View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Monday, July 10, 2017


Well, it has been four months or more since I last posted.  They say time flies when you are having a good time, only I have not been having a good time. 
Back in January and February I was having recurring sinus and eye infections.  In March the doctors came to the conclusion that the source of the infections was the titanium mesh that was placed under my left eye ball and a plate that was placed on the front edge of the eye socket to support where bone had been removed during the previous maxillectomyThey decided that all that hardware had to come out.
What was supposed to be a 30 minute procedure turned in to a 90 minute ordeal.  It took two surgeons to pull the mesh out because of all the scar tissue.  That resulted in the most post-surgery pain that I have had in any surgery.  It was six weeks of Oxycodone, Tylenol, Advil and Excedrin to try and keep the pain down to a dull roar.  Couple that with not being able to stay awake most of the day for the last three months and it has been very difficult getting anything done.  Hence, no blogs or much of anything else. 
We have now completed the second six sessions of immunotherapy and they did a PET-Scan. The results are that there is no sign of new cancer, the cancer that showed up in the first scan is still gone, and the tumor in my left sinus is still small and not growing.  It was difficult to see for sure because of all the inflammation around the eye because that area lit up as if cancer was present.  Injury areas and cancer will show up the same because both uptake carbohydrates in increased amounts vs. normal cells.  The ENT surgeon scoped that area just two weeks ago and there was no sign of cancer. 
So the plan now is to do another six sessions over the next 18 weeks and then another PET-Scan and see if the sinus tumor continues to shrink.    
The fatigue and sleepiness is starting to be an issue.  There are days where I fight  to stay awake and finally give up and go take a nap lasting anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, usually late morning and/or mid-afternoon.    If  I try and read or watch TV or work on the computer it is a constant battle to stay awake.  It is frustrating to be writing on the blog, fall asleep in mid sentence, find a long string of  bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb  or some other string of letters and have no idea what my thought was.   
But it seems that we are making some gains.  This week I have been awake  most days  and not taken a nap.  Until today.  Got up about 6 a.m. ate breakfast and at 10 I was fading fast and decided not to fight it, laid  down  and slept until 11: 45.  I was able Tuesday and Wednesday to finish my bookkeeping.   I was only 6 months behind.
So what have we been doing these last 6 months?  Trying to stay dry mostly.  Portland has received more than their normal amount of rain, which is significant, and much more snow than normal.  At one time we had a foot of snow on the ground.  The Camaro was not happy.  I knew that I would not be able to drive it on icy or snowy roads, but also discovered that on wet streets you had to careful how much force you put on the throttle that is controlling 400 HP and a Kona128$6 speed transmission and suddenly those big wide racing tires break traction and the rear end starts going in a different direction than the front end.  Not a good thing.  Besides, do you have any idea what it is like to drive a 400 HP, 6 speed, finely tuned sports car on the Portland freeways at 10 to 15 MPH?  ARRRRRRG!!  It is like being in a parking lot that is log jammed.  FRUSTRATING!!! 
It was a painful decision to take the Camaro to the local Mercedes dealer and strike up a deal on a 2017 E300 4 wheel drive. 
I also discovered that retirement home living is not for me.  These places are filled with OLD people!  At least half are using walkers or in powered wheel chairs or scooters.  So far no one has been killed but that could change. 
Since I was not a happy camper at the retirement home, I talked with Jeri about the possibility of buying a home.  Our house in Hawaii was in escrow and we were going to make a very nice profit on it, thanks to being able to buy low and sell high.  I had heard that nugget of wisdom most of my life but had never been in a position to take advantage of it.  I seemed to be always on the opposite end of the stick.  So we got with a realtor and started looking for a home. 
We soon discovered that the Portland market was an over-heated sellers market.  After we had  made offers on three different houses, we find out that people  are offering 30, 40, even 60 k over the sellers asking price.  I decided that I had had enough of dealing with irrational people and we quit looking. 
Thoughts started running around in my brain that maybe Boise weather would be a better deal.  Sure, they have winter but it is a dry cold, not the wet, cold rain of Portland that soaks all the way to the bone.  Besides with snow you just brush it off.  And the sun shines there a whole lot more than Portland. 
I then went to my ENT surgeon  and Oncologist and asked them if they knew any doctors of their persuasion in Boise that could take as good of care of me as they had.  They replied “Oh, yes, we can give you several names.”  They both recommended doctors that work at Saint Luke’s hospital which also has a cancer center.  Now it is just a matter of referrals being made and records being sent. With that concern being taken care of, we were now able to try and buy a house in Boise, preferably close to one of our two kids.  Kris then calls me and emails me a couple of listings that are close to her or Andy.   We pick the one that was just down the street from Kris but by the time we got our ducks all lined up, they had already accepted an offer.                                                                                                  
Two days later she emails me a picture of a house that the neighbors say is coming on the market the next week. 
So the day that the house goes on the market, she and our realtor are at the house at 8 a.m. and they do a walk through with an Ipad and face time Jeri and me and we get a cooks tour of the house, yard and neighborhood.  Jeri and I talk it over, we get Kris’ feed back and make an offer the next day.  The sellers accept our cash offer and we are off and running.  Escrow is scheduled to close on the 19th of July, a POD will be delivered here at the retirement center on the 19th, a company called Soft Landings will start pre-packing on the 14th and then come back on the 20th, finish packing and loading the POD.  Kris is flying in on the 20th to help and then drive the C-250 Mercedes, which I sold to her, back to Boise.  Andy is flying in on the morning of the 21st, we will pick him up at the Portland airport and then head straight for Boise.  He is going to help drive the E-300 Mercedes so the kids don’t have to worry about me falling asleep.  I’m not worried.  As Alfred E. Newman said so eloquently,  “What, me worry?”
So again, God has shown that He is in control, He closed the doors to buying a house in Portland, He has opened the doors medically so that I have confidence that there are doctors in Boise that are qualified to continue to monitor and treat this cancer.  We now have the chance to spend quality time with Andy, Lesley and Kris instead of short visits during holidays or birthdays.  They have not lived in the same area as us since they left home.  And as for our oldest son and daughter in law, Sorry Chuck and Stacia, we ain’t moving to Chicago!

