a great time in Las Vegas. The weather was perfect everyday, 75 during the day and low 60s at night. We didn’t need a jacket at all.

For once, we had a vacation that did not involve any medical emergencies or drama. The air travel was smooth and mostly on time, within an hour or so.

There were 4 very, very drunk women on the plane on the way to Vegas. They made the trip pretty annoying with all their yelling, clapping and singing. We were all in a good mood, anticipating the good time in Vegas, but not as much as these 4 were.

On the way home, these 4 women were very subdued and had to put up with a hard time from fellow passengers and flight crew who were on the trip out and remembered them well. The stewardess told them that they went through more vodka on the plane then they had ever seen before.

Cindy and I did have a few incidents with our "stuff". One day we were shopping at the Caesars Forum. When we left, there was a large line of people with baby strollers waiting at the elevator. So Cindy decided she could make it down the steps, which turned out to be 50 steps after going around a corner.

I bounced the wheelchair down the steps while Cindy went down using her crutches. We were all the way out of the Forum when a young man (remember what Cindy said about young males in her update a week ago??) approached us and asked if we had a cell phone. We said yes, and then he said, "Show it to me".

When we looked for it, it was gone. Cindy had attached it to the side of the wheelchair. He then produced our phone and told us he found it on the steps we had gone down. We couldn’t believe he chased us down and returned it to us.

Another incident occurred on our last night in Vegas. We had tickets to the 10PM Beatles Love show at the Mirage. We were having a great dinner before the show at a nice restaurant at Caesars Palace right next door. We were running a little late and when we got ready to leave, the waiter went to get Cindy’s wheelchair. He rolled it up to us and told us that we were all set.

I took one look at the chair and told him that is not our wheelchair. It was a casino-owned chair. He said that is the only wheelchair we have back there. They had given our wheelchair to another customer. I won't go into my reaction but if you know me, you can imagine for yourself.

The manager was quickly involved and they were able to use credit card information to obtain the name of the customer who took the chair. I told the manager that we needed to leave for the show right then and that we also were leaving town the next morning so there wasn’t much time.

We left for the Beatles Love show using the casino wheelchair while the manager desperately continued his search for our wheelchair.

The manager called me a few times during the show and left messages (my phone was turned off, as it should be during a show) letting me know his progress on locating the wheelchair.

Just as we were leaving the show, he called again and told me he had finally found the chair and was heading to our hotel to meet us and exchange chairs. It was after midnight when we finally met up with him. He had been all over the strip tracking it down. He earned his money that day.

The next morning around 11:00 we headed to the exit where a limo was arranged (by our son) to take us to the airport. The doorman took our name and then said our limo was ready. I asked if it was a Limolink limo. The doorman told me yes.

As he led us to the limo, I was shocked to see a magnificent, black Rolls Royce waiting. I asked the doorman again if this was a Limolink limo. He assured me it was the correct limo. So the driver got out and loaded the luggage and OUR wheelchair in the trunk, while Cindy and I were seated in the back of the Rolls.

We couldn’t believe it, but I figured our son Michael had made some secret arrangement for the Rolls, (Michael is a Vice-President at Limolink), so I didn’t say anything. Finally as we were pulling out of the Wynn lot, I asked the driver if he drove for Limolink. He said, "WHAT??" He then told us that he drove for the Wynn Hotel and that we were in the wrong limo.

He turned the limo around and told us to stay in the car while he straightened things out. Our real limo eventually pulled up and they transferred everything and apologized profusely. The Rolls driver told us that at least we could now say we had ridden in a Rolls Royce. The driver of the Lincoln limo apologized (tongue-in-cheek) for the downgrade. We had a good laugh over that mix-up.

So we are back home, all in one piece, with all our possessions and ready for a great summer.

Thursday, March 20, 2008 6:15 AM CDT

Today is the day!! We head to Las Vegas late this afternoon. Right on time, a snow storm with heavy snow is predicted for Iowa.

But I think it should stay north of us and we will be able to get off the ground on time. After we are in the air, we won't care how much snow there is.

A good friend is taking the trip with us. We are looking forward to a great time.

Our family has assured us that THIS time no medical emergencies or other crises will occur while we are on vacation and all will be well. That will be a very welcome change.

Cindy is doing better with managing her phantom pain. I think the coming trip today and the signs of spring, have helped her cope.

Yesterday, she went out on our patio and made her annual snow angel in the snow that remains. By the time I got home, the angel had melted. I wasn't disappointed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 12:25 AM CDT

I was reading the website of a fellow cancer patient and he was remarking about now having a handicap sticker and what all that meant for him. I replied with the following letter and I thought I would share it here too.

It has been eye opening for me to be handicapped. I am a relatively young woman (same age as you), so I do get some looks from people that might be considered as sympathy, wonder, curiosity, etc. Not the same looks that a disabled elderly person would get, which I assume would be more like, inevitability, patience, annoyance??

But it’s the actions of NON-handicapped people that have most surprised me.

Young men and teenage boys are the most considerate and helpful of all. They will go back to the door to hold it for me, ask me if I want help carrying things, etc. Maybe they see their mother when they look at me. These same young males are often derided for their self-indulgence but I see great promise in them for our future.

Young females and especially, the elderly, are the worst. I can understand the younger females, caught up in the culture of appearance; it’s easier to just avoid acknowledging me. Denial of weakness and mortality is strong with them. And I understand that.

I can always tell a young female who is now a mother. They are very helpful. Doing what comes naturally for them, helping others.

What I don’t understand is, the elderly (usually women). They will walk in front of me to beat me to a door, and then let it slam in my face. They will crowd in front of me at counters; take the last available seat, etc.

The sense of entitlement is strong with the elderly, ("I’ve lived long, so I deserve it"), even at the expense of someone who is obviously younger and more disabled.

Maybe it is that their world has shrunk to just coping with their own well-being and they don’t notice me. I can’t tell.

Very small children are the most entertaining. They will stop dead in their tracks to stare and it’s so cute watching their little brains processing what they see. I always smile at them. The wonder of youth.

My observations are not just shooting from the hip. This comes from several years of being disabled and seeing the same thing repeatedly.

I look forward to your "younger male" perspective. Take care, and learn to enjoy that great parking spot.


Thursday, March 6, 2008 6:46 AM CST

We are all awaiting the signs of Spring. Last week, I heard birds chirping early in the morning before sunrise. That is sweet music to our ears. Although, I hope those birds don’t starve to death trying to find food below 3 feet of snow on the ground.

Cindy has been having a rough time with phantom pains in her leg. She hasn’t had this much trouble for awhile now. It is really disturbing her ability to sleep and just driving her nuts.

We have never been able to pin-point what exactly is causing these phantom pains. She had surgery on her leg in 2005 where they shortened the bone and fixed a nerve problem, called a Neuroma. That surgery helped quite a bit but now the problem has returned.

She is able to control the pain somewhat by increasing her pain meds (Methadone) but that can lead to other problems. A Methadone overdose can be very dangerous, even deadly.

For now, we are focusing on our trip to Las Vegas over Easter weekend and not the weather outside our home. I’m betting there is much less snow in Vegas.

Additional info:
I saw this obituary in the paper this week. Jeff Healey's medical history is very similar to Cindy's.

Jeff Healey, a Canadian guitarist, singer and songwriter, died on Sunday of cancer.

He underwent surgery in January for Sarcoma cancer in his legs but the cancer had already spread to his lungs. He was 41.

Mr. Healey lost his sight to Retinoblastoma, an eye cancer, when he was a year old and was given his first guitar two years later.

Mr. Healey, who was blind, played his guitar with the instrument flat on his lap. Mr. Healey’s greatest success came in the late 1980s, when his band recorded the album “See the Light.” A single from that album, “Angel Eyes,” was a Top 40 hit.

The same year the band performed the soundtrack for “Road House,” a movie starring actor Patrick Swayze. Jeff also had a speaking part in that movie.

Monday, February 25, 2008 6:43 AM CST

Do you ever just want to scream? No need to answer that, it's a rhetorical question.

Last week I fell on the icy parking lot at work and hurt my back and missed a couple days of work. I was finally feeling a little better this morning. I left for work and I fell as I stepped off the front step at home. The driveway was a sheet of ice.

My arm and shoulder are hurting the most, with numbness and tingling in my forearm. I probably won’t feel the full effect to my body for 24 hours.

Last night Aaron also fell as he left the house. He is younger so he was able to shake it off and just go to work.

As I wrote in earlier posts, while we were in Key West, Aaron totaled the car after sliding on the ice and skidding into a truck.

Cindy fell in December on a slushy garage floor and injured her ribs. She is just now getting back to a normal physical routine.

So, as the above tally shows...our family is sh*t full of this winter, as I’m sure the rest of you are too.

Sorry for the rant. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 8:56 AM CST

This weather is getting old. I looked at the journal history over the last 3 months and the weather is a topic in almost all of the posts.

Since the weather won’t cooperate, we decided to squeeze in another trip to somewhere warm. We are going to Las Vegas over the long Easter weekend.

We usually go to Cindy’s cousin’s home in Wichita, Kansas at Easter but Cindy’s back is just not up to a 16 hour (round trip) car ride. It would be brutal for her to ride in the car that long. Her back pain is getting better so we don’t need a setback right now.

The flight to Vegas is only 3 hours, much more tolerable. Our son Michael arranged to have a limo pick us up at the airport and take us back to the airport when we come home.

We are going to stay at the newest hotel, the Wynn. The website for the Wynn is awesome and we are looking forward to seeing it in person and trying out the fine restaurants.

One night we have tickets to the see the Beatles tribute show, LOVE, at the Mirage. The Mirage is right across the street from the Wynn but as anyone who has been to Vegas knows, that is about a half hour walk.

As some of you know, while we were in Key West, Aaron was involved in a pretty bad car accident. He totaled the car and was very lucky he wasn’t killed. The ambulance took him to the hospital and they checked him out and then released him to Cindy’s brother. He was banged up a little but no real injuries.

We were actually still sitting on the runway in Cedar Rapids when it happened but didn’t hear about it until we were in Key West. We replaced the car last weekend and are now moving forward.

Ok, all together now, Come on Spring!!!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008 9:30 AM CST

I almost feel guilty writing about our time here in Key West. The weather back home is brutal while we are enjoying 80 degree temperatures everyday.

Nikki, who is notoriously cold-blooded, has not felt chilly once. The weather site lists temps in the 70s each day but it always is warmer, so I don't know where they are taking their readings. We have had no rain, it's sunny everyday. I could go on about the weather but that would be cruel.

Yesterday we were downtown having a bite to eat and a street actor (a pirate) came over to talk to us. He had a wooden peg leg. As we talked another guy a few seats from us joined in. It turned out all 3 of them were above-knee amputees. The other people in the place thought it must be a one-legged convention. A woman took pictures of the three of them together.

