The road ahead in 2021…


As usual, I have been absent from posting here since writing about my impending “graduation” from cardiac rehab on December 14. To be sure, that all happened as scheduled, and I was ready to hit the next Phase. I took advantage of the three sessions offered at the hospital’s Health and Wellness Center for no charge, and liked it so much, I took a membership for the new year. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve enjoyed going there and getting an hour’s worth of cardio workout on various machines as well as strength and balance with weights and bands. As I tell anyone who asks, “It’s all good!” So my recovery is moving along swimmingly.

Like everyone else, I’m glad that 2021 finally arrived. With all of the sad election outcomes and the turmoil in our country over the COVID nonsense, we can only hope that a new year will include new answers to old problems. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll all come out of all of this so that we can get back to some sense of “regular” living. 

I was thinking the other day just how glad I am that one of my true loves is reading, especially since I watch very little of what is on TV. There are certain shows that we both enjoy, but I could certainly live without them, as I have for unusually long time periods because of the delays in production, etc. And what’s truly amazing is just how many books there are, sitting on my shelves that have yet to be read. It’s almost as though when I bought–or was given–a book, and I placed it on a shelf, that I knew I’d eventually get to it. This past, strange year has really offered me many opportunities to finally get into those that were unread. It’s been, as it always has been, my favorite way to pass time. So many people can’t see how I can sit still for such stretches to read as I do. By the same token, I can’t understand how someone could enjoy painting a house, or puttering around under a car. I suppose that’s the spice of life that makes us all unique.

In closing, I am happy to report that just before I sat down to write, the mail truck pulled up, and I quickly scurried out to the box to see what she’d left for us. Besides the standard junk mail and other waste, there was my Winter Edition of The 66 News, the newsletter for members of the Route 66 Association of Illinois. Skimming through it, fired me up to make plans to be able to once again “hit the road,” something that was out of the question this past year. But I am seeing a glimmer of hope for the road ahead—in so many respects—and that can’t be all bad! I hope your new year is off to a good start and stays that way!

Until next time…

Cardio rehab “graduation” has arrived!

As the days of December wend their way toward year’s end—rather quickly, it seems—so, too, are many events in my life reaching some sort of conclusion. For instance, the cardio rehab program which I’ve been active in since mid-September wraps up this coming Monday when I’ll “graduate.” 

Sitting here on this cloudy and soon-to-be rainy Friday afternoon, I find it hard to believe that I’ve made it through these months and have felt so much better—physically and mentally. What has made it so hard to believe is that when I entered the rehab program, following several weeks of recuperation at home, I was in no way in any condition to do much moving about on a treadmill for any period of time. My entire body was way out of sync, having lacked the needed conditioning and care—even long before my surgery in August. I had put on excess weight over the last few years as well as totally ignoring a routine of some sort of exercise on a regular basis. Yes, I always used the convenient excuse that it was my deteriorating aortic heart valve, which was the biggest factor for my lack of energy or interest in doing much of anything.

Ultimately, open-heart surgery and an implanted pacemaker back in August took care of that excuse, and the rehab program at the hospital these weeks and months has changed my outlook on most things. Things seemed to be racing away from me and my life lacking needed direction. Now, after a good forty-minute workout on a recumbent cross trainer and treadmill, I feel as I haven’t felt in such a long, long time! I no longer dread the thought of something so basically simple as walking. 

For the most part, my mind is now free of fears and “what ifs” about my state of health, and I now actually smile more. My wife and others even go so far as to say, “You’re a different person!” My weight is significantly lower than it was prior to this year of aortic stenosis, A-fib, surgery, and an endless cavalcade of appointments and doctor visits. And, of course, not to forget the COVID pandemic that has forced us all into a different way of living with altered outlooks on such a calamity and our seeming need to be extremely cautious about everything amidst lockdowns, quarantines, and closures. Even so–knock on wood!—I have made it through unscathed thus far.

And now I have one more cardiac rehab session facing me. I’ll check in at 9:15 a.m. next Monday, hook up a heart monitor, rest quietly a few minutes, and then have my blood pressure taken. After that, I’ll get started for my twenty minutes on the NuStep recumbent cross training machine, providing me a solid workout for the legs and arms and overall cardio factors. Next, I’ll get on the treadmill (that thing I dreaded at the beginning of all this!) and walk comfortably for another twenty minutes.