Thursday, March 9, 2017


 A Travel Odyssey:  Part 1

Our adventure starts out at 4 a.m. for Jeri's first pill of the day.  We stay up because Tom and Judy have graciously volunteered to take us to the LAX airport for our flight to Kona Hawaii.  We have to be there at 8 a.m. for a 10 a.m. flight.  They meet us at 5:45 and we are on our way.  Traffic is heavy but no accidents to slow us down.  We arrive at 8 a.m.

Baggage check-in is a nightmare.  American Airlines has all these stations where you can print off your boarding past and baggage tags.  So I pick one where I see this happening and all I get is boarding passes.  It doesn't give me a choice for tags and I already have my boarding pass, why do I need more?  I go through the routine twice on another monitor and now have three boarding passes for each of us.  Finding help is like finding hens teeth but finally someone shows up and tells me that my ticket, booked through Alaska Airlines shows two free bags but AA doesn't  honor that, thank you very much, and you will have to check the luggage at the counter.  Isn't that special. 

The man at the counter tells me I owe them $50. I point out that I booked this flight through Alaska and I have no idea why I am on American airlines. He has no idea, so I forgo the $50 and get all the baggage checked. Turns out Alaska doesn't fly from LA to Kona so Alaska contracts with American and Delta for their flights to Hawaii.

I go back to where Jeri is and she is frantically going through her purse and carry-on looking for her drivers license and credit cards. I start going through everything and we can't find them. I am now beginning to think we are going to have a difficult time going through security.  The lady pushing Jeri's wheelchair suggest that we go to security and see what they can do.  We explain to the officer of homeland security what our situation is, that her credit cards and ID are packed in our checked luggage. Then he asked for a credit card or something with her name on it. In her purse we find a JC Penney card that he says might work, but - there is always a but - he will have to call his supervisor.  20 minutes later this very nice homeland security supervisor shows up and gently talks with Jeri about her card, where she was going, what kind of things she be doing, where she was from, etc etc. Then he says that everything is good, enjoy your trip.  WHEW!!

The flight to Kona was uneventful except for some turbulence leaving LAX and some coming into Kona.  Our friend picked us up at the airport, ate a sub sandwich for dinner and in bed by 8:30, 10:30 pacific. A long day but we made it.

