|Name Of Column
||I Left My Voice on the Dining Room Table
||News & Events
||Heather M. Starmer
||Prevention of Radiation-Associated Dysphagia
||On Mixed Metaphors and the Tree of Life
||Our Secret Admirers!
|The Speechless Poet
||Len A Hynds
||It Was Destined To Be
||Prose & Poetry
|Bits, Bytes & No Butts!
||New iPhones, VPN's and Bluetooth Gadgets
INDEX AND LINKS TO EACH ISSUE MAY BE FOUND AT: http://webwhispers.org/news/WotWIndex.asp
To all in the WebWhisper family,
As you know Pat was taken seriously ill very suddenly back at the end of February. Although she has come a long ways her recovery is slow and it may be some time before she is up to writing this column. We will publish updates as we receive them from her son Scott and WW friend Peggy Byron on the daily list and our FB page. In the meantime we will try to keep things running smoothly.
When Pat first published her book, “I Left My Voice on the Dining Room Table” I did a review of it in my column that pleased her greatly so I thought it appropriate to re-print it here- as a reminder of all that she does for the WW/Lary community. There is a link at the end of the article to various sources where you can purchase the book. And drop her an encouraging note via e-mail at email@example.com or snail mail at Pat Sanders C/O Peggy Byron 100 Swan Lake Cir Birmingham, AL 35242 I know she gets a real boost hearing from us.
Thanks, Donna McGary
I Left My Voice on the Dining Room Table
Imagine if you will those early days when you have just learned you have to have a laryngectomy. Perhaps you barely had time to learn how to spell laryngectomee before you became one. Remember that overwhelming feeling of having so many questions you hardy knew where to begin. Now imagine Pat Sanders just shows up on your doorstep one day and in her characteristically straightforward way says, “These are some things you need to know. “ And she then proceeds to tell you and your family exactly what to expect about everything from managing mucus to swallowing, from communication to caregiving, from showering to eating, from fear to depression. And she stays with you holding your hand when necessary and gently but firmly nudging you out the door, also when necessary, until you maybe, just maybe, get the feeling you and your loved ones are going to be okay.
Imaging all that and you have her new book, “I Left My Voice on the Dining Room Table”. It is a brilliant compilation of her own observations and expertise together with those of caregivers, health care providers and other laryngectomees. You could call it the CliffsNotes for all the Webwhispers library and archives. It’s just enough information to get you back on your feet but not so much that you feel daunted by the task. Pat is now your new best friend.
I was hurrying to be sure I had what I needed to take to my massage appointment with Shari. I put everything I needed on the table in the dining room.
After stopping to answer the telephone, I glanced at the time and realized I’d better get moving. Thirty minutes later, I parked the car, right on time, and reached for my shoulder bag.
The side pocket where I always carried my Servox – my electronic larynx, my voice – was empty and I had feeling of pure panic. It was the first time this had happened. That device was my only way of making a sound since my laryngectomy, and I was totally mute without it.
My brain was spinning as I tried to think what I would do if anyone stopped me to talk or ask a question. Even worse, I thought of how tis could have happened and where I could have lost it. I breathed a sigh of relief when I remembered the telephone call, using the instrument, and putting the Servox back on the corner of the dining room table but not in my bag. With this, I took a pad of paper and wrote a note, which I handed to my friend when I went into her office. It said:“I left my voice on the dining room table.”
Nor does she forget the family and friends who rally behind us even as they struggle to understand and help. Pat’s friend, Carolyn Chenault, writes:
On my way to Birmingham to spend the first week home from the hospital with my friend Pat Sanders, I worried. What if I poured the liquid “food” too quickly and strangled her? How could I help if she got strangled? .... My mind was racing with “what if” thoughts and how I could best react if one of my “what if” worries actually happened. I was bringing her a brass bell to ring when she needed me, but suppose I slept through it?
…. I remember the first practice with her Servox. She had her booklet she had been given with lists of words to practice. To avoid tears I made myself giggle inside quietly like a little girl poking fun. “Pat’s got a Dick and Jane book!” One turns to any thought, no matter how juvenile, that will make you stop tears. She practiced. I listened. And it got easier for both of us.