There were two cruise ships in port yesterday so the downtown area was packed with people. Two ships instantly adds 5000 extra people in a very small area. It was an adventure wheeling Cindy down the sidewalk in her wheelchair.

Well, it's time for us to head out for another beautiful day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 9:52 AM CST

This is the next update and it ain't by the pool. As everyone in the Midwest is aware, we are getting dumped on with a foot of snow. It looks pretty but it would look better if we were watching it on tv, from Key West.

We are re-scheduled to leave Friday morning. The Inn Keeper at our Key West "compound", changed everything around for us and we will be staying 2 days later than we had reserved. She told us that she would wipe the record clean so we wouldn't be charged for the 2 days we will miss this week. She's a sweety!!

Ok, so the NEXT update will be written while sitting beside the pool in Key West.

Monday, February 4, 2008 12:35 AM CST

This winter is really coming to a head for us. There is a major storm expected for tomorrow night and into Wednesday morning.

Key West trip is this week!!!

Our plane on Wednesday morning has to arrive from Atlanta on Tuesday night in order for us to have a flight available. We have to be at the airport around 4AM on Wednesday so we will be monitoring the Delta website closely. Delta flights 4528 and 4544 for those interested in sharing the suspense.

Our last update was about Cindy falling on the ice. Last Friday we were at the cabin to check on things. We stopped by the cabin of some friends to check on their place and I fell flat on my back, due to the ice lying in wait under the thin layer of fluffy snow. My arm is bruised and my shoulder is sore but otherwise just a normal fall...for a 50-something year old man. Turns out you don’t recover as quickly from injuries when you get older. Imagine that!!

I am hoping to do the next update from Key West, sitting next to the pool. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 27, 2008 7:45 AM CST

Well the nasty winter weather caught up to us. We were leaving our son’s house last Thursday evening and Cindy fell.

We were in their garage and it happened so fast I am not sure what exactly occurred. I think Cindy’s crutches slid on the slushy mess on the garage floor. She went down hard and injured her ribs. As you can imagine, she was quite a mess, rolling through the dirt and sloppy slush on the floor...in her brand new outfit that she had bought that day.

The one good thing is that she didn’t hit her head or break any bones. Her side, along her ribs is black and blue. She is moving quite slowly this weekend, with lots of quiet little moans at every twist and turn. Of course if you ask her about it she will tell you she is just fine. Amazing!

And I am still having nightmares over the vision of her falling. It is quite traumatic to see her fall so I don’t recover as quickly as she does.

Just one more week and we will be in Key West. How do you spell Hallelujah?

Friday, January 18, 2008 6:55 AM CST

Cindy is doing just fine. Better than me in fact. I have been sick since returning from Florida. Upper respiratory junk, nothing serious. I have had two doses of antibiotics and still can’t shake it. Cindy has avoided getting it from me, which is good. I hope she is able to maintain that status for our Key West trip in a few weeks.

With all the snow and ice, Cindy is not able to get out of the house much these days. But she is staying busy at home and trying not to focus on what’s going on outside. I did take her to a movie one night this week, (Juno….what a great movie!!) and it snowed and froze while we were there. It was an adventure getting Cindy safely to the car. I reminded her that the last tumble she had was in Key West. So nothing is guaranteed.

We have been monitoring the temperature in Key West everyday. This morning at 6:30, it was 73 degrees there. Can’t wait!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 7:42 AM CST

We are home. Wow! There was an 85 degree temperature difference this morning from what we were used to in Florida.

We had beautiful weather the entire time we were there. Mid 80s during the day and mid to low 60s at night. Never rained once.

Our room was right above the beach, 3rd floor, with a huge screened-in porch that extended in front of our living room and bedroom. Both rooms were all-glass, sliding doors on the ocean side. We kept the doors open all the time. The gulf current lapping at the beach gently put us to sleep every night...that and the Mai Tai’s.

Our deck was situated just right so that we could see both the sunrise and the sunset over the water. We took some great sequential photos of the sunset during the final moments before and after it disappeared below the water.

We had planned to see lots of stuff but after getting there the first day we realized how bad the traffic was everywhere. So I made an executive decision to stay put. We didn’t drive anywhere till the day we checked out.

That decision was just fine with Cindy, since that is what she wanted to do anyway, she told me later. But for awhile she let me think I was in charge.

We could see the cars on the bridge to our island and the traffic was backed up and stopped all day long, everyday. Just non-stop traffic coming out to the beach.

On the way back to Orlando, we did stop and see the Thomas Edison-Henry Ford estate in Ft. Myers. Very cool! We spent a few hours on the grounds and saw everything we wanted to.

Our flight home was eventful as usual. We had been in the air for 2 hours (for a 3 hour flight), when they came on and told us that they were returning to Orlando to fix a BACK-UP generator. Why they couldn’t do that in the Quad Cities or Cedar Rapids, I don’t know.

So then we had to circle Orlando for an hour, burning off fuel, before they could land. Then another hour on the ground, then our 3 hour flight home. We had arrived at the Orlando airport at 6 AM for our 8 AM flight. (I had been up since 2 AM.)

We finally got home at 3 PM and we were in bed for the night...New Years Eve night...at 7:30 PM. Can you tell we are getting old?

We will now wash all the clothes and put them right back in the suitcase. Key West, here we come.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007 6:48 AM CST

We were stunned this Christmas morning to awake to the news that the historic restaurant in Balltown, Iowa, burned to the ground on Christmas Eve. Many of you who stayed with us in Guttenberg were familiar with Breitbach’s restaurant.

We often took our guests on the beautiful drive to Balltown and then we ate at Breitbach’s, or stopped just for a drink. The restaurant has been in their family for 6 generations and the building was full of antiques. It's unbelievable that it's all gone.

Just last week, another restaurant burned down in Guttenberg, but that incident pales in comparison to the loss of Breitbach’s. You can see some videos on this site:

Click here to see Breitbach restaurant videos

We are packing today for our Florida trip tomorrow morning. Can’t wait to get back to sunny and warm days. See you all when we get back.

Sunday, December 16, 2007 10:18 PM CST

Here it is just a week before Christmas and almost the end of 2007. The year has flown by and aside from our highly eventful summer, it was a pretty good year.

I’m totally recovered from my surgery in August and my back has been feeling much better lately. Aaron is doing well and is happy that Hawkeye wrestling has gotten off to a good start. We are all doing well now and are looking forward to a more “normal” (whatever that means) 2008.

The cards are out, the candy is done and we’re on the 2nd batch of Chex mix. Shopping is almost done and we’re looking forward to spending Christmas with our kids and grandkids. This week will be spent on the last minute details and gift wrapping.

Tom and I are heading to our cabin in Guttenberg on Friday, hopefully accompanied by another couple of close friends. We will spend just one night there and then back to Cedar Rapids on Saturday.

Michael & Nikki are having a party on Saturday night so we will stop by for a brief visit and then take Jacob, who will be sleeping over with us. We’re looking forward to that.

Christmas Eve we’ll go to Michael & Nikki’s for dinner and present opening. Then they’ll come to our house for brunch on Christmas morning.

The day after Christmas Tom and I leave for Ft. Myers Beach, Florida. We can’t wait! The recent cold and ice have made us even more anxious for this trip. We’ll get home on New Year’s Eve, just in time to celebrate at home.

At this time of year we always think of those we love who have died and we miss dearly. I always miss Mom more at this time of year and this will be Nikki’s first Christmas without her mother, so it will be especially bittersweet. Keep those you love close to your heart.

Here’s hoping that you and yours will have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and for supporting us now and in the coming year! We love you all!

Cindy & Tom

Thursday, December 6, 2007 4:28 PM CST

A CLEAN MRI SCAN!!!!!!!!!!!

We were a little nervous before the Dr. came in though. Dr. Buatti was in the next room, having quite a discussion with 2 other doctors over an MRI scan that was showing a brain tumor.

The discussion went on for about a half hour. They didn't know we could hear them, or even that we were in that exam room.

Of course, we don't know if it's Cindy's scan or not but it's taking way too long for him to come in the room.

So we are straining to hear while both putting up a casual, disinterested appearance towards each other. I'm commenting on Cindy's winter boots (boot), the snow that might come today, the price of oil; she is snapping her gum and looking through a fashion magazine (just kidding).

Dr. Buatti finally came in the room right after their conversation was over and he put an end to the suspense. "Everything is fine".

So a little celebrating is in order for tonight...and tomorrow night.

Monday, December 3, 2007 12:37 AM CST

Ahhh, winter. Our favorite season...NOT!!!

Cindy is pretty much house-bound due to the ice and snow we received this weekend. Until the sidewalks and parking lots melt off, she will have to limit where she can go, unless she has someone with her to help.

This just reinforces our desire to live in warmer climates during the winter. That is our retirement goal; to spend the winter somewhere green and warm. Until that day, we will persevere but we don’t have to like it.

Cindy has the MRI of her brain on Thursday. We will have the results that day.

Monday, November 26, 2007 4:20 PM CST

We met with the Neurosurgeon, Dr. Chad Abernathey, on Wednesday and he showed us the MRI files. Chad is also an acquaintance of ours from Vinton, (the center of the universe, according to Cindy). He told us that Cindy has a ruptured disk. It is a small rupture and it is possible that time could heal it.

Chad encouraged Cindy to return to her workout regimen, since she was anxious to do so anyway. He said that would help as long as she didn’t over do things. He also agreed with icing the area and sitting in the spa a couple times a day if that helps.

If it gets worse or if she is in need of some pain relief before our Florida trip, he said he would be willing to give Cindy a cortisone injection to lessen the pain.

If it doesn’t improve over the next month or so, surgery is an option but he left it up to Cindy to decide when she can’t take anymore pain.

On a sad note, Cindy lost a co-worker to cancer on Thanksgiving Day. Sandy Franklin was only 39 years old and had battled Melanoma 16 years ago. The cancer returned this summer with a vengeance. Cindy hired Sandy at Aegon 12 years ago, just before Cindy began her cancer battle.

I think we have said it before...Cancer sucks!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 6:49 AM CST

Cindy has an appointment with the Neurosurgeon tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving. We will be discussing the results of Cindy’s MRI, taken last week. We want to know all the options for dealing with her back/hip pain.

If one of the options is surgery, we will try to postpone that until after our winter trips to Florida. We will just have to see what he says and how Cindy manages her pain in the coming months.

On December 6th, Cindy has another MRI of her brain in Iowa City. This is her yearly check-up and we are not expecting any surprises. It should be a routine, ALL-DAY trip to Iowa City. Sheesh!!! I don’t know why things take so long down there but we are used to it now, after 30 years of appointments for Cindy and our kids.

