Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Reading

In the summer of 2010 I completed my goal of reaching the high point of each of the lower 48 states and I set a new goal – to read all of James A. Michener’s writings. Many of his books are very long and the print is very small.  I completed The Covenant (1235 pages) this summer, but not without a lot of breaks reading something else to rest my eyes.  Here are some of the other books I’ve been reading:

The Wrecking Crew – Kent Hartman
The story of the musicians who recorded much of the Roll & Roll music of the 60s and early 70s. In some cases they replaced members of groups such as the Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel during recording sessions. Some members of the wrecking crew, such as Glen Campbell went on to become famous on their own.
102 Minutes – Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn
The 9/11 story from the perspective of survivors and rescuers. It was 102 minutes from the time the North Tower was hit until it collapsed; the South Tower was hit later but collapsed sooner than the North.  I was surprised to learn that building codes had been weakened over the years so that the Trade Center towers had fewer stairways than the Empire State Building, and they were enclosed in drywall rather than concrete.  
A Tale of Two Subs – Jonathan J. McCullough
The USS Sculpin and the USS Sailfish (originally named the USS Squalus) were sister subs; built side by side. The Sculpin had helped rescue Sailfish crew members after a test dive accident and in 1943 both were involved in the war against Japan. The Sculpin was damaged by a Japanese Destroyer and forced to surface. Survivors were taken prisoner and divided between two Japanese aircraft carriers; Chuyo, and Unyo. The Sailfish attacked and sank the Chuyo, unaware that American prisoners were aboard.
The book also talks about the intelligence gained by breaking the Japanese code, and about the problems with American impact and proximity torpedo fuses.

Monstering – Tara McKelvey
Subtitled “Inside America’s policy of secret interrogations and torture in the terror war”, this book in centered on the problems at Abu Ghraib. It seems that “enhanced interrogation” was justified as a way to get lifesaving intelligence from high value captives, but was used on prisoners randomly. Official approval at the top, lack of direction and control in the middle, and depravity among some at the bottom resulted in prisoner’s injury and death.  Many Iraqis who might have looked favorably on the US became enemies as a result of mistreatment by the US military, the CIA, and contract interpreters and interrogators.
McKelvey says, “The vast majority of prisoners at Abu Ghraib had no information about the insurgency or about possible future acts of terrorism. Yet American interrogators, guards, and contractors applied harsh techniques and then used some of their own methods that did not appear on the approved list.”
Terminal Event – James Thayer
This is a novel about a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and FBI investigation into the crash of an airliner. It is well written and kept me guessing. It was loaded with authentic sounding tidbits about investigative techniques and aircraft systems. For example, after a crash the most common words found at the end of the recording from a cockpit voice recorder are, “Oh shit!”
Gabby – Gabrielle Giffords & Mark Kelly
This is a biography of Gabby and Mark going back to their childhood, but concentrating on the period after she was shot, through her appearance in Congress to vote for the debt ceiling bill. It covers the behind-the-scenes events that mesh with what we were hearing on the news. There is a very interesting chapter on Mark’s final space flight, STS-134. The emcee at their wedding reception, Robert Reich, toasted to “a bride that moves at a velocity that exceeds that of anyone else in Washington, and to a groom who moves at a velocity that exceeds seventeen thousand miles per hour.”

I’m continuing to read Michener, and I’ll talk about his books at another time.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Dinah and Oliver Witte have been friends for decades. Oliver is a journalist (He wrote about our solar panels at, a journalism professor, and is in the process of writing a dissertation for his doctorate. We visited him at a restaurant and at his home in Carbondale, IL
Oliver at his computer working on his thesis
 The next stop was in Chicago to visit Dinah’s sister Pat and brother-in-law Dick. Our original plan had been to attend their 50th anniversary party at the end of June but Dinah’s leg problems delayed us. We missed the party, but had them all to ourselves for a full day.
We spent an afternoon and morning visiting Pat & Dick
On to Grafton, WI to visit Linda & Warner Schafer. Linda has been in and out of the hospital for two years now and continues to have serious health problems. On this visit we found her to be somewhat better.
We visited with Dinah’s brother Bob, his wife Ellen, their son Steve, and his wife Ann.  Dinah pumped them all for information and opinions on the iPhone and iPad, and even had them take her to the local Apple store … twice!
Next, we visited with Allen’s navy buddy Mike Sherman and his wife Martha.  They have been on the road as full-time RVers for about a year and are spending the summer near family.  We met them in Montello, WI where we strolled around downtown, had lunch, and chatted. I walked around their RV park with them and their new dog, Maddie Wigglebottom.
Lunch with Mike & Martha
 Dinah visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN as a drop in patient hoping they would be able to help her with her spine problems.  We had hoped they would accept her and had allowed time to stay there for a while if necessary.  But they required a referral from one of her doctors which she did not have, so she decided to try again at another time.
We moved on to a Corp of Engineers park on the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another Breakdown

