On January 7, 2002 I had surgery for prostate cancer. Unfortunately, health issues seem to set the main theme for this period in my life.
As I look back on it now, I had been having symptoms with my prostate for several years. My first PSA test had been in 1991 and it was 2.7. At that time, the PSA test was fairly new, and it was thought that a result less than 4 was "normal." The latest information says that may not be so. The current thinking (2008) is that the rate of rise (increase) of the PSA is the most important factor. If it increases over a short period of time, the likelihood of cancer greater. In retrospect, I probably had prostate cancer ten years before it was diagnosed. After much deliberation and research, I decided to have a radical prostatectomy as my primary treatment. My urologist had recommended brachytherapy, radiation seed implants. He said it was "easier on the body." It was important to me, with a surgical background, to know the stage of my cancer, and the only way was to remove the gland and have it pathologically examined.
My surgery went
OK but with some complications because of my chronic back problem. For as
long as I can remember, if I stay in bed more than about seven hours, my back
begins to hurt. The second day after surgery, the usual back pain started. My surgeon was afraid I had a pulmonary
embolus and sent me to X-ray. I was in so much pain, every time I moved
it was like I had been hit by a cattle prod. He finally called in an
internist, who prescribed an ice pack to my back that relieved me within a few
minutes. I am forever grateful to Dr. Tom Hampton.
I asked for a chair that I could sit and sleep in to get out of the bed. The hospital claimed they did not have a sleeper chair. With the help of my best friend Johnny, my wife brought my recliner from home and I spent the remainder of my hospital stay in it. This and frequent ice packs kept the back pain under control.
The next issue was my leg began to itch and be painful. The doctor had used a great deal of adhesive tape across the Foley catheter to my right thigh. He had written on the tape "do not removed under order of death" and it was signed Osama ben Laden. After loud complaints from me, the tape was removed to expose large blisters and redness of the skin. I had not had any previous problem with allergies to adhesives. It took several weeks for the skin to heal.
I went home to begin my recovery. I had to wear the catheter for three weeks. As I remember, this was the worse part of the surgical ordeal. I had pain when I sat down. It was helped somewhat by sitting on a gel filled pad we took from Jane's dad old wheelchair. Getting the catheter out was a relief.
I got bad news
from the surgeon. The cancer in my prostate was much more extensive than
he thought. The pathologist reported it had extended beyond the capsule
of the gland on one side. This meant I would be very likely to have
recurrence, as all of the cancer had not been removed. He recommended
external radiation therapy to begin as soon as I healed. I sought a
second opinion from a professor at the local medical school. He said he
would not recommend starting radiation until it was proven that my cancer
recurred by following the PSA level. He said I would foul up what
appeared to be a good surgical result. I learned later he was right!
I learned later he was right!
While I was waiting to heal, I developed another problem. It became very difficult for me to empty my bladder without straining. I had developed a bladder neck obstruction, according to my urologist, that required surgical correction. He had been unable to get a catheter in my bladder in his office and said his experience relieving this situation by dilatation had been poor. I had surgery, and had to go through a period of total urinary incontinence for several weeks. This delayed my start of radiation. I decided that it would be foolish to wait to begin radiation therapy, as a second pathological opinion from the medical school pathologist said the cancer was beyond the capsule of the gland on both sides. I finished the radiation about the middle of July. I was not able to go with my friends on the annual guy's Colorado trout fishing trip.
More job changes
I had been working part time for the Texas Rehabilitation Commission. I took a short delay during my recovery, but went back to work as soon as I was able. I have learned that work is good for me. It gets me out of the house and with other people and gives me some purpose in life. My good friend George Williams lent me a book to read several years earlier entitled "Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well" by Ralph E. Warner. The bottom line is that the people who were happiest were doing things for other people in their retirement. Wealth was not important. The practice of medicine is doing things for other people, and I have always enjoyed it.
In the fall of 2002 I attended the Texas Medical Association convention and ran into an old friend, Dr. James Fancher, who works full time for the Veterans Administration. He asked me if I had any interested in going back to work. I told him that if anything ever became available, to let me know. Our common good friend Dr. Bernie Yollick currently held their only part time job. At Christmas time, Fanch called me and said Dr. Yollick would retire at the end of the year. I applied for the job and was accepted. The only problem was they could not put me to work until March, as Dr. Yollick was still on the payroll using up his sick leave time.
I started working in at the V. A. clinics in Fort Worth and Bonham. When I visited Fort Worth on my orientation, I met Dr. Gordon Frank, an ophthalmologist I had known casually when I off iced in the Doctors Building. He moved his office to the Presbyterian area about the time I relocated to Medical City, and we had not seen each other in years. We worked out a deal to carpool on Thursdays. That lasted for the entire time I worked for the V. A.
I enjoyed the work, and especially enjoyed the comradare that existed among the group of doctors who worked in the surgery department. I met and got to know Dr. John Houston Smith, a general surgeon. John had worked in the V. A. clinic since it opened twelve years earlier, as had Dr. Frank. We all became good friends. We enjoyed many lunches together where we solved multiple problems, both personal and professional. The younger guys called us the "brain trust."