After that, we can sign off for the year 2007. What a year!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:59 PM CST

UPDATE: Friday, 11/16, 4:00 AM
We got the call from Dr. Pope last night. Cindy's MRI showed that she has 2 disks in her back (L2-L3) that are bulging. This is a big relief. We have an answer and it's not cancer.

So now we will have a neurosurgeon who we know, review the MRI and give us his thoughts on what next...steroid injection, surgery, etc.

Thursday, Nov 15, 1:59 PM
Nothing new to report yet. I thought I would update, as I noticed the Visitor Counter is going up so I know there are lots of people checking in...(or 1 or 2 people checking in over and over).

Cindy had her colonoscopy yesterday morning and everything was fine. We had to be at the hospital around 8AM but they didn't come get her until 10:00.

They gave her a massive amount of sleepy drug, to overcome the Methadone she takes. The dr told us beforehand that Methodone counteracts the anesthesia so she might be awake during the procedure. The opposite occurred. She was so out of it that she remembers nothing of the day and she slept till dark yesterday afternoon.

Cindy is having her MRI done right now. It takes 2 hours to complete. We will probably not know the results until next week but we will push very hard to learn something by tomorrow.

I will update as soon as we know something.

Thanks for checking up on us.

Monday, November 12, 2007 8:42 AM CST

Monday morning finds us waiting for a call to set up an MRI for my hip. We went to the hospital on Saturday for an X-ray that ruled out any break or bone issues. So, now we're thinking the pain may be from a disc problem in my lower back.
The pain has been kept pretty calm by using ice. I've been sitting on ice all weekend and it does seem to help. I alternate with the hot tub a couple of times a day and that seems to be working for now.
Dr. Pope offered to put me in the hospital if the pain got too bad. But, I can't imagine being any more comfortable in the hospital :o). So, we wait.

Hopefully, with three places to choose from, we'll be able to get something set up soon. In the meantime, I'm taking it easy.
Take care and have a good week!

Saturday, November 10, 2007 6:21 AM CST

I spoke too soon on the last update about how well things were going in the Lynch household.

Cindy is having severe pain with her hip now. I came home Friday afternoon to find her lying on the bed on an ice pack. She told me that she had been that way all day.

Cindy got up because we were expecting company but went back to lie down shortly after. She called for me and I found that she could not get up. She was in incredible pain.

I called her doctor, who was on call and told him that I would have to call an ambulance in order to get her to the hospital. Dr. Pope told me that if we could keep her comfortable in bed until morning, that would be best.

So this morning, I will see how she is doing and we may end up at Mercy Hospital today. Regardless of what happens today, we need to get to the bottom of this on-going hip pain. She has been suffering with this for several months now.

UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 12
Cindy had an Xray taken of her hip and pelvis area on Saturday and it showed nothing broken. And more importantly, it showed no cancer in the bones.

Dr. Pope tried to get an MRI taken but was unable to schedule one on the weekend. So we are waiting to hear from him this morning about when she can get an MRI, hopefully it will happen today.

We now are thinking there could be some damage to a disk in her spine, which the MRI will clearly show.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 6:54 AM CST

Things are going well for all of us; there is no arguing with that.

Cindy is staying very busy with her hobbies and spending time with friends and family. She enjoyed a “girl’s weekend” in Des Moines last weekend, with Nikki and her cousins and aunts. They had a very nice time.

We are looking forward to our winter trips to Florida but at the same time, practicing our own advice...live each day and enjoy the moment.

So we have that going for us...which is nice. (Caddyshack, 1980)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 2:10 PM CDT

UPDATE: Thursday, Nov 1, 2007
I was able to recover everything off our hard drive!! Not that too many will care but I thought I would post the info anyway. WHEW!!!!!!!!

Aaron is now back to working full time. He started back full time on Saturday night. Things have been going just fine. It feels weird returning to just writing about Cindy...but it is HER website. So we will try to return to less busy updates.

Cindy is having quite a time with her back and hip pain. Yesterday she propped herself on the bed with a bunch of pillows. That was how I found her when I got home from work. She was reading and doing scrap book stuff but looking very uncomfortable. I asked her how she was doing and she gave me that Cindy-cheer smile but I could tell it was pretty strained.

I think Cindy is willing to give it more time. We both feel reassured from the PET scan she had a couple months ago. It was a good indication that nothing dire is going on. I know things can change suddenly but for now we will choose not to think that way.

However, she did give me a scare last Friday. I arrived home after work and she got up from her chair and came towards me looking very concerned. Then she told me that she had something bad to tell me…Cue the music...she said, "I dropped a book on the laptop and now it won’t do anything".

What a relief!! Then I went and looked at the computer. It’s dead. I told her later that was a good strategy…scare the wits out of me and then tell me about the computer. It softened the blow.

So now we have a brand new computer on the way, should be here next week. The old one is in the shop, trying to save all our pictures and documents from the hard drive. That is the worst part. We had LOTS of important stuff on that pc. We intended to back it up; we just never completed the task. I should have been doing that instead of spending all my free time in hospitals. What was I thinking!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007 9:05 AM CDT

Aaron is back at work. He is only doing a 4 hour shift but it is going very well. In fact, Aaron wanted to immediately start working a full 8 hour shift, after working only a couple of nights.

We had to have a discussion on the value of taking time to recover and using this time to slowly return to a full shift. Aaron is scheduled to begin working a full shift next Saturday, (10/27). That should work just fine.

Yesterday, Aaron and I sat down and went over all his finances, going back to July. He grasped everything very well and is ready to again take over this task. We agreed to have a “finance meeting” at the end of each month, to make sure things are staying on track.

We have been very relieved and pleasantly surprised by how everything is getting back to normal for Aaron.

On a different note, Cindy’s hip pain has returned. She is very sore and has trouble moving around. At first we assumed that it was her return to physical activity following her recovery from surgery. Cindy was back to riding her Airdyne everyday and we thought maybe it was from that. But she took a break from the bike and it hasn’t reduced the pain.

We will continue to have patience and see if things get better with time but if not, we will have to pursue more medical tests...something Cindy just loves to do.

Friday, October 12, 2007 8:49 AM CDT

Things are going well for all of us. Cindy’s appointment in Iowa City last Friday was uneventful, other than the longer-than-usual several hours waiting time to see the doctor(s). They apologized for keeping us waiting in the exam room for so long. This was after I went out and “made our presence known”. Suddenly, they were able to come right in the room and complete the exam. Sorry. As Cindy tells me..."I’m not a patient patient".

Cindy received a clean bill of health from the Ob-Gyn dept but still must follow up every year, as she is at a high risk for developing a sarcoma cancer in "that area". I will keep a sharp eye on things. Hehe

Aaron also had a good week. He was given the OK to return to work...part time...next Monday morning. He will work 4 hours a day for the first 2 weeks, just to see how things go. Aaron is very excited.

Cindy will miss the help around the house. Aaron has been so bored and wanting to do "SOMETHING" that he has been jumping at every task Cindy could come up with, vacuuming, car washing, closet cleaning, etc. He also got into the habit of taking long walks everyday. And he is back to his usual workout routine at the gym.

Cindy and I are planning a get-away for the week of Christmas. Much deserved, if I do say so. We will be heading to Orlando (so we could take a direct flight), then driving to the Sarasota/Ft. Myers area.

We have always wanted to explore Ft. Myers as an alternative to our favorite place...Key West. Real estate is so expensive in Key West that we want to see if anything else compares to it, environment-wise. I’m thinking not, but it’s worth a vacation to find out.

We will also be going to Key West in February. Our kids, Michael and Nikki will be going with us too. We can’t wait to show them the town and let them discover why we love it so much down there.

Here is to hoping that we have an uneventful but very fun winter. We don’t believe in luck but we do believe in the energy from positive thoughts, so keep them coming. We do appreciate it.

Thank you, for all the support.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 6:50 AM CDT

Yesterday we had a Care conference for Aaron at the Rehab center. All the therapists were there along with the coordinator for his return to work. They all had glowing things to say about Aaron and the “awesome support system” he has with his family. There were a few areas where Aaron is not doing well but most functions are back to normal.

After discussing everything we agreed on a return-to-work plan for Aaron. The coordinator will address all the issues with the Wal-Mart Human Resources dept. and he should be able to return to work part-time, within a month. We want to ramp up to full-time rather than just throw him into a full schedule at work.

Last weekend we went to the river and put the boat away for the season. We left Aaron at home for the first time. He wanted to stay by himself and he did quite well. There were a number of football and baseball games that he wanted to watch.

Cindy is doing very well. Her check up is this Friday in Iowa City. There are a few remaining issues to resolve but we don’t expect any big tests or procedures for awhile, other than a colonoscopy….Cindy is thrilled!

PREACHING ALERT!!! We would like to let all our friends and relatives know that if you are over 50, you should have a colonoscopy if you haven’t had one yet. It very well could save your life. Colon cancer is the 3rd leading cancer death in the U.S. but if it’s caught in time it’s almost always completely curable. None of the most deadly cancers have this kind of turn around in outcomes. And it’s totally due to having a colonoscopy...in time...before the cancer spreads outside the colon.

Monday, September 24, 2007 6:51 AM CDT

Things are going well. Aaron is making steady progress and Cindy is pretty much totally recovered from her surgery and her hip injury.

Tomorrow Aaron is scheduled to have a Neuropsych test at Mercy Medical center. This test will give us a baseline for how Aaron is doing mentally. The test takes around 3 hours and is very comprehensive.

In the last post, I indicated that Aaron was not having any seizures, that we had witnessed. We soon discovered that Aaron was having at least one seizure every day. Once we became aware of this, the doctor increased his seizure medication. We will see how this works over the next few weeks.

Aaron is still doing speech and occupational therapy every week at the Mercy Rehab center. We have a conference with them next week and they will also start working with Aaron’s employer on a plan for his return to work.

Each week Aaron is a little better. It’s hard to see day to day but looking back a week reveals how much progress he is making. We are very encouraged.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 7:04 AM CDT

Aaron has now been home almost 2 weeks...actually tomorrow will be 2 weeks. Things are steadily improving. Most of the time, Aaron is his old self. He hasn’t had any more seizures that we have witnessed. The first few days he was home, he was having seizures every day.

Today, Aaron is going to the home of a friend to spend the night. They are going to have a BBQ, play pool and just hang out. Tomorrow when he gets home, a couple of other friends are going to stop by and spend the afternoon with Aaron...playing cards and doing normal stuff.

Therapy is going well for Aaron and Mercy Rehab is going to help with the transition back to work. We are a little apprehensive at this point because we don’t want him to return to work too soon but at least we have someone making professional decisions about when he is ready.

Cindy and I have been able to leave Aaron alone for hours at a time. We have been able to go out to eat and spend time with our friends too. This has helped Cindy and me regain a sense of normalcy in our lives.

