|Name Of Column
||News & Events
||Jeff Searl, Ph. D. CCC-SLP
||Growing the Next Generation of SLPs
||See You Soon
||What 3 things would you most like to do?
|This Lary Life
||UC Davis VMTH
||A Dog Named Bean
|Travel With Larys
||Mediterranean Cruise, Part II
|The Speechless Poet
||Len A Hynds
||A Dreadful Thought
||Prose & Poetry
|Bits, Bytes & No Butts!
||Holiday Photos and Videos
||Dr. Julia MacLean
||Jim O'Meara, a Quiet Achiever
INDEX AND LINKS TO EACH ISSUE MAY BE FOUND AT: http://webwhispers.org/news/WotWIndex.asp
The end of one year and the start of another doesn't always fall with our date of laryngectomy! Some people keep our records by the calendar year. Of course, Medicare does and, in going over my stack of medical papers, I remembered I had just renewed MedicAlert in Oct... for 3 years, being an optimist. This gives me my handy-dandy bracelet that tells the police, paramedic, ER, or whoever reads it, the basic problems I have, like being a neck breather and having developed diabetes.
Not having the time to go find my password and get signed into MedicAert to make some basic changes, I tried to make excuses and get out of doing it, but my conscience would let me... I thought my account # was my user name.. NO, and I had not written down anything else, so I had to ask and fill in a form to get it sent. It came right away and I did have my password so I got to the site which was different from the last time I viewed it. However, I did find in big bold letters the place to go to make changes to my medical info and history. First, I changed my son's telephone number, and, also, my daughter-in-law's cell. That got my contacts up to date. The third choice to call is a friend of about 35 years, in another state, but she knows my medical history and was here for most of it.
So, I checked my meds... hmmm, there were a couple of changes, so I made those. 50mg instead of 25mg on one, a lesser dose on another and the addition of the daily 81mg aspirin for the therapy to help keep me from strokes.
As an afterthought I checked diseases and they were there, all correctly listed, but now they offered choices of the kind of diabetes therapy...even mine, which is controlled by diet. I guess next time I get taken to the ER, nobody will be standing there with an insulin shot that I won't let them give me! My physicians, allergies, patient instructions and past medical and surgical are listed correctly.
I am so proud of myself for taking the time to do this. What good is an alert bracelet when they can't reach my contacts and the meds are only almost right!
I feel safer already.
Growing the Next Generation of SLPs working in Head & Neck Cancer:
The Florida Laryngectomee Association’s Efforts
Jeff Searl, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Director of Education, Florida Laryngectomee Association
Associate Professor, University of Kansas Medical Center (Kansas City, KS)
It is not uncommon for individuals with a laryngectomy, as well as those who have had cancer elsewhere in the head and neck (HN), to have difficulty finding a local speech-language pathologist (SLP) who can help them. The field of Speech-Language Pathology is quite broad with a sizeable percentage of clinicians who do not work in settings where laryngeal or other HN cancer patients are likely to be seen (e.g., schools, infant-toddler services, etc.). Even those who work in hospital, rehabilitation or nursing home settings may see very few if any individuals with head and neck cancer. It is the case that some individuals with HN cancer should be followed solely in major cancer centers because of the complexity of their situations. However, in a country as large as the United States, it is also necessary to have sufficient numbers of SLPs with proper training who can help manage the laryngectomy and HN cancer caseload at what might be considered secondary cancer treatment centers.
Relatively few SLPs claim laryngectomy and HN cancer care as a primary interest. In order to have a cadre of SLPs who become the next generation of experts in this area of practice patient organizations may have to play a role in enticing clinicians into this niche. Over the years this has been done to varying degrees by the International Association of Laryngectomies (IAL) through the Voice Institute. SLPs and graduate students (along with others) participate in this conference to begin learning about laryngectomee care. The Texas Laryngectomee Association has also put on a training conference for many years that is attended by graduate students and SLPs. Other state and local support groups have also organized conferences for such training although these have been somewhat sparse.
The Florida Laryngectomee Association (FLA) also has an extensive history in training these future SLPs.
My intention here is to describe what the FLA does with two goals. I would like to invite more graduate students and laryngectomees to attend the FLA conference that happens each fall. The second is to lay out what we do at the FLA so others can digest and dissect it. Others may find it useful to ultimately figure out ways that they or their local organizations can help their own cause in growing the next generation of SLPs who are interested in head and neck cancer rehabilitation.
Florida Laryngectomee Associaiton History of Educating SLPs and Students
The FLA, http://flavoice.org/, is in its 61st year of existence. The mission of the organization is as follows:
1. To encourage and maintain an exchange of ideas for the learning and teaching of alternative methods of communication with both Laryngectomees and Speech & Language Professionals.
2.To both encourage and help facilitate the formation and growth of local support groups.
