Monday, July 29, 2019

Darren Knudson

I wanted to share the complete article that I wrote for Dirt Monthly Magazine about a friend of mine, Darren Knudson. When I originally approached Darren he agreed to be interviewed, but he told me that he didn't think that he had anything to say that anyone would want to hear.

Well, after a little over a half hour on the phone, I wrote the article that you see below.

I truly enjoy letting people know about those in my racing family who never get the spotlight put on them. People like World of Outlaws drivers, the big name Late Model drivers, etc. all get plenty of publicity. But you never read about the low-budget racers, the people who work on the cars or the behind the scenes people in general. I try to remedy that oversight.

I hope you enjoy this latest offering of mine.

Are sprint car people born, or do they learn to love the sport as they grow up? In the case of 53-year old Darren Knudson from Lincoln Nebraska, I would have to guess that he was born to the sport. In fact, he was at the races before he was born and made his first actual appearance at a very early age.

“My parents took me to Eagle Raceway when I was just 6 days old on September 18th, 1965. I grew up at the racetrack. My mom was a big race fan and Dad worked on lots of cars throughout the time I was growing up. We always had somebody’s race car at my house. Mom and Dad took me to all kinds of races. The way that I learned my numbers and colors was from the race cars. Somebody would ask me what somebody’s car number was, or what color it was when I was a kid. And that kind of thing was how I leaned numbers and colors. I was always around different drivers, different car owners, guys who did chassis set-ups. I learned a little bit here and a little bit there. Eventually I learned enough to start going out on my own and setting up a car at 21”.

His racing education grew quickly. “My father was working on the #23 car owned by Roger Abbott that George Odvody was driving. I believe that it was a CAE sprint car and was one of, if not the first sprint car that ran around here. At that time, they were running what they called supermodifieds, which were just Model A’s and ’32 Fords modified to race. At 79 he’s still working on the 360 car that Tadd Holliman drives. During the Racesaver IMCA Nationals he helps out Jeremy Schultz from Minnesota and off and on he works with Bill Garrow on his Racesaver sprint. In the past he’s worked on cars driven by Regan Kitchen, JJ Riggins, Lloyd Beckman, Don Maxwell. In fact, the #7 410 sprinter owned by Jim Gessford was the first car that I ever worked on with him. I started working with Dad back in ’77 or ’78 when I was 11 or 12 years old. By the time that I was old enough that they could sneak me into the pits I was all about doing that. I kind of helped out a little bit; rolling tires around and things like that”.

As you can see, Darren got his love of sprint cars naturally from his parents and has never lost it, no matter what happened. “When I was helping with the #7, we ran all over, even with the World of Outlaws. I think it was 1980 and Gessford had bought a new Stanton chassis. Mike Schaeffer was driving it at Knoxville. He got into turn 1 too high and completely destroyed the car its first night out. So, Jim bought one of the very last cars built by Don Maxwell. He put Roger Rager in the car to drive it at Peoria, Illinois on Friday night and at Knoxville on Saturday and follow that with a daytime Outlaw show at Sunset Speedway on Sunday. We got to Des Moines and it had been raining for quite a while, so we decided to stay there. The Peoria show eventually rained out. Saturday, we had mechanical issues and never got to finish a race at Knoxville. Then Sunday Don Maxwell showed up at Sunset and gave us some advice because the track was really, really dry-slick. It had rained, so they bladed off the top layer of mud. There was a 4 to 5-inch-tall cushion up top in 1 and 2 and it was super heavy up there, but the rest of the track was bone dry. We came out of the B Feature and started dead last in the A. At the drop of the green flag everybody dove for the bottom of the track and wherever you were in that line was where you were stuck. Everybody except for Rager that is, because he was CRAZY!! He was running the outside of the race track the whole way and nobody else dared to go out there. I don’t know how he did it, other than he was a great driver. He would come out of 2, and there was no wall back there; just a dirt bank. If you went over that bank it was a 20-foot drop! He was going down the back stretch with 2 tires off the track and all we could see from the infield was the top wing. He was passing cars down the back stretch like that and all the color drained out of Gessford’s face because he was thinking “My second brand new race car is going to be destroyed the second time it’s on the track!!”. Rager ended up going from last to fourth and he probably would have won that feature if he had a couple more laps. One other time there was a bounty on Doug Wolfgang up at Knoxville and we dug out an old 1969 Grant King car that had won the Nationals. Gessford called up Lloyd Beckman and asked if he would be willing to drive it. Lloyd hadn’t driven a sprinter in over a year and hadn’t been to Knoxville in quite a while, but he said “Sure! Let’s go get that bounty”. So, Jim called my Dad and I, picked us up and we ended up taking home the $500 bounty using a 10-year-old car!!”.