Even if you aren’t new to the lary world it is good reading. I especially enjoyed the section on Healing Touch, a series of articles written by Shari Aizenman on the benefits of touch and massage and utilizing self-massage. I plan to start practicing that myself as I have developed some issues related to years of using an electrolarynx.
From the poignant passages about those first forays back into society as we learn to navigate the new normal to understanding our altered anatomy, I Left My Voice on the Dining Room Table is a very readable guide to this life and a welcome addition our library. Just like Pat it is down to earth, knowledgeable and compassionate. As she writes,
If you have a laryngectomy it is not the end of the world. But it is the beginning of a different world, and you need to learn about it. We can help you do that.”
Well done, Pat!
For more information about ordering this book go to:
Prevention of Radiation-Associated Dysphagia
Dysphagia following treatment for head and neck cancer can have staggering consequences for the quality of life and health status of cancer survivors. In recent years there has been a growing awareness of radiation-associated dysphagia (RAD). While the use of radiation and chemotherapy has been beneficial in sparing the consequences of surgical resection, we now understand that organ preservation does not equate to preservation of function. Patients receiving radiation-based treatment for head and neck cancer are at risk for both acute toxicities and long-term alteration of swallow. Further, patients receiving post-operative radiation therapy may have compounded effects of tissue resection and radiation changes.
The speech pathologist’s role in the head and neck cancer patient’s care begins at the point of diagnosis. Assessment of baseline communication and swallow function and the needs of each individual patient allows for personalized, tailored care. Assessment should include a thorough assessment of orofacial cranial nerve function as well as evaluation of articulation, voice, and resonance; all of which may be impacted by the cancer. The speech pathologist should determine the communicative needs of the patient in order to determine post-treatment needs and targets. Additionally, we advocate for instrumental assessment of baseline swallowing status, particularly in light of the high incidence of silent dysphagia in the head and neck cancer population. Both videofluoroscopic and endoscopic approaches are appropriate for such baseline assessment. In addition to assessing communication and swallowing, the speech pathologist should also assess for trismus, or limited mouth opening, as this may be one of the presenting symptoms of head and neck cancer which can worsen in response to treatment if neglected.
Once the treatment plan is established, the speech pathologist plays a critical role in patient education. The time between diagnosis and initiation of treatment can be a time of high stress and anxiety for patients and their caregivers due to fear of the unknown. The speech pathologist is uniquely qualified to educate the patient on what to anticipate through each stage of treatment. It is important to consider the patient’s readiness for information through this process and to provide information repeatedly to ensure comprehension. Treatment toxicities relevant to communication and swallowing such as pain, dry mouth, taste changes, fatigue, and voice changes should be reviewed in a way that the patient understands what is upcoming, however the speech pathologist should also stress the cancer care team’s ability to manage these side effects. The patient should be encouraged to communicate openly with the team regarding side effects so they can be effectively managed. It is also important at this stage for the patient to understand that what they do during treatment will impact their long-term function. While our goal is not to induce fear, it is important that patients fully understand the long-term importance of following speech pathology recommendations.
Prophylactic swallowing therapy during non-operative head and neck cancer treatment has received great attention in recent years. It has been repeatedly shown that individuals performing exercises prior to and during chemoradiation (CRT) demonstrate more normal swallowing physiology and functional outcomes than those who receive no intervention. Exercises should address maintenance of strength and range of motion of the tongue/tongue base, pharyngeal constrictors, and the muscles responsible for hyolaryngeal excursion and airway protection. For patients undergoing radiation following total laryngectomy, it is extremely important to target tongue and tongue base strength due to significant alteration of pharyngeal driving forces after laryngectomy. Though aspiration is not a concern after laryngectomy, dysphagia is a common problem for patients and should be mitigated by maintenance of tongue function. Jaw stretches are also an important part of treatment during radiation, particularly for those patients undergoing treatment for oral, oropharyngeal, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
In addition to performance of swallowing exercises for prevention of radiation-associated dysphagia, there is growing evidence that maintenance of oral intake during treatment has a positive impact on swallowing outcomes. We recommend placement of a feeding tube only in high-risk patients or in response to nutritional deficiencies. Further, even when a tube is placed, the patient is encouraged to continue swallowing whatever is safe by mouth. It is stressed that the tube is meant to provide supplemental nutrition but that the act of swallowing itself is a critical part of their treatment. The speech pathologist should partner with the dietician to determine the most appropriate diet for each patient and to provide the patient with strategies to maintain oral intake as long as is possible.
