Saturday, January 29, 2011


Hi there. Maybe you thought I was done blogging. :)

Sally and I are still here, and we had a fun day. First, we went to ASAP print shop and ordered copies of photos of Tank. Terry had this great color photo of Tank sitting in front of a restaurant, all casual, all cute. Maybe two years ago. God, he's beautiful. He looks SO relaxed and mellow and present. I tumble into those feelings when I look at the photo. So, I had 120 copies made on photo paper. It's about 8 x 9 inches. I can't tell the copies from the original. I'll distribute them to Nola and Tank's kids, grandkids, siblings, nieces, and nephews, plus a few others I can think of. If you know someone else who might want one, let me know.

People in Morro Bay know Tank. When I picked the order up at ASAP, an elderly woman who worked there brought me the box of photos. English wasn't her cradle language, and she seemed nervous when she said to me, "Is your...husband...okay?" It should have occurred to me that the people there would know Tank, since he has a LOT of copies made. I said gently, "Tank's my dad, and he passed away the day before yesterday." She gasped, and turned away, sobbing. She walked away from me, to hide her feelings. It was poignant, and there was no one to comfort her, because the other employees were teenage boys, and I couldn't get to her because she was behind the counter. She gathered herself, and returned to the counter to talk to me about him. She wanted a lot of information, and clearly adored him. She asked how old he was, and I said 78, and she said "So young!" :) Dear, huh.

The middle-aged man next to me saw what was going on, and showed some curiosity and concern. What a friendly town! I opened the box and showed him the photo, and he said, "I know him! I've seen him around!" I have a feeling that if we stayed for another few days, that same scenario would play out over and over again.

In fact, when Terry and I were on the way home from the hospital on Thursday, right after Tank passed away, Terry wanted to stop at the liquor store to get boxes to pack up Tank's stuff. I walked into Bottle Liquor, and said to the young man behind the counter, "Do you know Tank Nelson?" "I sure do!" he said. He said his name was Nick, and he asked how Tank was doing. I told him that Tank had just passed away, and he looked startled, and maybe dizzy, and he grabbed the counter. "No!" he said. "No!" I was a little surprised; it seemed so deeply felt. "God, I loved Tank," he said. "You sweetheart," I said in a consoling tone, and a customer put his arm around my shoulder and told me he was sorry for my loss. "Tank was a good guy," the customer said. When I asked for boxes, Nick told me to take all the boxes I wanted.

Today after ASAP, Sally and I headed for Guadalupe, about an hour from Morro Bay. We had a terrific lunch at Larry's (I think it's actually called Guadalupe Restaurant), and after we asked our waiter if he knew Tank. He furrowed his brow, and we said something like, "A big guy, from Morro Bay, comes in here with his wife." He knew exactly who we meant, and recited their order. :) We told him of Tank's passing, and he talked about how friendly Tank was, and how much his mom and dad (the owners) liked Tank. We went next door to the Masatani Market, where Tank always buys Hershey bars after lunch. Mr. Masatani wasn't in, but his son was, and knew Tank, and referred to him as The Writer. The son took us back to Larry's, where his elderly mother was chatting with Mrs. Larry. The two women joined me and Sally and the Masatani son on the sidewalk in front of the building, and we chatted for about ten minutes. It was such a treat! They knew so many things about Tank, and asked questions, and offered condolences. Once, Tank wrote a column about the restaurant and the grocery store, which share a building on the main drag in Guadalupe. All of them were warm and affectionate and clearly moved by Tank's passing. Sally and I drove away, beaming.

We didn't exactly get lost on the way back to Morro Bay, but we did a lot of Unscheduled Site-Seeing. A couple hour's worth. We arrived just before the print shop closed, and we missed out on the farmers' market and True Grit, and that was okay.

The day before, we'd been at Terry's place, and she approached me and Sally with a serious look and said, "I'm afraid there will be no inheritance from your father." :) We tried not to giggle. I tried to arrange my face in a way that would suggest both devastation and resignation. "Say it ain't so..." Minutes later, she reported that there'd been something like 36 missed calls that day, and as many the previous day. People who heard the news stood out front looking dismayed and confused. Jim from Spencer's came to the door, and I gave him the cribbage board, and he hugged me longer and tighter than I would have predicted. He said he would spread the word, since there wouldn't be an obituary in the local paper. Surfaces in the house are covered with notes and letters and flowers and pies and fresh fruit. People keep calling. I've been thinking about how there are things that we inherit other than money.

Two of Terry's daughters flew in from Georgia today, and they're staying with her. We visited them briefly tonight. They were very sweet. Terry seems to be holding up very well, and the presence of her daughters seems to have calmed her. Sally and I boxed up everything of Tank's. Everything, really. We're bringing most of it home, but will need to return with a truck for a desk, a small table, and lots of paintings, wall hangings, and posters. One such masterpiece is a white piece of poster board on which Jack drew in black and red Sharpie. It's priceless, and Tank hung it in a place of honor. Nearby is a small photo of Elvis, Jack, and Carter taken at Kaycee's wedding. Cutie-pie's. The stuff we're bringing home is enchanting to me and Sally: a Laker poster from decades ago, a little gadget that prints Tank's name and address, three pairs of glasses, a flower arrangement made of shells that Elvis might like, a jotted-down Emerson quote about how every time you do one thing, you miss out on doing another thing. Treasures like that.

Did I mention that Terry arranged to have half of Tank's ashes scattered in Morro Bay, and the other half sent home with us to Utah? The box will be ready on Tuesday or Wednesday, and whoever picks up the desk and stuff will also get the ashes. It'd be fun to scatter some in San Pedro, too. Sally said that at the crematorium, they said that the longshoreman's union pays for the cremation. Nice, huh. Also, because Tank was in the Navy, we'll score a flag.

Last Sunday, when Kelly and I were with Tank at Bayside, while he was still feeling okay, Tank said, "They're making a new Bourne movie." :) "I love Bourne movies," I said. Kelly agreed. Tank said, "I like the music." We talked Bourne for a while. "I read that Matt Damon isn't in it," I said, and Tank and I shrugged, 'cause that wasn't going to stop us from seeing it, despite our love for Matt. A couple of years ago when I was visiting, I mentioned that I'd seen the third movie only once, and I left for a while (I might have been with Peggy), and when I returned, Tank had rented the movie from Blockbuster, and the three of us watched it. "They don't do random."

Also that Sunday, we talked about how fun it would be for Tank to visit Utah when he got to feeling better. Not ALL better...just somewhat better. I suggested that he stay for a good long time, like a month, and visit everyone, and not feel rushed. "You can live at my house," I said, grinning. "In the basement?" he asked, sounding oddly hopeful and excited (given the state of the basement). Sure, I said. Anywhere, I said.

It sure has been a pleasure hearing from so many people about their feelings for Tank, and their memories. Thank you.

While Sally and Terry were at the crematorium, I walked to the beach. Well, not all the way to the beach, but to some benches that overlook the beach, a couple of blocks from the house. I wore Tank's straw hat, which is half jaunty, half dapper. We're bringing the hat home, and we'll take turns wearing it (why don't I go first). I was sitting on a bench, watching the ocean, and an elderly couple sat down on a bench a few yards away. They seemed relaxed and unhurried, with a dog. They wore the full-coverage cotton layers that I'm used to seeing in Morro Bay on elderly folks. They wore hats. They seemed happy with each other...easy with each other. I thought, How lucky they are. To be alive, and to have each other, and that cute dog. To be in such a beautiful place, and to not be in a hurry to get somewhere else.

A funny thing happened today. My regular blog is at love-shall-not, but I hadn't been there for a while, and I went to loveshallnot instead. It's not a very active blog, and the only posting is the following Carl Sandburg poem, which made me cry. It's called "At a Window."

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

One more thing. At the Living Planet aquarium in Sandy, there's a wheel that you can spin to see the many things that can happen to a salmon. Elvis and I love that wheel. He climbs up to spin it, and I read (or now he reads) the fate of the salmon, based on where the wheel stops. We eagerly wait for the winning stop, which is Live to Reproduce. When we score that, I grab Elvis under the arms and spin him around in a circle (away from the wheel and then back to the wheel), and we squeal: "Live to reproduce!" It's fun, as you can imagine. But I was thinking about that with Tank the other day. There was a time when living to reproduce was the ONLY thing that mattered. I mean, even now, it's a fairly big deal. While in the hospital, I kept thinking of Tank's spawn. :) I know that living to reproduce isn't the challenge it once was, but, still...

I was thinking of Kelly today, and the last time he was at the hospital, before leaving for Utah. As I recall, he gave Tank's foot a little snuggle and said, "See you later, Big Guy." I can't SWEAR he said that, but it seems to me that he said that. I hope he doesn't mind that I mentioned it. It made me grin adoringly.

I hope this finds everyone well. Much love to Norma, as she recovers. Sally and I are probably going to head home tomorrow.

Friday, January 28, 2011

1/28/2011, Later

Both Dr. Kissell and Dr. Bagarry came by. Both looked concerned. Dr. Bagarry said that we had some options. They could treat Tank with antibiotics (assuming an infection), and attempt to get more information by doing an MRI and a lumbar puncture. Dr. Bagarry said, though, that at this point he was certain that Tank would not walk again. He said that he could treat the infection, and other things that popped up, but that it was a bad sign that the seizures had "pushed through" the seizure medication, and that they would probably continue to be a problem. He said that at the very best we could expect Tank to live for another few weeks, lying in bed, and perhaps talking some, and perhaps recognizing people, but probably not. The other option was giving Tank extra anti-seizure medication which would serve to keep him in a very relaxed and seizure-free state. Morphine would be given if he seemed to be in pain (but it probably wouldn't be necessary). Doing this, he would probably live for another day or two, and pass peacefully. He would seem to be sleeping, and--at the end--would experience "agonal breathing" (sp?), which is a sudden and more-labored breathing, that starts and stops fairly quickly.

