Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kobacker House (Guest Blogger LTB)

I wrote this blog before Rob passed away.  You might have some interest in reading it.  
11/5/2012 8:16 am

Kobacker House (Guest Blogger LTB) 

Rob is doing some time over at the Kobacker house. What is the Kobacker House you might be wondering?  Why the Kobacker is this fabulous house you can visit if you have terminal cancer.  They only allow 24 patients there at once.  It looks more like resort then a hospital.  There are no machines to plug you up to.  There are no IV's. The nursing staff are all the kindest people you would ever want to meet.  The staffs job is to keep you pain free in your last days.

Which brings us to the very hard reality that Rob is in his last days.  I am about to lose my best friend of 21 years.  Miranda is going to lose her very beloved father.  Shannon and Bob are going to lose their only son. Sarah is going to lose her only brother.  The rest of you reading this are going to  lose one of the greatest guys you've ever known.  Rob was the first one there to help you fix your car, or your computer.  If we had it he would let you borrow it.  I can' count the times we stopped so Rob could help perfect strangers change the tire.  He is the good Samaritan. 

Rob is a fighter though. Rob's doctor came in a few days ago and told us his body was starting to shut down. I called his family, and got everybody very worked up, only to have them tell me the next day that he was doing good and we should expect some kind of recovery. Since then he has had good days and bad days. They are still not talking about him going home. His doctors use vague terms like "maybe in a few days once we get his medication worked out." It's always a few days away though. They are constantly changing his meds.

I  can't say if he  has days, weeks, or even months still in front of him. However, whatever time he has left is not going to be like the last 28 months. Motorcycle trips are off the table unless he can figure out how to attach his oxygen tank to his bike. Miranda and I want to thank you all for your support and good wishes. The nurses all laugh at how many people have stopped by for visits and how many phone calls he gets.  He is one very loved man they assure me.  Don't I know it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rob's Cancer in Baseball Terms (guest blogger LTB)

A baseball season is a long season.  Training starts in February and runs into  April. From April to October there are 162 regular games. If you are  a good player and on a lucky team you will be playing in extra games in October. It's hard work. It takes a toll on your body to play everyday.  The players families keep everything else going while their loved ones are engage in this epic battles of brain and brawn. When you get to October players and their families are exhausted.  

When Rob showed up for spring training in February, nobody gave him very good odds to make it to the playoffs. But his bat was hot when he needed it to be and his defense is the best in the game. It looked like he was going to go all the way at the All Star Break.  

He hasn't disappointed his fans all season long.  He makes sure he always has a smile for them, and he always tell them how good he is feeling. However, things have  started slowing down for him in September. He has been good enough the rest of the season to earn a spot as a Division Champion. The question still remains: Can he make  it to the World Series? If so:  Is Cancer too good of team to defeat?

When you're playing baseball in October anything can happen.  Every game counts, you can't afford a single loss.    This ain't no bush league, brah, these are the Champs. Rob's rival Cancer has been getting stronger all season. Cancer plays like they want it.

Rob is standing in the October of his battle against cancer. He has played long, and hard, his team mates respect him, but the injuries are starting to add up. He's been benched all week and his team of experts are concerned that he might be on the DL for the rest of the playoffs. 

If you've got Rob on your fantasy team, now is the time to start cheering for him. If you have ever wanted an autographed baseball or a private interview you should reach out now. When this baseball season ends, Rob's looking at retirement. He hasn't said the words yet, but all the signs point to it. 

In other words, Rob is rounding third and headed for home. Don't lose the opportunity to meet him at home plate and pat him on the back for a job well done.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. Go Reds!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Know Your Walrus - Week 4 - Your Most Significant Childhood Memory

August 13, 2012 - Know Your Walrus - Week 4 - Your Most Significant Childhood Memory

Wow, my most significant childhood memory.  That conjures up all kinds of different scenarios; good memories, bad memories, traumatic events, tragedies, etc.  I could come up with one for any of those.  The memory that I'm going to pick involves a moment of personal triumph and ingenuity born out of complete stupidity.

My dad's uncle owned a cottage on a lake in Michigan called Ackerson Lake.  As far as lakes go it isn't huge, but the fishing is good and it size is capable of sustaining leisure activities such as water skiing, tubing, etc.  Occasionally my family would have an opportunity to visit the cottage and be able to enjoy what it had to offer.  One of the big things that sticks out in my mind is that there were eight boats.  There was a ski boat, a pontoon party boat, a bass boat, a pedal boat, several rowboats with or without outboard motors and a few canoes.  The cottage wasn't huge so it always seemed excessive to me that there would be eight boats for four people (because usually is was just Mom, Dad, Sarah, and me).  

