Denver

My grand nephew, Keifer Balcerzak is a computer programmer for the State of Wyoming. He loves his job, and is a great bread-winner for his family, but it isn’t his job that has made him the man he is today. I have not seen many men who have become a parent, and then had to immediately be the “rock” for his little family. Keifer and his wife, Katie, became the parents to Reece, a 2 months premature little girl, born in December 2017. That was a scary time for Keifer and Katie, and they had to be strong for their baby girl…and for each other. I can’t say for certain that Katie felt like falling apart, but I think most women probably would have felt like falling apart, and would need their strong husbands to hold them up in the face of such a serious situation. Keifer did that for Katie, as she recovered from giving birth, and dealt with the day to day concerns for Reece’s well-being. Her home-coming was a wonderful day for both of them, and in victory, they went home from Denver, Colorado to Casper, Wyoming to start their life. Their lives had changed much more than the normal amount that goes with having a baby. Staying positive was of the utmost importance.

With Reece’s blossoming health, following her rocky start, Keifer and Katie have been able to get back to their normal lives…at least as much as a global pandemic would allow. Keifer was able to play a little softball this summer, and really enjoyed that…at least until someone hit him with the ball, leaving him pretty bruised. Still, being the tough-guy player he is, Keifer toughed it out, and while we know that bruises hurt, Keifer had determined to get himself into better shape, and he was not going to let this or anything else sideline him. Keifer has been in this quest to get into better shape since March of 2019, and has had great success. He wants to be his best self. He feels better, and as any of us who have worked to get in shape know, he looks better…in fact, he looks great. I know his girls are very happy to have a more energetic husband and daddy in their lives too. We are all very proud of Keifer’s success.

The future is bright for Keifer and his family. With their health struggles behind them, and lots of activity and fresh air in front of them, the Balcerzak family is happier than ever, and we are all happy for them. Having your health is a huge part of living a happy life. And now, they are all embarking on a healthy future. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It hardly seems possible that it can be two years ago already, that our family’s little Reece Balcerzak arrived in what was destined to be the beginning of a long time away from home for her parents, while they waited in Denver for their daughter to get strong enough to go home. It was a tough time, with an amazing ending. The little family came home victoriously with their precious girl. I guess that makes her middle name very much appropriate…Victoria, which means “victory” in Latin.

Reece has so much more going for her than just her name, however. The little girl is not only a fighter, but she smiles more than just about anyone else I have ever seen. It is amazing that a little girl who has been through such a tough beginning can be so filled with joy, but then I guess that it was her parents and family who actually went through all that. Reece was just there, smiling at everyone through it all. Even as a tiny…and I really mean tiny…girl, she was filled with joy and always smiling. I find that so awesome!!

Since her very early arrival at 28 weeks into her mother, Katie’s pregnancy, Reece has been going at break-neck speed to make up for the time she spend in the hospital in Denver. She is a very busy little girl. She never ceases to amaze all who know her. Her parents don’t really need much in the way of entertainment, because their daughter is really good at that. She is talking very well now, and chatters about the things that interest her, some of which we probably have no idea, because they are her happy things alone. Ahhh, the life of a child. To have such innocence, and such joy with the things around you. Reece has such a bright future ahead of her…so many things to learn and to explore. It will be exciting for us, her family, to watch this happy, smiley girl as she grows into the wonderful adult she will one day become. Keep smiling smiley girl. We love it. Today is Reece’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Reece. Have a great day!! We love you!!

Whenever disaster strikes, the inevitable souvenir hunters seem to come out of the woodwork. It doesn’t matter that someone, or maybe many someones have died in the tragedy. Souvenir hunters think only of themselves, and the stories they can tell, complete with their “precious” souvenir to back up their story. The whole thing makes decent people nauseous.

On November 17, 1910, famous aviator and stunt pilot, Ralph Johnstone was performing in an air show in Denver, Colorado, when tragedy struck. Johnstone knew the risks of his occupation, and I suppose that he knew that one day, his “number” would come up. Still, you never really believe that it will happen to you, do you? Johnstone was the holder of the World Altitude Record, and the crowds were never disappointed with the show he gave them. That day, at Overland Park would be no exception.

Johnstone flew a Wright Biplane, and he was knows for his many spiral glides, which had made the Wright aviators famous. Johnstone had won many prizes, and on two occasions had expressed the belief that he would be the first to do real fancy work in the sky…and become in a word, the aviating gymnast and loop an imaginary loop. In the day’s first flight, when he was in the air with his friends, Walter Brookins and Archibald Hoxsey. Johnstone had gone through his usual program of dips and glides, and the plane had perfect control, with no indication of structural problems.

