First off, I want to thank everyone for the kind words regarding this blog. I’m doing it mostly to keep from going insane (insane-ier?) while cooped up here, partly to keep family and friends informed of whats going on, partly to scratch the itch of needing to tell stories, and also partly in figuring out a way to deal with whats going on.
The feedback has been great but I’m starting to feel the pressure to keep making it “funny”. I’ve had a multitude of people beg me to include stories from my past that I may have told once or twice.
(Editors note…..multitude = two people. Beg= ask)
SHUT UP Mr. Editor! (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!)
So in changing the format a little, I’ll start each blog with a quick update on my current status, followed by a story on something that is currently happening with my treatment. Lastly, I will add a story that has absolutely nothing to do with my treatment, so you can skip that part if you want. These stories will be humorous in nature. Now obviously, some of you have heard these stories and there are some that I will not be posting. I will make these as PG-13 as possible but warning, there might be a swear word in there.
I am in day 11 of 44. (36 treatment days, 44 actual days). The anti-nausea meds seem to have worked. Still feels like I have heartburn but its manageable. Gastro issues are no longer a problem…(whew). No difficulty swallowing or eating but I’ve lost a total of 7 lbs when I am supposed to be gaining. The biggest issue is not sleeping. The anti-nausea drugs are mostly to blame, along with the anxiety and different environment. I really can’t complain too much, but I know that this is an “easy” week with the worst to come. I think the next blog will be about the wonderful world of side effects. Fun fun fun.
Now..on to my story….
Here at the Hope Lodge, different groups come in 1-3 times a week and cook dinner for everyone. There are 48 rooms here and I believe they are all taken and you figure 90% have a caregiver with them so that’s dinner for 90-100 people. Very nice of them to do that.
Well last week, my first week, they are serving dinner and since I am pretty much the youngest person here, I was waiting for everyone else to be served when an older man came up to me and asked if he could sit with me. We started talking. One advantage about talking to someone here is you have an instant connection….”What are you in for?” He introduced himself as “George” and looked about 70 yrs old. George and I compared our cancer issues and where we lived and so forth when I asked him if he was still working. He said he was a retired Industrial Engineer but before that, he retired from the military. I thanked him for his service and asked him what branch? Army. Oh? What was your MOS? (In Army talk…MOS stands for “Military Occupational Specialty”. Infantry or Artillery, etc.) George cocked his eyebrow up and smiled a little and said….”SF”.
SF stands for “Special Forces”. As in Green Berets. (In the Special Operations world, SF pretty much means the Green Berets. Delta Team will never admit they are in Delta so they say DOD (Dept of Defense) or SpecOps. Navy SEALs are “The Teams. All under the SpecOps family.)
He confirmed, shyly, that he was indeed a member of the Green Berets. I asked him further about his story and he gave it….and WHAT a story!
He enlisted in 1944. (Wait…what?) Said he was 17 living in Brooklyn and dating a 16 yr old girl. Dad found out and called police. George was sent before the judge and the judge told him he had three choices….1) He ould go to prison for statutory rape. 2) he could be released and in that case, the Dad would surely kill him. 3) the Judge could pull some strings and he could enlist, today, in the Army even though he was 17. George said he didn’t have to think too long and chose door #3. As Boot Camp was winding down, a guy came along offering more money for anyone that joined the paratroopers and George decided that sounded good and joined them. But he didn’t join just any paratroop outfit, he joined the 101st Airborne Division and was assigned to the 506th Regiment. That just happens to be the Regiment honored by the book and HBO mini-series, “The Band of Brothers”. Wow! Now George downplayed it and said he didn’t do all the things that those guys did because he got in so late in WWII but still.
If that wasn’t enough, he stayed in and they disbanded the 101st and he joined the 11th Airborne Division in Japan, came back as a training officer to re-form the 101st for Korea, served in Korea, joined the Green Berets in 1962, served in Laos (um….George..I don’t think we were supposed to be in Laos?) worked with the CIA on the “Phoenix Program” (mission was to torture and assassinate Viet Cong leadership.) According to George, “I didn’t get into the sniping and torture. My specialty was demo (demolition) so I just blew them up.”
He finally retired in 1969 at the rank of Command Sergeant Major, (That’s an HMFIC) after some injuries and used the GI Bill to get his Industrial Engineering degree and spent 25 years working in that and just retired about 10 years ago.