So I don't remember the exact occasion, but at some point my dad and I went up to Ackerson Lake for a father/son weekend.  It might have been spring break, it might have just been a weekend during the summer. Like I said, I don't really remember what the occasion was but I do know that it was early in the season and in fact it was way too cold to swim in the lake.  I was somewhere in the middle school age range 6th/7th/8th grade.  Anyway the last couple of times we'd been up there my dad had started letting me take out a rowboat with an outboard motor onto the lake all by myself.  I remember vividly my disbelief that dad was going to let me go out on the lake unsupervised. I'd usually bring some fishing gear with me and throw that in the boat but by the time I got in control of something with a motor I kind of got tunnel vision. I was so enamored with the thought of being under my own power with a motorized vehicle that I wouldn't ever end up fishing and I'd just cruise around the lake with that tiny 10HP Evinrude motor.

Well I must have done something dramatic or impressive to earn my dad's trust or maybe it was just because mom wasn't around, but on this trip he decided that he'd let me take the bass boat out all by myself.  Imagine my complete shock and amazement.  I was going to get to take out a boat with a steering wheel all by my lonesome.  I couldn't have been any more excited.  As I recall, I took the boat out a few times without incident and just had a really enjoyable time cruising the lake much faster than I was used to.

It was shortly after breakfast one day and I was really itching to get out on the lake and drive the bass boat around.  Dad was moving kind of sluggishly so I think he was happy to let me go out and do something that'd keep me out of his hair.  So I grabbed the key to the boat and off I went down to the dock.  I got the motor warmed up, unmoored the boat and was out on the water in about 10 minutes flat.  I headed straight out to the middle of the lake and started driving in circles.  After about 10-15 minutes of super fun boating the motor started to cough and sputter and then nothing.  It was dead.  Well it turns out that in my haste to leave that morning I forgot to check the fuel level on the gas tank.  I was completely out of fuel.

I had no idea what to do. So here I am in middle school stranded in the middle of a lake on a boat with no way of communicating with anybody.  The first thing I tried was paddling with the one oar that was on the boat, but since the bass boat was so wide I just ended up going in circles.  The one thing that hadn't dawned on me was that there was a trolling motor on the front of the boat.  As I said earlier, it must've been early in the boating season because it wasn't hooked up, but the battery was on board.  Mind you, I'd never used a trolling motor before and had no idea how to hook it up but I figured "Hey how hard can this be?"  So this motor had a foot pedal for for steering and throttle.  The pedal was hooked up to the motor, but not the battery.  I had no tools or way to fasten the cables so I took the red cable and touched it to the red post and the the black cable to the black post.  Since I didn't have any way to fasten the cables, I just stepped on them with my foot to hold them in place.  Then, using my hand I manipulated the throttle and steering pedal and got myself pointed in the right direction.  After about an hour I finally made it back to the dock.

I went up to the cottage and let dad know what had happened and he said he'd been sitting and watching me from the bay window the whole time.  He wanted to see if I could figure it out myself.

This experience was such a huge confidence booster for me.  It let me know that I could be put in a crisis situation, analyze my surroundings and come up with a solution to my problem.  I'm so grateful to my dad for NOT coming out and rescuing me.  It was one of those moments that made me feel smart beyond my years.  When I think back on it, it wasn't really that monumental of a deal that I figured out a solution but it's still one of those things that I carry with me as a big lifetime triumph.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Update & Hospice Lowdown

08/12/2012 - Well, as I've been told repeatedly, I'm not doing a very good job keeping my "Know Your Walrus" blog project going.  I've had a few things go on recently that have thrown me off track. I haven't forgotten about it but sometimes priorities change.  Such is the case with the last month.

So July started off fantastically. July 1 through July 5, my friend Ryan and I decided to ride our motorcycles to Memphis, TN so that we could visit Graceland. It was five days and four evenings of great rides, good camping, and good company.  Sure, we didn't go the most direct routes and actually ended up riding 500 more miles than we needed to, but the purpose of the trip was more for the ride itself than it was the destination.  Ryan's rigid 1974 Kawasaki KZ400 was a complete champ and aside from the fuel tank being "volumetrically challenged" performed with flying colors.  Impressions: Memphis is kind of a dump and the roads into/out of Memphis are in horrid shape.  The ride down and back was (although really hot) super fun.

After returning from Memphis, I rested up for a day and then was out on the road again.  My friend Pat and I went to Normal, IL on Sunday July 8 so we could go see Drag The River play at Firehouse Pizza.  I'm not going to lie, the turnout for the show was pretty lousy.  That being said, it was a great show because it basically degenerated into Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass trading acoustic duties and taking requests from the audience.  It was a quite the low key intimate affair and I was really glad to have made the trip. Drag The River was one of the only bands that I had never seen live that I REALLY wanted to.  So now, I can scratch that off of my list.

