Saturday, March 16, 2013

Remembering our cat Susi.......

We lived in northeastern Pennsylvania, enjoying our property in the woods....
when we decided to add a cat to our family of two people.

We had already cats in Germany - we were "cat people"....Not that we do not love other animals too, but we do not like hectic around us, we like to live quietly, and we are not really "alpha dog" material.

At that time we had already in mind to sell our property and going full-time on the road as campers. We had made short vacations already in South Carolina and Florida with our trailer. Dieter was finally successful in convincing me to part of all our belongings and sell the property in order to travel. I loved living in the trailer, see new landscapes, meet new people.
In summer 1998 we met and very much befriendet 2 people in Homosassa Springs, Florida, which are still our friends, Ron and Chi from Los Angeles, CA. Chi had a cat on a leash and was walking around with her. I never had seen a cat on a leash before and I thought when Chi can do it, I can do it while traveling.

Dieter and I bought all items a cat needs and placed those in the right spots in our house before we drove to the Dessin Society Animal Shelter in Honesdale, which had a non-euthanizing policy.
The resident cats were immediately around us, purring and flirting with us, when Dieter noted a lone cat sitting in her little house at the wall way on top of other cat houses. He pointed her out to me and said: She might be the right one in a trailer, she seems to be quiet...While we were thinking about it, she came down, ate some dry food, then used the litter box, cleaned herself shortly and went right up to her perch again, not even looking at us.
We told the girls in the office that we want to pet a certain cat because we are interested in her...one came with us into the cat room and we pointed up to that cat.  The girl said: "Oh, no, not our "Peanut"! We all love her, she is the darling of the shelter. We all laughed and said that would be the right cat for us. She handed her to us and she looked at us intensely then and started purring.
We learned that the cat was already in the shelter for one year, she was 2 years old.
She had all the shots and was spayed, had mite and flea treatments etc. We adopted her December 11th, 1998 for the total cost of US $ 65.00



We renamed her Susi.
She was an American Domestic Shorthair Tiger. The color was called Agouti because the tips of her dense fur shimmered golden in sunlight.

It was wintertime, snow outside, she could not go outside, besides, we had her to train to tolerate a leash first.
She was sitting at the sliding door to our porch in the back most of the time, where she was observing all the action outside....squirrels, chipmunks, deer, racoons, all kind of birds, foxes and black bears.



She was fighting the harness first, but we made it clear to her that she would not go outside without it and she  was smart enough to get that message from us. Meanwhile Dieter was building her a playhouse from a moving drum and we bought her some toys...

and she liked also to snuggle up next to us


or play "hide and Seek" with us:


We found out that a cat harness - build like a 8 was useless, she wound herself out of it, so we bought a small dog harness with a bridge on top and under her belly - that worked very well.

1999 we went to Florida for the winter again with our camper trailer and we were the ones now admired for walking with a cat on a leash. Sometimes we fastened her leash to the camper or to our truck when we were sitting outside,




 and she was very content with that. We never let her be alone outside anyway, we were always around.
 She was also very friendly with people who approached Dieter when he was walking the campground with her. She meowed and walked right up to them.....


We had sold our property in July 2000 and said "Good Bye" to Pennsylvania. Later on we visited there 2 times but basically made criss-cross tours through the entire USA.
It turned out we loved the desert and the weather associated with it. The following 2 pictures show Dieter with Susi, first in Florence, Arizona,  and then in Deming, New Mexico.




In 2002 we exchanged the Fifth Wheel trailer for a used motorhome, a Winnebago Suncruiser, 34" long, Turbo Diesel. Susi got used to living in the motorhome really quick.....