Kelly wasn't there, and Terry was opting for the "comfort care." I didn't see the harm in antibiotics, an MRI, and a lumbar puncture (Dr. Bagarry said that they were all routine, and could be easily accomplished). Dr. Bagarry left briefly, and Terry and I spoke with Dr. Kissell. Terry asked him what he would do if it were his wife, and he took a deep breath and said, "I'd let her pass." I appreciated his frankness, and maybe I was overly influenced by his words, but I changed my mind, and voted for "comfort care." When Dr. Bagarry returned, he quickly accepted our decision. He told us that he had been Tank's doctor for a long time, and had been with him during the lymphoma/stomach/stent ordeal of several months ago. He said that most patients would not have survived that, and that he hadn't expected Tank to survive, but that Tank had been very strong, and very motivated. I asked him if the time since then felt to him like an unexpected gift, like something extra, and he said yes.

All the medical professionals left for a while, and Terry and I were tearful. I'm fairly sure Kelly wasn't there. Up until that moment, it seemed like maybe Tank would get better. Not all the way better, but somewhat better. Suddenly, it seemed like his home-visit with Mike and Peggy was in the distant past.

I called Kelly and told him to return to the hospital, and I called Sally and Peggy and gave them the news. All three readily agreed with the decision made by me and Terry. I didn't encourage Peggy and Sally to join us, but rather to remember Tank the way he was the last time they'd seen him. Of course, it was up to them.

I'm sitting here at the Motel 6 with Sally right now. We went to The Whale's Tail for dinner, and had fish and chips. It's right next to the Morro Bay Theater where True Grit is playing. About a month ago, Tank said he really wanted to see True Grit when it came out (he was at Bayside). Sally said that it had already come out, and he said that maybe he'd be able to catch it while it was still in theaters, or see it later on video. I think Sally and I are going to the matinee tomorrow, after the Farmers' Market, after lunch in Guadalupe. We're honoring Tank. :) Really.

Today, I grabbed something from Tank's home office and brought it to the motel with us. It's a cute sign that we've got propped up next to me. It's a little piece of old wood...maybe a chunk of fence post, about 15 inches by 4 inches, and 3/4 inch thick. It's sawed at one end, and jagged at the other end. He probably found it on a walk. He's written "Laugh lots!" on it, with a Sharpie.

Peggy is good at making me laugh, and one of the times we were talking that day, she accused me of wanting to be alone with Tank when he died, like I was alone with Grandma Fern. She called me a Death Hog. :) I told her I wanted a prettier name, like Death Princess...a name that sounded a little less fat. She said no: Death Hog.

The nurses started the Atavan (sp?) drip that would keep Tank from having seizures and would keep him nice and relaxed and comfy. The doctor described it as over-riding the fight-or-flight response, so the body didn't produce epinephrine (which would keep it in an agitated state). I didn't know how quickly things would proceed, so I asked Terry for a moment alone with Tank, to talk.

Soon, they moved us to another room, so that we would have more privacy. It was a room with two beds, but the other bed was empty. Kelly, Terry, and I sat with him.

Kelly fetched drinks and snacks, as required. I didn't want to leave, so if I needed something, Kelly would get it for me. Terry paid him the supreme compliment (perhaps unintentionally) when she said to me, "He's doing EXACTLY what Tank would do in this situation."

(Right now, Sally--in PJs--is getting drinks for us from the motel vending machine. Nice.)

Tank was resting comfortably. In fact, Tank spent the next three days resting comfortably. He seemed to be asleep, but could not be awakened. He was wearing a hospital gown, and his large bald head was warm and friendly. His right hand was the hand I wanted to hold, because the left hand had lost some feeling after the seizures. Well, it had lost some strength; I only assumed it had lost some feeling. I was usually able to score the chair by the right hand, and just sit there holding it.

I think that was the night Kelly found a BBQ joint nearby and brought us huge sandwiches and huge portions of fries. He always brought me diet Dr. Pepper on ice. He fetched endless frappuccinos for Terry. He told us stories about people he met outside the hospital.

That night, we watched NCIS. I don't remember actually watching it, but I was aware that it was on, and glad. Tank recently told me that when he got out of Bayside he wanted to buy a new car: a Dodge Charger. That surprised me, since Tank's always been a Ford F-150 guy. When I told Kelly about the Dodge Charger, he laughed merrily, and said that Jethro Gibbs from NCIS drives a Dodge Charger. :)

After NCIS, we watched The Big Bang Theory, not because Tank liked it, but because it was amusing. Tank liked TV in general, so it seemed okay to leave it on.

I think Kelly drove home that night. Terry slept in a chair, and I slept for a few hours on the other bed. It was comfortable. I could hear Tank breathing. The nursing staff was wonderful. The new shift nurse always introduced herself (they were always women, usually middle aged) and every three or four hours she and a CNA would take Tank's vital signs, adjust his medication, clean him up, and change his gown and bedding. When they left, he always smelled like baby powder. He was always fresh and sweet-smelling and shiny clean.

I woke refreshed, and moved to Tank's side again. I think all of us were surprised that Tank survived the night. One nurse offered that she thought he would "go" at about 1 or 2 a.m., but he sailed on past. That morning, I think we had a visit from a social worker and a hospice volunteer, but Terry dismissed them both, even though Kelly pointed out that the social worker looked like Chuck Conners. Stephanie visited occasionally, offering hugs to all.

The days get mixed up in my mind, but one day Stephanie brought her little dog to visit. I had to walk to the courtyard to see Lucy the dog, and I left Tank alone to do so. Lucy recently suffered her own tragedy, and is healing, and is probably ready to "laugh lots" in her own little shi zhu (sp?) way.

I spent the day holding Tank's hand (and touching his face and head when no one was looking). It just seemed okay to touch him as much as I wanted to. I noticed that my hands look like his hands, but 25 years younger. The more I held his hands, the less I disliked my large, spotted, ruddy, wrinkled hands. How could I love his hands, but dislike my own? I decided to love mine.

Doctors came and went, always loving and encouraging, always sincere and serious, with plenty of eye contact and shoulder patting. Everyone agreed that things were proceeding as expected and that Tank was particularly strong. They were watching for signs such as a weaker pulse and a loss of color in the extremities, but those things hadn't happened yet. Tank's pulse was still irregular, and it was very interesting to me to monitor his pulse. :) I usually monitor Dan's pulse when I hold his hand. I've never hand my fingers on an irregular pulse. Tank's was strong, so it was easy to detect the irregularity. It was also fast (about 124, if they'd all been there), but it seemed to miss one occasionally, like maybe 1 out of every 6. I couldn't get enough of it.

Kelly brought huge amounts of food from the same good BBQ place. He brought biscuits from McDonalds every day. He brought diet Dr. Pepper from the cafeteria. Wednesday night, Kelly prepared to drive to Terry and Tank's to sleep but, before he left, he took a fistful of pooled coins and one-dollar bills and went to the cafeteria vending machines. He brought back a dozen items: chips, granola bars, candy bars, drinks.

That evening, they moved us to a new room. It was a private room with a shower, and more room for chairs. They brought in a cot. There was a big window, and lots of good light the following morning. The view was beautiful, with eucalyptus and magnolia trees.

Terry and I decided to spend the night again. She suggested that I go home, and I suggested she go home. She chose to sleep in a comfy chair, so I took the cot. I slept for about four hours, half awake and listening to Tank breathe. It was more gurgly than it had been earlier. You know that sound of coffee perking? A humid, bubbly noise? It sounded like that. Inhale, exhale, gurgle, repeat. He continued to be turned frequently, with lots of pillows tucked on one side, then the other. I used a pink swab to moisten his mouth occasionally, and applied lip balm. I kept the room neat.

Kelly had plans to drive back to Utah the next morning (Thursday). Terry hadn't left the hospital Tuesday or Wednesday, so she drove home to shower. I was alone with Tank, and it was quiet and peaceful. I'd been calling Sally and Peggy a couple times a day. Also, Sally was now on her way from Utah, and would arrive by early evening. I pulled a chair close, and held his hand. I noticed a slightly funky smell, and thought it was Tank, but then realized it was me. I was savoring my filthiness, though, and was unwilling to go home, or even to use the shower in the bathroom.

I think it was the previous day, Tank was occasionally making a slightly louder breathing noise. It seemed a little distressful, and the nurse showed us how to press a yellow button that would give him a little burst of Atavan to calm him. We'd done that a couple of times. The same nurse observed the little cries of distress, and said something that probably violated hospital protocol. She said that she didn't know what our spiritual beliefs were, but that some people thought that those sudden disruptions in an otherwise-peaceful sleep indicate that a patient is kind of standing on the brink between this world and the next, and that he's reaching out to someone he loves on the other side. :)

Terry was in touch with the crematorium during this time, making arrangements.

While Terry was home, I noticed the same erratic eye movement that had preceded the earlier focal seizures. Then, his whole body seized, to a degree somewhere between the grand mal seizure and the focal seizure. I pressed the yellow button to give the extra Atavan (turns out I pressed it nine times, although it gave only one dose...apparently my actions were recorded for the nurse to see). The nurse came in, and I think she gave him some morphine. They sometimes gave him a little morphine before they turned him, just in case it caused him pain.

Oh! Right after Terry left to go home to shower, Kelly arrived with breakfast for me, and to say good-bye. We chatted for a while. It was really a treat spending time with him, and it broke my heart to see him go. While here, he repaired the threshold at Tank and Terry's house, making it safer and more attractive. He'd spent a lot of time locating the correct grab bar for their bathroom, but then it became clear that it wasn't necessary to install it, so he put it in Terry's backseat, with the receipt. While trying to find Home Depot, he stumbled upon Carlock's Bakery, which seemed to me like a sign, and I encouraged him to buy treats for us. They were delicious. He hasn't spent time in San Luis Obispo County, but he got to know it quickly, and was able to find anything, even Rite Aid late at night, when Terry needed a prescription filled.

Terry got back right after the morphine injection, and we got her up to speed. We each settled in on each side of Tank, and I held his hand. I tried to stay present, and not get distracted, and to memorize each second of this time. His pulse was weaker, and still irregular. When Terry was out of the room, I peaked under the sheet to see his thighs, and noticed a new sallowness. Maybe I mentioned this earlier, but Dr. Lewis said that we should expect a slow "winding down." Terry and I continued to sit with him, and I kept holding his hand, appreciating its warmth.

