How should I react to the new finding of a soft tissue mass in my larynx?

My son is now drinking the beer that I would drink. Now that I'm taking the blood thinner Plavix I can't drinking any kind of alcohol.


I had just entered a video call where four of us--my son-Justin Thorp; my son-in-law Adam Jones and close friend Ken Alexander spend a half hour or so talking about our daily lives and then praying together.

With the video camera on, my cellphone rang.  I noticed it was my primary care physician and I was hoping for news about a CT scan and angiogram of my carotid arteries that I had taken the day before.  It was partially.  

There was no news about my plugged carotids--one is a hundred percent and the other 50--but there was an early finding about a soft tissue mass found in my larynx.  I spent the next several hours trying to figure out what that means or could mean.

Consider it was a Friday afternoon.  I wanted more information, but I couldn't get through to a doctor.  I talked to a snippy nurse who said she couldn't give that information over the phone and that the doctor wasn't available and I talked to a medical assistant who said the doctor had left by that time.  So I was left to my own devices with the web.

I checked Google for information about cancer of the larynx.  I matched some of the symptoms, but my daughter told me to be careful about going down rabbit holes that web information creates.

So here I am with apparent carotid artery disease and a lump of unknown composition in my larynx that could leave me talking like the cop on Chicago PD who talks like he has rocks in his mouth.  

How am I taking all this?

It depends on the time you ask.  I'm anxious and I am frustrated and I'm praying all the time.  It's an ongoing conversation with God asking for his healing and for his leading and thanking him for everything that he's given me like my family.

I'm now more liable to write down the names of people who ask me to pray for them and more liable to pray for them in the middle of the night when I get up to pee.

I know God's there and he is listening to me and watching out for me.  Am I nervous about this?  You bet.


I'm still processing what the vascular surgeon told me about my clogged carotid arteries

Me sitting against a tree next to the Detroit River.
Sitting against a tree last Sunday on the Detroit River.

I felt like I was just tasered yesterday when the vascular surgeon told me there's nothing they could do for my clogged arteries in my neck, one is fully blocked and the other is less than 50 percent, he said.  My wife Gladys was sitting next to me in the exam room when he told me that my hope for getting blood to my brain and to my eyes would be centered around a blood thinner that could probably clean out our kitchen sink.

A CLARIFICATION: The doctor pointed out that with the right carotid being less than 50 percent blocked that the Plavix blood thinner that he prescribed can be effective.  There are apparently other sources of blood supply to the brain too.  It's serious, but not dire.

Since learning that I have clogged carotids, I had been researching surgeries to unclog them.  YouTube is filled with all kinds of video showing the amazing procedure where the carotid is cut open and the blockage is tweezed out.  But, the doctor said that experience has shown that when one of the arteries is blocked 100 percent that the risks are too high.  Strokes and death can easily be the result.

One last hope is an imaging test that can determine whether there's even a trickle of blood through the artery that's completely blocked.  He said, the odds are against that happening.

So, what are my thoughts about this as I celebrate one whole week of being 72 years old?  The words bucket list come to mind.  Going forward, I need to be extra picky about what I do and think.  At various points in my life, I felt more freedom to ignore doing certain things.  And, right now, I'm carefully going through my list of what's important to me and what's not.

Let me emphasize that no one has said I'm on the verge of needing to cut the grass of my cemetery plot and no one has said I'm in imminent danger of having a stroke or a heart attack.  But, I know the realities of what I'm dealing with as I move forward in my glaucoma and cornea journey.

As I'm moving ahead with all this and as I watch episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond for the umpteenth time, I'm trying to pay attention to what's important to me.

Christian songwriter and singer Matt Redmond has a song 10,000 Reasons.  It's about giving praise and thanks to God at all stages of life from birth to old age and to death.  I know that I've surpassed 10,000 reasons by many times.  My wife, my kids, their spouses and my grandkids.  My memory bank is filled with reasons.  

God has blessed me greatly and I know it, even though I might not always show it.  The Bible is always in my pocket and I open it throughout the day.  Today, I'm asking for His help in giving my anxiety to him.  I want him to carry it and I know he will.  It's a promise that I'm betting my life on.

"May your will be done Lord."  


Why would Republicans want to cut $500 billion from the Medicare program?



