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.

 

Hair Today…

Day 28/44.

New Development…..

Hair today

 

As my good friend TLL stated, “It looks like the guys from the movie ‘Jackass” got a hold of you.”

I believe this is more from radiation than chemo.

Week Four Wrap-Up

It’s Friday of my fourth week.  Day 26 of 44.  After today, I will have two more full weeks of treatment plus the 1st Mon and Tue of April.  Last day of treatment is scheduled for April 2nd.  Overall, it has been a good week.  I had a visitor (Thanks KDW) and the missus came down for some much needed familial support.  (Basically I think she came down to verify that I was repeating what the doctors were saying.  She swears no but …..:-)

So when we last spoke….(like you really had a choice to tune me out) I was getting my butt chewed for not taking my pain medication and for losing too much weight.  That was all last Friday and this past Monday.  Since then, I spoke again with the Nutritionist and she repeated the same mantra…EAT EAT EAT….and put chocolate on it!  Well for the last few nights I have taken her advice and for dinner…..I have had…(you might not want to read this part)…two Ensure Plus drink/meals.  Each one of them has 350 calories and 13 g of protein.  So add two of those….with two BIG OLE heapin’ scoops of Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream, ALONG WITH, two big ole tablespoons of peanut butter all whipped together.  (I think I just made a Reese Peanut Butter Cup milkshake?).  Anyway, in case you are wondering…they are goooooood .  With my next weigh-in on Thursday, I had those Tue and Wed night for dinner and at official weigh in time??   (Drum roll please……..)   I not only stemmed the weight loss but have gained….yes GAINED two pounds!  That may not seem like much but the Radiation Dr’.s were very pleased and they took the feeding tube threat off the table.  (By the way…can people with feeding tubes use them to inject alcohol?  I mean can a guy talk, while chugging a beer in his feeding tube like a ventriloquist?  Just wondering.)

Yippee.  So that’s one butt chewing I turned around.  Now for the pain medication.

On most days, I can get through breakfast (oatmeal.toast) and lunch (two Ensures) without my throat hurting but by mid-afternoon, it does start to ache a little so “following doctors orders” I’ve been taking one Methadone pill in the afternoon.  (Along with all the other anti-nausea stuff but this is for pain.)  After that, drinking milkshakes have been no problem.  There is still something there about biting, chewing and swallowing food.  I don’t know if its because 75% of my taste buds are gone…or if the food itself is aggravating my throat and suppressing my appetite..just not sure…but milkshakes for dinner are fine.

So usually chemo Dr appt is Fri but this week it was Thur so I pop in…feeling pretty smug….got my beautiful wife by my side….Radiation Dr’s are happy with me….I’ve actually gained weight….life is good.  He asked me and I told him what I’ve been taking and I got the immediate dismissal.  One Methadone a day doesn’t really do anything.  Methadone is a very slow acting narcotic that in this case, is to be used as a base coating, if you will, for other pain meds to springboard off of.  It’s your primer if you will.  It’s not going to make your walls look good but it will “enhance” the paint.  (Sssssss……thats the sound of my smugness balloon releasing a little bit of air).  I found out….ONCE AGAIN….that I am not taking enough to fight this fight.  I should be taking two Methadone pills a day for the “base coating” and when I have pain in my throat…take an oxycondone.  My argument was….but on the 1-10 pain scale, my throat is “only” a 3 or 4. Of course, that didn’t matter….because….he reminded me….every day into this my throat will get worse so I better listen to him now or I will be hurting.  So not exactly “bad” news…..I just need to do better

So if in the next blog I sound more like Timothy Leary or Jerry Garcia than myself….you will know why.

So its the end of my fourth week and so far….I’m doing OK.

ODDS AND ENDS

A quick follow up on a previous story and quick hit observations on other events.

GEORGE….I’ve been asked a lot about George. George is the one that is 86 that fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam and doesn’t look a day over 70.  I’ve had many other conversations with him and he is just a great guy.  A couple of things I’ve learned since I posted about him…….He as born in Chilie and moved to the US when he was 8.  He speaks 6 different languages.  And oh yeah…he trained the Bolivian Commandos that went into the hills to take out Che Guevera.  When I asked George if he was actually there when it happened….he smiled and said, “no comment.”

FRANK

This is from another resident here and I thought this was a cool story.  Frank is 76 and was telling how his parents met.  Frank’s father,  Frank SR, sailed to the US when he was 14 years of age and lived in New York with friends of family.  Mario and Hilda.  Now Mario was from Italy..Hilda from Germany.  I’m not sure how they met but they were married and lived together and took in a young Frank as a boarder.  Mario spoke Italian so he could converse with Frank but Hilda did not.  Hilda spoke German, but Mario did not.  Their common language was English.  So after rooming with them for over a year, Hilda, through Mario, asks why Frank hasn’t met any girls yet. (Think she is ready for Frank to move on).  Frank responds, thru Mario, that he doesnt know the language…doesn’t know anyone…etc.  After Mario interprets in English…she responds that WWI is about to be over and that she just happens to know of some nice German girls who would love to come to the US and a plan was hatched.  After Hilda selected the right girl for Frank, this is how the courtship began.

Frank would tell Mario what he wanted to say in the letter (to someone who he has never met or spoken to) in Italian.  Mario would then translate Frank’s Italian words into English so his wife, Hilda could understand them.  Hilda would then re-re-interpret them and write the letter in German.  THEY DID THIS FOR A YEAR AND A HALF.

It must have worked because after WWI is over, the new bride to be sails into Ellis Island, Frank is there with his new suit, his flowers and his gift, Mario and Hilda are there to interpret…and they after 18 months of correspondence, they finally meet.  Frank presents her with the flowers and the gift.  The gift is one that he has been saving up for for quite some time and very rare….a pair of silk stockings.  The new bride to be looks at the gift and is momentarily offended because, as she explained to Hilda….IT IS UNDERWEAR.  After realizing they were getting married in three days, they quickly got over it and seven kids and 25 grandkids later……..

I just thought that was a cool story.

MUSIC

I’ve got to off of on a small rant here…..I’ve mentioned before how when I receive radiation treatment, it lasts for about 20 minutes.  There is a CD player in there and they have about 20-30 various CD’s to listen to but you don’t want to take a lot of time trying to pick one out because there is a schedule and they try to keep you on it.  So after the first day asking for Classic Rock and getting “Journey”, I’ve gotten a little better.  They have a Sinatra CD and one for Bobby Darin, and so on.  I bought and donated a Best of Billy Joel because they didn’t have anything by him.  They have a Buffett.  I’m not sure what CD it is but if you fast forward a couple of tracks….you get the snooze-a-rama part.  ”Coast of Marseilles” “Island”….zzzzzzzz.

