Monday, March 3, 2014

Final Entry

Rick, or Papa Rick as he is fondly known in our household, has asked that I write the very last entry to his blog. I consider it a great honor and privilege to play a small part as I know many near and far have followed Rick on his difficult journey these pasts six or so years. With a heavy heart I write to say that Richard Klinge passed away yesterday morning, March 2, 2014. The previous Wednesday he manifested symptoms consistent with pneumonia. With congestion and a high fever he quickly weakened. He fought hard and was an optimist up until the very end, but on Saturday evening he felt tired and slipped into a deep and peaceful sleep not to wake up again.

Words cannot express how much he will be missed. He was a dear husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, leader, teacher, and friend. He has touched many lives. His influence for good was immeasurable. As I think of him and reflect on his life the word that comes to mind over and over is light. He was a light and an eternal optimist. He gave us hope and was an example of great strength and courage. He was always thinking of others.  "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16). We are so grateful to God for such a light in our lives. He has taught us so much.

I hope it is okay if I share something personal to me. In the midst of deep sadness at the thought of not having Rick here any longer, I also cannot help but feel relief. The road has been long and he has been a champion through every detail. But I am happy for him to be free of his earthly troubles and cares. I can imagine him being reunited with loved ones since passed. I can close my eyes and hear his laugh again. His wonderful, hearty laugh. I haven't heard it in years only because he has been physically unable. I love that vision and will hold onto the sweet memories.

I know Rick was deeply grateful to all of you who have followed and supported him and have extended such love and generosity throughout these tough years.  To that his wife Rose adds her heartfelt gratitude. Thank you so very much.

Andrea Jones, Rick's stepdaughter

A public memorial service will be held at the Maiden Lane Chapel located at 1621 Maiden Lane, Wenatchee, Washington at 1:00pm on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hope and Optimisum

"I am learning to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me”  Tracee Elis Ross
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future.  Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”  Noam Chomsky
 When I was working, I had a vision of bringing together a group of fisheries professionals in a unique setting to help me with a project I had.  There were some obstacles that needed to be moved and conditions that required approval from several different government agencies.  For some time I was not given much hope from those I worked with that knew of my efforts.  And while I was not receiving much encouragement, the thought of success kept me motivated to push for cooperation for the project.  With time, the pieces came together.  Today the project is working smoothly.  In fact so smoothly that it has been successful beyond anything I could have imagined.  The project to restore a population of sockeye salmon has received awards for the cooperation seen among various agencies plus the success of restoration to the fish resource.  Though the part I played was small, it was necessary to line up the players of the program to move forward. 
I have a fascination with the concepts of hope and optimism.  The stories of the underdog winning the ball game or the persistence of the student to get accepted into medical or graduate school I find exciting.  Success in many ways is dictated by our thinking.  As we set our sights high, we move in a trajectory that brings us into an area for success.  As I battle this rare disease that has taken so much away from me, I continue to look for hope that an answer is on the horizon.  People with AL Amyloidosis are living today way past what people did just 10 years ago.  I feel with each day I am given, I move closer to the time that a cure is found and unravel the damage caused in my body.  It is interesting to follow the research that medicine is putting forward in so many areas.  I have been told that gene therapy will likely be the way that the body will fight off the impact from this disease.  Damage to my organs and nerves could be undone with a tailor made anti-body to undo the damaging proteins that my body cannot fight.  A time is coming when a research student will develop a way to splice genes and create a new anti-body to fight this disease.  The benefits will be welcomed by thousands of cancer patients and those with rare diseases of the bone marrow.     

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happiness and the Seahawks


 As I deal with the symptoms of AL Amyloidosis I am asked by my Hospice nurse each time she sees me if I am in any pain.  It was a question I was asked as I was going through chemo therapy also a few years back.  For all that I have experienced from this disease or from all the procedures of chemo or even with the various surgeries I have had the past five years, pain is one that I have not experienced. There have been times I have been nauseous or when stuck with a needle I have said ouch.  But these things are short lived.  Chronic pain is a quality of life issue.  It can change our mood and make everything loose its specialness.  If things change and I begin to experience some discomfort, I will get the help to manage it. 

I generally am happy with each day.  Not that I am happy about what I have lost as I have stepped backward physically to where I am now looked at as being handicapped.  I manage each day to fit in the time with projects and reading.  As I came across the quote above by Denis Waitley on happiness, I had to agree that happiness is not a destination, though I do miss the winter trips to Maui.  Happiness is not something owned, thought I did feel sorry selling my motorcycle and ski boat the past few years.  And happiness is not a sizzling thick steak, or hamburger or piece of cheese cake; things my stomach would revolt against.  Happiness instead comes from within like a memory of better times.  It comes from an unexpected visit or phone call from a friend.  It comes from being pleased to get another day of life.   There is nothing wrong from being happy and many times the trip or toy or nice dinner can bring pleasure to us.  But happiness is a lot bigger than these things and is not dependent on the externals to bring it around.