Cindy is doing great! Her incision is almost completely healed and she is able to move about relatively easy...for her anyway. Being an above-knee amputee has its own difficulties without adding abdominal surgery and a hip injury in the mix. She is just amazing, as you all know by now. Never complains, always positive...I wish I could bottle that, we’d make a fortune.

We are planning to go to the cabin this weekend. There is an annual car cruise in Guttenberg on Saturday and we don’t want to miss it. It will be chilly though, I guess summer is over. Now we are looking forward to the great fall weather.

Continued thanks and appreciation for all your support.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007 1:24 PM CDT

We are all home now, starting out a new week with no more hospital visits everyday. This is a good thing, now we can regain some sort of a normal routine.

Cindy is healing well. Her rash is about gone and her hip pain (from her fall) is much improved. In a few weeks she will be able to resume her usual physical fitness regimen...riding her Airdyne twice a day, weight training at the gym, yoga, etc.

Aaron’s situation is challenging. I don’t know how else to phrase it. We don’t know what the future holds for Aaron but I guess that is true for everyone.

I’m going to discontinue writing updates about Aaron. It’s a difficult situation for all of us and I don’t think it does any of us any good to analyze him day-to-day, looking for signs of progress.

In the past, I updated the journal about once a month. That seems about right. However, if news develops, in any significant way, I will update the journal immediately.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Tom & Cindy

Saturday, September 1, 2007 7:45 AM CDT

Cindy had her post-surgery check up yesterday in Iowa City. The assisting surgeon/resident took out all the staples from her incision. Cindy is much more comfortable with them out...they were starting to pull quite a bit.

We were waiting for the resident to return with a prescription for her rash when Dr. De Geest came in the room still in his surgical scrubs. He said, "I was in surgery and saw on the board that you were in the clinic, so I just wanted to come see you."

"I also want to tell you again that this surgery was absolutely necessary and I'm pleased that we caught it in time. You will need to be seen every year, even though you had a complete hysterectomy. You are at a high risk for Leiomyosarcoma cancer. We don't need to go to extremes with CT scans or that sort of thing but just look for any signs that are unusual, any bleeding, etc."

We thought it was very nice that he took the time to come see Cindy. I detected that Dr. De Geest thinks Cindy is a very special person....go figure.

After we left Iowa City we got a call from the Mercy Rehab coordinator. She had scheduled Aaron for therapy on Tuesday, Sep. 4th. We are glad about that because we want Aaron in therapy as soon as possible.

Aaron is very stir-crazy with all this new found freedom and nothing to do...so I think I will LET him mow the yard when he arrives at the cabin this morning.

Friday, August 31, 2007 9:44 PM CDT

Oh my God....have any of you seen the moon tonight?!!?? What a beautiful sight! It reminds us of how wonderful it is to be alive.

We are off to a great start to our Labor Day weekend. Had dinner at Doug’s Steakhouse and saw so many great friends. Lots of hugs and well wishes. It’s hard to get our heads around how many people are helping us through this latest “series of events”.

Things are great. Hope you all have a great weekend too.

Friday, August 31, 2007 8:05 AM CDT

Yesterday was a very pleasant day. We arrived a little after 10 am at the hospital for Aaron’s going-home party. The party started right at 10:00 and the room was still filled with hospital staff members and there was Aaron in the middle of them, smiling and laughing. They had a large poster on the wall, with lots of individual congratulation messages written by all the staff and doctors. Cookies, snacks and drinks (no beer….dammit).

Aaron was beside himself with glee when he saw us. He was so glad to be coming home. We had to return to his room to wait for final instructions, prescriptions, etc. While we waited, Aaron and I carried all of his stuff down to the car. We finally left around noon.

We got home and let him adjust to being there for awhile and then I took him to the store and pharmacy for his drugs and special diet supplies. He was doing very well, showing me where items were located at Wal-Mart, since he knows the store blindfolded. There was some repeating of comments but not too bad. For the most part, Aaron was being himself but just a little tentative.

Aaron’s pill schedule is all new, since the drugs are different and there are more drugs to take. So he is a little confused on when and what pills to take. We went over it a couple different times and wrote it down to make it easier. But he is still not able to concentrate very well.

He was up when I got up this morning at 4:30 but he said he slept well last night. Time will tell, as he adjusts to being home and resumes his “normal” life.

Cindy and I will head to Iowa City hospital today for her doctor appt. Our son Michael will be with Aaron today and overnight. That was Michael’s idea…..Aaron doesn’t need to spend several hours sitting in a hospital with us…and much of that time, actually sitting alone while we are with the doctor.

Two of Cindy’s doctors told her that the tumor she had removed was not cancerous but most likely would have turned cancerous in a short time. So the surgery was definitely done in a timely matter and necessary. WHEW!!!!!

After Cindy is finished in Iowa City, we will head to the cabin for a much needed rest and a relaxing, beautiful, long, enjoyable, trouble-free weekend. Michael will bring Aaron to the river tomorrow and we will go boating. This will be Aaron’s first exposure to sunshine in two months.

I think Aaron will continue to improve. He starts out-patient therapy next week at the Mercy Plaza, close to our house. Then he sees his doctor the following week for an assessment. I will continue to update Aaron’s progress.

Cindy and I feel like we have our lives back. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Thursday, August 30, 2007 6:57 AM CDT

Today is the day Aaron comes home. We are going to the hospital at 10 AM this morning. The hospital staff has planned a little going-home party for him.

To say that we are a little nervous would be a rather large understatement.

Cindy is still moving around slowly. She has pretty much stopped the pain medication that was given for her surgery pain. We think it might have been the cause of a severe rash.

Cindy is now just taking the Methadone and Neurontin for pain. The Methadone controls the pain in her back and hips due to the AVN (Avascular Necrosis) she suffers from. The Neurontin controls (with limited success) the phantom pains in her little leg. She has been taking these two drugs for a few years.

We hope that these meds will provide some relief from the pain in her pelvis due to the fall she took 2 weeks ago.

We are planning on a relaxing weekend at the cabin. This is the first time Aaron has been outside since just a week after the 4th of July.

Our other son Michael is going to stay with Aaron on Friday, so that we can go to Iowa City for Cindy's doctor appt.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 7:18 AM CDT

Now that Cindy has pretty much weaned herself off the pain meds used for treating her surgery, the hip pain is rearing it's head again. It's been over 10 days since she fell and injured her hip area and it's just not getting better. In fact this morning Cindy could barely move around.

So today, we will talk to Dr. Pope and see if he wants to do an X-ray or CT scan. I don't know if there is much they can do but we need to know what the pain is coming from.

Aaron is up and down. On Sunday morning he wasn't doing that well but we talked about him coming home this week and I tried to get him to focus on that. When I went to see him on Sunday evening, he was like a new person. He was upbeat, had been charting his activity for the day and was anxious to go home.

I went home Sunday night elated at his progress, thinking that this will be a cakewalk.

Yesterday I went to see him and he was an emotional wreck.

We have made arrangements with the doctors, Mercy hospital and the out-patient therapy clinic. Aaron will be coming home Thursday morning. I hope that this change will stimulate him in a positive direction.

Sunday, August 26, 2007 12:54 AM CDT

Cindy continues to heal from her surgery. Her pain is still present, so the medication level required to control it results in lots of sleep. We return to Iowa City next Friday for Cindy's post-surgery check up.

We received a call from her surgeon, Dr. De Geest, Friday night.....her pathology report came back showing NO sign of cancer!!!

Cindy's battle is over, other than recovering from surgery and avoiding infection. But otherwise, no further treatment will be needed.

Aaron is anxious to come home and we will be working that issue this week. Aaron still struggles to live in the moment but we are reinforcing and redirecting him when he gets off track. The one exercise I have been stressing for him is to "ask questions". I wrote it on the white board in his room, to keep reminding him of this exercise. He has not asked any questions other than "when can I go home?"

I explained to him that when he asks questions of other people, it shows that he is curious for new information. Presently, Aaron only recites things he can do or things that he remembers. He has not asked about Cindy. He tells us that he knows that she had surgery in Iowa City but I pointed out that he has not asked how she is doing.

We are very nervous about what comes next for Aaron. Having him home and being responsible for him 24 hours a day is a little overwhelming right now. But there are no good alternatives.

Aaron is physically doing well. However, any further treatment for his mental rehabilitation will not be covered by insurance. At this point, we see a long road ahead for Aaron’s recovery.

Friday, August 24, 2007 2:34 PM CDT

What a day!! We got the okay to leave the hospital at 11:30 this morning. So we load up all our stuff on a cart and the nurse pushes Cindy to the parking ramp in a wheel chair. I go to start the car and the battery is dead!!

So I push Cindy back to the front entrance waiting area and call a couple good friends who work in Coralville. So between them we get a ride home. Thanks a bunch to Leslie Keune and Carol Brown.

So now the car is still sitting in the parking ramp at the Iowa City hospital...with the luggage and computer in the trunk. I will have to go back to Iowa City to get the car home now. Aye Carumba!!

I got Cindy put to bed and ran around to the pharmacy and grocery store. I still have to run to Mercy hospital this afternoon to see Aaron also....I am needing a nap I think.

Friday, August 24, 2007 9:33 AM CDT

Cindy is going home today!!!

We will spend the rest of the day, getting release instructions, prescriptions, pharmacy stops and then home and getting Cindy settled.

She is showered and sitting on the edge of the bed, ready to go.

The incision draining has almost stopped. The ultrasound yesterday showed that it was mostly just small pockets of fluid in the sub-surface area, not from deep in the abdomen.

We still have lots of stuff to deal with for Aaron's situation...but for today, we will get home and just relax.

Aaron still has another week of authorization in the rehab unit, so we will take full advantage of that while we explore the next step. He is not ready to come home, as much as he wants to and that is heartbreaking but it's just not possible the way he is now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007 9:40 AM CDT

UPDATE: Thursday, 1:00PM
Cindy's doctor came in around noon and looked at the incision. He was fairly concerned about the fluid that leaked this morning and is still seeping. He ordered an ultrasound and possibly a CT scan to determine how deep the fluid is coming from.

If the fluid is coming from just under the outer skin layer, then he isn't as worried but if it's coming from deep in the abdomen, then they may have to open her and put in a drain.

Going home tomorrow looks very doubtful, he said. Cindy is pretty disappointed.

Cindy is also adjusting to her new pain control, by mouth rather than through her epidural. She is pretty uncomfortable right now, so we need to get the pain controlled and figure out what she can take for pain meds once she's released.

Thursday, August 23, 9:40 AM

Too many good days in a row apparently. Yesterday was not a good day for Aaron compared to the previous 2 days. He is regressing back to where he was a week ago….repeating canned phrases, memory loss, unable to stay in the present and carry on a give-and-take conversation. I’m sure he seems pretty fine to people who see him for short visits but for anyone who is around him for several hours, like my mom, and Michael and Nikki, the situation is obvious.

