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Thomas Powers ICU


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I have not been a frequent poster to IFI for a while, but some will remember me from my earlier posts about metallurgy and heat treatment and years ago I was very active on some of the forums that preceded IFI. I have known Thomas since the Spring of 1997 when he invited me to come inside his tent and pick up a hammer. He was my first teacher and mentor of blacksmithing and metalworking history and I learned those skills from him while learning metallurgy in college. As a college student with little funds, he introduced me to the fine art of dumpster diving, flea markets and getting the most out of limited budget and resources. He provided countless rides to events in the Columbus and Dayton Ohio areas. Without his generosity and encouragement I would not be where I am today.

I had a very good chat with Thomas and his wife last night. Thomas is the same humorous, quirky and knowledgeable man I’ve always know. He was very alert and engaged during our entire conversation (probably 40 minutes). I have no updates on his prognosis. Both he and Joanne are very frustrated with the lack of communication on the part of the medical staff. At this point, friends and family who are able are coming to visit and both he and Joanne are looking forward to those visits in upcoming days. For those who do know Thomas personally, I do encourage you to call. I know they appreciate that support. Joanne has also mentioned the great blessing it has been to have the help of their local blacksmith community and students. It is good that they have friends and family close who can provided immediate physical assistance for them, but I am sure they need all the prayers and remote support they can get during this time.

Patrick Nowak

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First things first; to Frosty "Watch where the Huskies go...." 

Any way I will try to keep everyone updated and there are more details/rant below. Since I got a direct answer to Frosty's memorial on ice I wanted to share that. 

Thom - Student to Thomas - May the hair on his toes never fall off.



The journey continues. He was transported to the other hospital and they were told the neurosurgeon would see him, review his chart/situation and give a proper consultation.... When I spoke to them last night they had been at the hospital for a few hours and he had not showed up yet so no further updates on that front. 

I got to talk to his Vet last night and she gave me the go ahead to try and visit. I had been sticking to the phone but I will see if I can get in the door. Got a photo book from costco with pictures from over the years, want to hand that off. She also said if Thomas makes it back to home there is going to be a fine living wake... Then started talking about the drinks and glorious food they would have. Thomas had a few requests and suggestions, but we might draw the line at EVERCLEAR spiked eggnog. I think he wanted the heavy booze laden eggnog to be mixed with Everclear and well I don't know if you could still call it eggnog at that point. We also talked about different drinking games, so if you all have suggestions send them along. 

I asked about the transfer and all that and her statement was Thomas deserves to know the situation and the doctor should give it to him personally. It might be too late, the conversation should have been after the surgery and at this point weeks ago (has it been that long I don't know any more), but it should still happen. I cannot argue with that logic.  

Frosty's comment about blood sugar levels is another thing that they have had to deal with. They were checking blood sugar levels very rarely and despite the family pointing out it was too high, not checked often enough, and their sporadic use of insulin was confusing at best there was little to no change. I have been told that high is better than low (up to a certain point) so I just said they had more to focus on and let it go but it has been a thing across multiple floors and hospitals. 

<Rant section> <Yep it was not earlier that was my polite side.> Ok, I respect what they do and the high stress. I understand that they could be understaffed and that things might slip by due to priority. I can even understand supply chain issues and the fact ABQ is one of the host spots for medical needs a the moment... For feths sake when you admit bed ridden patient have a bedpan, pads, what ever the patient might need in the room. Even if it is in the closet/cupboards where a family member can apply them if necessary because things are too busy for you to do it. If there is an accident, as can happen, at least answer the call so it can be cleaned up promptly. Let the patient maintain as much dignity as possible. This is the second time in that hospital where something like this has happened and while they eventually did clean it up; it could have been avoided. sigh. It also sucks for who ever has to clean it up and passing the buck isn't cool. Yes, in the long run of things this is could be minor but it should still matter and a bit of preparation could prevent it. 



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Thank you for the update; I will try to call later. Did Thomas get his phone back?

One of the best drinking games I know is "This is a...". All parties sit in a circle, each one with an object in their hand or on the table in front of them. They turn to the person on their right and say "This is a ____" and name the object. They then turn to their left and say (to the person who just described their own object to them) "A what?" They then turn back to the person on their right and say, "A ____", naming again their own object. They then turn to their left again and say that person "A what?" and again back to the person on their right and say, "A ____" as before. Then they turn to the person on their left and say, "Oh! A ____!" and take that person's object at the same moment that the person to their right takes theirs. This repeats until a person makes a mistake, at which point they take a drink.