3. To network with students and healthcare professionals, informing them of laryngectomee's special needs.
4. To assist laryngectomees and their families with the many areas of life adjustment which occur after laryngectomy.
The following recounts a bit of the history that leads up to the current training conference sponsored by the FLA. It was in 1982 that the Florida Laryngectomee Speech Institute was conceived by Dr. Robert King and Ms. Jeannetta Jones. Under the leadership of Robert E. (Ed) Stone, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, this training program was retitled the FLA Voice Institute and it ran from 1983-2000. This Institute was designed for patients, families and SLPs. The American Cancer Society (ACS) in Florida partnered with the FLA in this endeavor. In 2001-2002 the conference focus was changed and re-titled the FLA Head & Neck Cancer Course. As the name change implies, the content of the course was expanded beyond total laryngectomy. Continuing education units were offered to SLPs. However, due to low attendance the conference was discontinued after the 2002 meeting.
In 2006, however, the training mission of the organization gathered momentum again. Dr. Ed Stone was still serving as the Director of Education for the FLA at the time. He re-envisioned a conference, this time, specifically designed for graduate students in SLP (and principally designed for those in the state of Florida). The conference was re-titled the “Vic Baird Graduate Student Program” (VBGSP). Dr. Stone and the FLA shifted the focus of the conference specifically to graduate students for various reasons: 1. The organization continued to see the shortage in SLPs who were interested and trained in laryngectomy rehabilitation; 2. The FLA committed to “growing their own” SLPs in the state by getting future SLPs interested in them and their rehabilitation needs; and 3. They recognized the difficulty in competing with other CEU training conferences that SLPs might chose to attend for content regarding laryngectomy rehabilitation. With the commitment from the FLA board and the organization’s membership, they annually have voiced their strong support for the student-focused program that Ed Stone conceived and executed from 2006-2008. Dr. Stone and the FLA board brought me on to the student program during this time and then after the 2008 conference I took over the position as Director of Education.
The FLA members have continued to express their dedication to educating students and they have recognized that the presence of the students at their organizations annual meeting imparts a vitality and energy that comes from this younger crowd (most of the students are in their 20’s). A more thorough description of a typical FLA student program explaining what works and doesn't can be found at the following link: http://webwhispers.org/library/Meetings.asp
As a complement to this article, we have the special section in the WebWhispers Library with the information you may use to advance your goals or to understand ours.
See You Soon
Reading through this month’s issue I realize, once again, how proud I am to be a part of such a fascinating, talented, resilient and compassionate group. Of course this is a “club” none of wanted to “join” and we all wish that our ranks were not growing. But until we find a cure for cancer or at least have more effective ways to manage its devastation there will be a need for our special club, Webwhispers.
So while I wish we had been brought together under different circumstances I am so glad to have met all of you, whether in person or just online. Each and every one of you has enriched my life in some way, made me a better person, made me laugh, taught me something new, and many have become true friends.
This, then, is my response to Jack’s Speaking Out question about what I would most like to do. The two most common themes in your answers were travel and spend more time with family and friends and I completely agree but I would have that all in one for me. I would like to meet in person those WW friends whom I know only via the internet. I would like to see you, give you a hug, listen to your voice (funny as that sounds, you know what I mean), laugh with you, visit with you the old fashioned way. Given our far-flung club it would undoubtedly require some travel, probably on both our parts but what a wonderful trip to plan. And for those friends I have already met in person, but rarely see, I want more time with you as well.
I can see I need to start saving some money because I have several trips I need to make.
Have a Happy and Healthy New Year and I hope to see you, for real, real soon.
What 3 things would you most like to do?
Maria Taylor, Abington,MA - June 2013 at the Voice Center, Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital
Since I can't turn back the clock .... I suppose I must be happy with my life. So here are my next choices:
(1) be able to truly communicate, that means speak clearly for even my husband to hear and understand me. Being a Justice of the Peace I have not been able to perform a wedding since cancer invaded my throat.
(2) come to term with my present situation and my future life; I show a happy face and a wonderful attitude when truthfully I am crying inside and fighting desperation all the time.
(3) learn to accept my fate and make the best of it. I am sure that there must be a very good reason why I am being tested and yet my life was spared when others have not; but what and why - and when will I know?
Although not part of the 3 goals, I have another one: my husband and I had finally reached the possibility of traveling - just twice per year - but since my illness we have not gone anywhere for more than a week end; I am shooting for a trip to Florence, Italy either in the spring or late summer, will be going for 3 weeks and renting an apartment. It might be my last trip to my native country.
Dennis Boise, Idaho - 8/12/2005
Spend more time with our Kids and Grandkids in 2014.
Finish the rebuild on my 1954 Chevy truck.
Laugh out loud.
