Slim…..

Hi there folks,

I hope this finds all of you well. It has been a little while since I have last written, but that is due to the fact that I had a doctors appointment yesterday and wanted to share with you whatever he said.  So…here is the latest from my Chemo Doctor……

I am on schedule of where I need to be.

My throat still hurts in the morning and the evening.  To get it to quit hurting, I am still taking pain medication.  Methadone twice a day and two “shots”  (10ml) of liquid oxycodone.  I am going to start slowly reducing the amount of medication I am taking.  An example would be to skip an oxy shot every now and then or take only 5ml (1 teaspoon) instead of 10ml.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will also begin to start weaning myself off the methadone.  An example would be every third day, reducing intake by one sort of thing.

Anti-nausea… done.  No need to take any more medication.

Saturday night is my last in-home IV.  I’ve been taking IV’s in the morning and evening (administered by the Nurses Finley….)

Nurses Finley

These IV’s are for the staph infection.  I will complete those Saturday night.  Yay!

I’ve completed my dosage of TammiFlu and no temperature so that’s done as well.

ISSUES

In addition to the sore throat, I’m still dealing with mucous build-up.  It’s not as bad as it was but is still present.  Because it is still present, it prevents me from having any milk-related product, like those chocolate shakes.  Bummer.

Which brings me to ISSUE #2…. weight loss.  When I was in the hospital, they would bring in a portable scale and I would weigh myself and stay around 172 lbs.  Unknown to me, due to all the fluid I was receiving, it was throwing my true weight off.  When I went to the Dr yesterday, I used their scale and the nurse told me what it was (converted from kilos) and I couldn’t believe her.  I asked her to verify so we weighed again and the same number came up.  I still didn’t believe it was correct so after the Dr’s visit, I went down to another part of the radiation clinic where I weighed every Monday and Thursday, including my first day of treatment.  Son of a gun if it didn’t confirm…. my official weight, as of yesterday is….. 159 lbs.  I have lost a total of 30 lbs.  My hospital stay resulted in about a 12-13 lb loss.  Holy schmoley.   The last time I weighed this was 25 years ago.  I went to GNC while ago and got some soy / protein mix to hopefully drink separately and/or add to oatmeal.

My meals consist of …. basically….. oatmeal.  It’s easy to make and to get down.  I’m trying to find out other things I can get down.  I had eggs last night which weren’t bad.  The search continues…..

So I’m on schedule for recovery.  I have a CT Scan scheduled for 5/2 which will tell us if treatment was successful.  The Chemo Dr said in about 3 weeks I should start seeing some major improvement.  Now if I can just get my own internal clock to mesh with the realistic one and not be impatient, I’ll be in good shape.

That’s about all there is to report… I guess there is only one thing left….

 

UNRELATED STORY TIME…..

This story has to do with the boredom of SWAT work.  Now most might think that there can’t be any boredom, but there is.  I’ve heard SWAT work described as 95% boredom and 5% sheer terror.  I don’t think I would agree with that, but you get the idea.  For SWAT guys, you train and train and train for the “big one” and rarely experience anything that comes close.  When something big does happen, it happens so quickly, that if you blink, you miss it.

Training – there is all sorts of training.  There is weapons training.  Each officer, of course, is armed with a pistol so you stay proficient as you can with that.  You practice with your pistol about once a week (if you can) and due to peer pressure, you better be pretty doggone good at marksmanship.  You also have to be proficient at the other weapon you carry.  For “Entry” guys, the guys that enter structures with the intent of getting the bad guy, you are armed with an entry weapon.  At the time, mine was a Heckler and Koch, MP5 sub-machine guy.  It fires 9mm at a rate of about 13 rounds per second.  Because it is “only” a 9mm, it doesn’t kick very much and you can hold it down much like those BB guns at the State Fair when you are shooting out the red star.  It is such a fun weapon to shoot.

Other training consists of trying to keep your skills up on entry, perimeter, etc.  During the week, we would train about one or two days a week.

Your time was also taken up by actual operations.  Again, there are all sorts of operations.  We could have a VIP visit like the President.  (For some reason, the Secret Service gets awful nervous when they have to come to Dallas).  We could have a barricaded person…some of the stories I have related are “BP’s”.  Basically a bad guy that has barricaded themselves in a structure and we have to get them out.

Another “mission” is a “Buy Bust”  This is where our undercover Narcotics Division has made a drug deal with a drug dealer, like X amount of money for X amount of cocaine.  It usually involves a large amount. not like something you would buy on the street.  So say this particular deal is for a kilo of cocaine.  The undercover “UC’s” would make the deal for the parking lot at such and such place at  a specific time and the drug dealer would agree. The UC’s would inform us and we would be in a van about 2 blocks away.  The UC’s on the scene would be “miked up” (have a microphone on them) and would also be under surveillance by other UC’s.  When the drug dealers would arrive, we would be informed, and when the UC said the key words over he microphone … “That looks like good stuff”, that would be our signal to swoop in and arrest everyone.

Now this is all well and good except…. drug dealers are NEVER on time.  We have waited three hours or more for them.  Now imagine your SWAT team of 6-7 guys, in a van, with an air conditioner that doesn’t work well, in the summertime in Dallas, TX and you are wearing 40-50 lbs of gear.  Not a good combination.  So naturally, while you are waiting, you get extremely bored.  With this van full of Type A personalities, you can imagine the testosterone flows pretty freely.  Everyone….. and I mean EVERYONE, gets picked on for some thing or another.  The key is to A) act like it doesn’t bother you and B) as quickly as you can, deflect it to someone else.  As soon as the round-robin of insults finishes, another way to combat boredom may be the “Movie Line Game”.  SWAT guys are notorious for knowing movie lines…. especially those from shoot-em-up movies, that your knowledge gets tested.  The way it works is, someone would give a movie line, the rest of the guys would guess.   If they can’t get it, a 2nd movie line is required.  If the movie guessed is still not correct, then the person giving the line is acknowledged.

An example would be….. “Take me to bed or lose me forever!”  What movie?  Give up?  Ok..here is an easy one from the same movie…. “I feel the need, the need for speed.”  So this is an easy one.  It’s “Top Gun”.

As I said, most of the movies are from the same genre.  Top Gun, Die Hard, etc.

One day, we were bored and in the van playing and a guy named “Bob” who NEVER played decided he was ready.  Now a few words about Bob…. he is big into weights…. very quite….. hardly talks….. when he does, he uses very few words….. and kept to himself mostly.  So when he said… “I have one…”  We were all thinking… Holy Cow… BOB has one?  Wow…

So the van gets absolute quite.  This is the first time Bob has ever done this.  This is momentous!  Ok Bob….. give us the movie line.  Bob clears his throat and says….

“La la la la la”

“I’m sorry, what?

He repeats….. “La la la la la”

Looks of bewilderment spreads on everyone’s faces.  We are all looking at each other.  What movie is this?  No one has a clue.  Finally, someone says… “Bob… how about a second line?”

Bob thinks for a moment and says…. “That will do pig.”

It is so quiet in the van, you can hear a pin drop.  Time stretches on.  Finally, someone says, ….. “um…. Babe?”

Bob grins and says,….”yeah”

BABE?  BABE???!!?? You mean the kids movie, BABE?

By now, Bob has realized his error by offering a kids movie in this group.  It doesn’t matter that probably everyone in the van had seen the movie with their kids… that didn’t matter at all….what mattered is that one of the macho guys offers up a kids movie in this extreme Type A personality setting and actually thinks he is going to get away with it……

BABE?  BABE???  Everyone in the van starts laughing.  Not a chuckle but a full belly laugh, where tears come out of your eyes, full blown laugh that is part ridiculing and part joy.

Bob attempts to explain why he picked that movie but is drowned out.  He will never be able to explain.

It got so bad, we missed the call that the bad guys were pulling up.  By the time we collected ourselves, the deal had gone down and those drug dealers were probably wondering why we were laughing so hard while arresting them.

 

 

Easy like Sunday Morning…

Hi all.

Just a quick post to let you know whats going on.  It is Sunday, D-Day+5 (five days after treatment is over) and I’m at home.  I believe the pneumonia is gone, and the fever and I believe the flu.  I don’t seem to have any of the symptoms.  Probably the only thing I am battling right now is the staph infection.  I’m getting a strong antibiotic IV twice a day.  I think I’ve told ya’ll but originally, the missus was going to administer the IV, being a former nurse and all, but with her having the flu, we have to stay away from each other.  So young daughter got drafted to administer the IV’s and she has come through like a champ…she has really stepped up.  I am grateful and proud of her.  I’ve got about 7 more days of the in-home treatment and hopefully the staph infection will be knocked out.

Still also dealing with the mucous issue.  My throat is still protecting itself by producing mucous, which I have to hack up in all hours of the day and night.  It also affects my appetite as mucous and any milk-based products don’t play well together, (like those made with Ensure) so those delicious smoothies are out.  My diet mostly consists of oatmeal and soup.  Yum yum.  Guess it really doesn’t matter when your taste buds are also compromised.

Here in a couple of weeks, I go back to Gainesville and get a CT Scan and I believe at that time, they determine if all these treatments were successful in knocking out the cancer.  I can’t tell you how ready I am to stop this downward slide and start uphill in the recovery process.

A couple of small items before I move on.

While I was with Dallas SWAT, I became involved with the state SWAT association called the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association (TTPOA).  A group of guys that would exchange information on tactics and training and share with other teams throughout Texas.  The more I got involved with them, the more I enjoyed the work we did.  Through them, I’ve met some great guys, established some great friendships and am honored to have been a part of what we have done over the past 20 years.  In 1992 at a conference in Dallas, I think we had something like 75 attendees.  They now routinely have over 800 attendees.  I have been honored to have been elected twice as President and have received a Lifetime Achievement Award from them.  Just a great group and a great bunch of guys.  The latest conference was held in the Dallas area over the last few days and I originally was planning on attending, but all of these ailments prevented me from doing so.  While very disappointed that I couldn’t make it, it just wasn’t meant to be this year.  Unknown to me, however, they set up a raffle in my name and the response has left me overwhelmed.  I was told what they did and how they did it and how much they raised and I am stunned with gratitude.  Strong Type-A personalities aren’t supposed to show emotion but in this case, I couldn’t help it.  I am so grateful to my friends and to the people involved that whatever words I use would not be expressive enough.  I am indeed truly blessed with friends and family and throughout this whole ordeal, have continued to be surprised and grateful at the outpouring of prayers and well wishes.  I have had quite a few people tell me how surprised they are at my “positive attitude”.  All I can say is it would be difficult to have anything less when you are given the support that I have been given.  Friends that I have not talked with in a long time offering me support……..  People I didn’t even know prior to this offering me support.  If I am only on half the prayer lists that I have been told, they it is more than I could imagine.  All of this has reinforced my belief in prayer, has draw me closer to my family and the Lord, and reestablished friendships and made them stronger.  I am truly blessed.