Susi was a good hunter.....
Even though her leash was not that long, she managed to catch a bird in flight, and she got hold of several chipmunks over the years. Of course, we helped the critters to their deserved freedom.....
And she was eager to please us...
Example: she was rolling a pencil on the table and was almost ready to push it from the edge - then I looked at her and said with a calm voice:  Susi, the pencil stays up here, ok?? She looked back at me for the longest time and walked away from it. When Dieter called her she came like a dog...she never angered us.
She was the right cat for us older folks and being a camper....
Susi also liked to be safe outside because she walked into the heavy-wired dog cage we had bought for her all by herself  since a couple of big owls in Florida were hovering directly over us in an old Live Oak tree. She felt she was in danger then, meowed and wanted to go inside. Since she had the cage, she really liked it. Once she stepped inside there onto her plush carpet, she meowed - which meant: close the door. We did and she laid down to nap......
She also liked to nap under a bush.....


or on a camper table, like here in Coursegold, California...


or next to Dieter outside, in the shade, like here at Pilot Knob near Yuma, Arizona........



In December 2007 we exchanged our motorhome for a 40' Fifth Wheel "Alfa Gold", which you can see on the cover of my Google+ page.
It took Susi about 10 minutes to claim it as her own house - just by putting her body on about every corner and nook, to give it her own mark.....
She loved the additional space because we had 3 deep slide-outs instead of a small galley...no comparison...


Only cat lovers can understand how a cat can have naps on the table.......


"This is my Mama's place and the computer is humming a nice melody,  - I like this place!"

As you might have noticed, the pictures come in no particular order...


Susi's place was in between us in the truck when we had our driving day. She was laying in the Samsonite tote, the entrance flap open, napping, sometimes trying to touch me with her right front paw - mainly napping or even deep sleeping. she did not care about the landscapes flying by... When Dieter slowed down to get fuel at a gas station, she was curious, came out a little, stretched, to get a good look out of the window...no - not there yet, no camper trailers in sight, back into the tote, back to sleep. When we made a stop at a rest area to eat lunch, she stretched and was eager to come with us to enter the trailer to have something to eat too. She had the clock clearly in her head. When we slowed down to enter the driveway of the scheduled camping resort in the afternoon, about 2:30 PM, she came out looking again, but this time really agitated because she had spotted RV's, lots of them, so she knew we reached our destination. She jumped onto my legs to have a clear look out of the window, reached with her front paws onto the dashboard, looked around and meowed all the time...   Hurray - we made it, we are there!!
We had to go to the office first to establish our lot to stay, Susi was in the truck...As soon as Dieter had parked the unit, she REALLY wanted to exit the truck... I had to take her ( the leash was always attached to her collar in the truck), and walk around the truck and the trailer, so she could survey the surroundings, establish her temporary home, like always, hundreds of times. When she had seen where she was, she wanted to go inside. When we were ready to push the buttons for the 3 slide-outs, she was sitting there observing the entire thing, how our trailer transformed from a small trailer into a real home.....

Susi was our true travel companion, an experienced camper!



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On April 1st, 2009, we started "workamping" in Port Aransas, Texas, on Mustang Island. We had already experience being hosts, but this time it has been serious work - Dieter outside and I in the office. Island RV Resort had 200 sites......

When we entered the ferry with our long unit,


I looked at Susi and recognized a hidden fear, like always, when we were near big waters. She did not like the oceans or big lakes. But then I looked into her eyes and whispered:  Everything is fine, Susi...That was enough for her to relax again. She trusted us completely.

After having worked in that big campground for 1/2 of the year, as planned, we were begged by the manager to work another half year in the winter season. We said "Yes".


That was also the time when Susi was not acting like always - she was very choosy with her food, walked sometimes away from it, even when we offered something else. She was withdrawn and did not clean herself anymore, which was usually her best loved activity. Suddenly she started drooling. That was the day we visited the vet in town. This very nice lady looked into her mouth and cautiously diagnosed mouth cancer. She took X-Rays and prescribed an Antibiotic treatment to exclude a possible infection of the mouth. It did not work.....and the X-Rays prooved that her gums were rotting away.......
In the meantime Susi had lost 3 pounds already and was going to starve...She still had appetite, begged for food, and when it was in front of her, she started and gagged - and walked away.