Despite our understanding as care providers of the importance of eating and exercising during radiation, patients often have poor adherence to our treatment recommendations. This is multifactorial and related to issues regarding lack of education as well as treatment related toxicities. Many patients cite not having a current dysphagia as the reason for their non-adherence. Increasing patient comprehension of the importance of preventative swallowing intervention is critical for improving adherence. I often compare the purpose of our treatment to dental hygiene – you don’t brush your teeth once you get a cavity, you brush them to prevent the cavity. Similarly, we aren’t exercising to treat dysphagia, but rather to prevent it. In addition to targeting improved comprehension for enhanced adherence, effective management of treatment toxicities such as pain can be critical. We have had success using gabapentin to address the neuropathic pain component of radiation which is not managed by traditional narcotic analgesics. This pain management protocol results in better pain control and has been equated with less need for tube feeding and better swallowing outcomes.
The importance of the speech pathologist on the multidisciplinary head and neck cancer team cannot be overstated. Through assessment, education, and intervention speech pathologists can help to optimize long-term functional outcomes. By preserving communication and swallowing abilities, speech pathologists ensure the best quality of life possible for their patients.
1. Hutcheson KA, Lewin JS, Barringer DA et al. Late dysphagia after radiotherapy-based treatment of head and neck cancer. Cancer 2012; 118(23): 5793-9.
2. Starmer H, Gourin C, Lua LL, Burkhead L. Pretreatment swallowing assessment in head and neck cancer patients. Laryngoscope 2011; 121(6): 1208-11.
3. Carroll WR, Locher JL, Canon CL, et al. Pretreatment swallowing exercises improve swallow function after chemoradiation. Laryngoscope 2008; 118: 39-43.
4. Kotz T, Federman AD, Kao J, et al. Prophylactic swallowing exercises in patients with head and neck cancer undergoing chemoradiation: a randomized trial. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2012; 138: 376-82.
5. Carnaby-Mann G, Crary MA, Schmalfus I, Amdur R. “Pharyngocise”: Randomized control trial of preventative exercises to maintain muscle structure and swallowing function during head and neck chemoradiotherapy. Int J Rad Onc Bio Phys 2012; 83: 210-9.
6. Langmore S, Krisciunas GP, Miloro KV, et al. Does PEG cause dysphagia in head and neck cancer patients? Dysphagia 2012; 27(2): 251-9.
7. Hutcheson KA, Bhayani MK, Beadle BM et al. Eat and exercise during radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy for pharyngeal cancers. Use it or lose it. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2013; 139(11):1127-34.
8. Starmer HM, Yang WY, Raval R, et al. Effect of gabapentin on swallowing during and after chemoradiation for oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer. Dysphagia 2014; 29(3): 396-402.
9. Yang W, McNutt T, Dudley SA, et al. Predictive factors for prophylactic percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube placement and use in head and neck patients following intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment: Concordance, discrepancies, and the role of gabapentin. Dysphagia 2016, epub ahead of print.
Heather Starmer is a clinical assistant professor and the Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation center at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing and has dedicated her clinical and research career to understanding, preventing, and rehabilitating communication and swallowing disorders related to head and neck cancer. She has multiple publications on this subject and regularly lectures at the local, national, and international level on dysphagia in head and neck cancer.
Heather M. Starmer, MA CCC-SLP, BCS-S
Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Director, Head and Neck Cancer Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation
Stanford Cancer Center
On Mixed Metaphors and the Tree of Life
Those of you who have been reading this column for a while know that I am resolutely non-religious although I do aspire to be respectful of the many ways folks express and live their faith. I guess an overdose of religious fundamentalism back in my early adulthood has left me pretty much a skeptic about all things “spiritual”. I am, however, fascinated by the rituals and traditions people of every faith and in every culture carry on and use to support their faith and teach their children about God. Holidays like Christmas, Passover, Ramadan & Easter all have ancient origins- many of which have more to do with the natural than with the supernatural or spiritual world but they all serve the same purpose- to guide, to unify and to comfort.