At 1 a.m. I get up to give Jeri a pill and I happen to look in the mirror to see my left eye starting to swell.  By 7 it is showing signs of infection.  My neighbor Ken takes us to Dick's - my brother-in-law - place as he has offered to let us use his car while we are in Hawaii.  Turns out the battery is dead and there is no charger. 

Some friends of ours just happen to live across the street so I go over there to borrow a charger.  They don't have one either.  Seriously, no one owns a battery charger any more?

Fortunately Ken had a set of jumper cables and we pushed the car out of the garage.  Took a while for enough juice to charge the battery but we got it to where it would run and then took off for the Waimea hospital.  There they did blood test and a CT scan, put me on 2 kinds of antibiotics, gave me prescriptions for three oral antibiotics and sent me on my way.

Went back to the car and even after driving for 30 minuets and leaving it running for another hour, the battery was dead.  So I called Mercedes Benz roadside assistance and they said they would start working on it.  I then get a text asking for an address and that someone would be calling giving an estimated time of arrival momentarily.  30 minutes later I texted back "I don't know what your definition of momentarily is but 30 minutes is not mine".   15 minutes later I get a call saying he would be arriving in -- 45 minutes.  I am not going to wait another 45 minutes so I start working on plan B.  Two young guys walking by offer to give us a jump, and then I drive a block to a tire shop and buy another battery.  I call twice to cancel the road service.

We go to Costco for pizza and to pick up prescriptions for the antibiotics.  They fill two of the three, but the third one they are out of and it will be ready after 2 tomorrow.  We go to target to pick up some snacks and food, then home.  So ends the first two days.  Can't wait to see what comes next.

Mikey Q


The last time I wrote was about our trip to Southern California to visit Jeri’s 100 year old Mother. Most of you probably assumed that we returned to Portland. Not happening! I had one way tickets from L.A. to Kona leaving on the 27th. The reason for one way tickets was I was not sure when we would leave Hawaii, since we could stay in our house that was in escrow until it closed and the new owners took possession.

We are now into Wednesday and the statement that I made on the above story comes full circle. What came next was a call from the escrow office wanting us to come in and sign the closing papers. I asked when will escrow close, She replied the first part of next week. Whoa Nellie, that’s not gonna fly!! I was told that we would close around the 20th, not the 10th or 12th. We just got here, not going back in less than a week! I call Tanya, our realtor, and she says that is not going to work. She calls escrow and tells them it can’t close before the 17th period. The appraisal hasn’t come back, therefore the loan has not been approved or even sent to underwriting. She calls me back and says our appointment for the next day is cancelled, relax, you have a place to stay until the 16th. 

Speaking of appraisals, the appraiser came by today and wanted to take pictures of our smoke detectors which was requested by the lending bank. The appraiser said that was a first for her as no one had ever requested pictures. 

She then took a call from our realtor and they discussed the unpermitted structures on our place. One of the nuances of Hawaii construction is, if you apply for a permit they will come out and inspect and tell you if the structure meets the building, electrical or plumbing requirements. New home construction is pretty much permitted, but add ons, out buildings and expansions are seldom under permit. The owners just build what they want and go merrily on their way. When we bought this place we were informed of what was unpermitted, the bank didn’t care, nor did we. It is difficult to find houses over here that don’t have something that is unpermitted. We have a carport that has been enclosed to form a two-car garage, a master bedroom that was almost doubled in size, a lania and over hanging cover, and a car port, all without permit, all built by the former owner except for the car port. Seems that the lending bank has raised some questions which of course concerns yours truly.

The termite inspector was also out today and the house it’s self is termite free, but it seems some of the furniture is infested. Didn’t say what furniture, that will be in the report, but if we were moving and taking the furniture, no problem, but since the furniture is staying, he wasn’t sure how that was going to be handled. Great!!

So we are back in limbo not knowing if any of this will kibosh the sale or if it is just a bump in the road or what. 

