I hope all of you are doing well.
My phone and email have erupted today so I wanted to share what I have found out from the doctor. First…… it is all good. I have a rather lengthy explanation but I wanted to share that from the outset so you won’t be screaming at me while you are reading this…. well…no more than you usually do.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was scheduled for a CT scan this morning. The CT scan (computed tomography) (Or CAT Scan…computed axial tomography) is a general scan of a particular area of the body. It uses computer processed x-rays to produce tomographic images or “slices” of the body. It is used to detect any abnormal growth in the body, like a tumor. Mine came back fine.
I was wrong…(as I am most often)…. in assuming that I would get some sort of definitive declaration of the status of my cancer. That was not the case. It is not some “pass/fail” or “good/bad”. I did not get that report today. However, my radiation Dr. (Dr. Mendenhall) said that as far as he is concerned, that I am clear of cancer. There is a 10-15% chance that it will recur or come back. The CT and PET (more about those later) scans are to check to see if the cancer is thinking about coming back.
After one year of nothing on the scans, then there is a 70% chance it won’t come back at all. After a clean bill of health for two years, there is a 90% chance it won’t come back and after three years, it goes up to almost 100%. So I’m one month post-treatment so I’ve got a looonnnnggg way to go. BUT… everything looks good so far. In two months, I will get a PET Scan. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is a super-duper CT scan. (I know I have Dr friends of mine just cringing at my attempt to explain these terms.) A PET Scan is able to detect things that a CT scan cannot. I will have either a CT scan or a PET scan every 2-3 months for awhile. My next PET scan is scheduled for the 2nd week in July.
Bottom line is…… I received the best news I could have received today. Everything looks good…. on schedule…. side effects starting to slowly dissipate….. now I just need to start gaining weight.
UNRELATED STORY TIME
I’m tired and after they stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat today, not feeling my best but…. since last time I did not tell a story, I can’t let another opportunity go by without sharing something.
Two related stories…
This past week, they dedicated the Presidential Library for George W. Bush (43) in Dallas, TX (or rather at SMU). There were five living Presidents in attendance. As you can imagine, the Secret Service was a little busy during that time, especially in Dallas, TX. (Sheesh…you lose one President and you are branded for life).
In honor of these Presidential stories, here are a few pictures of me rubbing elbows. I had one of me and Barbara Bush but don’t know what happened to it and I talked with Condalezza Rice for 20 min one day without knowing who she was and never got a picture.
Anyway, here you go….
The role of the Dallas SWAT team during a VIP visit is to augment the Secret Service and provide the 2nd layer of security. The Secret Service has the first and most immediate layer and Dallas SWAT is right behind them. It’s not all that glamorous. When the President is asleep on say the 43rd floor of the Anatole Hotel, there is a member of the Dallas SWAT team in the stairwell on the 42nd floor. Just you and a chair… at 3am. You usually work 2-3 hours on with a 30-60 minute break. LOTS of fun. The Secret Service usually rents a room that we use for the “Down Room”. This is where officers go when they are on break. They can go to the bathroom, take a quick nap, or watch TV. They used to put on Pay-per-view movies (NO….not those kind) 24/7 on the TV for the officers on break to watch. One morning, after working all night, I was sprawled out on the couch trying to stay awake. We were in our last 30 minutes of working and pretty soon, the day shift would come in and relieve us. At this time, we were guarding Mrs. Barbara Bush (who has to be the sweetest lady ever) and she was First Lady at this time. So I’m sprawled out and one of the Naked Gun movies had just started. These movies are the hilarious ones with Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebbin. In this particular movie, Lt. Drebbin is at the White House and through a series of accidents, he slams the door on the (look-alike) Mrs. Bush, pulls the chair out from under her and hits her with a lobster tail. Well this part is about to start when I hear a commotion and sit up and the Secret Service has brought Mrs. Bush into the room! I’m scrambling trying to look somewhat presentable when she came over and patted me on the shoulder and told me not to worry about it. One of the agents said, “Mrs Bush, the part is coming up.” and she started watching the movie where “She” gets knocked around and she starts laughing out loud and before it is over, she is holding her stomach laughing very hard. When it was over, she turned to us and said, “I’ve heard about this movie and wanted to see it but there just hasn’t been the time. I appreciate you letting me watch it with you.” and with that, she left for her First Lady duties of the day. It’s not every day when you get to watch a movie with the First Lady.
