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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday, May 30

Today has been a busy day tracking down the documents to submit to the Pioneers' Home office to move Mike from the inactive list to the active list for admission to the Pioneers' Home. Now that's done and he's officially on the list. I was told he would be pretty high on the list but there is no room currently available. It all depends on when that happens.

In the meantime, I have also contacted Wildflower Court and found they have a fairly long waiting list and also require some documentation. I have provided the same documents required by the Pioneers Home in hopes that is all they need. The person who handles that is out this week so I will contact her next week to see if they need anything else. When a room becomes available in either place, we will be ready to contact the medivac company.

In the meantime, I got another great portrait of Mike from Louise Champagne. She took this photo in the early 1990s at her home on North Douglas.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday, May 29

The big news today is that Mike has decided he does not want to wait to come back to Juneau until he is able to fly commercially. That means he will come back by paid Medivac as soon as it can be arranged and there is a room available at the Juneau Pioneers Home. Heather is getting quotes from Medivac flight companies and I have begun the process of getting him changed from the inactive waiting list to the active waiting list at the Juneau home. We got great advice from Peter Jurasz, Mike's investment counselor: "Medical services are totally negotiable, especially when you are willing to pay cash and there is no insurance reimbursement." I think we are finding that is true.

We still have not gotten the results of the biopsies. I just checked with the Nurse Manager at Park West and she will follow up (again) with Harborview Hospital.

Meanwhile, the idea to honor Mike with an ad in the Juneau Empire is taking form. Ken Moss and Virginia Breeze have come up with some good ideas and Phil Smith has agreed to do the layout. He is traveling from now until June 8 but will be able to put something together quickly after that, especially with the ideas from others. All those who have volunteered to help pay for the ad can send checks to me:

Judy Crondahl
800 F Street, A-4
Juneau, AK 99801

By the time Phil has the ad ready to go, we will know how much money we have and can place an appropriate-sized ad. 

Jan Tiura, one of Mike's many friends, emailed me another good photo of Mike. It was taken a couple of years ago when Jan was in Juneau and they had dinner at the Twisted Fish with Nancy Weaver. Thanks, Jan.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday, May 28

I must apologize for not having posted over the weekend. There hasn't been a lot to report and, after a very cold and miserable spring, we have had glorious weather over the weekend so I have been spending as little time inside and at the computer as possible.

We still have not heard the results of the biopsies of Mike's bladder and prostate that were done on Thursday. Heather hopes to be talking to the medical staff at Park West today and learn more about that. I called Harborview Hospital this morning but had absolutely no luck there.

Mark Regan visited Mike over the weekend. Mike has physical therapy exercises listed on a white board in his room that he can do by himself any time of the day. They are:

1. Ankle pumps
2.  Buttock squeezes
3.  Heel slides
4.  Half snow angels ( leg)
5. Partial leg kicks

Go Mike!

He says he continues to get a lot of visitors. Brenda Krauss and her son, Teddy, visited yesterday. We both agreed that he is very lucky to have so many goof friends that even 1,000 miles from home he does not lack for company.

This morning when I talked to him, he was sounding discouraged about his lack of progress. He feels he is slipping back rather than progressing. He is not sure whether it is is age or just a general lack of energy. (He will be 90 on August 6).

Phil Smith included a photo of Mike from an Evergreen Avenue block party in an email this weekend. I'm including it here for all who were not on the email distribution.

Also over the weekend, Ken Moss suggested that his many and varied friends should honor him as "friend , provocateur, teacher, activist, citizen" with an ad in the paper. I think he would really enjoy this. Many people have pledged to help pay. If anyone is interested in composing this ad, I would be happy to coordinate collecting the money and getting it placed in the paper.

In the meantime, continue to visit him at Park West if you are in the Seattle area, and sending him greetings in care of

Park West Care Center
1703 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

The central number for Park West is 206-937-9750. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday, May 25

I just received a long email from Lynn Burlingame, who visited Mike yesterday. He is a former student and wrote a nice long message so I am copying it in full here. He has included a very short video of Mike in two different formats that you can either click on or copy into your browser to get greetings from Mike directly.  Enjoy!
I visited this afternoon.  My wife was mystified when I put on my old Xtratufs for the visit, but the Juneau kids will know why I did it – I had to be in proper uniform!  Mike got a kick out of it which was the whole point.