On his second flight, Johnstone rose again, and after a few circuits of the course to gain height headed toward the foothills. “Still ascending, he swept back in a big circle, and as he reached the north end of the enclosure, he started his spiral glide. He was then at an altitude of about 800 feet. With his plane tilted at an angle of almost 90 degrees, he swooped down in a narrow circle, the airplane seeming to turn almost in its own length. As he started the second circle, the middle spur, which braces the left side of the lower plane, gave way, and the wing tips of both upper and lower planes folded up as though they had been hinged. For a second, Johnstone attempted to right the plane by warping the other wing up. Then the horrified spectators saw the plane swerve like a wounded bird and plunged straight toward the earth.”

Witnesses said that “Johnstone was thrown from his seat as the nose of the plane swung downward. He caught on one of the wire stays between the plane and grasped one of the wooden braces of the upper plane with both hands. Then, working with hands and feet, he fought by main strength to warp the planes so that their surfaces might catch the air and check his descent. For a second it seemed that he might succeed, for the football helmet the wore blew off and fell much more rapidly than the plane.”

With one wing of his machine crumbled like a piece of paper, Ralph Johnstone, dropped like a rock from a height of 500 feet into the enclosure at Overland Park aviation field and was instantly killed…nearly every bone in his body was broken. That was when the spectators turned “souvenir hunters.” Scarcely had Johnstone hit the ground before morbid men and women swarmed over the wreckage, fighting with each other for souvenirs. One of the broken wooden stays had gone almost through Johnstone’s body. Before doctors or police could reach the scene, one man had torn this splinter from the body and run away, carrying his “trophy” with Johnstone’s blood still dripping from it. The crowd tore away the canvas from over the body, and even fought for the gloves that had protected his hands from the cold. The scene was utterly disgusting.

Johnstone had attempted to cheat death once too often, but “he played the game to the end, fighting coolly and grimly to the last second to regain control of his broken machine.” Fresh from his triumphs at Belmont Park, where he had broken the world’s record for altitude with a flight of 9,714 feet, Johnstone attempted to give the thousands of spectators an extra thrill with his most daring feat, the spiral glide, which had made the Wright aviators famous. The spectators got their thrill, but it cost Johnstone his life.

These days, organ transplants are a fairly common event. It’s not that everyone is having them, but that many people who need one get it. Years ago, something like a failing liver was an instant death sentence. The doctors would try to find a way to heal the liver, but they knew that it was not likely to happen. I know that it was heartbreaking for the doctors, who became doctors to save lives, not to lose them.

The real game changer came in 1963, when Dr Thomas E Starzl of Denver, Colorado, performed the first successful liver transplant in history. The patient was a 48 year old man. Unfortunately, he only lived for 22 day, but in those 22 days, a door was opened. Yes, there were problems, and the patient died, but he also lived…with a liver that wasn’t originally his. That was a huge step in the transplant game, and because of that step, Starzl became known as “the father of modern transplantation.”

Between March 1 and October 4, 1963, Starzl attempted 5 human liver replacements. The first patient bled to death during the operation. The other 4 died after 6.5 to 23 days. The autopsies didn’t show rejection, but rather that the patients died of site infections. During this time, there were also single attempts at transplant, Francis D. Moore in September 1963 in Boston, and Demirleau in January 1964 in Paris. None were considered successful, but as I said. I would disagree, because while the patients died, they also lived. At this point, liver transplants on humans stopped until the summer of 1967. The operation was thought to be too difficult to ever be tried again, but Starzl refused to give up, and in 1967, he performed the first successful human liver transplant, at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. This one would be even be considered a success by Starzl. He had also performed the world’s first spleen transplant four months earlier in the same year. After that, transplants became everyday operations.

Living in Wyoming, the one thing we can be sure of is that traffic jams are extremely uncommon here. About the only way we are going to have a traffic jam is if there is an accident at what we call rush hour…for lack of a better word. A few hours south of us, you mike find a traffic jam as you travel through Denver, Colorado during a real rush hour. Nevertheless, even traffic jams in Denver almost don’t qualify compared to other places on Earth. I have tried to think of what it might be like to be in a really bad traffic jam. I have been in some that kept me sitting for over an hour, but even that was nothing compared to the longest traffic jam in history.