I worked in the V. A. clinic at the Bonham facility on Tuesdays. I enjoyed working there very much, more than in Fort Worth because of the staff. They wanted me and helped me in every way possible. Very different from the staff in Fort Worth, who did not seem to care whether or not I was there.
The V.A. has some problems with staff. Many belong to the union. Many do as little as possible, as it is very hard for a V. A. employee to get fired. Some are great people, but a few rotten apples spoil the barrel. If I had been able, I would have fired the ward clerk in Fort Worth the first month I was there. He was very unfriendly to the patients and did not appear to be happy in his work. A major problem for the V.A. is there are few opportunities for advancement. People get stuck in the same job for years, as there is no where to go without moving to another city and facility. Being a receptionist in a medical facility is a very hard job. Sick people are often unhappy people, and some are hard to deal with. I always said when I was in practice, the most important persons in your office were those who answered the phone and who greeted the patients when they arrived. When you have an unhappy person in one of those jobs, everyone suffers, especially the patients.
After about a year, the work load in the Fort Worth clinic increased to the point that there was a three month waiting time for a new appointment. They decided to let me work an additional two days a month, on alternate Wednesdays. The work load in Bonham remained fairly constant, as that clinic had been in operation for several years.
After several years, and a couple of near accidents, I began to dread the commute, especially to Bonham. As I was car pooling with Dr. Frank on Thursdays, those days went by quickly. I passed the time in the car by listening to audio books. You can see what I read on this page. I began to make plans for retirement. I talked with the man who helped with retirement issues and he assisted me in "buying back" the time I spend in government service with the Air Force. Those two years would help add a little to my pension. In the Air Force, you did not pay social security tax. To be able to use those years toward a V. A. retirement, you had to pay the social security tax for those years. I learned that after five years of work with the V. A. you would be eligible for retirement. That date would be March 31, 2008 for me. I began to make plans to retire.
In 2007, I reached my 70 1/2 birthday. I was required to take a minimal required distribution (RMD) from my IRA. It gave us a new problem, more money than we really needed to live comfortably. We increased our savings and investing, but at the same time our federal tax burden became greater. I was already paying federal tax on most of my social security income. I had begun drawing it when I was 62, the recommendation at that time. Now advisors are saying to delay taking social security as long as possible, as it is a better investment return that you can make in the market place. My dad used to tell me never to complain about paying income tax, as you should be happy you had income. I think the tax burdens today are more than my dad ever encountered in his lifetime. This added to the incentive for me to retire from my V. A. job.
Retirement again (second)
Enough about work. We did have some fun during this period in our lives. My illness prevented much travel, but in March after my surgery in January, we made our first trip to visit the Big Bend National Park. We have always loved the desert and especially mountain desert as we enjoyed for many years in Cloudcroft. We stayed in Alpine overnight on our way to the park it is the home of Sul Ross, one of the many state colleges. It is on the railway between San Antonio and El Paso that had been built in the late 1800's.
We stayed for three days at the Chisos Mountain Lodge, located in the center of the park. It was comfortable and made it convenient to take day trips to the rest of the park. We visited several areas of the park adjacent to the Rio Grande River. We were told that the river no longer empties into the Gulf of Mexico as most of the water is used up by irrigation and much is dammed in lakes in Mexico. We saw painting on the rock walls made by American Indians in the past. It is a very remote but beautiful area.
The road between Terlingua and Presidio runs along the river, and is very scenic. It has some very steep grades and signs warn people who are towing travel trailers to be wary. We visited Marfa, Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory near there. It is run by the University of Chicago. We spend one night at the Gage Hotel in Marathon where there is a very fine restaurant. We decided that if we came back there, we would make it our headquarters.
We tried once again to spend time at Cloudcroft. This time we took along an oxygen generator, and Jane was forced to use it a good bit of the time we were there. We decided it was time to sell our place. We remembered that one of our neighbors had mentioned that if we ever decided to sell our place, to let them know. We did, and they bought it a day later. We removed a few very personal items, but left it completely furnished. It was with sadness we left it for the last time. Yet another example that there is a time and place for everything in our lives.
As I had not completed my radiation treatments, I was unable to go on the annual guys fishing trip to Colorado that year.
Our only trip the next year was our annual visit to Santa Fe. Jane always has fun. I had a miserable time, as I was unable to get very far from the hotel or any bathroom. We had stayed at the St. Frances, located within walking distance from the square.
Trip to Canada
Our friends the Keiffers told us of a trip they were planning to take, sponsored by one of the local radio stations. It was to begin in Vancouver and end in Calgary with a train trip across Canada to visit the Banff area. I had been there as a child and remembered the trip and the very beautiful place.
We flew to Vancouver with the group of about 30 people. We spent a night in the city and the next day visited nearby Victoria. It is a lovely place and we felt like we could live there very easily. The visit included a trip on the bay to watch for whales. There are several resident pods of killer whales and we were fortunate to see them.
We returned to Vancouver on the ferry and left the next day on the train, headed east. The route follows the Frazier river valley. We were fed frequently. Our group was able to fit easily in one car. We were to spend the night in Kamloops and were entertained by a play, performed by a local theatre group.
