This is Ashley’s own story, reblogged from her blog AshleysHeartJourney.  


Happy 2 Weeks Post-Transplant!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW! These past two weeks have been crazy and I feel like nothing has really happened to me. However, something BIG has happened!!! If you remember me telling you on the last blog about Al-J getting his new heart on the 10th and my mom happy, but upset because she wanted […]

The Story So Far …

img_5454I am often asked: what is The Fever about?
It’s about Sam. All you really need to know about Sam is that his life revolves around a cryptic riddle and the mystery of a lost gold mine.
Here’s a tidbit one of my readers recently shared.  Women love Sam.  Readers, I mean.  Men enjoy the story but women seem to get involved with it.
I have to admit, never expected that when I cobbled this idea together into a novel.
Back to the story:  As Sam struggles to solve the riddle, he knows deep in his heart that the clues will eventually lead him to his treasure, but his obsession has always resulted in frustrating dead ends and the danger increases every time he heads out into the unknown.
Still, he continues to trespasses over difficult terrain in all weather conditions, always seeking an elusive truth he knows is out there … somewhere.
His fruitless obsession has alienated family and friends and he even lost the woman he loved.   For what?  Something that is always just out of reach, somewhere beyond the next ridge or up the next gully.
As he manages to piece together the clues, his simmering gold fever begins to burns hot, unleashing a passion that drives him to make yet another hazardous trip into the rugged and remote West Texas wilderness.
The Fever drives him on … but how far will his lust for gold take him?
Go for the gold:

Missing Texas …

imageI saw this photo today on Facebook. Okay, I blatantly borrowed it from a page called Texas Pride.  There, I cited it.  Great page, I am happy I found it.  This is a springtime picture from near Ennis, TX.

It just reminds me how much I miss Texas.  I have a saying: Life Intervenes.  That is pretty much the story so far … my life has intervened to the point where I sit across the country and look at pictures of springtime bluebonnets and, well … you have to sometimes say, aw, shucks.

Don’t get me wrong, where I live is okay.  It’ll do.  Locals would likely feel the same way I do now if they uprooted themselves and put themselves someplace else, even Texas.  I’ve lived in a number of different places and, really, I’ve found that life is about 90% similar just about everywhere.

When you get someplace new, you have to figure out where to get good hamburgers and which stores have the best deals.   It might rain too much or not rain enough.  Then you have to figure out the seasons …  winter …  Is there one?  Or is it too much?  Same with summer.

But no matter where I live … Texas is home.  It always will be for me.  That’s probably why I write about Texas …  I mean, in my novels.   The story in The Fever stretches from Austin and Houston to West Texas  and back again, and I tried to weave the plot around a real piece of Texas lore that added some mystery and suspense.  People seem to like it.  Most of the reviews reflect on the general “Texas” feeling I tried to impart so I guess it was successful in that regard.  Give it a try … experience some Texas Fever, like I’m feeling today …

Transplants … Fascinating

Albert Jefferies (Al-J) and Ashley Larimore continue to recover from last week’s back-to-back heart transplants. Both of these brave young people have endured a lifetime of health problems and now have a chance to change that. They both still have a ways to go … it is major surgery and like any major surgery they have some serious recovery time. I continue to remember them both in my prayers and wish them the best.

This weekend I found myself contemplating why I was so fascinated with these two stories. It was pure happenstance that I even found out about Al-J, and Ashley came to my attention because she responded to Al-J’s story like a lot of people did … but in her case it was to tell him that he was not alone, she was in the same situation.

Anyway, I am surprised I hadn’t thought about this before, but I have several coincidences in my past that serve to link me to things involving transplants. I just didn’t consciously put them all together until this weekend.

Well, I actually had thought about the most recent coincidence. This was my on-line friendship with Susan Steinsapir. Hers was likely one of the first heart disease/transplant stories that was chronicled in depth on-line. The world-wide internet community rallied around her, there were even articles written about the power of the internet bringing people together for this one common purpose. A bunch of us knew her from postings on internet interest groups called newsgroups. She kept us informed of her status via emails, and eventually web pages popped up. Compared to today, it was quite primitive, but we keep up with her case in almost real-time. But her case also had a sad ending … it turned out she was simply too ill to survive the operation. That was twenty years ago this past January. You can read about her on this tribute page a mutual friend has kept since that time: (given the age .. some links may no longer be valid).

But there were three other coincidences in my life I hadn’t considered in this context. For some reason these all popped into my mind this weekend.