China is one of the biggest automotive markets in the world. That booming market has a downside to it too, however. It is estimated, that in 2015, there were no less than 7 million cars on the road in Beijing. Of course there are many more now. What’s more, nearly 14 million cars are purchased each year, while 650,000 vehicles meet the road every month. It’s like saying: “Hey, everybody in Beijing must have a car. No, make that two!.” The government has tried to stop residents from buying so many cars, but they haven’t had much luck with that. With all the cars on the road, traffic jams were inevitable. Nevertheless, I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how bad those traffic jams would become. In August 2010, China was crowned the unofficial “host” of the mother of all traffic jams, with a huge car panorama that stretched for more than 62 miles and lasted for 12 days. I’m quite certain that no one could have expected this, now could the motorists be prepared with food and water.

It all happened on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway near Beijing. The highway was initially designed to be used exclusively by trucks, but due to the growing number of vehicles, passenger cars started using it too. Ironically, the cause of the huge traffic jam was the road work on the highway. Trucks carrying construction supplies to Beijing, most of them supposed to be used on the expressway in order to ease traffic, were blocked at the exit, thus causing a traffic jam that lasted over 12 days. No clear statistics concerning the number of stranded drivers were given, but instead reports published on the web at that time claim that some of the cars advanced with a speed of 2 miles per day! That is shockingly slow!!

People who could started to take advantage of the situation by selling food and water to drivers. The prices were extremely high and some of the drivers even refused to buy the supplies. That was not a good idea, because in those cases they were robbed or even stabbed. Twelve days in a traffic jam is a lot, that’s pretty clear, and even if some drivers already had bread and cigarettes as a method of precaution, everybody had to buy at least a cup of water. The prices were astronomical, and the whole situation was insane. Strangely, authorities actually expected the traffic jam to last about a month. I guess 12 days wasn’t too bad after all. Surprisingly, according to the Guinness World of Records this isn’t the longest traffic jam in history. A previous episode that took place in France, spanning from Lyon to Paris, is regarded as the biggest jam ever. It stretched for 109 miles and happened on February 16, 1980. The reason, poor weather and the huge number of cars on the French Autoroute.

My great grand niece, Reece Victoria Renae Balcerzak is a little girl who has coma a long way is just one year. Looking back on her first year of life can take her family from the deepest fear of loss to the greatest thrill of victory. Reece was originally due February 17, 2018, but on December 1, 2017, things went wrong in a scary way. While Reece’s parents, Katie and Keifer, were sitting on the couch talking about the future and the precious little life Katie was carrying, her water broke. They rushed to the hospital, where the staff prepared them for a ride in an ambulance to the airport, and a trip on Life Flight to Denver where they were taken to Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital. They had such different plans for this time in their lives.

On October 5, 2017, Katie and Keifer found out that their bundle of joy was going to be a girl. They couldn’t have been more excited, and now on December 1, 2017, they couldn’t have been more scared. After all, Katie was just 28 weeks pregnant. Birth now was just too soon. Keifer later wrote, “Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital has been an amazing place. The Doctors and Nurses are top notch and treat us like normal human beings. We have been told that they hope to keep Katie pregnant for another 5 weeks before she will be induced. However, it’s very scary because with her water being broken we all know she could begin labor at any given time. After Katie gives birth our baby girl will be here until her original birth day of February 17, 2018.” The goal of five more weeks was not to be, and on December 14, 2018, Reece made her entrance into the world. She was born at 2:23pm, weighing just 3 pounds 11 ounces. She was just 17¾ inches long.

That unplanned arrival marked the traumatic start to little Reece’s life, but her story did not end there. Reece received amazing care at Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital. The are like God’s miracle working network for babies, preemie or just sick. A very long 60 days later, Katie and Keifer left Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital, with very mixed emotions. They wanted to go home, but as any parent of a preemie will tell you, that carries with it the worry over your child. Nevertheless, before long, Reece’s sweet smiles and her darling personality soothed their worried minds, because it was obvious that their little girl was going to be just fine at home too. Reece has made amazing progress, and while she may still be a bit smaller than average, she is a happy, healthy one year old. Today is Reece’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Reece!! Have a great day sweet girl!! We love you!!

