Written June 1, 2023. At Kansas City, Missouri.

Yesterday a good friend reminded me that I had not written a final post from our seven weeks in England. As you will see, my mind has been on other things. Before I explain further here is a brief recap of our May 10th return to the United States:

Our final night in Manchester was spent at the Radisson Blu Hotel located in Manchester’s International Airport. It was pleasant enough, but we were desperately eager to be on a plane heading west. We ditched tourism that night in favor of room service. When the time arrived to check-in for our flight we received notification that online check-in was not available to us. This created some anxiety.

It turned out that this was nothing more than a requirement that we present our international travel documents in person. However, not knowing this at the time, we arrived especially early the next morning at the Virgin Atlantic desk. To our relief check-in went smoothly, and then on impulse I asked if there was any possibility to secure an upgrade to first class seats. The answer was YES! “How much?” I asked. The sum was quite reasonable to these travel weary souls. I forked over my credit card. As first-class passengers we were entitled to relax in the Virgin Atlantic Airway lounge prior to takeoff, food and drinks included.

The only remaining stress was the timing between our arrival at JFK airport in New York and the departure flight for Kansas City. According to the flight itineraries we had less than an hour to make it through customs and board the final flight home. We were told it was a virtual impossibility and we were likely going to be spending the night in New York.

The flight across the Atlantic was elegant and we were pampered by the delightful attendants. Real food, real China, real cutlery, and best of all real booze. Could it get any better than that?

YES! Our flight landed an hour ahead of schedule! What was more, as holders of Global Entry passes, we were able to casually walk by the near endless serpentine line of humanity at passport control and thanks to facial recognition we virtually walked straight through to the terminal to pick up our bags and re-deposit them on the other side of Customs. We made it to our next flight with time to spare.

As we approached Kansas City black storm clouds loomed in the distance. There was the staccato strobe of lightning strikes that were cloud to cloud and cloud to ground. The pilot aborted his first approach to the runway and circled a few times before attempting a second landing. On his second approach he got closer to the ground, but a sudden gust caused the plane to bank sharply. The pilot hit the gas, put the plane’s nose skyward, and retracted the landing gear.

The third time was the charm… sort of. It was again a rough approach. As the plane touched down it was again struck by the gusting winds and bounced two or three times hard on the tarmac, skidding sideways before finally being secure on the ground. Among the passengers there was a communal “gasp” followed by the silence of relief and then applause. More good luck, we were almost home.

It was at least four days before my sleep cycle was restored, just in time for the crush of reality and the next “adventure” to begin.

Between May 16th and 30th I had appointments with a dermatologist, an audiologist, an ophthalmologist, and my general practice physician. These were all routine checkups along with my annual physical. Each of these appointments went well, but it looks like hearing aids may be in my future. I now have proof that I do not intentionally and selectively ignore my wife.

At Christine’s insistence we made time for family pictures.

I have not yet mentioned the two most important medical appointments: On May 17th I spent the better part of two hours meeting with staff at the University of Kansas Medical Center for my final pre-surgery work-up. One after the other I met with personnel from anesthesiology, pharmacology, and surgery. The big event is tomorrow, (June 2nd). I will report at 5:45 a.m. for Deep Brain Stimulation surgery (DBS). Neurosurgeon, Jennifer Chang, MD, will bore a small hole (about the size of coin) through the left upper area of my skull. My head will be immobilized while she inserts a tiny electrical implant into the thalamus of my brain.

Image from Wikipedia
Image from Wikipedia

She will then run wires under my skin and down to my chest where in two weeks she will surgically implant a controller (neurostimulator), attaching it to the wires.

Image from Boston Scientific

Much of the first procedure, lasting between 4 and 6 hours, will be done while I am awake.

Image from Wikipedia

It is hoped that this procedure on the left hemisphere of my brain will reduce or eliminate the life-long tremors that I experience in my right hand and arm. These tremors have become progressively worse with age and are now significantly impacting my quality of life. Later in the year I will decide whether to undergo the procedure on the right side of my brain.

I did not come to the decision to undergo this procedure easily. I announced it to my wife in an open letter published as I was hiking in Spain last year. Here is a link to that letter:

“The Decision”

I previously wrote in greater detail the specifics about the DBS surgical procedure. Here is a link to that post:

“My DBS Surgery”

I greatly appreciate the kind words and the expressions of thoughts and prayers that I have received in anticipation of tomorrow. A candle has even been lit by a dear friend and her mother on my behalf in a small church in Germany.