It was very quiet in the room. I noticed Tank's breathing change slightly. Before, his lips were parted about 1/2 inch as he breathed, but now his lips were closed. The sound changed slightly, with a bit less gurgle. "I think this is the winding down," I said. "What?" said Terry. "I think this is the winding down." And sure enough...

It was very quiet in the room, and I had a chance to hug him and kiss him and touch his face and hands some more. So did Terry. Death came swiftly, and everything seemed to shut down in unison. He was there, and then he wasn't. I thought--not for the first time--of that final scene in "Gladiator" when Maximus dies, and he walks through the fields, and his fingertips graze the tips of the tall grass, as he moves toward his beautiful wife and child.

Soon, I called Sally, who was en route. In what seemed like a happy coincidence, she and Kelly were together in Bakersfield having lunch. Then, I called Peggy.

It was a pleasure being with Tank at the end. It was a pleasure being with Tank always.


Hi all. Thanks to so many for sending notes of love and encouragement. Thanks to Dan for blogging in my absence.

I want to include some information here about the last few days. Not a eulogy, or a love letter, or a list of traits I want to emulate...but just some stuff that happened. The chronology will be messy.

I think I wrote about Sunday, when Kelly watched football with Tank all day long. I'm sure they had conversations that I wasn't privy to. It seemed like a relaxing day, with football and food and occasional chat. I was in and out. It was clear that Kelly and Tank were enjoying each other. That night, the nurse reported that they had extra "trays" for dinner, and offered them to me and to Kelly. He declined, but I liked the idea of having a meal with Tank (even though it was mac-and-cheese and chicken nuggets). The nurse pulled up a wheeled tray for me, put the tray of food on it, and did things like open my milk, sprinkle my food with packets of salt and pepper, and remove the lid from my cranberry juice. I felt so well taken care of. It was fun, sitting there with Tank and Kelly, eating my toddler meal.

I told Tank that I'd love to make macaroni and cheese for him, using his recipe, if he'd tell me how. That kind of request often served to bring Tank to total alertness. He was completely lucid and enthusiastic as he gave me the detailed instructions, beginning with "use a paper towel to wipe the inside of the casserole dish with one quarter of a stick of butter." :) I listened carefully, with every intention of making it the next day for lunch.

I can tell I'm skirting around the issue of his death.

So, today, Sally, Terry, and I went for a ride. She wanted to take us to "his favorite spot," where we'd both been before. It's up Highway 1, right after the elephant seals but before Ragged Point. It was gorgeous, of course. I sat in the back seat, and Sally sat next to Terry. It was painful being there without Tank, and--even though the view is breathtaking--I yearned to be with Tank. I fantasized about crappy places--like a crowded Taco Bell in Fresno--and how much fun they'd be with Tank.

We had lunch someplace cool, of course: a favorite of Tank's called Sebastian's. It's an old post office in San Simeon, converted to a restaurant. We ate sandwiches on the patio. We could hear the ocean, and smell the eucalyptus.

So, last Monday, Tank had the seizures. Doctors seemed optimistic that he hadn't lost ground permanently. On Tuesday, I got to the hospital about 8 a.m., and David the speech therapist showed up to test Tank's ability to swallow. He started with ice chips, then water, then thickened cranberry juice, then vanilla pudding. Tank did okay, although he seemed VERY tired and not very interested. He showed a little interest in the pudding, and was able to mumble "yeah" when David asked a question, but I was actually hoping for more "Tank" by then, since the doctors anticipated an improvement within 6 or 8 hours after the seizure medication began. In the end, David decided that it would be too dangerous for Tank to take liquids or solids, because of a persistent cough and generalized weakness. David put some signs up above Tank's bed, and left. Tank slept.

Doctors came in that day. Dr. Lewis said that Tank was taking longer than expected to rally, but he didn't seem too concerned. Two physical therapists worked with him, but it was more back rub than therapy. He could only sit up with a lot of help. An occupational therapist came in, but she realized quickly that Tank wasn't up to the task, and she left. It started to seem that something was amiss.

I spent most of the day in a chair by Tank's bedside. I held his hand occasionally. Kelly fetched food for us. I think Stephanie dropped by.

Tank was very warm. Terry and I noticed it, and when the nurse took his temperature, it was 102. He was sleepier than ever, and difficult to rouse. I think I was alone with him when he had what the nurse called a focal seizure (I'm just guessing at the spelling). I noticed some unusual eye movement (generally, his eyes were closed). The movement was fast and repetitive, as if he were looking straight ahead and then to the side and then back again. Then, his feet began to tremble. It only lasted ten seconds or so, and I called the nurse. As I recall, it happened again a short time later. They increased his dose of seizure medication. I assume they gave him something for the fever.

A girl came by and took blood to check for an infection and a fungal infection. She said it would take a couple of days to get the results. It was mentioned that he might have an infection in sutured wound on his head, in his throat (the thrush), or maybe in his lungs (he might have aspirated something during a seizure). I'm not certain about some of this. It doesn't seem like enough time would have passed since the seizure to get an infection in his lungs, but...I don't know.

I'm going to publish this, and then write some more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tank passes away

Tank passed away peacefully this afternoon, with Polly by his side.
He was a father to four wonderful people... Sally, Polly, Kelly & Peggy.
Also a husband, U. S. Navy Veteran, California Longshoreman, "idea man", inventor, author, columnist, and all-around good guy.
He has 7 grandkids and 5 great-grandkids and still counting.
Tank loved talking, walking on the beach, watching movies, reading books & newspapers, writing.. but above all, laughing..
You could never talk to him without hearing that distinctive joyful laugh of his.
He often sent letters that simply said "Laugh Lots".. followed by an adorable sketch of a tank.
Tank was unfailingly generous and an immensely entertaining & joyful fellow.
I have NEVER heard him complain.. NEVER heard him utter a single word of profanity.
We should all strive to have that said about us.
He embraced the sweetness and joy of life.
Not only should you take a walk, but you should also stop to smell the flowers.. that's Tank.
I wish I could have walked on the beach with him one more time while listening to an idea he had for a movie or a book.
That I will miss.

Polly will write more here when she gets a spare minute or two.

Love to all,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Polly called this afternoon and reported no change in Tank's condition.

He is resting comfortably, breathing evenly, and occasionally looks around, but is not alert or talking.

It sounds like a very trying circumstance for Polly and Kelly.

They are calmly waiting for the inevitable.

Sally is on the road now to join them there.. I think she'll get there tomorrow.

I'll post more when I know more.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1/25/2011, Later

Hi. Polly just called and asked me to briefly update you.

Tank's condition took a serious turn for the worse late this morning and afternoon.

He is now resting comfortably and receiving "comfort care."

He is feeling no pain and Polly, Kelly and Terry are with him at the hospital.

They are watching NCIS, one of Tank's favorite shows.

I wish I had better news to report, but we can tell you more tomorrow.

Keep him in your thoughts.

Love, Dan


Hi! Summary: Tank in Sierra Vista Hospital in San Luis Obispo because he had seizures yesterday. Spent the day resting. Excellent care, good prognosis.

Monday morning, Bayside called Terry at 6:30 to say that Tank had some weakness on the left side. She and I left immediately, and Kelly followed shortly in Tank's car. When we got there, Tank seemed less aware of his surroundings than usual. His left hand lay helplessly on the covers. Terry told a nurse to call an ambulance, and soon two Morro Bay firefighters/EMTs arrived from Morro Bay. They spoke to him, took his vital signs, and tested the strength of hands and feet. So competent, so kind, so attractive (a man and a woman). A minute later, two more EMTs from San Luis Obispo, and Tank was loaded into the ambulance. His attempts to grip, and to raise his left hand completely above his head, showed significant signs of impairment. His mouth was very dry, and it was difficult to tell if he was answering questions correctly. We were on our way to French Hospital in San Luis Obispo, which specializes in heart care (Terry's instruction).

Before we could pull out of the parking lot (Terry and Kelly in one car, me behind), the main EMT bent to Terry's window with additional information. Tank had suffered a seizure in the ambulance, and we were rerouting to the closer Sierra Vista Hospital, also in San Luis (Kelly called to tell me, I think). They used lights but not sirens, and it was a strange feeling to be driving along the highway, pull over for an ambulance, and know WHO was in the ambulance.

Back at Bayside, the overnight-nurse-in-charge told Terry that Tank had shown marked weakness on his left side as early at 5 a.m., when he was checked on. It later became evident that he'd probably had his first seizure before that, but it's unclear WHEN.

The ER staff was great, and immediately did some sort of brain scan and determined that there was no vessel breakage in the brain (I think the kind that might indicate a stroke) (forgive my lack of medical knowledge). That was good news, according to Dr. Georgio (there were four doctors over the course of the day, and I'll spell all their names incorrectly). He asked a lot of questions about Tank's history, and took some blood. At some point during the ER visit, when Tank was with us in the room, he had another seizure (in his chart, they called the seizures grand mal). We all watched, and were assured by the medical staff that it would only last about 30 seconds, and that he wasn't suffering, and he wouldn't remember it. Still...hard to watch, the poor guy.

An hour or so later, he was moved to a room upstairs, and situated for the day. We were told that Tank's oncologist Dr. Lewis would drop by with information, and we were waiting for that, not knowing when he would arrive. Helpful nurses and CNAs were there frequently. An elderly man occupied the second bed. Terry, Kelly, and I all had comfy chairs, and we sat and talked. Tank seemed to be in a very deep sleep, breathing normally. Occasionally, nurses would turn him. It was chilly in the room, and we kept him covered with a blanket. We'd say hi occasionally, and he'd kind of grunt, but he was mostly out of it, and that's what the doctors said to expect. They said that the brain kind of shuts down after a seizure, to heal itself, or kind of reset, and the anti-seizure and anti-swelling medications would also contribute to sleepiness. They gave him some morphine for pain, and gave him moderate amounts of saline in an IV to keep him hydrated. (Over-hydration might lead to more brain swelling, I think they said, so it wasn't a LOT of saline.) No nutrition in an IV, but they assured us he wasn't lying there feeling hungry. :) He seemed comfortable, actually. Terry would lean over him occasionally, and they'd talk. :) After a fashion. It was very dear.

Kelly was very useful. :) Shocker there, huh. :) He fetched things for me, 'cause I didn't want to leave.