Some of this is probably due to the stress of us being gone but we also think he is too stimulated by all the company and activity. So we are going to cut back on how many visits he has during the day. That way he can focus more on himself and therapy, rather than being “on” for company.

They moved Aaron to Skilled care, which is right down the hall from where he was. However, they neglected to remove the phone from his new room. Last Sunday Aaron and I discussed giving him his cell phone. I thought about it and decided that it was too soon. Last night proved that theory to be correct. Aaron starting calling us right after he got in his new room. About every half hour we got a call. With each call, when I gently reminded Aaron that he had just called, he had no reaction, so I knew he was not comprehending what he was doing.

By 8 pm, and after the 4th or 5th phone call from Aaron, I called the charge nurse and asked that his phone be removed from his room. She said they would discretely remove it while he was out for a walk around the floor….or some other plan, so he wouldn’t be too upset.

Cindy had a restless night. She was moaning and talking in her sleep quite often. Her stomach also dramatically swelled overnight. This morning the surgeon came in the room around 5am. He looked at the incision and thought it looked good. I asked about the swelling and I said it looked like fluid building. He said, no, it is just a normal, post-surgery build up of gas in her abdomen.

About 15 minutes later, Cindy wanted to go for a walk. So as I was helping her sit up on the edge of the bed and getting things ready, monitors, tubes, robe, etc., all of a sudden I noticed the front of her gown and the bed were covered in thin blood and fluid. I ran out and caught the surgeon still on the floor and told him I thought her incision had burst. He ran back to the room and uncovered her incision. All the staples were in place but the fluid build up had shot threw the incision. Her tummy was now back to almost normal and she felt fine, so no harm done.

She is sleeping now, they have removed the epidural catheter from her back and they will remove her other catheter (for peeing) this afternoon. They have to wait 6 hours after removing the epidural to make sure her bladder is awake. They also will remove the IV from her arm sometime today. She ate her first meal an hour ago….pancakes.

Once she is free of all her monitors and tubes, and able to get around by herself, I am going to run up to Cedar Rapids and see Aaron. I want to reassure him that everything is going well and see for myself how he is doing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 11:17 AM CDT

Another good day in the Lynch household....or at the two hospitals where we reside. Aaron continues to do well. We talk often on the phone and he is getting lots of company from friends and relatives. Thanks to all of you for being there with Aaron while we are in Iowa City.

Mercy hospital received approval yesterday, for Aaron to stay for 2 more weeks. That was such a relief for us. They had to move him to another room but it's on the same floor and his daily therapy will continue with the same therapists.

Hopefully we will be able to get him home before the two weeks expires but it certainly gives us piece of mind that he is well taken care of while Cindy recovers.

Cindy is sitting in a chair, right beside me, reading the newspaper, while I update the site. She did extremely well last night. Neither one of us got much sleep but her pain was under good control and all her vital signs look excellent.

This morning I got Cindy up out of bed, helped her wash her hair, then we went for a stroll down the hallway. She is hooked up to lots of tubes so a nurse had to come along to drag all the "stuff".

We are both needing a nap right now, so we will try to sneak one in before they come a knockin on our door..."Housekeeping"....."blooddraw"...."vitals"......"doctor visit"...."menu"....."chaplain"...."Need anything?". That is how the day goes.

I think that is how they get you to go home soon and that's the goal, right?. The doctor thinks that Friday is a possibility, so we will push for that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 4:26 PM CDT

Cindy was out of surgery just before noon. Dr. De Geest said he looked at frozen sections of the polyp, lymph nodes and uterus and they all looked clean!!

They will send the tissue, including the fibroid, to another facility for a complete pathology report...results in 7-10 days. But he isn't expecting any surprises.

Dr. De Geest also said that her PET scan was clear, NO spots anywhere! I can't do graphics on this webpage, otherwise I could show myself jumping up and down and smiling....a LOT.

Cindy went to recovery and was there till 2 PM, about the time that I expected. When she got to her room, she was very alert and looked fantastic (she always looks fantastic, by the way), she was pretty chipper actually.

Just before she was brought up from recovery, I went up to the floor to check on the private room. The head nurse said that they had a room for her and she took me to the room.....another patient was in there. We went back to the desk and she asked who put that patient in Cindy's room. There was some confusion for awhile but then they came up with another PRIVATE room.

However, it wasn't clean, so they had to put Cindy in a 3rd room for a half hour until they had it clean. We were soooo relieved to have that battle over with. Once we were able to relax, Cindy got pretty tired....me too.

No sleep yet, they are coming in the room every few minutes, doing stuff to her.

She is in the John Pappajohn east wing, 3rd floor, room 3774. I think they call it JP east, 3774.

Aaron is continuing to improve. I talked to him twice by phone today and he sounds nervous about us but very coherent.

I can't take all this good news, my system ain't used to it.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007 10:48 AM CDT

Cindy did not see any of your emails from last night, but I will relay all your good thoughts to her later today.

Cindy did not sleep at all last night so she is catching up now. They told her that they were giving her a General anesthetic anyway, along with an epidural for pain management (I think). Last few surgeries, they had trouble inserting the epidural needle in her spine so I won't know for sure until she is out of surgery.

I don't know why the confusion, Cindy requested and was told that she could do the surgery with just an epidural, when we were here last week.

If they do the epidural, they won't have to give her so much anesthesia during surgery. She doesn't do well with general anesthesia, as I stated before in earlier postings.

I went up to her wing where she will be staying and it is packed. We have requested a private room and the doctor requested it also but it doesn't look good. Once they see that I'm not leaving, maybe they will suddenly find a place for us. I will sleep on the floor next to her if necessary, I've done that before....but I'm not leaving her.

They took Cindy back for the epidural around 7:15 and surgery was scheduled right after that. She is scheduled for at least 4 hours in surgery and then an hour or two in recovery. So it will be mid-afternoon before I can see her.

Monday, August 20, 2007 7:06 PM CDT

It's the eve of Cindy's surgery and things are looking better.....finally!!!

Aaron has now had two days in a row that were good, very good. He is now talking in the moment and is not so emotional. Aaron understands full well what we have going on this week with Cindy.

I went to the hospital alone tonight because Cindy isn't getting around that well, so it was good for her to just rest tonight.

I can't begin to describe the improvement in Aaron since last Friday. He is calm, understanding, able to converse normally, and supportive of what his parents are facing tomorrow. The change is nothing short of miraculous.

The doctors and staff are still working on how to get insurance to cover another week for Aaron. For now, they told us not to worry about it. I don’t know what they have in mind but we don’t have time to worry about it so we’ll take their word for it.

I told Aaron that I’m counting on him getting better this week and then to be able to come home and help take care of his mom. He was “on board” with that, he said.

The Iowa City doctor called late this afternoon and told Cindy that her surgery is early in the morning. We have to be there at 6 AM. We are very glad, let's get this over with. Later times on surgery day suck, you can't eat or drink and the waiting is torture, so we’ll be there before 6:00 AM, with bells on.

I will update the webpage tomorrow as soon as I can, after Cindy is out of recovery.

Thank you all for the great support system you have collectively created for us. We couldn’t do this without you all.

Saturday, August 18, 2007 12:42 AM CDT

The last two days were not as good as Wednesday. Aaron was very emotional on Thursday and on Friday he was tired and slower than he has been.

We were informed on Friday morning that Aaron was going to be discharged on Monday, due to the insurance company limiting his stay. As you can imagine, we were in a panic mode. We quickly called a meeting with the hospital staff and doctor. We think we got a reprieve but won't know until Monday.

When I questioned them about what do people do who are released from the hospital with a mental illness, they didn't have very encouraging information.

Cindy and I felt a little better when we left the hospital but that is mostly because we are blocking out thoughts beyond the week of Cindy's surgery. At least we think we have this week covered.

Then last night, Cindy fell. She landed very hard on her tailbone and is having trouble moving around today. I hope she didn't crack her tailbone. I told her that at least she will be getting bed rest this week so her tailbone will have a chance to recover.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 7:07 AM CDT

Yesterday was a nice day with Aaron. He was more relaxed and lots of smiles. We watched a Seinfeld DVD and he laughed hard (at all the appropriate points) during the show. This follows the pattern for Aaron, bad one day, good the next. We’ll see how today goes.

We didn’t know what to expect Wednesday morning because we were not there Tuesday night, due to Cindy recovering from her PET scan drugs. Tuesday was the first evening we haven’t been with him at the hospital since he’s been there. My mom was with him for a large part of the afternoon and we saw him that morning, so he did have some family contact during the day.

Cindy is anxious to get this show on the road. She can’t wait to be done with the surgery and on the road to recovery. We don’t know what to expect…..her doctor initially put a scare into us because of what he said were the difficulties of this type of abdominal surgery.

Dr. De Geest thought Cindy was a little too anxious to have the hysterectomy. But then when he saw that this was the correct way to go, he backed off the scare tactics.

Some of you have asked about the length of her stay. The doctor said that she will most likely be in Iowa City for 4 to 5 days following the surgery.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 6:03 PM CDT

We had a conference at Mercy Hospital on Tuesday morning. Those in attendance were:
Aaron’s dietician, speech therapist, occupational therapist, social worker, the rehab unit director, and Aaron’s rehab doctor…Dr. Quinn.

Each gave their summary of how Aaron is doing, all sounded optimistic. Then it was Cindy and my turn. I can’t say that we didn’t get emotional because we are very frustrated with what we perceive is their rush to release Aaron from the hospital. We understand the pressure from insurance and we know how to fight that. But we also didn’t think we are being heard about how Aaron used to be.

There is no way he is ready to come home. Monday night, Aaron was upset and finally told us that he was scared because he had burned down our house. This is an on-going illusion that Aaron has but he’s been hiding it from us. He does tell others this story frequently though.

This morning, we had to tell him each step for his shower. He finished and then got out of the shower and put all his dirty clothes back on. We told him to put on his clean clothes that were laid out for him….so he began to put them on over his dirty clothes.

We related all of this at the conference this morning along with other tales and reminded them that we are facing a battle with Cindy next week and won’t be able to even be there for Aaron for at least a week, followed by Cindy’s recovery at home which will take much concentrated effort by me, plus my working a full-time job.

I think we got our point across. They were very understanding and the rehab director was wiping tears from her face. Later, the social worker came in the room and again reassured us that they were going to do all they could to help us.

Aaron was very emotional all morning, crying most of the time we were there. I don’t know if he senses the Iowa City stress or ALL of the stress we are under. We left shortly after for Iowa City for Cindy’s PET scan.

The PET scan took a little under 4 hours and Cindy slept the whole time. They gave her a sleeping aid at the start and it really zonked her out. She was very unsteady when she came out but I had the wheel chair right there for her.

We won’t have any results from the PET scan for awhile and it doesn’t affect the surgery decision anyway.