We were driving toward Carbondale, Ill when the “Do Not Shift” light came on again. My first thought was that something had gone wrong with the transmission repair done just a few days ago – the new “output shaft speed sensor” had failed, or the plug connecting it to the wiring harness had come undone.  We kept going while Dinah researched the nearest transmission repair place.
But then the speedometer became erratic and pegged at 80MPH while the GPS said we were doing less than 60. When the tachometer started to fail and we began to loose power we decided it was time to get off the road. We turned onto a side street and headed for a deserted gas station.  About 200 feet from the gas station, the engine quit and it slowly dawned on me that this was more than a transmission problem.  For the first time I checked the dashboard voltmeter. It showed that the vehicle battery voltage was below 8 volts.
Our RV has 2 separate sets of batteries: the “vehicle” batteries which handle the starter, engine, headlights, etc, and the “house” batteries which operate the inside lights, refrigerator, and, through the inverter, the TVs, microwave, and other 110v stuff. There is a dashboard switch that connects the two systems together, and by using that switch I was able to get the engine started again, and get us off the road.
I knew the vehicle batteries were old, and had been drained and left discharged for months when we left the RV in storage in 2006. I assumed they had died and started to collect the measurements and specs I would need to replace them when it dawned on me that the symptoms pointed to a charging problem, not a battery problem. If I tied the 2 electrical systems together and used the 110v generator to charge the house batteries, we would be in business! Rather than holding the momentary contact dashboard switch to connect the two systems while I drove, I rigged a jumper on the relay that the switch controls, watched the vehicle battery voltage slowly climb, and we were on our way. There was nothing wrong with the transmission – it was just reacting to the low voltage.
We spent the night in a campground in Poplar Bluff, MO with an appointment at the local truck repair place for this morning.  They quickly diagnosed a bad alternator and replaced it. Two hours and five hundred dollars later we were on our way.
We have been very fortunate in that none of the problems we have had with our motor home over the years have required that we be towed – we have always been able to get to a repair facility under our own power. We are hoping that our good luck will continue.

Monday, July 23, 2012

On the Road Again!

Dinah & I have finally started our summer travels, driving away with 2 dogs, 3 cats, and a kitten on Monday, 16 July.  We spent our first two nights at Valley of Fires Corp of Engineers campground in Carrizozo, NM.
This bird, with it's mate, shared our campsite shelter
Sunset at Valley of Fires

On Wednesday we headed out for Amarillo, TX, but shortly before getting there a dashboard light indicated a transmission fault. We limped to Walmart, got out the Allison transmission manual, and determined that we had an "Output shaft speed sensor" failure.  Fortunately for us, Julian's Transmission Repair, Inc, an Allison repair facility, was nearby and we arranged to visit them the next morning.  The transmission's computer decided it was not safe to shift, so we drove the 12 miles to the repair shop in first gear.  The lead mechanic, David, immediately went to work, and in an hour or so we were on our way. The part (which looked like it was worth about $20) cost $85 and the whole bill was under $200.  But to put that in perspective, on the way out of town we filled the tank with diesel, and that cost $250!
Next stop, the Corp of Engineers Canadian Campground at Canton Lake, Canton, OK. A nice place, but with 100+ temperatures, and lots of prickly things to get stuck in the dog's fur and our sox and shoe laces, we mostly stayed inside, hitting the road again on Sunday morning.
We passed a lot of dry brown corn on our way to Neosho, MO where we spent last night at the Stage Stop RV park.
Our green car after being towed a couple of miles on a dirt road, and visits by a local cat, and even a bird
 We expect to stay put today, then head toward Carbondale, IL tomorrow.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The Dr. has cleared Dinah for travel, and we hope to begin our delayed Summer RV trip soon.  We again have the three black kittens (one has died, and two were returned to the shelter when we thought we were about to leave 3 weeks ago) and plan to take one of them on our travels, returning the other two to the shelter again.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Home Again