Dieter and I looked at each other and without exchanging words, we packed her into her travel tote and drove to the vet again.
To tell the veterinarian that we wanted to have our pet euthanized, was the most difficult decision we ever made. Susi herself lay trustfully on the metal table and waited for things to come. She looked at us and I mouthed the words: Everything will be fine, Susi. Those words haunted me for weeks to come, I felt I had betrayed her trust in us. But it was the only solution, we could not imagine seeing Susi starve in front of our eyes.
She was fighting the syringe with the deadly concoction, the vet had to give her an injection of an heavy relaxant to be able to continue. I was talking to her during the procedure and petting her head as good as I could. I hope she understood that this was done out of love..........

After one heavy and deep intake of breath our Susi was dead. The date was October 2nd, 2009.
The vet and her friendly and empathetic assistant took Susi away, wrapped her into towels and packed her in a carton. We had no money for cremation, we had already spent about 500 Dollars for the visits and treatments. I took the warm carton into my arms, we drove to the campground, Dieter got a shovel and we drove in direction Corpus Christi. We buried Susi in one spot in the dunes Dieter had dug out. On our way back to Port Aransas I was blinded by tears. Dieter somehow managed to see the road ahead of him despite his tears.

17 days later we found the courage to visit that grave, which was just a sandy patch in the dunes....I took the picture from a higher vantage point.


Thanks, Susi, for the wonderful memories! You have been a real friend and companion!!









Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Karin's Childhood in Königsberg (in former East Prussia)

The following blog is a copy of Chapter 5  of my published book:  
My Childhood Memories....surviving WWII    ( http://karinbartsch.weebly.com/karin-the-author.html
By clicking on that link you will find all info about ordering.... thanks!  
Enjoy reading about this chapter of my life.
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 I was born in Berlin because my father studied in Spandau to be a graduated machine engineer within the German Army ( Title:  technical  inspector). When I had been 2 1/2 years old, the family moved back to Königsberg, the hometown of both of my parents and both of my grandparents. That was in spring 1938.
Since then I can recall everything. My mother tested my memory in later years by asking me to sketch our apartment, which has been one of four within an old castle-like building, sitting on a huge barrack-square in Königsberg-Ponarth. It was a nice living there, everything of upped standards to acomodate officers and their families. I could even describe to my mother, how the furniture looked to the detail, how many drawers were in them, including describing the contents. The entire property to the street side was adorned by wonderful smelling white blooming bushes in summer. The high wrought-iron fence was hidden by the bushes and its opening was a double door of the same material, closing the property to the street side, to the Palvestrasse No. 20. Broad steps were leading to the big entrance door. To the right-hand side of the entrance way one was greeted by colorful flowerbeds and a big park-like garden. A natural growing lawn was the center, never mowed, with flowers so beautiful in the summertime, bees feeding on them and butterflies sailing through the air. The lawn was surrounded by a sandy path, leading to the path around the house. I cannot remember how long that path actually was, but I think it took me 4 full minutes to run around it. On the outskirts of that path were fruit trees, apples of different kinds, cherry- and pear trees. And a huge sandbox invited to play. Each of our three neighbors had a couple of children. Our plays together were mainly chasing each other and climbing trees. On the backside of the building the vegetable yards had so many beds, that by looking at them one would have thought that it was growing a crop for the entire barracks. And the big strawberry field was the center of attraction for the visitors, which in the summertime were many. We had a wooden round table with round benches, seating about 10 people, with an open entrance in a high wall composed out of lilac bushes. You can imagine that birthdays in the summertime were always scheduled to be celebrated in our garden. A hedgehog family made their home in our yard, too. It was fun to watch them, sniffing around for worms with their cute little pink noses.
In the wintertime the fun continued in the yard, but we children were dressed in warm clothing.  Snow had been plentiful in that corner of the world. We kids let ourselves drop to the snow and made snow angels. Every kid in the snow belts of the world loves this activity, some might call it snow eagle.
Being inside in the winter and playing with my doll Elly killed time, I would have rather liked being outside all the time. 

I remember one incident, which shows that I also was very creative. My mother was out of the house only shortly, and when she came back, I had 2 big green leaves cut out of our dining room curtain with scissors. Two big holes were very prominent were the leaves once  were. My mother was a good seamstress and fit the leaves back in, thanks to my accurate cutting.