We arrived the next day at the end of our train ride in Jasper to find big elk near the center of town. We spent the night in a lovely lodge. The next day our bus took us to Lake Louise to spend the night at the Fairmount Hotel. This was our 30th wedding anniversary, and we had looked forward to the evening.
Our night there was disappointing. We had been asked to request our dinner entree, either fish or beef. It appears that many people changed their minds, and they ran out of beef. It took two hours to get served, and some people left in disgust without having any dinner. When we got to our hotel rooms about 11:00 PM, we were further frustrated by a fire alarm, which proved to be false. As we left the hotel the next morning, a representative from the Fairmount boarded our bus and offered an apology and a free dinner at our next visit there.
We visited the Atabasca glacier on our way to spend our next night in Banff at a very nice new hotel on the side of the mountain. We toured this beautiful area and ate a very nice evening meal at a local restaurant. The next day we traveled the short distance to Calgary to fly back to Dallas.
As we look back on this trip, we enjoyed our visit to the Vancouver, Victoria and Banff areas, but would not recommend the train trip. Once you have seen some of the Frazier River valley, you have seen it all.
I was able to go to Colorado in the summer of 2008, thought limited in what I was able to do. I was still in the recovery phase of my foot operation. There were four of us who went that time, George, Gene, Johnny and myself. We had a good time and caught of ton of fish.
We have a favorite spot on Spring creek where we fish every year. There is a shallow water road crossing where we frequently see motorcycles crossing the creek from somewhere over the mountain to the east. We were told that a fish hatchery truck stalled out at this place and dumped their entire load of fish. That may be so, as the fish were everywhere. The stream in this area is about 15 yards wide and only about 18 inches deep. I sat on the bank and caught more fish than ever before. Gene taught me how to use salmon eggs. I got tired of baiting my hook and found a spinner bait in my tackle that looked promising. It was about the color of salmon eggs. I caught a fish nearly every cast. We had our limit in just a few minutes and I was catching them and releasing them back to get bigger. Gene, George and Johnny had the same results. We did not have to depend on John to be able to eat fish during this trip.
We played golf one day, and I was surprised that I was able to last 16 holes before giving up. My foot was so painful I could not stand to walk any more.
We actually returned home one day early, as everyone was tired of catching fish! This was a first.
I have been able to play golf at home a few times. My down the street neighbor Tom has a regular group that plays on Wednesdays. Occasionally, someone can't play for some reason and he calls me. I enjoy the group and especially enjoy playing at Stephens Park were I learned to play golf as a teenager in high school. It brings back many fond memories. Jane and I will try to play on Tuesdays, weather permitting.
Jane is currently in Philadelphia (March 2009) helping our daughter Sharon manage her household while she recovers from hip surgery. Her surgery went well and she is doing better than anticipated. We hope she will recover completely and be relieved of her chronic pain.
I am feeling better, my foot is gradually getting better and I am thinking about trying to find something regular to do to occupy more of my time. I volunteered to help Johnny do some of the computer work for his business. I had a couple of lessons last week and we will see how it goes. It is work I can do at home. He has a passive imaging system for the oil business that is an adjunct to seismic and much cheaper. Many people are using it to see if they want to spend the money for seismic information. He listens with very sensitive microphones to the sounds created by the earth and patterns show up when there is petroleum below the surface. It is the same technology that has been used for some time to monitor earthquakes. It was developed by both the Soviet Union and the United States when they were both listening for atomic explosions. Of course, it is all done by computers, right up my alley.
By April of 2008 I was feeling well enough to return to my volunteer job at church. I was getting around on one leg and the use of a scooter called a "turnabout." It was much easier than being on crutches. I was still wearing a boot on my right foot and had very limited weight bearing ability.
One of my goals after surgery was to be able to go to Colorado with my friends on our annual trout fishing outing. I was told that six months after surgery, I would be able to do anything I wanted to do. That did not happen. I went fishing, but was unable to walk good enough to wade a stream. I spent my time fishing sitting in a folding chair on the stream bank. To my surprise, I caught more fish this way than I ever had fly fishing wading streams. I used my spinning gear and a spinner bait that was the same color as salmon eggs. The eggs worked good too, but they were a pain, as you often lost your bait on the rocks.
One of our plans is to play golf. I played, but after 16 holes gave in to the severe pain I was having in my foot. I am glad golfing was not one of our major planned activities. My friend Johnny does not like to play golf anyway.
Over the next few months, my foot slowly improved. I was better enough by the fall to think about singing in our church choir again. Choir singing involves standing, both during practice and always during a performance. I had quit the choir some time ago, as standing had become too painful, mostly in my right knee. I had subsequently had surgery on my right knee and standing was no longer painful. We had a new choir director and she offered me encouragement. She said I could sit during a performance if I needed to.
At Thanksgiving, we went to visit our daughter in Philadelphia. We were there for about 10 days, as we used our AA miles and had to fly when there was no holiday blackout. As always, we enjoyed our visit. I missed my XBox and Sharon bought one for me to use while I was there. It helped me pass the time when the ladies were shopping or doing other things.