His first solo job working on a sprint came when Ron Towle, a local who raced at Eagle Raceway, called him and asked for help setting up his  #351 that had just a stock 351 Ford motor in it. Now, he works on several different cars; both a 360 and two Racesaver sprints. “I really enjoy working on both kinds of cars. I can’t say I like one more than the other. Right now, we’re having motor issues with the 360 that Tadd Holliman runs. We’re getting out-motored really badly! That’s just a money deal to a certain extent. But I’ve gone racing with Tadd for so many years that I always have a good time racing. I enjoy being around Terry and Dan so much. Tadd and I are buddies, and it seems like we’ve been racing together for decades, but it’s only 12 or 15 years. Whether it’s racing the 360 or going to the Chili Bowl and working on his midget; I’m a big Tadd Holliman fan and it’s just lots of fun. With the Racesavers I’m doing the set-ups and everything and just having a great time. With Jeremy Schultz, he’s not very experienced yet. It’s fun to work with him and watch him get better. Since he’s up in Minnesota I only get to actually work with him in person 3 or 4 times a year at the Racesaver IMCA Nationals. To see how he’s progressed is a great time. Working with Bill and Rick Garrow has been fun too. They own the car and Bill drives it. I went to high school with Rick actually, so I’ve known him forever. To show you what good people they are, they let us borrow their whole race car one night when the 360’s were still running weekly at Eagle Raceway. Terry Holliman was in the points battle and we had trouble with his car one week. They let Terry drive their car in the A Feature so that he could save as many points as possible. They never asked anyone for help with set-ups or anything; they were just learning as they went along. It was almost like they didn’t want to bother anybody by asking questions. So, since we weren’t running the 360 weekly, I got bored. I would watch them run and then tell them “Hey! I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or anything, but your car is doing such and such and you might want to try this. They knew that I’d been around racing a long time, and had some success in the business, even running second in the Racesaver IMCA Nationals with Tadd driving. They took some of my suggestions and kept progressing. Bill never really had a consistent race car, so even if he was supposed to start on the pole he wouldn’t because he wasn’t sure what the car would do. But now, he’s gotten used to having a good car and he’s gotten good enough that he will run up on the cushion with the best of them. I think I may have created a monster, but it’s sure been fun watching him get better. I could probably have worked on a car that was faster, but letting Bill figure out how good a driver he can be is lots more satisfying”.

When I asked what his greatest thrill was out of his entire career was, he said “There are probably two that are all really close to being the biggest. The first feature that Tadd won was the first feature that I’d won setting up the car by myself. We were leading the feature with Tadd running the bottom of the track. This was the first time that Tadd was leading that late in the race and I think he just overdrove the car in the corners 2 laps in a row on a night when you had to be patient and hug the bottom. Four cars got by us on the outside. Tadd got back to fourth and then two laps later going into turn three the top three cars crashed each other out. They had an open red flag so they could check on the drivers and clear the track. I went down and talked to Tadd a little bit, and I told him that what he had been doing was going to win the race if he kept it up. I also told him that I tightened the car up a little bit to make it drive better for him. All I really did was walk to the back of the car and stand there for a few minutes. That gave him the time to settle down and have the confidence that he was going to be fine. I went back and told him that I changed the set-up and that he was going to be good from there on. Basically, I just adjusted the nut behind the wheel instead of actually doing anything to the race car. The other best night was the first time that Tadd ran the Racesaver IMCA Nationals. Friday night was the first qualifying night and we went out and won our heat race. We led every lap of the A Feature and just annihilated the field that night. We ran several laps just off the track record and there was only one other car that ran even one lap close to that. We ended up winning by over a straightaway against the best Racesaver drivers in the country on a really heavy track! Then on Sunday we ended up running second to Jack Dover on a dry-slick track. It was so nice to show what we could do two different nights on two completely different types of tracks”.

