Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Evaluation

           I've often wanted to do reviews of various programs and facilities but, with the exception of covering sports over the years, I've never really had the opportunity to do so, at least publicly.  But after my recent ten day stay for surgery in the Lancaster General Hospital I think I'll take the opportunity to do so. So what it is worth, here goes.

          PARKING - B  Normally it is very good and convenient with the James St. Garage.  But this time, because the fourth floor was not cleared of snow, parking was often very hard to find, especially later in the day.   And for some reason they closed entrance to the lot about 10 pm.  When I had a sudden problem my wife was able to get in just as it was closing, but a few minutes later it was closed to my son who had to return home.  So what do you do if a family member develops an emergency when the lot is closed?
          ADMISSION - A    No problem at all.  They took me when I got there and within 15 minutes I was already in a pre-op bed. No waiting. Nurses were friendly and helpful. 
          SURGICAL NURSES -  A   They were efficient, kind and helped - put you at ease.  They respected how nervous I was and did all that they could to calm me and explain what was happening.  Those in the ICU, especially John, were outstanding.  All they were missing was a nurse named Matthew.  While I was awake I had Mark, Luke and then John assigned to me, in that order.
           ROOM NURSES - B+   This is a hard one to evaluate fairly because I did have a number of excellent nurses assigned to me once I was placed in a regular room.  The problem was that generally they changed every 8 to 12 hours and seldom did I have the same nurse a second time.  But I did have some very exceptional, caring ones and that was a highlight of my stay. Fortunately they made up for a couple who lacked good bedside manners and didn't seem to want to be there. I also had a number of student nurses and it was difficult to evaluate them since they were in a variety of training stages.  The only real complaint was that sometimes it took too long to summon a nurse with the call bell when you needed something like going to the bathroom.  But I assume that each had a heavy load and were busy helping others.
          FOOD -  C  Now this is a tough one to evaluate since I had no appetite during my stay and because they put me on limited diets.  In fact, I lost nearly 20 pounds during those ten days.  There were numerous choices I could make, most of the time.  But when the food appeared - 7:30, 11:30 and 4:30 - I usually wasn't hungry yet and the smell turned me off.  Often it was returned, uneaten, except for the fruit bowls and cereal.  I did enjoy the cereal but there was so little of it and they would not allow me to have it for lunch or supper.  However, a few kind nurses did find some for me a few times.  Even the coffee and tea did not taste good to me, but that might have been because of the Lancaster water.  We only drink bottled distilled water at home so that makes a big difference.
          ROOM - D    Now let me clarify this. The pre-op room and ICU room were fine.  The fact that I had private rooms was excellent.  But the room that I spent most of my time in was terrible.  It was small.  It was poorly designed.  There was only a very small window that was blocked and if you could have seen out you would have seen another wall. The only times that I could see the weather was when they took me for tests.  It was very inconvenient for visitors.  I felt like a prisoner there.  In fact, a few nights when I was in bed and not able to sleep I felt like the walls were actually pushing in on me.  I was told that many of the rooms in that unit were even worse.  But it was cleaned regularly.  I think the room added much to the boredom that I faced much of the time there.
          DISCHARGE - D     As in my previous stays there the discharge procedure was very slow.  It came several hours after the last doctor told me that I could go home and signed off on me.  In fact, while we waited and waited, the evening meal was even delivered.  After I pushed the issue a few times, a different nurse came and quickly went through things.  It was obvious that she had other things on her mind such as talking to her boss about her schedule.  But, finally about 6:15, we were ushered out to the car.
          If any major surgery can be a good experience, than I would say in summary that my LGH experience was fine.  I hope that I never have to go back again, but if I did, LGH would still be my choice.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