Up in my neck of the woods most folks still celebrate Easter just like I did as a kid with a combination of church service, new clothes and the Easter bunny which is one wildly mixed-up metaphor for the re-birth of life and the coming of spring. I remember one time taking my Nana, a deeply religious Methodist of old Yankee stock, to Easter services long after I had “left the flock”. She was no longer able to go to church on her own so this was very important to her. My son was about 12 and I made him wear a tie and nice shirt and pants, over much objection. I had not been to a regular church in many years and was astonished when we sat down with Nana that my son and I were among the most dressed up! My son felt vindicated, although to his credit, he was quite gracious since Nana was so very proud of her family once again all together in church. What surprised me more than the casual dress of the Easter parishioners was my reaction to the young minister’s passionate sermon about the power of the message of resurrection. I had years ago abandoned my traditional religious faith. Now memory is a tricky partner, although mine is notoriously good, I am not convinced that what I remember from his sermon is exactly what he said. But what I thought he said was in the middle of all the scriptures about the rolling away of the stone and the miraculous appearances that the most important message was not that one man had been resurrected but that we all could be resurrected and by that he meant re-birth and second chances in the here and now. And when he started singing about it, in that incredibly joyful Irish tenor, I got it. Not religion- no way- but the power of redemptive second chances - that we can aspire to do better, I got it, brother, amen.
Fast forward 35 years. I still don’t go to church and still don’t believe in Nana’s God. But I do love the rituals and get weepy sometimes at the music. I went to a funeral recently and cried only at the Doxology- now that was embarrassing. Surprisingly, I think I’ve found my own religion. I’ve certainly been resurrected from near death and debilitation- cancer treatments are nasty little friends, aren’t they? But we are the survivors- we live to tell the tale. So I LOVE Easter. I love every chance I get to celebrate life. I know that it was originally a pagan holiday to celebrate the beginning of spring and thus fertility, but seriously, who came up with an egg bearing bunny in chocolate?
So what is my religion, you ask? No, it is not chocolate, although I have heard its siren call I am more of a salted caramel devotee. My religion, in truth, is a tree of life.
By my count this marks the 60th edition of Speaking Out. That's 5 years for those that may be math challenged, and certainly much longer than I thought we could make it last. A different question every month for 60 months...no chance! My hat is definitely off to Pat Sanders for the idea and the faith that it would work.
So.. In celebration of this milestone I decided to do 10 "favorites" from the past for this month. But when I started searching I quickly realized how hard it would be to pick just 10, plus it quickly became obvious that 10 were too many to print in just one edition. So, for what it's worth, here are 5 in honor of the first five years, and next month we will print another 5 to start off the next 5 years.
None of these are in any special order and of course my picks may not be your picks. Next month's five have not been decided yet, so next month we will ask the question. "What is your favorite Speaking Out answer?"
To all of you please accept my humble thanks and gratitude for all the wonderful responses we have received these past 5 yrs. Keep them coming and maybe yours will make the 10 year anniversary.
In 1993, the laryngectomee world was different. There were clubs everywhere and meetings were well attended. American Cancer Society ran the IAL meetings and esophageal speech was considered the gold standard, representing the epitome of laryngectomee rehabilitation.. Most local laryngectomee groups revolved their meetings around esophageal speech and in many places those who were not able to achieve good esophageal speech were looked down upon by those who had acquired it. This attitude had been changing since the introduction of the TEP, but esophageal speech was still king. In 1993 a landmark for that change occurred at the Rochester, MN Voice Institute with the May Clinic.
A wealthy laryngectomee from New York had made a large enough donation to the event that he was given the privilege of speaking at the Voice Institute Banquet. He related his practice of demanding that non-esophageal speakers should throw their Artificial Larynxes away and rely only on esophageal speech. I don't remember what he said about TEP users, but I suspect that he thought they were cheating, He ended his speech to stunned silence.
The faculty of eminent Speech Pathologists and MD's met in emergency session and announced the next day that the best method of alaryngeal speech was the one that worked best for the individual. I have attended a total of 15 meetings and I imagine there is still some arrogance among some old timer esophageal speakers, but they are definitely in a minority now and the laryngectomee world is better for it.