Darren’s plans for next year are to keep doing what he enjoys so much. “I’ll be helping Tadd run his 360. Hopefully we’ve got a little motor upgrade coming so that we can be a little more competitive. I’ll be assisting Jeremy as much as possible. Most of what I do with him is over the phone until the Racesaver Nationals which is a weird way to set-up a race car. I have gone up to Minnesota to some of the tracks that he runs so I’m a little bit familiar with them. I’m familiar enough with Jeremy and what he does and doesn’t like that I can give him advice on shocks and stuff once he tells me what the track is like. Then I’ll help him out at the Nationals of course. Plus, I’ll be working with the Garrows as much as possible. Depending on what night Tadd qualifies at the Chili Bowl I might run down to Tulsa and work on his midget. I will be plenty busy but loving every minute of it!!”.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Tige Jensen

The common way to get into sprint car racing today is to start out in go-karts, move up to micro or mini-sprints and after a few years to jump into a full-sized sprinter. Well, that’s not how 35-year-old Tige Jensen from Lincoln, Nebraska got into our favorite sport.

"I believe that I was 21 when I first started racing. I jumped right into a 360 sprint car; although looking back, knowing that I wanted to race I probably would have gone down the road of go-karts, then mini-sprints and that whole deal". 

Tige's racing roots go back a LONG time, as his father Lonnie was a fixture on lots of racetracks around the area. The midwest’s own "Black Bandit" not only ran all over but won wherever he went. "I think that Dad raced for 41 or 42 years altogether. I think that they called them super-modifieds back when he started”. Lonnie’s career included championships in the BCRA twice and NMRA three times as well as track points wins at Beatrice Speedway, Midwest Speedway (2), Eagle Raceway (4) and Knoxville Raceway (3). Victories at the 1/3 Mile Nationals, the Nebraska Triple Crown and the Modified Sprint National Championship also were captured by him.

It would seem to be a no-brainer as to where Tige got the racing bug. ”Ever since I was born the weekends were spent at the race track. Dad raced full time from 1960 to1976. Then again from 1981 thru 2000. Even racing in as late as 2008 in the Knoxville Raceway Masters Classic in my car. Driving never really crossed my mind until the 2002 season when Toby Chapman approached me asking if I wanted to split driving duties with him”. That all came about because of a wrecked race car. "In the winter of 2001 Toby Chapman approached me because he had used one of my Dad's cars back in the late 90's and that car ended up getting bent up pretty good. So, he felt like he owed my Dad a car. He approached me at the time and said 'Hey! Do you want to drive at Eagle Raceway and I'll run the car at the shows away from Eagle?'. That first year Toby and I split the driving duties. I believe I ran 12 shows at Eagle and he ran another 12 shows out on the road. Same car and everything. And, that’s how I got my start in sprint car racing. After the 2002 season he gave me the car and my full-time racing began. With the help of Gary and Adam Grossenbacher and Brian Bailey we were able to put together a decent operation to run regional races (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas and Missouri). Gary and Adam were supplying the engines and Brian and myself were getting the cars ready to go".

Unfortunately, in August of 2004, tragedy struck Jensen. While racing at Junction Motor Speedway he made very hard contact with the opening in the back-stretch wall that led to the pits. “That crash at McCool junction almost took my life. During the accident it cut the car in half. My feet were hanging out of the motor plate. The Engine flew about 30 yards down the track. I broke both legs, crushed my left ankle, and broke my right arm. I was in the hospital for 4 weeks and did physical therapy for over 2 years on my ankle.   I don’t remember much about the crash. The last thing I remember was buckling up for the heat race that night. Next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital in Lincoln”.