Ok…enough of that. I’m sure that’s not why you tuned in… I just had to share that.

So overall, I’m hanging in there.  Still fatigued and going to do what I can to start slowly build up some strength.  Still taking IV’s for 7 more days.  Still on most of my medication, including anti-nausea and anti-pain.  I see my Chemo Dr later this week so I would assume now that I’m no longer taking chemo or radiation, that he will begin cutting back the anti-nausea.  Pain-wise, it still hurts to swallow sometimes so I would imagine that medication will remain the same.  I know its a “it will take time” issue but I’m ready for the mucous issue to start lessening.

I guess that completes the update… the only thing left is…..

UNRELATED STORY TIME

Today’s stories will be short and related by a common theme.  ….that of Negotiation.

Negotiation is one of the main tools that a SWAT team utilizes.  A few years ago, there was a radical college professor that kept saying that if a SWAT team was called, then the chances of the bad guy ending up dead greatly increased.  He had no data to back this up, he just used it as a rallying cry to reduce the number of SWAT teams.  After awhile,we got our own college professor, DK, and he decided to fight fire with fire and began collecting data on SWAT callouts to see if indeed the suspect stood a better chance of surviving if SWAT was called out.  It turns out that based on things that a SWAT team has at its disposal, then the suspect’s chances of survival greatly INCREASED.  Tear gas was one of these tools.  Bad guy gets tear gassed and comes out instead of killing himself or others.  Negotiation was the other big factor.  Most people think that entering a building to go get the suspect is what we want to do when in fact, its just the opposite.  Entering a building to go get the suspect is the last resort.  We would employ everything we could to avoid going on.  However sometimes you have to.

Each SWAT team is set up differently.  Some teams negotiators are psychiatrist that are are civilians that want to help out and usually have PhD’s.  Some teams negotiator is the Chief.  Because, you know, if you become Chief, then you are automatically given those skills that you need.  In Dallas, the Negotiators are full time SWAT team members.  They go through a selection process and their negotiation duties are in addition to whatever other duties they have.  In Dallas these guys serve time at the city Suicide Hotline so they get the training and the experience in dealing with people with emotional issues.  They also go to conferences and seminars to hone their skills.  I believe it really benefits the entry team to have these guys as your negotiators because they know what information you need and if its freezing cold or boiling hot, they won’t stall for more time with the suspect.    Overall, I like the way Dallas utilizes its Negotiators.

Why was I never one?  I heard my name came up as a possibility one time but was quickly dismissed.  Why?  According to the story it went something like this….

“Hey, what about Finley as a Negotiator?”

“Nah, not him”

“Why not”

“Cause if he was talking with the suspect and the suspect said, “I’m ready to give up and come out”, then Finley would say, “Hang on before you do, I have one more story to tell.”

Hardee Har Har

You hear all kinds of things from Negotiators.  They use a “Loud Hailer” a lot.  Basically, its a souped up megaphone.  Electronically amplified.   It allows them to talk with a suspect inside a location without getting too close.  Sometimes, you don’t know if a suspect is in there or not so you keep trying …. and trying… and trying…..

One day, homeowner comes home and his front door is smashed open and he steps inside and “hears someone”.  Leaves, calls Patrol and they call us.  We get there and surround the place and start loud-hailing.  Again, we don’t know if a suspect is in there or not.  This particular negotiator said a couple of things that me and my partner thought were hilarious…..

“MR. Burglar….”

Oh, we are getting formal now?  addressing the bad guys by their proper gentleman title as well as their career choice?

Another thing he said…

“You in the house at 1234 Main Street….you need to come out now.”

Now my partner and I questioned, do you think the bad guy knows the address of the place he has broken into?

Another time, Narcotics Division ran a warrant and the door of the house they hit was locked from the inside and the attic entry looked like it had been utilized so basically they wanted us to search an attic of a 1800 sq ft house.  Not the most glamorous duty but one we are better equipped to do than Narcotics.  We are already in the house and there is only one attic entry and we are covering that.  Our plan was to A) Loud Hail to see if we get any response and then B) poke a hole in the ceiling and insert a camera and see if we can spot our suspect that way.  Our Negotiator that day happened to be “Chris”.  He begins the loud hailing…”You in the attic.  You need to come out now.  This is the Dallas Police.  We have the place surrounded….etc.etc etc.”  Now Chris drones on and on while the other guys are setting up the camera.  He’s been talking for about 15 minutes and I’m sure he was bored when he said…..”If you don’t come out, we will utilize tear gas.  If you don’t know what that feels like, it makes your skin burn, it makes your eyes burn, it makes you cough and feel like you are having a heart attack, its like you are pregnant.”

Wait…I’m sorry….what?

Chris is standing beside me at this time and I look at him and he looks at me and stops loud hailing and says, “What”‘

I said…”Do you realize what you just said?”

He said….”No.  What did I say?”

I explained to him what he said… he denied it until one of the other guys quit laughing so much to confirm it.  I told Chris that my wife has had two kids and never complained about those symptoms.

THE TIME I NEGOTIATED

Pretty much the only time I negotiated was the time we had a bank robber that robbed the bank, patrol gets in chase, he wrecks his car and runs into a vacant house, patrol right on his heels and goes into the attic.  Patrol calls us and we get there and since we know he is already inside, we search it and now determine he is in the attic.  We can hear him.  A quick word about attics…. You don’t want to go in one.  They have a limited opening and it is very difficult to defend yourself getting in one.  Once in one, you have very limited space to move around, especially wearing all the gear you wear….. so you avoid them as much as possible.  In this case, we knew he was in there and would rather talk him down as opposed to us go get him.  So we bring a negotiator in and it happens to be Chris again. There is a large entry in the garage that Chris is talking to our suspect through.  Meanwhile, myself and a couple of others are guarding the small entry hole in the closet in the master bedroom.  We can hear Chris talking with the suspect and we are just sitting tight, guarding our area, when my Sgt comes in the room and tells me to start talking to the suspect.  It seems the suspect has told Chris to #$@ off and has moved closer to the area I’m covering.  I ask the Sgt., “What do you want me to say?”  He tells me to establish a rapport with him…just anything so we can pinpoint his location.  It turns out the suspects name is Jimmy so I say….”Hey Jimmy?

“Screw you”  (or words to that effect)

“Hey Jimmy.  I’m just trying to talk.  Why won’t you talk with Chris?”

“Screw you and screw Chris!”

“Aw cmon Jimmy.  Dont be that way.  Talk to me.”

“Screw you you #$%##$#%#$#3….and so on and so on.”

Well I’d had about enough of this so I said….

“HEY JIMMY….SCREW YOU!”

“Huh”

“Yeah Jimmy.  Screw you!  This is the #$#%#$# Dallas SWAT team and we are here to kick your ass and probably shoot you,so screw you!”

Now this is not what Jimmy had envisioned.  So he said….”Do what?”

By now… both my Sgt and Chris have joined me and are trying not to laugh out loud.  ”Yeah Jimmy.  When you robbed that bank, they called the SWAT team and since you don’t want to talk with Chris or any of the patrol officers, we took over so right now we are loading our weapons and getting ready to come in that attic and shoot your #$#%#$# ass!”

“Ummmm….where is Chris?”

“The heck with Chris!  You didn’t want to talk with him so we sent him home.  Now you have to deal with us.  Tell me,do you want to be shot in the head and have a quick death or in the gut and have a slow painful death?”

“CHRIS!!!!!!!”

We are all bent over laughing…. me… my Sgt… Chris….

“I told you Jimmy… we sent him home.  He is packing up his stuff by the garage.  He wants to leave before the bullets start flying.  Personally, I can’t wait until he is gone so we can shoot your ##$#@#$# ass!”

“CHRIS!!!  CHRIS!!!!”

By this time, Jimmy is falling over himself trying to get back to the main entrance.  Chris heads back over there and sure enough, Jimmy gives up in about 5 minutes.  So you could say that I successfully negotiated someone into giving up.  :’)

Going….Going…..?i

Hey there!

Coming at you from my home away from home, the Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville, FL.  Just a quick update…..

Still battling pneumonia a little bit.  It is being resistant and they are trying to stay on top of it.  I’ve had more antibiotic IV’s pumped into me than you can imagine.

A new player has joined the game……Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is a staph infection and when talked about, people call it MER-sa.

The other day when my sputum was bloody, they did a culture and it came back positive for MRSA.  I’m told it CAN be serious.  It can actually be really serious.  It is an infection that is resistant to most antibiotics.  It usually occurs to people that are in the hospital.  The folks here believe they are on top of it though.  So much so, they are talking about possibly sending me home today.  Yay!  Still don’t know for sure because they have to arrange for a lot of things, one being a home IV over the next 10 days.  The latest I go home will be tomorrow but I really think it will be today.

Sad news though…my in-home nurse….my major care provider….my major backer…. you know her as “the missus” ………my wife Kathy/Kate….now has the flu.  For sure she got it from me.  Anyone that comes in my room has to have a mask and gown on.  I am Bubonic Barney.  Anyway, she has been down to visit just about every day and although she went though all the precautions, she now has the flu.  She is at home recovering so please .. thoughts and prayers for her.

So that is the wrap up for today…… fever – gone.  Flu (for me) – gone .  Pneumonia – still there but on the run.  Staph infection (MRSA) – present and a concern.  Good possibility of going home today.

I guess that only leaves one thing…..UNRELATED STORY TIME.

It has been awhile so I will see if I can squeeze a two-fer in.

Distraction Devices -

First… a little background…..

Police SWAT teams often use a tool called a “distraction device” or “Flashbang”.  It is sometimes erroneously called “Stun Grenade”.  A distraction device or another common term is “flash bang”,  is a metal canister containing a fuze (pull pin) and a cardboard tube inside a metal canister containing some chemicals that when it goes off, produces a very bright light and a very loud noise.

distraction device

 

Much like a grenade, the lever (the long metal lever on the side) fits in the palm of your hand.  You pull the pin (the round ring) and as long as you hold the lever down, it won’t go off.  But the minute you let the lever go, you have approximately 1.5 seconds before it goes off.  That may not seem like a lot of time but trust me, it is plenty of time to throw it where it needs to go.

The “blast” is expelled out the top and the bottom.  When I say bright…. if you have a police flashlight.. you know the kind that has the equivalent of six D batteries… has a light beam that is measured in “candela”.  The police flashlight has something like 30,000 candela.  The flashbang emits a light that is 6-8 million candela.  Think about that.