Next came a quick trip with the family focused on baseball.  Laela had hatched up a little scheme to get us to four baseball parks in four days. So on Thursday July 19 we tossed Miranda into the driver's seat and pointed her south as we headed to Bowling Green Kentucky to see the Bowling Green Hot Rods (single A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). From there we went to St. Louis to see the Cardnials vs. Cubs. We then went to Louisville to see the Bats and followed that up with a stop in Cincinnati on the way home to see the Reds play.  It was a lot of fun (other than the Cardinals winning).

So now fast forward to the following Wednesday.  I'd been grouchy and sore all over for a couple of days and I couldn't seem to not be fatigued.  I took my temperature which was high and by all indications I was coming down with a case of pneumonia.  So I called my oncologist and the next thing you know, BAM I've got hospice care coming to my house to treat me.  I didn't think I was in that bad of shape but apparently I am.  Hospice isn't as awful or as ominous as it sounds.  It just means that I've got some extra equipment in my house to help me cope with some of my symptoms and that I have a nurse that comes and visits me a couple of times a week.  So they brought me a hospital bed, an oxygen machine, a bedside table, a wheelchair, a bunch of portable oxygen tanks, and any meds that I need.  I've now got a new point of contact should I need anything.  If I need meds or for the nurse to visit me I just call hospice and they arrange everything for me.  So I must have nipped the pneumonia in the bud because as soon as my course of anti-biotics was completed I felt much better.  

That's basically hospice care in a nutshell....I just have someone new to call for my primary health care needs.  The sky isn't falling and there is no need to make a big deal out of it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Know Your Walrus - Week 3 - Religion

June 26, 2012 - This week the "Know Your Walrus" project focuses on religion.  It's nice that I'm getting most of the thorny subjects out of the way quickly.  I know this too can be a really divisive topic so I'd again like to state up front that these are simply my opinions.  I don't know that I'm right, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind or challenge any beliefs. As I said last week, feel free to comment or disagree but please keep it civil.

If you read last week's piece on death, I'll bet you can see where this one is going from a mile away. The simple answer is that I don't believe in anything.  That may be intellectually lazy but it is the truth.  If guess if I had really strong convictions regarding the topic, I'd pick a side.  I don't see it like that though.  For some reason the cosmos has not seen fit to bestow upon me the gift of faith.  I don't necessarily think that I'm an atheist.  I just don't think that there is any form of a higher power or an afterlife.  I don't think there is a greater power watching over things here on Earth (except maybe Predator drones and spy satellites).  I just don't understand how there could be one "right" religion and that all of the other ones are wrong.  I also don't understand how no matter how good of a person you are or how many good deeds to do that if you don't believe X, Y, and Z you are going to go to some form of hell.  That just doesn't seem right to me, but I guess that's why I'm not a deity.

All of that being said, I was raised Catholic and am very thankful for that.  I believe that my upbringing really helped me tune my moral compass and ingrained in me a sense of right and wrong.  For as long as I can remember I've tried to live my life by treating people the way I'd like to be treated and I attribute that to my parents and my upbringing.  I don't know at what point it was that I stopped believing in God.  I do remember the first time that I was genuinely conflicted about my faith.  I vividly recall that when I was in eighth grade that I didn't want to participate in sacrament of confirmation.  It wasn't out of a sense of rebellion or disrespect as a matter of fact it was quite the opposite. It was my understanding that confirmation is when you as an adult stand up and reaffirm the beliefs that you were baptized under.  I knew in my heart that I was not 100% sure of the beliefs and teachings; therefore, it seemed to me that being confirmed but not believing was grossly disrespectful to those who do believe. Wouldn't lying about it be worse than waiting until you were ready? 

Catholicism is the only religion with which I have any true experience.  I send my daughter to a Catholic school because I want her exposed to the same teachings as I was in the hope that she will learn the basis of some of my better personality traits, but I want her to make up her own mind.  I can't presume to tell her what to believe, but I want her to be able to draw her own conclusions and follow her heart (and receive and exemplary education in the process).  

Even though I can't honestly say that I'm a believer; I still sometimes attend Catholic mass.  That may seem hypocritical, but I go because I find it comforting.  The nice thing about the mass is that you can walk into a Catholic church anywhere and it's going to be the same. There's something to be said for the ritual of the Catholic mass.  It gives me some time to quietly reflect and have a moment of peace.  For whatever the reason, going to mass gives me a feeling of calm that I don't get anywhere else.

I guess the point is, I just don't know.  I can't be shown evidence that god exists; conversely, I can't be shown evidence that god doesn't exist.  I'm certainly not anti-religion.  While it's true that religion has caused a lot of grief over the ages; it is also responsible for countless acts of charity and kindness.  How does one oppose organizations that perform so much good in the world?  As for me, I'm just going to continue to be the best person I can be. I'm going to treat others the way I want to be treated and I'm going to try to make the most of the time I have here because it is the only time I've got.