My doll Elly was dressed by newest fashion standards by my aunt Else, my fathers sister. So was I. She put all her pride into dressing me in finest and very modern garb. But my most beloved toys were coloring pencils and paper. When we were visiting my grandparents, I never left home without it.

There was one element missing in my world of happiness, and that had been my father. He was home for
2 weeks, maybe twice per year. I received letters from him, Feldpostbriefe. Two letters survived my ordeal, and it is filed away in my documents. Once in a while I look at it, read it. He must have missed me terribly, not only his wife.

On February 15., 1940 my sister Doris was born. She was so beautiful and looked like a little angel, when she was over one year old. Her head was full of yellow-blond curls, and when she moved, they all bounced in springlike fashion. She was complemented on those, of course, and she must have been very proud of it. My mother and I could not figure out for a long time, why she cried all the time while being in the bathtub. One day Doris made it clear to us why. She pointed to her hair and mumbled "Locketopp, locketopp" ( curly-head). She had felt that the water straightened out her curls for a short time. We were relieved that she cried for beauty reasons only.

I liked also visiting the zoo. The lions and tigers have been my favorites and the apes with all their funny antics had been of the biggest attractions also.
When we were visiting my grandparents we had to pass a big ice cream parlor. Of course, a little portion of that cold delicacy was always in order. My grandparents Rudolf and Gertrud Herrmann ( my father's parents ) were always the hosts of big dinners, like Christmas and Easter. They both had a lot of siblings, my grandma less than my grandpa, he was one of eleven.
My mother's mother, Johanna Kaiser, died, when my mother was 18 years old. She had been bedridden for two years.  Mom's dear aunt Auguste Neumann, her mother's sister, was her vice-mother from then on, her best friend and adviser.  And my mother took over in being a mother for her only brother Bruno, who was 8 years at that time.
My widowed grandfather married again, a very excentric and selfish woman, Elisabeth Kaspereit. She never had any motherly feelings for her new daughter and she acted accordingly.

A big part of my childhood fun, of the good years, had been our visits to the shores of the Baltic Sea, the
Samland Kueste ( Sambia Coast) , called Bernsteinkueste ( Amber Coast).
Those visits to the sea were so wonderful for me, I cannot even describe it.
From what I remember, Königsberg had 2 main train stations, the Hauptbahnof and the Nordbahnhof. The latter included the Samland Bahnhof next to the Cranzer Bahnhof. Must have been similar to modern platforms, I assume.

I beg for understanding, when the facts I state in this
book turn out to be not 100 % accurate. I have to depend on my memories. I cannot ask anybody. Still living relatives were too young at that time. I should have taken notes when my parents were still alive, but I didn't.

So, we left the Samland Bahnhof in Königsberg for Rauschen Duene ( translated: noise in the dunes), which was a short distance from the station Rauschen  ( Svetlogorsk ), an overall distance of about 60 kilometers from Königsberg. Rauschen Duene was wearing its name for the right reason. The nearer we came to the coast, the more prominent the noise of the water had been. At first like a "white noise", then the distinguished rythmic noise of rolling waves reaching the shore. The train station was embedded in a dark pine forest with very high trees. I could see the water deep, deep down, so high was the coastline. The coast was called Steilkueste ( translated: steep coast ). Visitors had to use the cable train to the beach. There was also a path going down in serpentine - like fashion. I learned that the Russians now have an elevator in place, where the old cable train station once operated. The beach had a long wonderful broad wooden walkway with plenty of benches lining both sides. It was part of a spa town, and ladies were eager to show off their newest dresses, hats or sun umbrellas.
My great-aunt Auguste was renting a cabin there in the summer, so she was the host of many of her loved
ones.
It had been fun! We swam ( I only pretended) and were strolling the beach and found countless pieces of
Bernstein (amber ). The Samland coast had and has still the biggest amber deposits in the world.