For example, a person might find themselves saying: "This is a card. A what? A card. A what? A card. Oh! A knife!" 

Things get really fun if you have objects that rhyme, like "stone" and "bone".

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Yay I get to be the Minion of Better News.

<Insert idealized small round minion creature doing a dance they think is cool>

  • Ok lets start with the Phone question.
    • Yes it has been recovered and should be getting charged so he can take calls in the near future.
  • Jo Ann has been reading these posts to him so all of your well wishes, jokes and stories have made it to him. (was told so I didn't read them all to him myself. The Mistress is so much kinder than the master some times.....)
  • Location -
    • At hospital A and should be moved out of the emergency room soon if not already done.
    • There were concerns because the area he is being moved it is heavily locked down due to COVID concerns but Management has guaranteed that Jo Ann will be able to visit and advocate for him. (We found out there are no patient advocates at that location)
    • This means we might not know if any one else can visit but Hey we got something.
  • Path forward (I might write how I imagined it went down at the end but keep to the facts for now)
    • The doctor had a discussion with the Vet...
    • They are working towards non surgical solutions.
    • First will be to install a stint to help drain excessive fluid. At this time it is believed that fluid is applying pressure and removing the fluid will be a great improvement. So they will remove the fluid and then install a stint to help remove fluid in the future.This could be occurring tomorrow or the 2nd I did not get solid confirmation but then again things keep shifting.
    • They were also talking about other things but I didn't get details. The major concern is these other things might not be available until the 12th which is a long way away.
    • This seems to be a good sign and some hope even if the family is guarded against hoping to much.
  • Photo Book and visit
    • Got the photo book to him and it was well received.
    • I got to visit and talk to him for a bit. He fell asleep sometimes and others was a little single minded and disruptive/not tracking the flow of conversation but he had great moments.
    • He told me about Patrick Nowak's dorm room. Building a work bench complete with post vice where his desk was supposed to go. Having his first anvil and all that.
    • Good stories and good jokes.
    • I got kicked out as they started to prepare him for the move and while the Vet was still negotiating with the doctor so more details might come forth later.

YIS Thom - Student of Thomas - May the clinker always fall through the twier and out of the forge.


PS. How I imagine the conversation started. This is my head cannon....

So Jo Ann waited for the doctor but eventually had to go home for some rest. Her daughter took her home and no sooner did they get out the door than the doctor appeared. He was there to convince Thomas about the surgery. He didn't see the shadow behind him. He didn't see a Vet trained to scruff the quickest cat. He didn't have a chance. So they had a nice discussion about this surgery and all of the options. From there they found non surgical therapy and she gave him time to schedule the appointments.

Today the appointments (Dec 12th) seemed to far out so she went to his office to be a thorn in his side and see if they could move some dates around. She can handle wild beasts, she can handle you.

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Thank you for the update.

Vets generally get the job done using the direct approach.  Personally saw one vet operate with the patient on one table and 3-4 books open on the another table beside it.  He spent several hours studying already, but if he had any questions, he wanted to be able to access the information without hesitation.  

Another vet we know had a patient with a dry eye socket.  He operated and saved the eye by moving a part of the salivary gland so it would lubricate the eye socket. 

Having a vet in Thomas's corner is a great addition to his health care.

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What Les said. 

Let Thomas know he is still needed here and we won't quit on him. 

Sorry I didn't make it to quad state to be able to meet him this year. 

Also tell him when he does pass I plan to forge a likeness of his red hat with antlers. If he wants to see it he better stick with us a bit longer and I'll make it sooner. Not sure what I will do with it. What animal would he like me to attach it to? Lol. What is Thomas's spirit animal?