Akron, Ohio -
First of all, I have to say that the number 1 thing has already been achieved, I survived the nearly impossible. At the beginning of this journey, my primary objective was to try to leave this life with as much grace as possible. At being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, it sure looked to me like a death sentence. The initial part was pretty rough, having my teeth all pulled out so the radiation wouldn't kill me, then radiation 6 times a week, for 6 weeks almost made it all too hard, along with chemo, that was some truly difficult stuff. And I have always considered myself a tough lady. But, that was NOT fun at all. Then... a year later, finding cancer came back and having to have not only a laryngectomy, but also afterwards a new esophagus built to replace the destroyed one. Never imagined I would come out of that whole. But... 4 1/2 years later, here I am, LIVING! And enjoying it. YAY!
Number 2 I would like to be able to get to know my brand new granddaughter and give her some insight into who granny really is. Since this is such a gift, I want to stick around long enough to be a part of her life and watch her grow.
Number 3, I have been all over the country in my long time on the planet, so traveling isn't all that important, but I would truly like to be a mentor to someone who has just started their own journey with the lary life. I would like to show them how far you can come from rock bottom, and even thrive after a laryngectomy. And the only traveling I really need would be to attend at least one IAL convention with all of you lovely people who have given me so much in the past 4 years.
God bless you all, you are my lifeline
Travel the backroads of the gulf coast!
Marian Cure, Cedar Creek Lake, TX - 2009
I had to think about this speaking out subject as I think my life is going pretty well. One thing that I had wanted to do is to write a letter to the editor to our area newspapers that would encourage women larys to get out of the house and become involved with the community, knowing that it would help them immensely with their self esteem.
Recently I did that and added a mention to EMT personnel about oxygen mask placement. I would like to write a family cookbook of the old recipes my adult children ask for during holidays. My third wish would be to educate people on the importance of monitoring their thyroid for changes that could indicate cancer. Cigarettes are mentioned to me by strangers so often that I realize that people assume one smoked if they had throat or lung cancer. I must admit that I flinch when approached with that attitude. Not smoking does not eliminate their chances of throat cancer.
I suppose one big wish would be to educate the general population about laryngectomees. That’s a big order.
Margo Ziegler, Minnetonka, MN - Permanent trach 1996
I live in Minnesota which has lots of snow and cold in the winter.
I would like to move to a warmer and snow-free climate!
I would like to be able to ride my bicycle all year long!
I would like to work in my yard and gardens all year long as well!
It's unfortunate that I can no longer breathe in the cold weather due to the fact I have a permanent trach and muscle spasms in my wind pipe which cuts my air off in cold weather.
Thankfully, I do have a treadmill and exercise bike in my basement which I do make use of every day during the winter while watching the many birds on the feeders outside my window. And, I have many plants growing in my house to give the illusion of the out of doors! But, I still always look forward to spring!!
Len A.Hynds, The Speechless Poet, Ashford, Kent, England
What three things would I wish to achieve in my new years resolutions.
Two of those things are pure fantasy in my head, but what pleasure they would give me if I could make them happen. But I will deal with my third wish first.
Since I now sadly live alone, with just my lady cleaner coming in for one hour each week, I am determined to cook, clean, launder, iron, sew and stitch and do all the things that our wives do with so little fuss. But the loneliness is hard to overcome.
I decided therefore to get a pet. Preferably a dog, or maybe a cat, but the more I thought about it, it would be terribly unkind to leave them for many hours in the bungalow, whilst I am out and about. So I decided upon colourful goldfish in a 95 litre tank. To fit that in I would have to change my dining room table and chairs,from its oblong shape to a smaller round one. That would make the other furniture look odd, like the three piece suite So to fit in just one fish tank, I have changed the room completely.
I got the tank, and bought 16 colourful goldfish, four of each different type. But within a few days one type were chasing another type, although assured they were compatible. I rescued the remaining three of that type, after one had neen killed, and had to buy a second tank for them to live in, with all the paraphernalia that goes with it. So my lounge is looking like a sea-life-centre, and that initial thought has cost me a small fortune. My wish on this one is that the 12 mobsters in the larger tank, will in time behave themselves. They let me feed them by hand, but it’s all cupboard-love.
My second wish is, every few days I am told of yet another person who has cancer, and I wish that I could have the power to eliminate it from them.
My third wish is rather spiteful. I speak of those dreadful drivers who do alarming things, and drive in a bullying and dangerous way. If I could, I would make their engine stop and the car not move say for an hour.
Max E Hoyt, Delaware, USA - Class of 1993
My wish list for 2014 is easy to deal with and hopefully within reach!
1. I hope for at least one year of good health for my wife and myself.
2. I hope we can enjoy our family as much or more than we did in 2013.
3. I hope our nation will survive and again be a nation united, under God.
Maggie Scott, Manitoba, Canada - 2012
It's that time of the year again...
When we look back and wonder where all the time has gone, what we were doing this time last year, and what the new year may have in store for us. Lots to think about for sure! This year was full of firsts for me as it was my first year as a 'Lary'. I have talked about many of these things via the Webwhispers site.
Last month, my husband and son and I went to New York City. It was kind of a last minute thing that we decided on after an evening of chatting. We decided on a weekend and had about a month to plan for it.