So the other day, I glanced over there and saw….”The Best of R & B”.  Can’t go wrong with that, right?  And its a factory CD, not some homemade one.  So we put that on, got as comfortable as I could and they started the machine and the music began. First song?  ”Soul Man” by Sam and Dave.  Perfect.  Great way to start.  Second song?  ”Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton (I had to look it up).  1970.  Technically, it is listed as R&B so I guess I can’t complain but it brought the mood down…a lot.  I would put a whole lot of songs before that one on a “Best of…” soundtrack but ok…whatever.  Third song?  Remember….”Best of…..R (rhythm) and B (blues)……ready for this?  PATCHES by Clarence Carter (had to look that up as well.)  You know that song….Patches…I’m depending on ya son……GOOD GRIEF!  How could ANYONE someone even think to put that song on a R & B GREATEST HITS?

Sheesh.

SPAM

If anyone out there is interested in creating and writing a blog, I encourage them.  It’s actually quite therapeutic and has helped me tremendously.  Having said that, in the creation of your blog, one thing you MUST do is have the ability to censor comments.  When I was offered that option, my thoughts were that some of my “less than civilized, going for the joke, Type-A” friends’ brand of humor may not go over too well with some family and friends so I selected that option. I must say, although I have opened myself up to many, many comments, they have all acted great and I appreciate that.  It’s the other stuff that is killing me.  I probably should have realized it but I would say on average I get at least 10 comments a day from spammers.  The comment starts off nice of how they like my site, blah blah blah but then they want to link and this and that….so my apologies to my friends and family for not posting how you can get the cheapest Christian Loubatain shoes or NFL throwback jerseys.

 

UNRELATED STORY

Back in BK…..before kids….Kathy and I were living in a nice apartment in the Dallas area. I was on the SWAT team and she was a nurse and amazingly we found that we both had not only Christmas Eve of together but Christmas Day as well.   I had been warned that during Christmas, a lot of people get depressed and want to commit suicide and that we (SWAT) would probably be busy, but you never think about possibilities.  We actually had the day off.  This was great….no kids….just a nice time to be together.  So we (meaning she) planned to have a honest to goodness sit-down, 5 course Christmas Eve dinner with candlelight’s (again..BK) and we were going to get out of sweats and actually wear nice clothes and be civilized for a change.  So everything is going great until….my pager goes off.   Now in SWAT, you can have the day off but if you pager goes off, you have to go.  We were disappointed but the evening was still young and sometimes they disregard us before we even get there so changing out of slacks and blazer and into battle dress utilities and with a kiss on the check, tell her I will be back as soon as possible.  Enroute to the scene, you don’t get a whole lot of information over the radio and this was before cell phone days so pretty much armed with just the address, I head that way.  It is in West Dallas and it is where a lot of the low income housing is.  The Projects.  I pull up and start gearing up and trying to find out what is going on and get the story.  It seems that there is a 67 year old woman, living by herself in the projects, who is  deaf mute, and the power company has turned off her power for failing to pay her bills….on Christmas Eve.  Now if that won’t send you over the edge, I’m not sure what will.  So the situation was, she was sitting in a chair in a hallway (very confined space) with a knife in her hand with no way to communicate with her.  We had made it in her apartment so we were in her kitchen….and the knife wasn’t “that” big…but a knife is a knife and she could do some damage to us or to herself.  So I’m one of the young un’s in SWAT so not involved in the planning phase at this time, just thinking about wrapping this up and going home to enjoy this Christmas Eve dinner that Kathy has been working on all day.  At this point, I remember a guy I used to work with in Patrol that knew sign language.  He didn’t know it enough to get paid extra for it, so he wasn’t official, but he did know it.  I told the Sgt, they made the call and he happened to be working that night and “Doug” showed up to help.  So imagine, you get a call out of the blue that SWAT needs your help and you show up, there is a 67 year old lady sitting in a chair with a knife in her hand and oh by the way, we need you to talk her into giving up.  Disregard the fact that you have no negotiating experience whatsoever.  But Doug, given him credit, plunged in and began “conversing” with her.  He had a little problem with the sign language since he had sprained his finger earlier and it caused him to stutter.

Wait for it…..

BA DUM DUM

(sorry…couldn’t resist)

So this goes on for awhile…she is despondent….(duh)..she just wants to die….going to stab herself and whoever tries to stop her….Doug is helping the best he knows how but its not working so the Sgt comes up with…..”The Plan”.

The plan is to shock her with tear gas and go in and tackle her.  ”J” will be the first guy in followed by Finley.  (I’m sorry, what?)

Lets talk about tear gas for a moment.  I won’t bore you with technical details but there are different types and they affect you in different manners.  Pepper Spray is a form of tear gas.  It is in a liquid form and it reacts immediately.  It aggravates the heck out of your lachrymal or tear ducts, causing your eyes to shut down, excess tears, and burns like the dickens.  Then there are burning tear gases. It is in a solid state.  Almost like a bar of soap.  Used for outside.  If you ever see a riot on TV, that is what they are using. Allows you to get a lot of tear gas out in a rapid manner, but it is a pyrotechnic and you have to be careful not to burn anything down.  This tear gas still affects the tear ducts but it also squeezes the chest making it difficult to breath.  The next option is good ole powder.   Effects are the same….just takes longer.  Now imagine taking a whole container of baby powder.  Grind it up some more.  That is what a powder tear gas looks like.  It is slow acting but as we used to say…”It is the gift that keeps on giving” because once it gets in carpets or houses, in that amount, it is almost impossible to get rid of.

Now you have the quick education on tear gas….so I will pose this question to this august panel of experts….if you decided to use tear gas in this situation would you use A) the liquid that is fast acting, blinding or B) the solid that could burn a house down or C) the Powder that is slow acting……And the answer is……..OF course it is A…and of course….we went with C.

However….remember I am pretty much a rookie at this point….have been exposed to tear gas in training but couldn’t tell you anything about it….so you go to the expert.   In our squad at the time, our tear gas ‘expert” was “H” and I’d be surprised to know if he knew what end to shoot it out of so he suggested to the Sgt that we use this munition called “Muzzle Blast”.  The Muzzle Blast munition is a 6′ tube full of powder.  I mean full. Take the baby powder analogy and grind it up more.  Each particle of powder has tear gas in it.  This powder sits in a tube held in by a piece of cardboard that is glued on the side.  No joke.  It is fired out of a 37mm launcher that has a smooth bore and when it comes out, it comes out in a cone shape pattern and spreads wide….very quickly.  And oh by the way…it is very thick.

37mm launcher

 

The trigger is pulled ,the hammer falls on a very small firing cartridge and it basically explodes this powder out of the end of this launcher.

So the plan is…..”J” (who is considerably bigger than I) and I will be hands free (No weapons in our hands) wearing gas masks and “H” will fire this (slow acting …heavy fog…) tear gas at our suspect….and we will rush in….while she has a knife in her hand…and we will subdue her and everyone will be happy.  That’s the plan.