When that part is over, I’ll once more sit in my assigned seat and wait to get the “OK” that my heart rate has calmed back down and I’m free to unhook my monitor and leave just as I have all those other times. Of course when this happens on Monday, I know I won’t be returning, and these four nurses and techs who have become my constant encouragers and helpers (friends?) these many weeks, will no longer be a direct part of my healing and well-being three mornings a week. And that makes me rather melancholy. Although I only know them by first name and the upper portion of their faces due to the required masking, I think of them as special people whom I’ll never forget. What I wouldn’t give to see them, however briefly, without a mask for the first time! Perhaps someday when we once again carry on in a normal manner…

We shall see…

Thanksgiving thoughts…

Thanksgiving 2020…

Despite what must be considered a dismal year, I still  have much of which to be thankful: Family and friends, doctors and nurses, a new home and location, food and clothing, and the good fortune to live in the greatest nation in the world!

I know that all of the ills cannot be remedied at once, but I do believe that the road ahead is going to be healthier and we will eventually be able to go about our lives maskless and unafraid! Whenver that may be, I look forward to it joyfully!

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may be!

Gray day; bright Thanksgiving memories…

It’s that gray, rainy morning I’ve been waiting for here in northern Illinois! 

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with those bright and sunny days that have greeted us every morning, but one such as this is perfect to finally attend to all of the writing projects I’ve managed to procrastinate around for way too long. I’m really not sure why this sort of day has always prodded me to get the writing going—and sometimes finished—but I’m thinking it may be nothing more than a psychological “trigger” telling me that it doesn’t get any better than this, so sit down, fire up that computer, and quit putting things off!

Whatever any of this means, who really knows? I only know that I always seem to be in a better “writing” frame of mind when there’s an aura of dreariness about. Not to come off as a Poe type, but I do love days that are full of rain or snow or wind that provide an overall sense of grayness. That’s exactly how it is this morning, less than two weeks away from my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. Understand, I don’t need the gray atmosphere to write about this holiday’s moments that shine brightly in my memory bank. And as the stiff wind swirls the rain all about and against the windows, my mind harkens back to my family’s many Thanksgivings at my grandparents so many years ago.

For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving, and the days leading up to it, have always created within me a special feeling of joy and anticipation. Not anticipation for all of the delicious food we would enjoy, but the eagerness to be with cousins for the first time since the previous gathering. Those few days spent together provided us a time of fun and a hiatus from our everyday routines of school and life in general. 

Because we lived a few states away from the grandparents, we always had a pretty long drive to get there. Even then, I never balked at a road trip that would involve many miles of familiar places along the way. Most of the time, we left after dad was finished with work on Wednesday, and we’d arrive late that night. My cousins would usually be there ahead of us, so it was always a festive and raucous occasion when we were all finally under roof at my grandparents the night before Turkey Day.

Thanksgiving Day usually began pretty early, despite our lack of sleep after our late night. A quick breakfast, and then our day began! Epic backyard football battles that wore on for hours never failed to get our spirits up—as well as our appetites! I never fail to smile when I recall those wonderful long ago Thanksgiving  mornings.

Of course, after we’d cleaned up and changed clothes from the morning gridiron action, the afternoon featured the main attraction: A dinner which was nothing less than spectacular! 

After all, who could cook or bake any better than Grandma? Sure, she had lots of help from our moms, but it all was her deal! Turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, rolls that would melt in your mouth, squash, beans, etc., etc., and pies of pecan and pumpkin and mince meat were of what dreams were made. As my uncle always said afterwards: “If you came away hungry, it was your own fault!”

When the annual Thanksgiving repast had finished, there would be football on TV and an inevitable card game (usually Hearts) with Grandpa. Our dads always managed to find convenient out-of-the way chairs or couches on which to snooze, and our moms cleaned up the dishes and put the food in the fridge. Ah, the glorious leftovers! 

Then, they and Grandma would retreat to the dining room table that had quickly been transformed back to its normal state and chat about whatever moms and grandmas liked to talk about. Usually, as I recall, there was lots and lots of reminiscing and laughter of bygone people and places. I always learned a lot about my family from listening to some of this “table talk,” and even the repetition of some of the stories I’d heard many times through the years, were still fun to hear all over again. Somehow, it seemed a ritual that was just expected to happen.

