It has been awhile since my last post and figured I would bring you all up to speed on the latest. (It won’t take that long.)
In no meaningful order…..
Overall, I’m doing OK. My throat is not hurting as much so I’m weaning myself off methadone, taking one pill a day instead of two. I will do this for a couple of weeks and go to an every other day kind of thing. So throat is doing OK.
Hair – my hairdresser is doing what she can to blend in the absence of hair at the back of my head with what is there. It still sort of looks like Johnny Knoxville from Jackass buzzed my head with a razor but maybe its not so noticeable now? (Thanks Deanna!)
Appetite – The good news is that my appetite is returning. I can eat most things I used to eat. The bad news is that my taste buds are still out of whack. What is delicious this week tastes horrible the next. Also, ketchup tastes like Tabasco to me. I was not an exotic food kind of guy before all this started but I’m sure not one now. Spicy is a no-no.
Weight – While my appetite is returning, the weight is still staying off. I still weigh around 155 lbs, about 30 lbs less than my normal weight and about 35 lbs less than I weighed when all this started back in February. People tell me that it will come back and I’m sure it will. I’m not really worried about how much I weigh. I figure about 175-180 is probably where I need to be. What is aggravating me right now about all of this is the lack of muscle mass. I wasn’t Charles Atlas when this began but my arms and legs have atrophied to the point where I can lift about half of what I used to. The muscles in my back scream at me toward the end of the day because I am slumping over and this is causing them to be out of whack due to the lack of support. I’m able to go to the gym 2-3 times a week and am slowly trying to build up some strength. At the end of the day, I am very fatigued and, no pun intended, am very tired of that. Also, a side effect of the side effect… (a side-side effect?) is that with the lack of weight, I get cold awful quickly. My kids laugh at me for wearing a sweatshirt when it is 75 degrees outside. I envy Mr Rogers for wearing those cardigans.
Dry Mouth – still here… always will be. I look like I have a water bottle permanently glued to my hand. Sometimes I feel like Tom Hanks at the end of the movie “Castaway” when he is driving around in his Jeep with about three cases of different kinds of water with him. It’s become part of my check routine whenever I go somewhere… KEYS? Check! Billfold? Check! Phone? Check! Water? Check!
As mentioned… fatigue is one of them. I’m working on that and hopefully will be able to build up some muscle fitness over the next few weeks and am thinking this will not be an issue in the near future. (Right?)
Dizziness – this is probably the main issue I’m dealing with right now and the most aggravating. Whenever I am sitting and stand up to go somewhere, a wave of dizziness comes over me. Usually, I have to grab onto something for some support. I asked my Chemo Dr about this when I saw him last about three weeks ago and he laughed and said it was due to old age. Thanks Doc. Great diagnosis. It has become troublesome enough that I reached out to my cardiologist last week. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t heart related. It’s not. My heart is fine. My Cardiologist believes it is due to dehydration. While I am drinking 2-3 liters of water a day, he wants me to drink more Gatorade due to the electrolytes. That is all well and good but anything acidic like Gatorade tastes horrible to me. It has been suggested that I use the powder kind to dilute it and make it more palatable. I still haven’t found the magic formula yet. This issue has drastically risen up the “Need to be Addressed” scale as last night when I got up from the couch to go into the kitchen, the wave of dizziness started to wash over me and I grabbed onto one of the kitchen stools and the next thing I know, my daughter is standing over me while I am on the floor asking me if I’m OK. I don’t remember falling, or bringing the kitchen stool with me or the noise I’m sure I made. Soooo… appt to see my GP later today and probably will start a series of IV fluids to bring my levels back up to where they need to be. Nothing like passing out to get your attention!
The other minor things are things like every night, I have to put this fluoride gel into an upper and lower mouthpiece and wear them for five minutes…. every day…. for the rest of my life. They told me the radiation pretty much killed the white blood cells in my jaw and if I don’t do this, within a couple of years my jaw becomes necrotic and will eventually fall off. Five minutes a day you say?? That’s not so bad.