In the old west, few women went on to get a higher education, and even fewer became doctors. It was thought of as a man’s occupation, and the few women who dared to go into that field, were often looked at with distrust, and even disdain. People thought that women belonged in the home raising a family. Some didn’t even attempt to hide the dislike of women in medicine. Susan Anderson, MD was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1870. Her family moved to the mining camp of Cripple Creek, Colorado during her childhood. In 1893, Anderson left Cripple Creek to attend medical school at the University of Michigan. She graduated in 1897. During her time in medical school, Anderson contracted tuberculosis and soon returned to her family in Cripple Creek, where she set up her first practice.

Anderson spent the next three years sympathetically tending to patients, but her father insisted that Cripple Creek, a lawless mining town at the time. He felt like it was no place for a woman, so Anderson moved to Denver. In Denver, she had a tough time securing patients. The people in Denver were reluctant to see a woman doctor. She then moved to Greeley, Colorado, where she worked as a nurse for six years. Somehow, people accepted a woman as a nurse, probably because they looked at it as just following the orders of the doctor, who was ultimately in charge.

Her tuberculosis got worse during this time, so she felt she needed a more cold and dry climate. She made the decision to move to Fraser, Colorado in 1907. Fraser’s elevation of over 8,500 feet, definitely made the area cold and dry. Anderson was most concerned with getting her disease under control and didn’t open a practice. She didn’t even tell people that she was a doctor. Nevertheless, the word soon got out and the locals began to ask for her advice on various ailments, which soon led to her practicing her skills once again. Her reputation spread as she treated families, ranchers, loggers, railroad workers, and even an occasional horse or cow, which was not uncommon at the time. The vast majority of her patients required her to make house calls, though she never owned a horse or a car. Instead, she dressed in layers, wore high hip boots, and trekked through deep snows and freezing temperatures to reach her patients. Now that is dedication…especially for a woman trying to recover from Tuberculosis.

During the many years that “Doc Susie,” which she familiarly became known as, practiced in the high mountains of Grand County, one of her busiest times was during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. Like people all over the world, Fraser locals also became sick in great numbers, and Dr Anderson found herself rushing from one deathbed to the next.
Another busy time for her was when the six-mile Moffat Tunnel was being built through the Rocky Mountains. Not long after construction began, she found herself treating numerous men who were injured during construction. During this time, she was also asked to become the Grand County Coroner, a position that enabled her to confront the Tunnel Commission regarding working conditions and accidents. She hoped to make a difference. In the five years it took to complete the tunnel, there were about 19 who died and hundreds injured.

Unlike physicians of today, Dr Anderson never became “rich” practicing her skills. Im not even sure you would say she made a middle class living, because she was often paid in firewood, food, services, and other items that could be bartered. Doc Susie continued to practice in Fraser until 1956. She died in Denver on April 16, 1960 and was buried in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

The birth of your first child is always an exciting time. Your life is forever changed, because you are no longer just you or just a couple, you are a parent…you are somebody’s parent…forever. December 14, 2017, was that day for my grand nephew, Keifer Balcerzak and his wife, Katie, when their beautiful baby girl, Reece Victoria Renae Balcerzak made her grand, two month early entrance into the world. Little baby Reece was not supposed to arrive until about February 20, 2018, but as babies sometimes do, she got in a bit of a hurry. Nevertheless, the good people at Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado were able to delay her arrival by two weeks to give her a little bit more time to grow. And she did a pretty good job of it, weighing in at just 3 pounds 11 ounces, which I think isn’t too bad for a baby who is two months premature. Reece is 17¾ inches long, and she and her Mommy are doing well.

For Katie and Keifer, the love was instantaneous. In fact, Katie put it in such beautiful words that no others are really necessary, when she said, “And at last I see the light, And it’s like the sky is new. And it’s warm and real and bright and the world has somehow shifted…All at once everything is different, now that I see you. Now that I see you…” I think truly does change your life for ever. It is a wonderful miracle…a precious gift from God, to bless your life.

Little Reece is no bigger than a minute, but she is a fighter, and she is going to do just fine. The nurses tell her parents that she is a “feisty handful” and she keeps them busy. That isn’t a bad thing for a preemie baby. The doctors have said that she will likely be moved out of the Level 1 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, to the Level 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit next week. She won’t be able to be home for her first Christmas, and in reality, her first Christmas was supposed to be next year, but she is a sweet Christmas gift to her mommy, daddy, grandparents, and the rest of her family, all of whom are very excited to meet her. But for now, Reece has some growing to do, because they don’t send babies home when they are no bigger than a minute. So eat hearty baby girl, you have family to meet. Congratulations Keifer and Katie on your tiny bundle of joy.