Dinah came home last night.  She had been given a series of tests including a bone scan and an MRI, and the conclusion was a probable bone infarct.  According to Wikipedia, that is "tissue death caused by an obstruction of the tissue's blood supply, which leads to a local lack of oxygen. The resulting lesion is referred to as an infarct", so a small section of her femur, near the base of the implant, and near the bottom of the fracture from a few weeks ago, may have died.  The treatment is to stay off the leg, and observe it over time.  Ominously, Dr. Bean said, "I don't think we need to replace this hip just yet".
We are hoping that Dinah will heal herself and that no further surgery will be needed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hurry up and Wait

Dinah arrived at Sierra Medical Center Monday night, but apparently was not admitted until Tuesday morning. On Tuesday she was given an MRI, a nuclear imaging test (Bone scan), and an ultrasound test of her leg.  The infection Dr told her that it does not appear her leg is infected, and another operation is probably not advisable.
Today not much has happened so far. Dr Bean has not been by yet today and it is not clear when he will next visit her. So at this point, the problem of pain in her leg remains unresolved, and she is in limbo waiting to hear from Dr. Bean.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back to the Hospital

Dinah's left leg began to give her trouble last week, and she regressed from cane to walker a couple days ago. This morning she headed out for a couple of Dr. appointments, driving herself.  But she soon reached the point where the leg hurt enough that she was simply not able to walk. She called Dr Bean, the hip surgeon, and they decided she should go to the hospital.  I drove her to El Paso Specialty hospital where x-rays were taken.
Dr. Bean was concerned that the left femur might have an hairline fracture near the bottom of the hip replacement's shaft. He wanted more imaging that was not readily available at the Specialty hospital, so she was sent to the hospital where her last operation was performed.  That hospital is all of 1/4 mile from Specialty, but I was not permitted to drive her; instead, she waited 2 hours for an ambulance, and I went home to feed the pets. As I write this, she is settled into her new room. Imaging might happen tonight, but more likely tomorrow morning.
We had been working to be ready for our planned departure in our motor home for our summer travels on Wednesday. That has now been delayed until Saturday or later.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Whitewater-Baldy New Mexico Wildfire

The enormous wildfire in New Mexico, mentioned regularly on network news programs, is burning near the Continental Divide in the Gila National Forest in Catron County, which is within the service area of our Red Cross - The American Red Cross in Southwestern New Mexico.
Dinah & I have not been involved with the fire, but it has made the news frequently enough that I felt it deserved a mention here. It is the largest wild fire in New Mexico history. As of 8AM this morning (Saturday 9 June) it has burned almost 275,000 acres which is over 425 square miles, and is about 1/3 contained. Currently, the fire is being fought by 826 fire personnel with 30 engines, 27 water trucks, 4 dozers, and 10 helicopters.  For the last several days temperatures have been in the 90s and humidity in the single digits.  Today there is a "Reg Flag" high wind warning. The fire is 100 miles or more northwest of Las Cruces, but we have had at least one day with lowered visibility and a smell of smoke. You can see more about this fire at
As of last Monday, there is another fire on the eastern boundary of our Red Cross area; the Little Bear Fire, near Ruidoso, NM, which is expected to require evacuations, and the opening of a Red Cross shelter.
Dinah's hip replacement has kept her out of active Red Cross service, and I have been attempting to limit my role to facilities maintenance, and computerized record keeping. Dinah & I still respond to single family fires but I'm trying to phase myself out of that as well.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Harriet Russell at the Las Cruces Museum of Art

Dinah is a sometimes vendor at the Saturday Downtown Las Cruces Farmer's Market which is located on Main Street, and Dinah's booth is located in front of the Las Cruces Museum of Art.  As we were setting up this morning, Dinah noticed the billboard for the current show and it displayed the name "Harriet Russell".
Dinah's booth in front of the Las Cruces Museum of Art, with the sign for Sauce's show at the extreme right center
 Now, Harriet "Saucy" Russell is my former wife; we were married from 1975 until 1992. She was on the faculty of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, when I met her and has been an artist all her life.  She now lives in Cuba, New Mexico, where she has a studio and continues to do art.
Sauce's show announcement. The painting at the top is Sauce's; the sculpture is by Sara D'Alessandro whom I do not know.