He was in good spirits and we had a lively conversation.  In case any of you are wondering, he has all of his marbles.  At one point we were talking about Black Mac, the JDHS principal back in the 60’s.  I referred to him as “Harold MacMillan” and he corrected me by saying, “George MacMillian, Harold was the British Prime Minister”.  He then gave me a grin and pointed at his temple and said, “Hey, how am I doing”?  It was pretty funny.

He says that the facility is first rate and that they are taking good care of him.  I shot a quick video and uploaded it to my temporary web folder.  Here it is in WMV and Apple MOV format.  I am new to the iPhone and managed to convert the file to WMV and flip it 90 degrees, but Apple users may have to look at it sideways.  These files are huge (especially the MOV one) , so give them a while to download:

He had stories to tell – the thing about being stuck in a storage closet in Harborview Medical Center was not a joke.  He was in a storage room and other than a bed had no amenities, not even a call button.  He says that he irritated his neighbors by having to holler for help when he needed assistance.

By way of background, he told me that he fell in the kitchen in March and broke his hip.  He was medevac’d to Seattle the following day.  They have repaired his hip and he is in physical therapy to gain strength so he can walk.  The problem last week was caused by a broken blood vessel in his bladder that caused blood to show up in his urine.  It sounds like it was easily fixed, so fortunately he did not have to spend much time in the hospital.

The nursing home was very pleasant.  I walked in on a nursing and PT session, and he asked me to wait outside until they were done.  I took the opportunity to look the place over and was impressed – the people were friendly, the facility was spotlessly clean and the patients all appeared happy and well cared for.

Before I left I asked if he needed any errands run, purchases made, etc., and he told me that he did not, but would call me if something comes up.  I am not sure who else lives in the Seattle area (I am in Bellevue) but we may want to line up some ground support for him when he gets out of there and returns to Juneau.  If anybody lives in the area and is willing to help out, please email me at .

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday, May23

Mike will be headed back to Park West today. If you want to send him greetings, mail them to him at

Park West Care
1703 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA  98116

I talked to him after he got out of surgery. They are doing biopsies of his bladder and prostate. I told him people were thinking of him and those who were inclined to pray were also doing that. Typically Mike, he asked if they were praying or preying. He is doing a great job of keeping his spirits high. 

I will let you know more when I do.

Update: Thursday Evening
Mike arrived back at Park West this evening at about 7:15 Seattle Time. He would have been there much earlier but it took several hours longer to arrange for an ambulance. For those of you who have visited him in the past, he is in the same room as before.

I had a very long conversation with him tonight. He was in great spirits and so happy to be out of the "storage room" in Harborview's Emergency Ward. I asked him if he liked Park West and he said places don't come any better. He told me a very long story about how Jennifer Wilke "saved his life" many years ago during his Major/Weiss battles. She is now living in Bellingham and he is hoping to have a visit from her soon. 

He said to tell everyone that he is enjoying life again.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday, May 22

Today Mike is still in the Emergency Admittance area of Harborview Hospital. They apparently have a real shortage of rooms. His doctor told me that they had one patient who was there for five days.

The report from his doctor is that the blood has cleared from the urine a lot but not totally. They are not sure if it is a bladder infection but are treating it with antibiotics in case it is. They are also doing a blood culture and a CAT scan and will have the results in a day or two. He may be going back to Park West on Thursday or Friday. I talked to them this morning to make sure they would have a room available when he comes back and they assured me they would. They said what a delightful man he is and had had even called Harborview to check on him. That reassures me they are taking good care of him.

Mike says to tell you all that he has things reasonably well in hand and his morale is up. He told me that he has been put in a storage closet so all the medical supplies are very conveniently located. Micaela was visiting when I talked to him so I was able to fill her in on the doctor's report.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday, May 21

 Sunday Mike had a lot of visitors: six at one time in his room. I had a call from Sheila Nickerson that evening and she told me that Mike was in rare form, regaling them with his stories. She also said that he had to have his catheter adjusted while they were there and she could tell he was in pain.

This morning he called early and told me he had had a setback in his condition yesterday, not having to do with his hip fracture but with his cancer. He did not go into detail but he will be seeing a urologist this afternoon to learn more. I will let you know more as I find it out.

Update: 1:25 PDT
 I just had a call from Mike's nurse at Park West. He is in the process of being transferred from Park West to the Emergency Room at Harborview Hospital (phone 206-744-3300). He is suddenly showing a lot of blood in his urine. I have called his nephew, Ben, who lives in Seattle. Unfortunately, he is in Los Angeles but flying back to Seattle late tonight.  I have also called Micaela Jensen in Seattle and left a voice mail for her. If there were anyone else in Seattle who could be with him at Harborview, that would be great. 