H fires the muzzle blast, I take one step and I can’t see J who is less than 2 feet in front of me.  I take a 2nd step when I do see the knife flying toward me.  I grab the arm with the knife and down we all go in a heap.  Turns out…of course our suspect was not affected by the tear gas at all.  J, had grabbed one arm (the one without the knife) and was in the process of spinning her to the floor when I caused a disruption in the momentum by grabbing her knife hand.  But as they say, any plan you walk away from is a good plan.

Now I’m fairly new to SWAT but I know that I am covered in tear gas.  And the tear gas is in powder form….and it is on me and my clothes……so I’m not going to start taking stuff off at the scene…there is all kinds of those powder particles floating around…heck no….I’m smarter than your average bear….so I go to my car, open my trunk and start carefully peeling all my stuff…vest…holster…I take off my shirt, even though its like 28 degrees outside (tshirt under) and finally…the last thing was my gas mask.

gas mask

 

Now have you ever moved anything covered in powder?  Sure you have…lots of people are dealing with pollen right now.  Well when you take something off that is covered with powder it goes up…and then it comes right back down.  So I’m feeling all cocky and then WHAM…..eyes begin burning…face feels like its on fire…..snot pouring out of my nose….oh yeah….full tear gas immersion.  Not fun at all but Hey..we are done for the night…I’m thinking a quick shower….still time to have that nice romantic candlelit dinner….so the whole way home…my head is hanging out the window….its 28 degrees out….I’m trying to use the wind to keep my eyes open so I can see to drive….I’ve got a continuous stream of snot going from my nose to my rear bumper….but….I’m headed home.

Just to make sure everyone is with me on the date…..I’ve left clues…..before kids….so at least 19 years ago…..”got a pager call”…..so basically…..this was pre-cell phone era by a long shot.  For you young’uns out there….there actually existed  a time when we didn’t have cell phones.  So there is no way I can tell Kathy what time I’m getting home…what has happened…the best I can hope for is that I get the front door open….tell her to stay away and to clear a path to the shower…….yeah…it WAS a good plan.

Like the excited young wife waiting for her big strong SWAT man to come home….she tore open the door, still all dressed up…and began to give me one huge hug when…WHAM….the tear gas hits her too.  She reels back….I’m trying to help her but I’m covered in it…I start yelling out instructions to get her away from me and to get her immediate help….first thing was taking her contacts out….yeah that might help…..I finally get her situated enough to deal with myself…so into the shower….put the dirty clothes in a sealed bag….and you get in the shower with a bottle of shampoo and stay in there for 3o minutes.  Because every time water hits your head, it washes the tear gas from your hair down the rest of your body.  And you can’t open your eyes….at all. So you keep washing and washing..and washing…..

Finally…after 30-40 minutes….you feel that you got most of it….so downstairs I come…..Kathy’s nice dress now has to go to the cleaners…..candles are burnt to stubs….have to re-heat all the food….but it was still a very nice Christmas Eve dinner….although above I said you get “most of the gas”…..a speck or two would find its way to my eyes the remainder of the night.

Small postscript…..one of the first things they teach you in SWAT is to clean your equipment as soon as possible because you never know when you might need it again….and I told you I was off on Christmas day?  Well we get another call-out on Christmas day and I get to the scene and open my trunk.  You’ve heard that term, “Nature abhors a vacuum?”  Tear Gas loves a vacuum.  The vacuum caused by opening my trunk took all those particles on my gear and shoved them right back in my face.  Truly….. ”The Gift that Keeps on Giving.”

Butt Chewing

Howdy friends and neighbors…Greetings from Gainesville.

First….my apologies for the lateness of this blog and the “so-so” unrelated story at the end.  I started writing and I’m not happy with the results but my editor is on my case to publish so here you go.  I guess my muse wasn’t hitting me this week or whatever.  In the meantime, “both” of my fans have asked where and when the next blog will be posted so here you go…….

PHYSICAL UPDATE

Day 23 of 44.  Just over the halfway point.   I’d love to tell you everything was perfect and on schedule but that’s just not the way it works sometimes.  The biggest issue going on right now is my loss of weight.  In the three weeks of treatment, I have lost 20 lbs, down to 169, and they are not happy with me.  I’ll come back to that one.

Butt chewing.  We’ve all had them.  They are given by someone in authority for something you’ve done (or haven’t done).  I couldn’t tell you how many I’ve had in my life but the number is significant.  Sometimes they weren’t even deserved but I got them anyway.  (Probably most of the time they were deserved.)  Sometimes you do things knowing that you will get a butt chewing but its worth it.  Those are the ones that bring a smile to your face.  Sometimes you get them even though you are trying…..these two recent ones are cases in point……My first butt chewing was during my visit to the Chemo Dr. this past Friday.   I see him every Friday and its usually just a 10 minute visit to check in to see how things are going.   The first two weeks, no issues were expected so the visits were short.  Dr. “R” is a pretty matter-of-fact, straight to the point kind of guy.  Probably a little smart ass….I’m not really sure why we have hit it off.  Could that be it?   Naaaa….surely not.

He began asking me about the pain in my throat that makes it hurt to swallow, which, of course, leads to not wanting to eat or drink.   He has prescribed oxycodone for the pain.  To take anywhere from 2-4 a day as needed for pain.   Nowwwwww….I’m not a big pain medication kind of person.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe its from hearing the story from my Dad playing high school football and getting speared in the kidney and having one removed and getting hooked on morphine while in the hospital and missing a year of school.  Maybe its from seeing all those meth heads in Dallas all strung out.  Maybe I’m concerned that I have an addictive personality (chewing tobacco for 30+ years?) and that I’m going to get hooked.  Maybe its from me thinking that mere mortals may need pain medication but not someone like me???  For whatever reason, I admitted to the Dr that I had indeed NOT been taking the pain medication as prescribed for my throat and have been trying to tough it out.  And that’s when I got……The Look.  We’ve all received “The Look”.  The first time was probably from our parents.  Some have gotten it from their bosses…but most of us have gotten it from our spouses.  Its a powerful look.  It conveys a whole gamut of words, emotions,intent, anger, resentment, incredulousness (?) …basically…..it says…..”YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS?!”  As a matter of fact…those might have been his exact words.  I explained that I had taken one oxycodone about once every two days and I was “managing”.  This is when I got another “look” and the butt chewing.  I was reminded that he had a diploma that I could go down the hall to see if I doubted him….he reminded me that he had been doing this for many years where I was  a newbie at this…..that he wasn’t going to let me get “hooked”…He reminded me that I had cancer and that was the #1 priority and any addiction pales in comparison…..etc etc etc.    You know how these butt chewings go when you have no ground to stand on, nothing to counter his arguments with……?  That was me.  Just sitting there squirming.  I was also trying not to laugh because his arguments were so smart-ass they were funny and they were ones I would have made if I had been in his shoes.  So the outcome is that since I was hesitant to take 2-4 oxycodones a day, I now have a prescription for Methadone.  Yes…Methadone.  The same thing they give heroin addicts.  (You can look it up…they actually DO give it to cancer patients as well.)  It’s slower acting than oxy and should be better for me.