We came home and Cindy slept afterwards so we didn’t see Aaron Tuesday night. We called and told the nurse what the deal was and to reassure Aaron, that things were okay.

Dr. De Geest’s aid called while we were driving home from Iowa City to tell us that the surgery is on schedule for August 21st. We won’t know the time until the night before but we know that it will be all day. The surgery itself will take about 4 hours.

Sunday, August 12, 2007 12:46 AM CDT

Aaron is making progress. His speech is now almost back to normal. His voice is a little weak but part of that is due to the emotional issues he is having. The doctor thinks that the new seizure medication, Keppra, could be the cause, that is one of its side-effects.

Aaron does pretty well emotionally during all of his therapy but then he kind of falls apart when we arrive. I think he lets down his guard when Mom and Dad are there.

Aaron is still having great difficulty living in the moment and remembering little details, like what he ate and if he showered today. He requires specific instruction to do any task but he then does it willingly and correctly.

There are some things that are sticking with him...he knows that his job is to "get better" and he repeats that saying everyday, without prompting. We also try to get him to keep his window shade up during the day, and envision himself out there. We say, "you gotta get back out in the world" and he likes to repeat that.

We have been watching Seinfeld DVDs with Aaron and he is following the show and laughing. It doesn't seem to bother him as much now with the tv on. I was also tickling him today and he was really laughing hard. That was a good feeling to hear him laugh and smile so much like his old self.

He is very light sensitive, always has been, so he wears his sunglasses almost all the time when the shade is up. Earlier in the week when we would arrive, he would be sitting in the chair, with his sunglasses on and the shade would be down. The room was very dark. I would immediately pull the shade up and then scold him about not getting any sunlight. The past 3 days, the shade has been up when we arrive. So he is getting that.

Cindy and I are somewhat settled in a routine now and feel much better about things. Cindy is looking forward to getting her surgery over with and recovering at home.

Aaron is fully aware of Cindy's upcoming surgery, so I think he will be okay. There is a chance that the surgery will be postponed to August 27th and that might not be all bad. That will give Aaron another week to recover and be further along.

We will find out Tuesday for sure about the surgery date. Cindy also has her PET scan this Tuesday.

I forgot to write about the meeting with Anesthesia at last weeks appointment. They told Cindy that it's okay to have an epidural during her surgery.

Cindy doesn't tolerate general anesthesia or morphine very well so she would rather stay awake during surgery. Her amputation was done with an epidural and so was her other leg surgery in 2005, when they shortened her leg some more, due to a nerve/pain problem.

Cindy and I are enjoying life very much again and a lot of it is due to staying in touch with all of our friends and family. We have had several dinners out with friends and Michael and Nikki and we've had friends over to our house for dinner. And I've been tickling Cindy too...she likes it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007 11:02 AM CDT

We have been asked numerous times about how Aaron is doing and what he actually is suffering from. Cindy and I lose sight of what is known about Aaron because we are so close to it. So I will explain where we are at today. I am sure this is all in the journal history but this will save having to re-read the whole history from July 17th.

Aaron was taken to the hospital on July 16th, suffering from a blood disorder called Porphyria. One of the symptoms of Porphyria is psychosis…that is, hallucinations, personality changes, extreme paranoia. Porphyria also causes seizures, very rapid heart rate and blood pressure and inability to sleep for days. The psychosis made Aaron unmanageable so he was given Halodol by IV injection to keep him calm and help him sleep.

Aaron reacted to the large amount of Halodol given and he developed Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS). This happens in less than 1 percent of people who are given an anesthetic. Aaron was moved to the Intensive Care unit for a few days because NMS can quickly become fatal. The NMS caused brain damage which we don’t know if he will recover from or if he does recover, how long recovery will take, or if his recovery will put him fully back to normal.

Most of the damage is to Aaron’s short-term memory. Aaron is there, he recognizes people, he can eat, bathe, shave, generally take care of himself but he has to be instructed when to do these things. He can’t remember if he has done them if he is asked later.

Aaron can remember his history, people he has known, and where he is supposed to be mentally and physically. Aaron can’t carry on a conversation however, he gets stuck on some detail, like “I know where I am, I’m at Mercy hospital” and then repeats this many times. He will appear to be listening to a conversation but then will say something that indicates he is not able to focus.

It is slow going. Everyday seems to be about the same with very small gains one day then a step back the next day. Aaron is also having a small seizure each day…that we know of. We are working that issue with the neurologist.

We are trying to settle into a routine, where we see Aaron for short periods during the day and then we try to sleep at night. As you can imagine we aren’t very successful some nights.

We also are anxious to get through Cindy’s surgery on August 21st and get that issue resolved one way or the other. I’m not sure how Aaron will handle both of us being gone during the week of Cindy’s surgery and recovery.

I will definitely need some help then, such as having family and friends visiting Aaron and keeping him occupied and assured that his parents are okay. Aaron is pretty much fixated on his mom and dad; that is about all he talks about with other people. So for anyone who would like to help, the week of surgery is something I am very concerned about.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 11:33 AM CDT

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY NOON >> Aaron pulled his PICC line out during the night. This is the 3rd time he's pulled out a PICC line. We don't know if they will need the PICC again so for now they put a regular IV line back in. He was very emotional this morning, which is the opposite of how we left him last night. Last night he was very upbeat and smiling, engaging conversation, etc., and he seemed content when we left for home. We are also now aware that he is having little seizures everyday, so his other seizure medication, Neurontin, will have to be started again, hopefully today. This is what we mean by a roller coaster with Aaron....he just can't gain any traction.

Sorry for the delay in updates. There really wasn't anything new to say. Aaron is up and down, one day we think we see progress (although very slight progress) and then the next day he is worse. He can't seem to string two good days together.

They moved Aaron to the 7th floor on Monday. They just weren't ready for him on Saturday because the entire 7th floor was renovated and they were relocating a whole section to that floor. We're glad they waited till Monday to move him. The nurse/patient ratio is much better but he isn't on 24 hour camera surveillance now. He eats in a common area and he can wear street clothes. His day is kept busy with all kinds of therapy.

Aaron is very emotional, especially when Cindy and I are there. Which is a positive sign; because it shows that he's aware of his condition. However, he wants us with him all the time. We can definitely see it now, that he regresses when we're there. It's all he can focus on, telling us over and over that he loves us and glad we are there. His eyes follow us, from Cindy to me and back and forth, not able to pay attention to anything else in the room.

His short term memory is still not there but in the last 2 days, he's been able to remember a few significant things that happened. One of them is that he remembered that Cindy is having medical issues in Iowa City. That is making him very emotional also.

After supper last night, he remembered an hour later what he had eaten. That was the first time he recalled something trivial.

He also recalled that my friend John Fetzer came to see him, after I asked if he had a visitor that day. He didn't remember what they talked about or that John had brought him a magazine though. When I showed him the magazine, he couldn't tell me who brought it for him.

On to Iowa City....today was Cindy's consultation with Dr. De Geest. As we suspected, he wants to go right for the hysterectomy and not do anymore preliminary tests or biopsies. He seems pretty concerned about it being Leiomyosarcoma (pronounced Lie-o-my-o-sar-co-ma) cancer.

We thought it was the polyp that gave him the most concern last week but he told us today that it's the fibroid, inside the uterine wall that points to a high probability of a sarcoma cancer, especially with Cindy's history. He said her odds of it being Leiomysarcoma were increased by 40 times. He said of her odds, "that's huge". There are also some lymph node concerns so he will take those too during the surgery.

He asked for permission to use her case for a research project because her case is so rare. He seems fascinated with Cindy's cancer history and the knowledge that may be gleaned from her case.

The surgery is tentatively scheduled for August 21st (our grandson's 6th birthday) and we won't have pathology back for at least a week after surgery. So we won't know if it's cancer or what type until the beginning of September.

We talked about a PET scan before surgery to see if there are other places in her body or brain that we need to be concerned about or that will be a factor in decisions made following surgery.

A PET scan would be useless following surgery because her body would light up due to all the trauma of surgery. We need to do it now while she is "quiet", before surgery.

So the PET scan is scheduled for next Tuesday. It takes about 4 hours.

A PET scan shows cancer or potential cancer but it's known for creating false positives, so it can be misleading. We assured him that it wouldn't affect our decision to have the hysterectomy anyway.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 2:56 PM CDT

Sorry for the delay in updates. There really wasn't anything new to say. Aaron is up and down, one day we think we see progress (although very slight progress) and then the next day he is worse. He can't seem to string two good days together.

They moved Aaron to the 7th floor on Monday. They just weren't ready for him on Saturday because the entire 7th floor was renovated and they were relocating a whole section to that floor. We're glad they waited till Monday to move him. The nurse/patient ratio is much better but he isn't on 24 hour camera surveillance now. He eats in a common area and he can wear street clothes. His day is kept busy with all kinds of therapy.

Aaron is very emotional, especially when Cindy and I are there. Which is a positive sign; because it shows that he's aware of his condition. However, he wants us with him all the time. We can definitely see it now, that he regresses when we're there. It's all he can focus on, telling us over and over that he loves us and glad we are there. His eyes follow us, from Cindy to me and back and forth, not able to pay attention to anything else in the room.

His short term memory is still not there but in the last 2 days, he's been able to remember a few significant things that happened. One of them is that he remembered that Cindy is having medical issues in Iowa City. That is making him very emotional also.

After supper last night, he remembered an hour later what he had eaten. That was the first time he recalled something trivial.

He also recalled that my friend John Fetzer came to see him, after I asked if he had a visitor that day. He didn't remember what they talked about or that John had brought him a magazine though. When I showed him the magazine, he couldn't tell me who brought it for him.

On to Iowa City....today was Cindy's consultation with Dr. De Geest. As we suspected, he wants to go right for the hysterectomy and not do anymore preliminary tests or biopsies. He seems pretty concerned about it being Leiomyosarcoma (pronounced Lie-o-my-o-sar-co-ma) cancer.

We thought it was the polyp that gave him the most concern last week but he told us today that it's the fibroid, inside the uterine wall that points to a high probability of a sarcoma cancer, especially with Cindy's history. He said her odds of it being Leiomysarcoma were increased by 40 times. He said of her odds, "that's huge". There are also some lymph node concerns so he will take those too during the surgery.

He asked for permission to use her case for a research project because her case is so rare. He seems fascinated with Cindy's cancer history and the knowledge that may be gleaned from her case.

The surgery is tentatively scheduled for August 21st (our grandson's 6th birthday) and we won't have pathology back for at least a week after surgery. So we won't know if it's cancer or what type until the beginning of September.

We talked about a PET scan before surgery to see if there are other places in her body or brain that we need to be concerned about or that will be a factor in decisions made following surgery.

A PET scan would be useless following surgery because her body would light up due to all the trauma of surgery. We need to do it now while she is "quiet", before surgery.