And so, Thanksgiving afternoon wore on, and nightfall came early, as it always does in late November. The leftovers were pulled out, and the turkey sandwiches were the perfect capper of the annual Thanksgiving gathering. And even though we were tired, we never wanted to “give up the ghost” and call it quits.

But the day’s excitement and fun was all but over. I was always filled with a sort of melancholy at this point, knowing that we’d be up early the next morning and wending our way back to Indiana and back to that routine we’d blessedly been allowed to escape —if only for a few wonderful days. 

I could go on about other “moments” from other years surrounding this special holiday, but I’ll just say that as I’ve grown older and married and had my own children, through the years we’ve tried to invoke the same kind of Thanksgiving magic that we enjoyed so much as kids. Family gatherings at our own house were a staple for many, many Thanksgivings. And though I would have loved for everything to continue, it’s so true that “All good things must end.” A few years back, that’s exactly what happened. There is no blame to be dished out, other than the reality of kids growing up, leaving the nest, and starting families and their own traditions. Even so, as my own childhood memories of Thanksgivings at Grandma and Grandpa’s long ago were special, our own Thanksgiving memories are forever there!

I hope you have fond memories of bygone Thanksgivings, and may you make many more!

November and the finish line ahead…

Ah, there you are…

Like an old friend showing up after a long absence, you have arrived, bringing with you, as September and October started before you, so many glorious changes. As only you can do, you prepare us for grumpy, old winter ahead. 

Where we live here in northern Illinois, most of the leaves have either fallen, or those “reluctant” ones are on the brink of doing so. It has been a time of raking and rounding up those evasive brown and golden leaves that have detached themselves from the branches overhead, leaving the sugar maple in our front yard naked and alone, ready for the winter ravages that cannot be that far away. img_6672-1

Even though our temperatures have been consistently in the 60s and 70s for an extended unseasonable stretch recently, we know very well that it will not last for very much longer. Those of us who wear shorts whenever possible are aware that it will be “jeans and sweatshirt” weather sooner than we think, so we enjoy this while we can. Those mornings that feel more like a Florida- “Spring Break”-kind, instead of the Midwest model, will be fond and distant memories before we realize it.

Regardless, as nice as it has been—being spoiled with not having to wear too many clothes and keeping the furnace off this time of the year—late autumn has always been my favorite part of the year. Among other things, I love the transformation of nature from September and October before “handing things off” to November, who, like the “anchor leg” runner in a relay, gets us to–and past–the finish line and the inevitable winter ahead.

I could go on, but I’ll close with these thoughts: I kind of like winter, too! And spring and summer.Thank heavens we have the changing seasons. Now, we should all take a breath and realize that it’s a beautiful world around us. We need to pause and appreciate it whenever and however we can. I’m thinking that Thanksgiving can’t come soon enough in a few weeks. I will write about that–my favorite holiday–very soon.

Until next time, enjoy November as it carries us to the finish line ahead!

First snow: Happier times ahead?

Coming out of my cardiac rehab session this morning, I was confronted with our first snow since last March. Sure, it was predominantly a mix of rain and snow, but it was enough to give a bit of a white trace on the parking lots and trees and streets. It was destined to remain on the ground for a very short period of time, but it was wonderful all the same! 

I rather enjoyed this, as I always do, because it seems to represent that we’ve “turned another corner” in the year—that winter is edging ever closer. Perhaps I’m alone in this way of thinking, but I’m hoping that it might bring about a change in everyone’s state of mind. Realistically, though…?

Maybe I’m just ready for another “corner” to be turned in this year of years! There is so much going on in our lives right now, that it’s hard—often—to breathe regularly, it seems. Besides the Covid-19 calamity, it has been a contentious year of political upheaval that has been very draining on so many of our social relationships. Anyone else notice that many friendships and relationships have sort of disappeared because of all this political “great divide?” Sad, isn’t it?

And I’m most definitely ready to turn another “corner” in my own health saga. For the past few years, I knew that valve replacement was inevitable…just not this year! And the need for a pacemaker wasn’t really something I ever considered previously, but the very real necessity to have one implanted during my “surgery week” back in August removed any doubt. 

Throw in the atrial fibrillation that came about somewhere before all of this stuff transpired, and it’s been just one more battle to fight. As I write this now, I’ve had two cardioversions since May, a change to some strong and rather vile medications to deal with the A-fib, and lots of discomfort and worry along the way. A cardioversion is a quick procedure that the doctor sends a control electric shock to the heart to attempt to set the heart back to a normal sinus rhythm. The one I had in May did that, but it didn’t hold for very long.

