NEWS AND VIEWS January 25, 2014
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin 53577-9612
January 22, 2014
It has been a sad week at Global Communications. Its co-founder, my wife and best friend has passed away, after fighting cancer for about 4 years. Click here for a link to an Obituary with pictures about Laurel.
Many of you have probably been wondering what happened to Global Communications and why I have not had regular updates to my website in at least 2 years, with the previous one being April 2013. Here's a fair but lengthy explanation: as early as 2007, the home satellite industry seemed to be faltering, and I discussed this with Del Jose of Skyvision at the last home satellite trade show, held in Atlanta in April of that year. I even went up there to "shadow" some of their customer service workers and see what it was about. There was a great purge of the old slightly before that time, and many people were let go. Here I am, asking them for a job! I did some consulting work for Skyvision on and off until the spring of 2009, but stayed at my home near Plain, Wisconsin. Del offered me a job, and I started a commute once a week to and from Fergus Falls, which was expected to be a temporary thing until we sold our house. I rented an apartment there, getting in late every Sunday night after a 420 mile drive, worked four days from 8am to 6pm, and depending upon how busy things were, made a return trip to Wisconsin starting anywhere from 4 to 6pm, and drove like a banshee down I-94, sometimes getting there by midnight; sometimes much later. Fridays were always reserved for any business, mailing that Laurel might not have time to do, as well as any appointments for health reasons, or vehicle maintenance. Saturday we went to Madison for shopping, and I was usually exhausted by the end of the day. I was usually on the road by noon on Sunday to repeat the process. This commute lasted for just over 2 years! My first full moving van taking things to Minnesota went up there on a rainy day in October 2009. I lost track of how many moving vans I rented, or trailers that I towed with my Dodge pickup, but it was expensive and grueling. In May 2010, I took a whole week off (mostly sunny weather) to do some serious cosmetic work on our house that included painting. Each miniature weekend that I was home meant more repairs, weed removal, and always lawn mowing, even if it rained. If it did--a bigger mess to deal with the following week. I was seriously looking at farm properties to buy near Fergus Falls, but always with a contingency on the offer, only if our house was sold first. We might have had 7 or 8 showings between the fall of 2010 and July 2011. No interest in our property. Money was tight.
Laurel had been feeling lots of back pain throughout 2010, and late in the year her chiropractor told her that there was very little else she could do, and that she should see a doctor. Skyvision was in no position to offer me medical insurance for Laurel, while I was covered myself by the V.A. So she spent several months getting tests, ending up with a diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer, fully spread or metasticised to the bones, a few days before Christmas. The cancer itself was slow moving, but being found this advanced, it must have been attacking her body for over a year already. Laurel was able to get some charity medical assistance to get started. She almost died about 6 weeks later, from two blood clots in her lungs. But an ambulance trip to a local hospital and an introduction to Warfarin (a blood thinner) controlled the situation. She was taking a pill based chemotherapy to try and reverse the effects of the cancer, and while it appeared to be making some headway, it quit working after a few months. This pattern would repeat itself several times in the next 3 years; the need to switch to another chemo drug so that she could continue keeping cancer from spreading further, after she had tumors removed in the summer of 2011. Her problem was that it had spread to the bones and that was next to impossible to remove; only keep in check. As we began the cancer fight, Skyvision changed ownership at the beginning of 2011, and we were in the transition of changing the 4DTV system to the DSR-410 Digicipher system on a single C-band satellite. In retrospect, they left a lot of money on the table by NOT charging their customers for technical assistance on the phone to update their receivers. Between March and May, sales were not improving, and there was a point where they had to make a decision on who to lay off. Me or a local person that had already undergone 2 previous layoffs. Since he worked for less money, I was let go and given the vague promise that I would be getting some occasional paid telephone work. It never amounted to much, so I ended up on unemployment, while becoming a care-giver for Laurel on an almost fulltime basis, and had to squeeze in my mail order business whenever that could be done. During 2011 and 2012, I spent thousands of dollars to transport all of our things back to Wisconsin from long term storage in Minnesota. Some things had been relocated as many as 6 times in different temporary locations...a huge waste of time and effort on my part, for gambling that employment in Minnesota would work out, and not knowing in advance that the economy would tank, we could not sell the house, and that Laurel would be fighting advanced cancer.
There were limits to how much I could make without jeopardizing Laurel's Medicaid status, and she needed my help for an ever increasing amount of time. Unemployment ran out the spring of 2012, and I was forced to borrow even more money to stay afloat. Laurel broke her hip in March 2012, but afterwards her mobility was much improved, though the cancer remained within her, but somewhat controlled through weekly chemo visits. Since then, she had changed to no less than four different chemo drugs, as each one quit being effective. The chemo was having cumulative effects, and was really degenerating her body. This became more of a problem during the last half of 2013, as she continued to weaken. Two major illnesses caused her to drop weight from 140 pounds to just under 120 pounds, by late October. She had five ambulance calls in as many weeks. One on the Sunday after Halloween resulted from a fall that broke her leg, fracturing the femur bone above the right knee, requiring an operation to pin it back together, and a requirement that no load-bearing weight be put on that leg for 90 days, which would have meant she could start doing lower leg exercises starting on February 3rd. Laurel was transferred to a nursing home, and that was the beginning of the end. They misinterpreted doctor's orders and were giving her an excessive amount of muscle relaxer in addition to 2 morphine pills a day. This caused her to be in a fog for almost a month, from over-medication. The morphine also limited her appetite, and she lost 15 pounds in the first 15 days in the nursing home. We then advocated and eventually got a complete elimination of morphine and Vikoden, and Laurel was able to control her pain with normal amounts of Tylenol. She was in great spirits and feeling almost normal mentally and better physically until the middle of last week. A roommate in the nursing home was coughing excessively, and Laurel was exposed enough to get a case of pneumonia. She was non-responsive last Friday, and ended up in the hospital. They were able to get her blood numbers in the center of their normal range, but the antibiotics given were not effective in reversing the fluid buildup in her throat and lungs. She had difficult breathing because of the congestion, and ended up being put on a morphine drip to make her comfortable. This was done until she passed away at 12:45 pm on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. Her body had tolerated enough pain, and gave up. It was a horrible last few weeks, and destroyed my plans to bring her home in 2 or 3 weeks, to get her back to a comfortable and safe environment. Simply was not to be. We did get to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary a week before she passed away, but that was the last time that she was fully able to communicate. I take solace in the fact that she is no longer suffering and now in a better place. Laurel will be truly missed. She had a great sense of humor, was an independent spirit, and fought this battle to the end. Definitely earned a place in heaven.
Once we have completed
her funeral arrangements next week, I am ready to go back to work and dig
myself back out of this financial hole. Hopefully it will be good
therapy and keep me occupied. I have many weeks or months to face in
the organizing of everything that Laurel and her mother owned, without
knowing fully what everything is. This will be the first full-scale
housecleaning in many years, and I am not enthusiastic about the idea.
Coming back soon,