When he finally recovered he hopped right back into the race car. He remained a fixture at 'America's Home Track' for quite a while. "I was pretty loyal to Eagle Raceway until they switched over to the Racesaver sprints. We had to make a decision whether to sell the 360's or keep what we had and travel a little bit more. We ended up keeping the 360 stuff and travelling. We continued this arrangement until 2011 when Gary passed away. We did run a couple more seasons but ended up selling off our components after the 2013 season. After the season the 3 of us sat down and discussed future plans. The time sacrificed away from our families was a big part of our decision to get out of it”.

But, being a racer at heart, he couldn’t resist the temptation to compete again. When I asked why, after 4 years, he decided to start racing a sprinter again, he said "It was kind of opportunity, I guess. I had always told my wife that I would like to drive again. I didn't want to have to spend as much time working on the car, have the expense involved of putting cars together and things like that. Getting back involved with racing just kind of happened with Ivan Tracy. I had heard he had put a new car together and was possibly looking at selling it. After a couple exchanged phone calls between him and I we came to an agreement that I would drive his car for the IMCA Racesaver series in 2018. It will be a lot less time commitment with driving for someone else. Ivan has had some successful drivers in the past. I'm hoping we can keep the winning tradition that his team and my team will bring to the table. Brian Bailey has agreed to help during the season, which puts my mind at ease. He has helped me from day one and I trust him with everything. I'm sure Ivan and I will get to a point like that, but in the meantime I'm excited to race for him and learn his tendencies with set ups”.

Ivan Tracy from Waco, Nebraska has been around the sport of auto racing for quite a while now. "I raced for a couple of years in high school. I raced a '55 Ford Hobby Stock. Back in those days the gear heads always hung together. I went to school in Sutton, and Delmar Friesen was racing, and it just kind of happened that I started too". After a short stint racing himself, he decided to be a car owner. “I found out at an early age that I wasn't cut out to be a driver. I was a good driver, but I just felt like I was on the interstate and every time somebody bumped me I felt like 'OH! I gotta get that guy!!!'. So, I just kind of got out of driving”. Over the years Tracy fielded cars for several local legends including Joe Wade, Regan Kitchen and Ray Lee Goodwin Jr. “I more or less put everything away and stayed away from everything until last year. I put an Eagle together with a Racesaver engine that I built”.

While I was in Arizona last winter I got to thinking about Tige, or he must have been thinking about me. So, I called him and asked if he'd ever thought about driving a sprint again and he said, 'I'd love to, if I had good equipment'. I said, 'What about driving my black 12?', to which he replied 'Well, YEAH! That would be great'. When I got back to Nebraska we got together, got his seat put in and got the cockpit all set up for him”.

His expectations for the year after having sat out for a few years? "Actually, we're not even going to race a full season. If my son has something going on a Saturday night, or if Ivan's grandkids have something, we just won't race. We're not chasing points or anything, so it's a laid-back schedule. In fact, we don't even have all of the dates written down yet. As far as goals wise, I know I'll be rusty getting back into it. Realistically, if I make the feature on the second night in, I'll be happy”. He's been making sure that people know about his return though. "We've put it out there on Facebook and everything. We've had a lot of support with people who have helped me out in the past reaching out to us again. It will be great getting back out there; seeing our old friends again. It will be fun taking my son out there. Hopefully he'll be into it. I've never really completely gotten away from racing; we've gone out there probably half of the season to watch the races at Eagle. I'm still a fan!". Now he's a fan and a racer again. 

Here's wishing this new team-up a fun and successful year! I for one will be looking forward to seeing this second-generation Jensen flying around the high banks of Eagle Raceway in a black sprinter, much like his father did all those years ago. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

2018 Racesaver Champion

They say that a champion is defined by their competition. In both Major League Baseball and the NBA you have to overcome 29 other teams, the NFL has 32 other entities that you must beat and in the NHL you must be better than 30 other groups of players. In the RaceSaver sprint cars for 2018, you had to beat out a total of 700 drivers who competed in 344 races at 61 different tracks and ran in 9 different Racesaver series in 17 states!!

Now; although sprint car racers are a part of a team, the final and deciding factor in winning in the sport is the driver. When you strap into the cockpit there aren’t 4, 5, or 10 others to pick up your slack. There are no backups sitting on the bench ready to take over for you if need be. There is just one driver in that cockpit, and at the end of the season only one of those drivers can claim the title of champion. The Racesaver IMCA Sprint Car champion for 2018 was Kevin Ramey from Kennedale, Texas.