All of our kids and grandchildren came to visit us over the Christmas holidays. The only one absent was Paul's wife Julia, as she stayed home with a sick dog. We had a great time with all of the kids. We gave Matthew, our 4 year old a WII music game. It was a blast watching him and his siblings and cousins play. We have only four WII controllers, and they had to take turns, save for Matthew. You could not get him to share his controller with anyone.
All of the cousins were playing one evening and it was time for some of them to go home. As they were leaving, Matthew called to them and said then needed to come back and help him pick up the toys that were scattered all over the den. One of them told Matthew he could do it by himself. His response was "it will make me too tired." He was able to get them to come back and put up the toys. I told his dad that he had definite management potential.
Our friend Lee came over who serves as our official family photographer. She took a picture of all of us standing before the fireplace. I will treasure it always.
As I write this, it has been 15 months since my foot surgery. It still hurts, especially after standing. We had a very long choir practice this week, and my foot was on fire again.
Jane started on corticosteroids about six weeks ago, and she has really been "wired." She has painted the whole interior of our house. It did not need it, but she wanted to change colors. She enlisted her friend Scottie to help. They finished the job this week. She even painted our red dining room and made it the same color as the living room and den, a color like creamed coffee. She also has been working in the yard. The flower beds are in need of digging. She ran out of gas using the hand digger, as the beds are filled with tree roots. We have too much shade from huge trees, both in the front and back of the house. I ordered her an electric tiller, but she hasn't had a chance to try it out because it is raining today. When she is on corticosteroids she is hard to keep up with.
Jane and I began a "regular" date of playing golf on Tuesdays. We have been playing at Stevens Park Golf Course, where I learned to play golf 58 years ago. It is a fun course, but I am grieved about how little the city of Dallas spends on keeping it up. There was almost no grass anywhere during the winter. Now that spring has come, it is beginning to grow some. There are many trees that need cutting down because they are dead. The best part of our day is when we eat at a great Mexican restaurant named La Calle Doche on 12th Street. It is TexMex but with a flair. Eating is something I do much better than playing golf. I am fairly consistent in shooting in the high 80's. My short game is terrible.
As I sit here in the rain, I think the golf tournament I am scheduled to play in today is going to be rained out. My friend and neighbor Tom invited me to play in his annual church golf tournament. I have played in his group when one is out for some reason. They have a special rule that really helps your score. They call it the forty foot rule. If you ball is obstructed by a tree or such, you can improve your position by forty feet. They also play at Stevens Park. Seniors can play there for $23 for 18 holes. Pretty good deal.
Our daughter-in-law dropped in this AM (5/16/09) after taking Natalie to school to serve a detention. She did not do her homework. I hope this is not the pattern that will happen again. She enjoys school, but is somewhat a social butterfly. It is very important for her to visit with her friends and asks to go to school early to give them extra time. She needs to concentrate more on her school work. Hopefully, the detention will get her attention.
Back to the V.A.
In the latter part of 2009 I had a conversation with Rip Fancher, who was and still is, working at the VA. He asked if I had any interest in going back to work. I said yes and began the re-hiring process. I had been very bored at home with nothing to do but watch TV and read.
I made a visit to the HR department at the VA only to discover they had "lost" my personnel records and we had to start all over with the credentialing process. That was a disappointment for several reasons. I knew it would take time. I also knew that the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) was the agency that was to run the new Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) when it went into effect.
I finally got back to work in late January, 2010. It was good to be back at work. I worked two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the outpatient clinic in Fort Worth. I decided not to return to Bonham. I did not want to make that drive on Mondays. I hooked up with my friend Gordon Frank and we began our carpooling operation. Gordy drove on Tuesdays and I drove on Thursdays. It took a while to develop a "practice" again, but the audiologists were very happy to see me again. They were having a hard time getting their patients to Dallas for ear cleaning and care after audiometry. The doctors were also happy to see me again, as they were having a hard time getting their patients seen in Dallas at all.
The new clinic under construction was to do open in the Fall. We finally got moved in November after several delays. I was not happy about my location. They did not choose to put my clinic in the area as planned originally, next to audiology. There was a problem with ward clerks. The audiologists were not to have a ward clerk. My old ward clerk was to work in the surgery clinic on the first floor, and that is where they put me. I had a separate office and two exam rooms. As I had only one exam chair, I only used one room. I had no help, same as in the Rosedale clinic. I felt very lonely, as there was no one else working in my area. After a short while, Dr. Rose Resendes, a podiatrist, started working down the hall. I was concerned that if I had a patient to faint or otherwise become incapacitated, I would have no one to help me. I could scream my lungs out and no one could hear me.
The powers that be have told me they would find me nursing help. That was a year ago and it has not happened. I had a conversation with the man who is one of the administrators of the Fort Worth clinic and he said nothing has been done to try to even start the process.
Today is July 18, 2014 and I start a month’s vacation from my work at the V.A. clinic. I may decide not to go back. I think it is time for me to retire from the practice of medicine.