Overall, I’m doing pretty well. Especially when you consider the alternative. Whenever I start having a pity party for myself I think about some of the people i met in Gainesville that were worse off and two of my friends that are going through a worse ordeal than I did so it humbles me pretty quickly.
I go for a regular check up with my Chemo Dr in about three weeks. Just a routine check up. I’m sure he will monitor the methadone intake and make suggestions. I have a PET scan scheduled for the first week in July. As I said in a previous post, a CAT scan takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. A PET scan takes about 3-4 hours to complete and is more in-depth. I will have to get one of those every four months.
I think that is it. Nothing really more to report. Oh…one other small thing… I had my first beer in over 4 months this past weekend. It did not burn my throat but it also didn’t glide down it either. However, I think that is a significant step forward. Right? Anyway, I haven’t been writing because of things being busy at home and there really hasn’t been anything to report but I will try and write more regularly. Which brings us to….
UNRELATED STORY TIME!
As you know, these stories have absolutely nothing to do with my cancer treatment or recovery. They are all PG-13 or below. They do help me emotionally, as they make me laugh when I think of them. I hope you find them entertaining as well.
In the last story, I wrote how in the Dallas Police Department when an incident occurs of possible wrong-doing by an officer, the officer involved is usually ordered to “write a letter”. This letter is his side of the story and is an official government document. It is used by the primary supervisor to determine if the incident is dismissed, handled at the station level (not involving Internal Affairs) or needs to be upgraded to a more serious level and involve Internal Affairs. ”Writing a letter” is an art form. For the officer involved, a good letter can be the difference in a dismissed incident or some possible days off. Usually, the younger officers write waaayyy more than they should and sometimes make things worse. Of course ,the senior officers, referred to as “Old Heads” can usually write one hell of a letter. This is a story about such a letter……
In past blogs, I have written about one of my trainers, “Dirty” Joe McCrary. Dirty Joe was a legend before he trained me. Almost in an infamous way. He was a scoundrel. Everyone knew who he was because he always wore “his lid” (hat) when no one else did. Of course, he made his rookies wear theirs as well. When I pointed out that the Dallas Police General Orders outlined the times when an officer was supposed to wear “his lid” and it did not include regular patrol, Joe replied, “Them ain’t Joe’s orders.” I asked him one day why he wore his lid all the time and he told me the story about how one day long ago when a police officer was supposed ot wear his hat all the time, even while driving, there was a bank robbery that involved two suspects and through some magnificent feats of heroism, he captured both of them. He was given a commendation for capturing the suspects and a written reprimand for doing it without wearing his hat. This was his way to thumb his nose at the system.
(For past stories about Dirty Joe, you can go back and look at previous blogs)
One day, long after I was done with training, Dirty Joe was working by himself. As he was patrolling during the day on a road called Harry Hines Blvd, he noticed a female in distress. (Joe seemed to always find females in distress.) He stopped and got out of his car to assist her. It turns out, the female had locked her keys in her car and could this nice, brave, handsome officer possibly help her? Well absolutely! Even though it was frowned upon for police officers to help people by using a “slim jim” to open the doors of locked cars because with newer cars. the slim jim can damage the electric locks and the officer and department can be, and has in the past, be sued for damages. Now while this was frowned upon, that was not going to stop Joe from being the hero for the day. (As Joe was telling me this story, I asked him if the girl was cute? He gave me “that look” and said…. “Have you ever known me to help a girl that wasn’t cute?”)
So while Joe is helping the distressed female unlock her car, another car quickly pulled up to a stop by Joe and a man jumped out and approached Joe and said… “Officer Officer, there has been a bad wreck up the road,. People are hurt. You must leave now and go help!” Now a couple of things… first… Joe never got in a hurry to do anything. Secondly, no citizen EVER told Joe what to do and how fast he should do something. Besides, as Joe told me later, he still had not gotten the phone number of the female in distress. However, Joe did get on his radio and tell the dispatcher about what the citizen reported, ordered an ambulance, and an Accident Investigator came over the radio and said he was enroute.
