I trust all of you are well. It has been a couple of weeks since my last post, and I apologize for that. I had a Doctor’s appointment last week and I wanted to wait until that was over so I would have the latest to report. Also, I’ve had to fire up the ole memory banks to find some other PG-13 stories to tell. I’ve still got plenty, just not the PG-13 variety. I think we are ok for a little while at least.
Overall… I’m doing well. Especially when you consider that seven weeks ago today was my last radiation and chemo treatment. Add to that the issues with pneumonia, the flu and the staph infection I dealt with that same week and for two subsequent weeks. Also, the havoc that radiation and chemo plays on your body and all the side effects that they cause. So my chemo Dr says I’m doing well… my cancer dentist says I’m doing well… my radiation Dr says I’m doing well….. but the pace of recovery is DRIVING ME CRAZY! I have to give the above speech to myself every day so I won’t get more frustrated at how slow this recovery process is. As mentioned in the Post headline, snails are fast compared to this. I know, I know… I have A LOT to be thankful for, and I am. Trust me. More than I let on. But patience has never been one of my strong suits. I’ve gotten better over the years (got to with kids) but this is probably one of the most frustrating things I have ever gone through.
So there are a few side effects I am still dealing with. One is dry mouth. I’m reminded of playing high school football and practicing in August, in Mississippi, during two-a-days. (practice twice a day) The first practice wasn’t so bad. It was in the morning when the weather was halfway decent. The afternoon practice however… at least once a week, during lunch, you would see clouds forming and you just knew what that meant. Sure enough, it would rain for about an hour and 30 minutes before practice was scheduled to start, the rain would stop, and the humidity would form and steam would come up out of the ground. So here we were, in 98 degree heat, with 98% humidity, wearing full pads and practicing for a couple of hours. This was also back in the day when the coaches were yelling at us to take our salt tablets. This was also during the time when no one knew how unsafe dehydration was. This is no lie… for a 3 hour practice, in that heat, we would have one water break that lasted about 10 minutes. During that 10 minutes, the 40 of us on the team were battling each other over the ONE water hose for just 5 seconds of water. Fun fun fun. I can remember sucking the sweat out of my practice jersey just so there would be some kind of moisture in my mouth. ( Don’t look at me like that….I wasn’t the only one.) Now today, if I’m talking on the phone or trying to eat, and I don’t have water with me, its almost as bad. So apparently, this is a permanent condition and something that I will have to deal with the rest of my life.
The second thing I’m dealing with lately is dizziness. You know how sometimes you get dizzy when you stand up too fast? Well that is happening to me EVERY TIME I stand up and take a few steps. This has been going on the past few weeks. So I ask my chemo Dr about it and he says…. get this…. that it probably has something to do with old age. WHAT?? Are you kidding me? I know lots of people older than me that are not dealing with this. I later check on the side effects of the pain medication I’m taking for my throat and you want to guess at one of the side effects listed? Yes you? CORRECT…. DIZZINESS. Old age my foot. I have an appointment with my cardiologist next week just to make sure.
I’ve got to take more precautions now… like move a little more slowly? The other morning around 6am, I woke up and had to go to the bathroom really bad. So I jumped out of bed and walked that 10 feet to the bathroom and was in the middle of the bathroom when the wave of dizziness came over me. I reached out to grab onto something and there was nothing there so I promptly busted my rear in the middle of the bathroom. Now folks, we have talked about my weight loss and as you can see, I have not said anything about gaining back all that weight, because I haven’t. Plus, I wasn’t blessed with ample weight in my rear in the first place. So when I lost weight, what I did have back there is long gone. Let me tell you, falling/sitting down hard on a tile floor doesn’t feel so hot. For the past few days I’ve had to sit leaning to one side.
Appetite/Weight .. my appetite is sloooowwwllllyyy returning. I’m eating more things but my taste buds are still screwy. An example is that ketchup is too spicy for me right now. Also, what is delicious one day, I can’t stand a week later. In talking with others, this could go on for a year. Oh joy. But like I said, I am eating more things but in the last few weeks, I have gained a total of one pound. I am now a strapping 156 lbs! That is about what I weighed when I graduated college 28 years ago. So I officially lost 34 lbs and have gained one back. I am well on my way!
That is about it as far as my status goes. I still have some other side effect issues such as fatigue and the occasional low grade fever but am coping with them. I was seeing my Dr for a check up once a week… then it went to every 2-3 weeks…now my next appt is in 6 weeks. Between now and then I will begin weaning myself off methadone as my throat lessens in pain. And now…
UNRELATED STORY TIME
This is the time in the blog where I relate some story from my past that has absolutely nothing to do with cancer or my physical well being. The blog started out as a way to keep friends and family informed of what was going on and the added stories were a way for me to keep my sanity during treatment. Now, most of the comments I hear have nothing to do with my well being, but rather they ask me when i am going to tell another story!