I decided to quit my V.A. job on August 1, 2015 after being off for a month. During that time, we had a wonderful trip to the Jersey shore to attend a family reunion sponsored by Sharon and Hal. They had recently bought a second house on the bay that will give Hal a boat dock so he can have access to a boat in his back yard. They plan to do a major renovation and sell the house they have owned for several years. The reunion was great. We had a fun time and as far as I know there were no arguments or major disagreements!
Today is May 14, 2015 and I am still
enjoying my retirement. About a month
ago, I took my doctor’s advice about having an injection into lower back facets
to see if that would give me some pain relief.
I have had back trouble all of my life, and as I have gotten older the
pain in my low back is worse. It is
particularly bad when I walk. Walking
has been my major source of exercise and I have to quit after walking a
mile. I have a course set in my
neighborhood that I walk on a regular basis and I have been using an app on my
iPhone “Map My Walk” recommended by the P.A. in my rheumatologist’s
office. It works like a GPS and tells
you when you have walked a mile and creates a map of your route. We have no sidewalks in our neighborhood and
I am careful to not use streets where there is a lot of traffic. I had the injection a month ago and it has
given me relief of most of the pain when I walk. The first 24 hours was wonderful and pain
free, even after walking two miles! The
doctor told me that if the injections work, he could use a hot needle and
destroy the nerves that could provide long term relief. At the follow-up I learned that he will require
two injections before the needle treatment that is called a rhizotomy.
Unfortunately there was no long term relief from the treatment.
Unfortunately there was no long term relief from the treatment.
We had lunch with our almost son Stephen
and got caught up on his life. He is
getting married in about ten days and is moving to his new job in Wilmington,
Delaware. He will live in an apartment
provided by his church until they can find a permanent place to live. He will be an associate at Christ’s Church,
established more than 200 years ago. His
task will be to promote member development and he plans to establish small groups
that has never been done at this church.
He had good experience doing the same thing in his current
assignment. Unfortunately, they are
getting grief from his future mother-in-law about their marriage. She thinks Stephen is not the right man for
her daughter. They seem to be trying to
handle it as well as they can. We have become quite close to Stephen
over the last few years. We met him during a time when he was going to
Dallas Theological Seminary. He felt called to become an Anglican priest.
He struggled with this but it was accomplished after he finished seminary at
Wycliffe in Toronto. He has served here in Dallas at St. Matthews
Cathedral, one of the oldest Episcopal churches in Dallas. He has
wonderful parents and we had been asked to keep up with him for them, as they
live in North Carolina. They will be here for his wedding and we are
looking forward to seeing them again. We love Stephen and miss him
We have become quite close to Stephen over the last few years. We met him during a time when he was going to Dallas Theological Seminary. He felt called to become an Anglican priest. He struggled with this but it was accomplished after he finished seminary at Wycliffe in Toronto. He has served here in Dallas at St. Matthews Cathedral, one of the oldest Episcopal churches in Dallas. He has wonderful parents and we had been asked to keep up with him for them, as they live in North Carolina. They will be here for his wedding and we are looking forward to seeing them again. We love Stephen and miss him already!
Update on Stephen and Yoanna. We had dinner with them on our recent trip (July 2017) to the Philadelphia area. They seem to be doing well. Yoanna has completed her first year in law school and is an intern in a Philadelphia law firm. It appears that law is agreeing with her and she is doing very well. Stephen is happy in his position at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Wilmington. We have listened to several of his sermons and they are great.
We got wonderful news from our daughter Sharon that the infection she has been dealing with for the last year behind the left breast implant has resolved and she will be able to discontinue the three antibiotics she has been on for several weeks. She has had significant side effects and is very glad she can quit them. She had both implants removed several months ago to help relieve the problem. She is five years beyond her bilateral mastectomy, praise God with no recurrence of cancer.
Recently we had a wonderful visit from our children and 5 of our
grandchildren. Paul came to Dallas with Caroline, Matthew to get
Thomas moved into his new apartment so that he can begin work on his PhD in
biostatistics at SMU starting on August 24, 2015. Sharon and Hal and
two of their children joined us too. Kristen is in nursing school and
Catherine could not get off from her job. Samantha is moving to
Chicago where she will get a graduate degree from the University of Chicago
in social work. She has been working for a non-profit in Philadelphia
since graduating from Penn. Madeline spent time this studying in New
York City in a Duke sponsored study and will return to the Duke campus to
continue he engineering degree. This was a rare time for us as we have
seldom had this many kids at one time. It was great!
Recently we had a wonderful visit from our children and 5 of our grandchildren. Paul came to Dallas with Caroline, Matthew to get Thomas moved into his new apartment so that he can begin work on his PhD in biostatistics at SMU starting on August 24, 2015. Sharon and Hal and two of their children joined us too. Kristen is in nursing school and Catherine could not get off from her job. Samantha is moving to Chicago where she will get a graduate degree from the University of Chicago in social work. She has been working for a non-profit in Philadelphia since graduating from Penn. Madeline spent time this studying in New York City in a Duke sponsored study and will return to the Duke campus to continue he engineering degree. This was a rare time for us as we have seldom had this many kids at one time. It was great!