Oh! Terry's buddy Stephanie (a saint, really, who volunteers at the hospital, and this was her day) dropped by the ER, and then Tank's room. She offered very helpful information, and brought a huge tray of delicious food from the cafeteria, which the three of us ate (Kelly ate less, given his...higher standard). :) It was good food, and not just good hospital food. Terry and I enjoyed. Sweet of Stephanie, so we didn't have to leave. Then Kelly left to go to Taco Bell, :) and to get diet Dr. Pepper for all of us.

Much later (still no doctor), Kelly went to a good BBQ place in San Luis, and brought back a delicious dinner, which the three of us ate in the hospital room. It was nearly 7, and we were giving up on Dr. Lewis showing up.

Kelly went to my car and got a bunch of stuff for me, including Gibbs, which got better reception at the hospital than my own cell phone.

Tank's vital signs continued to be good. Excellent blood pressure, always. Oh! He was on oxygen the entire time, through a narrow tube into his nostrils. Didn't seem to bother him. Nothing seemed to bother him. Although the bed might have been a few inches longer.

At some point during the day, Dr. Kissell (the neurosurgeon) dropped by. (Forgive the sloppy chronology.) He did the original brain biopsies of about two months ago, and he recently removed the metal plates from the site. (Actually, I found out that it wasn't a metal plate exactly, but a very small piece of titanium netting that they intended to leave in place forever. But the scar wasn't healing well, and the titanium mesh was showing, so the doctor removed it while improving/tightening the scar.) Dr. Kissell did that. He was their at 4 or 5 p.m., I think, and visited briefly. Said the scar looked good, and that the seizures were probably a result of the original tumors and/or the radiation. Terry had a lot of questions, but Dr. Kissell referred her to the expertise of Dr. Lewis, the oncologist, who was going to show up later. Dr. Kissell was very kind. When he asked Tank his name and his birth date, he knew them, which kind of surprised me, because he'd been in such a deep sleep.

A helpful CNA cleaned Tank's mouth and lips carefully with a wet swab, and applied some ointment. Tank has a sore on his chin, and that was treated also.

At 7:30 or 8 (as I recall), Terry and Kelly went home. I decided to stay for a bit longer, and got comfy with my coat and water and note pad and pen that Kelly had brought me from the car. He offered to get treats. :) What a guy. I'm so glad there were three of us there. There's a lot of information to track, and I'm sure I'm forgetting lots. Some readers might think this is too much detail, but--I'm sure--other readers crave TONS of detail. :) I'm sure.

The minute Terry and Kelly left, Dr. Bagarry showed up (pronounced buh-GARY). I think he's the general practitioner that oversees everything. Wonderful man. I'm quite certain he just dropped by the hospital to see another patient, and saw Tank's name on a white board, and came by. He was very helpful. I called Kelly and Terry, and they were tempted to turn around, but chose not to (Terry was spent, after a dozen hours in a chair in a hospital room). Dr. Bagarry carefully tested Tank's left-side strength, including his reflexes. Tank seemed more awake than earlier, perhaps as the drugs wore off, and the brain settled down. The doctor asked Tank to identify himself (Bagarry) and me, and Tank looked at both of us, and said our names! :) I was delighted. :) Dr. Bagarry asked lots of questions, and listened carefully to Tank's heart. Said the heartbeat was irregular, so he went to the nurse's station to get more info from the chart. After doing so, he decided to have Tank moved to the "telemetry unit," where he could be on a heart monitor through the night. However, he said that the heartbeat was a not-unexpected result of one of the medications.

Also, he said that severe weakness and lethargy are normal (and not permanent) results of seizures of this type, and that those symptoms might fade in about 24 hours. In fact, when Dr. Bagarry tested him, Tank was already showing much improvement in his left hand and foot, and I watched as he gripped with his left hand, and pushed against Dr. Bagarry with his left foot.

He left, and before we had a chance to move to the other room (on another floor), Dr. Lewis showed up at about 9:30. He said that it was normal to be like this after seizures, and seizure medications. He expects Tank to return to his "regular state of awareness" within a couple of days, and then perhaps return to Bayside. the end of the day, things seemed quite different than they did earlier in the day, when there was talk of "comfort care" and "less-aggressive treatment."

We'll see.

I tried staying in touch with Peggy and Sally, but it wasn't always possible because of the cell coverage. However, it's handy that cell phones are allowed in the hospital.

Dr. Lewis said he'd return in the morning. So, I think it's about 8 a.m. now, and I'm heading over there (I'm at Burger King, alone), and Kelly and Terry are meeting me there, I think. I saw them both early this morning, before I left home.

I guess there's a bit more info. Nurses took him downstairs (you know, on his hospital bed) to the new room (after hooking him up to an EKG). Everyone was warm and affectionate and very efficient. I felt that Tank was in good hands all day long. The new nurse in the telemetry unit, Pam, remembered Tank and Terry from the recent removal of the titanium mesh. She was very helpful and chatty, and I stayed in that room until about midnight, on a very comfy chair, talking to her while she took care of Tank. She's about my age, with a husband with brain cancer, and we talked about lots of things, as she fussed over Tank. It was dark and quiet, without much going on, and Tank's new roomie snored comfortably while we talked. Usually, I try to wake Tank to talk to him, :) but this didn't seem like a good time for that, so I was content to just watch him sleep.

Pam gave him Dilantin to keep the seizures at bay. He'd had it earlier, but this was lots of it in an IV. All day, they'd been checking his blood sugar level, and giving him insulin if necessary, but late at night it was only 150 or so, and she chose not to give him insulin. His vital signs remained excellent. He's in Room 102, fyi. He's had a pesky cough for days, and it continued in the hospital, and medical personnel noticed it, but no one seemed too concerned. People offered different explanations for it. Seems awful to me (and like pneumonia), but no one was saying that. Oh! At one point, he asked me for a Kleenex, and I gave him that, and he wiped his nose. That was about as active as I saw him all day, and it was encouraging.

Well, that's about it. I drove home at midnight, after calling Kelly to tell him I was on my way. :) Safety first. It's a straight shot home, and takes about 15 minutes. No cars on the road. Kelly and Terry left outdoor and indoor lights on for me. :) Kelly said hi, but Terry was asleep in her GIRD chair. I fell asleep immediately in her bed, which she's a dear to let me use. I'll get more information to you later today, if possible. Thanks to everyone for their interest. :) Tank's a sweetheart, and a trooper, and we'll do our best to adapt to the changing situation.

Love to all... :) Not reading before publishing... :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Summary: Tank seems tired. Watching football with Kelly and Terry right now, at Bayside.

Hi! Saturday, Peggy, Mike, Terry, and Tank enjoyed a KFC picnic on the front porch of Bayside. Peg said Tank ate some, but not lots. It was fun, she said.

Kelly and I had a great and easy trip, arriving at 7 p.m. Peggy, Mike, and Terry were just getting home from dinner (The Whale's Tail). It was wonderful seeing them...really great. The five of us sat around in the living room chatting. I will admit to being a bit confused about things at this point...things like Tank's home visits and Tank's diet and Tank's treatment plan. Maybe it'll all become clear later.

I'm at Burger King, alone.

This morning, Peggy and Mike showed up at the house, and the five of us went to Dorn's for breakfast. Great view, great food. Terry ordered corned-beef hash, well-done hash browns, eggs over easy, and rye toast for Tank, to go. At Bayside, Tank was happy to see us. He'd just had physical therapy, and was in his wheelchair, dressed in sweatpants, a T-shirt, and shoes and socks. Looked very cute. (Later, I mentioned Tank's new "outfits," and Kelly said not to use the word "outfits" to refer to men's clothing. :) Men probably also prefer being called something other than "very cute.")

A physical therapist, Helen, came in to talk to the group about Tank (specifically, about home visits). Despite her discouragement (I THINK it was discouragement), Terry's plan was to take Tank home for lunch and to watch a football game. However, he seemed too tired for that, and we adjusted. Also, Tank suddenly seemed very cold, and needed a blanket. He was shaking. Kelly stayed there with Tank, while Terry and I took Peggy and Mike to the airport in San Luis Obispo. It was hard to see them go...they're wonderful. Terry clearly adores Mike and declared him to be without flaw. :) She and I drove back to Bayside.

Helen mentioned that physical therapy is going to change for Tank. I think it's going to be less...intense. He'll work with a nursing assistant six days a week, there at Bayside. Work on getting from a sitting position to a standing position, and back again. Work on standing, and taking that first step. I could be wrong, but I got the impression it might be longer therapy, but not as physically demanding, because of his lack of strength. She stressed that physical therapy is the most important thing right now.

Kelly and Tank were watching the game when we returned from the airport, and Tank seemed happy, but very tired, almost like it was an ordeal for him. Terry and I left again to get lunch at Fosters' Freeze, 'cause not much sounded good to Tank, who recently lost another 3 lbs. Terry offered a chocolate shake, and Tank agreed, so we got that and a hot dog. He ate the hot dog right away, and was working on the shake when I left to come to Burger King. Earlier, he seemed to be excited about his breakfast, but he didn't really eat much of it. That's typical: He asks for something, is excited to get it, starts with relish, and peters out after a few bites and only a couple hundred calories.

It's a gorgeous day here. Maybe 60. Just perfect weather. I can feel the sun on my shoulder right now, and the view of the ocean is breathtaking.

Tank asked for more scrathers, so I'll get them at Bottle Liquor when I return to Bayside. A nice man named Jay came by Tank's room, and hung out for a few minutes. He's a Bayside employee training to be a physical therapist, and he's developed a friendship with Tank, based on a shared interest in football. Jay is cute and bald and maybe in his 30s.

Sally: That regular guy at Burger King is here, chatting with another man, and failing to use his indoor voice.

I don't know what the plans are for tonight. Tomorrow, we'll take Tank to an appointment with the oncologist. It's a "car visit," meaning that we wait in the parking lot until the doctor comes out, checks Tank, and talks about future treatment. Handy, I guess, but Terry says the parking-lot wait is usually an hour, which seems unreasonable. I think Kelly will go; Terry said that I must go, and that sounds good to me.

All of this, needless to say, and not at all surprising, is very difficult for Terry, and she seems close to breaking. She made me and Kelly feel very welcome last night. I'm sleeping in her room, which is very comfy and dark, and I love it.