I have always lived my life with planning and the realization that I have to work to make good things happen. I made the mistake, all too often, of missing out on the day to day pleasures while working for the long term goals. I concentrated on schooling and building a future for my family. I often thought that I can do that when I retire or after I accomplish the next goal in life. I was too focused on the future. I realized that I was missing out on a lot of good things in life, and tried to balance that mistake as best I could.
I was very seldom ill and had not gone to a doctor in years. Even though I spent all my working days in hospitals, working in the medical equipment, I ignored my health.
When I got cancer, I started thinking about my physical healing and it taught me to think about things a day at a time. I now concentrate on what I need to do each day to beat this new challenge. Learning to deal with each new thing was just another goal. Get through the radiation and chemo. Deal with swallowing and the lack of smell. Learn to make my tongue work again and another way to talk. Although this was new to me, many others have gone through it and I can deal with it too. A day at a time and I can beat this.
Through WebWhispers, I have met so many great people that have gone through it all. You give me hope and role models that show me how to do this, and my family has been there to give me the strength and support I needed.
The Speaking Out Team has asked for us to write about our long term goals and I realized I did not have any. I have gotten so focused on surviving day to day that I did not even allow myself to think about the future. I have gone from long term planning in my life, to a day to day existence. It may be because I was unsure that I had a future. This is another thing that cancer was taking away from me and I will not allow that. Life needs to be a healthy mix of today and tomorrow. Every day is important but without plans for the future, life becomes stagnant. I realize that this is a part of the mental healing that goes along with the physical healing. I have a future I have to plan for and thanks to WebWhispers for helping me accept that. It often is the little things that others do, that make a big difference in someone else's life. Thank you!!
Sherry Rozar, FL
I just got back from a 3 week backpacking trip through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. I drew quite a few stares and lots of questions, even had locals want to photograph my stoma. I proved to myself that I am not limited by being a lary. I even got to visit and tour the ATM Cave (Actun Tunichil
Muknal) in Belize, which has been a dream. You have to swim into the cave and several other places. It was a challenge and I loved it, but scared the guide and my husband too death. Just really wish I could still dive on Belize's Great Barrier Reef.
Toured the jungles in Guatemala and Belize and zip lined overhead. I even climbed the Great Pyramid in Tikal, Guatemala and witnessed the most magnificent view. Spanish was a challenge, certainly can't roll my r's any longer. Thank goodness everyone in Belize speaks English, it gave me a rest.
I feel really blessed and can't wait to go back to Belize this fall for the wet season.
John Hendrix - Aug 2011
My biggest supporter was easily my wife. We live in GA and went to MD Anderson in Houston to have the TOTAL done. We thought we would be out there 2 to 3 weeks tops, but it turned into a 3 month adventure.
After the surgery, my wife did everything for me. She cleaned in and around my stoma for weeks and weeks. I was so down, I would not even look at the hole in my neck for the first week. After I was released from the hospital, it was a very slow healing process. I stayed on a feeding tube (through the
nose) for 2 months and she made sure I had all the food (if that is what you want to call it) and meds I was supposed to have each and every day. She would wash my hair, take taxis to everywhere to get what we needed, just pretty much ran herself to near exhaustion. Since I was not eating real food, she let her diet slip because she felt guilty eating good while I was on formula. I could go on and on what all she did for me.
One last thing I should mention is she took all my frustration that I threw at her and everyone. She was not pleased with me sometimes but she did not let it faze her like it would a lot of folks. I still have my frustrated moments, may always have them as things still have not settled down but I am only in the 8th month of post-op. I would also add both our employers were so kind and generous. Mine paid me pretty much my full salary each week while we were in Houston. My wife's let her go on FLOA and held her job for her while continuing her benefits. I am on her insurance plan as it is much better than mine.
I have so many who have been there for me but my wife by far has been my biggest supporter. I honestly do not know where I would be today without her. We both said for better or for worse when we got married, I hope this is the worse part. I could go on and on but will leave it at this. As is so often stated on this web site, thank you WebWhispers staff and members for all your stories and advice. It definitely makes us feel that we are not in this alone!
Dave Greiwe, Columbus, IN
I am most thankful for ....
My God, for not abandoning me when I abandoned Him, in that terrible first year following my surgery.
My wife, for nursing me back to health, for loving me and never giving up on me, and for having more faith in me than I had in myself.
My daughters, for their loving, gentle support, and for giving us four beautiful grandchildren.