Fortunately, things on this front are seemingly working out regarding the recent cardioversion and the daily regimen of the meds.  The pacemaker is working fine, and the cardio rehab is a very good thing. I’ve lost about 35 pounds since last spring, for which I’m healthier on that fact alone.

 But enough of my albatrosses for now. As everyone else knows in dealing with life’s numerous curveballs it enjoys tossing our way, it’s a “one-day-at-a-time” thing.

So maybe my good feeling about the light snow that fell this morning—lightly and briefly—will be a signal that better times are ahead; that it’s time to put the current state of things behind us, and move on into a new and brighter time. At least, in my own way, I’d like to think that better and happier times are ahead. It will be nice to see all those smiles again, and maybe some of those friendships can be restored. Let us hope so.

Stay safe and healthy, friends!

Will it ever be “normal” again?

When I sat down to create this blog post, I had every intention of writing about how this has been the worst year in memory—the one from hell! But it didn’t take me long to realize that everyone is well aware of that fact, and why dwell on how badly things have gone?

It would be so easy to list a litany of all of the bad things that have befallen the world, and I’ll do my best to avoid delving too deeply there. I do, however, want to share some thoughts that I have been thinking about through these many months.

 I sympathize with those whose families have been victims—in some way—by COVID, and nary a day passes when I don’t spend time thinking (and hoping!) that some form of vaccine will be ready and available to make a difference—SOON. And I would like to think that it will not become any more of a political endeavor, but that’s probably way too much foolish thinking on my part.

I feel for anyone who has lost a job, business, income, family member, friend or anything else that disrupts their comfort and well-being. Because we are so dependent on so many other entities in our daily lives, and when one of those parts is “messed up,” the results are never good.

I have always marveled at the resiliency of young people, and never more than those whose “normal” routines have been totally altered. Trying to maintain some semblance of going to school, playing on a team, participating in a “normal” fashion, have pretty much stretched the limits of adaptability. Those high school seniors last spring, who had to miss so many traditional aspects of school life—prom, graduation, and various other end-of-school activities—all have my best wishes that somehow they will find ways that will ease that part of what should have been wonderful and memorable moments before transitioning on to the next phase of their lives. 

From my own situation, I have a 91-year-old mother who lives in Ohio, and I have not been able to make what used to be frequent and routine drives from my home in Illinois to see her. Travel restrictions, coupled with my own health situation, have prevented my in-person visits with her. The last trip to Ohio was in mid-March, just prior to the nightmare of this sweeping pandemic setting in. Fortunately, I am a pretty good letter writer, and I have faithfully written (the old fashioned way!) and mailed two letters a week to her. At times, it has been a stretch to come up with something fresh to “chat” about, but she really doesn’t care about that part of it. It’s the receiving of a letter from her son that brightens her day. At least I hope it is!

So how long will we all have to endure the masks and social distancing and regulations on restaurants, bars,  and grocery stores? When will we feel confident that we’re being led down the right paths to survive all of this? And will life as we knew it before last spring ever return in some familiar and “normal” manner?

I guess there are no easy answers, and perhaps what we knew as “normal” is a thing of the past. Right now, it seems that there is way more bad that has ensconced itself in every aspect of life. Somehow, though, I do my best to “keep the faith” and believe that the good will return. I hope you feel the same!

Got to keep smilin’!

Catching up-part II

A scene of recent days that really helps the healing!

Regaining consciousness following open-heart surgery is like returning to the here and now from some distant, unknown journey where there is absolutely no recollection of anything that transpired during the previous hours. In my case, there were about six hours I cannot account for. The first thing I experienced upon beginning to “come to” was the sound of voices, none of which I could really make out what was being said, but it was somewhat comforting all the same.

The critical care nurses and doctors who had been involved with the operation were on hand, easing my return to consciousness in a caring and comforting manner. At some point, they removed the breathing tube, and I was functioning on my own again. And through the haze of waking up, I was able to discern my wife Carolyn nearby, saying my name and some other “welcome back” banter, that I have no recall of what any of it was. Regardless, it was wonderful and uplifting. Although I was slowly coming out of anesthesia and on the brink of total consciousness, I dozed back to sleep.