Loud?  If you stand in front of  a speaker at a rock concert, and they are playing, your ears are getting bombarded with about 140 decibels.  A flashbang produces 175 decibels.  That may not seem like much to you but trust me…it is louder than a jet engine.

Smoke – Due to the chemicals used to produce the bright light, a bad side effect is it also produces a lot of smoke.  Not bad if outdoors but if in a tight, confined space, hard to see through the smoke.

So why are they used?  Because a flashbang produces this loud noise and this bright light, if a person is within a couple of feet of a flashbang going off, it shuts down their hearing and their sight for about 20-30 seconds.  That is a looooonnnngggg time during a SWAT raid.  I have been on the receiving end of these on more than one occasion and for those old enough to remember, your sight goes like when you used to turn TV’s off a long time ago…..a white dot is in the middle of the screen and keeps getting smaller and smaller.  Thats what happens to your vision.  Hearing??  Totally wipes it out.  Gone.

We have gone in on a SWAT raid and a guy has had a pistol in his waistband and a flashbang went off right in front of him and we were able to just remove the weapon with no problem.

It is also used to “distract” or divert their attention to that area.  Say we are coming in the back door.  We might throw a flashbang in the front door area so bad guys attention will be focused on that area while we come in the back.

If not used properly, they can cause some major injuries.  If you pull the pin and DON”T throw?  you will probably lose your hand.

Enough background….onto the story..

So one day, a guy robs a bank and a car chase ensues and bad guy can’t drive that well and wrecks his car.  Foot chase ensues and he runs into a house with no one home.  The Patrol officers want to go get him but he is now what is referred to as “barricaded” and since they know he has a weapon, they set up a perimeter to make sure he doesn’t escape and call out SWAT.  We get there and set up our own perimeter and using a loud PA system called a “loud hailer” attempt to talk him out.  He does not respond.  Normally the next step would be to use tear gas as a way to get him out but #1, this isn’t his house and #2, the house is less than a block from a school and we don’t want to tear gas the kids so we make the decision to go in and get him.  A “Barricaded Person” search is a very slow, methodical search.  Nothing fast at all.  You know he is in there and he knows you know he is in there so you use time on your side.  You search one room at a time.  You communicate with each other by whispering or hand signals.  So while a couple of guys are searching one room, the others are covering off the other areas.  Again, very slow and tedious but needs to be done this way due to the circumstances.  After about an hour, we have searched the first floor of this house and now we need to go upstairs.  Going upstairs is tricky by itself.  It is where the good guys are most vulnerable, due to the angle of the stairs and all the open areas.  You don’t just charge up the stairs, you have to plan it out.

This particular set of stairs was “L-shaped”.  The stairs went up to a small landing and turned right and went up to the top floor.  There were banisters all round it.  The problem  was we couldn’t see anything on that top landing.  We needed a distraction.

I’m at the foot of the stairs covering up and tell the rest of the team what we are going to do.  But first, I have to find out who has a flashbang with them.  So I whisper something out like….”OK, here is what we are going to do…. we are going to throw a flashbang up to the landing and when it goes off, follow it.  Now who has one?”  At this time on Dallas SWAT, not every team member was issued a flashbang so i needed to know.  I had one but was not in the best position to throw or “deploy” one.  One of my teammates, “Ed” spoke up….”I’ve got one”

I responded….”Great.  Ed, throw it up to the landing.  Once it goes off, I’ll take the lead and go up the stairs covering off to the left.  Kelvin, you come behind me, covering off to the right… Ed, I need you right on his ass covering off the landing.  We go up as a group.”  I gave the rest of the team their assignments so they would cover off the areas that needed covering and once we three made it up, we would cover the rest of the team as they came up.  I made sure everyone understood what they were supposed to do and received acknowledgement from each of my team.  Ok.  Good. All set.

“OK.  Ed, Ready?”

“Ready”

“Throw”

As my body tensed up for the bang that I knew was coming and getting ready to launch up the stairs… I heard…..”Uh-oh”…. then I heard… “Oh Shit”

My eyes left my coverage area to see the flashbang hit the railing, and begin tumbling right down the stairs ….hitting one…then another…and then another…. and land ………..next to my foot.  There wasn’t a thing I could do but close my eyes as I heard a loud WHOOMPPHH.

Later, the guys tell me that they lost sight of my because I was enveloped in smoke.  Other tell me that they say a wall of flame shoot up my leg.  The side of my boot and my thigh holster on my left side were singed pretty well.  Needless to say, the flashbang didn’t go where it was intended.

With it going off next to my foot, even though I diverted my eyes, it still jumbled me up pretty well.  Everyone did a great job maintaining their cover of the open areas.  I heard someone say that they were covering mine, which was good because I was having a few problems focusing.  I heard our Sgt say to take my time, that we were in no hurry, which was a good thing.

After a few minutes, all my senses were back.  Persistent ringing in my ear but I could hear.  So I let the team know I was back, and began planning anew.  I asked WHO ELSE had a flashbang, someone answered up and we went over the plan again.  This time, it might have been Boo Boo, successfully threw the flashbang were it needed to go, we went up the stairs, secured that location, and continued the search of the house and finally found our bad guy hiding in one of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor and he gave up without a fight.

Later, the bad guy secured, we did a quick debrief.  I was a little testy at getting stunned so I said… “Dammit Ed…..I told you to throw it up there.  You couldn’t do that?”  He grinned and said…”I did!  Oh… you wanted it to stay?”

Hard to stay mad at a comeback like that.

 

UNRELATED STORY #2… or… The Last Time I Threw a Flashbang in Dallas”

We had another call-out.  Guy is with his buddy and tells him he is thinking about killing himself.  Buddy agrees with him!  Bad Guy decides to blame it all on girlfriend so he calls her up to tell her.  She asks him how he is going to do that when his pistol is at her house? He realizes her point and asks girlfriend if she could be a lamb and drop it by and she does!  Friend decides he wants to leave so he and girlfriend leave the “friend”.  They do make the effort and call 911 and let us know that they have a guy with a pistol threatening suicide.  Patrol gets there and surrounds the place and per SOP, they call us.

We surround the place and loud hail him to no avail.  We check with Patrol and they haven’t seen or heard anything inside.  After awhile, we decide to go in and search the place.

Again, very slow search…. but this is just a one-bedroom apartment so it doesn’t take long.  We get to the point where we have searched everything but the one bedroom.  The door is open so we are able to clear the bedroom with no problem.  Now all that is left is the bathroom in the bedroom and the door is closed.  I’m covering the door and ask, “Who has a flashbang?”  The other two guys with me, Kelvin and Steve, do not.  But I do.  So we reconfigure…. Steve is going to use the battering ram or “slammer” and hit the door, I am going to throw in the device while Kelvin is covering whats inside.  We set up in a tight pattern around the door…. I nod at Steve… he rears back and hits the door and it flies open… before I can do anything, it immediately shuts.  ”HIT IT AGAIN”  Boom….door slams shut.   “HIT IT AGAIN”  This time, he hits it and I jam my foot in the door facing before it can shut shut, and as the device is releasing from my hand, I realize that there is no need for it.  I remove my foot and the door closes.  The flashbang goes off inside the bathroom and Steve and Kelvin are yelling “GO GO GO” and I’m saying “NO NO NO”……..”WE DON’T NEED TO!”

(I’ll try and not get too graphic here but  it will be difficult).

It seems our suspect has indeed used the pistol that his girlfriend has brought over.  He has committed suicide by placing the pistol under his chin and pulling the trigger.  This caused his body to collapse on the bathroom floor.  Every time the door was slammed, the door was moving about 2 feet before striking our dead guys foot and immediately slamming shut.

Once I jammed my foot in the doorframe to get the flashbang in, as I released it, I could see where it was going to land…. and it landed exactly where I thought…..right where this guys brains used to be.  And it made a big mess.

Steve didn’t believe me and forced the door open and looked inside and said….”Oh.”  and let the door close.

Later….the Physical Evidence Section came out to process the crime scene and before they went inside, I briefed them on what they might find.  When they were done, they asked me if I wanted the flashbang  back since it was re-usable.  I told them they could keep it.

Finished…?

Hello All,

Well, today was the day that I’ve had circled on my calendar for almost two months.  Today is the day that I was to receive my last radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

OR DID I?

As you know from my last post yesterday, this past weekend, I tried to do everything I possibly could to complicate things…. dehydration……..fever….adverse reaction to pain medication….pneumonia… and the flu.  Since I checked into the hospital Sunday night, I’m not sure how many bags of antibiotics they have given me but it’s been a lot.

So….met with the Doctors today.  Here is today’s (Tuesday) outcome:

  • Fever – gone
  • Flu – gone
  • Dehydration – going
  • Pneumonia – still present but on the run
  • Chemotherapy – postponed.  Not sure if later in the week or if indefinitely
  • Radiation – Final treatment today!  Yay!!!!!
  • New items? – In my hacking/dredging up mucous and clearing my throat, had one that was pretty bloody.  So they are doing a culture on that to see whats what’

So still dealing with Pneumonia.  The only way to do that is to blast it with major antibiotics.  Those don’t come in pill form, only in IV form.  And where do we get IV’s from?   That’s right… HOSPITALS!  So yes, I’m done with chemotherapy treatment and done with radiation treatment and WOULD be done with everything and headed home today but still have to get those antibiotics so I will be staying here at Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville until Thursday or Friday.

Bummed?  Sure.  Was sure hoping to be done with all of this today but as rotten as I felt over the weekend, I’m willing to postpone by a couple of days to ensure that all is well.

I’ll wrap all this up at a later date.  Just wanted to let ya’ll know what was going on.

More to come, including some unrelated stories.

 

Seriously…???

Hello friends and family….I’d give you an update but I’m not exactly sure what day it is.  Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad but close.  Today is Monday and day 43/44.  Yes tomorrow is my last day of treatment…. I think.

Weight..?  The least of my worries.  I did not weigh today but I would say that I’ve lost some over the last few days.