My son had been to Minneapolis with his buddies in September to see some baseball games. It is about an 8 hour drive from Winnipeg for those of us that don't speed (they made it in about 6 1/2). They saw 3 games in 3 days. Kind of a whirlwind trip but 'a great time' he told us. He has taken a 'hiatus' from school to work and travel. He said he really enjoyed the short trip and would like to do a few of those kinds of trips and see different sporting events. He's a big NFL fan, like many of our Canadian boys, and prefers that to the CFL.
He said he would love to go to New York and see an NFL game (Jets not Giants he informed me...I don't know the difference but I'm sure Michael Strahan wouldn't like that comment). The problem was that he had no one to go with. His friends that have money...don't have time, and his friends that have time...don't have money. Haha. That sounds about right if you think about it.
Long story short, my husband and I went with him. 3 days of 'jam-packed' fun! We went to a comedy club, NFL game (Jets vs Saints), NHL game (Rangers vs Carolina), sight seeing tour, Top of the Rock, 9-11 Memorial, Times Square, Carnegie Deli, and walked for miles and miles. We found a neat little bar called Jimmy's Corner just off Time Square with $4 beer. We liked it so much we went twice and we even met Jimmy himself who was a boxer 'back in the day'. We had a great time and the people of New York City were Awesome! Now we are all broke and have to start saving again but it was worth it!
I have always liked to travel but I find since having cancer, I realize how important it is to me to be more open to going different places. I enjoy being able to do this with family and friends and I am so fortunate to be able to do it.
So, in the new year, I would like to do more travelling, spend more time with family and friends, and of course be healthy enough to be able to enjoy it.
Thank you for your submissions. Edits are used for length, clarity and to keep comments on subject of the month.
Staff of Speaking Out
A Dog Named Bean
A unique dog whose spirit has captured many hearts
DAVIS – Each year Karen Verneau examines 500 cats and dogs as chief of the Neurology and Neurosurgery Service at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH). So what made Bean stand out? Where do we begin?
Bean, a two-year old Staffordshire bull terrier adopted by Verneau, is a medical mystery of sorts, beset by a web of afflictions that have challenged UC Davis veterinarians – and their colleagues in biomedical engineering and the School of Medicine – to push the envelope and provide the dog groundbreaking treatment.
Bean also may be the most loveable, grateful, resilient dog on earth. Many pet owners make similar claims about their cherished animals, but Bean – who has gamely endured eight surgeries and multiple other procedures in her short life – proves the point every day.
Let’s back up to Bean’s first meeting with her UC Davis admirers, which came after her April 2012 rescue by the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. Noting the dog’s stiff, abnormal gait – “like an old man wearing flippers,” Verneau recalls – shelter staff brought her to the VMTH, where an evaluation revealed improperly formed hip joints and neurological troubles.
Corrective surgery helped, but Bean’s underlying issue was more serious – a form of muscular dystrophy that was also attacking other parts of her body. Within a few months, the gray and white pup was having persistent trouble with regurgitation, the result of a malfunctioning esophagus.
By this time, the Humane Society had determined that Bean was a poor candidate for adoption – and Verneau had fallen in love. So it was that Bean found her new family, which includes Verneau’s husband William, also a UC Davis veterinarian, their two children, and two other dogs.
Landing in the lap of highly trained professionals was a stroke of luck for Bean, as her maladies only multiplied. The persistent regurgitation put her at risk of life-threatening aspiration and pneumonia, and the discovery of a massive hiatal hernia soon led to surgery No. 2. That brought some relief from her swallowing woes, but it was short-lived, as the muscles in her esophagus refused to effectively move food to her stomach.
Unable to hold on to her meals, Bean grew thin, battled pneumonia, and was plagued by regurgitation episodes that sometimes caused her to choke and pass out. By the fall of 2012, her veterinary team needed help and consulted Peter Belasky, a renowned UC Davis surgeon and an expert in human swallowing and airway disorders.
Belasky concluded that stopping Bean’s dangerous regurgitation required a total laryngectomy, or removal of her larynx. Uncommon in dogs, such surgeries typically are used to address cancer, not swallowing problems. Bean marked Belasky’s first such canine larynx removal, and the surgery took more than three hours and two assistants to complete.
Belasky is no stranger to heroic patients; the type of medical interventions he performs – removing vocal chords, transplanting a larynx, for example – can profoundly affect a person’s quality of life. So it was for Bean, who lost her bark and ability to breathe and swallow like normal dogs.
“But through it all, Bean has just been an inspiration to all of us fortunate enough to care for her,” Belasky marvels. “Her will to live, her incredibly kind disposition – considering all she’s been through – it’s amazing and hard to put into words. You just have to meet her.”
One of Belafsky’s surgical colleagues on the case, Maggie Kuhn, a clinical fellow in the Department of Otolaryngology, came away with a similar impression.