What I have not mentioned so far is going to school. I just loved it! Learning to write and to read was fun! I had to visit the "Schule Heinrich-Fichte-Strasse" in Ponarth. I went there by foot, it was not too far. Instead of toting the daily needed books and material by one hand, we had to have a backpack tote. It was made from leather and had a big rounded flap on top to close it. It was worn by shoulder straps.
When we had entered the classroom and class started, we had to show the teacher that we have clean hands. We had to stretch out both of our hands flat on the desk to be inspected by her, whether the nails were
cut and the hands were clean. The government made it also mandatory that every school child had to bring 2 pieces of raw vegetables for break time, which had to be verified by the teacher, who had also to make sure it was eaten. For health reasons mothers were also advised to administer to the children one tablespoon of Lebertran ( fish oil ) every morning and one tablet of Calcium Lactose. It was handed out for free.

After living a carefree childhood for 6 years in Königsberg ( that includes living shortly in Breslau, where my father was stationed ) there was trouble brewing. World War II was getting closer to our city.
Bombs were falling and defense systems were making mighty noises.
A part of our basement was dedicated as Luftschutzbunker ( air-raid secured emergency bunker ) for 2 families on our wing of the house. The ceiling was supported by heavy wooden beams, bunk beds were built in, storage shelves installed and a porta-potty system was in place. A heavy iron door closed the shelter. Those were the times already, that no lights were allowed in the house during the night hours, not to be a target for bombing. We had a candle in use, here and there when dawn fell, but when the sirens went off, we had to cloth ourselves very, very quickly in the dark. In order to do so, we had to lay our clothes onto a designated chair for each person very neatly, backside up, in the order we undressed. So we had just to feel our way to the clothes pieces and dress in the reversed order in the case of an alarm. Some nights we had to do that task two or three times per night. Our mother shook us awake, put us half sleeping in front of our chair. Very so often we heard already planes approaching and grabbed our clothing to stumble down the stairs into the bunker. My sister was 4 years at the time and I remember her crying, protesting to be robbed of her sleep, not understanding what the hell was going on. She had to throw up often during that ordeal.

One night the bombing was heavy, we were very frightened. At one point we thought that was our end. We heard the noise of an approaching bomb, that terrible sing from higher pitched to lower pitched. We all fell into each other, hugging. The house shook - then silence. One of the adults took a peak out of the door, expecting fire or flames. Nothing. The alarm ended the other morning. By inspecting our yard carefully we found a crater made by a bomb about 10 yards from the entrance door to the cellar.
It had not exploded. It was a Blindgaenger.

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Post scriptum:

At the time I published my book I could not spend more money than I did to publish it online, which meant no pictures.  I wrote the book by using Microsoft Wordpad and let lulu.com do the formatting for a fee. 

By now many internet friends looked at the pictures I posted via facebook and other outlets.  I will re-post them here now. We saved only a handful of pictures when we had to flee the area.  Thanks to Scanning I am able to work with those via computer.


Karin is dressed to play outside...

Going to school now. Picture taken at the Lilac Arbor in  summer.

Lilac Arbor in winter - Karin the wild one.....

Karin admires wild flowers

Playing with Elly

Karin as Little Red Riding Hood 


Entrance Gate to our yard. Enjoying the snow with sister Doris












Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Lutheran Confirmation March 1950


March 1950 in Haltern am See  in Germany.  I was  14,5  years old then.  A perfect picture and a memorable event...Here is the story about it....
My parents, my sister and I had left the Russian occupied zone in 1948. At that time there were already controlled travels in place to keep the population there instead of having them leaving and living rather in the British, French or American occupied zones.  I was short of dying of malnutrition in 1948. We crossed over into the British occupied zone in Bebra. We had my aunt living in Kassel, which is nearby. After I had gotten my  meal with milk and Raisins from her  ( which I devoured because I did not have any protein since 2 years), she made an appointment with her doctor to have me checked out. I looked like I would not make it much longer and I was fainting very often. Sure enough - the doctor said he would have given me 2 more weeks of hunger, then I would have died.  