S0, what happened?  Well remember Thursday night?  The night of fever/chills / diarrhea?  I guess it started with that.  On Friday, met with the PA and they did blood work to see if I was neutropenic (was not) and thought I had some bug.  Left Friday afternoon, met a friend in Lake City and then came on home.  Everything ok.   Slept OK Friday night.  Saturday, not feeling so hot.  Voice back to a whisper.  Not eating a whole lot.  Stuff smells and sounds good to me but still can’t or don’t want to eat anything.  And with my smoothies, since they are all milk based, and I have a throat full of mucous, it does’t help matters.   So spent all day Saturday hacking up mucous and not talking.  Saturday night, was tired.  Ready to go to sleep at 8pm (which is waaay early for me) but stuck it out until about 11pm.  Woke up at 2:30 and again at 4pm and then at 5pm.  Whoa boy.  When I woke up at 5am, having to pee really badly, stumbled into the bathroom and things just aren’t right.  Everything is kinda’ blurry.  One part of my brain is trying to deal with that but the main part of my brain is thinking only one thing…. pee.  Finally finish peeing but my body is becoming non-responsive and I’m getting pretty dizzy.  We have two shelves in this part of the bathroom and both aren’t able to support my weight (I checked).  I’m trying to use them as support because I’m pretty sure I’m going down.  I try and call out to the missus but due to my throat, it only comes out as a whisper.  Now my brain is only thinking one thing and that is, don’t hit your head.  I go down knees first (such fun on tile!) and then on my back.  Kind of a two-stage fall.  Apparently the noise was enough to wake the missus so she comes running in there and according to her….my eyes were rolled back in my head, my face was really red, my breathing was struggling.  Being a former nurse, she believed I was out.  She propped me up and ran to get her phone to call 911 and by the time she got back to me, I was responsive again.  We talked and I was responsive to her questions and had no head injury so she held off calling 911.  We spent some time trying to figure out what happened and really had no idea.

Later that morning (Sunday) I was….doing….OK.  Still in a little bit of a fog and my vision was a little blurry.  Tried to eat (or drink) something for lunch with no success.  Finally about 2pm, we called my Chemo Dr and explained to him what was going on.  In addition to dehydration, he believed that I was also going through an adverse reaction to pain medication.  The week before, he upped my methadone from 2 pills to 3 a day.  That was 5 days earlier and since it is a slow acting drug, it takes about that long to affect anything.  So he ordered us BACK to Gainesville, so back we go and were admitted last night.  (By the way, I think all the nice people work during the week when I am usually there).  Because the room that was ordered for me was not ready, most of the initial stuff was done in the ER so 4 different Dr’s come in and we have to explain what we’ve done and how we got to this point.  Finally fluids start getting pumped and test start getting done and the results are:

  • Definite dehydration
  • Possible adverse effects to too much pain medication
  • Pneumonia
  • Flu

It seems I went beyond hitting the “trifecta”.  What would that be?  ”Hitting the Quadfecta?”

Holy Cow. Anything else I can squeeze in there?  Needless to say, they are pumping me with fluids and antibiotics almost 24/7.  I am officially admitted to the Shands Cancer Hospital and since it is one of the newer ones, it is the Taj Mahal of rooms.  Very nice.  The nurses (and Dr;s) up here are versed in regular nurse stuff but also have the background in cancer so they know how that works together.

Today, Monday, I missed my first Radiation appointment but my radiation Dr cut one treatment from today and one from tomorrow.  So only one Radiation Treatment left.

Right now, I still have a chemo infusion scheduled for tomorrow morning.  We are just waiting to see if that is still going to happen.

That’s it in a nutshell.  So how did your weekend go?  :-)

I’ll be staying at the hospital today, tomorrow (we think) and maybe Wed.  Still trying to pin that part down.  The missus is over at the Hope Lodge checking me out and getting all the stuff I left.  Thankfully I took home most of my stuff this weekend.  She does have to clean it up though.  What a trooper she has been….through all of this.

So after scaring the beejezus out of the missus and the kids and the rest of my family this past weekend…..I’m in good hands now.  I’ve still got some issues with the mucous and the inability to speak, my neck still looks zombie-ish but….and I know I said this last time… but…. I think(?) the worst is behind me?

I think I better shut up now.

I will follow up in a day or so with “The Finish”.  I don’t think, nor do I hope, that I can top this one.

No unrelated story this time.  I’m too worn out.

 

Its not easy being green….

Hi there friends and neighbors…coming at you live from our Mucous Studios at the corner of Phlegm and Kleenex where we make sure your day starts off gooey and stays that way allllll day.

Day 41/44.  I hear the end a coming…its just around the bend…. I haven’t eaten real food since… I don’t know when….

Pain medication is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Seriously (or as serious as I get), the end is almost here.  Tuesday is the last “official” day of treatment.  It will be a full day of two radiation treatments and a chemo dose but bring it on.  The Doctors keep telling/warning me that yes, Tuesday is the last day but on that day, my body will be the most saturated it ever will be with radiation and chemo drugs.

Maybe… because of that…. or my body wanted to rebel one last time, but this past Thursday night was probably my worst night this entire process.  It started out OK but I felt a little queasy during dinner….. (I didn’t even “drink” my entire dinner!) so went to the room… talked with the missus about her car experience (she has a new one now) and after hanging up.. just kept feeling crappier.  Finally decided to try and get some sleep about 10:30 and that;s about the time the fever hit.  And then about 11pm, the diarrhea.  Add to that… since my throat is under attack (from the radiation), it is trying to protect itself in the only way it knows how and that is to produce mucous.  Now I’m not talking about a loogie hear and there.  Ohhhhh No.  We are talking all hands on deck… all three shifts working into overtime…..full scale production of “copious” amounts of mucous.  ”Oh you just cleared some out?  Well here, we made more.”  And when you have  sore throat, clearing your throat always feels sooooo nice.

So lets summarize… chills from the fever…. diarrhea….. mucous build up and hacking and clearing….super tired but …. lets just say “apprehensive” about going to sleep with all the above going on.  I don’t want to have…. an accident.  NOT a fun night.

So the next morning, same fire drill as previous.  They get really concerned over fever in cancer patients.  I think I explained but real quick…. they don’t want you becoming Neutropenic.  That is basically your white blood cells are fighting each other and you are very, very prone to any bacterial infection.  If there had been a hint that I was neutropenic, I would have spent this Easter weekend in a Gainesville Hospital.  But, thankfully, all the test came back negative…. I just had some bug…. while my fever is still hovering around 99, I’m doing ok.

When I pulled into the driveway yesterday, my family had these t shirts on…..

tshirt

 

The missus made them.  Think they may be our new Easter family photo?

Speaking of Easter…. we were thinking about having a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt this year.  The prizes in the eggs will be a little different.  Instead of inside the plastic egg having a jelly belly, THIS year… some eggs may have morphine pills and some may have used tissues.  Should make for an interesting Easter!

TODAY… so again. just because I’m nearing the end of treatment, that doesn’t mean everything is hunky dory.  Like today, the only way I can talk is to whisper. Now I can’t say with certainty, but I swear I’ve seen the missus and the kids high-fivin’ each other out of the corner of my eye.  Not being able to talk really sucks.

HOPE LODGE – As you can imagine, the Hope Lodge has a lot of turnover.  This week there were three different patients that checked out and they started about the same time I did.  I’m glad for them its over but some of these people I’m going to miss.  Frank, the one with the parents that met through letter writing has invited me and the missus to his house soon.  He is such a good guy. George, the retired Army guy that fought in three wars checked out about 10 days ago and I miss talking with him.

As you can see, this blog is pretty random.  (Must be the pain meds).  People have asked what the procedures are once I’m done with treatment.  For Radiation, I will go see the Radiation Doctor (Dr. Mendenhall) about every three weeks.  I think each time I visit, I will get a CT scan and they will make sure we killed that SOB.  I think this will be for about 4-5 visits.

On the Chemo side, I will meet with the Chemo Doctor (Dr Reisman) once a week for about 4-5 weeks and then start tapering off.  Most of the drugs I’m taking… and I’m taking a LOT…. are coming from him so for the most part, he is going to monitor closely and start weaning me off both the anti-nausea and the anti-pain.  They tell me anywhere from 3-8 weeks I will be “back to normal” (Uh… Doc?  Whats your definition of normal?)  I will get back my ability to talk ….. YES!… and slowly my taste buds.  I’m not all that up on the different kinds of social media but I do know that they use Instagram to take pictures of food they cooked and/or about to eat?  Well I am going to start taking pictures of food I WANT to eat when I can.  As I’ve said before, my sense of smell is still strong and everything smells sooo good.  But I’ve lost about 75% of my taste buds.  Plus, with  a sore throat, you don’t feel like eating anything.  But the day I can…. whoa boy…. I might try and gain all the weight I’ve lost in just one week.

CAR – I mentioned the missus car issues in a previous post and thankfully that has worked out.  Thanks to all for the blessings and offers to help with mechanics/ and advice.  It worked so well last time, I feel like I have to mention this.  Recently bought the kids a car to go around town in and it has been nothing but trouble.  I didn’t pay a whole lot  but now this thing won’t even run, despite the efforts of two good friends that have helped.  Basically, if anyone needs a good sized boat anchor, let me know.  :-)

BLOG

Still not sure what to do with this blog after treatment is over.  You guys have been great……humoring me ……..and feeling sympathy for me……telling me that my stories are funny….. SURE… once I’m on the mend, you guys are going to drop me like a hot potato.  :-)

So seriously, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this blog.  I’ve enjoyed writing the stories.  Stay tuned…..

I think that’s about it.  I’ll write at least one more… probably while I’m getting chemo on Tuesday

So …. What time is it kids?

UNRELATED STORY TIME !!!!!!!!!!

Today will not be one big story… but a collection of small ones.  They do have one thing in common…. and that is… “Dirty Joe’.

For those that didn’t read before, Dirty Joe McCrary was one of my trainers and an “infamous” legend with the Dallas Police Department  When he trained me, he had 17 years on and lasted over 30 years.  As typical with his generation, 6 months after he retired, he died of a heart attack.  He was 6’4″, 270 pounds… big beer belly, for any police out there, you will know this type… he rested his hand on his pistol butt so it was always canted out.  Very gruff but heart as big as all outdoors.  Smoked too much… drank waaaay too much.  The local bar, “Luke’s”, about 3 blocks from the station, carried Schlitz beer, because of him.  That was his beer of choice.  On many occasions, we would finish up the shift around 4pm and he would say… “Rook…. I guess I’ll be seeing you at Lukes.  First round is on you.”  And I would say… “Ummm… Joe?  I wasn’t actually planning on going to Luke’s today.”  He would give me “the look” that all trainers have perfected…. stare at me for 5-10 seconds and say, “I guess you don’t want to pass training all that much, huh?”  So at 4:05, I would be at Luke’s ordering a Miller Lite and a doggone Schlitz.  I would have to do “penance” for about an hour, before I could go home.  Now this wasn’t an everyday occurrence… probably more like once a week.