Terry's daughter Catherine will be here in about a week, and stay for three or four days. I'm not aware of any other visits by family or friends after that.

Dan texted me that the Packers won, but Tank wanted the Bears to win, so I'm devastated. :) One pleasant thing is that Tank does not have a roommate today, so there's more room and less noise in the room. One appreciates small blessings (and big blessings, too).

Peggy and Mike were able to help Terry with a mouse problemo at the house. Tank wants to watch "The Expendables," so I'll be looking for that movie. Kelly brought a dozen power tools, and--I'm sure--will make good use of them.

Much love to all...

Friday, January 21, 2011


Summary: Tank unchanged. Happy but kind of tired. Mike and Peggy there.

I just talked to Peggy. Per Tank's request, she and Mike went to Carlock's Bakery this morning and bought cookies for the nurses at Bayside. They went to Bayside next, and visited with Tank briefly before he went to Physical Therapy. After spending some time on the embarcadaro, Peggy and Mike picked up Cracker Jacks and Crunch and Munch at Albertson's, and took it to Tank (he'd requested Cracker Jacks). Funny, what sounds good to people. He had some of it, but fell asleep quickly, and Peggy and Mike didn't stay long. When I talked to her, she was at the house.

Tomorrow, the plan is to drive to Atascadaro and buy lunch at KFC (it's a hike, but the closest KFC). Tank asked Sally and me to get KFC for him, but then he changed his mind (or so we thought), so we didn't, so Peggy's cunning plan is to ensure favorite status by following through on the KFC. Later, Peggy and Mike will go to the Farmers' Market in Morro Bay.

Kelly and I leave for Morro Bay early tomorrow morning, weather permitting. Today, Sally and I went to Kohl's and bought four more outfits for Tank, including some plaid lounge pants. Adorable!

I'm always on the look-out for single-use sentences: sentences you hear or say that you haven't heard or said before, and probably will not hear or say again. I thought I'd share one here. Recently, I overheard Terry say to Sally, "Tank is very particular about the size of his turnips."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1/20/2011, Later

Peggy has been texting, so I'll include that word-for-word information here. Three texts:

"Dad ate 1/2 of a seafood quesadilla. Pretty greasy so I'm guessing pretty calorie laden. He is still watching The Great Escape. Seems quite entranced and happy with the whole thing. He hasn't fallen asleep at all since coming home today. I am so proud of him. :) He is so damn cute!"

"Dad watched all of The Great Escape and stayed awake and was smiling the whole time. He seemed so pleased. After it was over, he wanted a piece of pineapple-upside-down cake and ate almost all of it. Mike and I went down to the ocean and came back and dad is sleeping."

"Yes, he is doing great. I can see marked improvement since we have been here. He and I even had a small political talk and he was as sharp as ever."

Good news!


Summary: Tank had physical therapy this morning, and is now home for a visit.

Peggy called a few times today, always cheerful and upbeat. First, she called from Bayside, where they were waiting for Tank to finish physical therapy. Then, she called to say that it had been very quick and easy getting him from Bayside to home, and that she was impressed with the ease in which he got in and out of the car.

When she called, Tank and Mike were in Tank's room watching "The Great Escape." :) Apparently, Mike brought a portable DVD player and hooked it up to Tank's TV. According to Peggy, it's very easy to use, so they're going to leave it there for Tank. Good news! She's going to show Tank how to use it before she leaves, and she'll also show me when I get there. I'm heading out for Best Buy in a few minutes to get "What's Up Doc?" and "The Bird Cage," if I can find them. She said he was happy and comfy, and enjoying the time at home. She was about to join Tank for the movie, and have Mike move to the kitchen, where he is going to make pineapple-upside-down cake per Tank's instructions. I could hear Terry in the background, making friendly noises.

Peggy located the Gibbs at Bayside and brought it home to charge. She had some questions about its use, and is going to try to interest Tank is learning to use it.

Later, Peggy called from Dockside because Tank sent her there for a quesadilla for lunch, and they don't have quesadillas at Dockside (not on the menu, anyway). I was not able to help, so she was going to call Tank for additional instructions.

I talked to Kelly, who (per Peggy's suggestion) is going to call Terry tonight to get details regarding some home-improvement projects he might like to work on while he's there. They need a wheelchair ramp, and maybe something else. The house is one story, and there's only a two- or three-inch step up from the front porch (which has no stairs, but is just a continuation of the driveway), but it's still tricky with a wheelchair.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1/19/2011, Later

Summary: Tank continues to do well. Had physical therapy today. Peggy and Mike are spending a lot of time with him.

Hi! Peggy just called. After their San Luis shopping trip, they stopped at Bayside to visit Tank. She said that he was cheerful and lucid and full of story-telling, for over an hour. Peggy reported that Tank likes Mike a LOT. :) They hatched a plan for Tank to come home for a day-visit tomorrow. They'll pick him up at about 10, and spend the day at home, returning to Bayside after dinner (I think). They'll go to Spencer's to get ingredients for whatever Tank's in the mood for.

Peggy mentioned that she loves the staff at Bayside...that all the nurses are terrific. Tank has a new roommate who lacks Father Dino's myriad charms; Peggy reported that the roommate is going home on Saturday.

Peggy was fairly certain that Tank had physical therapy this morning.

I'm glad Mike and Peggy are there.


Summary: Tank is back at Bayside, and doing very well. More energy.

Hi! I talked to Peggy this morning. She and Mike were running an errand for Tank: delivering a bunch of bananas to the community center where Terry works out. Peggy said that Tank really enjoyed his home-visit last night, and went cheerfully back to Bayside after NCIS. Good news! Peggy said they visited this morning, found him asleep, woke him, and handed him a cranberry muffin from Spencer's. He was delighted. :) He had so much energy that they chatted for TWO HOURS! Unimaginable! Such good news. She said he was happy and with-it and tons of fun. After their banana delivery, Peggy and Mike were going shopping in San Luis, and then returning to Bayside. Peggy was very upbeat and enthusiastic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1/18/2011, Later

Some of what follows might not relate DIRECTLY to Tank. :) Just a warning.

I chatted with Peggy again. Suggested she measure Tank's closet, and I can bring shelving from IKEA, and Kelly can install it (I simply assumed Kelly would be willing to install it). You know, if Terry and Tank are interested in closet shelving.

Peggy said that she, Mike, and Terry were sitting around discussing who is more attractive: Anthony Bordain or Andrew Zimmern. Tank was in his bedroom watching something on the Turner classic movie channel. He requested short ribs for dinner, and Mike is all over it (thank you, Mike).

Peggy received a photo of granddaughter Kennedy in Hawaii ("Mango on the Beach"), and she's going to forward it to me. Everyone is so scattered! Peggy suggested a Morro Bay compound where all of us can live.

However brief, it sounds like a little slice of heaven on Yerba Buena tonight.


Summary: Peggy and Mike are with Tank and Terry in Morro Bay, at the house. Tank is tired, but happy and appreciative.

First, I'll mention that Tank called me this morning! What a surprise! From the hospital, not Bayside. We chatted for a few minutes. "Gibbs." He said the surgery went well, he's still very tired, neuropathy is a bitch (not his exact words), and he's excited to see Peggy and Mike. He seemed weak, and I was delighted that he'd made the effort to call.

Also, Norma and Andy are thinking about a road trip to Morro Bay in late February with son Don. Good news!

Peggy (such a cutie) called, and I typed what she said. I might have typed some of it imperfectly ('cause we also we talked about things I didn't type). Here's what she had to say:

"We got in to San Luis Obispo at about 7:30 last night, and Terry came and got us at the airport. We were going to rent a car, but she said there was no need. We went to Del Monte in San Luis Obispo for dinner. I had an amazing French dip...the only good thing I'd had all day. The $9 airport hot dog didn't sit so well. You'd think for $9 it would, but it did not.

"We went to Terry and Dad's house and went to bed, 'cause we were pretty tired. We got up this morning thinking we had some time before Dad would be ready to be picked up, but he called from the hospital quite early. 'Hello...I'm ready.' So Terry said chop-chop, and we all got ready quickly, and went to the hospital and got him.

"He couldn't decide what he wanted for breakfast, but he finally decided on Dorn's. We didn't have a wheelchair with us, so we got the food to go. I've never had such a fancy meal in a to-go box. Even their to-go boxes are fancy! Dad was very specific: he wanted eggs, ham, toast, and hashbrowns. We went to the Rock to eat and--you know--see the seagulls. Tank was alert and happy, but tired. He seemed to enjoy it, to be happy to be there, to be out.

"While we were getting the food at Dorn's, Terry came in and said 'Your dad wants to go home for the day.' We swung by Bayside and got a wheelchair, and--after eating--we went to the house. I ran in and prepared the bedroom, and Mike and Terry brought Dad into the house in the wheelchair. It was a bit of an ordeal, but Mike finally finessed Dad into the bedroom and then into the bed.

"On the way home, Dad made a request. He wanted to stop at the store for Tin Roof Sundae ice cream. They didn't have it, so I got vanilla, with caramel topping and whipped cream. Once we got home, he had a bowl of it, and loved it.

"Before he got too tired, we went through some of the memorabilia, and then talked about it. It was very sweet. He was sleepy, so I left him alone, so he could rest. Later, I went into the room to get something, and he asked me to turn on the TV so he could watch a football game. I turned it to a football channel, and he was hoping that a football game would come on.

"It's hot here!

"He's going to stay home to watch 'NCIS' tonight, and then we're going to take him back to Bayside. He said to me, 'How long are you going to be here?' and I said 'We'll be here until Sunday morning.' 'That's good,' he said. 'I think Polly and Kelly are coming after that,' I said. 'That's good, too,' he said.

"Oh! On the way home from breakfast, we stopped and got scratchers at Del Mar liquor store. Dad won a free ticket and $5!

"Also, Dad sometimes used his walker to get around, with Mike standing behind him to make sure he didn't fall. It wore Dad out, but he did it."

