After three weeks in the hospital following his car accident, Roy was ready to be released. Numerous options were discussed for how to transport him, and where he should be taken to recuperate. In the end, Kimberly and James rented an RV in St. Louis and drove it to Hays. That way Roy would be able to lie flat on the bed to protect his broken bones. When they arrived to pick Roy up, they found his room filled with a dozen people who wanted to tell their patient good-bye and wish him well. Some homemade cookies and other treats were sent along with him as well.
Roy spent a month at the Wolterman's home, with Kimberly coming home every day at noon to make him lunch. Her boss, Dr. Richard Bradley, stopped by the house to check on Roy and made a referral for an orthopedist for follow-up X-rays. Roy's strength eventually came back, and he began to put back on some of the 40 pounds he had lost in the hospital. He was soon doing laps inside the house in an effort to get stronger, and worked up to walking 2 miles per day. In good weather Kimberly would take him to the high school track to walk for longer periods on a level surface.
He received over 100 get well and sympathy cards while he was in St. Louis. He talked a lot about the accident, and as expected blamed himself for Catherine's death. He carried a lot of guilt with him the rest of his life. His grandson Andrew was a source of joy and distraction for him. Every day when Andrew came home from preschool he would ask his grandpa how he was feeling. They spent a lot of time watching t.v. together.
When Roy was finally able to travel, Kimberly, Andrew and Chris Lane drove him back to Cincinnati, and they stayed with him for the first week. Kathleen then came to Cincinnati for the second week, and Joseph for the third week. By then, Roy felt he was well enough to be on his own.
Ultimately he returned to his volunteer activities and directing the senior chorale group. He joined a fitness center, and every Monday-Friday he and his life-long friend Max Schoener would work out for an hour. He lived a full and active life, with his children coming to town to visit when they could, particularly when he planned family reunions. The children surprised him with a party on his 80th birthday, and he was thrilled!
|Roy with his children; with his grandchildren; and his great-grandchildren
During a routing eye exam in 2000, Roy's ophthalmologist noticed something in his eyes that didn't seem right. He told Roy that the whites of his eyes were somewhat yellow, and that he should go to his primary care doctor and have it checked out. Roy did, and before he knew it he was having a bone marrow biopsy done. The results were not good. Roy had multiple myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Plasma cells are mostly found in the bone marrow. Virtually incurable, the prognosis is 3-5 years life expectancy. Roy, in typical form, told the doctor, "At my age if I get 3-5 more years I'll be doing good."
Side effects of the disease are low blood counts, anemia, fatigue and the inability to fight infection. It is interesting that all of these things also affected his son LeRoy once he contracted aplastic anemia. Roy was told that most likely it would not be the myeloma that would kills him but rather an infection. He was warned to keep away from crowds where the likelihood of contracting germs would be greater. Unfortunately, that meant he had to stop doing all the things he loved outside the home. His life became a series of doctors' visits, trips to receive transfusions, and short jaunts to the grocery store.
For the first year of his disease he lived on his own, and then his daughter Kathleen moved in with him for a couple of years. He spent the last 10 months alone by his choice, with hospice coming to the house in December of 2003. Kimberly had driven over to meet with the hospice coordinator, and also a real estate agent so that Roy could discuss putting his house on the market. It was decided to list the house once Roy passed.
And when it was all over, Roy was once again able to lie beside his beloved Catherine.