Sharon was in Dallas to look at a property she had seen advertised near Waco. It proved to be something she was not interested it. She was talking to Jane and she arranged for her to look at a property here in Dallas. To our great surprise she bought a house about five minutes away from where we live. It is a nice property but the yard needs work. We helped her to begin to get it in good shape. About the same time, Thomas living situation changed and he want to move away from his apartment. Sharon suggested he consider living at the new house. It was a great deal for both Thomas and Sharon, as she won't have to worry about a vacant property.
We helped by getting an alarm system installed and hooked up to Time Warner cable. She had a bad experience trying to deal with at&t which comes at no surprise. Their customer service is terrible. She bought a washer and dryer and refrigerator for the utility room and a very nice TV. Over time she has worked on the yard, taking out several trees that were in bad shape. During a wind storm one of her trees fell over the fence between her and a neighbor. The fence was in bad shape and she decided to put up a new one. The yard and new fence look great.
I attended a reunion of graduates from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School today. It was another interesting meeting and a chance to say hello to old (really old) friends. One of my instructors from my year of general surgery residency is 94 and still able to talk. Another man at our table was responsible for my interest in anesthesiology that resulted in an application to be a resident at Parkland Memorial Hospital. I was accepted into the program, but the United States Air Force said they needed me and I could not get a further deferment. To be fair I had signed up for a program that was effective at that time (1962) that gave me a deferral for enough time to finish my internship. My next two years were spent in the USAF at Brooks AFB in San Antonio. That is where I had exposure to what medicine was like and decided to specialize in ENT. I have often wondered if I made a wrong choice.
The reunion today was very interesting to hear from 10 medical students of various stages in their training tell us about themselves and give the audience a chance to ask them some questions. Dollars were involved in several questions. We found out that the annual tuition was $20,000. It was $300 when I was in medical school. The students said that they were $130,000 in debt when they finished school. About half of the class are women, a major change when I had 6 in my class. The classes are much larger now, as they take 200 students each year. They said that UTSWMS is one of the cheapest medical schools to attend.
Our daughter's second child Catherine was married this last Saturday, July 29,2017, She married Jimmy Schneider, a young man she has known since college days. It was a spectacular affair enjoyed by all, save for the effort of Sharon and Hal over this last year in planning and preparation.
We arrived on Thursday and had dinner at Hal and Sharon's home with other members of the family. We stayed at the Wayne Hotel in Wayne, PA.
On Friday evening we were bussed to downtown and had a great dinner at the private dining area above the Barbuzzo restaurant. I especially enjoyed the Mexican salad. No one went away hungry. This was the rehearsal dinner. There was further celebration at a champagne toast at a nearby Le Meridien bar. Jane and I elected to return to the Wayne and did not attend this event.
The wedding occurred at the Audibon Center at Mill Grove, PA. The ceremony was held outside. There each participant had seven attendants. Catherine's three sisters were included. All of the girls looked wonderful from my grandfather's seat on the first row! Catherine was escorted to the front by her father and mother. Click here to see a picture of the happy couple. It was a civil ceremony and did not last long at all. After the ceremony grandparents were asked to stay behind for pictures. I haven't seen them yet but will include them when available by clicking here.
There were quite a few people at the wedding and all were fed at a sit down dinner in a large dining hall, a former barn. During the dinner there was music and singing with a myriad of dancers enjoying themselves. Jane had a ball. After I finished my dinner, I went outside where some kids were throwing big steel washers and having fun. I went back in and stayed long enough to take some pictures and record some of the music, that can be heard above the myriad of people talking and dancing. It was so loud carrying on a conversation at the table was difficult.
I knew there would be busses to take people back to the hotel and other places and learned that this would start at 9:30 PM. I went out and there were two busses waiting and I got in the one to return to the Wayne Hotel. The bus driver wondered why I had come to the bus, as he said "it sounds like a lot of fun was going on inside." I got back to the hotel about 10:00 PM and Jane did not get there until the last bus left at 11:30 PM.
There were many things that were said and happened at the dinner celebration by the bride and groom, their attendants and their families. It was a great celebration! We had our final meeting at noon on Sunday where the families were fed and able to visit. We spent more time at Hal and Sharon's home in the afternoon and got to bed early that night. We returned to Dallas on Monday. We had an uneventful flight home. I had some trouble walking in both the Dallas and Philadelphia airports. My left knee was letting me know it was not happy.
In about 2013 there was a split in the Trinity Fellowship congregation. There had been a power struggle between the pastor and the administrative pastor. The elders put up with it for quite a while and then decided it was time to fix the problem and they fired the senior pastor. About half of the congregation left with the senior pastor and we lost all of the elders. Jane and I decided to stay with our home church rather than to an unknown venture.
The pastor who remained with Trinity had little experience in teaching from the pulpit. He is a very smart man and learned quickly. After several years of listening to him become more "progressive" we decided we needed to find another church where the Gospel was preached on a regular basis.
We had been spoiled by our experience when we lived in El Paso. We tried several churches and decided to try Bent Tree Bible Fellowship. The pastor there has been there for twenty five years. His name is Pete Briscoe. He is an expository preacher of the first order and is the best we have ever heard. We established ourselves as members in the summer of 2017.