Nice, huh? :)

She's going to call later, with more information. I'm so glad they're there. Kelly and I are going to overlap their visit by 1/2 day, and then we'll stay three more days.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Hi! Peggy and Mike's flight was delayed, but Peggy talked to Terry, who said that the surgery went well. In fact, plans are in place for Peggy, Mike, Terry, and Tank to go OUT to lunch tomorrow. Wow! I hope to hear from Peggy tonight, if she has additional information. If not, tomorrow night.

Saturday, January 15, 2011



Summary: Tank to have surgery on Monday to remove metal plates. Terry doesn't seem too worried.

I didn't talk to Terry yet, but Terry called Peggy, and Peggy relayed some information. Tank is having surgery Monday to remove the metal plates that doctors inserted during the brain surgery of a month or so ago. I wasn't aware of the metal plates. He'll spend the night at the hospital before returning to Bayside. Terry didn't seem too worried about it. Maybe the plates are near the surface.

Peggy and Mike will arrive Monday. They changed their plans and decided to stay at Terry and Tank's rather than at a motel. I think they made the change so they can maximize the help they can be to Tank. If he's feeling up to it, maybe he can come home for an evening (or even overnight), because Mike will be there to help him. Mike, fyi, is big and strong, and willing to serve as needed. Fun, huh. I hope it all works out. Both Peggy and Mike are eager to cook for Tank. Well, Mike actually said he was eager, but I'm sure Peggy is eager also.

Terry didn't mention Tank's current state to Peggy. I'll try calling tonight. I hope he's feeling stronger, and less tired.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Hi there!

Summary: Tank might be gaining strength as the thrush is treated. He was somewhat better the last couple times we saw him. Sally and I are home now.

On Wednesday evening, Sally and I returned to Bayside with some hot chicken-noodle casserole, some cold milk, and a smallish ice cream bar on a stick (pomegranate ice cream dipped in dark chocolate). I know he's diabetic, but I thought he might appreciate the intense flavors.

He greeted us warmly, and we stayed quite a while, considering the late hour (about 7 pm). He ate half the casserole (maybe a cup...woo-hoo!), drank some milk, and ate the entire ice cream bar. Maybe a total of 600 calories! We talked and talked. It was so fun.

Sometimes, when Tank talks to us, it's as if he's offering an account of his daydreams. I mean, it doesn't feel like he's out of touch with's more like he's misplaced the filter that would stop him from saying something that he's been thinking...maybe something that sounded fun, or interesting, that he'd like to do. It'd be like me saying, "I was thinking the other day that it'd be fun to write an article about Leonard Cohen for Rolling Stone. Maybe the cover story. Interview him for weeks, and write a 10-page story. He'd be on the front cover, wearing a hat." :) Sometimes, Tank says stuff like that, but it seems okay, because they're just thoughts that he's sharing with us. Hopes and dreams, almost.

Thursday morning, we went to Terry's first, to say goodbye and to pick up a few things. We bought muffins at two locations, turned in some scratchers ($23!) and bought others, and went to Bayside. Again, he was in a good mood. The treatment for the thrush had begun, and he was already feeling better, and was optimistic and cheerful. He was even fully dressed. He was in his wheelchair, and was wearing sweats and tennis shoes and a plaid shirt.

He was waiting for a nurse to help him back into bed, and was anxious for her/him to arrive. It was taking a while. It occurred to me later, though, that maybe the nurses do that intentionally: maybe they weren't rushing to get him into bed, because it's good for him to sit up for a while, to be in a different position, to use different muscles, and maybe avoid bed sores. He wasn't agitated...he was just noticing that they weren't there yet. He's always polite to nurses.

He'd requested a new sign: "Good job." :) I say it a lot, and the nurses say it. I think moms learn to say it. Dan and I said it to Clay a lot when he was growing up, and when he was about 3 he started saying it to us. :) Sally noticed that I say it, too. Some adults are insulted by it, 'cause it sounds too enthusiastic, or something. Like unneeded praise. Maybe I offer praise because I love receiving praise. So, Tank and Sally and I talked about "good job." :) And Tank asked for a sign saying it. I don't know if it's a joke or what. But he wanted the sign, and Sally made the sign.

That morning, he ate an entire muffin, and had some milk. He praised me again for making the chicken-noodle casserole. :) ("Good job!") His doctor was expected to drop by later. While we were there, Terry showed up, so all of us hung out together for a while. Tank was considerably more energetic than he'd been 24 and 48 hours earlier, and that was encouraging. I'd fixed a couple of things on the cell phone, and we talked about that, and he politely asked if I thought a Jitterbug might be a better phone. :) I said no, but I'm going to look into it (I've looked into it somewhat, but I'll look more thoroughly). I think he might become more familiar with the current phone now that he's feeling better. I think I had him call Kelly, and they talked briefly.

Sally and I left, and drove home in two days. It was fun. I talked to Terry on Thursday evening, and she said that he'd had a good day, and that Sally and I are good for him. She said he was eating fairly well. She said that his thrush treatment is something he swishes around in his mouth and swallows, four times a day. It's not too gross, he said.

I'll call Terry again soon. This is a difficult and busy time for her. Peggy's excited about her trip in a couple of days. Peggy was going through some memorabilia and found all kinds of cool stuff that Tank is going to LOVE. Things like a letter the Navy sent Grandpa Chief, informing him of Tank's graduation from boot camp. :) Stuff like that. Some Nola stuff, too. I think Tank will love looking through all of it with Peggy and Mike.

It's hard to leave Tank, but good to be home.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Hi all!

Summary: A bit of improvement, regarding Tank's profound fatigue. Some chatty visits. Some calories in. The mouth problem might be thrush, which is treatable.

Sally and I went to Terry's house last night to cook. I made a home-made noodle-roni type of dish that was a little bland. Sally baked the rest of the chocolate-chip cookies. We visited with Terry for a while. She seemed tired after her very productive day. New lamp for next to Tank's chair, new rolling tray for his bedroom, new non-slip bathmat.

Sally and I stopped by Bayside to say goodnight to Tank, and he was less tired than usual. Happy day! We stayed for 20 minutes or so, just talking. After a discouraging day, it was somewhat encouraging, because he seemed engaged, and not just spent. We can always tell how happy he is to see us. He requested a cranberry muffin for the next morning, and chicken taquitos with guacamole and sour cream from Dockside 2.

We picked up muffins (no cranberry, though) from both Carlock's in Los Osos and from Spencer's. We drove to Bayside, and Terry was already there, so I dropped Sally off and then went to Dockside, where I picked up the taquitos and a little smoked albacore (tasty). While I was away from Bayside, Sally and Terry talked to a speech therapist who said that Tank might have thrush, which would cause him to have a very difficult time eating. I assume they're treating it now. The speech therapist said that flavor is important when someone is reluctant to eat, but so is texture. She said that Tank might like food with interesting texture, or at least familiar texture. He seemed to know that last night, when he asked for the taquitos. He'd said something about how they would feel familiar in his mouth.

Good news, I think, about the thrush. I don't know how long he's had it. Maybe it develops gradually.

While we were there, Tank seemed to have a bit more energy, and he ate most of a muffin, and had some milk, and a piece of the albacore, and maybe one taquito. We left after a while to go to lunch with Terry in Los Osos (Garden Spot, I think it's called). Delicious. We ate outside, and it was fun and fairly relaxing. I think that all of us are a bit tense.

Terry dropped us off at Bayside, and she went home. Sally and I went in to see Tank again (it had been about 2 hours). I took him 1/4 of a Reuben with some coleslaw on it, to moisten it. He had a couple of bites, but didn't finish it. But the best thing was Tank's good mood, and his improved energy. This last visit (an hour ago) felt more like last time we were here, a couple of weeks ago. He was relaxed and chatty, and didn't ever grimace in pain. We talked about NCIS, and writing, and ideas in general, and our history together, and movies we've liked. It felt...normal. Almost. Sally also seemed to really like it. The three of us, sitting there, relaxed, talking, on a beautiful day with the window open and a cool ocean breeze. Nice.

Now, Tank says there a problem with "Gibbs," which is what he calls the phone. I'm not sure what the problem is. People have been calling in, and he can't pick it up. Maybe it's taking him a while to locate it and pick it up...I don't know. Something seems wrong with voicemail, and I don't know how to fix it. Maybe I'll take it to the motel tonight and troubleshoot. I tried making a call (to Kelly, who also answered "Gibbs,"), and it was fine. :) Kelly talked to Tank for a bit. Kelly is excited about visiting (with me) in a little over a week. We'll work on the phone. Thanks, Norma, for your attempts to call, and anyone else who tried. It must be frustrating for Tank, and I'll try to fix it. So far, the phone hasn't been a rousing success. We'll keep working on it.

Tank wants a DVR, like Kelly has. :) I want to sit next to Tank in bed at home, and watch all the episodes of NCIS (the only full episode I've seen was last night, with Sally). Doesn't that sound fun?

Tank encouraged me to bring the chicken casserole to Bayside, even though it's not perfect. :) He'll probably pretend to like it. I'm going to try adding some spices, and he suggested I top it with those canned/dried onions that you put in a green-bean casserole. We'll try that. So, Sally and I will probably say good-bye to Terry soon, grab the casserole, visit Tank again tonight, and then head for the motel. In the morning, we'll visit Tank one more time--maybe with a breakfast sandwich, and some scratchers--before we head for Las Vegas. I bought five tickets for the California Lottery, so we'll probably win millions tonight. We offered to hang out with Tank during the reading-of-the-numbers at 8 p.m., but he said no thank you. I told him I'd called him on the Gibbs if we won.

Last visit--especially early in the visit--Tank was stronger physically but weaker mentally than this visit. This visit--especially early in the visit--Tank was fairly sharp mentally but very weak physically. So, here's hoping he can improve his physical strength. Eating will help. His blood sugar has been pretty good while we've been here.

Ya'll take care. Tank had Sally make two signs...did I mention this already? "Laugh Lots" and "Don't Blame, Don't Complain." We hung those last night on his bathroom door, where he can see them. They are huge. He likes them. I think he feels like himself. :) There was this line the other night on "Lie to Me," where the ghost of Lightman's mom asks Lightman about Lightman's daughter Emily. "Who's she like?" asks the mom. "She's like herself," says Lightman. "She's exactly like herself." :) Isn't that a great line? That's how Tank is. Like himself.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Hi there!