I got this news release in my email from the Michigan Democratic about how the Republicans in the U.S. Congress pushed through a budget bill that would cut $500 billion from Medicare and transform it into a voucher program.  

Upton Votes to Cut $500 Billion from Medicare, Convert to Voucher Program

House Republican Budget Also Includes Huge Giveaway to Big Oil

LANSING –– Today, Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) voted for the House Republican budget that cuts almost $500 billion from Medicare over a decade and turns it into a voucher program, which means older people will have to pay far more out of their own pockets for health care. 

How does this affect senior citizens with that insurance coverage?  Why aren't Republicans talking about it?  What about the voucher program?

It seems like Republicans are trying to slide one by people who need the healthcare the most.

Anybody got links to show the thinking.


How accurate are blood pressure readings taken at Sam's Club or a drug store?

My blood pressure reading.
This is my blood pressure reading taken at a neighborhood RiteAid from a few days ago.

I did a quick stop at the neighborhood Rite Aid a few days ago and spotted a machine where I could take my blood pressure.  Ordinarily, I would not take the time, but I couldn't resist.  This was my reading.  It seems to be pretty decent.

How accurate are these machines?  Is it like the difference between stepping on the scale at home and the one at the doctor's office where the numbers seem to be inflated?  Just curious.


I can barely understand what my wife is saying on the other end of the couch


The couch in our living room isn't really that big, but when I'm sitting on one end and my wife on the other I have trouble understanding what she's saying.  It's been that way for awhile.  I experience the same thing with my grandkids.  

I was getting tired of saying "what was that?"  And they get frustrated in having to repeat themselves.  That's why I went to America's store--Amazon-- for a possible solution.

If sound amplifiers  are hearing aids, they have plenty.  The challenge is reading through all the information and familiarizing myself with the issues.  

Using the bonus from my Discover card, I paid for most of a teeny amplifier.  It came today.  It's in my right ear. So far, it seems to be working.

The test will be in the days ahead with everyday living, including some couch conversations and some television shows.

I will report back in the days ahead.

Do you pay attention to the side effects of medication that you take?

Side Effects
These are the side effects from one of my eyedrops. I have experienced everyone, but the last one listed

I've been taking prescription eyedrops for glaucoma for well over a decade.  I've never read the carefully folded paper inside the box holding the drops until this past week.

My wife was clearing off our kitchen counter when she came to an empty eyedrop box with the printed notes filled front-to-back with lines and lines of information about the drops.  The print is "small-small" and anybody with normal vision would have trouble reading it.  

She looked at it and noticed the "Side Effects" listed.  They almost matched perfectly what I've been experiencing for awhile.  I've told my eye doctors about these symptoms for the past few years.  They seem to shrug their shoulders indicating that they are stumped.

What about Side Effects of prescription medication.  When they're listed is it just to comply with Food and Drug Administration requirements?  Are they listed to be meaningful to the consumer?

A few years ago, I asked one of my ophthalmologists about side effects of the drops and he seemed to say they are nothing to worry about.

Should I ask again before my next eye surgery on the day after Easter?

I wonder if I can take an Instagram picture from the operating room before my eye surgery

IMG_3564-1 (dragged)
The lens in my right eye has dislocated for a fifth time. Surgery on Wednesday. Hopefully, it will stay this time.

The lens in my right eye has come loose for the fifth time.  On Wednesday, two ophthalmologists will replace it and put it in front of the iris in that eye.  One of the doctors will take it out and the other will put the new one in.

This problem with my right eye from what I've learned in my visits with more than a dozen eye doctors is from my life-long nearsightedness.  It changed the grippers that the handles of the artificial lens goes into.

Is vision overrated?  Not at all.  I want to hang onto my vision as long as I can.  I've been talking to God about that.  I've been taking a visual inventory of everything I've seen in my life, so I can have these images firmly in my brain.  I thank God for ophthalmologists.  I especially pray for the two who will be working on me next week.

These are from my collection of eyedrops left over from my past eye surgeries. I've thrown away about an equal amount.

I have one month to wait for next step in my effort to keep vision in my right eye


A picture of my eyes
This was taken in 2013 when I had several surgeries on my right eye

 The lens in my right eye has run amuck for the fifth time.  I've had four different ophthalmologists examine it with one saying it has completely come loose and others saying it's partly attached, but flapping around.  What does this mean?

Right now, I have double vision most of the time.  I also have trouble reading, including the web on my new 27-inch monitor attached to my laptop.