From My Heart

          Life changes quickly and unexpectedly.  It's good we don't know what lies before us. We just need to trust the Lord for each moment of our lives.
         For a few years I just haven't felt right.  Numerous tests, visits to doctors and specialists, and even two back surgeries did not seem to find the cause.  I really began to think that it was a mental issue.  I did not enjoy being with folks and probably wasn't always a friendly guy to be around.
          Several months ago I began to have burning across my chest.  We felt it was coming from my arthritis.  I spent much time with a heating pad and tylenol.  One Sunday afternoon this returned, along with increased blood pressure, so we headed for the emergency room.  There they did all the normal tests for heart attacks and didn't find anything wrong.  They released me with the suggestion that I should talk to my family doctor and possibly have a stress test since it had been six years since my last one.
          Two of my family doctors didn't think I had a heart problem, especially since all my EKG's were fine and I didn't have typical symptoms.  But they sent me to my cardiologist who said the same thing.  In fact he felt my problem was more likely anxiety and he suggested some things to help with this.  But to be safe he sent me for an echo and a chemical stress test.
         I had both tests on a Friday and they sent me home thinking all was fine.  But on Monday I received a call that I needed to come back right away since there were some "minor" problems.  I saw another cardiologist who also felt that my heart was fine but recommended a heart cath just to be sure.
          So the Tuesday after the record snow fall we headed to the hospital for the heart cat. I thought that maybe I would need a stent which they would do at the same time.  However, when they concluded the cath I was told that I would need to see the heart surgeons since I had numerous blockages.  I needed major open heart surgery.  We were stunned.  They wanted to send me home until I could schedule with the surgeons but we felt that might be too dangerous.  So they admitted me.  Several hours later I was told that they could do the surgery the next morning.  They said there was a 99% of success since my heart appeared to be in good shape.  I didn't want to go home to worry about it so I told them to go ahead.
          On Wednesday I had about four hours of surgery.  They broke my breastbone and at some time had me connected to a heart and lung machine.  They ended up doing five bypasses.  They brought me back over a six hour period and I don't recall any of that time.  I was moved to ICU where I stayed for a day.
           Then recovery began and I was doing fine until I developed a rhythm problem which they say happens in about 30% of such surgeries.  So  my time was filled by nurses taking vitals and introduction of new meds.  It was very discouraging and boring.  Then when they felt I was stabilized and they were getting ready to send me home, my heart decided to act up once again - for three hours.  So they kept me two more days for more meds, vitals and observation.  But, finally, after ten days, I was allowed to go home.
          Now I will share more about my continual  recovery in future blogs, but so far it has been a real challenge, including  a problem with a mistake in medications, new pains and some unexpected difficult side effects, including numbness, pain and weakness in my left hand and arm.  This has also been discouraging and an MRI might be needed in a few weeks.
          I believe that the Lord is in control and we have spent many hours with Him during this time.  And I believe that He allows these things to happen to teach us lessons we need to learn.  Unfortunately, I still don't know what lesson is being taught this time.  But I know that someday I will know.
         I have, however, been reminded of the value of prayer and friendships.  I have been touched by the many who have praying and the many cards of encouragement which I have received.  Please don't quit - we need your prayers and encouragement now as much as ever.

Friday, February 12, 2016

"Snowed" By God's Provision

          The snow began falling Friday night.  The predictions were 10 to 16 inches.  By Saturday morning it fell faster - 16 to 20 inches now predicted.  But by the afternoon the intensity increased and the winds came.  When we got up Sunday morning we found 30 inches of drifting snow.  It turned out to be the all time record for one snowfall in our area.
       It was beautiful but we were snowed in.  I was scheduled for a heart cath on Tuesday and we didn't know how we were ever going to get out.  With my potential problems and Dianne's pacemaker we couldn't use our shovels or our good snow blower.  We had somebody who had promised to come but he wasn't equipped to handle this much snow and we never heard from him at all.  I felt helpless but we did the one thing that we could - we prayed about it.
          Later Sunday morning Dianne looked out front and saw somebody digging  a path up our driveway.  It turned out that it was our neighbor, Tom.  He lives next door with his girlfriend and we didn't know him well enough to ask for his help.  But he was coming to see if we were all right.  I yelled to him and asked if he would be willing to use our snow blower to at least clear enough of our drive to get our car out of the garage and to the street.  He was willing to do that and soon we at least had a way to get to the street, if it didn't drift shut.  I paid him and thanked him for being an answer to prayer.
           On Monday we still needed some of the drifting snow removed as well as what the township plow had dropped at the end of our drive.  And with only half the drive open there was no way we could get our second car out if we had to.  Dianne decided to try and use the snow blower to clear some of it.  I went along with her to help her with instructions.  But it just wasn't working.  It was too much snow for her to handle.           
           But then we saw another neighbor appear with a small Bobcat. Suddenly he was in our drive and was clearing the other half of the drive which included drifts.  When he was done he stopped and we met Doug, a single man who owns a tree service.  He had just moved in and we had never meet him before.  He had brought a Bobcat home to clear his steep drive.  He wouldn't take anything for his work and we reminded him that he, too, was an answer to prayer.
          Two problems remained - getting to our mailbox and getting our second car dug out with a path to our propane tank.  Later that day answer number three appeared.  Our one neighbor has a steep drive which a snow blower and the Bobcat were not able to clear because of the steepness and amount of snow.  But an area contractor showed up with his plow to help them and he also dug out our mailbox enough that the postman could get to it.  Answer number three.
           The worst was taken care of, but a day or two later my son Ken stopped by from work and dug out our second car and a path to the tank.  The Lord took care of it all for us.
          And so, once again we have seen the faithfulness of the Lord in our lives.  I didn't realize at the time how serious my heart problems really were.  If I had tried to do it I probably wouldn't have been here to write this blog today.
         God is good - all the time.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