One day, we received a call of a Major Disturbance at the Anchor Inn Restaurant off Harry Hines Blvd.  Now the Anchor Inn had an hourly rate and any given night, you could arrest your various drug dealer and/or prostitute but for some reason, they kept the restaurant part open and people came to eat there.  This particular car was the first one of the day so its like 7:30AM.  We pull up and Joe asks me, “Think you can tell which car is our suspects?”  Over in the right side of the parking lot, an older Cadillac was parked partially on the curb….. with this huge shrub stuck right in the front grille.  We mosey on inside and there is all kinds of mess going on inside.  Our “perpetrator” (by the way.. NO police uses that term and especially don’t use the shortened version of “perp” unless you are on TV working for the NYPD.  So our “suspect” is a woman anywhere from 50-75 years of age.  She is on the floor being held there by the cook.  Over in one corner, one waitress looks like she is in need of medical assistance and is being attended to by one of the patrons of this fine establishment.  By the front counter, another waitress is being held back by some other patrons, because apparently she is not done with our “suspect”.

Once we restore some semblance of order, the full picture of what happened begins to emerge.  It seems our “suspect”, lets just call her “Linda”… as in “Linda the Lush”.  Well Linda has been out drinking alllll night long. Not sure where but we do know that about 30 minutes before the call came to us, “someone” drove through a yard in a swanky part of town and took out 3-4 very expensive shrubs.  According to the owner, valued at $500 each.  How she ended up at the Anchor Inn is anybody’s guess but ole Linda, with the shrub still in her grill, pulls into the parking lot, stumbles out of the car and enters the Anchor Inn Restaurant but what she believes to be a bar.  Seeing how its 7:30AM and bars in Dallas aren’t open at that time did not compute.  So she stumbles in, plops down at a booth.  The young waitress comes up and asks her what she would like.  Ole Linda asks the waitress…. “Do you know how to make an Old Manhattan?”  The young waitress, relatively new to the job says “I don’t think we have that on the menu.” when Linda, not happy with that answer, rears back, and swings with all her drunken might, and wallops our young waitress.

(By the way, an Old Manhattan is an alcoholic drink that has whiskey, vermouth, bitters and club soda.  See?  Again, entertaining and informative.)

When our young waitress hits the floor, an older waitress, who just happens to be the young waitress’ mother, comes around the counter and screams. “What the hell are you doing?”  Linda, not phased at all asks, “Well…. do YOU know how to make an Old Manhattan?”  In this situation, there are at least 10 answers she could have given that would have deescalated this situation. Apparently “NO” was not one of them.  So ole Linda reared back and walloped THAT waitress.  As the cook came around the counter, losing waitresses quickly, he did the only thing he knew how to do and that is tackle ole Linda.  Well as you can imagine, ole Linda didn’t take too kindly to this and began screaming bloody murder and that’s about the time we came in.

Daughter waitress gets medical attention from the EMT’s, Mother Waitress is trying, unsuccessfully  to cool down because she wants another crack at Linda… Linda is safely esconded in the back of our patrol car and singing the song that drunks have sung for oh these many years, making our job of identifying her problematic.  We run the car registration and “think” it comes back to her husband but not sure. Of course there is no purse in the diner or even in her car with ID.  We piece together a name and Joe is on the radio with the daytime dispatcher “John”.  Now John has been dispatching longer than i had been alive, and was a good dispatcher but liked to get in everyones business.  When you check a person, it will check under that name and DOB but it will also give you “sound-alikes” or people that are wanted and have something close to what you are looking for.  So William Smith with a DOB of 1/1/60 is clear but there is a Billy Smith 1/15/60 that is wanted.  That sort of thing.

So Joe and Dispatcher John are going back and forth over the radio and Joe is getting frustrated because John wants to hear what happened out there and Joe just wants John to do his job when John asks, “Well what does your suspect do for a living?”

Joe paused… looked at me…. then said into the microphone….
“John… the best I can determine, she is a field tester for Budweiser.”

John didn’t ask any more questions.

UNRELATED STORY #2

I’ll make this one short…. yeah, right.

One day.. probably at Luke’s, Joe looks at me and says,  ”Rook… my wife doesn’t like you too much.”  Well this was disturbing news, primarily since I have never met his wife and certainly didn’t want her mad at me for whatever reason, so I said, “Huh?”

Joe repeated…”My wife doesn’t like you too much.”  After I collected myself I said, “Why?”  (deep conversationalist that I am)

He said, “She believes that you take up too much of my time.”

I said.. “Well Joe it is true that we spend at least 8 hours a day with each other for five days a week, plus there are the frequent Luke’s trips but I’m not sure what she means.”

Joe said… “I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but two weeks ago, you was having a fight with your girlfriend in Mississippi and she wanted to break up with you and you were distraught and I had to leave the house and go console you.”

“Oh.  I had a fight and you had to console me?”

“Yep.  Figured I would let you know.”

“I see. Anything else”

Joe said… “Well last week, I’m not sure if you were aware of this or not but you went to Mississippi over the weekend.”

“I did?”

“Yep… you did.”  And you decided to come back on Saturday night and your car broke down in Shreveport and you called me to come help.”

“I did?”

“Yep, you did.  And we couldn’t get it started and we had to spend the night in Shreveport, then we had to wait for a garage to open.  Hell, we didn’t get home until late Sunday night”

“Well Joe, I guess it’s good to know these things are happening and please tell your wife that I will will try and do better in the future.”

From Joe… “Oh Hell.  I told her that already but told her that you were such a screw-up at work, and now with your social life, that it was just a matter of time before something else happened.”

“Ummm… thanks Joe.  I’ll try and do better next time.”

Winding Down

Day 37/44

Weight is still holding steady around 170.  For the 3rd Monday in a row, it has been around 170.  Let’s see if the trend continues on Thursdays.  The past two Thursdays, my weight has been around 173-174.

I’ve spoken before about my Chemo Dr.  ”Dr. R”.  He is the one that offered to show me his diploma so that I could see he knew what he was talking about.  Very funny, dry sense of humor and very smart-alecky.  It’s probably why I get along with him so well.

So I’m meeting with him on Friday and he was asking how I was doing and what kind of pain I was having and he said… “Well, you know it is going to get worse.  Your throat is about to start closing up and you will probably lose your voice.”  I immediately assured him that I was not one of his average patients, that I was born in the backwoods of Tennessee.. oh wait… different legend.  Anyway, I was different, that those things might happen to others but not to me

This was Friday afternoon, mind you.  So I go home over the weekend and wake up Saturday morning and what do you think happened?  My level of pain in my throat has jumped up and I begin losing my voice.  Seriously???  Did he have to nail both of them that close together?

So yes friends and neighbors…. this cancer has done what others have long wished for the power to do…. shut me up.

In the words of Lilli Von Schtupp…..

Lili Von Schtupp

“You’re finished. Fertig! Verfallen! Verlumpt! Verblunget! Verkackt! Kaput!”

And as mentioned, in addition to no voice, the pain in my throat has increased.  They kept telling me to expect it… “oh it’s coming”….. “any day now”…..(They weren’t lying.)  This is what they’ve been giving me all those pain medications for.  I guess now is a good time to start using them.

Let’s also talk about everyone’s favorite subject… MUCOUS!

Because the radiation attacks the good cells as well as the bad ones, the body reacts and wants to coat the throat with mucous.  I’m glad my body is fighting but in this case, I wish it would take the day off.  Now I get to add that as one of the reasons I don’t sleep.  During the night, the mucous pools up and you wake up feeling like you are about to gag.  And the sounds are just lovely.  (I might find myself sleeping in the upstairs room alone).

I keep telling myself that it is only for one more week.  My last treatment is one week from today.  Dr. R reminds me, though, that when you climb Everest, when you get to the top, that is only half the journey.  All of this radiation zapped into me isn’t going to magically go away next week.  It will take awhile for all this to leave my body.  Dr R said for the chemo, it will be something like 3-8 weeks.  Of course, you know me…. I hear the first number and run with that one.  I’m hanging in there… or at least trying to.  The outpouring of cards and letters and emails and FB messages and texts and general thoughts and prayers  have been great and very much appreciated and beneficial.  I’m just tired of this and ready for it to be over.  (The low grade fever I have today probably doesn’t help my mood much either.)

It also probably doesn’t help that I’m in my chemo room and while I don’t have Nattering Nancy today, I do have a couple who’s favorite TV show must be “Supernatural”(?) on TNT.  Apparently they show a marathon of episodes during the day and not only have they seen this one, they compare it to the others they have seen with their running dialogue.  At least I don’t have to talk with them.  :-)

I guess there is only one way to get me out of this funk…..

UNRELATED STORY TIME or….. Never let anyone read a text from your wife

This one comes courtesy of my days with Dallas SWAT.  I have not asked for permission to use this one but what the hell…..  I can always chalk it up to pain meds.

So we had a guy in our squad whose name was Jose but went by Joe.  Joe was what we call a “gear queer”.  NOW before you call the Supreme Court out on me or the ACLU…. it has nothing to do with sexual orientation.  It describes a person that is enamored with gear… specifically SWAT gear.  Some guys are into weapons.  They can tell you the differences in grain load in a boat tail .223 round with nozzler tip…blah blah blah.  That is when my eyes start getting glazed over.  Now you need those guys out there.  You want to carry the round that will put the bad guys on their butt the quickest with the most devastation…. just don’t expect me to share the same enthusiasm.  Just tell me what round to carry and I will take care of the rest.

Joe had to have the latest gadget, the newest of everything.  If new shotguns came in, he had to have the newest one.  It didn’t matter that nothing was wrong with his current one….he had to have the latest one.

Back in the day… the department did not issue cell phones….they issued pagers.  Yes…I am old.  For two weeks every two months…you were “on call”.  If anything came out during the hours of midnight to 6am, you got “called out” or rather “paged”.  That meant you dropped everything and responded and if you were lucky, responded to something good.  Usually it was BS.  The pager would go off and we had these big thick text pagers that showed about 4 lines of text. The first message was location and preferred travel route (so you don’t drive in front of the bad guys house).  The 2nd page was other pertinent information like suspect description, etc.   These are always fun to read while you are driving like a bat out of hell to the location, trying to dress in the car, listening to the radio to make sure everyone is checking in…

Again, these pagers we had were big and bulky.  Well one day we were in the office and one of the squads had just gotten a “new guy”.  New Guy came into the office and Joe immediately sat up and almost shouted, “Where did you get that pager?!!”  We were all stunned at the response and New Guy mumbled something about how they got new pagers in at the Radio Shop and Joe took off like a rocket, literally running down the hall.  Sure enough, in about 10 minutes, Joe comes in the office, strutting, grinning form ear to ear, saying “Check it out…”.  Joe has one of the brand new pagers.  It’s about half the size of the other one and looks pretty spiffy.  One of us asked Joe, how did you get them to just give you a new one? Joe…the gear queer that he is, without missing a beat, said…. “I was outside the Radio Shop and took my old one and threw it against the wall and broke it and came in with the pieces and told them I needed a new one.”  It didn’t faze Joe in the least that something was wrong with that.  But oh…. karma paid him back.