The likelihood of the “unthinkable” occurring is less than 1%. However, this is major surgery and unlike my arm, which is an arm, or my leg, which is a leg, my brain is the essence of me. Christine and I have had “the talk”, and we will likely have it again tonight. My life of 71 years has been a blessing and borrowing from the lyrics of the song, “My Way”:

“My friends, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full, I traveled each and every highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway. And more, much more than this… I did it my way.”

Peace Everyone. Pete

46 thoughts on “Shake, Rattle, and Roll (the Dice) Surgery

  1. Liz Stevens says:

    Wow – I knew this was coming up but I had forgotten (or didn’t know when). Thank you so much for letting us know. I will certainly say a prayer for your tonight AND tomorrow (and probably for a period of time after that). They are doing amazing things nowadays in surgery … and I hope that your results are better than you could have imagined. Breathe – know you are loved – know that you are and have always been taken care – tomorrow will be no different. You have Pauline on your side, pulling for you all the way. You got this … and we’ve got you!!

  2. Pete I wish you the very best, try to relax as I’ve told you before KU did surgery on my brain twice and for better or worse it was a complete success. I was about your age for my second. The neurological intensive care is phenomenal, I know they will take excellent care of you.
    I’m looking forward to your next update. Peace my friend.

  3. Karen Stigers says:

    Pete, our prayers will be with both of you tomorrow and also with the surgical team. As for the hearing aids: John and I are getting used to ours and it is nice to hear what’s going on! 🙏

  4. nancy wallingford says:

    Pete, my best thoughts and hopes are with you and Christine. I have thought about you these last several weeks because I knew this challenge was in store. Thank you for sharing all of your journeys with us.

  5. Vicki James says:

    A successful surgery and swift recovery are our wishes for you. We will be sending positive thoughts. Vicki and Harold

  6. Karen Hubble says:

    Blessings to you Peter. My husband and I continue to be inspired by your journeys—this one included. May you gain vitality and heal with added rigor as you recuperate.
    Buen Camino,
    Karen & Rich Hubble

  7. I have enjoyed your adventures and pray that this next one brings you the results you are needing. Quick recovery 🙏🙏

  8. I know you will keep us updated and since it’s 7:10 you are probably back being prepped for your latest adventure. You are an inspiration! Here’s to success and a speedy recovery! Give my best to Christine as well 😃

  9. Laura Gust says:

    Thank you for the explanations and pictures, Pete. I am confident you will come through with flying colors; and if its not in His plan you are well prepared. These pictures are beautiful. Sending prayers and Love to you and the family.

  10. Ted Wienstroer says:

    I was wondering when your surgery was going to happen. I read this this morning, while you are at the hospital in surgery. My prayers are with you this morning.

  11. Julie and Dom says:

    Thanks for the update and the beautiful family pictures. We are in Park City with Dom’s sisters. I will share with them. Sorry you won’t be able to join us on our 50th anniversary small party. We will be praying for you. May God’s peace, comfort and healing be with you.

  12. Jennifer Parker Burrus says:

    You’re probably right in the middle of things as I write this, Pete, but two thoughts:
    Go for it on the hearing aids. It’s not a cure for hearing loss in all situations, but it will help so much.
    One of my favorite podcasts is “SmartLess” which is hosted by Will Arnett, Sean Hayes, and Jason Bateman. Talk about laughter being the best medicine. A couple weeks ago their guest was Paul Anka, who happens to be Bateman’s father-in-law. He specifically talks about writing “My Way” for Frank Sinatra. Give it a listen!

  13. 6/2/23…. As I write this, I’m pretty sure you are in surgery…I’m lifting prayers up for you and Christine, for the surgeon, the nurses assisting, the success of the surgery and ease of recovery! P.S. Beautiful pics of family! You guys are blessed!

  14. Chris Graham says:

    Pete, you and Chris are the consummate adventurers and I can only hope to live half of the escapades you’ve experienced. I hold you high in my list of incredible people. I’ll be thinking about you and hope the best for you both. You’re in the finest of hands.

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