So with my tail tucked firmly between my legs, and methadone in my pocket, I went home for the weekend and had a nice relaxing time.  Now my weekends are spent in the loving embrace of my family….doing pretty much nothing…..as Crash Davis tells Annie in “Bull Durham”….”I just want to be.”.  And that is pretty much how I spend my weekends.  The missus always wants to cook up something that I want….which is problematic because my “smell buds” work fine but my taste buds are crap.  So for Saturday night….roast cooked in the crock pot for hours….mashed potatoes….mac and cheese….good soft food and that smelled sooooooo good and I had about five bites.   Because you see friends and neighbors…..pain medication….particular oxycodone and methadone both have a common side effect……appetite suppression.   You don’t know what aggravation is until you smell roast beast in the house all day long…..and when it is time to eat….you don’t feel like eating.  Which….of course….leads me to Butt Chewing #2.

I show up bright and early Monday morning…feeling ok….or as well as I think that I should be feeling…..and after radiation treatement I go see the Radiation Dr on Mon and Thur and the first thing they do is weigh you.  And after three weeks I have lost exactly 20 lbs.  I got the “uh-oh” from the RN who is putting it on my chart.  They then get vitals and it seems my blood pressure is something like 92/62. Thats low.  She asks me to stand up with the BP collar still on my arm and it drops even further.  I find out its a simple trick to see if you are dehydrated which apparently I am….a lot.  Before they whisk me upstairs for IV’s…one of my Radiation Dr’s comes in and gives me the butt chewing about losing weight.  A 10 lb loss would be “acceptable” but not 20, especially with three weeks to go.  I’ve basically got the rest of this week to stem the weight loss or they are going to order me a feeding tube. In case you don’t know what that entails….they insert (surgery) this tube in your stomach and it sticks out a couple of inches….and there are three tubes coming out of it.  One is for cleaning..one..I have no idea…but the main one is to inject liquid into so you can eat.  That is how you eat….by injecting liquid into a dang tube sticking out of your stomach.  Now the people that have problems eating love this thing.  They can get nourishment, they feel better…..but I’m sorry…I have enough alien crap sticking in my body with a pacemaker and a port and I don’t need yet another aperture.  BUT…..if I don’t start eating, then that’s what they are going to do.

So how do you take pain medication to ease the pain in your throat so you can swallow…….knowing that it will suppress your appetite….and yet gorge yourself as much as you can?  Well by medication of course.  They have a prescription for everything.

Appetite enhancer

This is Megestrol….an appetite enhancer.  If you look closely, you can see my index finger in the picture.  I did that to give some perspective of how BIG THE DAMN SYRINGE IS.  So every morning, I am to fill up this syringe and squirt it down my throat so that I can hopefully have an appetite and can eat something in order not to lose weight and possibly get a feeding tube and in the meantime, I’m all hopped up on oxy and methadone so it won’t hurt to swallow.    Oh and also take the four different types of anti-nausea pills so the chemo won’t affect that either.   I think that pretty much sums it up.

I need a pep squad that Kyobiashi uses when he eats all those dang hot dogs or whatever with a marching band and a parade.  A trainer to get me prepared to eat a meal…with the Food Coach psyching me up……

I know…I know….it can always be worse and for a lot of people it is.  Seriously though….food is my hangup now?

QUICK UPDATE…..Went down for dinner and even though some group was providing dinner, nothing sounded great so…..on the advice of my Nutritionist……..fixed a milkshake of Ensure Dark Chocolate…..a big ole heapin scoop of Haagen Dazs Chocolate ice cream and a big scoop of peanut butter and blended it up.  And it tasted so good, I had a 2nd one.

 

Ok…..enough seriousness…..This blog’s tone is probably not what you wanted or intended so I’ll try and lighten it up…….When I started sharing some of my stories, I received a call from a few buddies of mine that were fraught with terror that I would tell “that story” or “that other story”.  Relax.  Any story I’ve told, I’ve made sure the people involved were ok with the telling.  However, trying to keep it PG-13 has been …..”trying” ….at times.  But….those stories are for around the campfire.  Here is a (relatively) quick one that still makes me laugh….

 

UNRELATED STORY

When one graduates from the Dallas Police Academy, they are assigned to one of six (at that time) “sub-stations”.  If you were a good student…..(of course I was….;-) then you can “request” to go to a certain one.  Most rookies don’t care where they go, but they do care to not go to one of the least desirable stations.  So upon graduation, I was assigned to the Northwest Sub Station.  It had a good reputation, it ranged the gamut from projects to Ross Perot’s house.  Lots of activity and some good people that worked there.  So I was happy I got to go there.  The next phase of concern is who your trainers or Field Training Officer (FTO) were going to be.  Each rookie is assigned three FTO’s for four phases.  The first three phases last 6 weeks and the fourth phase is only for three weeks, you go back to your first trainer.  All three phases are on a different shift so you can see the different peculiarities between the 8am-4pm shift (days)….and the 4pm-12M shift (evenings) and the 12M to 8am shift (deep nights).   The concept is….during your 1st phase, you start off doing 10% of the work and by the end of the 1st phase…you do say mabye 30% …then end of 2nd phase….doing about 50%…..end of 3rd phase…about 75% and during 4th phase, you do everything.  The FTO’s are (hopefully) experienced officers that will guide and mold you into becoming one of Dallas’ finest.  Needless to say, good FTO’s are a godsend.  There are some great ones out there….there are some that are ok…there are some that “think” they are great….there are some without a clue.  If you get stuck with a bad one…there really isn’t a whole hell of a lot you can do…just do your 6 weeks with them and move on.  A great FTO makes those 6 weeks fly by.

So about a week before you graduate from the Dallas Police Academy, you get your station assignment and you get your FTO assignment.  Now in every academy class, there is always someone with an uncle or brother that has the “skinny” on everyone else and you try to get as much intelligence as you possibly can on who your FTO’s will be.  So my first one was Eddie.  Great guy.  Great reputation.  Gonna be busy and will have fun.  Great.  My 3rd one?  Only has 3 years experience.  (no coment)

The 2nd one?  Oh the 2nd one….someone that to this day when I think back…I just have to laugh and shake my head.  This story is about “Dirty Joe McCrary”.

“Why the name Dirty Joe?”  ”You don’t want to know.”….or “no one knows….”