Meanwhile, when stressed I go and play golf, or something resembling golf. I had visited the driving range twice and the first outing looked like I was playing golf for the very first time. Ugly with a capital U. Not sure it was pretty enough for ugly. Second time was better but not by much. Called a couple of friends and made a tee time for last Tuesday to play. I planned on playing 9 holes and see where I was physically and go from there. Turns out I felt great but my score looked like a bowling score. I ended up playing a full 18 and felt good at the end, except for my hip joints which were in great pain. Shot a 60(holy catfish!!) on the front nine and a 53 on the back. Lost 10 balls, maybe more, lost count but by the back nine I was definitely hitting the ball better, but was directionally challenged.  

Not sure what challenges will come up in the last week we are here but I am glad we are over here dealing with it and not long distance from Portland. The weather here has been overcast in the afternoons, some rain, cooler than normal, - the natives are complaining – but still about 30 degrees or more warmer than Portland. I feel better now than I have since before we moved to the mainland and Portland. The gray days, rain and/or snow and ice, the cold was depressing. A foot of snow and 13 degree temperatures will do that. Hawaii has been a nice break, seeing all our friends has been very good for my morale. While I miss all of this terribly, I know without a doubt that God has good plans for Jeri and I and we look forward to what that will look like. He had brought us here for a purpose and I treasure the years we lived here, and now He has moved us to where He needs us to serve in the future. To God be all the praise and glory, Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


When Jeri’s mom turned 100 I tried to talk Jeri into going to Southern California and visiting family there and being a part of the celebration.  She declined saying it was just to difficult for her to fly and I was not in any shape to drive down.  We had just returned to the mainland and had relocated to the Portland area. The 5.5 hour flight was exhausting for Jeri and so I understood.  As time went by I would ever once in a while ask the question again and she would always reply no.
About three or four weeks ago she comes to me and says she wants to see her mom.  Great, I go on line and found tickets on the 22nd  of February for 85 bucks, about $150-200 savings per ticket.  I figure this is a good idea because at our age we have no idea how long any of us will live.  Throw in cancer and this centurion may out live me.  

We are now into February and I wake up Sunday morning of the 12th with my left eye swollen shut and various shades of red indicating infection.  I text Lani, our doctor daughter and she and Randy hot foot it over to our place and take us to the ER at Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) hospital.  With my 10 year history with OHSU, even with a lobby half full of people waiting to be seen, I get pulled in triage licitly  split.  After triage they find a cubicle and a bed and start saline and IV anti-biotics.

Next comes the Internal Medicine team that controls antibiotics and they tell me all the different ones they will be giving to me and it sounds like a foreign language, I won’t even try to make any sense out of it.  A CT scan is scheduled later in the morning or early afternoon.  The results are that the infection is on the left side of the eye and is starting to migrate around to the back side of the eye.  This greatly concerns them because from the back side of the eye it is a straight shot to the brain. 

Then the ENT surgical team comes in and tells me that the previously scheduled sinus surgery scheduled for Thursday is still on.  This is to try and clean out the sinus area in the forehead and put in a stent to allow it to drain. 

Next comes a team from the ophthalmology  dept. saying that there is a possibility that the tritium mesh that they put in when the  maxillectomy was done may be infected and if it is it will have to be removed and they are thinking of doing it at the time of the sinus surgery.
Now is when it gets complicated.  We have three teams involved, all have to be consulted with, all have to be on board with the final decisions as to treatment and surgery.  That is like trying to get congress to make a decision.  For the next three days I do not get a clear direction as to what is going to happen except that it is pretty certain that the sinus surgery will happen.  The ophthalmology surgeon is vacillating on whether to remove the mesh or not.   He finally decides not to and do a wait and see.  If  the infection returns then they will have to remove it.  I ask what the recovery time is and they all say two weeks.  I inform them that I have tickets booked for us to go to LA to visit my 100 year old mother-in-law 6 days after surgery.  They kind of roll their eyes and said good luck with that. 

The day of surgery was good except that the 30 minute procedure took 90 minutes.  During the surgery they discovered that during the Maxillectomy the ophthalmologist rebuilt part of my eye socket with plastic that had become infected.  So they had to remove it which was very difficult and time consuming.  They are hoping that this is the source of the sinus infections that have been recurring off and on. 

Later Thursday they said they would keep me over Friday and probably release me Saturday if everything looked good.  Friday morning the ENT team comes in, looks me over and then says we think you can go home this morning,  I was out of there by 11 am.  That has never happened before.  They have put me back on oral anti-biotics and it looks like that will be permanent.  

