Wild Hogs

Kindra and DL are riding their bicycles today from Houston to Austin, Texas in the MS150 benefit ride.  They will actually accumulate about 167 miles when they finish on Sunday.  I am praying for no winds, no accidents and much strength.  I will let you know how they manage the ride. 

Dave and a group of friends rode their bicycles in the Kansas City area MS150 for at least 10 years in a row.  However, somthing happened that changed this respectable looking group of 40 year olds……

into this questionable looking group of 50 year olds.

They are still riding two wheelers, but have powered them up a bit.

This group has traveled far and wide, they have been to Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota (Sturgis, of course). 

 They designated a navigator and sent out a scout.

They have seen amazing sites such as this….

and this……

and this…….

and even this….

They have slept and dined in luxurious accommodations,

This morning with the temperature at 38 degrees they once again donned their leathers and rode off into the sunrise towards Oklahoma.  I just hope they do not talk Dave into anything crazy like the last time they rode.  He came home with a sleeveless shirt that showed off his “IT(information technology) arms”.

Hopefully I won’t see any PC or Star Trek tatoos this time!

A Legacy

Twenty years ago I started working for a company, Marion Merrill Dow,  that not only shaped the course of my future career path, but became the standard by which I would judge all future employers. (btw, no other employer has come close).   The eight years I worked for this organization also produced life long friends.

Marion Merrill Dow was the second generation of Marion Laboratories, a Kansas City landmark company.   Started by the late Ewing Kaufman, original owner of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, the legacy of Marion Laboratories still influences the local business community today through the numerous companies started by “associates” (the term used to refer to employees of the company) and the inspiring work of the Kauffman Foundation.

When I began working for the company, they were embarking on an international systems implementation project which I was very fortunate to be a part.  Our team traveled frequently to many places in Europe preparing local operations to use the new SAP software.  During that time, I personally traveled to Europe nine times in nine months, many of those trips 2 weeks in duration. 

Fraser, Carl and Steve at a London Pub

Dave did a tremendous job of holding down the home front with our three small children (ages 7, 4 and 1 at the time) while I lived in hotel rooms, ate out every meal and had my room cleaned by a maid each day.

I am pretty confident I had the easier job.

Barry, Tim, Jay and Steve at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Our project lasted for several years and resulted in close friendships between many of us. No other place for which I have worked have I kept in such close contact with so many colleagues.  I have often wondered what was the unique set of circumstances that caused this bond to form, was it the stress of the complicated project, the traveling to foreign environments for weeks at a time or the culture of the workplace that encouraged respect for each other. 

Tim explaining the complexities (ha-ha) of the SAP AP module to Manfred Hauser, the accounting manager in Berlin.

Or maybe it was just all those mandatory team building meetings such as the toga parties,  work days at Towster’s house,  happy hours in the lobby of the Syltr Hof Hotel in Berlin, or the little piano bar in Lisbon, Portugal.  More than likely, it was the sum of all of these things.

Examining remains of the Berlin wall at Checkpoint Charlie.
Several of us still get together for lunch once a month to catch up on family, current job’s and our other co-workers.  This past friday evening I had the privilege of meeting up with a few former teammates, one  I had not seen in several years.   It was as if we had  just talked last week, the bonds of friendship still remain.
Cheryl and Al


We all have stories we could tell about our days traveling and working on the DOWFAS team, but the most important item we accomplished were the relationships we built and have kept over the years.

It’s all relative…

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. 

When you are sitting on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour.

  That is relativity.  Albert Einstein.

Last week the physical therapist put weights on my ankles and made me get in the water.  I was thinking she was trying to drowned me.  My physical therapy has moved to a new level which is not terribly difficult when I am doing it, but I am definitely feeling it that night and the next day.  The good news is that this means my muscles are getting stronger and working harder than they have for a long time.  The bad news is that I am usually sore and very tired after the physical therapy, so much so that I have actually started dreading the days that I have therapy.