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The work bench in the dorm room story:

While I was a student, the Welding Engineering department was given a brand new building. The old one, from the early 1900s, was going to be demolished and something new built in its place. A lot of things in that old building were not going to be taken to the new facility. At Thomas's urging, I'd made friends with the student workers and lab manager in the welding building and as they got ready to move I was told that anything left in the building marked with at "T" sticker was going to get tossed and was free to take. I started roaming the halls (both floors and the basement). I found 3 green wooden work benches, all with thick hard maple tops, 3 or 4 draws in the center and a large cubby on each side of center. I called Thomas to help move them as I had no vehicle at the time. We wrestled them down from the second floor and got them in his truck (a little white Toyota about the size of a Ford Ranger). I lived just off campus in a frat house so had a little bit more flexibilty with odd things in the room than I'd have been able to get away with in an on-camput dorm. As I recall, I was running late for a test by the time we got back to the frat house with that work bench. I recall taking in down a back set of exterior stairs to the lowest level of the building and making my room mate finish getting it into the room so I could get to the test. The room had been set up with alternating closet/desk tops down one wall; 3 closet spaces and two desks. The desks were just painted plywood screwed to cleats on the sides of the closet walls. I removed the plywood but found the desk was about 6 inches too long. I had to trim the top to fit, but I did. I still have that work bench. I did have an anvil in the room and a small soup can forge and a 4 or 5 inch post vise. I scrounged a lot of metal from that same building and that got stored under the bed. All this happened in my sophomore years and later. I didnt' have a lot of roommates. Only once did I have a housemate ask me to stop forging in the middle of the night, which I did. Most of the rest of the time those guys were either out partying or partying in the common room with music so loud I couldn't sleep anyway.

I have lots of other great stories of how Thomas helped me. Once I moved away from Columbus and he to New Mexico we only saw each other at Quad State and then only those years that he and Joann would make the trip. We kept in touch through email and the forums and have kept tabs on each other's families. I am pleased that he has been able to meet my children and see them grow just as I remember his daughters as little girls when I would visit his house in Columbus. 

I'm glad to hear of some positive changes with respect to communication from the doctor and the possibility of some addition relief via the fluid removal. 


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Thanks for the update Thom, something positive has lifted some weight off me. Hope and prayer at work.

Thanks for the story Patrick, sounds like good times. I always knew Thomas would make a good pirate or Viking raider. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Just saw this last night.

Prayers out for Mr. Powers and his family and friends. I would have enjoyed getting to meet and learning from him since he's in my area. I will make it a practice to read up on his posts to gain some insight to the man.

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Perhaps our jurists in residence should call the hospital administration for an update on mater Thomas’s condition. As medical error is the leading cause of death a gentle reminder than a very pair of very large hammers are ready to step up if the veterinarian and the Mistress are ignored.

“We are understaffed is not a viable excuse, hire more aids, and install in-house training programs to advance their training as they used to do. I love and respect my RN friends but I will never look down on an LPN who came up the hard way after working as an NA. 

TP, your sorry butt can’t pass until you sign my curmudgeon journeyman’s papers! At three Masters left standing we just barely have enough to form a quorum! So you have to hang around to nominate your replacement and see him/her installed! (Might I suggest Jenifer?! Give he a year after she opens her school to have the right additive!)

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I've been away from IFI since we lost Paw Paw. I got the news about Mr. Powers only very recently.

He was a HUGE inspiration in my own early journey into smithing. I learned a lot from him, as many of us have. I've always enjoyed our conversations, his intelligence and his wit.

Praying hard for him, his family and his loved ones. My deepest respect.

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Aiyiyi.  I am only just getting caught up on this subforum.  An NMABA member just called me as he was working through the "Tom's" on the membership list trying to find Thom, whose last name he couldn't remember.  We chatted a while about almost nothing, and only late in the call did he tell me the *reason* he was looking for Thom, which was the first inkling I'd had about all this.  He was hoping to get details on the status of Thomas Powers to share at the NMABA meeting on Saturday.

That sent me here only to find this thread. 

Thom, expect a call from Alex Ivey, if you haven't already gotten it.  I dug up your phone number for him.

Now I have an anvil to go ring.


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Charles, unfortunately I am not licensed to practice in NM and I am not an expert in medical malpractice but from what I have read this may well violate minimum accepted standards of care.  In particular, I am concerned that no one seems to have seen a pathology report or has heard from an oncologist.

That said, we are only getting reports about 3d or 4th hand and we don't know what has been said or not said to Joann or Thomas that we haven't heard about due in inadequate transmission or that it is confidential for the patient and his family.

That said, my experience, like others, has been that you have to stand up on your back legs and be a nuisance to get complete cooperation from medical folks.  You have to make it clear that cooperating with you is the lesser of possible evils.  I am not adverse to casually dropping in conversation that I am an attorney.  That will sometimes, and sometimes not, get their attention more that if I had mentioned that I am a blacksmith.  Also, the more you look and act like a "professional" the more you get cooperation from other professionals.  It is a sad commentary on our society that this is true.  Everyone, from ditch diggers to brain surgeons, should get cooperation and respect.


