Dear Suddenly Senior Reader,
Please accept my apologies; I meant to write this weeks ago. Instead, Carolyn and I have been living a calamity.
Our nightmare began with two psychotic events while Carolyn was still at Moffitt Cancer Clinic undergoing a complex stem cell transplant to treat her cancer. She was madly manic, caused most likely by an elaborate concoction of pain medication.
Problem was, once home her mania continued off and on, somewhat crazier and more destructive each time, forcing now frail Carolyn into an abysmal psych ward at one point.
It’s been hell, made worse when both her current oncologists ignored my pleas, calls, and faxes for help.
Once Carolyn returned bald from the hospital, Frank had all his hair cut. This is Carolyn’s pick of recent photos together.
Finally today, after six of the most wretched weeks in either of our lives, my Carolyn is back! I have the opportunity to write you.
This will be our last column for a while; Carolyn and I are taking the summer off.
(Newspapers carrying Suddenly Senior will pick up some of the hundreds of timeless columns linked to “Find It Here…” at http://www.suddenlysenior.com.)
After almost ten years of writing and producing Suddenly Senior, the weekly jokes, etc., we need a break. My heart attack and Carolyn’s cancer seem God’s way of insisting that we slow down and grow up. Well, slow down, anyway.
Even now, two months after my coronary, I have never felt so exhausted. Two operations earlier this month to alleviate severe back pain have all but incapacitated me. Now, while I have every intension of returning to what we used to call “normal,” I’m beginning to imagine how Job might have felt.
No boils yet, fortunately.
Meanwhile, Carolyn’s healing well physically, but she’s lost 50 pounds. Put the two of us together and we still don’t amount to a mouth of spit when it comes to doing stuff. Doctors tell us that by August she’ll live a normal life (for her), without restrictions on her diet and environment.
Alas, no more skydiving for a while.
That we are alive and healing is testament to all of you who included us in their thoughts and prayers. We are so grateful.
Grateful, too for all the donations sent in last month’s fundraiser. Our First Annual Plea for Money to Keep Suddenly Senior Alive so far has netted almost $8,000, mostly in 10s and 20s, plus many priceless “Thanks, Suddenly Senior” notes.
I know the financial situation in which many of you find yourselves; I understand what your check often sent via Postal Money Order is truly worth. And I thank each and every one of you for your “putting your money where your mouth is” vote of confidence in Carolyn and me. Soon you will be hearing from us personally.
Starting next September we’ll use the $8,000 and whatever else comes in to pay part-time techies for coding pages and all the other mind-numbing work in boring areas of the Internet about which no one has a clue, especially me.
Frank took this photo of Carolyn, made it a poster, and plans to give rights to the recently formed Chemo Brain Foundation to help raise funds.
I can’t spend 12-hour days on such drudgery anymore. Life’s way too short.
For these last nine years we’ve worked day and night on this project, taking no salary, working only for medical insurance and travel opportunities. And for a time it was fine and fun. But it became a job, the last thing in the world Carolyn and I wanted.
When we return in the fall, I want to devote our time to research and writing. This means that I must find volunteers savvy in the convoluted ways of Medicare and Social Security to answer reader questions. Right now, I spend about two to three hours every day attempting to unravel reader problems with such stuff. I can’t do that anymore, either.
Who would have guessed that a Website about little else than the antics of a couple of unknown codgers in Florida would have accumulated three million readers asking for more?
What kind of a site is that?
Maybe it’s not a site at all. Could be the world’s first blog, back in 1999. (Someone check that out.)
Whatever Suddenly Senior is, you’re a big part of it. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
P.S. We will be sending the occasional column this summer, the first of which will introduce you to the ultimate “America West” vacation: Navajo Land, the Grand Canyon, and a visit back to the ‘50s via Route 66. It’s from a trip last fall, perhaps the last we’ll take for a while.