Today I met a woman who was just starting therapy after having her right  hip replaced.   She had the biggest smile on her face and just looked full of life.  She said she had her left hip replaced in 1988.  I started asking her questions thinking I would hear how much better her life is now.  She mentioned that she has had five surgeries on her right hip and this is actually the third replacement of that joint because it keeps dislocating. 

I wanted her to stop talking right that minute.  

She went on to say that she had to delay this last surgery for several months because she fell last fall and broke her pelvis in two places.  She said she was so excited to be starting physical therapy again.

Time for me to regroup….I had a successful hip replacement with no complications.  My left hip is virtually pain-free for the first time in several years.  My muscles are getting so strong that I have to use weights to keep improving their function.  Being tired after physical therapy means I am working hard.  What is there to complain about?

Spring Weekend

Spring….it was not here fast enough for me.  It was absolutely beautiful in Lee’s Summit this weekend.  I celebrated on Saturday by going out to lunch with a friend I do not get to see very often.   Over lunch I told her I was looking for a new recliner to put on the first floor of our house so I would not have to spend so much time in my bedroom.  Right after surgery, the recliner was really the only chair that was comfortable for me.  I had thought about buying another one that matched the one I bought in December, but upon closer inspection found it would not match my brown sofa at all.  I had looked on-line but had not found anything I liked yet.   Armed with my new-found shopping confidence from last weekend, we hit a furniture store here in town and I actually found a non-rocking recliner that I liked.  It would need to be special ordered and would take about 45 days.  There are 44 days until my next surgery so this might just work.  I brought fabric samples home and think I will go back this week and order it.

On Sunday I had a delightful afternoon learning to decorate cupcakes.  Joyce is a great cake decorator, she has made several Barbie cakes for my girls when they were little and once she made my favorite cake for my birthday which is angel food with seven minute icing.    She even made her own son’s wedding cake.  I baked the cupcakes and she brought the icing.  Then she demonstrated the use of several of the pastry bag tips….I sure they have a name but I have no idea what they are called.

The master baker demonstrating the grass tip
Julie and I then practiced using the different tips.  The first were a little rough but we got better with each cupcake we decorated. 
Here are my final products….not too bad for the first time, but I am going to need to make lots of cupcakes, lots and lots of cupcakes, to get better.
To top off the weekend, Molly called and was going to be in town to get her nails done and wanted to know what we were doing for dinner.  She was hungry for shrimp so off to Red Lobster we went.  It was great catching up with her.  She told us that on friday evening her SDA group (Student Dietetics Association) went to the Ronald McDonald house in Kansas City and made dinner for families staying there.  She thought is was fun and they are hoping to make this a recurring event.
Hope you all had a great spring weekend also……

Six Million Dollar Woman???

I try not to complain about health insurance very much.  I have experienced the benefit of having great health insurance coverage over the years and I am very thankful my husband has provided these benefits for me.  In his words, “my job in this marriage is to provide health benefits so Theresa can do whatever the heck she pleases.”  Sounds about right to me.

In 1984, before medical costs skyrocketed and the health insurance plans became so complicated, Kindra was born 9 weeks prematurely, weighing in at 2 pounds, 14 ounces.  She was life-flighted to Children’s Mercy while I lay in intensive care at another hospital.  She underwent a surgical procedure and was in the NICU for 75 days.

Kindra 2 days old

In total our medical expense for that experience was in the range of $125,000.  I believe we paid only our $200 deductible.  According to the consumer price index inflation calculator, $125K in 1984 is about the same as $266K in 2011 dollars.

2 months old - just a few days before coming home

The costs for my December hip replacement to date:

Hospital                                               $48,111

Surgeon                                                  12,612

Anesthesiologist                                   1,785

Physical Therapy                                 2,823

Home medical equipment                    334

Total                                                    $65,665

This does not include any drug costs, over the counter or prescription.

If you watched TV in the 70’s you remember a show called the $6 Million Dollar Man.  The plot centered around a former astronaut, Steve Austin, whose body had to be rebuilt after a training accident.  The six million dollars in cost to rebuild allowed him to run at speeds up to 60 mph and provided him with several other specialized skills.