Here's the fix:  on May 13, two surgeons will work on taking out the lens and replacing it with a new one that will be placed in front of my iris.  It's about a two hour surgery that has risks, but appears to be the only way to fix it.  

To be honest, it would be easy to let the condition of my present vision, the surgery and the uncertainty consume my thoughts.  With my wife's help and with the help of family, I am going to work hard to avoid that.

But most important is turning this over to God.  It easier said than done.  Even so, I just have to do it.  I pray fervently that he will give me that kind of faith.

Our pastor, Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church, shared this prayer a few years ago.  He says he starts everyday by asking God to give him the grace to trust him everyday.  "Dear Lord, I am asking the same."

I will report on the next leg of my eye journey from time to time.  Today, I will teach myself how to use my cell phone to dictate posts right into this blog, just in case, I can't see well enough.


My daily prayer.
I have my pastor's prayer taped to the back of my desk.



What can you learn about dealing with cancer and death from young mom Kara Tippetts?

I stumbled onto Kara Tippetts' blog about her life as a young mom dealing with incurable cancer.  I was drawn by her spirit and her focus on God.  Her transparency makes her experience even more real.  I've read her book The Hardest Peace-expecting grace in life's hard.  

This video clip is a trailer that's part of a documentary being produced about her and her reaction to her disease.  

My heart is touched by this very real family dealing with some really tough stuff.  For me, I see it as a template for how to deal with circumstances that bring you to a wall that seems impossible to get through.


Mangoes in our house grow in the freezer and not on trees


Here's what we eat for an after supper snack, mangoes.

What do you eat after supper while you're streaming something from Netflix or Hulu Plus?

We found that these times can be a real trap nutritionally.  Ice cream can be a real trap.  Lately, we've been trying frozen fruit, like mangoes and strawberries with a little Cool Whip on top.  It's healthy, sweet and satisfying.  We buy the fruit from Sam's Club.

What do you eat for an after supper snack?

Spending Christmas wrestling with our commode rather than our grandkids


Ninja Turtles light up his eyes.
It was Ninja Turtles for our all boy four-year-old grandson.



How many of you have had the stomach flu this year?

In November, my wife and I were counting down the days till we could wrestle and play with two of our grandchildren because they return to their home in the Balkans where my daughter and son-in-law work for an international development agency, World Hope.  We had  stored up some really great food, some great snacks and some craft beer and special wine.

Then it happened.  On Tuesday night, I felt my supper returning to my throat and mouth for a do-over.  I got the chills and then I got weak and my stomach felt like it took a punch.

So, we had to scale back on eating and on real active play with our grandkids.  Their parents were our surrogates for that while we are recovering.

We experienced the love of Jesus Christ in a new way this year.  It was the strength of family relationships.  I hope my parents, my mother and father in their eternal niches and Gladys' parents could see how much God has blessed us with our family.  All their efforts to pay it forward have seen fruit.  

Here are just a few pictures of a very special Christmas.  Next year, we hope to do it without the stomach flu.


Our granddaughter has a special bond with Christmas cookies and her grandma.




Our granddaughter gives us this bird house which she painted.




We are really proud of these guys, our daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and grandson



Going to the next step in treating my chronic open angle glaucoma


This resembles what they will insert into my eye. It will have drains to get rid of excess fluid in my eye. 

The pressure in my eyes has been creeping higher and higher.  Recent tests have shown that my optic nerve has thinned and that my peripheral vision has narrowed.  What does this mean?

I'm not totally sure, other than I might be nearing a hail Mary pass to reduce the pressure which threatens my vision.

Next is the surgical insertion of a drainage tube in my right eye called a Baerveldt glaucoma implant.  It's scheduled for the middle of next month.  It could work really well.  And there are chances that it may not.

I've got lots of questions and I'm trying to get answers.

How many more baby-boomers out there are struggling with the same issues?


I'd highly recommend Runkeeper for older baby-boomers like myself

This is a selfie that I took just before we walked this morning. It's cold in Michigan, so we wore hats.

Because of a lack of meniscus in my left knee I stopped jogging more than a decade ago.  For a number of years I was a regular at our downtown YMCA where I'd run on a small track with the added benefit of socializing with many people who I worked with.

These are our stats for walking as of this morning.