I'm not an "Arts" person, most of Sauce's work is abstract, and I've never really appreciated what she does. But one picture I have always liked very much is Sauce's 'The Birches' done in 1980 from a picture of birch trees on land that she & I owned in New Hampshire.  That picture now hangs in Dinah's & my dining room.
The Birches - done in 1980 by HRD - Harriet Russell Downs
So if you happen to be in Las Cruces between now and 21 July, stop in and check out her work.  If not, you can check it out at

Friday, May 4, 2012

More Kittens!

Last Saturday Dinah got a call from the shelter - four black kittens had arrived and needed foster parents. A couple hours later they were in a cage in our bedroom. They are cute little guys that love to climb, and both Dinah & I have the ankle marks to prove it.  Our cats ignore them, but the dogs enjoy playing with them.

Dinah continues to recover and is now able to drive herself around town.  The incision is healing well.  The marks on her face are rapidly disappearing, and outpatient therapy starts again on Monday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dinah is home again!

Here she is, ready to go!
Dr Bean cleared Dinah to go home Monday afternoon, and she actually got to leave the hospital after 6PM  She ended the day aching all over and needing help to get in and out of bed, but today (Tuesday) is a much better day and she is back to doing most things for herself without help.

Monday, April 23, 2012

No Infection

The infectious disease Dr visited this morning to say "no sign of infection" in the culture results so far. He OK'd removing the IV and going home whenever Dr Bean approves.
We think a tube was secured to Dinah's face by tape during surgery. When the tape was removed, some skin came with it. So this is how she looks this morning.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Out with the drain - Up and around

The PT people got Dinah up and walking around the ward this morning, then sitting in a chair for a while.
 The drain was removed from Dinah's incision around 1PM today; our first chance to see the results of yesterday's operation.  She is doing well, but is having some pain.  We still hope to head home tomorrow (Monday).  No access to email at the hospital so we are continuing to use this method of communicating.  I hope to get to McDonald's to download email for Dinah & myself later today (we are waiting for Dr Bean to visit).

Dinah says:
Let us hope that this is the FINAL cut in to this flesh. It looks like chicken skin!  The staff at this hospital have been very friendly and caring.  Food is okay.  Today we got the okay from Dr. Bean to put full weight on the bad leg -  but I'm so stiff/sore that I'll be slow to go.

Once again, Allen has been my knight in shining armor.  What a guy!!!!  Aren't I truly blessed?  Hugs to everyone........

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A change of plans

The infectious disease Dr stopped by and told Dinah that the culture taken to check for infection will require 24 to 48 hours to get results and she will not be released to go home any earlier than Monday.

Surgery Complete

Dinah was taken into surgery about 11:15AM and returned to her room about 2:15PM.  Dr Bean said that the operation went well and that some lumpy cloty stuff (I don't remember the technical term) was removed. Samples were sent to the lab to look for infection.  A drain was installed but should be removed tomorrow (Sunday) and we expect she will go home tomorrow afternoon.
She had a liquid lunch and is doing well except for a black eye (unexplained) and some missing skin on her cheeks where something was taped to her face. Dinah says, "goodo".

Friday, April 20, 2012

A visit with Dr Bean

Dr Bean, Dinah's hip surgeon dropped by her room this afternoon, looked at her incision, and told us what to expect.
There is no swelling, and blood tests don't indicate infection, so there is probably nothing seriously wrong.  If her blood is thick enough to operate, at 11AM tomorrow (Saturday) he will remove a wedge of flesh centered around the area that is draining.  He may insert slow release antibiotics into the incision. If all goes well, Dinah could go home on Sunday.
If the problem goes deeper (into the muscle), he might need to insert a drain, and she would probably be kept longer. In the worst case where there is a large amount of infection going deep into the leg, it could be necessary to remove the implant and replace it completely, but that is extremely unlikely.
So, not much happening today, but we hope the show will get underway tomorrow morning.

Surgery Delayed

The Dr has decided that Dinah's blood is still too thin to safely operate, so the surgery has been delayed from 3PM today (Friday) until tomorrow, probably in the morning.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sierra Medical Center

Dinah is settled into room 345 at the Sierra Medical Center in El Paso. AnaLisa is staying at our house with the pets, and I'm staying with Dinah at the Hospital - they even brought me a bed; during her previous hip replacement I slept in chairs.
They have taken a medical history and a lot of blood for testing. Dinah's surgery is scheduled for 3PM tomorrow (Friday).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Back to the hospital

Dinah had her weekly checkup today with her hip surgeon, Dr Bean. He was not happy with the fact that her incision is still weeping and decided to operate a third time to open the incision with an infectious disease specialist present, and make sure that there is no infection.  She will be admitted to Sierra Hospital in El Paso tomorrow (Thursday) and be operated on late Friday.  They will keep her hospitalized until probably Monday morning.