Now he told this story in less time it takes you to read it and I’m trying to process all of this and somehow figure how how old he really is but my brain is in overload so I just ask him. He is 86.
I was telling this story to a buddy of mine today and my buddy said, “great hyphen”. I asked what he meant and he said on our tombstone, you have your birth date and your day of your death and in between is a hyphen. Indeed….a great hyphen.
Like Red said in “Shawshank Redemption”….”you either need to get busy living or get busy dying.”
Again, probably PG-13 and it has nothing to do with my treatment. Just me, wanting to tell a funny story. (Yeah, like I’ve never done that before!)
A quick funny story before the Main Funny Story….In Dallas SWAT, the negotiators are actual SWAT Guys. A position came open and they were talking about who could fill it and apparently my name came up but was quickly taken off the list. The reason? They said the suspect would say he was giving up and I would say, “Hang on, let me tell you another story.” Hardee Har Har
Speaking of Special Operations Forces, while with Dallas, we had the opportunity to train with two elite groups….Delta and Navy Seals. These groups visit cities and use their buildings and terrain to get a different look and of course invite the locals to join them.
Delta was all set to come to Dallas and of course we were all excited to join them when our city leaders decided to order us NOT to train with them. They thought Delta would teach us “bad habits”. You have GOT to be kidding me. You trust us to protect the city but you don’t trust us to distinguish military tactics vs police tactics>????? sheesh.
So while Delta trained, we stood guard protecting them from whatever…and of course would sneak inside and train with them.
But this is not about us, its about Houston.
Delta left us and went to Houston to train. I have a few friends from Houston SWAT that shared this story. After the Houston guys got to do all kinds of training with them (Bastards!) the Delta guys invited them to their base at Ft. Bragg. A month later, four Houston SWAT guys went up there to visit and to train for a couple of days. As the Delta guys are showing them around the grounds, they pass the Obstacle Course and ask, “I don’t guess you guys feel like doing the O course, do you?” Now in the Type-A, macho, competitive world of Special Operations/SWAT, this is akin to saying…..”We think you guys are wimps and the only way to prove us wrong is to man up right here and now and you better do it well.” But you have to play it easy so you say, “Sure…we need a little something to do and besides its been at least 24 hours since we have done one.”
So the Houston guys take off on the O course and when done, are asked “How was it?” Now inside they are dying cause they just gave it everything they had but of course you don’t say that, you say what they sad….”Not bad.”
They continued to walk around the compound when they came up on a series of holes in the side of a hill. When the Houston guys asked about it, they were told it was a “Tunnel Challenge”. Inside were a series of tunnels and a team would go in and, using teamwork, get out on the other side. Again, the gauntlet was laid down, “You guys want to try?” and the Houston guys jumped in and began crawling.
Now imagine crawling on your hands and knees, in pitch black darkness, sometimes having to go to your belly, and crawling into your head hits a wall. You feel around for another tunnel and go that route. If there is no other tunnel, then you back out. Oh yeah, there are four of you working as a team. Sometimes they would come to an intersection where there would be 3-4 tunnels and a person would go down each one with all but one being a dead end. They would have to communicate to each other and maneuver back out and on the right track.
After about an hour, they emerged at the end, tired, and dirty. The Delta guys slapped them on the back for a job well done and told them about the time the Japanese Special Forces visited Ft. Bragg.
As Delta was showing them around, much like with Houston, they came upon the tunnel system. As they were explaining it, the Japanese said….”Tunnels?? We invented the tunnel system! You Americans think you know tunnels? We’ve been using them for centuries and kicked your ass in WWII with our tunnel knowledge. If this course is so great, what is the record in getting through it?” The Delta guys replied that it was 20 minutes and the Japanese, full of boast and confidence said, “Well that record is falling today!”
Now again, you don’t boast and brag around Type-A guys cause they’ll humble you real quick. ESPECIALLY on the other teams home turf.
But into the tunnels jumped the Japanese and sure enough, they popped out at the end in just under 20 minutes full of confidence. EXCEPT….the Delta guys moved the table and chairs that were at the entrance hole to the exit hole where it looked identical. As the Japanese popped out, the Delta guys exclaimed….”Dang guys. Somehow you got turned around and came back out the front.” So back in the Japanese go and of course,….you got it…they moved the table and chairs again. According to the Delta guys….”We kept them sonovabitches in there for three hours!”