My brother and his wife for their love and unwavering kindness in our time of need, and in all of the years following.
My friends. co-workers, and every person I have met in the last 14 years who seem oblivious to my condition, and treat me like nothing has happened.
WebWhispers, for making it possible for thousands and thousands of people to find hope, support, and inspiration when it is needed the most. I am one of them!
Thank you for your submissions. Edits are used for length, clarity and to keep comments on subject of the month.
Staff of Speaking Out
Our Secret Admirers!
Like all of you, I am sorry to hear Pat is unwell, and hope she is making a good recovery. No doubt, if she has any energy at all, she will be reading the newsletter soon. So Pat, if you are reading, remember you have hosts of friends here in WebWhispers who are thinking of you. You inspire us with your ultra-positive attitude to life and to laryngectomy. Just now, I’m thinking of your approach to meeting strangers. I remember you telling us that if you see anyone staring, you always assume they are curious rather than shocked. You wave and call them over and explain all about the electrolarynx and laryngectomy. That ties in very well with an experience I had a couple of weeks ago.
I had just finished a 7-week retreat, and was taking my first steps out into the ‘real’ world again. I get attached to the quietness and simplicity, the absence of TV, radio, internet, chatter, busyness and all the other inputs we have to deal with in daily life. Of course these can be very enjoyable, but there is also a stress component. After weeks of silence, I tend to feel burdened rather than uplifted by the pace of modern life. But this time, I had a lovely encounter to help me back into the world.
On the day the retreat finished, Sarah, Bhante (our meditation teacher) and I were at a launderette, washing bags of linen as part of the annual spring-clean. Sarah got chatting to an elderly man (we later found out his name was Peter) and when I was drawn into the conversation and used my electro-larynx, his face broke into the biggest smile you can possibly imagine. He gave me a great bear-hug, saying “You are wonderful, you are wonderful. I’d never have your courage!”
This was a first for me – my electro-larynx has never brought out such a positive response before. He was absolutely delighted with me! He hugged me several times, kissed my cheek and exclaimed again and again how much he admired my courage. It’s often so hard to know how people are reacting to our strange voices – maybe half of them want to hug us and tell us how much they admire our courage! Come to think of it, one friend who I only met post-laryngectomy, told me that when he first heard my electronic voice he also wanted to give me a big hug – but decorum prevented him doing anything more than smiling and saying ‘Hello’. So who knows – maybe we have loads and loads of secret admirers!
Anyway I’m very glad that Peter was less inhibited as it was a wonderful affirmation of the courage it does take to keep our spirits up and go out and meet people with our weird robotic voices. He stayed to chat with us for a while afterwards – we had bags and bags of washing! In the process we learned something of his extraordinary life history and I’m going to set down as much as I can remember here. It is a wonderful confirmation of the proverb on Donna’s banner for the newsletter “What does not kill you makes you strong”. His character is obviously one that has been strengthened by adversity.
Now 84 years old, he was abandoned in a shopping bag as a tiny infant, and brought up in London’s Foundling Hospital. A foundling is one step down from an orphan, he explained: an orphan can trace their parents, but a foundling can’t. The conditions in the Hospital were Dickensian he said. As if that weren't’t enough, the school he was attending was bombed in the Blitz. Hadn’t all children been evacuated from London to the countryside during the Blitz, we asked? Not the children from the Foundling Hospital he replied grimly, the authorities never got around to that.
The bomb went off at 3 in the afternoon – no warning, and the school was full of children. How come you weren’t sheltering during the air-raid, we asked? It seems (and Len Hynds probably knows all about this) some bombs had parachutes attached so they would not explode on impact when people were safely stowed in an air-raid shelter. These bombs could inflict much more human suffering. If they landed somewhere secluded, they could go undiscovered for days and then explode without warning. In the case of his school, the bomb had landed on the roof and went undetected until it killed all but 13 who were at school that day. The dead included a little girl he thought he couldn’t live without – his childhood sweetheart.
He himself was thrown up in the air, flipped over and landed head first – he showed us the scars – still visible 70 years later. The school roof then collapsed on top of him and he was buried head-down in the rubble. His legs were sticking up, but as he learned afterwards, bent back the wrong way as both were broken. Seeing this, rescuers took him for dead and concentrated on children they could hear calling out. It was several days before they dug him out to find he was still breathing.