The first driver to win both the National points and RaceSaver Nationals titles, Ramey scored 18 feature wins this year. He also topped the point standings at Devil’s Bowl Speedway and RPM Speedway and snagged his first Texas State championship.

Ramey is a bit of a throw-back to the way sprint car racers used to be. He runs hard, parties hard, races clean and wins wherever he races. A better champion and representative of the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Cars could not be found!!!

Ramey, 49, originally started out in an economy late model class in 1985 before switching to a sprint car in 1993. He won the NCRA championship in 1994; just his second year in a sprinter. He switched to the Racesaver class in 2013 and has been running the class ever since. “We didn’t really want to travel a long way or spend a lot of time on the road looking for places to race the 360. I’d had a lot of fun, but it was time to scale back. I promoted a little bit at Kennedale Speedway Park. I’d like to get into the promoting side again because I really enjoy that. Eventually I think that’s where I want to end up when I’m done racing, to see if I can give back to the sport that way. I ended up selling all of my 360 equipment and we run the Racesaver stuff exclusively”.

Ramey’s season was a busy one, running at numerous tracks. “We raced at RPM Speedway, at Devils Bowl and Mesquite weekly. We went up to Meeker and over to Ardmore a couple of times. We ran the race at Belleville, went to Thayer County right before Belleville and of course we were at the Racesaver Nationals at Eagle Raceway”.

I asked if they had intended to run for the championship and he said “No, not really. When we started out the season we were just going to do some hit and miss stuff. I had built a stock car for my son and another guy and I was just going to see how it worked out. If we were high enough in the points at that point we would do the points, but we ended up getting rained out so much early in the season that we didn’t really get to race a whole lot. Once we finally got started we were having a lot of success, so it just took off from there”. To say that they had success is an understatement as his 18 wins came in just 31 starts!

I then inquired about his plans for the future. “Just to get to this banquet (The IMCA Championship banquet on November 23rd) first and get that done. We’ve got a couple of cars that we’re dragging to the Chili Bowl and putting a couple of good little drivers in those. We haven’t even discussed next year yet to be honest, but as soon as we get this year over with, we’ll go from there. I’m sure we’ll still race. I don’t know if we’ll chase the points or not. I will need to talk with both car owners and see what they want to do. We’ve got some stuff going on at the local tracks down there in Texas; there’s talk about them selling RPM Speedway, so I don’t know where our sprint car division stands there. But, as of right now, we’ll be back running the Racesavers”.

Your 2018 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Car Rookie of the Year was 17-year old Casey Burkham from Crandall, Texas. “I like running the Racesaver series a lot! I started out in a mini-sprint and ran those for a little bit and then we ran a 360 sprint for a guy in a couple of races. Then I jumped into the Racesaver”. He got his first taste of the Racesaver sprints in 6 races last year and liked it so much that he went full-time in 2018.

He competed at several tracks this past season including RPM Speedway, Devils Bowl, Greenville and of course the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals. “It’s been a lot of fun. We had a few ups and downs, but it’s been a good year, with 1 victory. The Racesaver Nationals was definitely the favorite race I’ve ever been in by far though”.

Next year’s plans include running a Racesaver Sprint car with the Sprint Bandit series. “We’ll run with them a little bit to see how that goes”.

The State and Series Champions for the 2018 Racesaver season were as follows:

Brandon Allen         Minnesota State and Arlington Raceway Champion

Elliot Amdahl           South Dakota State Champion

Ethan Barrow          Indiana Racesaver Sprint Series and Indiana State Champion

Zach Blurton            United Rebel Sprint Series Champion

Tyler Drueke            Eagle Raceway and Nebraska State Champion

Grant Duinkerken  Western Racesaver Sprint Series and California State Champion

Jeff Emerson            Texas Sprint Series Champion

Anthony Harris       Virginia Sprint Series and Virginia State Champion

Mike Houseman     Iowa State Champion

Tommy Johnson     Sabine Motor Speedway and Louisiana State Champion

Jake Martens           Kansas State Champion

Zach Newlin             Pennsylvania Sprint Series and Pennsylvania State Champion