The next morning, we are done working out and everyone is in varying stages of getting ready when a strange beep was heard in the locker room.  Joe’s locker is right by the sinks and one other team member, Donovan, was passing by Joe’s locker when his pager beeped and D said, “What the hell was that?”  Joe, at the sinks said, “Check it out man.  Its my new pager.  None of you suckers have one yet.  You are just afraid to use the system.”  Donovan indeed picked up Joe’s pager from the locker and apparently when he did, he pushed the button to read the text message.  And of course, read it out loud… to the the entire locker room….. it was from Joe’s wife and it said…. “Boo-Boo, I really had a good time last night.  Can’t wait for Round 2″ and his wife’s name.  The bomb dropped in the locker room.  It was not the text… it was not because of the sexual nature….it was from the pet name……. BOO BOO.

There are a few things that will haunt you in your police career……you can do something so … out there… that you will never recover.  (Shoot the hostage sort of thing.)  Probably worse is…. you needed to shoot and didn’t.  Then there are those that you will survive and keep your job…but most days you wish you didn’t. Having the entire SWAT team know that your wife calls you BOO BOO is one of those things.

Joe immediately ran from the sink and attempted to grab the pager from Donovan.  Joe is about 5’6, 160. Donovan, about 6’1, 240.  (He didn’t get his pager).  It got tossed around the locker room so that EVERYONE could read it.  Sgt’s in patrol read it.  I think they even read it out in the next detail.  Needless to say, the name stuck like glue.  Joe was no more. BOO BOO was his new name and still used to this day.

Two quick side stories….

about 5 years later, I am working as Director of Training for a company that was doing certification for Dallas SWAT and Joe was getting that training.  Of course, his certificate had BOO BOO on it.

about a year after his new name, we were having a Christmas party and Joe’s wife was there and of course was being teased and she thought it was hilarious.  She thought it was so funny that she added to the legend.  A couple of weeks earlier, Joe’s brother and sister in law lived a few blocks from Joe.  Joe’s brother, was also with Dallas PD and was working that night.  Joe’s sister in law called and said she saw a snake in the garage.  (They lived on a lake).  She calls Joe and asked if he could come over to get rid of this snake.  He did.

Joe shows up with……. His fatigue pants. bloused with boots… his departmental issued pistol with his duty rig strapped to his thigh…. his shotgun strapped across his back…. and his fully automatic MP-5 submachine gun, loaded and at the ready.

Joe was not BOO BOO that night….. he was RAM BOO

 

 

Short post today.  Might be the mood…. might be that I am tired of this, ready for it to be over.  Whatever it is, I apologize.

I have been asked by quite a few people of what I am going to do with this blog and/or my stories once I am on the way to recovery.  That is a good question.  I don’t know.  I’ve enjoyed writing the stories and might have one or two more in me…. :-)  If you have suggestions, please feel free to email me at tac101@aol.com.  (I would imagine you don’t want to post it on the comment section.)  I am very interested in hearing what you have to say.  This started out as a way to communicate with friends and family while I was “incapacitated” and has kind of turned into something else.  I’m just not sure what that is.  If you have comments, I would love to hear them!

Thanks.

 

Saturday Changes

Only one thing to report on this Saturday…..

After a total weight loss of 20 lbs….

Latest hair loss….

Hair 032313

Latest skin burn…..

skin 032313

I think we can officially say……..

I’m turning into a Zombie.

 

Tuesday is full of woe?

And a good morning/afternoon/evening to all you good people out there.  I hope all is well.

THURSDAY

Day 32/44

Official Weigh-In……and ….. 173.9.   So I’ve gained almost four pounds since Monday?  Wow.  The trend seems to be that I lose over the weekends and gain while I’m here.  No rhyme or reason behind that because I’m eating the same thing.  On Monday 3/11… weight was 169.6  On Thursday 3/14…172.6.  On Monday 3/18, weight was 170.2.  Now today, 173.9.  Not sure what all that means but a couple of things I do know….NO FEEDING TUBE…..and those chocolate smorgasbord smoothies I’ve been chowing down on are gooooood.

Other updates….. sleep is the same.  No more than 2-3 hours at a time.  It still looks like Johnny Knoxville and his “Jackass” gang buzzed the back of my head.  Oh…and this nice side effect…..

neck

I intentionally made the image smaller because it looks gnarly.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what is known as a radiation burn.  The area that is most affected is actually the area where the tumor is/was.  That is the area the radiation beams are concentrated on the most.  The other side of my neck is also red and very dry but not cracked skin like this side.  It’s been dry and I’ve been putting lotion on it… (“It places the lotion in the basket.  It rubs the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again.”)  (Sorry….movie quote)

(And yes…this shirt that I’m wearing in the picture USED to fit)

So regular lotion ain’t cutting it so I received…yes….TWO more prescriptions today for this issue.  A lotion for the dry, cracked area and a lotion for the ….. hate to use the descriptive word…but….for the “moist” area.

I think I’m turning into a Zombie.

TUESDAY

I’m not sure how that poem or whatever it is goes…Monday’s child is full of grace…..etc….but I’m changing it.  Monday was definitely full of “blah” and Tuesday was full of “woe”.  After hearing about the Missus’ car needing a new engine, we heard from the plumber that the restricted water pressure is due to the hot water heater going out.  I swear…. if a country music singer was writing a song about me… I think they would say… “ENOUGH!  I’ve got enough material!  I’m good.  I’ve got enough for several verses with some to loan out.  I could write TWO songs.”

So on Tuesday…. two things happened that caused “woe”….

First, Tuesday is our favorite day of the week!  And why is that boys and girls?  Because it is CHEMO Day!  Yeaaahhhhhh….. Chemo Day!    Nothing like getting shot up with poison to get you off to a rip roaring start.

Actually, other than the first day and dealing with the nausea, it hasn’t been that bad.   As I’ve described before, you get hooked up to an IV pole and they start pumping liquids in you.

infusion machine

(I’ve stated this before but this is for anyone that A) didn’t read it B) Read it and didn’t pay attention C) So bored out of their mind that they will read it again………)

Before any of that happens, they draw blood and make sure your levels of everything are where they should be.  Basically, they check to make sure that you are “OK” to accept poison.  (If that makes sense, then please explain to me.)  After that, they start with a bag of saline to hydrate you, followed by a couple of bags of anti-nausea stuff, followed by the bag of chemo, in this case, CISPLATIN, followed by another bag of saline.  As I’ve stated before, it takes awhile to get all this in you, about an hour per bag so the whole process, including the blood draw, takes about 4.5-5 hours.  Keep this number in mind as you will see it again.

Probably one of the biggest pains is…with all this liquid pumped inside you, um…. well… you have to go.   ALOT. So you have to unplug this IV machine from the wall, make sure your cords don’t get tangled, pushing the IV pole with the beeping machine down the hallway to find a restroom.  I’m dredging up old posts (blogs?) but every time I wander down the hallway, I feel like the Mercury Astronauts in “The Right Stuff”.  Thankfully for me, the cord is an IV cord, not like in the movie where it is an enema.

I digress….. ( I know… I seem to do that)….so ..where were we?  Oh yes…. entering the room to start my chemo treatment.  Now as you can imagine, there are a lot of people getting this done.  There are places everywhere.  I would say, they can probably accommodate 30-40 people?  Lots of chairs.  They have one big room with probably 15-20 chairs and lots of smaller rooms with two chairs each.  I’ve had it done in both and it makes no difference to me.  I have my laptop and check email, read the news, watch a movie (with earbuds).  So for me, its a place to zone out.

Or so I thought…..

On this past Tuesday, I was in a room with someone else.  Lets just call her …..”Nancy”. As in….”Nattering Nancy”.  I knew it was bad when I walked in with my nurse, and “Nancy” said….”Oh goody…someone to talk to.”  Nancy’s nurse and my nurse exchanged glances and they both looked at me and tried really hard not to smile.    I could see this coming from a mile away so I put on my nicest smile and disarming grin and said ….”Unfortunately, I have a ton of work to do.” while holding up my laptop.

Now before you start booing me….. I’m a pretty nice guy.  Seriously!  I am.  Ask anyone… well…most anyone.   For the most part, I will talk with anyone.  I’ll start conversations at gatherings.  I enjoy talking…. (I can see most of you rolling your eyes right now….SHUT IT!)  I have enjoyed talking and getting to know people here at the Hope Lodge but when you are trapped in a chair for 4-5 hours…and have been planning on some “personal?  Down?  Me?  Time….and don’t feel like talking with anyone….. like while you are flying…?  Then the last thing you want to do is talk with someone.  On this particular day, I didn’t feel like talking with anyone but I was going to be nice about it…. she would understand my subtle hints…. my nuances…. my well-meaning gestures of wanting to be non-communicative….. she would get all of that….right?

As I settled down in my chair and was getting everything hooked up… she said… “Let me tell you my story…”  And oh boy did she….. had breast cancer…beat it 18 years ago…now it “may” be back….her four daughters don’t want to visit her because they all smoke and there is no smoking at the Hope Lodge…. and how they are ungrateful….and on…and on… and on… and on….

The whole time she is talking…I’m not even looking at her.  I’m trying to read email..read the news… thinking that she will get the hint that I am a rude person…but oh no…didn’t faze her in the least.  Finally, I could see that nuance was being lost on her so I said…as politely as I could…”Excuse me, but there is some work that I really need to get done.  I do apologize.” (There really was some work I needed to get done….. you naysayers out there.)  She said…without missing a beat… “Oh Honey, don’t worry about that.  You go right ahead and let me tell you what else happened.” And she continued, non-stop.  At one point, a friend of mine called on the phone for something…. Thank God..and WHILE I WAS TALKING WITH HIM…..she kept talking.  He asked what all that noise in the background was …this has now gone on about 90 minutes.  She does not stop…even though I am carrying on a phone conversation with someone else and we are the only two people in the room.

Finally, the phone call ended …….I could see that I wasn’t going to get ANY work done…so I …as blatantly as I could.. opened up my bag, pulled out a DVD, stuck it in my laptop, got my earbuds and while I was looking at her…stuck them in my ear, and started watching my movie.   No subtle nuance….no passive communication…no deftness…. this was just out and out…I AM SHUTTING YOU OUT.  Did it stop her?  Of course not.  She kept on talking.  A couple of times, she would ask me direct question…and I would make the deliberate act of taking the earbud out…pausing my movie and asking…YES?  and She would ask me something and I would give a curt answer and go back to watching my movie but she never shut up.