Yesterday, our foster mother cat began sneezing and today is obviously not feeling well. We will not be able to care for her and her kittens over the next few days and so we have returned them to the shelter where the odds of their survival are not good.  We have learned from experience that once mother becomes sick, the kittens are in great danger.  Today is not one of our better days.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bev Morissett visits Las Cruces

My sister Beverley flew home today after spending five very relaxed days visiting us, and touring the local area.  Lily and Noodle were delighted to see her and Lily especially attempted to lick her to death. Bev handled cooking duties due to Dinah's incapacitation and my incompetence.

When Dave Downs visited us back in February, I took his picture standing in the Rio Grande which was completely dry at the time. We tried to get a picture of Bev at the same spot, but she would have needed to take off her shoes and roll up her pants!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A new set of foster cats

We have been babysitting  friend AnaLisa's cat Mimi and fostering Lady Gaga for some time but today AnaLisa adopted Lady Gaga and took both cats home, so Dinah visited the shelter and came home with a mother cat and three kittens!
Here are two of the kittens; I tried to get a picture of all three but mama cat immediately carried one of them away. So far they are living in the bathroom and we are keeping them away from our other pets. They spent a couple of days in the shelter which means they were probably exposed to germs. We have our fingers crossed that they will do well.

Monday, April 9, 2012

She's home!

Dinah was released from rehab today (Monday, 9 April) and came home for the first time in five weeks.
When a patient leaves the Rehabilitation Hospital, the staff lines up along the corridor and applauds as the patient rolls by, then they give a graduation certificate and, as the picture shows, Dinah also received a quilt.
Here she is getting into the car for the ride home.
And here she is in our living room, tea in one hand, tv remote in the other. We are all glad to have her home!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Flower Lady

When Dinah was first in rehab, I bought a single fake flower and added it to the bouquet of the real thing her sister had sent her.  She liked it, so I bought 3 more and the 4 flowers, attached to her various beds, followed her back to the Specialty Hospital in El Paso, Las Palmas Medical Center, and then back to rehab in Las Cruces.  She asked me to buy more so she could give them away to other patients, and I bought out the remainder of Dollar Tree's stock - eleven more flowers. They began to disappear fast as she handed them to other patients, and soon, many wheelchairs had a flower popping up from one handle.
More flowers! Dinah recruited hospital staff to scout out other Dollar Trees and BUY MORE FLOWERS!  By my count Dinah has, or has given away, a total of 71 fake flowers.  The nurses and attendants now alert her when a new patient arrives so that she can visit their room and present them with a flower.
Dinah is scheduled to come home on Monday, but will be returning to rehab three days a week for out patient therapy, and she plans to continue in the role of flower lady.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Another Lunch Date

Dinah had three guests for lunch today; Sewing/embroidery buddies AnaLisa & Stella, and me. AnaLisa and Stella are not being starved; guests are asked to wait until all patients are served before lining up for lunch.
Dinah continues to do well and now calls herself 'The Flower Lady' having taken on the project of giving out cloth flowers (like the two seen here on her wheel chair) to other patients.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rehab Lunch

Dinah's friend Kay and I joined Dinah for lunch today at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico cafeteria. Dinah continues to do well, and should be home in nine days!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Today is the100th anniversary of Dad's (Herb Downs') birth

If Herb Downs, my father, were alive today, it would be his 100th birthday.
He was born 30 March 1912 in Fitchburg, MA, the first of five brothers.  He grew up in a single parent home in Reading, MA and with relatives in Fitchburg, MA.  After working for the Reading Chronicle Newspaper, he decided to go to college, graduating from Fitchburg State Teacher's College as one of the oldest members of his class.  .
In June 1942 he married Eleanore Dort, of Rockport, MA.

His career was as an industrial arts teacher at Weeks Jr High, but in addition to his day job, he had a print shop in his basement, and he was a children's entertainer, doing magic shows at children's birthday parties, holiday parties, and other events.