My health this month has been stable.  The issues with my stomach as a result of the Amyloid that are sorting themselves out.  It is hard to acknowledge I cannot eat as I use to.  But then I guess none of us can eat as we did when we were teenagers or twenty years ago.  I need to stop watching the food channel.  A cooking show that featured the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce, toast) would have a hard time getting past three 30 minute shows.  

On top is a photo of two of the Seahawks, two Sea-Gals and one sick dude named Rick in December 2011 while recovering from my second stem cell transplant.  These four were kind enough to come through the cancer wing of the University of Washington Hospital to bring some encouragement to those who were not feeling so well while on chemo therapy.  They spent about ten minutes just visiting with me and wishing me a quick recovery.  Having lived in Washington for most of my life, it should not be hard to know which team I will be cheering for at this year’s Super Bowl Game.   



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year 2014

               It is amazing how quickly this past year and seasons went by.  It does not seem that long ago when the sun was shining in my window I would wake up at an early time.  Now with the overcast and short days, my room is dark and I find myself sleeping in longer.  It must be a winter hibernation thing.  This week, we go into a new month and a new calendar year.  New beginnings can be a good thing.  New beginnings inspire us to move beyond our comfort level and do something requiring a little more effort or to modify a habit that may be interfering with who we want to be.  Well here is a list of some of the more popular New Year’s Resolutions based on a quick internet search.  (1)  Lose weight/get fit.  (2) Save money/get out of debt (3) Quit smoking (4) Get a better education (5) Watch less TV.   While these are popular and will help us, here are a few more posted by CNN that I liked and may incorporate into my years activities.  (1) Get some fresh air.  I like the above cartoon of Bambam from the Flintstones who was told to go outside and play.   Because of computers and tablets, we have lost our connection with the outside.  We need a breath of fresh air on a regular basis to stay healthy and reduce stress.  Watch the trees in the park or plants around the yard to know what season they are in.  (2) Add something.  Instead of just cutting out the snacks or chocolate, add a bottle of water or reading a book or time at the start off the day to organize your work.  (3) Stop Multitasking.   Sometimes it is best to give our full attention to what we are doing, whether it is eating, driving, or checking emails.  Think how often we eat while the TV is on or while we are driving?  The additional stress we carry from multitasking can be detrimental to us.  (4) Try something new.   Think of something you have wanted to do.  I love these guys on the food network that put together a fantastic meal.  It does not seem that hard.  A great cooking class or spending time in the kitchen seems like a way to take this on.  There are a lot of classes on the internet for very basic training.  I remember I watched a YouTube video on how to cook a whole chicken.  While the kitchen was a mess, the dinner that night turned out pretty nice.  The next video I needed to watch is, "How to cook without using every pot in the house."   

         Now for a quick health update.  This past month I have been dealing with stomach and intestinal issues with as a result of the Amyloid.  The misfolded proteins of Amyloid coat the intestinal walls and interfere with the process of food absorption.  The partial solution has been a simpler diet.  This definitely put a cramp in my Christmas
sweet tooth.  


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Watershed Moment

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  Dr. Seuss.

All of us experience life changing moments that stand out.  For me one that I look back on often was when I received the diagnosis from a cardiologist in Seattle that I had AL Amyloidosis.  In February 2009, Rose and I met with Dr. Olsen at Swedish Hospital to get the results of a heart catheterization and biopsy.  This procedure was needed to better understand why my heart function was low.  I came to this hospital knowing that I had cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart walls.  The procedure would help define the severity of the problem and allow the doctors insight how to repair the damage.  At the time of the heart catheterization, the doctor mentioned to me that a small piece of heart tissue would be removed for a biopsy to test for a very rare disease.  It was done only as a precaution.  Before the biopsy could be examined, he told me he expected that I would be back to full health within six months.  Unfortunately the biopsy did show the presence of the disease he hoped was not there.  This is what was causing my heart to fail.  The diagnosis of AL Amyloidosis meant a different and more extensive approach to improving my health would be needed.  Statistics show that from the time of diagnosis, many Amyloidosis patients  would have six months to two years of life.  Well, now after a heart transplant and two stem cell transplants, I have seen close to five years of life.  At the time of my clinic visit back in 2009, we had no idea what we could expect.  The memory of this doctor’s visit in still remains one of the watershed moments of my health journey. 

Below are links to two great YouTube videos from the Mayo Clinic that describe AL Amyloidosis.  These videos have simple description and graphics. 

Video 1  Description of AL Amyloidosis (Click here).  Eight minutes, thirty seconds time.

Video 2  Treatment Options for AL Amyloidosis (Click here).  Seven minutes thirty seconds time. 

Here is wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We do have a lot to be thankful for.  We can better appreciate how blessed we are when we look at the population of the world to see how we stack up instead of looking around the neighborhood to see who has the new car or new wide screen TV.