So the PET scan is scheduled for next Tuesday. It takes about 4 hours.

A PET scan shows cancer or potential cancer but it's known for creating false positives, so it can be misleading. We assured him that it wouldn't affect our decision to have the hysterectomy anyway.

Saturday, August 4, 2007 1:09 PM CDT

Today has been a busy day for Cindy and me. Kevin is at the hospital with Aaron for the day and we are taking care of many business, medical and legal details that have been pushed aside during the past 3 weeks. It's amazing how much stuff falls behind when you stop your lives for a few weeks.

We didn't have to wait long for news from Iowa City. Dr. De Geest called Cindy personally yesterday and told her that the MRI was not what he expected. There are concerns about the polyp and about the lymph nodes in her abdominal cavity. There are many possibilities now, some very serious, so he wants to talk in person. We will be going back to Iowa City on Tuesday morning to meet with him. We are planning our questions and alternatives today as we prepare for the meeting.

Aaron is moving today to the 7th floor, rehab area. We are anxious about how he will adjust. Aaron has been quite a handful. It's like having a 3 year old child again. It is very frustrating for all of us. Aaron wants us with him 24 hours a day. We explain why that can't be but he forgets and asks again 10 minutes later.

We actually think it's hampering his recovery by us sitting beside him all the time. He is totally focused on us and is not focusing on his exercises or even learning how to keep himself occupied.

We are going to transition to less time sitting at the hospital next week. Therapists will be working with him for much of the day, each day, so we will plan on being there early to meet doctors and then later in the day after his supper and before bed.

Yesterday they allowed him to take a shower. He took the shower...with all his clothes on. We talked about how he must undress to shower. Later he had to go pee. He went in the bathroom and completely disrobed to pee. Later we'll laugh. But for right now, you can perhaps get a glimpse at what we're dealing with.

With the looming clouds of Cindy's battle and the overwhelming thoughts of having a mentally handicapped son for a long time, we are barely able to keep our heads up. But we have faced tough times before and we feel prepared for the fight.

You all have to know how much your support buoys our spirits and keeps us moving ahead. Thank you again for being there.

Friday, August 3, 2007 7:24 AM CDT

Yesterday was a very full day. We were with Aaron early in the morning until Kevin arrived and then Cindy and I left for Iowa City.

We really like Dr. De Geest. He is very thorough and he layed out all the options for us. It seemed like the longer we talked, the more concerned he became as he realized how much health history Cindy has. When I asked if an MRI was possible that day, he responded that that would be impossible with such short notice.

In the end though, after he did an exam, his nurse told us that we had to rush downstairs if we wanted to get in for an MRI. We went down to the lower level and they took Cindy back for the MRI and told me they would be finished in 45 minutes.......2 hours later Cindy was finished.

We then went to another floor where Cindy had a heart EKG, then to another floor for a chest X-ray and finally back to the cancer clinic for blood work. We were in Iowa City all day. We won't know anything from Iowa City until next Tuesday. So there is no plan in place yet about how we will proceed.

Then we headed back to the hospital to relieve Kevin. I dropped Cindy off at the hospital and headed home. Thank you Kevin for staying with Aaron for the day. Kevin also offered to stay with Aaron Saturday so Cindy and I can have a day for ourselves and catch up on home chores, groceries, etc.

I went home after dropping Cindy at the hospital because our beautiful daughter Nikki had arranged a massage for me at our house, by a friend who does massage therapy. Thank you Rennie. Rennie told me that Cindy and Aaron are next. And thank you Nikki, we love you very much.

Aaron seems to be doing about the same. His lack of short-term memory is becoming more and more evident. He doesn't remember even from moment to moment. He can have lunch and then 10 minutes later not be able to tell you what he ate, or if he ate.

His long-term memory is sharp and his vocabulary and conversation skills are sharper than before he was even sick. It is very weird. Cindy used flash cards of the U.S. states and he could rattle off the name of the state as soon as the card appeared. But that exercise...or any mental exercise, exhausts him within minutes and he has to lie down and try to sleep. His speech is still very slurred with a terrible lisp. He can now stick his tongue out of his mouth but he gets pretty shaky when he tries it.

They are removing his glucose today to see how he reacts. Once he's off the IV for good, he may be able to be moved to the rehab floor. The social worker assures us that he won’t go home until he is back the way he was…an independent adult, capable of working a full-time job and taking care of all of his needs. We are a long way from that point right now.

Thursday, August 2, 2007 7:41 AM CDT

Last night apparently went well. The nurses told us that Aaron slept from 9 to around 5 this morning. That is the longest so far, since he's been off the Halodol.

We anticipated a very bad night from the way it started out. We left around 7 last night and barely got home when the hospital called and said Aaron was really upset and wanting us there. So we drove right back to the hospital and I ran up to his room. He had 3 nurses around him and was very agitated. I talked to him and he said that he wanted us there because he couldn't sleep without us there. I scolded him and told him that we are there everyday, all day and we need to go home and sleep and get our rest.

Then he was very upset, saying he didn't want us mad at him. I told him that we weren't mad but he needs to relearn how to keep himself occupied. The nurses are available for him to talk to, take him for walks, etc. all he has to do his buzz for them.

So this morning when we walked in his room...not knowing what to expect...Aaron was sitting in the chair, reading the newspaper. He told us immediately that he was keeping himself occupied. We were very glad to see that he is beginning to retain some short-term memory.

Kevin will be here soon and then Cindy and I will leave for Iowa City.

We are placing Aaron back on the resident list for the hospital. We have had requests from friends and relatives wanting to send get well wishes and other things to his room. Things are greatly improved from how he looked a week ago but we still request that he have NO visitors for awhile yet.

Thanks again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 11:17 AM CDT

Last night went pretty well. The PICC stayed in place and Aaron slept for about 5 hours overnight. He asked the nurse to help him go for a walk in the night and he was fairly calm.

Today, the occupational therapist worked with him for the first time. The first exercise was to follow instructions for filling his pill box, with 3 different medications, and dosages. He failed that test completely. The therapist will make it a little simpler this afternoon.

Aaron's short-term memory appears to be very bad. This is probably the reason for his repeating things over and over. It's going to take time, the doctor keeps assuring us.

Yesterday we were concerned about his 12 hours with no Glucose. This is because he ripped out the PICC line at 3 am and they didn't get a new one in place until 3:00 pm yesterday afternoon...I know, I know...we are pretty disgusted with some of the care issues.

Anyway, I wanted to have a urine sample taken yesterday so it could go to Mayo clinic for evaluation. This would show if the Porphyrins had elevated after being off the glucose for 12 hours. But I couldn't seem to get this across to the middle man that was relating this to the doctor....who I couldn't get a hold of myself.

The test is only done at Mayo and only on Wednesday, so that was a great opportunity to see what will happen if the glucose is stopped. The treatment has to stop at some point and I wanted to make something good come of the PICC incident. Doesn't anyone at the hospital understand scientific theory!!!??? The nurse just looked at me and said, "We will have the PICC in soon and then he will be getting his glucose, so the Porphyria should be back under control, so don't worry." (How do I write in a blank stare here?), I just turned on my heel and went back to Aaron's room.

Sooooo, we are maintaining. Hanging on to hope and just living day to day. Tomorrow we go to Iowa City for Cindy's stuff. Her brother Kevin offered to come stay with Aaron for the day.

Thanks again for all the words of support.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 7:32 AM CDT

Today is a better day. I think Cindy and I both reached a very low point yesterday, not knowing where to turn. We went to the hospital Monday morning and had a conference with the “movers and shakers” there. They saw how totally exhausted and frustrated we were and so they are providing much more support and taking more aggressive action.

Aaron will have physical therapy come to his room a couple times a day. That started yesterday, he made it 200 feet down the hall, with a walker and some assistance.

Also during the day yesterday, there were signs that Aaron is improving a little. We didn’t see it as much as Michael and Nikki saw it but we are there all the time so incremental changes are less likely to be observed by us.

Monday night, Michael and Nikki took us out to dinner. It was a much needed break. We talked about other things, laughed, and acknowledged that we felt a lot better than we had Monday morning. We left Aaron, who told us that he was exhausted and just wanted to sleep, and felt secure this time that he would have a restful night.

Aaron is now back on the regular floor and not in the ICU anymore. I told him that today I would bring a tennis ball and we could play catch. It would help his hand-eye coordination. He was very excited about that and kept repeating, “tomorrow we’ll play catch”….and smiling.

Cindy and I can’t begin to express how much it means to us to have all the letters and phone calls yesterday from all of our friends and family. So many wrote or called with heartfelt words, offering support and love, recognizing that we were really hurting. It reminded us that we aren’t alone in this struggle.

We couldn’t do this without all of you. We love you all.

Thank you,
Tom & Cindy

Update: Tuesday 9:30am -- Aaron pulled his PICC line out last night so he's scheduled to have a new PICC line put in this morning. He's been off the glucose treatment for several hours now because of this "incident", so I hope this doesn't cause a relapse of his Porphyria.

Monday, July 30, 2007 7:18 AM CDT

We probably shouldn’t update the journal on days like this. Cindy and I are really struggling. The only way we can sum it up is to just say, Aaron is mentally broken. We don’t know if he will get better and the doctors can’t reassure us either. The Neurologist said that sometimes this just happens and there is no way to predict how it will turn out.

Aaron may be moved back upstairs today, but we are worried how that will turn out. He needs CONSTANT care and even now in the Intensive Care unit, there are times when they miss things.

We both are so mentally exhausted; we’re just trying to get through the day. So if we don’t update as often, please understand.

Sunday, July 29, 2007 8:24 AM CDT

Aaron is doing better..finally. He is pretty restless and doesn't sleep for very long at a time. His speech is pretty mumbled and the longer he's awake, the more irritated he gets. He gets stuck on something that bugs him and then just keeps repeating it over and over....and over.

We get reassured by the staff that he will recover mentally but we don't know if they realize how different he is now. We have told them that he was a fully functioning adult, independent and employed full-time. I don't think they get that. It is very heartbreaking but we try not to focus on anything but today.

Only a couple of the doctors have ever heard of Porphyria so it's really new to the nurses who are caring for him. They seem really interested in the case.

I have been asked how to pronounce Porphyria.

It's Por-fear-ee-uh

Yesterday was such a relief that he was awake and talking and that he was under constant ICU care. So we took some time for ourselves. I went to the cabin to get our summer clothes...we were recycling the same 3-4 outfits. The boat also needed to be taken care of. I had taken it out of the water to have work done a couple weeks ago, so I needed to get it put away.

Cindy went out to lunch with her brother Kevin and then took a short nap at home. When we returned in the late afternoon, we saw how agitated Aaron was. We tried to talk with him but he just seemed to get more wound up as the hours passed.