So first phase comes and Eddie is a great guy and we are busy every night…great trainer….gets me in all kinds of stuff….car chases…foot chases… drug busts….total immersion in the “fun” stuff a police officer can do.  We were working the evening shift when a lot of things happened and it was a blast.  Working around a lot of good people who are still very good friends to this day (Hey Tom!).  Just had one heck of a time and I was eating it up with a shovel.  At the end of each shift, the FTO has to fill out a “Daily Observation Report” or “DOR” which has about 20-30 categories that you rank the rookie on.  Some you just fill in a number and there is a place to write some if a rookie does something good (doubtful) or bad (probable).  When the FTO has completed it, they hand it to the rookie and if discuss any issues and the rookie signs and it goes into the permanent file.

So First Phase is coming to a close….I’ve got all of six weeks on the department….and now I have to go to “Days” with “Dirty Joe” on Second Phase.  Now normally, the day shift or “Days” is the slower shift.  Hardly any drunks out…..dope heads are home sleeping…and its where the older officers work….they actually take coffee breaks…..(no time on Evenings)…and its just a slower pace.  On top of that, my FTO has one of the biggest reputations not only at NW but in the entire city.  At this time, Joe had about 17 years on the department but he looked like he had been there for 30.  He was about 6’4″, 280….big ole mustache….big ole beer gut…and one ugly cuss.  If you’ve ever seen the movie “Big Jake” with John Wayne, the main bad guy in there is Richard Boone.  He also acted in the TV Western, “Have Gun Will Travel”.

Richard Boone

Not the prettiest guy in the world.  Joe had a very gravel-like voice and spoke in his own patter that you had to interpret along the way.  And oh….by the way….he LOVED to torment rookies.  One way to do this was to “make them wear their lid”.  (Your “lid” is your police hat….like this one….

Police hat

Now the only time a DPD officer “had” to wear one was for special occasions like funerals…dignitary visits…etc.  As I quoted these rules to Joe when he told me I had to wear my lid….he said….”Them ain’t Joe’s rules.”  So for six weeks, I had…..to wear my lid…much to the delight of my academy classmates where we would run into each other at the jail.  Fun fun.

(Alright….paid meds must be kicking in because my editor is telling me that I’m rambling and that the “quick” story is long passed and I need to wrap this up…..)

So one day, we get an alarm call.  During the Day shift…98% of them are false ….1% are from bored housewifes..and 1% something actually happened.  So we get there, Joe stays in the front and I go check around the back.  Sure enough, the back door has been almost broken down, stuff all over the place…and no one around.  Now remember, I have all of six weeks of experience and my first inclination is, we need to see if someone is still in there.  So I go in…search the place….they are long gone…and come back out, go back to the front, and tell Joe they are long gone.  Joe gives me that look like…..”How do you know that.”  And I say…probably smugly….”Because I’ve already checked.”  Now for those that are not police officers…even you probably know..that I violated about 10 of the top 15 rules of police work by going to check on this by myself.  At the time, I saw the problem and fixed it…but there are SOOOOO many things I did not do correctly.  And it was slowly dawning on me…and those months of police academy study and hours of looking at proper procedures…..and years of watching Adam-12….were slowly starting to form in my previously disengaged brain and I realized….that I have really, really messed up.  Thankfully, the bad guys were all gone so it wasn’t compounded…but I have messed up big time.

We waited for the owner of the house to return….Joe didn’t say anything to me….we rode to the station….probably an hour earlier than usual before getting off….and he started writing his Daily Observation Report (DOR).  Now I know its going to be bad…..like get put on double secret probation kind of bad…..whatever reputation I had going in and built up with Eddie was now shot…..I’m dreading this DOR in all kinds of ways.

So Joe finally finishes and hands it to me.  Instead of the typical “Officer McCrary observed Police Rookie Finley ….blah blah blah……it said something like this…..

“Dear Mr and Mrs Finley.  I regret to inform you of the stupidity of your son.  I’m sure you raised him well and thought that he was somewhat educated and frankly, my first impression was he was a smart boy. But as we know, looks can be deceiving.  I regret to inform you that he can’t see very well because his head is so far up his rear that it makes it impossible.  He can’t hear very well because his ears are full of cow manure.  It’s obvious that he can’t think very well because only an idiot would GO INTO A BURGLARIZED HOUSE BY HIMSELF WITHOUT TELLING HIS FTO……and on and on it went.  For about four pages.  He apologized for failing them…he apologized on behalf of the department….he blamed the “new math’ they must be teaching…. it was an incredible work of art and if it wasn’t such a serious issue…I would have laughed out loud it was so stinking funny.

Thankfully, for my permanent record, he had also written a professional “official” one.  To this day I wished I had kept that.

 

Depression

First….an ADMIN note…..For those that have asked, my TechGuyNick has set up where you can “subscribe” to this blog and get an email notification whenever I post a new one.  Just scroll down on the right hand side and push the “subscribe” button and enter  your information.  My appreciation to TechGuyNick for his help in setting this blog up.  Take a bow TechGuyNick.  Yeeaahhhhhhhhhhh!    (Nick, those are the cheers from the multitude of readers that I hear in my head every night.  Enjoy them.)

Update:  Day 18/44.  Have lost a total of 13 lbs.  Fever gone.  Nausea under control.  Sore throat giving me problems.  Good spirits.

I believe Mr. sore throat is here to stay.  Doesn’t really hurt to talk, just to swallow.  After the fever went away, I figured it was time to get back on a regular eating/drinking routine.  They want me drinking 100 oz of liquid a day, at least half of that being water.  So on Wednesday, Mr. Tough Guy that I am, decided I don’t need no stinkin’ medicine to swallow and had half  a bowl of cereal in the morning, half a 6″ subway for lunch and about three bites of something for dinner.  So much for toughing it out.

Today (Thursday) I decided to see if those Dr’s really know what they are talking about and tried the medicine route.  First up, the “Magic Mouthwash”.  If you read earlier, its basically lydocaine you swirl in your mouth and swallow and it numbs everything in you mouth….lips…tongue….throat….but I was able to eat a couple of eggs and a piece of toast so I’ve got that going for me…which is nice.

Now here is where the depression kicks in…..

I believe it is safe to say that for at LEAST 45 of my 50 years….that there has been one constant in my life….(other than family, blah blah, blah ) and that is….Coca Cola.  I am one of the biggest Coca Cola fans out there.  Or as we say in the south…Coke.  Everything in the South is a Coke.  ”what kind of Coke do you want?  A Sprite or a Dr. Pepper?”  There is “real Coke…(leaded)….Diet Coke..(yuck) …Coke Zero (ok)…but Coke is king.  In college, I was probably up to drinking 10-12 A DAY.  I’m sure in the halls of the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta, my name is portrayed prominently.  Now I don’t drink quite that many now…maybe 3 a day….but it is where I get my caffeine.  I hate coffee.  Coke is the king.

So with the fever the last couple of days an dealing through the sore throat, I realized I had not had a Coke in two days.  I don’t think I have ever gone two days in my entire life without a coke.  So at lunch today..grabbed a Coke….heard the all too familiar sound of the pop top….brought it to my lips…..and took a big ole drink….and almost spit it out it hurt so much.  It burned the whole way down my throat.  Ok….maybe that was just the first swallow in a while and my throat needs to get used to it….but oh no….it burned just the same with the 2nd and 3rd swallow. Woe is me.  This is truly depressing.  One of the few constants in my life has forsaken me.  Nooooooooooo.