This story is one of the few that instead of coming from my experiences, this was told to me. But it is such a funny story that I wanted to share.
One day I showed up to court to testify against someone I arrested while i was with the Dallas Police Department. When police officers show up to court, they hang out in a small room that also serves as the prosecutors temporary office. There is not much to do there and unless you bring a book, you are usually bored out of your mind. So you do the next best thing and start sharing “war stories” with whomever else is there. This particular day, the prosecutors investigator was there along with my partner. This Investigator assists the prosecutor by tracking down leads, finding witnesses, etc. Usually, they are retired police officers and that was the case on this day. He retired from DPD after 25 years and started working for the DA’s office. This Investigator had to be close to 70 years old. So my partner and I were talking about a possible internal investigation and how another officer had to “write a letter”. In Dallas Police procedures, if something occurs where it “might” turn into an Internal Affairs official investigation, an officer is told to “write a letter”. This letter is meant for the officer to tell his side of the story and explain what happened. Once the officer writes the letter, the supervisor reviews it and determines if there is cause to call Internal Affairs and start an official internal investigation. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it depends on how well the letter is written. I forgot the circumstances of me and my partners story but we agreed the officer involved wrote a good letter. The Investigator was doing paperwork during this story and turned around and said… “You guys think that was a good letter? I’ll tell you a story about the best letter I’ve ever heard of.” He then proceeded to tell us about an officer in the 1970′s who was a royal screw up. Let’s just call him “Jimmy”. It seems that Jimmy was always fighting the system and was a pain in the rear for his supervisor. He was always saying something or doing something to get in trouble and the supervisor (Sergeant) was always having to respond to what Jimmy did and the Sgt was frankly getting tired of being dragged into Jimmy’s mess. So after one incident, the Sgt took Jimmy off the street and assigned him to front desk duty. Well Jimmy thought he had died and gone to heaven because he had the opportunity to interact with all the other officers as well as the general public that came through the door. And he intentionally messed with the civilians just to torque off his Sgt. Sure enough, civilians started complained about the smart aleck at the front desk. The Sgt was fed up with Jimmy and decided to do all he could to make Jimmy’s live miserable so assigned him the the garage on the deep night shift (12M – 8am). Now officers didn’t have to work the garage when I was there but this Investigator told us that for each shift, there had to be at least one sworn police officer at the garage where all city vehicles were gassed up. Why? No idea but it was the assignment that no one wanted. So the Sgt assigned Jimmy there and was quite pleased with himself when he began hearing other officers talk about how Jimmy was having fun and was bragging at how much sleep he was getting at the garage with no one, including the Sgt, there to watch him. Well this just really torqued the Sgt even more and he vowed to get Jimmy once and for all. The Sgt couldn’t get Jimmy fired for smart aleck comments made to citizens but asleep on duty? This was the Sgt’s chance to at least get Jimmy suspended, if not fired. So one night, about 4AM, the Sgt grabbed another officer (witness) and went to the garage and sure enough, there was Jimmy asleep in a chair at the desk. The Sgt was overjoyed. He had Jimmy and he even had a witness! So he woke Jimmy up, relieved him of his duty weapon, and told him to report to Internal Affairs at 8am.
At 8AM Jimmy walked into the Internal Affairs office. In attendance was the Sgt and he had a letter from the other officer about what he saw. The Sgt had already written his letter and was smacking his lips. There was no way for Jimmy to weasel his way out of this one.
The Internal Affairs Detective had been there many years and knew this was more about a personal vendetta than an actual issue but if the officer was sleeping on duty, then he was going to get in trouble. So the IA Detective handed Jimmy a pad and pen and said, “I need you to write me a letter about the events that occurred a few hours ago at the garage.” Jimmy took the pad and pen and began writing. After 2o minutes, he handed the pad of paper to the IA Detective with a smirk on his face. The IA Detective read the letter and hid a smile and told the Sgt, “I see no reason for a formal investigation and let me be the first to congratulate you.” The Sgt couldn’t believe what he was hearing. ”WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO INVESTIGATION?”
The letter said…..”To whom it may concern. At approximately 4am on such and such date, Officer Jimmy Doe was working the garage at (address) when he was overcome by the noxious fumes from the vehicles at the garage and subsequently passed out. If it was not for the brave and heroic efforts of Sgt Blank, who revived Officer Jimmy, then Officer Jimmy surely would have died. Therefore, it is with great honor that Officer Jimmy nominate Sgt Blank for a Life Saving Award for his actions.” Sincerely, Officer Jimmy Doe.”
The IA Detective (later the DA Investigator) said he couldn’t be sure but he swore that the Sgt had to stifle a tear while turning blue in the face.