He personality was that of an entertainer, and he loved to get a hold of someone new on whom he could pull all of his jokes and tricks. 
When anyone showed him pictures of their kids or grand kids, he would admire the pictures then offer to show a picture of his pride & joy!

One of my favorite pictures was taken on the day my family delivered me to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to begin my freshman year of college.  It is of Dad and my youngest sister, Lois.

In the late 1960's, dad returned to school evenings and weekends to get his Masters in education.
Herb Downs family in 1968

Brothers Stew and Herb Downs
Dad died in October, 1982. Thirty years have passed since then. I find it hard to believe that in two years I will have reached the age at which he died.  We miss him.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dinah's doing well

Yesterday was a busy day for visitors - Between visitors and phone calls, Dinah's social life is picking up!  She is doing well with daily physical therapy and not too much leg pain.  And she is looking forward to going home.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lily visits & an end date is set

Monday was Lily's day to visit Dinah, out on the patio - no dogs in the hospital. It was a happy reunion.

Dinah's wound is healing, but looks angrier than it did after the first operation. Some of the discoloration is due to bleeding which is in turn due to the blood thinner to reduce the clotting danger.What look like stitches are actually metal staples.

Dinah called this evening to say that a release date has been set for her to leave the Rehabilitation Hospital; she should be coming home on Monday, 9 April!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Noodle Visits Dinah

This morning Noodle & I visited with Dinah outside (Noodle is not allowed inside). This was the first time they had seen each other in 3 weeks and it was a happy reunion.

Dinah did not get therapy yesterday because her blood is not yet thick enough, and today is so far undecided.  She is holding up well, and looking forward to getting home.
Noodle & Dinah in front of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rehab all over again

Dinah is back again at Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico located in Las Cruces.  She is wearing clothes for the first time in a week and is getting around by wheel chair; no longer stuck in bed. They found her blood a little too thin to risk therapy so her first day back was a day off. She should be starting therapy tomorrow.
She is located in room 620 and would enjoy hearing from you.

After seeing her off to the ambulance yesterday, I was to follow in the motor home. But I had put down a hydraulic jack to level the motor home and could not retract it. After fiddling with the control panel, and trying to jumper the solenoid valves directly, I ended up loosening a hydraulic line to bleed off fluid and raise the jack.  Worked OK until I loosened it too much and got bathed in a spray of red hydraulic fluid!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

She's on her way to rehab!

Dinah was wheeled out of her room with all her baggage 5 minutes ago headed toward the ambulance.

In an hour or so (Say 1:30PM MDT) she should be moved into her room at the rehab in Las Cruces.


Today is the day! - Las Cruces here we come

As of 9AM this morning, there is a space for Dinah in rehab and she is scheduled to depart Las Palmas Medical Center at 11AM today.  We have packed up all her stuff and she is rarin to go!
Last evening she had a visit from her sewing buddy Stella, who happens to work in the same hospital as a neo-natal nurse.  After a visit, I left and Stella gave Dinah a bed bath - her best so far.

In trying to describe the break in Dinah's femur I said  "The break started on the inside of the femur, perhaps 1/4 of the way down the bone and 1/2 way down the shaft of the replacement. It then curved up to the top of the bone near its center."  But the Dr said "Periprosthetic fracture type A, however, the fracture line going only 2 centimeters proximal to distal fixation, large displaced medial fragment."  I hope that clears things up!

I'm packing up the motor home so I'll be ready to move when Dinah does.  If all goes well, the next report will be from Las Cruces.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Release to Rehab

This morning (Wednesday) both of Dinah's Drs (Lung and general) have approved her release to rehab.  But the wheels grind slowly; It may happen today, or maybe not until tomorrow.  In the meantime, she is schedule for an AM and a PM walking therapy session today. She had her first therapy session yesterday and walked perhaps 20 feet down the hall and back, and did not have a lot of pain as a result, very good news. Last evening she had a visit from Ron Green, an RVing friend.
Dinah is in minimal pain and good spirits
The animals and I are doing fine in our home away from home.  I planned to eat my meals in the motor home, but Dinah has found that she gets more food than she needs, so I get to eat the stuff she doesn't like, plus what is left over from what she does.
Las Palmas Medical Center is on the left. I'm parked in an employees lot.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blood Clot