Finally…(this has been going on for three hours now) I noticed how quite it had become….I could hear my movie without a drone humming in the background.  I looked over and saw her asleep.  Now for a brief moment, brief mind you….I considered waking her up and begin talking with her but I figured at this point, silence was golden… that I had indeed not been at my nicest.. I could have been more charitable and talked with her… and while I was feeling these pangs of guilt……emitting from her mouth was the loudest snore I think that I have ever heard.  It wasn’t some wimpy quick gasp of air snore…..this was the full bellow snore.  The kind where the nurses going up and down the hallways were poking their heads in my room to see what the heck was making that noise….and it was her.  So back in go the earbuds….cranking my WWII John Wayne movie up to the maximum sound level still didn’t drown her out.  Truly a day of woe.

But….evening is better right?  The day can’t all be bad.  Wrong.

I won’t go into detail….. I won’t try to evoke sympathy from you by using hundred dollar words when 5 cent ones will suffice.  My Tuesday evening woe can be summed up with just one word…and I’m sorry if if makes you squeamish…but that one word is…. constipation.

I’m glad Tuesday is over.

So here it is Thursday…. one more day until the weekend.  That’s a good thing, right?  And what time is it?

UNRELATED STORY TIME!

Or…… How a hole in the floor made me pass out with laughter

Again, this has nothing to do with my treatment or my physical situation.  This is just me sharing a story of one of my life’s travels.

I am going back to the well and share another story about being in Jordan ….with Ray.

Now if you didn’t hear the first story about Ray and him not wanting to lose a kidney, I forgot which post it is in but it is there somewhere.  I think its a funny story and worth reading but if you don’t feel like it, the overview is about 10 years ago, we were doing some training in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  Jordan is one of the US allies (probably because Israel is right next door) but a really cool place to visit.  You can see the where Jesus was baptized…you can see “Petra” (The cool place in “Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade” and in “Transformers III”.  Anyway, the Kingdom of Jordan has bought a bunch of our products for their Correctional officers and while they had a group there teaching them correctional tactics, I was there with others to teach them how to safely and effectively use our products such as tear gas, beanbag rounds and pepper spray.  With me was “Mike” from CA.  The two of us were there for the week to teach them.  Approximately one week before we went there, I called up one of our International Sales guys, “Ray” to let him know and not only was he glad to know, he decided to join us while we were there.  (I know this is a recap but for those knuckleheads that don’t want to read the other story…blame them.)

So we had a driver…(Thank goodness because I don’t think there are any traffic laws there) and he would drive the four of us… (Sorry…”Jim” worked for the correctional tactic company and was our Point of Contact.  Former NY Correctional guy…pretty good guy.)….so the four of us would arrive in the morning to the Jordanian Police Academy.  We had our own classroom and I would say we would teach 20-30 guys a day.  As you can imagine, translation was a bear…. but as they were fond of saying… “Mosh Mushkala”  (no problem)

There were some active muslims there, there were some not so active muslims there, so prior to us getting there, they decided instead of following the five calls to prayer every day, we would just have one big long lunch break of about two hours and end the day at 4pm.  Sounded good to us.

Now a word about….systems.  Particularly, toilet systems in the middle east.  In progressive countries, and I certainly would rank Jordan right up there, they have international hotels and restaurants.  We stayed at a Grand Hyatt Hotel and it was very nice.  (You just had to go through a metal detector to get in and out everyday because they had a bombing there a few years prior but WHAT hotel doesn’t have its own share of problems.  Am I right?)

Sooo.. nice hotel…nice restaurants… even served alcohol in the hotel bar…. but when you got away from the glitz and glamour… you would run into…differences.  Our first night was spent at the hotel so no big issues.  The next day, we went to the Police Academy and as we were looking around…I think it was Ray who said…. “Guys…check out the toilet.”

toilet in Middle East

Now this picture is not one of the actual toilet that we saw that day but is is a good representation.  It’s a hole……in the floor.  I’m not making this up.  Toilets at hotel and restaurants?  Same as we are all used to.  Get away from that…..like at this police station……and this is what you have.  Now for guys…#1… no problem.  We just sort of get it close anyway.  #2?  Big problem.  Unless you are a hunter in the woods… guys don’t normally “squat” to go to the bathroom.  Compounding this…. ..beside the hole was a pitcher of water.  No toilet paper…. a pitcher of water.  An ewer if you will.   I will have to admit that we spent considerable time trying to figure this out.  No toilet paper… hole at floor level… only have a pitcher of water…. we weren’t sure if the water was for your hand…of for other body parts…or for the flush… ?  Of course, we were not going to ask anyone.  We didn’t want to be the (already) stupid Americans that don’t  even know how to operate a toilet system that has been in place for over 6,000 years.  So yeah…we left that one alone but we did make bets of which one of us would “have” to utilize this hole.

So we did our training….every day we would break for lunch for two hours and we had the “honor” to dine with the Police Academy Major.  He didn’t speak a word of English and even though we had an interpreter, it was below the Major to ask for help so during this time we spent with the Major… silence.   Someone would cook local cuisine and we sat there in silence with the Major until he was done…and he would leave…and we would finish up lunch…..and we usually had 30 – 45 minutes to kill before class would start back up.  Well one day… we had the local cuisine…and it was some sort of seafood….. and as soon as lunch was over… Ray kept saying…. “Man…that fish is swimming downstream.”

I’m not going to go back and describe Ray. He is in another blog and worth the time and effort to find it and read about him.  I will say he has a heart of gold….I have never heard anyone say anything negative about him…and a truly funny guy.

So we are done with lunch….and Ray keeps muttering how “the fish are swimming downstream”…and we still have about 30 minutes to go before class when Mike comes up to me and asks….”Where is Ray?”  We both look at each other and look toward the bathroom door. At the Police Academy, the bathroom door has an opaque glass in the door.  And Ray is wearing a bright red polo shirt.  And you can see, through this frosted glass…a bright red shirt and movement.  Mike and I…and Jim has joined us by this time…we all start laughing because Ray is going to be the first one to break down and use the Middle East toilet sunk in the floor with the pitcher of water.  When Mike….devious mind that he has, said…. “Wouldn’t it be funny if someone released a fogger in the bathroom?”

Now a quick word on a “fogger”.  We are teaching these guys how to use pepper spray.  There are a couple of different ways to use pepper spray.  The most common is in a small canister that squirts a stream.  This is what most police and civilian versions are.  For larger crowds, you need something that squirts the pepper spray with more force and sprays a larger area, so you can reach your crowd.  This is a mid-level spray and it comes out with some force.  For even LARGER crowds, you use a “fogger”.  Remember those days when the mosquito truck would come through the neighborhood spraying for mosquitos and like idiots, we ran behind the truck?  They were using a fogger.  Now today’s technology advancement places the pepper spray fogger a little ahead of the kind used by the City of Mendenhall, MS in the late 60′s, but you get the point.  This fogger Mike was talking about is hand held, full of inert (not pepper spray but just a fog for show and tell) and the spray comes out in a fog like a small fire extinguisher, with considerable force.

So…Ray..due to his “fish swimming downstream”…is now about to be the first one of us to utilize the hole in the floor…..and this whole time he believes he is going to get away with this.  Mike runs into the classroom and grabs the hand held fogger, goes outside to the window of the bathroom, presses the nozzle inside the window….and lets it fly.

WHOOSH…..this cloud shoots out of this canister with a lot of force….making the WHOOSH sound…and the room quickly begins filling up.

We can see through the window, poor Ray is squatting over the hole…..when this cloud envelops him…..

Now imagine you are in a foreign land… and not comfortable using the toilet facilities but due to discomfort, you bite the bullet and want to get this over with as quickly as possible, without others finding out…and as you are all set to do your business…..squatting over a hole in the floor…..out of nowhere,…your hear a loud noise and this fog starts filling up the room you are in……

We see Ray’s red shirt start bouncing up and down….. (pulling up pants?)…..he runs to the window….he runs away from the window…. he runs to the door of the bathroom and frantically tries pulling it open… but the door won’t budge…. why is that?  it worked fine while ago?…….. (maybe because two of his “friends” were holding the door in place?)….he jumps up and down a few more times…. the fogger lets another blast go… you hear a bellow/scream…. he runs to the door again…more frantic this time….he starts banging on the door…. and at this point… I almost passed out I was laughing so hard…..he starts running in circles around this bathroom…the fogger is about empty…..tears are coming out of our eyes… and we finally let Ray out.

By this time, Mike joins us from outside and the four of us are gasping for breath…. Ray for the exertion and the other three of us from laughing so hard.  As you can imagine, this caused quite a stir at the Jordanian Police Academy…. some are laughing with us…. others are fearful of the Major and are quickly finding a place to hide…. we can’t help it…we are about to pass out from laughing so hard….. Ray is so relieved that he is not been the victim of some terrorism assault… that he is laughing harder than the rest of us.

We have to open up all the windows to let the fog out…. and we end up getting chewed out (a little) for “disrupting the professionalism of the Jordanian Police Academy”….and it may be one of those stories that you “had to be there”….but to this day, if Ray and Mike and I start talking about it… we laugh as hard today as we did then.

Hope you enjoyed!

Monday Blah’s

First off, Happy Birthday Mom!   It’s amazing you don’t look older with all the stuff I put you through.

Day 29/44.  Basically, four weeks down with two to go.  Nausea is still manageable.  Pain with swallowing usually doesn’t rear its ugly head until mid to late afternoon so, of course with the pain medication that I AM TAKING AS PRESCRIBED….. it’s manageable.  Weight?…well… somehow eating strawberry and banana smoothies for lunch and the chocolate smorgasbord milkshake for dinner, I still lost about two pounds this past weekend, holding steady at about 170 lbs.  My regular Radiation Dr wasn’t there so I didn’t get chewed out….yet.

It’s just that Monday’s are blah.  It’s when I leave home and come back down here to check in and start another week.  I know…I know…only two weeks to go….but still……

Plus, to make it worse, Kathy’s car overheated this morning and we found out its a cracked head gasket.  You know the kind….. the kind that requires a NEW ENGINE!  Oh yeah….that kind.  Just what you want to hear when you have no job, going through cancer treatment and aren’t there to deal with it with no idea how to pay for it.  Oh joy.