 

UNRELATED STORY TIME……or…..YOU HAVE TO BE SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE BEAR

In my early days with the Dallas Police Department,  I was working Patrol with my partner, Scott.  It was a nice, summer evening, and we were driving through a neighborhood that had seen better days.  As we were slowly driving, up ahead, walking in the middle of the road, were four black teenagers, coming toward us.  As we were about 50 yards away, one of them dramatically reached into his pocket, picked something out, and threw it in the adjacent yard.  Scott and I looked at each other and smiled and pulled up to a stop in the middle of the street, got out, and told  all of them to place their hands on the hood of our car.  We patted all four down for weapons (there were none) and as Scott began looking in the area of the yard where the guy threw something, I decided to utilize my vast police experience (of one and half years) and impart some knowledge on these juvenile delinquents.

“You know….(i began) I’ve seen some really stupid people in my life.  I mean, I’ve seen some people that didn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.  I’ve met people that didn’t know their name, where they were from, where they were going…but out of all these stupid people I met, I don’t think I have EVER met anyone as stupid as you.  Did you not think we could see you throw something down?  We were looking right at you.  You made it SO obvious.  Did you think we were blind?”

Now the teenager in question decided that he wasn’t going to say anything, nor were his friends.  They just remained still with their hands on the hood of our car.   I glanced over at my partner, waiting for the AHA moment where he found whatever this guy threw down but Scott is now down on a knee looking through the freshly cut grass.  Jeez, even my partner is blind.  So with nothing else better to do, I decided to continue my skillful berating of Mr. Juvenile.

‘I mean really……how blind do you think we are?  Did you practice that maneuver over and over and think you have it down so well that it would work and two experienced police officers wouldn’t notice?  Jeez I’ve seen some rookie moves but that was over the top bad.  You couldn’t have been more obvious.  A moron wouldn’t have missed that move.  How stupid did you think we are and now that we have you here, how stupid do you feel?”

Smiling smugly, I looked over and my partner Scott is separating the blades of grass by hand, still hasn’t found anything.  He looks at me, shrugs, and stands up.  My partner really is blind so I decide to take a look.  As I’m looking, I hear Scott…..

“As my partner said, you guys take the cake.  That was one of the most stupid moves I have ever seen.  Most guys try to be subtle.  Do you even know what that means?  That means do it where no one can see it.  Go look it up because you don’t know the meaning.  That was over the top.  That was the opposite of subtle.  That was just plain stupid.”

Scott looks at me…and I can’t find anything.  We confer for a moment and we decide to save as much face as we can when Scott addresses the guy that threw something and said….

“Alright..we have decided to cut you guys a break.  Here is the deal.  What was it you threw down?”  The juvenile tells us it was a joint of marijuana.  ”Ok…here is the deal….if WE find it…you are going to jail.”  (We haven’t found it yet but its all about the bluff.)  If YOU find it and destroy it….We will let you go.”

Mr Juvenile said….”Let me get this straight….if YOU find it…we are going to jail but if WE find it and destroy it…you will let us go?”

“That is correct”

“No Bullshit?”

“No Bullshit.”

Mr Juvenile said….”Ok then…but I need to take my hands off the hood of your car.”   We nodded.  He then took his hands off the hood of our car, reached in our open driver side door, popped the hood of OUR car…..reached in, grabbed the marijuana joint from inside the hood of OUR car….crumbled it up…started laughing his ass off and walked away.

When this kid saw us, he ACTED like he threw something but when we put their hands on our hood, he slipped it down the crack of our own car hood.

Scott and I just looked at each other and laughed.  Some days  you have to be smarter than the average bear.

Side Effects

Hello again everyone.  Welcome back to the wonderful world of cancer treatment and the untold scores of fun and exciting things that await.

First..an update.

It is day 16 of 44.  Started week 3 of 6.   Nausea seems to be under control.  However, that sore throat that everyone has been telling me about?????  Well guess who decided to drop by and play?  Yippeee.  So much for gaining weight. I’ve lost 12 pounds.

The weekend started off better.  Saw my Chemo Dr on Friday and we had a good talk.  He asked me about any issues and I told him really the only thing was not sleeping.  He told me it was due to anxiety.  Seriously Doc?  I think I’ve been in some anxious moments before where most people would cringe but I had a grin on my face.  However, I’ve learned you can’t really argue with the Dr that has your health in your hands so he prescribed Xanax.  Oh boy…another prescription.  He said it was like a glass of wine before bed.  I muttered something about why not drink the wine and he said..”Oh…you can drink all the wine you want to.”  (REALLY?)  ”But you aren’t going to want to.”  Heh heh heh. ..We’ll see about that Doc.  I’m not sure you realize who you are talking with.  In some circles, I’m considered a professional.  I survived a week long  training trip to Belgium, the beer capitol of the world, with six guys from the Irish National Police.  BTW, in Belgium, bars close when people go home.  If they don’t go home they just sweep around you.

So make it home Friday.  A good friend whom I haven’t seen in awhile comes by Saturday night with his wife and they bring two bottles of wine and I think I’ll just show ole doubting doctor right here and now who is the master of their own domain.  Ahhh…it smells good.  (taste buds are waning but smell is not)  Tastes like a good wine….maybe a little bland (taste buds, not the wine)…..maybe once I swallow it…..HOLY $#!*?<$#@! that burns!  Well now this really sucks.

Woke up Sunday with a sore throat.  I may have talked a little too much Sat night.  (seriously….I know most of you will find that hard to believe).  I kept quiet most of the day but the sore throat didn’t go away.  That evening, I started getting cold.  Now living in North Florida, cold is a relative term.  We see ski parkas when it drops down in the 60′s.  However, its in the high 40′s outside, our heat is on, and I’m still freezing my rear end off.  The former nurse Missus decides to take my temperature and what da ya know..I have a fever of 101.  That’s not good. In all our meetings with the chemo Dr’s, they said to call them if my fever ever got over 100.4.  My Dr even gave me his cell phone to call.  They are that serious about it.  A fever is a warning sign of……NEW WORD HERE…….Neutropenia.  Tell us Don Pardo…..what is Neutropenia?

Neutropenia is where your white blood cells are NOT fighting off infection, and basically fighting and destroying each other.  This is really really bad for cancer patients because you are more susceptible for ANY kind of infection.  And if your white blood cells don’t fight that infection, a minor infection could become major one in a big hurry.  Apparently, about half of leukemia patients suffer from this.

So the on-call Dr said that since I was coming down there tomorrow, just get blood work done tomorrow.  So I’m sure all of you have tried to sleep with a fever.  You are either too hot or too cold and feel like crap and are uncomfortable and basically want your Mommy to bring you a comic book.