After attending Bent Tree for several months we decided it was too large for us. We had not been able to make any new friends. We started looking for another church. We found Grace Bible Church that was very close to where we lived. The preacher is Andy Wileman. We learned that my former friend and associate Trevor Mabery had attended this church. The teaching from the pulpit was great. I joined a small group of men who ate lunch once a month at my nearby El Fenix restaurant. Jane had met a few times with a women's group. We found a hard time making new friends due to the size of the church.
We decided to visit the church that had formed seven years ago as the result of the split of Trinity Fellowship that I mentioned earlier. We knew many people we had known at Trinity, My best friend John Hastings was a regular attendee. The pastor Bob Jennerich is a former lawyer who studied at Dallas Theological Seminary and we liked his teaching. One of the Sunday School teachers is Bill Crouse, a close friend. His wife Susan was friends with Jane. We moved our membership and started attending. The church is Grace Redeemer Community Church located in Garland.
The Panthers: I made a hard decision to stop attending this group that I have been attending at noon on Monday's for many years. My memory is giving me a lot of trouble. I am having trouble trying to drive on busy roads. It was time for me to stop attending. I will miss these guys!
Jane and I first learned about the Ventana development 4 years ago (2015). I can't remember how we heard about it. The Buckner organization was planning to build a new retirement center in a good location at the junction of Northwest Highway and Central Expressway in Dallas. We signed on as interested. After we learned how much they wanted as a down payment we were reluctant to put up a considerable sum not knowing what the outcome would be. We knew something about the Buckner organization as they have operated Buckner's Orphans Home in Dallas for many years. My mother taught school there when she graduated from Baylor in 1925 before she married my dad. They met while they were both students at Baylor. Ventana was a new venture for Buckner. It was to be a home for retired people in all stages of life. The place after this one would be the funeral home! They had never done this kind of place before. We decided it was not for us. It is called a Continuing Care Retirement Community providing Assisted Living, Memory Care Services, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation for those residents whose circumstances require them.
We kept in touch with them over the years and decided it might be good to give it a second look. We met with them and to our surprise the daughter of a family we had known at church and Jane had taught in Sunday school was working for the builders and was stationed in the office they had in an office building near the site. We met another young lady who had recently moved from working at Presbyterian Village (PVN). We had looked there at the time we first considered Ventana. There was a major difference in the financial arrangements. Ventana would provide memory care, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation for no additional cost when they were needed. At Presbyterian Village it would cost more for the advanced care. We had some very good friends who got interested and they wound up selling their home and moved to PVN. We ran into them again when they had decided to get a place at Ventana and leave PVN due to the increasing cost of living there. After considerable thought and discussion we decided to sign up. Jane was more interested than she had been before.
The place was still under construction and they were planning to have their certificate of occupancy from the city of Dallas July 2019 and would be able to start moving people in. By this time they had sold 85% of the apartments. They did not start construction until they had sold 70% of the units is why it was so long in development. We signed up for a two bedroom unit with about 1400 square feet! Jane started planning. We quickly learned that we would not be able to use much of our furniture which was old and fits well in our 3900 square foot home. Many were antiques we had collected over the years. Jane and I will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in October, 2019. Jane started by talking to our children and letting them have first crack at the things we would not be able to accommodate in the new place. Today's kids are different from our generation. We had inherited several things from our parents who had inherited them from their parents. Our kids did not want "old" things.
We are still in the downsizing mode! Jane has worked very hard going through our things and deciding what we could use and what we could not. Wall space in the new apartment was limited as the exterior walls were glass. We wanted an apartment with a balcony in the hope we could keep our dog Mini and could train her to take care of her business there. We met with our friends who were at PVN and they were very helpful in giving us details about their experience of selling their home and moving to PVN. In the meantime, another apartment became available that Jane liked better and we just signed up for it this week. It has more wall space. More to follow.
Yesterday April 19, 2019 we put our home on the market. The realtor put a coming soon sign in the yard. There are things he must do before it officially goes on the market and MLS. He is sending a person to measure the house and yard. Another person will help us "stage" the house. The asking price was established.
We have a contract to sell to the first people that looked at our home! They are a young couple with no children. He is a banker, she is a lawyer. We agreed to give them $7,500 at closing for repairs they requested. We have an agreement with them to stay for $3,500 a month until August. They have a lease agreement for where they are living now until then. We hope to move into Ventana in August. We are set to close the sale on June 7, 2019.
The deal closed and the money is in the bank! Now all we must to is be patient until we are given a move-in date by Ventana. We hope to be able to move in the first part of August as we must move out of our house at the end of July, 2019. Jane has most everything sorted out and packed. She gave away several pieces of furniture to our kids and others as we don't have room for large pieces in the new apartment. We are supposed to get a certified letter this month (June) giving a 60 day notice of a move-in date.
We got our move-in date August 21 in the AM! The first move-in date available is August 19th. We had been in regular contact with the man who runs the company Moving Station that is in charge of everyone's move to Ventana. I think this helped us get the early date.