Coby Pearce             Colorado State Champion

Craig Pellegrini Jr.  North Carolina State Champion

Matt Richards         US 36 Raceway and Missouri State Champion

Trey Schmidt           Southern United Sprint Champion

Steven Shebester   Lawton Speedway and Oklahoma State Champion

Andy Shouse            Sprint Series of Oklahoma

Stephen Surniak     Carolina Sprint Tour and South Carolina State Champion

Tim S. Tanner Jr.     Mid-Atlantic Sprint Series and New Jersey State Champion

Friday, December 21, 2018

Cancer blog 12/21/2018

Well, I finally finished my radiation treatments for my prostate cancer! Yesterday was my 44th and final one.

I have to be honest here and say that when I first found out that I had stage 3 prostate cancer I was scared! I was scared for myself of course, but I think that I was more scared for Linda. We’ve always been there for each other; through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, in the good times and the bad times. Just like the marriage vows say, we were there. All of a sudden, the thought crept into my mind that I might not be there when she needed me.

Also, I was afraid that I might not be able to see my granddaughters grow up. It was possible that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to spend time with my 2 sons and my daughter-in-laws from time to time.

Hell; I didn’t know what I was scared of, but I WAS scared.

My final visit with the oncologist was heartening, thankfully. He said that he considered me in remission and that all I would have to do is keep getting the shots to kill my testosterone every 3 months and get my PSA checked at the same time just so that they could be sure that the cancer didn’t come back.

My final visit was a relief, but at the same time kind of sad. I grew to know all the technicians, the woman who checked me in and several of the other patients. Now I wouldn’t be seeing them anymore. I gave the technicians a card to pass around to everyone there; thanking them for everything they did for me. And, in return they gave me a diploma that they all signed with well wishes. So, all in all, it was a great but sad day,

Also, this week, we got another 4-figure bill for treatments. I do believe that we will be able to meet our insurance deductible!! The bad part is that it’s a week and a half from year end. Oh well; such is life.

I am hoping against hope that now that the treatments are over that I can get back to whatever passes as normal for this old man. I’m struggling to stay awake as I write this in fact. I still am feeling rather weak also. Another bout of the runs the past few days hasn’t helped my attitude either.

I just want to be able to start making some money to help pay the bills!!! I have every hope that at least by the end of the year, or the beginning of next year that can happen.

As always, I thank all of you who are reading this for your well wishes and for keeping both Linda and I in your thoughts and prayers!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cancer update 12/11/18

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook may have noticed that I’ve been doing a countdown on there. Well, no countdown today because I got bad news from my radiologist. I had thought that I was down to 4 more treatments to go, but he informed me that I was going to have to go through 44 treatments, not 40!

Originally, he had said I would be having 25 treatments, then a few weeks in he switched it to 40 because I was a ‘Big Guy’ and the treatment he had originally intended to use wasn’t feasible. Now, he informed me that it was going to take 44, not 40. I am upset to say the least, a little disheartened and slightly confused. How can a doctor not keep their patient fully informed?? I just don’t understand it.

Anyway, I feel okay. Still very tired, somewhat weak and am concerned because my blood sugar has been running high. I spoke to the radiologist about the blood sugars, and he said it shouldn’t be due to the radiation treatments. He did say that it may be due to the injection that they give me to kill my testosterone. I have a call into my regular doctor and am waiting on an answer.

Tomorrow I will update my countdown to reflect the correct amount of treatments left. Until then, hold a good thought for me please. And, thank all of you for your good wishes!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Cancer update 11/30/18

Well, today marked 6 weeks down and 2 weeks (10 treatments) to go!! The end is in sight, and I have to say that I’m looking forward to getting off this merry-go-round. They have begun to concentrate solely on the prostate.

I’m still experiencing the same problems; occasional runs and being extremely tired. I slept 9 hours last night and fell asleep in the recliner today for over an hour. Even so, I’m yawning up a storm as I write this. I think that is the thing that bothers me the most. I just have no motivation, am super tired constantly and still am feeling rather weak. All these things add up to my being unable to do my part-time job, wreaking havoc with our funds.