“Bean’s resiliency in the face of this life-altering procedure has reminded me that a canine or human creature’s will to live is, in large part, a product of his or her spirit. Optimism and attitude make such a difference in responding to adversity.”
Bean now breathes through a small hole created in her trachea, or windpipe. But her inability to swallow required the insertion of a permanent feeding tube. That posed a new challenge, because standard adaptors connecting feeding tubes to syringes used to inject the food were too small, causing complications.
Thus began yet another collaboration sparked by Bean, as one of her original veterinarians, gastrointestinal specialist Stan Marks, asked the UC Davis biomedical engineering department if they might design a larger adaptor to simplify the feeding process. The challenge was met, and the adaptor works so well the engineers are exploring a patent and commercial uses.
Today Bean has more good days than bad, and still enjoys destroying soccer balls, watching TV on the couch with the kids, and accompanying Verneau to the vet hospital. There, she has become not only an ambassador of sorts, but also a teaching tool, showing off her tracheotomy and allowing students to experience canine tube feeding.
“She loves people, and sometimes she wags her tail so hard she falls on the ground,” Verneau says. “We didn’t intend to go down this path with her, but she just sucked us in.”
So what’s it all mean, this story of Bean? Belasky hopes her indomitable spirit can inspire human patients struggling with the loss of their voice and the need to breathe through a hole in their neck. He envisions a guest membership in the “Lost Chords Club,” comprised of people who've had a laryngectomy and lost the ability to speak and taste.
Marks believes Bean’s multiple health issues spurred collaborations that prompted her UC Davis team “to hone our skills and think outside the box in ways that will help countless other animals and people with similar challenges.”
And Bean? She’s merely grateful for the chance to snuggle and slobber her way through another day.
The above article came from this site and you will find a video there introducing you to Bean.
She also has her own Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HowIsBean?
Thanks to our member, Phil Benadum, who wrote to us about Bean after she visited their group.
Mediterranean Cruise, Part II
Continued from Dec, 2013 issue
Next stop was Kotar, Montenegro, a place most people have never heard of but it is a World Heritage site definitely worth visiting. This ancient town is almost original (in old town) and definitely a trip highlight as far as ambiance and culture go. We opted for just a self-guided tour which was easily done with my bad legs and walking poles. We had skipped the second day in Venice because I was concerned about being able to walk Kotar but it was all for naught. We saw some beautiful country sailing in and really enjoyed the village. Jeanette sampled a Russian beer and I had a gelato.. in fact I had a gelato almost everywhere we went.
Next stop was Messina, Sicily and we almost decided to just stay on the ship since none of the tours seemed to be of great interest and we knew practically nothing about the place. But we decided to just walk around town and in the process jumped on a train on wheels that did city tours for just a few bucks. It was pretty enjoyable and Jeanette declared Messina as the best gelato in the world and she may be right, but I intend to keep sampling and comparing anytime I get the chance. One very interesting fact about Messina is that in 1908 it was almost completely destroyed by an earth quake and tsunami which also killed 60,000 people.
The next day we woke up in Naples for what was anticipated as the highlight of the cruise. Not because Naples is exotic and interesting (which it may be to some) but because this was where you had to stop in order to get to Pompey; the ancient city that was buried under ash from the erupting Mount Vesuvius volcano along with the city of Herculaneum in 79 AD. I had originally booked a 9 hr. tour that include a beautiful drive along the coast, a walking tour of a village and then Pompey. I finally decided to heed the many warnings that Pompey was an extremely difficult walk and not advised for…. well, people in my condition! But, it was a major reason I booked the cruise and I was determined to see it even if I couldn’t see it all so I cancelled the 9 hr. event and booked a 4 hr. Pompey only excursion. One of the smartest things I’ve done in a long time. If you are interested in archeology, or even if you’re not, Pompey will not disappoint but it is not easy. I thought I had pushed my luck (not to mention my body) too far when we started out and it was all uphill with 80 yr. olds leaving me in the dust. But fortunately after a few initial climbs we reached the top and everything was fairly level or downhill from then on. In fact it occurred to me later that if they reversed the tour it would be a gentle and gradual climb up and an easy downhill decline, but the way it’s laid out now makes it very hard and definitely not wheelchair accessible regardless of the route you take.
Civitavecchia is the port to Rome which is actually a few hours away from the sea so any tours are mostly driving tours with little or no time to visit any museums, plus this stop was on a Sunday so the Vatican and St Peter’s were not good options other than a drive by and maybe a walk in the square. A lot of people were very disappointed because this was their primary reason to do the cruise.. especially if they were catholic. So be warned that if you do a Mediterranean cruise and want to experience the Vatican make sure the ship doesn’t stop there on a Sunday. We stayed on board, relaxed and read books. It was actually quite nice.
