Category: Newspaper Columns

Newspaper columns that I have written for the Fern Ridge Review in Veneta, Oregon and the Creswell Chronicle in Creswell, Oregon. I began writing them for the Fern Ridge Review on August 4, 2010; on December 6, 2012, the Creswell Chronicle began printing them, as well. I am still the Lorane columnist for both papers.

Sweet Lorane Community News, August 15, 2019

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
August 15, 2019
By Pat Edwards

It’s been a while since I reported anything about Jim’s and my adventures since his accident that fractured his pelvis in three places last April. Amazingly, he was able to enjoy our 11-day vacation to Washington, D.C., thanks to the wonderful ADA accommodations and the use of both a walker and his mobility power scooter. A few weeks after we returned home, he declared his independence and he began driving his pickup to the store each morning. He also began making a few trips to town in the early mornings before the store opened to pick up groceries again by himself. The ritual of my joining him in these activities and the closeness we revisited in doing them together had become one I was enjoying. My “termination” left me free to resume my writing and publishing, but I sadly missed those early morning hours when we provided what needed to be done for the store together.

Jim was doing quite well and had graduated to using a cane, when a pinched nerve in his back began causing him intense pain in his right leg. He had addressed the same condition about 4 years ago by getting an epidural injection which amazingly had freed him of the pain for all of those years. Now it is back… probably caused by the fall that broke his pelvis, according to one of his doctors.

About a month and a half ago, his PCP referred him to a neurologist specializing in pain management in hopes a second epidural would once again do the trick. Unfortunately, they can’t get him scheduled until September. The pain has been increasing and, about 2 weeks ago, I had to take him to the RiverBend ER because it had reached the point where my super-hero husband who never admits to pain, was rating his as a 7 or 8 on the 10-point pain scale. He was put on muscle-relaxers and a daily pain patch which helped a bit, but he is back to using his walker and is obviously still in pain much of the time. Calls to get him put on a cancellation list for an earlier appointment and then to plead with the neurologist to get him in sooner have not helped.

Our daughters received a text message from a friend and long-time customer at our store the other day, asking them to check on their dad at the store because she could tell how much pain he was in and said that he could barely walk, but she knew he would not ask for help. She ended her note with, “He’s such a stubborn s…!” Others, too, have expressed the same sentiment and concern.

This all leads to my own frustrated concern about the state of our healthcare system these days. I don’t know what the solution is, but it seems that if you are on Medicare, especially, you cannot even get in to see your PCP for weeks, if not months. Urgent care or walk-in clinics are the norm now. I think we see our PCP only about once a year because the insurance company requires an annual wellness check.

Even for non-Medicare patients, medical insurance companies, which are not usually run by M.D.s, dictate what care you can receive and when. Our son has been suffering with excruciating pain from a disc problem in his neck for a long time. He could not sleep lying down and was up several times a night to take hot showers which were the only things that helped to relieve the pain even somewhat. He steadfastly didn’t want to take long-term opioids for the pain, so he has refused that help. So, before he was able to be approved for the surgery which was being highly recommended by his doctors, he had to jump through hoops of having physical therapy, acupuncture and other non-invasive treatments which did nothing to relieve it.

I mourn the days when we had a family doctor who delivered all of our babies and knew everything about each one of us without reading a chart. We could call for an appointment and if they were really busy that day, they either made room or we’d see them the next day at the latest. They really cared about “us” as individuals.

Yes, the age of specialization has added years to the average life-expectancy, I’m sure, but at what cost?

Most of today’s doctors care, too, but they are so specialized now and so restricted by the oversight of the medical insurance industry, that frequently their hands are tied, and we must suffer.

September cannot roll around soon enough for Jim and me.

Sweet Lorane Community News, July 25, 2019

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
July 25, 2019
By Pat Edwards

In early August, 2015, we were in the news… and not in a good way. A fire had broken out along Territorial Road south of Lorane and caught the hillside between the Mitchell and Matchulat properties on fire. The blaze consumed over 180 acres and was finally contained after coming within 75 feet of the Matchulat home.

The containment took the efforts of many from around Lane County, but my column that week, focused on the local heroes who were there to deal with it.

I’d like to share some of that with you today following the news this past week of another similar fire that broke out near Fire Road and was determined to be caused by human negligence. Fortunately, it was contained within a few hours, but again, our community members were ready to evacuate livestock if needed and do whatever it took to keep us safe.

August 14, 2015
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“…The fire has been determined to be human-caused and started along the roadway on South Territorial Road just north of the Matchulat home. It quickly spread through dry grass and into a group of trees near the home and began racing up the hill next to the house. Lorane resident, Cherie Lutman, called 911 and then made a call to lifetime Lorane resident, Gary Thompson since she couldn’t rouse the Matchulats. Gary and his wife Lil rushed to the blaze and immediately saw that it was heading towards the Matchulat’s house. Gary turned on hoses and climbed to the roof of the house. He and Lil sprayed down everything as they watched the fire get closer and closer. The Lorane Fire Department volunteers and air support were soon there and they began the work of keeping the fire at bay. With the help of others who had arrived, they went inside and collected as many of the Matchulat’s photos and personal items as they could in case they were not able to save the house. Without the Thompsons’ quick thinking and their concern for their friends and neighbors, that could easily have been the outcome.

“Fortunately, with the barrage of water dumps from the air and fire hoses on the ground, the fire’s force focused on the trees and the dry grass above the house and the immediate danger was over. But, Gary and Lil and others who had arrived, stayed on the scene to make sure that stray embers from the burgeoning fire did not land on the roof.

“In the meantime, crews from the Western Lane division of the Oregon Department of Forestry began trying to contain the fire. They put out a priority alert and other crews began arriving from as far away as McKenzie and Lowell Fire Districts. Helicopters and air tankers continued dumping water and retardants on the fire. Local resident, Bruce McDonald, and others who had cats and heavy equipment began working on a fire line to try and keep the fire from spreading. The next day, more crews arrived. One of them, in five trucks, pulled into our store parking lot to get supplies before heading for the fire. They had been fighting the large Southern Oregon fire near Glide and their clothes still were fragrant with the smell of smoke. But, they knew that they were needed here, so they came.

“We have a lot of heroes to thank… not only Cherie, Gary, Lil, Bruce and all of the local and out-of-area firefighters, but all of the people who were glued to their computers, reading and commenting on breaking news about the fire… the ones sending prayers and thanks to all who were working so hard to save the lives and homes of our residents. I have a special soft-spot in my heart for those who offered help in the form of providing food and drink for the firefighters, making trailers and transportation available for threatened livestock and beds for anyone who became displaced by the fire. All are heroes in my estimation.

“I’m very proud of our community and of all of those who showed their concern. Thank you!”

Please use caution this summer. It is not as hot and dry as it was in 2015, but the fire danger is listed as “moderate” and all activities using gas or spark-emitting equipment are prohibited between the hours of 1:00 and 8:00 p.m. currently.

Remember the fire of 2015. Let’s not allow this to happen again in our community. Be safe everyone!