I was scheduled for Friday an infusion of Keytruda but oncology canceled that because of the surgery.  The next one is scheduled for March 13th.    On Tuesday the 21st I met with the ENT surgeon and he took a peek up my nose and sinus and pronounced that everything looked good and I was cleared to go to California.  Like I needed his permission?  Yeah right!

Jeri and I had spent the last couple of days packing so there wasn’t a whole lot left to do.  I didn’t get to bed until 11 pm and was up at two to shower and throw last minute stuff in the bags.  We left the apartment at 4 am for Randy’s, our son-in-law, place as he had generously offered to drive us to the airport.  Our flight to Burbank left at 6:40(what was I thinking) and arrived at 10 am.  Our niece Susan picked us up and took us back to her house where she had breakfast fixed.  What a sweetheart!

Jeri’s sister and brother-in-law then took us to our motel, and then we went to visit Jeri and Judie's mom. Millie was setting in the foyer of the entrance waiting for us.  To make a long story short, she did not recognize Jeri or me at all.  After about 15 minutes the care giver and us decided we would take her to her room.  As we started to leave, Millie complained that she should stay and wait until her daughter showed up.  Then a wonder thing happened that I will remember forever.  The caregiver leaned down and gently told  Millie that her daughter was here, she was just older.   Millie set straight up, eyes and month wide open as she was able to recognize Jeri.  As the two cried and hugged each other I couldn’t hold back the tears as they finally connected.  This was the good part of our idea to visit.

The following day went downhill from the day before.  She recognized Jeri but I don’t think she ever figured out who I was.  She would ask questions like where was Jeri living, was she living alone, who was taking care of her.  Just before dinner Jeri’s dyskinesia kicked in and that really disturbed Millie.  She told me I should take Jeri back to the motel, that it was too much for her, to disturbing.   A couple of times she suggested that I put Jeri in a “home”.   After dinner we said our good byes and went back to the motel.   That evening we talked about the day and decided that we would not go back, that it was too stressful for both Millie and Jeri.  What started out to be a good idea has turned into a bad idea. 

Millie has good long term memory and remembers a ton of stuff from her past, but short term memory causes her trouble.  That is why she could not recognize Jeri, because she was expecting her to look like she did when she was in her twenties or thirties,   not this old lady of 76. 

Some of you reading this have had family and friends suffer from Alzheimer’s and know of the heart ache that comes when loved ones and friends fail to recognize you and they become lost in their own little world.  This is our first experience with it.  We know that we will meet again in Heaven and we can again fellowship with clear minds and perfect memories.  What a great day that will be. 

Please pray for Jeri because she is aware that dementia is one of the side effects of Parkinson’s and is scared she will be a victim, especially after being with her mother. 

In my 78 years of life and 10 years of fighting cancer I have learned a few things.  The number one, top of the list, is that God is in control, He is not concerned with our comfort, but is concerned with our character and so much of what trials we go through are there to build our character, to mold and shape us into what God wants us to be.  For me, God is in control and I am just along for the ride, desperately trying to hang on and enjoy the view.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Forcing open closed doors!

Back in the mid 70’s, Ed Hegele and Merle Miller would take a group of our high school kids backpacking to Mirror Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.  One year they caught me in a weak moment and talked me into packing all the gear on a couple of horses.  I owned one named Sam, who had been a pack horse up at Red’s Horse Ranch for 18 years and was well experienced.  I borrowed another from Jess Larson.  We also had two riding horses: Dusty, who belonged to my daughter, Kris, and Thistle, my horse.  I invited my son, Chuck, who was about 12 or 13, to go along.  I figured that the male bonding and father/son fellowship thing would be good for both of us. 

Two days before we were to leave on this expedition, one of the 200 hogs we were feeding got loose.  In the process of trying to bulldog the critter, it stumbled and I fell squarely on its shoulder blade and separated three of my ribs. On the day we left it hurt to even breathe, but somehow we loaded the four horses and all their gear in my farm truck and headed for Two Pan camp ground, which was the entrance into the Eagle Cap Wilderness.  There Ed and Merle loaded the pack saddles, helped saddle up the other two horses and were about to tie everything down when the kids decided that the sleeping bags ought to go on the pack horses too.  They had them inside garbage bags in case of rain, they weren’t that heavy and so we said, “Why not?”  Hindsight and experience now gives me a score of reasons why not. 