The take off port for Florence and Pisa is Livorno and that was our next stop. I had booked a self tour of Florence where they just delivered us and returned us to the ship, and in between we were on our own. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone that hadn’t been to Florence (did I mention its my favorite city in the world?) But I’d been there twice and Jeanette once. We pretty much know what we had missed and what we wanted to revisit and this tour gave us 6 hours to do whatever we wanted. Number one on the list was the Piti Palace which was closed the day we planned to see last year. However we discovered that it’s always closed on Mon which was our day of arrival and of course the same day we missed it last time. In fact, many if not most museums seem to be closed on Mondays according to a lecture we heard on the ship. So if you go, take heed of your schedule and plan Sundays and Mondays accordingly. In our case we decided that another trip is necessary so we’ll just have to make that sacrifice and do it!
All was not lost however! I cancelled our self-guided tour and we just did a nice drive in the country to the villages of Volterra and San Gimigano. Volterra has two distinctions; first it has an alabaster mine and factory. The town has many beautiful alabaster art pieces for sale and you can visit the factory. The second is that Volterra is an important location in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. In the books, Volterra is home to the Volturi, a coven of rich, powerful regal, ancient vampires. A very neat and interesting town!
After Volterra we drove to a family farm for local food, wine, and olive oil. A beauitful place that also has a Bed & Breakfast and is located just outside of San Gimigano which is a very interesting walled city with numerous towers. I’ve written about San Gimigano before so I won’t repeat it here other than to mention that previously it had laid claim to having won a contest for the best gelato in the world. But now another place 50 yds away also claims to have also won that contest, but Jeanette says the best is in Sicily! I will have to continue this search/quest so this can be laid to rest. Hopefully it will take a long time!
Next stop was Marseilles, France which didn’t list any tours that really stood out so we sort of thought that maybe we would maybe just get off the ship and find a nice restaurant and enjoy some famous French cuisine. But alas transportation from the port and back was so expensive we decided to book a seaside village trip instead. It was a good decision and we had a nice ride to a Cassis, a beautiful spot but was too foggy to get good pictures. However the village was beautiful and the light rain was bearable. The shops around the small cove were very expensive ($12 for 2 hot cocoa’s) but then we found a reasonable bakery 2 blocks away that was fantastic. It was a day we almost stayed on the ship and were glad we didn’t.
Last stop was Barcelona (did you know that Spanish is not the official language in Catalonia, the province Barcelona is in? The official language is Catalan) and we had decided to stay an extra 2 days which was a good decision. There is of course a lot of good gelato in Barcelona plus other great dining options. We stayed 2 days and maybe should have stayed at least 3 days because it takes that long to adjust and feel comfortable. We had a great hotel on La Rumbas which is a major shopping corridor in the heart of Barcelona.
The first day we did a long city tour on an open bus and the second day we just walked and visited a Egyptian Museum that was interesting but not great. We had several gelato stands across the street from the hotel so I was in heaven. Plus we tried the local Paella (seafood and rice) and some Tapas. The Paella was a little disappointing, but it is the only Paella I’ve had so I can’t judge it other than it looks better on TV. The Tapas (small portions of many different things) were the best meal of the trip. You have to create your own Tapas so what I like may not be what you like and the choices are endless. We mainly had sea food and we had 6 different plates of sea food and one of Spanish ham. It was fantastic and the best part was not knowing what to expect!
We left Barcelona at 3:30 AM in the morning after Halloween and the streets were still full of people partying in costume. Too late for me but I loved the stay. Spain in general is now officially on the list!
Don’t just sit there… Go somewhere!
To view additional photos of this trip please go to http://larytravels.shutterfly.com/pictures/8
Imagine that I had not survived the big operation, and I was hovering above my now lifeless body. I have no doubt I would have composed this whimsical poem on looking down in dismay at this turn of events.
A DREADFUL THOUGHT
Here lays a head that often ached.
Here lay two hands, that oft did shake,
Here lays a brain, of odd conceit,
Here lays a heart, which often beat.
Here lay two eyes, which often wept,
but in the night, they seldom slept,
Here lays a tongue, that whining talked.
Here lay two feet, that feebly walked.
Here lays the stomach and the breast,
Where loads of indigestion pressed.
Here lays the liver, full of bile.
Here lays that, nauseating smile.
Here lay the bowels, human tripe,
tortured with wind and twisting gripe.
Here lay the nerves, so often twitched,
with painful cramps and poignant stitch.
Here lays the back, oft racked with pain,
Corroding kidneys, damned chilblains,
Here lays the skin, with scurvy fed,
with pimples and eruptions red.
Here lays a man, from top to toe,
the body framed for pain and woe.
It’s got alas, a cancer death,
Compressed the lungs, and stopped the breath.
These poor organs could no longer go,
because the bellows had ceased to blow.
My spirits oh! So sadly sag.
I couldn’t resist that final fag,
When this poem was published in America, I received a few strange e-mails asking, did I realize that a ‘Fag’ means something entirely different there. Oops! In England of course it means cigarette.