Also….sleep is a wish at this point.       BC……Before Cancer….I would get in bed around 11:30pm or so and read for a good hour and sleep pretty soundly.  Now with all the cancer/meds/ tumbling around inside my body, I can’t remember the last time I slept for more than three hours at a time.  Basically, my night goes like this….I’m tired during the day, especially the afternoon but I don’t want to take a nap because I don’t want to mess up potential sleep.  So I hang on until about 10-10:30 and read for about 15 minutes and drop right off…..Sandman welcomes me….sheep are jumping and the cotton is high……for about an hour.  Then I have to get up to pee.  Because when you take all this pain medication, and zapped by radiation,  your mouth becomes very dry and they want you to stay hydrated so I’m drinking water left and right (or is it up an down?)  Anyway..I’m drinking a lot of water and even though I’m a good little boy and try to void my bladder before getting in bed….It’s still got to come out.  So around 11:30pm, there is the first trip.  But do I drop right back off to sleep?  Of course not.  That would be too easy. It takes about 30-45 minutes…sometimes an hour….and then as they say on the shampoo bottles…..Repeat….repeat…. Sometimes…If I’m lucky…I can squeeze a whole two hours of sleep in there before waking up.  Oh joy.

 

So…I know I’m in a funk….and hate to bring you, my fellow listeners down….so to pull me out of my own funk….its…..STORY TIME!

Now I keep getting asked if these stories I have been telling are all true.  Someone once said, “You never let the truth get in the way of a good story” and I have been known to subscribe to that theory on occasion…but the stories I have listed on this blog actually did happen.  This one is no exception….It’s still going to be a PG-13 story but I need to warn that some might find the subject matter a little …..offensive…..

UNRELATED STORY….OR….The day the Exceptional People Came out to Play

This is a SWAT related story.  In order to tell it, I will need to give an overview of some tactics but relax, nothing too complicated.

Not all SWAT teams use the same tactics.  The size of the team varies and the tactics utilized vary.  A lot depends on what the “mission” is and what you are comfortable using.  On this day, the mission was what we called a “Hazardous Warrant”.  This is where undercover detectives go to a house and buy drugs, come back, get a warrant, brief us, we plan for the mission and hit the house and arrest the people involved.   I’m not sure exactly how many of these I’ve been on but the number is way over 500.  In the briefing, you listen out for anything that really matters such as weapons…types of weapons….types of drugs (You don’t like going against someone using PCP) and so forth.  I don’t recall anything extraordinary about this briefing other than the front room had 3-4 people in it, no weapons “were seen”.  Basically, your typical drug warrant.

On this day, we were using a 6-man team, plus a Sergeant.  Three, 2-man groups, with a “floater”.  You work with a partner for the most part, unless something happens and sometimes a 2-man team needs to become a 3 or 4 man team.  Sometimes the Sgt is held in reserve and jumps in when needed.  The movement of a team is almost choreographed in how it moves and flows through a house.  A good SWAT team can clear a house in under 30 seconds.  Of course, it takes hours and hours of practice and working with your partner to become that proficient.  When you train, you usually work with your partner and your learn each others tendencies.  Much like a sports team, when you work with a partner, you can tell when they are going to go left…for example,…before they do.  My partner on this particular day was “Tony”.  Tony had about five more years experience than I and was running in the #1 position (first one through the door).  Since I was #2, our job was multi-faceted….cover everyone from when we pull up in our van…as we get out…as we approach the house.  As the rest of the team members flanked out, our responsibility then narrowed to the front door and the “breaching” of the door. (Use of a battering ram to smash the lock/door open)  We had to cover the “breacher” (since all he had in his hands was a battering ram) and to cover the front door in case Mr. Bad Guy wanted to come outside.  Once the door came open, our responsibility was the front room and any bad guys in there…UNLESS…there was a more overriding threat such as someone with a weapon.  Since we were the first of our guys in the house, the rest of the team played off of us.  If we stayed in the front room, then a possibility would be #3/4 would go left and #5/6 go right….everyone playing off what the other team was doing.

THAT was the general plan.

EXCEPT….as we were getting out of the van and approaching the house…the front door was open and we could see someone inside…sitting to the right of the door….reach up and attempt to close the door.  This is whats known as a COMPROMISE.  You see, a lot of what SWAT does depends on a couple of factors….one of the main ones being surprise.  You want the bad guy to go….”What the heck?”  (or words similar to that….)  You want them reeling on their back foot….you want them trying to figure out where their day started to go down the crapper.  You want the deer in the headlights look.  You achieve that through one big advantage and that is …..lets say it together….SURPRISE!

For whatever reason….we didn’t have it on this warrant.

But that’s ok….because you can get it back…well….mostly….and you do that through speed.  You hasten your actions before their brain kicks in and realizes what is going on.   There is a really cool concept called “The Boyd Principle” that was figured out by a USAF Col named John Boyd that explains all this but I won’t get into it now. (Sorry…I know …I know…but we have to finish the story.)

So …where were we? Oh yeah…someone inside the house…sitting to the right of the door…is now attempting to close said door.  Tony calls out “Compromise” and that lets everyone know we have been spotted.  Tony now kicks it into gear and is sprinting to the door before it closes.  As his partner, I have to be there with him so into sprint mode I go.  Tony gets to the door, just as it was about to shut, and using his foot, smashes it back open and immediately confronts the guy sitting on a couch to the immediate right of the door.  I can see this out of the corner of my eye but my attention is now focused in front of me and there are three females sitting on a couch to the left of the door and one female sitting in a chair immediately in front of me.

Room layout 2

(Now….I think we should all take a moment here to be impressed……I wanted to create a picture so that you could relate to the setting.  I created this in PowerPoint and saved as a JPEG and pasted.  I’m pretty damn impressed with myself.  I’m just saying.)

So in this lovely image above….we have….one couch to the left that contains three females.  We have one chair in the middle that contains one female.  And we have one couch to the right that contains one male.  The stars represent Tony and I. He is the one lower right dealing with the male on the couch to the right and I am the star (of course I am….its my story) on the left dealing with the three females on the couch and the one in the chair.

At this point, Tony and I are back to back…which is not a bad thing.  We are covering each other…we have automatic weapons and “so far” we can’t see any bad guy weapons….we are in a good position of “tactical dominance”.

So the rest of the team, (remember all that training?) can see, almost immediately that we have this particular situation under control (for the time being) and it is time for them to continue clearing the rest of the house.  So they go between us to do so and continue to clear the other rooms in the house.

Now the orders begin.  One of the things that you want to establish…after surprise…(oops) and speed…(got it) is your dominance. There are other words for it but basically you want to use everything at your disposal to let the bad guys know that this is just not their day, that you have the upper hand…that before we came in…they thought it was their house but now?  Its ours.  You do this by using loud, clear, authoritative commands…, (of course, pointing a machine gun at them also helps) and you tell them what you want them to do.  First order of business?  You’ve seen the TV and movies…you want to see their hands.  If you can see their hands, you can also see that there are no weapons in their hands.  So with me commanding the four females, and Tony commanding the one male, we tell them….”Let me see your hands!”

Now this isn’t a hard command.  In fact, its pretty basic and simple.  IF…..and I’m going to go out on a limb here a little bit….IF…you are in a crack house being confronted by a SWAT team….I’m going to say that you’ve heard that command once or twice before.  Its about as routine as commands go.  As a matter of fact, I was about to start issuing my second command when I heard …..remember, Tony and I are back to back so I can’t see him….I heard Tony say….”I SAID…..LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS!”  Mmm…..that’s not right.  I’m pretty sure the guy can see Tony…can see the machine gun he is holding….can hear him….I hear Tony say the same command in Spanish…maybe that’s it!   The guy can’t speak English!  But wait…I hear the guy talking…he can speak English so why he is not complying?  Uh…Finley?  What about your own bad guys?  Oh crap!  You’re right!  Lets see….I’ve given the order…starting from left to right….first female…hands up…second female…hands up…third female..hands up…all females on couch..check….fourth female in chair in front of me….hands under a blanket…..NOT GOOD.  Lets repeat the order…..LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS!  No response….lets say it louder….and lets add some expletives for meaning….PUT YOUR #$@# HANDS UP!  No response…what the heck?  Doesn’t she hear the dominance in my voice?  Doesn’t she know that I’ve done hundreds of these warrants?  That I can shoot the wings off a gnat with this here machine gun?  Apparently, she didn’t get the memo so let me “show” her what I mean. So I reach down and grab one of her wrists with my hand and yank it from under the blanket.  She immediately plunges it back under the blanket.  Crap….plan B.  Meanwhile…the other three females are screaming at me…I tell them to shut up…and grab the blanket and attempt to yank it away from her…she grabs the blanket…so now we are in a tug of war…..

Meanwhile..I can hear the inflection in Tony’s commands and they are getting about as dire as mine…..I hear something along the lines of…LET ME SEE YOUR OTHER HAND….IF YOU DON’T SHOW ME YOUR OTHER HAND…I WILL SHOOT YOU…..

Crap….Tony needs my help but I can’t help him…I’ve got my own problems to deal with…..

The other three females are screaming….the girl I’m confronting sounds like she is in pain…I’m playing tug o war with her and this dang blanket…..I’m getting about ready to do something pretty drastic….GET YOUR #$@%%&&^%$ HANDS UP NOW!!!!!!!!!!!  Still…no response….ok….you want to play it that way….as I reach in to use my off hand to grab her around her scrawny neck…..I hear one word through all the noise…..

“Deaf”

“Huh”?

The three females have been screaming the whole time that this female I’ve been attempting to order around is deaf.

Mmm..  Maybe that is why she isn’t complying.

So I ask her….”Are you deaf?”

Real smart Finley.

Ok…my issue is dealt with ….what about Tony?  I can hear that he is about to butt stroke this poor guy on the couch…I hear a groan..I hear a yelp of pain….

In the (slight) lull…I quickly grab the blanket and throw it on the floor…making sure there are no weapons…and position myself so I can still cover these four females but assist Tony.  About that time, I see Tony reach down, grab this guys wrist, and yank, very forcefully up.  The arm didn’t go up…the guys whole body went up and a scream of pain escaped his lips.  The guy has a deformed arm.  He can’t straighten it out.  (or at least until Tony did).

So in front of me….is a deaf woman.  In front of Tony, is a guy with a deformed arm.  What are the odds that you would have two….exceptional ….people in the same crack house on the same day…?

Meanwhile….the rest of the guys continued to clear the house…hearing all this going on in the front room but continuing their job….when they are done, my Sgt comes running in to assist…and he is behind the deaf female…and is about to use force on her to get her to comply when EVERYONE…..and I mean EVERYONE….screamed out….SHE IS DEAF!

We gathered our wits about us… took a deep breath….arrested those that needed arresting….and lived to tell the story.

So that is the day when the exceptional people decided to come out to play.