          It was seven years ago this morning that I found my father, apparently moments after the Lord had taken him home.  It was an experience that I will never forget yet one that the Lord had prepared me for.  And in the weeks ahead, as the Executor of his estate, I learned so many things I hadn't known about the life he had lived.
          Now I knew there were many things that my father and I had in common.   We had both taught math in high school and college.  We both graduated from Susquehanna University.  We both earned our Masters Degrees. We both served on CMBC Boards and on Berean Bible School/Pinebrook Jr. College Boards and on Elder Boards.  We both served as Financial Secretary and Sunday School Superintendent of our church. 
          But there were a number of things that we had in common that I didn't really know completely when he was alive.  For example, I didn't know that he also used to write for newspapers when he was younger.  In fact we both had at one time been employed by the Sunbury Daily Item.  Now my writing for newspapers lasted many more years, probably about 35, but it was something that we had in common.
          Dad also was a pioneer in that he was the first person in our denomination who was allowed to play football in college.  His stepfather pastor allowed him to do this despite the fact that such a thing was frowned upon in those days.  Now I never played college football, but I also was involved with the Susquehanna football program by traveling with them for four years as official statistician.  So being involved with SU football was also something we had in common.
          I also found out that Dad was a high school coach, coaching both track and football.  Now my brother, Terry, was a high school football and wrestling coach so the three of us had that in common.  I don't know if Dad did any coaching before he began teaching, but I doubt that he did.  Not only weren't there many little league programs in those years, but if there were any they were probably interrupted by World War II.
          I actually began coaching little league baseball when I was in high school when I helped coach the Lititz Teener team.  My brother played on that team and thanks to a great bunch of talented athletes we won the league championship. While in college I helped my uncle, Theoren Gaugler, coach the Mosquitoes, a much younger group of boys.  Our big challenge here was trying to keep the attention of the boys in the outfield when things like puddles and dandelions caught their attention.  But it was a fun experience.
          When I began to teach I helped coach the junior high track team and that was an experience as well.  We would have about 100 junior high boys with just two coaches.  Later I moved up to the senior high where I worked with the jumping and throwing events.  I had no personal experience with these events and did quite a bit of reading to prepare.  After a few years of coaching track I changed to timing the running events at meets which I did probably for about 20 years.
          Basketball was another coaching challenge for me.  At least I had some experience here since I was involved as statistician and manager for Susquehanna's team for four years and I absorbed much watching practices and games.  My coaching was with the seventh and eighth graders and was a very special experience.  One year our team was undefeated and featured Wally Walker who later went on to play professional ball and play on two NBA championship teams.  He ended his career by serving as general manager of the Seattle Supersonics.  That was probably the highlight of my unremarkable coaching career.
         Oh yes, there was one more coaching experience to mention.  I was traveling with the junior high basketball team as score keeper when I learned that the cheerleaders were going to be disbanded because they no longer had a coach.  For some crazy reason I volunteered to coach them the remainder of the year so that they could continue.  It wasn't too difficult for the games, but at the end of the season there was a competition, and we were entered.  The girls worked hard and did an excellent job.  I thought that they had won.  But, I think that they were hurt by the female judges who wouldn't accept that a male was involved in this traditional female activity.  Intolerance can work both ways.
          So I have many good memories of coaching experiences and I am sure that my dad's experiences somehow paved the way for me to do the same.  I only wish that I could listen to him share about these experiences.  I do remember how, since he didn't own a car, he had to walk to practices and take busses and even trains as he went to scout other teams.  I also remember going with him to basketball games when he ran the clock for those games.  And that is something else that we had in common and maybe I'll talk more about that in a future blog.  But certainly his experiences probably helped my brother and I get involved in similar ways.