Had to get up at O’dark thirty to drive to Gainesville in time for my radiation treatment and at this point, I have a fever of 102.1.  I can do this.  I am superman.  I am Captain America….I am ….feeling like crap.  Kathy will have none of that so 19 yr old daughter gets awakened and drafted to drive me.  Make it down safely, get the radiation treatment, get more blood work and basically, I’m NOT neutropenic, I am suffering from a sinus infection.  still sucks but it could have been worse.  They load me up with antiobiotics, I go back to the lodge and take one of the best three hour naps I have ever had in my life, and feel much better.  Kathy comes and gets Taylor and now back settled.   EXCEPT…..Mr sore throat is still around and apparently, he will be here for the duration.  The radiation that I’m being bombarded with swells up the throat, making it difficult to swallow.  When I chew on something and just about have it ready to swallow….I feel like Will Ferrell in the movie “Elf” where he is testing the Jack-in-the-boxes. He hates them, you can tell, but he is doing his job and as he winds the crank, he is cringing at Jack popping out.  Well for me and eating, that is what I’m feeling.  I know its coming, I’m cringing at the thought, but I have to do it.

The other alternative is through medicine.  First off they have this stuff called “Magic Mouthwash”.  It’s pink and the consistency of Pepto-Bismol and tastes like crap.  It’s active ingredient is lydocaine.  You swish it around your mouth and swallow before eating.  It deadens your mouth…throat..lips…tongue….for about 5-10 minutes.  Can’t taste a dang thing.   And also the Doctors keep asking me why I’m not taking what they prescribed for pain?  So for the sore throat, I have morphine and oxycodone.  Maybe if you take that you just don’t care if it hurts to swallow.

So on one hand, I can eat and swallow with pain, but can actually taste what I’m eating.  On the other hand, I can numb the crap out of everything and eat in a morphine hazed state.

I know I have to eat so I’ve got to figure out a happy medium.

PICTURES!  Yeah….shut up Finley…we want to see PICTURES!

Here are my medications…..

Meds

Here are some pictures of what it looks like to receive the radiation treatment.  I’ve shown the mask in an earlier post.  This is one with me wearing it….or it wearing me.

Rad with mask

 

radiation treatment

 

For any of my LE buddies out there…yes, those are 5.11 pants.   I told a 5.11 VP friend of mine that if he needed a sales guy to go after the cancer patient demographic, I’m the guy.

 

SIDE EFFECTS

So over 1,000 words in this blog and I’m just now getting around to talking about what I intended.

My first visit down here at Shand’s, we met all the Doctors and the loaded us with will all kinds of information.  Part of this information was a thick folder full of “Side Effects of Radiation”.  In this packet, they give you the overview, how radiation kills tumor cells by destroying their DNA, when the DNA is damaged beyond repair, the cell stops dividing and dies and how it can also damage normal cells and THAT is what causes the side effects.   They then go and mention that they are listing ALL potential side effects for ALL types of cancer and that at least some cancer patients have had, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get it…blah blah blah…..

So lets go down the list:

-Anxiety – Well this is pretty natural.  I would guess any visit to the doctor will cause this especially cancer.

-Depression – Again, I can understand this, especially if the particular type of cancer you have is very serious.

Fatigue – Yep.  Got it.  I don’t have “riding-in-the-scooter-at-the-grocery-store-kind-of-fatigue” but I can definitely tell my energy is waning.  I went to the gym last week and boy was THAT depressing.

Hair Loss. – As much as I would like to blame my thinning hair on chemo, my Chemo Dr assures me getting it once a week will not cause me to lose my hair.  However, the next time you see me and my hair is thin…just assume the Dr was wrong.

Loss of Appetite – Check

Dry Mouth – Check

Skin Changes – I keep getting asked if my skin has changed.  Apparently, where you get radiation, you get radiation burns on your skin.  I swear the first person that calls me a “redneck”……..

Constipation and Diarrhea – I’ll spare you the details.

Taste Changes – Check

Sleep Changes – check

Now this one….when I read it, I had to re-read it.  I’m going to quote…..

Cognitive Changes – Short term memory loss, being easily distracted and having trouble concentrating, difficulty multitasking, difficulty understanding new things and difficulty with math and/or language skills are some of the impairments cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy may experience.

“MOST PEOPLE RETURN TO “NORMAL” BY 1-2 YEARS AFTER TREATMENT FINISHES.”

Are you kidding me?????  I’m sure (at least I’m hoping), that its for brain cancer but still….

If you have followed this blog from the beginning and are starting to notice a trend of my lack of using polysyllbi…….pollly…….pollysulabic……….BIG WORDS……, then let me know.  You might need to use small words and/or pictures.

I’ve left out a lot of others but you get the point.  And remember, these are the side effects from just the radiation.  I have side effects from the chemo and every single one of those medicines that was in that picture also has side effects.

 

Story time?  This has turned into a long enough blog.  But the multitude (2) of fans (acquaintances) keep asking (mentioning) it so….here goes an absolutely unrelated story…..

THE NIGHT I ALMOST DIED IN JORDAN BUT ENDED UP LAUGHING MY ASS OFF

I’ve been to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan twice.  This was from my first trip.   Probably around 2007?  I’m working for a company that makes police and military goods.  In this particular instance, the police in Jordan have purchased a large amount of tear gas, rubber pellets and pepper spray from our company and now they need training.  They received training on other correctional tactics from another company, they just need training on these items now.  So I grabbed one of our instructors “Mike” and off to Jordan we go.  Before I leave, I call one of our international sales guys “Ray” who’s territory at the time was the middle East.  At that time he was in Dubai and I mentioned that I was going to Jordan and he said he would come by.  Great.  Good trip.

Now Ray is a former police officer from OH and he is the kind of person that I have never heard anyone say anything negative about.  He has never met a stranger, would give you the shirt off his back or go buy you a new one.  Just an all around great guy and funny as all get out.  When Ray left a few days later, the Chef, the Head Waiter and the Desk Manager all stopped what they were doing to come out and hug Ray goodbye.  That’s the kind of guy that Ray is.

So Mike and I arrive in Jordan and Ray meets us at the hotel and the next day we begin training and things are going well.  We are actually working as a sub-contractor to a training group that has the training contract but they are ok and their point of contact with us, “Jim” is a nice guy and the four of us made a good team.  Get up in the morning, get driven to the police academy, train these guys (around calls to prayer) and then back to the hotel by 4:30.  Shower.  Hit the hotel bar.  Go out to eat.  Back to the  hotel bar, and do it all over again.

Now bars in Jordan, as you can imagine, are a little different.  They still serve all the requisite spirits but there is one small difference….there are no women in ANY bar.  Not that my group cared about that..but it got to be a running joke.  We didn’t want to talk to them or anything else…we just wanted to see if they actually went to one.  We would see a woman enter the hotel lobby….think maybe this is the one..and then she would veer off.  I’m not sure where women in Jordan drink but its not in public bars.