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My prayers and best wishes for Thomas and family.

It was Alex Ivey's post on Anvilfire that alerted me of this.

Thank-you to Thom and others for keeping us informed. 

Thom, again my thanks to you, and please pass on my thanks to the other Minions who've been helping Thomas, Jo Ann, and their family at this time.


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 Thom, thank you for the updates. The possibility of hospice was  mentioned earlier, has this happened? I don't know how to word this tactfully, but I get concerned when their name is mentioned. My wife worked in adult foster care for several years, she told me that she witnessed patients being over medicated by those people on several occasions. Sometimes the patient would get re-evaluated and found that there condition was not terminal. This may just be an issue in my part of the country, but under the circumstances of Thomas's care or lack of it, its one more thing for the family to keep an eye on.


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Not being a religious person, or that familiar with the inner workings of hospitals, I never know what to say in these situations.  All I can add to the well wishes and recommendations in the above is that I have greatly enjoyed, and learned from, Tom's contributions over the years I have participated on this forum.  I almost ran into him at SOFA the one time I got out to that Ohio Hammer in, but he was too occupied with tailgating and chatting with friends for me to interject.  Now I wish I had made more of an effort, though it is possible I wasn't sure who it was at the time and only learned afterwards that it was Thomas based on his iconic hat.

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Good morning.

I will start with an update and then see if I can answer some of these questions.

Thomas has been transferred back to hospital b. This is beneficial because one there will be no argument about visitation. Is allowed to maximum of two visitors and they're working with Jo Anne. :) (Hospital a is a rant for another time) 

This transfer helps him get appointments and potential treatment much sooner than at the other location. (Rant about jumping him back and forth due to where specific specialist are)

The current plan is to try these treatments before trying anything else, like the stint mentioned earlier. As I said things are shifting consistently and as someone else mentioned yes this is third or fourth hand even though I'm getting it from Jo Anne.

Thus ends the update.

Thom - student to Thomas - May the traps set around the shop never go off accidentally. 

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TommyVee - Alex did call last night and I gave him a run down and told him I will be at this weekends meeting to give an update and have paper for people to write well wishes, stories, etc. 

George N M - agee with your statements. The "reason" they eventually gave about not hearing from oncology etc. - Thomas was the point of contact. They were calling his phone and trying to talk to him about setting up appointments etc..... End result is they are now supposed to contact and work with Jo Ann..... (Many thoughts and words but at least we are getting better results.)

Lary - hospice was used by Jo Ann early on. She was talking about making sure Thomas was comfortable, the family was not wanting to put Thomas through any more surgeries and/or isolation. Since then new options were finally put forth and they are working towards that. The hope is he is eventually released from the hospital into family care. We were almost there once we hope to get there again. Some times it seems like he has very little time. Other times we dare to hope into months or beyond. It has been a rollercoaster. The hospice information came at a low point and I was told it was ok to propagate it so people could prepare. I am glad we are looking beyond that for now. (Side note: Jo Ann did say she would research before chosing a place because I had some pointed questions about it.) 


I hope that clears things up. 

Thom - student of Thomas - May his minions always stay aware of the traps around his shop. 

1 minute ago, JHCC said:

Thanks again, Thom.

Any word on the missing phone?

He should have it back and it is hopefully charged. 

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Thanks again Thom. I cringe when I hear Hospice, my paternal Grandmother put herself in hospice care, it was like her life long dream or something. As far back as I can remember the first thing she said to my Brother, Sisters and I was, "I'm glad I got to see you one more time before I die." Yeah, every single time for the 40+ years I was old enough to remember things like that. she was an odd old bird. Anyway, she went in old but healthy and lasted maybe 4 months, her living will specified DNR, no autopsy, etc. so we'll never know what actually ended her life. Not that she would've objected you understand. We don't but . . .

Glad things are getting straightened out with the hospitals and better care. I would've found it hard to believe any institution would put the patient in for emergency brain surgery down as prime contact. Then again I have too many examples like my endocrinologist's office staff as examples to expect better. 

Tell Thomas I said to make sure any nurse's butt he pinches is of appropriate gender. :ph34r:

Still praying, I'll see if the curling club will dedicate the games in his honor Sunday night.  Hmmm, I'd better put the dry erase marker in my curling bag now so I don't forget and can name a curling rock Thomas. 

Frosty The Lucky.


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