Somehow he survived though the shock erased his memory for weeks. Now at 84, he looks strong and healthy and more vigorous than many people decades younger. He runs an animal sanctuary where they take in lost or abandoned animals. He showed us a few gaps in his teeth – having survived the Blitz, they had been knocked out a few weeks ago by a pony he was rescuing!
Reflecting on his life story really brings home the fact that suffering doesn’t come from the circumstances we find ourselves in, but in the way we react to them. I’m sure many who had such a tough childhood turn to alcohol, bitterness or depression. But Peter was one of the most friendly, open-hearted people you could ever hope to meet. Heroically compassionate too – how many 84 year-olds would try to rescue an abandoned pony? Most of all, from my point of view, his uninhibited and delightful reaction to my electro-larynx speech. How many of us, when we look at someone with a handicap, see their courage instead of their disability?
Thanks for the lesson in how to live a good life, Peter. And, after weeks of seclusion and silence, thanks for your warm bear-hug that welcomed me back to the world! Most of all, thanks for waking me up to the possibility that strangers might be inspired by my courage rather than put-off by the sound of my voice.
Whenever I’m feeling shy about my mechanical voice, I’ll try to keep Peter’s reaction in mind, and the possibility that I’m surrounded by a host of secret admirers!
When I read Noirin Sheahan’s column, Dear Lary, this month about the delightful fellow she met who had miraculously survived the bombings of London during WWII I, like she, was reminded of our own Len Hynds. I recall him relating the harrowing tale of his own near suffocation at a young boy during one bombing that buried him in the rubble of his family’s home. This story is another from that same era, first published here back in February of 2012 so I suspect most of the newer members have never read it before and well worth a second read if you have. [EDITOR’S NOTE]
It Was Destined To Be
During WWII, my own family lost three homes through bombing. The first had been demolished and we were living in an air-raid shelter in the garden, waiting to be re-housed. After a severe raid one night, I went into the next road, where a string of bombs had fallen, and they were digging out the dead and the injured. My newsagents shop was no more and he was buried up to the waist in a huge mound of rubble spread across the road. A rescuer in overalls and wearing a steel helmet was kneeling in front of him, holding his face with both hands, when another rescuer emerged from beneath the debris, indicating that they could not release the newsagent, as his legs had been almost severed. The newsagent died, and when the man holding his face stood up, I could see he was wearing a vicars white collar. I could see tears streaming down through the grime on his cheeks, as he was called to yet another victim.
Among the very small group watching was a teenage girl, whom I had never seen before, standing with her elderly father. I had never had time to think of the opposite sex, as survival was the order of the day for you and your family, but I was struck by her beauty. As I surreptitiously glanced at her side face, I saw a solitary tear slowly falling down her cheek. They slowly walked away, her head resting on her father’s shoulder, and I thought, “What a cruel world this is." The vision of that solitary tear remained with me for the next three years, and I often wondered if that young lady had survived the day and night bombardment.
It was three years later, when on passing through another district of London, another daylight raid started, and I got into one of the deep shelters. When it was over, I had to continue my journey on foot, and on passing a row of shops I saw a young lady sweeping broken glass from the shattered shop front, trying once again to make the shop serviceable. I stopped and offered to help, which she gladly accepted. She was covered in soot and dust, and laughed when I asked if she was alright, saying, " When the raids get too fierce, I dive under the table in the back room of the shop, but it’s over the old fireplace, and when the building shakes all the soot comes down."
She later made us tea and we sat among the rubble sipping our tea. Then she went and somehow washed all the soot and grime from her face and hands, and found a clean white coat to wear, and I was amazed how beautiful this grimy sooty creature was. As we spoke of friends and her customers she had lost by the bombing, she stared ahead, and at her side face I saw a solitary tear. With shock I realised that I had been re-united with the young girl of three years previously. She later confirmed that she had been there, and had realised that a young man was gazing at her.
IT WAS DESTINED TO BE
By Len A.Hynds
The German Bombers, they passed overhead, they had dropped all the bombs that they had.
More death and destruction, as London bled, and things looked decidedly bad.
I was passing through Clapham before this attack, and hurriedly got underground.
We had all learnt survival and acquired this knack, as for years we had suffered such pound.