I continued seeing a doctor in Haltern am See, where my father had found work in a sawmill. He had left the Russian occupied zone earlier to find work and a home for us.  Under the doctor's supervision, I gained half a pound of weight every day until I looked like a "normal" girl of my age. My sister is 4,5 years younger than I and she had other health problems caused by malnutrition. She had facial paralysis and stomach problems and her bones are in bad shape to this day, getting more and more prominent in her advanced age now. We had 2 small rooms under the roof.  That was basically what we had in fall 1948 - a roof over our heads. I had no shoes, no clothing - only what I was wearing. When I started to go to Elementary School again in Haltern, I was wearing house shoes which were given to me by our landlord. My mother was altering them with some bands to hold them together to make them wearable. The dress I had was altered already so many times....

My confirmation in church was scheduled for March 1950.  In fall 1949 my mother and I started to visit the two shoe stores in town to look around. At that time businesses had just started to buy inventory, the selection was still scarce. My outfit had to be black  - that was the problem....after so many "dark years" people were looking for more colorful clothing and shoes. One store promised to order shoes in black in prospect of all the other girls who would need them.
What about the black dress? My aunt Else, who was sewing fine clothing for me when we still lived in our hometown Koenigsberg in East Prussia,  came to my rescue. She and her parents ( my grandparents on my father's side), lived near her sister Charlotte in Kassel. She came via train with her sewing machine and the best black dress my grandma had owned and had salvaged by wearing it as one layer of clothing when we all had to flee the Russian WWII front in the east.  She was taking the dress apart and putting it together for me. As you can see. the dress turned out to be wonderful. The fabric was silk, shiny on one side and matted on the other, so I had a matted black dress with shiny trimmings. And a shiny black bow was holding my braids together behind my head....
The New Testament I had to have in my hand during the ceremony I received from the church and the handkerchief I had to put onto the book underneath my thumb came from my aunt also...

But there were other small problems....

One day my mother took me aside and told me that my parents could not buy me anything as a gift nor bake a cake for me. I knew that, my father made little money and my mother was working some hours in housecleaning or dishwashing in a restaurant. That work paid more in food leftovers and second-hand clothing than in money.  I was fine with that, no problem for me.  

Shortly after that conversation  we heard the doorbell  and a woman was asking to come up the stairs and talk to us. She identified herself as a women from a church group which took care of charity matters.
She put a bag of flour, a bag of sugar and a pound of butter on our table to help out with a cake. My mother started to cry. ...And then the lady lifted a small package out of her tote and gave it to me and explained to me that this was a gift from the people from America for my confirmation.  
Then I started to cry.....The package hat 4 big letters in black stamped onto it:   C.A.R.E.
It contained writing paper, 5 pencils, 5 color pencils, an eraser, a bag of peppermint candy and five of the most wonderful "girly"handkerchiefs  I ever have seen - to this day, I might add.  That package was more exciting to me than the entire confirmation ceremony.  

All Americans who are reading this blog now:   My sincere and heartfelt Thanks!  


 I liked the choir singing, the director was my teacher Mr. Benfer who also played the organ on normal Sundays. My parents and I were joining the choir. New friendships developed and more laughter and fun entered our days....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Our Happiness was challenged in 2005

Enjoying a summer in the high mountains of Colorado in 2004, 



my husband Dieter had to visit an Emergency Room one day because one leg was swelling up quite fast. Some tests were performed, including a blood test. The doctor did not like  "a number in the blood test", but otherwise did not give us the impression that anything was urgent. Dieter received a prescription of water pills and his leg was coming back to almost normal size. So we took our time as usual when traveling with our motorhome, parking two weeks at a time in resorts, doing sightseeing and having traveling days in between.

We had bought a camping lot in Tierra del Sol Resort in Florence, AZ in spring 2004 and we arrived back there in October. We immediately made an appointment at a doctor's office nearby. This family doctor diagnosed Dieter with Nephrotic Syndrome after having seen the blood test papers from Colorado and after having ordered a 24-hour urine sampling. His diagnosis could mean so many ailments. He was thinking of Multiple Myeloma and he made an appointment for us with an oncologist in Mesa, AZ, where Dieter underwent every test there is, including biopsy of the kidneys, the spinal cord and the hip bone, MRI's and so on. 

