CHRISTMAS LETTER – 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

In order to keep you entertained, we are resuming our annual holiday newsletter.  There are exciting things happening with the Schmalshofs in GA.  Following the sale of our house and retirement to the lovely land of campfires and cheap living, we traded our years-long, tangle-fraught relationship with DirecTV in favor of no-commercials, instant-choice Neflix [cheap also].

We became obsessed with medicine before we realized what had come over us.  We started innocently with Nurse Jackie.  Following 60 plus episodes we were no longer innocent, in every way.  Wow, those TV medical professionals have a lot of on-the-job leisure to “engage”, so to speak.  Next we took a sampling of British medicine with Doc Marten.  His bedside manner really appealed to Deb. She is not your first choice, or second or third, for sympathetic medical attention.  Following an ambitious run with Grey’s Anatomy, then Private Practice and Royal Pains, we realized we had actually earned an Associates Degree in Medicine virtually by osmosis.

We were delighted at all we felt qualified to offer any time an emergency occurred.  You can imagine how relieved the paramedics, called for John, became when we gave symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for the drive to the local ER.  If you had seen their faces, you would have really enjoyed their enthusiasm.

As we immersed ourselves in Royal Pains, we came to realize that all those expensive hospital machines were as portable as a power tool but quite a bit more expensive.  It was a light bulb moment for us when we decided to DIY the ones we deemed most useful.  I mean we ARE project people.  Why not build our own mobile units?  No need for manuals or training, we can just adjust as we build, trial and error.  [trial and error – MAGIC WORDS].

Our defibrillator is fantastic [and they use them so often on all those medical shows], one of John’s new favorite tools.  Deb wasn’t as enthusiastic during the trial phase, sort of on and off, so to speak.  She’s more enthusiastic now……well, more alert.  The design is quite simple for any DIYer.  You need a 12V car battery [Any brand is fine. John adds that for kids, you probably should use a lawn mower battery – size is important], jumper cables modified with metal kitchen spatulas [the BBQ kind are great, again find smaller versions for the kid size unit], in place of the alligator clips, an adjustable volt meter wired between the jumpers and the battery and a tester.  Deb recommends an inanimate object if at all possible.  Once you have it adjusted, it works great.  I mean it really makes the patient jump up and take notice.  We can ‘save’ several people at a time if we lash their wrists together ‘in series’.

We are currently [don’t you just love puns!] working on a portable Xray machine.  It is not fine-tuned, but close.  John used some microwave components, an oscillator from one of his golf club greens fans, a couple of small hydraulic cylinders and just for visual effect [no help to the patient, but they are a bit dazzled] a portable strobe unit.

We have resourced a large animal vet sling to modify for our mobile CAT scan.  We are searching for a used global altimeter/boat propeller/gyroscopic potentiometer John can incorporate onto a ramp style open trailer for portability.  We thought of using an enclosed trailer, but realized right away that the radiation wouldn’t be able to escape, so an open trailer was the answer.  Just need to think these things through and we are great at that.

We had Joan and Robert [cousins on the Schmalshof side] visit this summer on their way to Florida.  Knowing they were coming, we were excited to try a couple of our DIY devices on them – just for demo purposes.  Surprise, surprise, Joan explained that they were the ‘perfect picture of health’.  Most people have an ache or pain somewhere, but she was right.  We took them out for Thai food and to get ‘ions’ off some huge waterfalls while driving the most curvy mountain roads and they didn’t even get a tummy grumble.  Sadly we didn’t get to show off our projects.

We are going to finish the mobile CAT scan and take on a couple more things.  If you are traveling and feeling poorly [or want to], please stop by.  We will be ready and waiting.  We are DIY specialists and cannot take insurance. Cash or personal check is fine.

Merry Christmas,

Lots of Humor and Love……Lots of Love,  Deb n John

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