It wasn't suppose to happen like this, and I wish it hadn't, but as you have found out in life, some of your best laid plans go awry. If we had not lost my good friend, the Honorable Thomas M. Seese, last week, this column would have run then.

But I'm sure you can understand how he touched hundred of lives and how very essential it was for me to give precedence to his passing. Likewise, writing is important for newspapers. I use the term, important, not thinking of myself, but rather of you, my readers. For without you, there would be no need for me to write.

I've been writing this column for 20 years and, as a devoted reader, you deserve the right to know what happened relative to my sudden absence. That's what the topic was of which I had planned on covering last week. Instead, it took a back seat to my good friend's unfortunate passing.

On or about June 9, I experienced some trouble breathing. By the 13th, I was struggling for air and, thanks to New Franklin's paramedics, received a ride to Barberton's ER where they diagnosed me with pneumonia and respiratory failure. Near the end of the month, I was discharged to a local physical rehabilitation center for physical therapy and continual medication.

I struggled at first but as time moved on I seemed to gain strength and hoped to be home to see the boat parade and fireworks. Unexpectedly, I started gaining weight, heading for the 300 pound mark. But one look at me and you could tell it was all fluid. My face was puffy, my feet and legs were bloated and my arms and hands swollen.

I knew it wasn't from overeating because few, including your truly, can barely stomach hospital or institutionalized food. Now, I'm no medical physician but I'm not that stupid that I can't tell when I'm not ticking properly.

Something was wrong and I suspected the dosages of my medications were out of whack. They either weren't working and needed to be adjusted, or else someone forgot to give me the proper ones. This happened before over the years so I was somewhat familiar with how my system reacts, and I mentioned this to the nurses. But they just passed off my comments faster than a walnut rolling off a hen house roof.

I asked to see the doctor but was told he only comes in on Thursdays. That was a week away. But a nurse practitioner will be here on Tuesday and I can talk with her. Gee! At the rate I was going, I wasn't sure I could make it 'til Tuesday. They wouldn't give me any cough medicine, no cough drops, nothing. Just cold gruel they called hot food.

But I had a plan. When my wife, Peggy, came to visit, I sent her out for some over the counter, heavy duty, cough syrup and cough drops. I told her to wait until no one's around and find a teaspoon. Instead, she used the inside of the bottle cap. Miraculously, it gave me some relief for about four hours. And all this time, I was meeting my weekly deadline for this column.

But what happened next on or about the 26th of August, no one, myself included, was prepared for. This is when the column ceased.

My last weight had ballooned to 319 pounds. I was feeling poorly. I went to bed that night exhausted. What happened next I can only relate to you from those who witnessed it because I have no recollection. Come morning I never woke up. I was unconscious and hauled away, sirens blaring, to Summa's ICU. But before I made it, I shut down; completely.

Two days later it would repeat itself. By then I was in Summa's.

NEXT WEEK: Touch and Go

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