The diagnosis was Primary Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder. The oncologist called it blood cancer. 
The outlook was pretty bleak. We were told that both kidneys could shut down at any moment and that the sickness is potentially deadly....

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The term Amyloidosis includes a group of disorders caused by abnormal folding, clumping ( aggregation ) and/or accumulation of particular proteins ( amyloids - fibrous proteins and their precursors ) outside of the cell, but within the tissues of various organs in the body.  The accumulated amyloids causes the progressive malfunction of the affected organ. Normally, proteins are broken down at about the same rate as they are produced, however, these unusual stable proteins are deposited more rapidly than they can be broken down. The accumulation may be localized, general or systemic. 

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The oncologist in Mesa did not want to determine alone what to do and was seeking a second opinion by sending Dieter to the Cancer Center in Tucson, AZ. The doctor there was recommending Stem Cell Therapy. He said to Dieter that he would love to have him there on his floors because he loved Dieter's positivity and his humor. We asked him what could happen to Dieter while undergoing this Stem Cell thing...Nothing what he told us sounded good. Dieter rejected this therapy. The oncologist promised to contact our oncologist in Mesa with his advise.

The oncologist in Mesa prescribed Dieter Chemo Therapy which was a high dose of Corticosteroids, together with 2 other meds. His entire body was swelling up slowly, he grew more and more tired and weak, and he gained about 60 pounds on water weight. New Jeans and new underware were needed...

Our neighbor and friend Dick looked after Dieter every day and tried to cheer him up and convinced him that it might be best to keep on working, like building the shed.  The building permit and the concrete floor were already there. Neighbors were helping as much as they could or as much as Dieter let them. I was the painter.
We were told that our shed looked the cutest in the park.... see for yourself:


You also see the back end of our Winnebago Suncruiser we had at that time, and our cat Susi enjoying the outdoors in her cage. She felt very content with that, she went in by herself and meowed, which meant: Close the door.

The swellings were slightly down and the oncologist did blood and urine tests again and decided that Dieter should have a second Chemo Therapy. We said No. We decided to sell our lot to be free again  -  our friend Dick bought it. We had the feeling we had to drive to the east coast, to be "nearer" to our kids and grandkids in Germany....we cannot really explain what our feelings were, we hoped that Dieter would survive, but we were not sure about that. Some force pushed us....
Another friend was offering to drive our motorhome all the way to Florida, so Dieter could rest. But Dieter had the confidence to do that himself. We left - and our friend Dick lost big tears by wishing us well.....

As soon as we had set up camp in Bushnell, FL, in one of our Escapees Membership Resorts, we made an appointment with an oncologist in the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. He ordered a special new test, which confirmed the Diagnosis:

"Primary systemic AL amyloidosis involving the kidneys ( IgG kappa monoclonal gammopathy in his serum)".

Dieter agreed to take the second Chemo Therapy, which was just another random try because there is no known cure for this sickness. This time it was a chemo against breast cancer..


In August Dieter wanted to have a break in scenery, he wished to see the beach. We made reservations in St.Augustine, at Beachcomber Resort, the Gulf directly across the street.


When we arrived there, Dieter got very sick, I mean:  sick-sick. He was able to drive our car from the dolly and made the full hook-up connections and had to hit the bed. We thought the chemo had finally catched up with him. After two days I called 911.

After the First Responders had learned what the symptoms were now - vomiting black stuff - they raced with Dieter through St.Augustine to reach Flagler Hospital fast, the sirens going. I was driving directly behind them in our car. The sirens made my mind go blank, I felt nothing.....

It turned out to be a bowel obstruction, which doctors thought was connected to the high dose of Corticosteroids. Dieter spent overall 3 weeks in the Intensive Care Unit. Besides cleaning him out totally to be able to do surgery, the doctors were confronted with lung embolie, liver infarct and heart disturbances. They had to give him high doses of Heparin in order to stop the blood clots and this made his guts bleeding even worse. They implanted a Greenfield Filter into his vena cava to prevent the blood clots from ascending. Then they could operate. Dieter lost 22 inches of his small intestines. A crew of several doctors saved Dieter's life. Would have doctors in Arizona or elsewhere done the same good job? We will never know.