I even ran in a number of races, including a couple that were 10 miles.  Then it all stopped because of daily life and a deteriorating knee.  Over the years, my wife and I have walked on a sometimes regular basis and other times more sporadically.  It was affected by the activities of a growing family, weather and a dog.

Then we retired.  We tried walking everyday, but motivation would come and go.  Now the doctor has told me to walk everyday.  He said to aim for an hour a day doing a 20 minute mile.

This is where our son Justin enters the picture.  He's part of the wired generation.  It touches all part of his life and the life of his family.  Earlier this year, he recommended my trying the app Runkeeper on my phone.

We did and it has been a godsend.  All we had to do was select walking on the app and we were unleashed.  We have walked just about every street in our neighborhood and we've walked when we visit our kids where one lives in a different state and the other overseas.

The app on my iPhone 5 reads out in an audible voice our average speed per mile, the distance we've walked, plus more statistics that are helpful.

My inner self reacts positively to maintainly stats on a mobile device.  And if we are late in walking, the app will send us a reminder.  It also save a map of the routes we take each day.

We are closing in on 300 miles since we started on May 1.  I will write more when we reach that milestone.


My day in iPhone pictures: Eye doctor, pumpkin spice, fluorescent lights, beet chips, raking leaves

My eyes were wide-open for most of the morning today and some of this afternoon.  Because of my chronic glaucoma and other eye problems, I'm a groupie at my ophthalmology practice.  It was a full exam today and that starts with getting my eyes dilated.

That meant that when my wife and I went grocery shopping after the appointment, my pupils were wide-open.  However, I was still able to give the camera on my iPhone some exercise.  It was an average day, but these still pictures make the ordinarrieness of the day pop with color.


I'm waiting for my eyes to dilate while at the ophthalmologist's office. As a chronic glaucoma patient and one with other eye problems, I get my eyes checked real often.

 I'm a groupie at my ophthalmologist's office.  I get my eyes checked often  This comes after many surgeries and chronic glaucoma and cataracts.  Eyedrops are just part of my daily routine.

My wife uses pumpkin pie spice to make lattes for us as a treat during the day. The price for a small container is memorable.

 While going down the spice aisle at Meijers on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing, we found the pumpkin pie spice.  This small container was $4.79.  For our homemade pumpkin lattes at home, superwife makes her own spice. 

When we go to the supermarket my vision seems off kilter and my left eye hurts. It's a sensitivity to the intensity of the fluorescent lights.

For the past several months, I've noticed that my eyesight  changes every time I walk in a store like Meijers or Sam's Club.  My eyes start to hurt like I have a low-grade headache.  Doctor says I probably have a sensitivity to that type of illumination.

It was a first today at the supermarket when we bought beet chips. Have you ever had them?

 Red beet chips!  They just about jumped off the shelf when I saw them this morning.  I love red beets.  It's the first time we saw them.  Have you ever had them?  What did you think?

After lunch at home, we raked and bagged the leaves in our front yard.

 When we got home, the leaves in the front yard shouted out to be raked.  We filled three bags.  This is an activity that will continue for the next next month or so.

Say thank-you to Debbie Weil for being transparent about her struggles with depression


Debbie weil
Debbie Weil writes about her struggle with depression.

How familiar are you with depression?  Have you been affect by this debilitating condition?  Have you ever wondered if you might be depressed and are afraid to talk about it with somebody?

This is particularly relevant for retired baby-boomers who lost their work identity and who have empty-nests.  

Debbie Weil writes about her struggles with depression this year.  She's a former newspaper reporter who helped popularize blogging in this country.  She became an icon for blogging and its transition into the broader social media.  

Her struggle was very real and she has recovered.  This post is eye-opening and gives hope to anybody dealing with this.

LINK: Obamacare architect says we should die at 75 years of age


My four-year-old grandson helps me blow out the candles on my birthday cake for my 68th birthday. Obamacare official says I should be ready to die when he's twelve years-old. 

I just scanned this article about how this Obama loyalist and healthcare expert who helped design the Affordable Care Act feels that 75 should be the age for people to let go of this life and to enter eternity. Otherwise old folks would take up resources that could be used for others.  This reminds me of the old Charleston Heston movie Soylent Green.  

I just turned 68 and don't want to checkout just because I turn 75.  This story in Atlantic magazine deserves serious conversation.