I then passed a shop, all the windows blown-in, the poor shop girl was sweeping glass clear.
I stopped to help, mid'st the fire engines din, as through wreckage they tried to steer.
Her face, hands and white coat were black, smother-ed in what looked like soot.
I looked around for a first-aid pack, in case a bandage I needed to put.
But she had not suffered any injury dire, and laughed out loud at my thought.
She'd been under the table near the fire, and falling soot was all she caught.
She washed herself and made us tea, and I was amazed at her beautiful face.
Young ladies had never bothered me, busy fighting the enemy race.
As we sat in the debris sipping our tea, she spoke of her friends who'd been killed.
On her cheek, a tear I could see, as sadly her eyes slowly filled.
I realised then that I had seen her before, some three years, before that day.
With a tear on her cheek, in this dreadful war, when both seeing some dead, as they lay.
I had thought of her so many times, in those intervening years,
of her sad eyes, at the enemies crimes. And now fate had made use of those tears.
In that moment of time I knew I was lost, tongue tied with knees all a-tremble.
Poor heart racing, all twisted and tossed, my thoughts I couldn't assemble.
We fell in love, became man and wife, but in seven days I was sent abroad,
for three long years sent to the strife, of those deserts of fire and sword.
But our sixty three years were really blessed, each one a wonderful year.
I look back on those days, with thankful-ness, especially that solitary tear.
New iPhones, VPN's and Bluetooth Gadgets
Apple has announced their newest and even cheaper iPhone..not called the iPhone 7 but instead the iPhone SE. It has all the features of the iPhone 6 but for about $300 less. It has a slightly smaller footprint and a bit thinner than the 6. It is available for pre-ordering at $399 for the 16 bit version...a 64 bit version is available for about $200 more. The reviews so far are very positive...some even point out new features not found on the iPhone 6, such as better security.
Much more info can be found at CNET's Phone reviews;
Apple also announced the availability of their newest iPad 9.7...in a time when the tablet demand has been waning it seems odd that Apple would introduce a new $599 iPad while the Android market is flooded with excellent tablets starting at $49 for an Amazon kindle and very capable of nearly all the iPad's abilities.
In the meantime Apple is getting into the arena of "my Daddy can beat your Daddy" AKA: Pissing contest with the FBI...Apple should have learned by now that in our new norm of Homeland Security, if it's not illegal today, just wait till tomorrow and we'll create a new law to make it illegal...This is perhaps a classic example of a U.S. citizen having a right to protection under the law in the realm of search and seizure...probably a lot of others as well. I am no fan of the FBI or of Apple, but I would risk saying that a dead terrorist has not done his/her share to claim the right to such protection under our laws.
As of this writing the ongoing battle continues in the courts and there are very few, if any indicators of how the outcome will be decided. This is certainly an interesting jump off point for a forum debate...not a political one but rather just what we as U.S. citizens should expect from the Constitution.
Online security and personal information theft have been increasing issues for all users and it seems we all need to relook at our online habits. One of the very best online security tools has been getting a lot of press lately...the world of VPN (Virtual Private Network) has nearly all the answers for us in today's online world.
A VPN is software you can download and install, which will then allow you to mask you online identity or even appear off-line or from another part of the world ...masking your true location.
I know much of this is beyond what most people think they are capable of, however a little reading and you can be up and running in no time.
Dave's Computer Tips has a very well put together article on VPN's and just why they are so effective;
If you have a cell phone then you most likely have a camera...here are some ideas for non-traditional uses for that camera;
Just a reminder to always be wary of online scams and use caution and common sense while online. Our own diligence is the best anti malware we can use and the most economical.
If you receive emails asking for your personal info be absolutely certain who is asking before giving out any details. I have even called companies and questioned them as to why they wanted my info and to ensure that the email was actually from them. Recent investigations has uncovered some not so obvious terms from Lifelock...the company that says it protects your identity. Again Bob Rankin provides us with more background on the situation with Lifelock...
For those who enjoy the Facebook experience this article has some good tips to help maintain your privacy and security
Have you upgraded to Windows 10? If you have why not share your thoughts on Windows in the WebWhispers Forum or in the Facebook group? We can all share experiences and learn from one another.
To answer some common questions Dave's Tips has put out a few items to help us adjust..
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