So that was the beginning of my week’s stay in the hospital. I would remain in the surgical critical care unit for most of that time. One unplanned event happened the following day (Tuesday), which caused great concern for us all. Although I was alert and doing well, the monitors indicated that my heart rate was way too low. Dopamine was soon added to my IV regimen for the purpose of keeping the heart rate up.

One of the possibilities going into the surgery was that I might eventually need a pacemaker for just this very thing. And it was decided on Wednesday that I would, indeed, need one—and soon! You can figure out what I had in store for myself sometime on Thursday. Late that afternoon, I was carted to the Cath Lab and had a pacemaker implanted near my left shoulder. At least the procedure was less invasive and didn’t take too long.

My pacemaker appeared to do what it was supposed to do, and the heart rate issue was under control. The A-fib was still there, though, so I knew that I would be dealing with how best to handle that in the weeks ahead. For now, I wanted to get strong enough to be discharged from the hospital by the weekend.

On Friday, I was transferred from Critical Care to a regular room where I would be until discharge—hopefully—on Sunday. And as it turned out, that’s exactly when I “got out” and, heart surgery pillow in hand, I carefully eased myself into the passenger side of my car and journeyed home with Carolyn at the wheel. Since I wouldn’t be driving for six weeks, I knew I would be completely dependent on her for the few times I had to venture out, mostly to doctor appointments, etc. Plus, with so many restrictions due to the COVID situation, there weren’t many places I could go anyway.

Once home, I had to learn new ways to recover: Showering, getting out of chairs/couch, dressing myself, etc. I am now nearly five weeks into cardio rehab back at the hospital three days a week. It’s been great and each day I achieve something new in regards to strength and physical conditioning. There are a couple of issues to resolve at this point: Blood pressure medication adjustment and another cardioversion next week for the A-fib. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one. 

I will spare the reader any further details of this ongoing piece of the adventure. Instead, I will conclude by saying that for so many weeks, I managed to heal and get strong again—physically and emotionally—through the efforts and love and care of my wife.  

Thank you, Carolyn!

A time to catch up…

Our maple tree outside my window. It’s fall!

For the past several weeks I’ve been trying to think of a good way to get this “update” started without dragging things out way too far. When last I wrote—July 24—I mentioned my life’s routines through this COVID “business” and many of the things I spent my time doing on a daily basis. I wrote about my impending visit on Tuesday, July 28, to the “Heart Valve” clinic at the hospital to see what dedicated direction I should take in dealing with my deteriorating aortic valve. I was pretty sure I’d quality for a Trans Thoracic Valve Replacement (TAVR)  procedure, rather than the old, standard “Open Heart” method.

I spent several hours having tests of all kinds—as one can imagine: EKGs, Echocardiogram, Blood tests, carotid artery sonar, X-rays, CT scan, etc. You get the idea. When the tests and evaluations were complete, I met with the two surgeons, one for each type of procedure, that is: 1) TAVR; 2) Open-heart. Of course, I was hoping for the less invasive TAVR procedure, since having my chest cracked open wasn’t all that appealing! Plus, the recovery time with TAVR would require less time than the open-heart method.

At the conclusion of this busy day, I was told that the following Monday morning I would be “discussed” by the heart team, and they would recommend which of the two methods would be best for me in my valve replacement saga, and that I would hear from them within twenty-four hours after the team meeting.

I was feeling pretty confident that they would recommend going the TAVR route since I had no other issues such as needing bypass or stents to correct any arterial blockage. So when I received a call from the TAVR surgeon the morning following the meeting and he told me that I didn’t qualify for the TAVR procedure because my valve was too large and beyond the scope of that type of replacement, I was pretty well taken aback, particularly when I realized that there was no other choice besides open-heart—if I did, indeed, want to have the valve replaced. 

Millions of morbid and depressing thoughts and images swirled and whirled around in my head as I stood staring into the bathroom mirror and felt that I’d finally gotten myself into something I couldn’t rightly wiggle out of in some shape, manner, or form! My next step that afternoon was to contact the “other” surgeon and see exactly where I was supposed to go from this point—into the world of open-heart surgery. Yikes!

Little did I know that things would begin moving faster than I could imagine. I had left a message with the surgeon’s CNP (nurse practitioner), and it wasn’t long before he returned my call and helped put me at ease and had me scheduled for surgery on Monday morning, August 17. Of course, there were new tests and pre-op consults to fit in to the calendar and another COVID-19 test a few days ahead of the operation.

