In the Waining Days of the Pandemic
...We Hope! March 2021

Just before the long quarantine, the last week of February 2020, Heidi was moving my wheelchair and ran it into a wall. Fortunately, she didn't bend the chair too badly. However, her leg was between the chair and the wall. It did break; the leg, not the wall. So she ended up using my old chair for about six weeks, managing to do so without breaking anything else.

Now, I can't say too much; I've severely sprained and bent up various parts of my anatomy over the years and through four power chairs. Just the slightest rub or bump of my toes gainst a wall, cabinet, or whatever, can result in a bright trail of blood across the floor until I finally notice it. The fragile epidermis of old age.

Found out early on - back in the winter of 2000 - that you can do some serious donuts on snow slippery streets with a power chair. After a few spectacular efforts I realized potholes and a top-heavy wheelchair might suggest a bit more prudence than I was exercising... No more donuts.

Anyway, I strongly encouraged Heidi to practice using the hand controls on the van so we could still get around when needed. It took a while, but eventually I could ride with her with my eyes open most of the time. John P. took the front passenger seat out of the van and we managed to get around pretty well with both chairs on occassion. Shopping and doctor visits were possible. And my chair was faster, if only slightly. I win.

When we went to see the orthopedic specialist he was rather surprised when we wheeled in with two six hundred plus pound chairs. I didn't mention right away that the van had hand ontrols when I told him Heidi was driving. His eyes got big before I explained. Over a year later, now, she still has a bit of a bruise on that leg.

While she was convalescing I needed a project. I have been collecting genealogy data on our family and all the in-laws and cousins for about 50 years. And I have been concerned that it would all be lost when I am gone. So in mid-February I started to write a book. Finished over four hundred pages of charts, stories and pictures in September. I did appreciate the many contributions family offered. It kept me off the streets and out of bars. All my siblings and children got nice bound copies.

The Columbus Swim Center was closed down for much of the quarantine period. Heidi and I both missed our twice weekly exercise. This takes the place of physical therapy at the pool at Ohio State. We are back at it now, but I don't know if the discomfort is worth it. "They're killing me!"

Spring, summer and autumn of 2020 we stayed home except for a few routine doctor appointments, a trip to the grocery every two or three weeks and sometimes a trip to church or a visit from close family. Despite that, Heidi developed the sniffles on December first, along with a very mild fever and aches. I called my doc on the second and he had us tested on the third. His six a.m. call on the following morning informed us we were both positive and he had us scheduled for monoclonal antibody infusion that afternoon.

Heidi's symptoms never got worse and all I experienced was an even milder fever and minor aches. We were both asymptomatic within two days of treatment. Ninety days after the antibody infusion we were cleared for the vaccine and we have completed both injections. So we sit around counting our many blessings and looking forward to a time when we can socialize with family and friends freely. Hopefully the scourge is coming to an end soon. I expect we may resume our weekly luncheon gathering with a group of friends soon.

As I finished the genealogy project another little task popped up. I've been saving family recipes for decades. I'm collecting them along with a few I've gathered in other places into another book. Heidi is testing a number of them and we find we are enjoying fine cuisine at home a lot more of late. She is baking cinnamon or pecan rolls for my daily breakfast and expanding her dinner repertoire into some exceptional efforts in Chinese and Mexican. And I am trying to lose weight; yeah, right!


Been over 6 years...
early 2019

After I had the heart attack it got a little hard to type so I haven't done much on the computer except read books. I am trying to get back into this web page a little. We will see how that goes.

Even before the heart attack, my family and closest friends have been helping out with things I can no longer do. In May/June of 2008 my brothers, my son John P., my friends John Carney, Denny Dittiacur and Joe Neighbors, and even my Uncle Joe helped us rip out our kitchen and rebuild it to make it more accessible. Brother Tom performed major repairs and refinishing on the hardwood floors in 2009. The next major project was brother Paul replacing our deck in 2015 with John P., Carney, Dittiacur and brother Tom helping. The following year Paul, Tom, Mike and John P. gutted and rebuilt the bathroom to improve accessibility. Over the years, the brothers and others have managed routine upkeep chores when needed. Recently Mike, Paul and Tom replaced the shell of my porch roof, repaired damage on the bay window and fixed a bunch of other issues that have cropped up. Of course Heidi had a hand in all of it. I supervised or tied to say out of the way, as allowed. It is a blessing to have friends and family.


The Sibs
The Sibs... Jim, John, Tom, Mary, Pat, Mike and Paul. (l-r)

The grandkids, Mary and Caleb, do occupy a bit of our time. And provide a bit of amusement.
John P. was feeding Caleb lunch a month ago. He heard Caleb say, "I love you."
John said, "Why, Caleb... that's sweet. You've never said that to me."
Caleb replied, "I was talking to my noodles."

Caleb and Grandpa napping.

Mary taking grandpa for a walk


Our last trip to Grand Cayman

Heidi, Ruth and I had a great time on the August (2012) dive trip to Grand Cayman despite a little problem that popped up.

After three days of diving we took a day off and just lazed at the beach all day Sunday. Keith, 'the MAN' at Neptune's Divers and Cayman Custom Cycles made a beach wheelchair for me. The chair worked great. After a few hours just floating in the warm, crystal water we got out and enjoyed lunch on the beach. Then it was back in the water for a couple more hours.

Fireball and me at lunch

Unfortunately, at the end of the day even with five people helping I wasn't up to the task of getting back in the chair from the water. During the effort to heave my old carcass into the seat I felt a crushing pain in the center of my chest and then it felt like my heart was being ripped in half. At the time I thought I was going to die right there in the water.

I did manage to help the folks get me into the seat and they pulled the chair up the beach and to the van. Two guys helped me slide into the van and while Heidi loaded the chair I caught my breath and decided since I was still alive it couldn't have been a heart attack, so I didn't mention it. We went back to the hotel, took a shower and then Heidi picked up stir fried jerked chicken with rice from Tim Buc Tuu for dinner.

The first dive of the next morning went well. As we approached the mooring line and looked up at the surface we saw a thunderstorm had blown in with lightning, thunder, hard rain and wind whipping up impressive chop. The boat was bouncing around pretty good.

I hooked an arm through the rescue ring on a line behind the boat waiting for some of the other divers to clear the water so I could be hauled out. Plenty of air in my tank and my B-C inflated, I was doing fine up to the point where the pitching of the boat snapped the line and I started to float away. I raised my left arm and waived goodbye as the boat receded in the waves.

Captain Casey dove in to rescue me, followed closely by Divemaster David. I tried to help swim back to the boat without much effect, no fins and it felt like I'd really strained a muscle in my chest. Nonetheless, we made it back to the boat, I doffed my gear and they hauled me aboard. I scooted into the cabin out of the rain and rested, deciding to skip the second dive.

After two more days of beautiful diving and a day to out gas nitrogen - and enjoy a night out with the crew - we flew back home. Almost a week later I finally decided to get that strained muscle checked out. It was indeed a heart attack.