At one point in between, one doctor told me that the situation is serious and I should tell my relatives. I emailed our 3 children and they all came fast, also our son-in-law. Our second son was in Australia at that time and had to fly to Germany first and meet up with his brother. Dieter told them that he is fighting with all his strength and that he will survive. When the children had to leave after one week, that was not quite clear to everyone....Dieter was living only on some small ice chips for 3 weeks but he had the strength and the will to get better. One day while I was at his bedside, nurses run in, pushed me aside, looked at the machines and into his eyes and hit the button "Code Blue". Standing outside the circle of nurses and doctors and not being able to help somehow is the worst feeling...

He was released after 3 weeks into my care into the motorhome. He had to wear oxygen equipment and had to take lots of medication. We had a big oxygen generator under our little dining table and the long hose was leading into the bedroom, to his bed. I walked next to him when he walked daily outside, every day a little more.
Then a hurricane came into our area. The resort had to evacuate. I took the following picture of the angry Gulf of Mexico. Dieter never walked the beach that time nor did he see the beach.......



The oxygen company came to retrieve the equipment - and I was ready to drive our motorhome the first time. Dieter wanted to drive the first stretch....but he made it all the way to Bushnell, 135 miles all by himself. When we arrived there, he was "done".. The manager came and did all our connections. Other campers came and asked whether they could be of any help.

We made appointments in Tampa again. The oncologist insisted that Dieter had to finish his second chemo. He did and when we had a follow-up appointment and tests done, he told Dieter that the second chemo did not do a thing for him, he wanted to try a third.
He sat very near in front of Dieter and said: "Look me in the eye,
if you do not take the third chemo, you will die!"
"Good, then I die" my hubby answered.
I was ready to support all his decisions about this. And I was ready to help him fight that thing all by himself.
That was the last time he took anything against this sickness, besides the supplements I prescribed for Dieter and besides the blood thinner he had to take because of his implant.

After being back in Bushnell, another hurricane came and we had to drive north to Silver Springs. That was the time we decided to go west again, we had it with the hurricanes. When we told Dick and Myrt that we wanted to come to Arizona again, Dick said that we can rent our former lot for a very good price.
We had found out in the meantime that the prices for flights to Germany are the same, Phoenix or New York - no difference.

The picture below shows Dieter before we left Bushnell.



Dieter gained most of his strength back, slowly. He was even able to drive up to the home of Dick and Myrt in Wisconsin in spring 2006, where we stayed for some months. On our way back we visited our sister-in-law in Pennsylvania.
In Nov/Dec. 2006  we flew from Phoenix to Germany. We wanted to show our kids that their father had changed from a sceleton to his old self. We had a good time, but it was very strenuous for both of us.

We hoped that Dieter's kidneys would hold on -   and we still do. Even this topic is not important to Dieter. He was reading lately about mobile dialysis units and I just read that "in-center" dialysis has now overnight treatments, meaning, that the patient sleeps the night away and can go home in the morning with clean blood instead of living every third day in the hospital....

Many of my friends already know about this, but so many others do not. If any of my readers ever notice "foaming urine", that would be the first very noticeable symptom. Please, see a doctor then....

In the beginning of his sickness, Dieter lost every day 8 grams of protein through the kidneys.The first defense at that time in 2005 was a recommendation of a doctor in Bushnell to drink 2 big Whey Powder shakes per day to replenish the lost protein. This kind of protein can very easily be absorbed by the body. He still takes one in the morning. If anybody would be interested what supplement I found for him and what he still takes daily, please, contact me via a comment here.
According to the latest test, he loses only 1,8 gram per day these days. Big win - hurray!!
Even the latest blood tests did not show any significant deviation from normal.!

Whatever ails you, my friends, don't feel sorrow for yourself and don't be a couch potato.... and don't follow doctor's advises blindly. Research everything yourself and confer with your doctor over your findings. Stay as active as even manageable and live your life as "normal" as possible.


Happy New Year and my best wishes for Health and Happiness!  Karin.