Being the geeky accountant that I am, I thought it would be fun to calculate what my personal reconstruction would be given a few assumptions:

  • I am going to live to be 100 years old.  I am sure that the life insurance tables would disagree with that considering the state of this decrepit body, but I am going with that.
  • The useful life of a joint replacement is 15-20 years considering several factors.  I am usually an optimist so I will go with 20.
  • Given the facts above, there is a potential I would need my joints replaced 2 additional times after this first go round.  For you math nerds out there, (100-54)/20=2.3
  • If we assume all four joints will cost approximately the same, $66K, then a full set of replacement parts will cost approximately $264K.
  • If I have three total replacements of four joints over my life, the cost will be approximately $792K. (In 2011 dollars of course).
  • Finally, according to the Consumer Price Index, the annual rate of inflation since 1913 has been 3.37%.  If you assume that rate will prevail, when I am 100 years old my reconstruction costs will be $3.6 million dollars.

Are you still with me people?  OK, I will not be the $6 million dollar woman, but you would think for half the cost I should be able to run at least half as fast……say 30 miles per hour?

Bottom line…….I am STILL very thankful for health insurance.

Physical Therapy

This past weekend convinced me that physical therapy is working.  My ability to shop (even though I took frequent breaks) demonstrates that my stamina and endurance are increasing.  For now I am doing pool therapy 3 times per week.  It feels great, the water is 92 degrees.  I am able to do much more in the pool than I would be able to do on land due to my other three non-replaced joints.  After my second surgery I will move to half pool and half  land.

I only have about two and a half weeks of therapy left.  Then I will have a month before surgery number two.  I need to find someplace with a WARM pool that I can continue these exercises so I do not lose the momentum I have gained.

Bicycling with the noodle…

Physical therapy is not always convenient, it is an interruption to the work day and takes time to dress/undress and drive to the pool.  However, I am hoping my efforts now will make my recovery from the second surgery easier and faster.


Just returned from a great three-day weekend in Branson.  Friends asked us if we would like to join them at their time share this past weekend and we had a really nice time.  They were so nice to us, making sure we had a first floor condo so I would not have to do stairs and giving us the master bedroom.

I was a little worried I would slow down their fun since I am not nearly as mobile as I would like to be.  However, I even surprised myself at how much I was able to do.   I guess the physical therapy is really paying off.  We shopped, went to a 60’s musical review show, shopped, ate, shopped, went to see the movie Lincoln Lawyer (which we all liked), ate, shopped and ate some more.  We visited the Tanger Outlet three different times and the great thing is that it has benches outside every other store.  I would shop, rest, shop, rest, etc.

I spent a little too much time and a little too much money in this store, but I came home VERY happy.

Post Surgery Expectations

Several people have asked me if I will be 100% normal after all these surgeries.  GREAT QUESTION!  I actually asked Dr. L that very thing before the first surgery.  His response was “If that were not the expectation, we would not be doing this.”  I think that was doctor speak for “I sure hope so!”    I understand everyone’s case is different and everyone responds differently to treatments but I sure would have liked him to say, “Absolutely!”

It is not that I expect to run a marathon or anything, I would be happy with some pretty simple things like walking through the grocery store or going shopping without pain.  I am getting frustrated easily these days.  I am thinking that I have had surgery so I should be MUCH better.  I should not have to use this darn cane to walk.  And in reality the achy arthritis pain in my left hip is virtually gone.  However I still have three joints that do not work well and my left hip occasionally does hurt but in a different way.  It does not feel normal yet.

Here is where that patience and endurance thing comes in again……as most of you know, patience is not my best virtue but I really have no choice.  I have started this journey and now I have to finish it.

Tribute to Ken

For the past several months Kindra and DL have been training for the Houston MS150 which will be held in April. 

Kindra and DL at a training ride

My husband and his father participated in the MS150 – Kansas City ride for many years.  DL wrote a nice tribute about Kindra’s grandfather expressing the reasons he is participating in the ride.  Below is a picture of David and his Dad on the ride DL mentions in this article. 

David and Ken on the Ride Across Washington

Check out this link……