Two of the most famous pioneers in the realm of heart surgery worked in my hometown, Houston, Texas: Doctors Denton Cooley and Michael DeBakey. When the first heart transplant was announced in 1967, by Dr. Christiaan Barnard, I was fascinated by it. I read everything I could and local news stories concentrated on the two famous local surgeons.

The first coincidence … I went to grade school with Dr. Cooley’s daughter for a while. It’s true. Okay, I hardly knew her but we were in the same class! I didn’t realize that until after his first transplant, but I still remember her. Okay, it is pretty lame, but it IS a coincidence, right?

After Barnaard’s transplant, there were several transplants in the US, but Dr. Cooley completed what is regarded as the first successful heart transplant in May of 1968, when he operated on a gentleman by the name of Everett Thomas. Mr. Thomas lived for about seven months with that heart. Without the transplant he would have been dead in days. The reason I remember this was for one simple reason. Like I said, I was fascinated with the subject … so I had kept up with the news and read everything I could about his progress. Shortly after I read that Mr. Thomas had been released from the hospital and was living in Houston to be close to Dr. Cooley, I went to Catholic Mass one morning. I liked to get up and walk to the early service. This one Sunday morning, a family filed into a pew two rows ahead of me. It was Everett Thomas. I recognized him because of my fascination with the story and had seen his picture dozens of times. I respected their privacy and after Mass they quietly filed out of the church with their secret intact. I never saw them again at that service. In reality I was too shy to have ever even thought about approaching him, but I was amazed that here was this famous guy, with somebody else’s heart, sitting almost within arm’s reach. It had quite an impact on my fifteen year old brain.
Okay, third coincidence … years later I worked closely with a woman … we shared an office for seven or eight years. Years earlier she had been a secretary for Dr. DeBakey. I mean, she worked for him for years. She knew him. He called her by her first name. Sure, for me it was an association removed by a couple of degrees, but how strange is that … two associations with two famous heart surgeons?

Okay, so maybe I’m stretching the psychological boundaries of newsworthy fascinations, but who cares? I will continue to check on the progress of my newest heroes, Al-J and Ashley. Their recovery continues … small issues with blood pressure and pain, so everybody keep the prayers up. These kids deserve a long and happy life.
Keep up with Al-J here:
Ashley’s Heart Journey FB page:

Transplant Update

My pal Albert Jefferies, aka AlJ, is out of surgery and in recovery.   

Bear in mind that although heart transplants seem very routine and commonplace, it is major surgery. But AlJ is young and he has a great team working around the clock to give him excellent care.  And his mom, Tina … Let me tell you, if I ever have some trouble I want her fighting on my side.  The force is strong with this one. 

Just remember, AlJ and his family will continue to need your prayers and support. 

More info on #teamalj here:

Keep Pounding!

Hopeful News

  I’ve shared about Albert Jefferies … aka AlJ … and his long wait for a new heart. Today we have some hopeful news.  

His mother, Tina Turner, reports via Facebook:  



I agree, keep AlJ in your thoughts and prayers.  

Keep fighting, AlJ!!!!!


I’m giving away two kindle copies of my novel , The Fever. 

I think one has already gone so one left.  Go for it. Follow me on Twitter.

The Sequel

People keep asking me about the sequel to The Fever. 

Both the initial draft and first revision pass are complete.  I’m about a third of the way through a second pass, firmly in what I call “who the heck wrote this crap?” mode. 

Bear in mind that I have made just enough money on The Fever to definitely NOT quit my day job, so it is slow going.  

But it is coming along, with more than a few surprises.  Stay tuned!

A Domain!

imageMy cat Cookie is relieved!

I finally decided to go with my own domain.

Sadly, thomasfenske-dot-com was already in use.
No, seriously, it was.  Kudos to you,  thomas fenske, wherever you are.

Then I thought about my long-time handle, thefensk … it is a user name, it is an email handle, it is even my twitter handle … why not  use it as a unique and catchy domain name?

So, was born.  I think Cookie approves.

In case you were wondering, my name is pronounced Fence-key … but going way back some people seemed to call me Fensk … not that I liked it, but I tolerated it.
in the early days of the internet (I’ve been on it since long before Al Gore ever heard of it) I could easily use fenske as a username.  But there are more of us than you might think and it wasn’t long before variations were needed.  It is not a common name but it is not rare either.  Once, on some site, “thefensk” was one of the suggested usernames and I sort of liked the idea of it.  The suggestion came about, I’m sure, due to my first name and middle initial .. THomas E FENSKe … thefensk.  I liked it.

So there it is … same website (for now) but I will be updating it very soon. … use whatever you want.