Pray for 12-year-old with Tourette's Syndrome who was on Dr. Phil today


Dr. Phil features Tourette Syndrome
We saw a heart-grinding story today on Dr. Phil about a 12-year-old with Tourette Syndrome

I'm haunted by a 12-year-old girl with Tourette Syndrome who we saw on the Dr. Phil Show today.  I wasn't aware of how merciless this disease can be.  To see this young girl struggle with constant tics where she can't avoid hurting herself was excruciating to watch.


But for her parents and her younger brother, it has to be even harder if not impossible at times.  I will pray for her and I trust others around the country will do the same.

Some links about the program and the disease:

  1. Details on the Dr. Phil website about the show which featured the teenager and one other story about a mom dealing with a child custody challenge.  This includes links to resources.
  2. Tourette Syndrome Association website which does a great job of presenting the disease with its various permutations.
  3. Smart Brain and Health-Advanced Neuro Therapeutics which has therapies to deal with this disease and others.

We took our blood pressure at Sam's Club in Lansing

How many of you take your blood pressure at a pharmacy or a store like Sam's Club?  We are both at an age where we keep an eye on our BP knowing its effect on overall health, especially the condition of our cardiac and vascular system.

Today we took our BP at Sam's and below is the results.  Are there any opinions about the accuracy of these readings?  Are they close or do they measure high or low?  I'd love to keep my reading, but I'm not sure if it's the real deal or even close.


Wes bp
This is my blood pressure at Sam's Club this afternoon


Gladys bp
This is Gladys' blood pressure at Sam's.



My wrinkled retina, rising eye pressure and Walgreens drugstore

This is the instruction sheet I got with the new eyedrops. Walgreens needs to make a change to make it more readable.

I noticed the changed in my vision when we drove to and from St. Louis where we visited our son and daughter-in-law.  Road signs were fuzzy until I got real close to them.  This doesn't happen everytime.  

This is the latest of my eye challenges which started with cataracts, a dislocated lens which had to be reinstalled several times, glaucoma and a detached retina.  I tried to ignore the fuzzed-up road signs thinking that it could be a dirty windshield or even dirty glasses.

On the way home when we were driving out of the city and when I was presented with a choice of multiple lanes to take, I knew it was my eyes.  However, I had a GPS with a big than usual monitor and I had my wife sitting next to me reminding me of the correct lane to take.

The diagnosis after visiting two different ophthalmologists this week was that I have a wrinkled retina.  This seems to be a by-product of several eye surgeries I had this past year.  At the same time, the pressure in my eyes increased.

The retina doctor said my wrinkles weren't bad enough to surgically repair them.  It's something that will be monitored.

In the meantime, my glaucoma doctor switched eyedrops.  I now take Zioptan when I go to bed and Timoptic in the morning.

When I picked it up from my neighborhood Walgreens pharmacy, I got an instruction sheet that contained several hundred words.  This is an eyedrop that can have harmful side effects and it's one that has to be handled in a certain way.

The problem is that the instructions are written in big long paragraphs and in a type that has to be eight points or less.  You think Walgreens would know better and make the type bigger.  I find it almost to difficult to read.

What about other baby-boomers with eye problems?  How are you working through the changes and the eyedrops?  Anybody else have a wrinkled retina?

The extra piece--a meningioma tumor--in my brain hasn't grown


This is me.
Two words--brain tumor--felt like a taser when I heard them.

I had heard stories about friends who had friends with brain tumors.  Some required people to feed them, while others could not see or talk in a way that made sense.

That's why when I heard a year-ago that I had a brain tumor, my heart skipped a few beats and my thoughts became focused like a laser.  It was all part of a series of experiences with my right eye where they lens in my right eye kept falling off its perch and it would be put back-up.  After the recovery, my vision was worse, instead of better.

I got a MRI which showed a 6 mm. meningioma on the back of the right side of the brain.  After that I went to a whole series of opthalmologists who had sub-specialties, including neurology.  The conclusion was that it was benign.  The next point of concern was whether it would grow.

Last Wednesday, I had a MRI and I got the results back this morning.  The medical assistant for my primary care provider said that the test found that it hadn't grown.  That's one item I can take off the worry list.  

What did I learn?  Life is fragile.  I know that I have one more big reason to praise God.  My anthem in the last year has been Matt Redman's song "10,000 Reasons." I have one more reason to praise his name and this is a big one.