On the 3rd or 4th night, we were hitting it pretty well when someone came up with the idea to see if other hotel bars were the same.  One was in walking distance, we went there and sure enough, no women.  AS we are walking back to our hotel, Ray is behind us and I hear him say “Finley!  Come on!”

Now think back on the adventures you have had.  Did they start off with someone asking “Where are we going?”  ”What are we going to do”  No, of course not.  They start off by someone doing something.  It kills me when I go back to TX to the state SWAT Association conference and there are these younger guys hanging around us.  When I ask them what they are doing, they reply “We are waiting for the fun to start.”  Sheesh.

So when Ray said, “lets go” I didn’t ask where or why, I just jumped in a cab with him.  It seems that Ray had been talking to a cab driver on the corner and lamented the fact that there were no women in the bars and the cab driver promised to show him where the women hung out.  So we pull up to this skanky looking building with these two HUGE guys hanging around out front.  The alarm bells in my head are not sounding like they should, probably due to the amount of alcohol in my system.  The cab driver assures us that it is his “cousins” bar and everything is A-OK.  (he actually said that.) So Ray and myself, with the bravery of alcohol propelling us forward, walk past the two goons and into what I have to describe as the smallest elevator I have ever been in.  Ray and I have to turn sideways so we can both fit.  One of the goons says “5″ so we push the 5th floor button and away we go.  When we reach the 5th floor and the elevator doors open, we are immediately assaulted by bright lights and very, very loud music.  A guy greets us at the door like we are visiting royalty and immediately takes us into the main room and puts us at this big table right in front of the stage.  Takes our drink order and is off.

I’m going to try and do my best to paint this picture…so bear with me……

On the stage…….is a ten piece live band playing arabic music as loud as they can.

In front of them, are about 10-15 “girls” in various shorts, halter tops, with what I would have to imagine, makeup applied by the gallon with a paint roller and none of these girls knew anything about nutrition.  And they are all dancing to the music.

BOOM…here come our drinks and they are very strong and very big.  BOOM…here comes  all this food…I’m talking plates and plates of food….that we didn’t order…coming to our table.  The alcoholic haze is starting to lift a little and I say (scream) RAY……something about this is wrong.  We didn’t order food.  Go see what you can find out.  cause if anyone can talk with anyone, its Ray.  Everyone loves Ray.

While Ray is gone, a couple of the girls come and sit at the table and ask me where I’m from and they say they are from the Czech Republic.  Ray comes back and shrugs his shoulders and about this time….BOOM…the head guy comes out and starts throwing purple money around and that was the final alarm bell.

In Dallas, there were a few bars that were on the very low end of strip clubs. What they would do is when a guy came in, the dancer would ask him to buy her a glass of “champale”.  And of course hand over his credit card.  When the bill came, it was $300.  Invariably, sometimes the police would be called but basically, there wasn’t a dang thing we could do.

This was one of those places.  In this case, the purple money was “house money” worthless but with it and the food….you see where it is going.

I told Ray, who has already downed his drink, that we need to leave like right now and he said he was on it.  Less than a minute later, he came back to me and said I needed to come with him.  NOW!

Facing us were five people.  The Manager who until recently was our newest, bestest friend, and four of the largest goons  I have ever seen.  They had no necks.  Their jackets are stretched across their torsos so you can see the outline of their concealed handguns. And they are all from Russia.   Not good.  But if anyone can schmooze these Russian goons, Ray can, right?

So I turned to Ray and said, “Whats the deal?”

It turns out that they want to charge us $400 for our less than 10 minute stay.  Now I know how this ends.  They probably have the law on their side and I KNOW they have the intimidation on their side.  My brain is trying to figure out all the options when Ray says….

“Here is whats going to happen.  I’m going to pay you $20 for the drinks, because they were good.  But I am not paying one dime for any of this other mickey mouse bullshit you are trying to pull on us.  So here is the $20 and if you don’t like that, you can stick it up your ass!

(Ummm..what happened to schmoozing Ray?  The one everyone likes?  The one that is NOT going to get us killed?)

We slowly back our way into the elevator, keeping our eyes on them, squeeze our way inside, push the ground floor button and watch the bemused looks on their faces as the doors close.

Ray immediately lets out a big sigh and starts talking a mile a minute…..”Man Fin!  Did you see those guys?  Wow…I thought we were going to get our asses kicked….wow they were big….I wasn’t going to pay $400 or even $100….man they were big…..Uh Fin?  How come we aren’t moving?”

Sure enough, the elevator has not gone anywhere.

I push Level 2

Ray starts up again…”Man o man.  That was close….did you see the look on that ones guys face when I told him were were only going to pay $20?  And then when I flipped him the $30?  Wow…..uh Fin?  We still arent moving.”

Indeed we are not.  I start pushing other buttons.

“Fin….get us out of here.  Work your magic.  I got us out of the bar…you get us out of the building…..come on Fin!  Keep pushing buttons. Get us out of here!

I’m pushing alternate buttons.  I’m pushing them with my left hand and then my right.  I’m holding down one while I push others.  We are not moving.

“COME ON FIN!  Get us going….quit pushing buttons…get us out of here now….cmon Fin….

“I DON’T WANT TO LOSE A KIDNEY TONIGHT!”

Now I am sure you have all heard the urban legend about the guy that gets with a girl and sleeps over and wakes up in a bathtub full of ice with a note telling him to call his doctor because one of his kidneys has been harvested?  Apparently, Ray had too.

Of all the things that could have happened….beat up…taking all of our money, maybe a broken bone….for whatever reason, first and foremost in Ray’s mind was losing a kidney…..and given the timing, and the context, and the situation…..that had to be the funniest thing I had ever heard.

“Uh Ray….what?”

“Come on Fin…I don’t want to lose a kidney tonight!”

I start laughing…couldn’t help myself…..Ray starts laughing….here we are cramped in this tiny elevator, with possible mayhem on the other side of the door, and we are laughing our asses off.  Not just a snicker ..no…..a full roar…tears coming out of your eyes….gasping for breath…laughing.

So we finally gathered ourselves…..and realized that there was only one thing left to do and that is open the door on our current floor.  So like Butch and Sundance, we put our fists up….pushed “5″, the doors came open…and no one was there.

I’m not sure if they got bored from waiting or heard the wild ravings of some lunatics and left but  didn’t really care why they left, as long as they weren’t there.  We stepped out of the elevator, thankfully found some stairs….went down them as fast as we could…sprinted past the two goons outside, as we were still laughing….caught a cab and made it back to our nice, quite hotel bar.

The next night we were having dinner with a Jordanian police major and we told him about this place and he said it was one of the places run by the Russian Mafia.  Nice.

He recommended we not go back.

Gotcha.