Update: 10:00 PDT
This afternoon, Martin and Sheila Nickerson were in Seattle and were able to visit Mike at Harborview. They said that his color was not good but upon seeing them he immediately perked up. This evening I was able to talk to the nurse. She said he was still in the emergency area while waiting to be admitted to a room. He has a urinary infection which they will be treating with antibiotics. She could not say whether his condition was strictly due to the infection or was also impacted by his cancer. I talked to him for a minute also. He was not happy with his setback but was entirely coherent. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday, May 20

First of all, Mike wanted to add to his 70th birthday greetings to the Class of 1961. He said he forgot to address them as "Darlings"!

When I talked to Mike yesterday, he was very pleased to have gotten phone calls from two cousins who live in LA. I had been trying to contact them for a week and finally got through. He also got a call from Rob Crosby from Maine, a fellow teacher from the 1970s. Mike asked him about Rick Pastega who also taught at JDHS in the 60s. If anyone has a way of contacting Rick and letting him know of this blog, please do so, or ask Rick to email me.

Mike also had a visit from Jim Barron. Jim took the following picture and he certainly looks like he is enjoying Jim's visit. This was after having a visit from the long-term care insurance reps for an hour and a half so I'm sure Jim's visit was a great tonic.

He's getting his physical therapy every day which consists of various exercises and walking between the parallel bars -- about a dozen steps. He feels insecure walking with a walker. His balance is not good and he's afraid of falling again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday, May 15

I talked to Mike this afternoon. He was so pleased to have had a visit from Bruce Botelho yesterday. Today Jim Asper and Dan DeRoux came for a visit.

He also wanted me to send his greetings to the Class of 1961 as they celebrate their 70th birthdays this year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday, May 14

This is mostly a repeat of what I thought I posted on Monday night. I heard from several people that they looked and the post was not there so I have redone it.  

I had a call from Sheila Nickerson who had driven down from Bellingham on Monday with Ingrid Judson to visit Mike. Sheila thought he looked weaker than the previous week but said it might have been due to having walked 9 steps during physical therapy earlier in the day. Micaela Jensen called and also said she thought he looked weaker. Today, Tuesday, Bruce Botelho will be stopping for a visit on his way through Seattle.

I gave him a call at 10:00 this morning (11:00 Seattle time), Tuesday, and it was a short conversation since he was getting physical therapy. There seem to be more medical activities in the morning than the afternoon. If you are passing through Seattle and would like to visit him, he does enjoy visits. You can call 206-937-9750 to find out when is a good time to visit. The address is in West Seattle, 1703 California Ave SW, 98116.

I enjoy hearing from people who have visited him because I can get a better idea of how he is doing than by just talking to him. You can call me at 907 586-1464 or email me at crondahl(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 2013

Thursday, May  9
Today Mike says he walked five steps with the parallel bars. He was quite pleased with himself. He was also pleased to have received a phone call from his friends, the Schergers in Germany. He was quite impressed that they had stayed up until midnight (their time) to call.

On a less cheerful note, I also talked to my daughter Shana who has been there for about ten days. She said he has lost a lot of weight and looks quite frail. He repeats himself frequently and gets stressed out over seemingly minor things. His progress is very slow. Shana is concerned that after she leaves tomorrow that there may not be many visitors. He enjoys visitors but finds phone calls difficult.

All of the mail that had gone to him at Harborview and arrived after he had left was returned to Juneau. I sent it off to him yesterday so he has something to look forward to there.

If you can't visit him in Seattle, I'm sure he would enjoy a card. His address is

Mike Kirk
Park West, Room 110-2
1703 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA  98116

Friday, May 3
I've talked to Mike several times in the last couple of days and today I was on a teleconference with him, the Social Worker, Physical Therapist, and Nurse Manager from Park West. The purpose of the conference was for Mike to clarify his rehabilitation goals. At first he said his goals were to become as independent as possible. When I asked him if it was more important to stay there until he could live independently or to come back to Juneau as soon as he could travel commercially and go to someplace like the Pioneers' Home, he said his preference would be to come home as soon as possible. The Park West Social Worker will contact the Pioneers' Home Social Worker to determine how and when a transfer could be made.

They are now working on getting him to transfer from bed to walker to wheelchair as independently as possible. Within 6-8 weeks he may be able to get around fairly independently with a walker. They estimated he may be able to travel with an escort in about a month. They will continue to assess his progress meeting that goal.

Yesterday he told me that balance is difficult. He has gotten a lot of mail and says he is "trying to be good"!