Summary: Not a great day. Tank is very tired.

Last night, we visited Tank in the early evening, with a chocolate cookie Sally made and some herb-fried fish from Bayview Inn. He was too tired to visit. He didn't want the heated fish. He ate the cookie, which pleased us. He was simply exhausted. It was sad to watch his face, and know that he was too tired even to smile.

Sally and I went back today for an early lunch. We gave him his chemo pills. He ate pretty well. For some reason, I'm very focused on his eating. :) I should monitor my calorie intake as closely. He ate some rotisserie chicken, some coleslaw, and some peaches from a jar. He had some of a chocolate muffin. Maybe a total of 300 calories. We visited for a while. He said something dear. He said he wished he felt better so that he could take Sally and me to a really good restaurant in Marin County, outside San Francisco. Couldn't quite remember the name of the place, and said it was old-cafeteria style, and very tasty, and he'd like to take us. Then, he was to tired to talk.

We left. Partly because we knew he'd like it, and partly because it sounded fun (there's some overlap), we drove to Guadalupe. Sally is my passenger, but, in a way, she's my prisoner, too, 'cause I just started driving to Guadalupe without really ASKING. :) She's a sport. Tank has a favorite Mexican restaurant there that he calls Larry's, and we've all been there, and it's very tasty. Next door is a grocery store run by a Mr. Masatani (or something like that), who, as a child, lived in a California internment camp. I think that's the right term. Tank really likes Mr. Masatani, and buys Hershey bars there, every single time he goes to Larry's. Sadly--tragically--Larry's is closed on Tuesdays. We bought Hershey bars, asked the locals for a recommendation, and drove up the street to La Forgado, or something like that, for chili verde. I'll admit to an over-inflated sense of achievement at even being able to FIND Guadalupe. Sally helped. Some highway driving, and some farmland. Gorgeous. Smelled of cabbage.

We hurried home, and went to Albertsons for some sugar-free treats for Tank, and for some other supplies. We hurried to Bayside, and Terry was there at Tank's side. He seemed tired. She'd been running errands all day, and had bought him yellow pads for writing, :) and some hospital-supply stuff for his bedroom. We're joining her at home in a few minutes to help her lug it in, and set it up. She hates everything about shopping, including lugging in and setting up.

Tank told us that he had physical therapy this morning. Terry talked to Jeff, the physical therapist, and he said Tank couldn't go home for at least three weeks. Tank kind of rolled his eyes when Terry said that, but I couldn't quite READ the eye roll. Probably exhausted him to roll his eyes. She said that Jeff is concerned that Tank can't eat much, because of a throat problem, so they've made an appointment with a throat specialist. In the meantime, Jeff said that Tank should eat whatever he can, so--when we arrived--he was drinking a chocolate shake from Carl's Junior. He drank most of it. The nurse tested his blood sugar, and it was 247, so they gave him some insulin. Terry mentioned again that a doctor said that too much insulin is bad for Tank. It's difficult to know what to do. Sally and I had arrived with a bowl of sugar-free chocolate pudding, with sugar-free whipped topping. Granted, not a lot of nutritional value, but some calories and a bit of calcium. But Tank just ate the whipped cream off the top, and then went back to the shake. I know this is a lot of detail (thus, the summary). I don't know what to do, and neither does Sally, and neither does Terry.

There were awkward silences.

Tank was tired.

Sally and I bought the ingredients for something Tank requested: a mixture of diced rotisserie chicken, Cream of Chicken soup, well-cooked broccoli, and well-cooked egg noodles. I'll make that tonight (while Sally bakes the rest of the cookies), and I'll put it in small food-storage containers. We'll take some to Bayside tonight, but I bet he won't eat it. We're trying to make three visits a day, but they're usually short visits.

We have one more day tomorrow.

I'm going to make a list of stuff that Peggy might want to take to Tank, that I think he will eat. He liked the chicken (leg and thigh) right off the warm carcass, which surprised me a bit. More like a caveman than a patient.

It seems like he might be getting a cold, which is concerning.

(Sally and I just got scolded for breaking a library rule. We were appropriately ashamed. It's like being 8 and 9 again.)

I hope he shows some improvement tomorrow. I KNOW he likes having us here, and the relationship is important to him, and he wants us to have a good time while we're here, and he thanks us for ANYTHING we do. He's very kind. Oh! He made a request of me. :) A mildly surprising request. He asked that when I get back to Utah I go to and check out the Chief's backstory. :) I'll do that. Maybe tomorrow morning, before we leave town. Bless the LDS church. :) I THINK that's an LDS site. I don't know what else it would be.

You all take care. See you soon. Polly.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Hi all!

summary: tank had chemo today, and it tired him considerably. off-site. we visited after, and he ate. hes pale and tired and kind of frustrated. we are focused on getting him to eat, mostly.

last night, sally and i picked up lobster bisque and clam chowder at dockside, and took it to bayside. success! he ate it all! Maybe 800 calories. he loved it, and was eager and happy. we chatted for a while. it was fun. he was darling. tired, but himself. talked about all kinds of things. he was fairly relaxed, there in his bed. the day before, we saw a nurse help him from wheelchair to bed, and he stood for the process, and we realized it had been 13 months since we had seen him upright. i mean, hes been upright in that time, but...not when we were there.

hey, here at burger king, bob seeger is on the radio singing Against the Wind. wow. one of tank's favorite. i was living to run, and running to live. wow. searching for shelter again and again... tank would love being here with us. funny, how needs become so simple. he would f****** love this, sitting with me and sally having a sandwich.

so. we were happy that he ate last night. terry suggested sally and i take the day off.

"what to leave in...what to leave out..."

"well, i'm older now, and still runnin against the wind."

"still runnin...runnin against the wind..."

well. this morning, sally and i went to the shell shop, and then to bayview restaurant. not for our own enjoyment, of course, but so we could take our leftovers home for tank, because he loves their fish-and-chips. since tank was going to be getting chemo all day at a doctors office, we went to spencers and bought groceries so sally could bake for tank. :) she made chocolate muffins and chocolate cookies, both diabetic friendly. so tasty! i watched. terry surprised us by showing up.

earlier, terry had instructed us to show up at bayside at 5:30 with shakes from foster freeze. we were somewhat reluctant to do so, but were willing to comply, cause she assured us that was the only thing he would eat. but he changed his mind at some point, and wanted mexican food instead. yay! we picked up tacos downtown, and took a muffin, and went to bayside. god, he looked tired when he showed up on the bus. pale, too. but, he surprised us by being willing to sit on the front porch of the place and eat our mexican food. didnt seem rushed, really. said its not the drugs that make him tired, but the activity. he talks often of exactly how tired he gets, cause i think it continues to surprise him. to be too tired to sit up, or swallow, or chew, or think straight. he was cute, though, and was charmed when i showed him a photo of anna t's baby, and read a letter she'd written, full of praise and thanks. :) an ode to tank from an unexpected source. nice work, anna.

tank was finally ready to get back into bed, and was suddenly very tired. we all worked together to get him into bed. he was frustrated, but then he relaxed. sally just said that he gets upset and frustrated and overtired, but right away he snaps back into a good mood. he doesnt get hostile, and he doesnt stay upset. when we are there, anyway. it would be so easy to do so. to just give up, or to take the fear and frustration out on loved ones. that would be forgivable, but he doesnt do that. not us, anyway. once he got in bed, he just lay still, on his back, tired, but not unpleasant. resigned...sure. i mean, its sad, sometimes, but i admire him for enduring. for being stoic.

we went back to terrys, and finished making the cookies.

tomorrow, terrys taking the day off to run errands and to exercise. sally and i will take a picnic to tank: rotisserie chicken (dark meat per his request), and coleslaw from spencers.

oh...we'll visit one more time tonight. take the fish from bayview, and a cookie. i imagine he'll be too tired to visit, but maybe not. we show up with food, and ready to visit, even though he may not want either. we're prepared, if he wants food and chat.

terry mentioned that its not his last chemo. we keep thinking its his last, and it never is. not that the chemo is the problem. i dont know why hes so tired. is it radiation, chemo, the illness, a lack of food, or just the fact that he lies in bed all day? just don't know. we met jeff today, who is the main physical therapist. a young, cute, tall guy who seems to like tank. i hope tank starts working with him again soon. the nurses, for the most part, are great.

hey, sally wants to put together a scrapbook for tank, which i think he'd love. when we look at cards and pictures together, he seems surprisingly interested. at xmas, there was a picture of sharon and her family, and he looked at every person, wondering which lovely young blonde was sharon. :) so, i gathered up the pictures that have been sent to tank recently, including the xmas pictures, but if anyone else wants to send photos to me or to sally, she'll include them in the scrapbook for tank. i know it doesnt seem like the kind of think tank would like, but he does now. people change. so send away.

hey! another song tank loves! what are the chances! " mother laughed the way some ladies do..." "...i'm with my boys, i'm with my troops, yeah..." paul simon singing "late in the evening." tank loves this song. loves paul. who doesnt. loves this brass solo. i can hardly wait until tank comes home, and can enjoy pleasures like this song. "...i said i'm gonna get that girl no matter what i do...." i wonder if he'd like headphones and a cd player. probably not, but i'm going to ask him about that. everyone get ready to send cd's of tank's favorite songs, okay? :)

well, we're off to visit him, and then head home to bed. ya'll take care. we miss our utah buddies (you know who you are). much love, polly.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


hi there!

summary: tank is relatively unchanged. very tired. had chinese for lunch, in the Family Area. watched football last night. chemo tomorrow.