Managing Your Photos and Holiday Videos
Holiday Photos and Videos
We will all generate or receive photos and videos from friends and relatives during this holiday season. I thought it might be a good idea to think about how to organize them now...before it's too late and your special moments are lost in the electron haystack.
I tend to favor free software and what is called “shareware”. Shareware is software that is developed by an independent programmer and not a large company. The developer will generally offer a free test drive for a 2 or 4 week period and if you like the program you can buy it (at a substantially lower cost than mainstream packages). I feel this type of development leads to creative ideas that otherwise go unrecognized (besides being a lower cost).
Do you know Picasa?
One of the easiest and heavily featured programs I have found for maintaining and sharing photos is Google's Picasa. Picasa is a free Google distributed program and allows saving and cataloging of your favorite photos. You can also share them with your loved ones in an easy and efficient manner. Picasa features face recognition, auto backup, cloud storage, web sharing, photo touch up and editing, and a ton of efficient features. It is available in both a Windows version and a Mac version. System requirements for either are very basic so that pretty much anyone who wants to use it can. This link will take you to your free download of Picasa and more information on it:
Many other photo management software are available both free and paid. If Picasa doesn't work for you try others until you are satisfied with your end product. Adobe Photoshop, Faststone Picture Viewer, Paint.net, and Photoscape are just a few of those available.
Do you watch YouTube?
With the advent of the modern cell phone almost all come with a camera that takes pictures, but also takes videos. So now that we have this capability let's use it to record the special moments of this season.
Most of us are guilty of stopping in a YouTube for just a quick minute to view a short video and wind up spending an hour and a half browsing videos of cats tormenting dogs. Did you know you and I can upload our own videos up to YouTube to share with the World or just family and friends? YouTube is actually a great asset in not only sharing your videos, but in helping you in keeping them safe and cataloged. When they are uploaded they are automatically sorted by date and your labels or titles. And yes, this is all free...in fact if you get enough viewers on your site YouTube will even pay you an advertising royalty!
Now that you have the moments recorded you can simply and easily upload them to YouTube so you can share them, as well as view them yourself, anytime you wish. Once you have your videos uploaded to your YouTube account give your access code to your friends, if you have kept them private, or, if you have shared them with the world, anyone can simply log into your account to view them.
Happy Holidays to All!
Do you want to send another Webwhispers member your thoughts during this holiday season? Do you find yourself wanting to have a cup of coffee with a group of your closest friends? Be sure to check into the Webwhispers Forum during the week and join the rest of us in sharing information in a 'coffee in the morning' sort of way. All sorts of “hot” news and tips that make our lives richer and just plain fun. You'll find everything from Lary issues, life lessons, Marlene's greatest tips ever, and just plain fun with Maureen's cartoons. If you're not using this great little bit of high tech you are missing one of the best things in our Lary life. Hope to see you there.
And then there is our new editor in our Delphi Forum which Mike R has activated for us. This is a welcomed improvement in how we send and reply to messages and offers much friendlier options. You can post you wishes and photos to share with the Webwhispers community
Visit the link below to read all about the new features of the Delphi editor...
Still Talking, the newsletter for the Laryngectomee Association of NSW came in recently with this marvelous tribute:
Jim O'Meara, a quiet achiever
Doctor Julia Maclean
On October 12, 2013 James O’Meara, or as we all knew him, Jim, passed away unexpectedly at home. When I spoke to Jim’s family, even they were surprised by his enormous contribution at St George Hospital, and across NSW, in training health professionals about laryngectomy. Jim was a quiet achiever, never wanting to boast about his accomplishments, but I thought that it was fitting to provide the LANSW the eulogy that I gave at his funeral.
I was Jim’s speech pathologist and friend. Jim had his laryngectomy surgery conducted at St Vincent’s Hospital in September 1999. He had what we call a voice prosthesis inserted to allow him to communicate which meant that over the last 14 years we saw each other every 10-14 days and had over 500 appointments together! There are devices that allow less frequent contact but as you will hear over the next few minutes, Jim chose to use his situation to allow many future doctors, nurses and allied health staff the opportunity to learn.
Jim and I would often joke that we saw more of each other than most families do and although the procedure that I conducted would only take a few minutes, our consultations always took longer, and over the years we learnt much about each other’s lives.
Jim was born on September 5, 1930 – he grew up in Derby Street Kogarah with his 3 sisters and 2 brothers. His first job was as the messenger boy to the Matron of St George Hospital in the old Griffith House. Jim told me that he would sit, terrified looking at the bells, waiting for them to ring as the Matron was a tyrant and he needed to ensure that he was there as soon as the bells rang so as to not incur her wrath! He also told me that he observed much of the goings on in the hospital including the affairs but in typical Jim fashion he said nothing to anyone and just quietly observed!