Sometimes in life, a person has the unique opportunity to basically go full circle. It’s not exactly like going back to your roots, because many people have done that…myself included. Sometimes though, as in the case with my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen and his dad, Kevin, you have the opportunity to go back to a birth event, and see it in an entirely different light. When Josh was born on September 9, 1998…five weeks early, his lungs just weren’t quite strong enough to maintain his oxygen levels without assistance. It was decided that he would be taken to Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado via Life Flight’s Learjet. Since his mother, my daughter Corrie Petersen has just given birth, after serious attempts to stop it, the doctors felt it would be best for her to spend the night in the hospital here. So it was decided that Kevin would fly to Denver with Josh, and my husband Bob and I would bring Corrie, and their oldest son, Chris to Denver the next day, when she was released. It was a traumatic event for everyone involved, especially for Chris, who was 2½ at the time.

Fast forward now…eighteen years and seven months later, to the present. After spending two weeks in the hospital in Denver, Josh went on to become a healthy young man, who wants to be a fire fighter and EMT…small wonder. Josh has always had a helpers heart, and has assisted in caregiving for years with great grandparents. He has a gentle way, and he is meticulous in proper caregiving. He has been taking fire fighting courses through the Boces program at his high school, and in the fall will continue working toward his degree in Fire Science. He will also be training in EMT in the very near future.

A few days ago, his dad talked to a friend, Clancy, from high school, who just happens to work for Life Flight now. They got on the subject of Josh, and Clancy offer to give them a tour. For Josh and for Kevin, this was like going full circle…not just to the hospital or the city Josh was born in, which he still lives in, but back to the service that took them on that life saving journey to Denver. They were given a tour of both the Life Flight Helicopter and the Life Flight Learjet. I can’t say for sure that this jet was the same as the one Josh and Kevin traveled in initially, but if not it was probably exactly like that one. For Josh, I’m sure this was another step in his journey to his career, but since he has heard his story before, I’m sure that was in the back of his mind too. For Kevin, I wonder if there was a memory of that worried feeling in the pit of his stomach, but then I’m sure there was also a feeling of gratitude, both for saving his son’s life, and giving him such a wonderful tour. Josh…well, he was excited to be right where he wants to be.

doc-hollidayWhen we think of gunslingers from the old west, a number of names come to mind…among them, Doc Holliday. John Henry “Doc” Holliday was born August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia, to Henry Burroughs Holliday and Alice Jane (McKey) Holliday. When John was just 15 years old, his mother died of Tuberculosis on September 16, 1866. His adopted brother also died of Tuberculosis. In 1870, at the age of 19, Holliday left home for Philadelphia, and on March 1, 1872, he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. Holliday graduated five months before his 21st birthday, so the school held his degree until he turned 21, which was the minimum age required to practice dentistry.

Many people remember Doc Holliday from the gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, but prior to that time, he was in Saint Louis, Missouri and Atlanta, Georgia. He started has practice in Saint Louis, but switched to Atlanta less than four months later ok corralto join a dental practice there. While in Atlanta, Holliday and some friends got into an altercation, and in the end, Holliday went and got a shotgun. He came back and started shooting, either at or over the heads of the other men. Whether or not anyone was killed is up for debate, but Holliday gained a reputation as a gunslinger.

Soon after moving to Atlanta, Holliday developed a bad cough. The doctors told him that he had Tuberculosis. I can’t even begin to imagine how Holliday felt about that diagnosis. He had watched his mother die of that very disease, as well as his adopted brother. Holliday was told he needed to move to a dryer doc-holliday-2climate, if he wanted to extend his life. He moved to Dallas, Texas. His dental practice could have suffered because of his ill health, or it could have been caused by the fact that he would rather play poker than work on teeth. Holliday was a decent poker player, so he found that it was a pretty good way to make a living. In 1875, Holliday was arrested in Dallas for participating in a shootout.

Holliday left Dallas and began drifting between booming Wild West towns like Denver, Cheyenne, Deadwood, and Dodge City. He made his living at card tables, with heavy drinking and late night. All of these things were quite aggravating to his Tuberculosis. By 1887, Holliday’s hard life had caught up with him, forcing him to seek treatment in a sanitarium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Finally, on this day, November 8, 1887, Doc Holliday, gunslinger, gambler, and occasional dentist, lost his battle with Tuberculosis, just like his mother and adoptive brother before him.

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