Dinah arrived at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso by ambulance on Saturday night, and on Sunday they started medications to thin her blood to avoid additional blood clots.  It has taken a couple of days to get things in order, but as of today she has been cleared to begin physical therapy and she had her first session this afternoon (Tuesday 20 March).  We hope she will be released in a few days, and will then return to rehab in Las Cruces.  We have our fingers crossed!
Here's Dinah looking chipper in her bed in Room 310 of Las Palmas Medical Center.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Second Operation

Late Friday Dinah returned to surgery. The plan was to replace the long portion of the replacement with a longer one that would go deeper into the left femur bone.  But when the Dr got inside, he decided on a different approach and nothing was removed.  The break started on the inside of the femur, perhaps 1/4 of the way down the bone and 1/2 way down the shaft of the replacement. It then curved up to the top of the bone near its center.  So they used some medical "zip ties" to bind the bone back together.  In the x-rays in looks like a bunch of skinny hose clamps pulling the broken piece of bone back into place. The operation went well and I believe she slept well Friday night.
But on Saturday morning it was apparent that something was wrong; her vital signs were not where they should be and she was very uncomfortable, and not very coherent.
She was given a CT scan which showed a pulmonary embolism; a clot in her lung. El Paso Specialty Hospital was not equipped to handle emergencies that might arise from the clot, so early Saturday evening she was transferred to Las Palmas Medical Center, about 2 miles away in El Paso.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Dinah entered the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico as a patient Thursday evening.  She found the facility to be well designed, well maintained and clean.  The staff and the food were great.  She got about three hours of therapy a day and was doing well. Except when doing therapy she moved about by wheelchair.

  But on Wednesday morning she attempted to dress herself with out help, fell, and broke her left femur about half way up the shaft of the new hip replacement.  Late Thursday she was returned to El Paso Specialty Hospital.  I followed the next day in the motor home.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hip Hip Horray!

Dinah has been having hip pain for some time now, and it was decided that she needed to have her left hip replaced (Her right had been replaced in 2006). The surgery was scheduled for Monday 5 March, and we drove to El Paso Specialty Hospital (where the surgery was to be done by Dr Bean) on Sunday afternoon in the motor home with our 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 visiting cats.  The surgery was completed Monday morning with no hitches and she began to recover quickly.
 Dinah received two units of blood after the surgery.

  She was released Thursday afternoon and transferred to the Southern New Mexico Rehabilitation Hospital in Las Cruces.  I followed the next morning with the motor home and animals.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dave Downs Visits Las Cruces

My brother Dave Downs flew from New England (boy were his arms tired!) to spend a week with us in and around Las Cruces.
We visited the Rio Grande, which flows through Las Cruces, and found it wasn't flowing at all.

Dinah, Dave, and I had dinner with Jeanette Fisher, and Lee & Marsha Squires; RVing friends who were in town for a Habitat for Humanity build.

We visited the New Mexico Space Museum in Alamogordo and had the place pretty much to ourselves - you can see our car is the only one in the parking lot!

Here is Dave with one of the world's largest rocket engines outside the museum.

We checked out Spaceport America located about 50 miles north of Las Cruces.  The building in the background is the futuristic-ly shaped terminal. Spaceport is still under construction, and we weren't allowed any closer than the picture shows.

When Dinah went to the dentist in Palomas, Mexico, we tagged along as far as Deming, NM where we visited the Luna Mimbres Museum with collections galore and something to entertain and to bore everybody.
Here is a poster of one of our childhood heroes - in French.

This display taught me that there was a Destroyer USS Downes (DD-375) that was damaged during the Japanese raid against Pear Harbor. It was named for a Massachusetts Man, Commodore John Downes, born in Canton, MA but probably not related (as he spells Downes with an e).

Our final trip was to Columbus, NM to visit the Railroad Depot Museum. Pancho Villa led a raid here in March, 1916. As a result, the local military base was enlarged to the point that Columbus had the largest population of any city in New Mexico. The first US airbase was established with the United States' entire fleet of 8 aircraft.
Columbus is now a sleepy town. The railroad is long gone along with the military base. But the train station remains and is now a museum featuring local history which of course includes the railroad and the Pancho Villa raid.
The switchboard in this picture was in use in Columbus at the time of the raid. 

Although the railroad is gone, and there is no sign of the old tracks, the museum has reconstructed a few feet of track to put a caboose on.  And here is Dave waving goodbye at the end of his New Mexico visit.