I thought i'd start including a summary for the barely interested readers.

yesterday, sally and i returned to bayside after picking up cookies at carlocks, per tanks request. but when we got to bayside, and woke him, he was much too tired to chat, and i said we would return later. sally took the cookies to the nurses station.

we were going to return to the motel, to be sad, but instead we went to downtown morro bay to find rainn wilsons book Soul Pancake at the bookstore (Coalesce). Im uncertain about that spelling. we couldnt get downtown, though, because there was a farmers market, so we parked and walked, and it was tons of fun. gotta love a farmers market. Coalesce was out of the book (congrats, rainn), so we will try again elsewhere (tank's a bit interested in the premise of the book, and i thought i could read aloud). we bought oranges and dates and apples at the market, and picked up some business cards. there was a cute poncho for kennedy, but not in her size. she'd certainly rock a poncho.

terry picked us up, and we all went to bayside together. tank was still very tired. Oh! we bought blackberries for him, and he ate them. seems like a minor detail, but its the only thing i saw him eat all day. he was eager. he can taste very few things.

there was some sadness when tank wanted to go home and watch football. sally and i could see that terry thought it a very poor idea, and maybe an impossibility. tank really wanted to do it, though, cause his tv at bayside is small, and the other patients tv is on also. its not father dino...he transferred out. but, after some discussion, and a phone call to find out when and where the game could be viewed, terry, sally, and i left tank behind, watching the game at bayside. it was awful, but there were lots of good reasons to...not try to get him home. still...i was sad, and confused, and uncertain.

the three of us went to Dockside for dinner, then terry dropped us off at the motel.

per tanks specific (and surprisingly accurate) instructions, sally and i found a chinese restaurant this morning in los osos. we bought an assortment and took it to bayside for lunch with terry and tank in the family area. tank was in a wheel chair, and seemed less tired than yesterday. he ate happily and eagerly. maybe 400 or 500 calories.

oh...also last night, while waiting to be seated at dockside, terry talked to us about tank and his diabetes, and the importance of not taking ANY sweets to him. i think we are all on the same page regarding this, and, even though its difficult, we will refrain from taking him sweets, even in small amounts. in fact, anything too carb rich.

the lunch visit was fun. i pushed tank back to his room afterward, and a nurse helped him into bed. he was tired, so sally and i left and came to burger king to blog. poor, bored sally. shes a trooper. later, we will get seafood bisque for tank at dockside, cause that sounded good to him. in fact, i took a list yesterday, and read aloud a list of foods that i thought might appeal to him. about half did. so sally and i are going to concentrate on taking those foods to him while we are here. all are healthy.

kelly called tanks phone, but i happened to have it with me. darn. its with tank now, so kelly can call back. kelly is thinking of coming back to morro bay with me after peggys visit. tank loves having us here...i know he does. Kelly suggested i improve my "gibbs" when i answer tanks phone. he said i was too friendly, and not urgent enough.

terry suggested we drop by the house, and we probably will, later. its a beautiful day here. sunny and breezy.

sally misses carter.

tank was amused by my account of elvis's recent geography lessons at my house.

take care, all. polly.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Hi there!

Sally and I are at the library. We visited Tank this morning, but the nurse came in to help him with a shower, so we left for half an hour. Convenient! (The computer time is limited to half an hour.)

Such a fun visit! He greeted us warmly, and immediately asked for his phone. One never knows, with Tank. :) I'd programmed in his children's cell phone numbers, and Terry. I showed him how to use it, and he was surprisingly engaged and patient, and not frustrated (I kind of thought he'd be frustrated). He REALLY wanted to use it! I showed him the basics only, because I wanted it to be a positive experience (he has never had a cell phone). He called Kelly briefly, and then left a message for Peggy, who called back. He REALLY seemed to enjoy it. Actually, first he called Terry, and they chatted. Number is 801 792 5855. Maybe I'll change it later to a California number. He has voicemail, so feel free to leave a message if you call. :) Also, he might answer the phone "Gibbs." :) He finds that amusing (so do I), because Mark Harmon apparently answers the phone that way on NCIS. :) I'll encourage him to answer it "Tank." But, if you hear "Gibbs," please know that you're not talking to Mark Harmon.

He was so darling today, and so coherent, and less tired. It was interesting. I always wonder how much to include here, and I'm leaning toward including all of it (except personal-hygiene stuff) (when I'm a Bayside patient, I'd appreciate my blogger not including personal-hygiene stuff). He asked to go for a wheelchair ride, so we're going to do that when we return. We've never done that before with him. And tomorrow, he wants to go to KFC. :) He's been jonesing for KFC. He said the closest one is in Paso Robles, which is about 45 minutes from here, but he said he's up to it, and just needs help into the car. I'm game. We'll see. I don't know if Terry will want to go or not. Tank's ambitious. I mean, he seems to push himself a bit. He said that soon (while we're here, I think) he wants a trip to Monterey. :) I think that's 3 or 4 hours. We'll see what we can do. I think he's f****** sick of lying in that bed. We'll see what we can do. Maybe there are rules, or maybe the staff thinks it's not safe to let him loose with us.

Also, he wants to travel cross country. :) He wants to go to Utah with us for a visit. All of this surprised me and Sally. I guess he's feeling antsy. No talk of death today. He seemed a tired version of himself.

He encouraged Sally to sell her Hummel figures to improve her bottom line. I think it's unlikely she'll do that. :) He always has ideas for people, to make them happier. Sally brought up a childhood sub-for-Santa project (that I cannot remember), and Tank mentioned what a good heart Nola had. :)

The weather is perfect here. Maybe mid-50s and sunny.

We'll just play it by ear.

I think Tank has a chemo treatment on Monday. Terry invited us to go along (one at a time...there are only two chairs for visitors). It's at a doctor's office nearby, I think. Terry said it's a day-long IV treatment. Tank's arms looks beat up, as if he's had a lot of IVs lately. A lot of blood pooling near the surface, it seems. I don't know that it's dangerous. Also, Terry invited us to the house today, between 4:30 and 5. She's home cleaning, and getting help moving a TV into Tank's bedroom. Rich is helping her.

Tank said he doesn't have physical therapy on weekends. In fact, it's weird, because on weekends there seems to be no non-medical staff at Bayside. No receptionist. It's kind of dimly lit in the common areas. Plenty of helpful nurses, though. They're generally sweethearts. Tank's door sign used to say Rawlan Nelson, but now it says Rawlan "Tank" Nelson. That was oddly reassuring. Terry told us last night that they'd gotten his blood sugar under control, but didn't mention numbers. Told us to be careful with treats. We will be. He's eager for the chicken at KFC, and coleslaw, and biscuits with honey and butter. FYI.

I guess that's about it. Perhaps this is too much detail. But I know I'd want lots of detail, if I weren't here. When Peggy and Kelly visit, I'll want lots of detail. Tank has this way of holding his hands and arms up in front of him, as a way of saying, "Give me a minute...I'm gathering my thoughts." It's cute. He recognizes that he doesn't have the mental agility he once had, so he needs to do things differently. He said that. He can't hold several thoughts in his mind at once, so I think it's important not to interrupt him, and to give him time. "He has to concentrate harder," said Sally (just now, when I asked her about this). When he has a thought, he has to express it, 'cause it might not be there a few seconds later. Happily (so far), it doesn't drive him crazy, and he doesn't act hostile, or overly frustrated. I'm grateful for that. He's very dear.

Well, ya'll take care! We'll probably be back this afternoon or evening. Terry's bringing pea soup for lunch at 11:30, so we'll need to do our wheelchair excursion before that (I think). Love, Polly.

Friday, January 7, 2011


hi. sally and i are here in morro bay. we arrived an hour ago. no harm or accident. we went to bayside right away, and tank woke up and greeted us. it was a short but interesting visit.

he seemed very tired. very.

however, he seemed lucid. tired is sometimes code for incoherent, but he didnt seem incoherent at all. just tired. he recognized us, and seemed very happy to see us, and not surprised. he weighs 214 lb. last time he weighed 214, he was 13. they brought him food, and he wasnt interested. said he cant taste anything. terry (bless her heart) brought him a chocolate shake earlier, and he said he couldnt taste it at all. hes so worn out that chewing tires him. swallowing tires him. after 30 minutes or less, he said he needed to sleep, and we left. however, we could tell he was very eager to see us in the morning. terrys bringing pea soup for lunch. tasty.

he wanted to review the names of his grandchildren. i mean, in a friendly way, and the grandchildren. he seemed rather relaxed. he asked how peggy and kelly were doing. hes excited to see both. he asked about my family, and sallys. he was very polite and solicitous.

he said that he told terry that if someone tells her that he (tank) is going to die, that he wants to know. it caught us off guard, and i laughed awkwardly, which was a strange thing to do, cause he meant it. but he didnt seem sad about it, or upset. just that hed made that request.

earlier, terry had been reading aloud from a treatise by einstein on religion, or atheism, or something, and he had enjoyed that. his philosophy (tanks) seems to be that this (earth) is one place to be, but theres another place, too. nothing that he would call a heaven, but...something. you know...another place. he seemed to be mentioning it in passing, but we will see if he mentions it again.

he mentioned the cookies kaycee sent, and that he appreciated it. thanks, kaycee.

he was glad to get the pile of scratchers i had for him, but was too tired to do them then, but asked sally for a quarter, so he could do them later.

he told sally that hed been thinking (for a week or so) that she would make a good nurse, and would be a good asset at bayside. nice.

he told us that when we return tomorrow to bring him our motel 6 phone number. that surprised us a bit. i told him i would bring his cell phone. he seemed happy about that. i will program it tonight.

hes excited about his visitors coming on monday, from arizona. terry is home cleaning the house.

he talked about harry and duffys kids for a bit.

he was chatty, but tired. we are so eager to go back. sally had made chocolate chip cookies (so good), and gave him one, and he ate it all up.

will write more tomorrow. love to all.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Hi there.

I just talked to Terry (I wasn't able to reach her last night). She said Tank is "holding his own." (That's a perfectly legitimate figure of speech, despite the fact that Nola always discouraged us from using it.) Terry didn't sound very optimistic. She said Tank is "resigned," and that he had hoped to be home before now. Terry said she talked to the nurses, and asked their opinion of Tank going home in a couple of weeks, and the nurses didn't think it was likely.

Tank's last radiation treatment was on Tuesday.

Today, Terry took Tank to the eye doctor. Because of his fragile health, he's unable to have cataract surgery. The doctor gave Tank some reading glasses, which Terry said are very handsome. :)

Sally and I are leaving tomorrow morning to go visit. We'll be in Morro Bay for about five days. We're both very eager to see him. If anyone wants me to bring anything back from the Central Coast, give me a call. I'll provide daily updates regarding Tank's condition. Also, I'm taking a senior-friendly cell phone for Tank. I hope he's able and willing to use it. We'll see.

Take care, all. Polly.