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weggieboy

Alliance, NE

I retired from nearly 36 years in a factory that produces hydraulic and industrial hoses. That is the short of it.

The most interesting thing I've done is serve in the US Army as a motion picture photographer. I was stationed in then-West Germany in Kaiserslautern, Kleber Kaserne, in the 69th Signal Company (Photo). I was sent all over western Europe filming military exercises and other less interesting things. This enabled me to become a "bier kenner", someone knowledgeable about beer. Haw! I was much younger then, and could handle the wear and tear.

The most interesting thing that happened to me happened in 1980, the first day of the new year: I spotted a rara avis in my backyard. A phainopepla, a member of the silky flycatcher family! It stayed around for two months, long enough for me to photograph it through a garage window not more than 2m from a birdbath to which it came each day. The photos, sent to the state ornithological organization and their rare bird report committee, established me as the first and only person to have seen this particular bird in my state. Records for my state go back to Lewis and Clarke's western expedition, so that gives you the context and perspective through which other birders view my record. You should too! It was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. It lead to a decade of uninterrupted bliss, tracking down birds in the field with other people of a feather.

The worst thing that happened to me is called Wegener's granulomatosis. Oh dear! This is where it becomes difficult! WG is a form of vasculitis that you have for life once it develops. It has no known cause, though scientists work as I write to try to determine why it occurs. My story is long and I am tired: More details later! It is a fatal disease without proper care. With proper care, people still can die!

One last detail: a weggie (pronounced "wegg-ee"), is a person with Wegener's granulomatosis. It is an Australian construction, to the best of my knowledge, and suits me better than being known in perpetuity as a "WG patient".

In 2016, a Wegener's flare mostly wiped out what kidney function I still had, and I went through a two month process of hospitalization and rehabilitation before I could return home to my two cats, Andy and Dougy. My neighbors across the lane took care of them while i was gone, with a childhood friend who substituted for my neighbors when they had to be out of town.

The major change brought about by the flare: I now am on dialysis three times a week. Fortunately for me, my local general hospital has a very modern, well staffed dialysis unit. With a nurse-to-patient ratio of nearly one-one, it is the best of five dialysis sites I've been in. The recliners are even heated! Since these units are typically kept ice berg cold, you can see I feel like I am in heaven! (Well, not yet, but you get the idea!)

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