We will live at Sharon's Echo Brook house while we are waiting to move into Ventana. She has a back yard and our dog Mini will be fine. She has chickens in the back yard we will need to protect from her! Thomas lets them out in the back yard every day, but has trained them to return to their pen using their favorite food.
Jane has pretty much got us packed to move. She is moving our stuff to Echo Brook today. We will leave Shady Hill on July 29th when the moving company comes to put our belongings in storage until we are ready to move to Ventana. We settled on a place at Ventana on Friday! It was a place that people backed out on due to health problems. They had spent $20,000 on additions that we are taking advantage of. Jane is content with this place! Time will tell if we are happy there.
The movers picked up all of our furniture and stuff on the 26th. Jane had her cleaning crew there on the 30th and we turned it over to the new owners on August 1, 2019.
I was on the way to UPS to return an item to Amazon. I was in a line of cars waiting on a light to make a right turn when I was hit from behind! A Chevrolet pickup truck hit me from behind and drove me into a Ford pickup in front of me. My car was damaged on both ends. I was thrown into the seat belt and had chest pain and was really shook up! I was taken to the Medical City ER and was checked out and had no serious injury. My neck and chest pain improved while I was in the ER. They warned me that I will likely be in more pain for a few days. Jane brought me home as the car was not drivable. She called and had a wrecker pickup it up and take it to be repaired. As this great car is seven years old I am afraid it will cost more than it is worth to repair the damage. We will know in a few days. This was a unique experience for me!
Today is August 21, 2019 and it is a day we have been waiting for! We are moving into our new home at the Ventana CCRC. It has been 21 days since my car was demolished. I am better physically with less neck pain. We have finally resolved with our insurance company and they have sent the money for the residual value of my wonderful 2012 Lexus EX350. It should clear our bank account today. We arranged to keep the rent car until Friday so we will have two cars to help us with the move today. The dealership is still holding the Subaru Outback for us until we can write a check for it. We hope to do that on Friday.
My concern is for Jane and hope she will not try to do too much with the move. She has arranged for two of her friends to be at our apartment and help direct the people put our furniture in the right spots. She has a detailed plan she has been working on for weeks. I had a copy made and laminated so it can be used today to help them. Jane has been fantastic and her organization skills have been greatly used!
Jane got things in our new place organized enough to accommodate that Mini and I moved to our new home at Ventana on August 30th. So far, Mini has done much better than we had expected. I am getting much more exercise as it is a walk to take her out to the dog run several times a day. I had the best sleep last night I have had in some time in spite of the noise from Central Expressway. I was in my own bed in our own home!
The Ventana by Buckner management is doing what it can to make things run smoothly, but everyone and everything is new and there are many rough spots that must be smoothed. An example is we had an electrician to relocate an electrical plug in my bathroom from a horizontal to vertical position so I could plug in my electric razor. It shorted out and is not working. He left before the job was finished as the patch needed to dry. He will need to come back. Jane continues to work on organization and location of things we need to have in the right place. We have a much more compact place and our pantry is now a small cabinet in the kitchen rather in a separate room that we had before. Thank God for her skills and patience with helping me find things!
We are having problems connecting to the Internet from our apartment. There is a computer station on the fourth floor that I am using now to connect. The people from Spectrum (Charter) are supposed to come in the AM. We were working fine a couple of weeks ago. I was unable to get it resolved by talking to Spectrum on the phone I hope it will work after they come.
We have been in our new home for more than a month and things are generally getting better. There continue to be some problems with the building and the associated technology. The management is very open with everyone and is doing what they can to fix things. We have four families moving in each day and the building is about half full.
Things seem to be working OK. We have gotten settled.
Our world is changing fast due to this new flu virus that started in China.
Sporting and other events have been cancelled. Travel is being
halted. Everyone is running scared. So far, we have not had
anyone in our current retirement home to be infected. Non-residents
are not being admitted save for some kind of life emergency.
Ventana by Buckner has closed their dining rooms for all meals. A paper request is to be filled out for what we want for lunch and dinner and turned in by 10:30 AM each day. Everyone will get the same breakfast which we are to pick up from the dining room after 7:00 AM each day. This requires that someone must go down to the mail room each day to pick up the forms for each person. I questioned the person who is responsible for the Ventana app this afternoon to see if she intends to put the daily menu request in the app. She is having trouble getting the request from the culinary folks to give her time to get this done. The lunch and evening meals are to be delivered to each apartment in the mornings.
All local restaurants and eating establishments have been told to close for
an unknown period. This will put most small facilities out of business
immediately. All movies and other public venues have been cancelled.
Meetings of more than 50 people have been requested to cancel. This is
the effort to try to keep people from being infected by the virus.
Many people will be ill enough that they will require hospitalization.
There is talk of turning apartment houses and hotels into hospitals to meet
the expected demand. This is a crazy time!
We were told yesterday (April 3, 2020) that the warning time for this plague has been extended until May 20, 2020! We are really tired of being confined to home, but we also want to stay as safe as we can. Neither Jane nor I would survive an infection with this pandemic virus. There have been several "retirement" homes in the DFW area that have been infected. So far, Ventana has not!
Edited April 4, 2020