After lunch, they took off up the trail and we followed.  I was looking forward to a nice, leisurely three hour horse ride to Mirror Lake enjoying the scenery along the way.  That lasted all of two hundred yards when the first sleeping bag squirted out from under the ropes.  Seems that sleeping bags are soft, garbage bags are slick, and the rocking motion of a pack horse causes the sleeping bags to wiggle and squirm and pop out from under the ropes.  By the time we had gone half way up the steep switchbacks, we had stopped four or five times to put sleeping bags back on one or the other pack horse.  Keep in mind that each time it happened, it bounced down one or two switchbacks, and we had to hike back down to retrieve it.  Then I had to stuff it back under the ropes and tighten everything down, all with separated ribs. It was killing me! 

Two thirds up the switchbacks, I heard this ka-thump behind me and felt a tug on Sam’s lead rope.  Sam was down!  He was breathing hard, sweating something fierce.  This was not good!  We got the pack saddle off, poured our canteen water over him to cool him off and let him rest and catch his breath.  I figured he was having a heart attack.  After 15 minutes, he was back on his feet and looking fine.  Now chuck and I have to reload the pack saddle.  After this, I can hardly breathe.

From the top of the switchbacks the trail is just a gradual climb and Sam was doing fine with frequent rest stops. I thought it should be smooth sailing from here.   Unfortunately that was wishful thinking.

We were moving through this little grove of trees when I again heard the all too familiar “thump” of a sleeping bag hitting the ground.  I asked Chuck to come back and give me a hand.  As he is walking toward me, I notice he doesn’t have Dusty’s reins in his hand.  I called out to him, “Chuck, don’t leave Dusty -----“ too late!!  Chuck thought that Dusty was trained to ground tie, that is to drop the end of the reins on the ground and the horse thinks it is tied up.  Some horses are, but not Dusty.

Dusty looked back at us, decided that she wanted to keep on going, and started trotting down the trail.  Chuck’s pack horse looks at us and says to Dusty, “Wait for me” and takes off after her.  Thistle, looks at us, and says “Adios”.   Sam - he is tired - plants all four feet and declines.  Unfortunately, I had tied Sam’s lead rope to my saddle horn.  I knew better, but every time Sam lagged behind, it had pulled on my arm and ribs, and the pain was intolerable.  Thistle decided to do her Belgian plow horse imitation and drug Sam down the trail.  Chuck tried, but wasn’t able to grab any reins as they went by.  After about 100 ft., the lead rope broke, Sam stumbled, fell on his neck with his tail end straight up in the air, teetered, and then fell over on his side.  By this time, the pack saddle was underneath his belly, the contents scattered all along the trail.  I figured he had to have broken his neck, but he just rolled over and got back on his feet and shook himself off.   The other three horses are gone, out of sight!

We spent the next half hour gathering stuff up, loading up the pack saddle and trying to retie everything back down.  Needless to say, the sleeping bags came out of the plastic bags.  As we walked down the trail, we picked up a couple of sleeping bags from the other pack horse and came across two hikers coming down the trail.  They said our missing horses were up the trail grazing in a meadow.  What they didn’t tell us about were the million or so large mosquitoes that were also there. 

Fortunately, the horses were calmed down and not a problem to catch.  Unfortunately we were only half way there and had been on the trail 5 or 6 hours.  At dusk, Ed and Merle started organizing a search party, figuring that we missed the trail somewhere.  They weren’t all that worried about us, but we had their dinner.  They had just left camp when they spotted us coming up the trail.  A day I thought would never end finally ended.

The lesson here is not to force open closed doors.  For what ever reason, I was bound and determined to fulfill my commitment to Ed and Merle as long as I could stand and breathe.  I wanted to go on that trip!  Ed and Merle could have handled the pack horses better than I could.  All I would have had to do was get the horses to Two Pan.  Too many times in life we barge through closed doors because we have an idea of what we want to do and we ignore God’s will and pay a price.  Of course, had I stayed home and nursed my ribs, I wouldn’t have this story to tell.  Not sure the story was worth the price for me.  Hope it was worth it for you.