Jim always had an interest in sports, in fact he met Betty at a local tennis club and they were married 11 months later and they lived in the St George area together for the past 60 years! They raised their 2 sons Christopher and Stuart in Sans Souci – at the time Jim was the Australian Sales Manger of Stokes McGowan a sporting equipment company which later became Slazenger. This allowed Jim to combine work with his love of sports and on the weekends he spent time training Christopher and Stuart in soccer from an early age. He has since enjoyed watching his grandchildren play soccer and softball and would often tell me that he went to see a grandchild play sport on the weekend – knowing Jim he probably popped in and sat quietly out of the way and may not have been noticed by anyone! Jim was never boastful about his own achievements or that of his family however on occasions he would let something slip and I knew that he was quietly bursting with pride about their achievements.
Jim was obviously very well known and loved in the St George area. More often than not, when he came in to see me, he would give me a list of patients who were in hospital and ask if I could tell him where they were as he might just pay them a quick visit – I would then find him in a ward some hours later still visiting!
Ironically, although Jim hated hospitals, he has spent much time in the corridors of St Vincent’s and St George hospitals over the past 14 years. He was an active member of the Laryngectomee Association of NSW and the St Vincent’s Laryngectomy group. Jim was always available to provide a preoperative visit for patients who were to undergo laryngectomy surgery – he would walk in, smile, instantly instill confidence and tell them quite simply that “they would be ok” and that “life would go on.”
Thankfully laryngectomees are actually rare these days and many staff do not know how to look after their special needs, which can be very frightening for patients when they come into hospital with other problems. Jim was happy for people to learn how to look after voice prostheses and his airway. He was passionate about teaching medical, nursing and allied health staff. They say that a picture tells a thousand words – I always conducted laryngectomy education with Jim by my side and we always got the feedback of how great the sessions were – because Jim was there – providing wisdom from the patient’s perspective and ensuring that they would never forget what it meant to be a laryngectomee. Jim always made himself available for these education sessions - even in recent times when I knew that he was not feeling well - he would come in to train medical staff at 7 in the morning arriving at 6.30am, always punctual! He would spend the Sunday before his birthday each year training speech pathologists from around Australia – I would always give him the most nervous and inexperienced speech pathologists as he was such a great teacher. I would walk past his room and hear him giving them encouragement – “when you do it, be definite about it”, “it doesn’t hurt me – give it a go!” He filled them with confidence by his calmness – in return I would always tell him that I would always joke with him that I would ensure that I gave him the best looking students!
He was a great judge of character – when teaching young doctors he would sometimes flinch and make things a bit difficult and he would say to me afterwards “I thought they were a bit cocky so I made it a bit more difficult for them!”
Jim was never perturbed by the seniority of the staff he was educating – he had something that he wanted to teach them, was passionate about and he always captured their full attention.
Betty was surprised when I told her that I had calculated that conservatively Jim has educated:
- Over 300 Speech Pathologists from across Australia - 50 trainee Ear Nose and Throat doctors
- 50 intensive care doctors
- 100 Anaesthetists
- 100 Emergency doctors
- Every NSW Ambulance Educator and
- Countless Nursing Staff – it would be in the thousands
His contribution to education at St George as a patient is I am sure unparalleled. Jim has certainly ensured that there are many more health professionals who know how to look after any laryngectomee who finds themselves in hospital.
On a personal note, Jim saw me through my PhD studies – when it got hard he encouraged me and he allowed me to stick innumerable tubes up his nose and down his throat – he would say to me that he wanted to make it better for the next generation of laryngectomees.
Jim had a fabulous sense of humour and we shared a love of animals – he would bring in photos and tell me stories of his beloved cockatoo – Cockie – and German Shepherd, Sheba, and would always ask after my Golden Retriever, Barney. Each Christmas he would bring me in 2 parcels and say “One is for you and the other is for Barney – you can chose first” I would then open a box of chocolates and a packet of schmakos!
Occasionally, like with all people who are close to you, I would need to give Jim a lecture. Like when I thought he needed to go back to see his surgeon when he was having some trouble – he would look at me and say “Are you kidding - I’m not going back there – last time I went to the doctor they took my voice box and my teeth” ...... I soon learnt that if there was something serious that I needed to talk to Jim about – I would take his voice prosthesis out first, rendering him unable to speak and then lecture him!
When I heard about Jim’s death on Monday I was, naturally, deeply saddened. Jim will be greatly missed by Betty, Christopher, Stuart and their families, by many friends and by the staff at St George Hospital but Jim had started to have a tough time with his lung cancer and I knew that he didn’t want to grow infirm. We shared the same birthday month and he would say to me each year “I just can’t believe how old I am!” – We agreed that we would just start making up our ages and that we didn’t need to tell anyone! So, when I reflected and realised that Jim died quickly and peacefully at home – without the need to go to hospital or become dependent on anyone I thought – that would be right Jim, you did it your way and you have left behind a great legacy. Because of you there are many health professionals who are all the more knowledgeable because of your enormous contribution to teaching – but I would like to point out that as usual Jim, I have had the last say!
Jim you were my quiet achiever! Thank you.
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