Just a quick note… the Dallas Police Department has a Traffic Division. It consists of “Motor Jocks”. These guys ride the motorcycles, have the big shiny boots, mirrored sunglasses, and write a whole bunch of tickets. Also in the Traffic Division is the DWI squad as well as “Accident Investigators”. These A&I’s work major accidents (those with injuries). There aren’t a whole lot of them and if they are unavailable, then the patrol officer is required to work the accident. However, in this case, an A&I said he was on his way. Usually when that happened, the patrol officer helps him out but the A&I does the majority of the work.
So Joe orders an ambulance, hears that an A&I is on his way, so he decides to take a few more minutes to get this lovely female’s phone number. Meanwhile the citizen that originally told Joe about the accident is some kind of perturbed that Joe does not seem to be in a big hurry so he decides to wait for Joe. Joe sees him but again, this citizen is not going to rush Joe. After a few minutes… Joe, having opened the females locked door and probably has received her phone number, gets in his car and drives up the road to the scene of the accident. Sure enough, there was one there. The ambulance has already come and gone to the hospital with one of the people involved, the Accident Investigator has been there for awhile and is working the wreck, and there is not a lot for Joe to do so he begins laying out flares and generally helping out. Meanwhile the citizen has followed Joe to the scene and is none too happy and decides to call the station to complain on Joe.
After Joe is finished with the accident, he gets a call to report to the station. He gets there and is greeted by the station Sergeant, Sgt. “Shaky” Mays. (Whenever a supervisor has a hard time making a decision, he is known as being “shaky”.) Sgt Mays confronts Joe and tells him about the citizens call and how the citizen is outraged at Joe’s response,or lack thereof, just so he could flirt with a female when people are injured right up the road and this officer had the GALL to do nothing and he should be strung from the highest yardarm and flogged and …..
Joe interrupted Sgt Mays and said, “Shaky (Mays hated that he was called that), if you would just hold on a #$%$ minute, I will tell you what happened.”
Sgt Mays has just gotten his butt reamed by this citizen and he wants to make sure he is protected from any fallback and is upset that Joe is disrespecting him and hollers at Joe…. “JOE! Go write a letter!” Again Joe attempted to quell this and said, “Sarge (no more “Shaky) if you would just listen….”
Mays yelled, “JOE! I AM ORDERING YOU TO WRITE ME A LETTER! NOW GO AND WRITE ME ONE RIGHT NOW!”
Joe realized that he wasn’t going to win this argument and said, “Fine Sarge. I will write you a letter.”
Joe grabbed a pad of paper and a pen and went back into the report writing room at the station and began writing. Sgt Shaky Mays returned behind his desk with a smug look on his face and with the satisfaction of finally getting some respect from Joe.
After about 10-15 minutes, Joe approached the front desk, flipped the pad of paper on the desk and said, “Here is your damn letter Shaky.” And with that, walked outside, got into his patrol car, and drove off.
Sgt Mays picked up the pad of paper and began reading….
“Dear Mom. This is your son Joe. I hope you are doing well. My Sergeant just ordered me to write a letter and I could think of no one I would rather write than to you. I hope you are doing well. Your loving son, Joe.”
People at the station said that Sgt Mays’ face began transforming into different shades of red, finally reaching crimson, when he picked up the microphone and screamed into it for Joe to return to the station immediately!
There was a long pause, and Joe casually picked up the microphone and in his gravelly voice said, “571 to 501, …. turn the page.”
Under the letter to his Mom was the real letter that Joe was ordered to write.
I asked Joe if there was ever a formal investigation and Joe said that he thinks Shaky made such a scene that the Lieutenant intervened and decided Joe did everything fine and no investigation was needed.
It’s all in how you write the letter.