I got here around 6 this morning and Aaron was already wound up. They had sponge bathed him and shaved him around 4am so he looked much better. He is sleeping right now.

Saturday, July 28, 2007 7:59 AM CDT

I arrived at the hospital between 5:30 and 6:00 this morning and found Aaron awake and somewhat alert. It sounded like he was moaning as I quietly walked across the room but then I recognized that he was saying, “hi Dad”. So I started talking to him. He was very aware of where he was. He asked “where’s Mom?” I told him that she would be here a little later. His speech is very mumbled and he only had one eye opened slightly, just a slit. It looked like his tongue is very swollen.

This is the first time he’s spoken in four days or so…I’ve lost track of the days. His heart rate is still very elevated…in the 130 range. And his blood pressure is still in the 170/90s range.

The overnight nurse in ICU said that he rested comfortably last night and there were no other problems with his heart.

Oh, I forgot that part....last night, after they moved Aaron to Intensive Care, he was very disturbed, his heart rate and blood pressure were almost out of control. His heart rate was above 140 and his blood pressure was 185/110. He tried to stand on the bed and he ripped out his auxiliary IV. They sedated him with some Ativan…not the Halodol that has caused other problems..that won’t be used again.

Anyway, they decided that his PICC line needed to be replaced because it had been in so long and could be the cause of his fever and possible infection.

Explanation: PICC, is Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. Peripherally inserted just means, placed in a limb, the arm or leg. The PICC runs all the way to his heart, so they can infuse fluids and drugs that may harm the veins.

The PICC team (3 technicians) came up and put in the line. You have to be out of the room because this is a sterile procedure.

Afterwards, they were standing outside the room with the nurses and I was across the room with Cindy. All of a sudden they all ran into Aaron’s room. I ran over to the room and as I entered, they were standing over Aaron and looking at his monitor.

One nurse had her hand over her mouth, staring at the monitor and said, “Damn”. Then she turned around and saw me and said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” I asked what was going on but I could see it right away. Aaron’s heart was fluttering, missing beats and spiking, it didn’t look good. They thought his heart was failing.

After a few minutes one of the PICC team said, “I bet it’s the PICC line. We got it too far into his heart and it’s irritating one of the nerves.” So they called up a mobile X-ray machine (STAT) to see exactly where the PICC line was in his heart. They then backed it out a little bit and his heart settled down.

What a thrill ride that was!!!!!!!

During the night, Cindy called the ICU to see how he was doing, just before we went to bed. The nurse would not give out any information. Cindy was very upset and crying. I was very pissed.

Needless to say, I got there this morning and we had a “meeting of minds” with the nursing staff and nursing supervisor. This will not be a problem again, I can assure you.

Friday, July 27, 2007 4:00 PM CDT

Dr. Buckwalter in Iowa City performed his magic once again for Cindy. She received a call from Dr. De Geest's office today and they have her scheduled for next Thursday morning. Quite a feat, to get into Iowa City at such short notice and with the head of the Gynecologic oncology dept. to boot. Thank you Dr. Buckwalter!!

Aaron was moved to Intensive Care because the Neurologist was seeing signs of a condition called Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome. This was caused by the massive amounts of Halodol he received over several days. The Halodol sedated him but now we are seeing huge problems trying to overcome the effects of that drug. The Halodol was stopped Tuesday night but he has been just getting worse.

I have some information below that spells out what we are facing pretty clearly. I “cleaned up” the article because I know most of you aren’t familiar with all the medical terms. I wrote it so it’s much more clear and took out the stuff that doesn’t pertain to Aaron’s case.


Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is the rarest of the neuroleptic induced movement disorders. It is the most serious and represents a neurologic emergency in most cases.

It has now been reported to occur with all drugs that effect the central dopaminergic system (including dopamine agonists and levodopa).

It is estimated that 1% of patients exposed to neuroleptics will develop this syndrome. Most patients will develop it shortly after initial exposure and 90% within two weeks of starting the Haldol sedative.

The classic symptoms are (fever in 100%), (rigidity), and cognitive changes.

The two characteristic laboratory findings reported in 75% of cases are a high CPK and leukocytosis. 95% of patients are iron deficient. The EEG can show diffuse slowing of brain function. The most frequent findings include rigidity (90%) and tremor (56%).

Mental status changes occur in 75% of patients. This starts as drowsiness and confusion but can progress to stupor and coma. Other symptoms can include seizures, pyramidal tract findings, eye flutter, cardiac arrhythmias. Physical exhaustion, dehydration, increase the rate of this syndrome developing.

Once symptoms develop, progression is quite rapid and reaches peak intensity in about 72 hours. This can vary from 45 minutes to as long as 65 days. Some cases remain mild and clear up without intervention.

The duration of the symptoms can last from 8 hours to 40 days (longer with parental medication). With early recognition and aggressive treatment there is only a 5% mortality rate (much improved in the last 20 years).

Most patients who survive make a full recovery. Some are left with permanent parkinsonism, ataxia, and dementia.

Early recognition is extremely important to reduce mortality. Without therapy this syndrome will resolve on its own over several weeks but with active treatment improvement will occur within 48-72 hours.

The first phase of treatment is supportive therapy with adequate hydration and metabolite (electrolyte) stabilization with cooling blankets to reduce hyperthermia.

Friday, July 27, 2007 10:59 AM CDT

!!!UPDATE: Friday 12:39PM
They are moving Aaron to Intensive Care. The doctors are concerned that he may be progressing into a dangerous neurological state and his muscles could be breaking down, which might cause his kidneys to fail. They will keep him in ICU for at least 24 hours just to be safe, in case his system crashes.

Well, it’s Plan B for Cindy. Forget the schedule I gave yesterday for Cindy’s doctor appts/procedures. We are moving on to the University Hospital & Clinics in Iowa City.

This is the best course of action for Cindy right now. She will be seeing the head of the Gynecologic Oncology dept., Dr. Koen De Geest. We asked Dr. Buckwalter to hurry things up for us as far as getting in as early as possible. Note: since I typed that, Dr. Buckwalter responded by email and said he is going to contact Dr. De Geest and hurry things along. Dr. B thinks we are doing the right thing, as he was concerned also.

Aaron’s EEG yesterday afternoon did not show anything remarkable, no seizures, normal brain activity but slowed brain activity due to the amount of sedatives in his system...we think.

The urine sample from this week showed a significant decrease in the PBG marker. It’s now near normal. So we are on the right track as far as the Porphyria treatment.

However, Aaron just cannot wake up. We have increased the level of disturbance in the room, hoping to stimulate him some more and get him “waked up” (from, To Kill A Mockingbird, for you readers out there).

Today Aaron is going through a battery of tests to determine why he can’t wake up. He hasn’t had any sedatives since Tuesday night so they should be out of his system. He is also running a fever so they are concerned about infection.

This morning, Aaron has had another EEG, a chest Xray, blood work and a cat scan of his head to prepare for a spinal this noon. They are doing the spinal so they can check his spinal fluid for signs of infection.

Thursday, July 26, 2007 11:24 AM CDT

No news today. Aaron is pretty much asleep all the time and has minimal response when they attempt to wake him. They are going to do an EEG (brain scan) on him sometime today but we aren't expecting it to show any seizure activity.

Cindy had a doctor appt/procedure yesterday, she has another appt. this afternoon, then another one tomorrow afternoon, followed by a procedure under general anesthesia next Wednesday morning. We are moving as quickly as we can to resolve her "issue". We have contacted Dr. Buckwalter in Iowa City for his take on it, so we know we'll be in good hands.

We are just hanging on and trying not to think about the future anymore than we have to. We have been going home at night to sleep and I have been working some this week. We know that we have to pace ourselves, so we don't burn out.

We are both comforted with the knowledge that Cindy and I have the exact same stake in this and so we feel that we are sharing the emotional load equally. That lessens the helpless feelings quite a bit.

Thank you all for your concern and support.

UPDATE @ 2:00PM: We just got results from Aaron's urine test that was sent to Mayo clinic. This is the test that shows if Porphyria is actually present and is the cause of Aaron's problem.

This sample was sent in a week ago but Mayo only does the test every Wednesday. We also sent one in from yesterday and we will have that result later today, if they completed it yesterday.

We should be able to make a comparison then to see if the Porphyria is metabolizing out of his system.

The first test showed that his PBG level was TEN TIMES the normal level!!

The doctor just told us that it could take months for him to get better, it is an incredibly severe case of Porphyria.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 12:57 AM CDT

Nothing new today. Aaron is sleeping more and his episodes are not as intense but everything else is pretty much the same. The sedatives are slowly being backed off to see how he does.

I had to relate this story that happened today. I did a search the other day for Porphyria health centers/experts and found the Porphyria Foundation popping up numerous times during the search. So I figured that would be the best place to go for information.

So I called this morning and an elderly lady answered (nothing against elderly but it usually indicates "volunteer", not exactly instilling confidence that this is an expert). She tells me that there is nothing in Iowa for Porphyria care. I ask if there is some one/place in the midwest. She says, "just a minute", the phone clunks down on her desk, I start hearing the riffling of pages, like she's looking through the yellow pages, after about 2 minutes, she picks up again and says, "there is a doctor in Columbus, Missouri". I ask, isn't there some expert at the Mayo clinic in Rochester?" (which I know there is). She says no. I thank her and hang up.

I fume about it for a few minutes and then I start laughing. It was so pathetic that it really was pretty funny. So I called Cindy and we both laughed for awhile.

That was our laugh for the day. Humor always helps and Cindy and I never lose that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 11:28 AM CDT

Hurry up and wait. Cindy’s appt today called for at least two more tests. And THEN, a plan of action if there is cancer. The level of frustration is quite high here. So until we have an answer, we are not going to talk about it anymore. Cindy is too upset to answer questions for which we have no answers right now, so let’s stay focused on Aaron. We wish we hadn’t said anything before we knew more, but I guess we felt the need to “share the love”.

Dr Zenk was just in and he sees a slight improvement but can’t rule out that it’s a lessening of the effects of the Halodol and not an improvement in getting rid of the Porphyria. We’ll take what we can get. He seems to be resting pretty comfortably and the attacks are less frequent and not as “intense”, for lack of a better description.

We have been having a problem with one nurse, who can’t seem to understand that NO stimulation unless he’s awake, means just that. She is in the room constantly, bothering Aaron, talking to him, asking what we need, etc. Normally that kind of attention would be a good thing but she has had explicit instructions from 3 doctors, not to bother him and let him sleep all that he can. She was on duty 12 hours yesterday, leaving at 11 last night and then she was back this morning at 7:00.

I had to leave this morning around 8:00 or I would have gone off on her. Cindy probably will later today if this nurse continues these interruptions. I had to talk Cindy down…imagine that…or she would have lit into her as soon as we arrived, after Cindy’s appt.. I like being the calm one for once.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007