This is not easy for me to write

Three years ago at Rollercon I found I couldn’t walk to and from the exhibit area without having to stop to rest.  I just attributed it to getting old.

When I returned home, it was time for my annual physical checkup,  and after running the usual tests Dr. Mishra suggested I see a pulmonologist, and he set up an appointment with Dr. Massoumi.  After a thorough examination it was determined I had pulmonary fibrosis; I was shocked, I have never smoked in my life, and allergy tests could find no really source, so I have ideapathic (meaning they don’t know why) pulmonary fibrosis.  My immune system thinks my lungs are being attacked, so it is shutting down the openings that let the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.  My lungs are operating at far less than they should….a thorough examination at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco confirmed the diagnosis.

There is no cure for the disease.  I am on oxygen 24/7 and the amount I need is increasing; luckily there are portable units so deliver it.  I have been taking a “miracle” drug Ofav, which while it doesn’t cure, it is supposed to slow the disease.  I take two pills a day, at the cost of $157 each (or about $9500 a month) which luckily is covered by Medicare and a grant.

At my last visit to Dr Massoumi a few weeks ago my weight was down to about 145 pounds, reflecting a loss of about 50 plus pounds…..I have to force myself to eat.  Tests results reflected what was happening, and I asked if I should assume I am in my last year.  He said that probably would be a good idea.

With the help of my family and others, I have been getting all in order.

I am not changing my behavior at all.  I won’t dwell on this and have no fear of death.  I will continue to try and help others as well as remain my usual personna on social media.  I love all my friends and will try to keep it interesting for you, but my main objective as always is to reflect my personal feelings at the particular moment I am writing.

I am in no pain and just have to be aware of the low oxygen level of my blood, and how to keep it raised.  Eventually the complete oxygen starvation will occur.  Lungs transplant are out of the question, and there is no stem cell treatment.

I have had a great and interesting life (check out posts on, see promoting always), and love my family, children and grandchildren, and the others who have brought me to this point.

Do not feel sorry.  Please do not avoid me; that would be terrible.  But don’t expect me to be anyone different.

Just thought you would like to know the facts.

60 years ago Roller Derby reappeared in a most unlikely way.

In 1958 a strange series of occurrences led to the re-emergence of Roller Derby … and if they hadn’t you wouldn’t have today’s  different versions on the scene.

The game had worn out its welcome on ABC after being on the air every week for over 5 years.  A major problem was the network insisted that there be at least a game a week available to telecast: often as many as three.  So the season would end with the championships at Madison Square Garden, and the new season would start the next week!  Imagine if that were required for any other sport!

So after moving the operation to the West Coast, Leo Seltzer decided the effort was no longer worth the reward and was shutting it down.  Meanwhile Jerry Seltzer who was moonlighting as a trackside announcer found out that a new independent television station was coming on the air in the San Francisco Bay Area and had contacted General Manager Ward Ingrahm about providing the derby as possible programming.  Leo was not interested, but told Jerry that if he wanted to operate the game, he would let him use the track, uniforms, etc, but wouldn’t back the project.

At that same time (karma!) an engineer down the Peninsula had developed videotape at Ampex in Redwood city: suddenly now programming could be taped with very high fidelity and reshown…This was crucial to the future success of the game.

So Roller Derby first appeared on KTVU on Saturday night as a live event, with the Bay Bombers skating a studio like game from a former auto repair shop on East 14th Street in Oakland.  And the last hour would be reshown on Saturday morning to reach a different audience, via the new videotape.

The program (later moved to Sunday night) drew fans from all over northern California and games were scheduled in over a dozen cities in the region….and because of demand for the programming in other regions of the county, the videotapes eventually appeared on over 100 stations in the US and Canada, and live games in all major arenas (and major stadiums) drew huge crowds: record setting 19,507 in Madison Square Garden in New York, and over 50,000 at White Sox Park in Chicago.

Because of the gas crisis in 1972 and other issues, the International Roller Derby League shut down in 1973, but videos of the game were now appearing on tapes, and eventually on cable.  And April Ritzenhaler in Texas saw some of these, and with others in Austin formed Texas Roller Derby, a banked track game for women in 2002.  Eventually a group of players broke away to form a flat track game, and the Texas Rollergirls were born….eventually derby spread to many other cities and countries, and today there are approximately 2000 leagues around the world.

All traceable to KTVU, videotape, and a few other factors.  Below Jerry Seltzer and Walt Harris, the national voice of Roller Derby, talk about the good old days.