By this time, as the days grew ever closer to surgery, I’d done my best to keep myself under control as best I could. As a youngster, and for most of the rest of my time, anything to do with this kind of heart “business” always terrified me. Creeped me out! And now…it was actually going to happen to me! 

And so I arrived at the hospital at 4:30 a.m. on the designated date and began a day that I recall the early parts and the evening portion when I was coming out of my anesthesia—craving water! Everything after the initial prep period is a blank in my cognizance. Once I was “out,” I was OUT!

The operation was successful in replacing the bad valve with a new organic one from cow tissue. There was one other procedure, however, that the surgeon  wasn’t able to attend to. He had planned to do an ablation with hopes that it would curtail the A-fib that was a recurring issue. Because I had been “open” on the table with my heart working via a machine for quite some time, he didn’t want to extend the operation any further. 

As mentioned, the next bit of consciousness for me was in the surgical ICU, surrounded by doctors, nurses, and my anxious wife. I had tubes and wires and anything else they could attach to me, it seemed. I didn’t have any trouble remembering where I was and why I was there, only that I was thirstier than I’d ever remembered. That seemed to be the standard through that first night in post-op recovery in the ICU. But I had made it through and was ready to get going on whatever the next step would involve.

In my next post, I’ll deal with all of that. In closing this, I can only say that it’s great to be alive!

Moving the summer along through COVID “scare” and cardiac concerns…

Well, this loony and bizarre summer just keeps rolling right along. One day arrives and then the next and so on. We go about our “business” with morning coffee on the sunporch and watch the birds come and go at the feeder. I continue to read more than to write.

I’ve taken the opportunity to get to many of the books that have populated the book shelves for so long. You know those ones that we all say:“We’ll get to, eventually!” To say the very least, it’s been an eclectic blend of reading: Clive Cussler, Arnold Palmer (yes, the golfer!), John Cheever’s Short Stories, Agatha Christie, The Fatal Journey of Henry Hudson, David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood, etc. You get the idea, I’m certain. Anyway, the hours pass and day becomes night. The night passes, and we do it all over again as the new day arrives. 

Through it all, I find myself hoping for a rainy–at least overcast–day during this long stretch to break up the constant string of sunshine and heat. Hasn’t happened too often this summer.

Thoughts of returning to work on the long-neglected novel flit in and out of my mind these days, with every intention of actually getting to some level of production. But my interest and desire to do so quickly wane, and I end up hopping over to Facebook and spending way too much time with all of that waste!

My desk and bookcases full of old friends to help pass the time!

For the most part, my writing has consisted of weekly letters to my ninety-one-year-old mother in Ohio. I send her the most current photos of our new house and its furnishings and she’s thrilled to get them.

The fact that I’m actually feeling good about writing this blog post today is a pretty positive sign. Maybe, I’m ready to think once again about the need to sit at this desk and pound the keys on a regular basis—as before—and get back on track in the writing realm. It would be easy to say that I’ve suffered from an extended case of “writer’s block,” but I believe it’s more likely that I’ve been uninspired to write because of so much of what’s been on my mind.

The roller coaster existence thrust upon us by the COVID-19 “scare” all these months has not made life very easy, especially since this has become for me the summer of getting serious about fixing my aortic stenosis! Suffice it to say, that so many hours have been spent with testing, procedures, etc., but I’m still doing pretty well at this point.

Before each procedure, I’ve been required to be tested for COVID-19, and each time, I’m happy to report, the results have been NEGATIVE.

Next Tuesday appears to be an important—pivotal—day as I’ll be visiting the Valve Clinic for about 4-5 hours of various testing and consultation with the heart “teams.” My cardiologist has told me that I don’t need bypass, just a valve, which is encouraging at this point.

After Tuesday’s visit to the Valve Clinic, we should have a pretty good plan and timetable for me to get things done. Update to follow…

I have always loved crossword puzzles, and this summer I have passed several hours printing out and doing the daily crosswords at And with the seemingly unending stretches of extreme heat, I don’t mind working on them in the air-conditioned comfort of my office. As it is, I’ve been pretty limited in lots of activity anyway.

In the meantime, I take my meds, do my crosswords, read (lots!), keep myself moving as much as I can tolerate, watch our grandsons play baseball, and pick up the old quill and get some words written. Through it all, I have faith that everything–in the world and my own situation–will come out all right. I wish the same for you all…