We got our first bill from the cancer center and paid it. Having done so we have decided to have a family treasure hunt of our attic tomorrow afternoon, hopefully finding some items that we can turn into cash to replenish the old bank account.

It will be a family thing because they know that if they don’t help, their huge inheritance will end up being enough to grab a burger and fries…..MAYBE!!! I’m kidding of course, but it does need to be done. Linda said she’s been wanting to do this anyway because neither of us remembers any more what the HECK is up there. I’m positive that there are remnants of my childhood and other items from then until now that we put up there for ‘safekeeping’ or to make room for the new stuff that we bought along the way.

So, anyway, if you don’t hear from me for awhile it’s because we found a missing Rembrandt or Gaugin or other priceless art treasure and have moved to some exotic location! It might be Las Vegas, or New York, or maybe the huge metropolis of Denton, Nebraska.

Keep a good thought for us; we appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cancer update 11/21/18

Well, today was day 25 of 40 (that means that I’m 5/8’s of the way through my treatment schedule for those of you who are mathematically inclined). There’s good news and also some bad news.

First, the good news. My doctor told me that as soon as I finish my treatments, he will consider me to be in remission. Also, there will be no follow-up CT scans unless the periodic PSA tests show something abnormal, which he has no reason to expect will happen. I will have the PSA tests every few months.

He also informed me that we have begun the second phase of my radiation treatment. The first phase, which we just completed, was a broad treatment of the entire pelvis. It was to ensure that any cancer which had spread to the lymph nodes (which he didn’t think had happened) was taken care of first. Now, the second phase is more focused on the prostate itself. We’ve gone from a shotgun to a sniper rifle, as it were.

The not-so-good news begins with the fact that I have begun to feel a bad effect from the treatments. I have started to suffer bouts of the ‘Tijuana 2-Step’. When I informed them of this, they said that was perfectly normal and to try Immodium. They also said if that didn’t cure the problem that they can prescribe something stronger. So far, it has worked so I’m hoping we don’t have to go to prescription drugs.

Secondly, we had an unexpected large expense this week. The 65 foot tall pin oak in front of the house and beside the driveway had to be removed. We were experiencing large branches and even limbs falling constantly any time that we had even a decently strong wind. I called a tree service to come and trim up all 3 of the trees that we have left (the fourth one was badly damaged in that October snow storm we had several years ago and came crashing down into the back yard a few years ago. Luckily it missed the house). They informed me that this tree needed to be removed because it was dying. I hadn’t noticed it before, but the tree had begun to lean and the upper parts were becoming sparse; very few healthy limbs and branches and VERY few leaves. After lengthy deliberation I figured that the tree was approximately70’ish years old, since our house was built in 1947. So, Monday the tree service crew came out and cut it down and also trimmed the dead and low-hanging branches and limbs from the other 2. They returned Tuesday and ground out the stump, which I was surprised to see was probably 5 feet across. Anyone need some mulch for free (our youngest son took the firewood)??? So, $3700 later we have a lot more sunlight and don’t have to worry about limbs (or even the entire tree) falling on the car or the house.

We did experience a little good fortune this past week when my sister-in-law brought over a nice big lasagna for us to enjoy last Wednesday. It was delicious!!! Those of you who know my taste in food will not be surprised to hear that I added some red pepper flakes to mine, as I tend to the spicy side of all meals whenever possible.

The last part of the bad news this week came shortly after our lasagna was delivered. Unfortunately my wife suffered a severe set-back to one of her many health problems and I had to take her to the ER. After some testing, they kept her. She didn’t get out until Saturday after a LOT of tests. She’s home now and on the mend, so that’s a great thing. She’s very worn out, but that is to be expected.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful that she is home with me where she belongs. Also, I am feeling fairly good, all things considered. We are planning on going over to our oldest son’s house for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow as long as she is feeling up to it. Please keep all of those who aren't able to have Thanksgiving with their loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

To all our friends, we cannot thank you enough for your thoughts and prayers. We do ask that you keep them coming, especially for my wife.