That actually is not the story I was going to share. I was going to tell the one about when Roger Clinton, half brother to Bill, was getting married in Dallas at the Arboretum and this was 6 months into office for President Clinton. Of course had and Hillary went to the wedding. I could tell you about how the groomsmen sang the Univ of Arkansas Alma Mater to the bride, who was 9 months pregnant, and after singing, serenaded her with “SOOEY PIG!”.
One part of this trip I will share… on Saturday night, at the wedding, President Clinton decides that he is changing his schedule and instead of flying out, he is going to stay in Dallas for an extra day so he can go watch the Univ of Arkansas play in the Sweet 16, NCAA Basketball game , that happened to be in Dallas the next day. Now ANY change to the President’s schedule is a major issue. If the President is coming to Dallas, planners come in two weeks before to start planning the trip. If the President stays somewhere an hour past what was planned, this is a major issue and things have to be moved around. Now you are talking about a whole day??? PLUS… he wants to go to a major sporting event!!! So the Secret Service is NOT happy at all. They start ferrying in metal detectors for all the exits at the game overnight, people to operate those detectors, halt travel plans for all the agents there and postpone whatever was planned for that Sunday…. major upheaval. Big time.
So we work the wedding until midnight and we turn around and are at the Dallas arena at 7am. There must have been 300 of us in this room with police from all over including the Secret Service. Everyone is grouchy, especially the Secret Service. Well the one guy they had in charge was especially grouchy. I’m going to guess, however, that he was about to retire anyway based on what he said next….
So all 300 or so of us get quiet and he begins…. “My name is Agent “Joe Smith (or whatever) of the Secret Circus!” We all start chuckling and then when we quieten down… he says… “I say I am in the Secret Circus because we work for such a #$%! Clown!”
A hush fell over the crowd and we all begin looking nervously at each other before the other agents started busting out laughing, quickly joined by the rest of us. We never found out how long he stayed an agent after that.
This one also involves President Clinton. I don’t mean to pick on him but ….
So there was some event in Dallas where both President Clinton and Vice President Gore are coming to Dallas. The planners had come in two weeks prior and the plan was for them to fly in and arrive 45 minutes apart. Once landed, one motorcade would take President Clinton to the location and 45 minutes later, when VP Gore landed, a different motorcade would take him to the same location.
As stated before, Dallas SWAT augments the Secret Service. The Secret Service are the ones surrounding the VIP. The locals, (us) would have one squad of eight in charge of the motorcade. Depending on the size of the location to be visited, a squad or two would be handling security for that. (All access points, external perimeter and internal security). We could be stretched very thin if the location happened to be a school. And if they were going to stay overnight, a squad would be at the hotel, etc. A VIP visit takes up a lot of manpower.
So my job is the driver of the lead car for the Presidential motorcade. The Presidential motorcade can be up to 50 cars in length but usually around 25-30. This includes Dallas squad cars, the limos, the ambulance, the Secret Service, the staff, and the media. It’s a big to-do. When the Presidential motorcade gets going, the motorcycle officers (motor-jocks) block all intersections on the primary route and you don’t stop for anything. It is pretty cool. As the driver for the lead car, you have the lead Secret Service Agent in the car with you along with the Agent that planned the route. As the driver, you also have to know the secondary route as well as the route to the hospitals. A car or two behind you is the President so you better not screw it up.
The Vice Presidential motorcade is roughly the same, just less cars.
If the First Lady came into town, her motorcade would only be about 3-4 cars and you would stop for redlights and such.
So here we are, waiting on the President to land so we can whisk him away to his speaking location. The VP motorcade officers are also there waiting for VP Gore to arrive, 45 minutes later, so they can take him to the same place. So we are waiting and waiting and the President is late. I’m not saying this with any political undertones whatsoever but President Clinton was always late. Every time he came to Dallas, he was late for something. President Bush (either 41 or 43) on the other hand, always on time. One time I was the lead driver for President Bush (43) and if they said the motorcade left at noon, you better be buckled in at 11:59. Sure enough, noon hit and we heard that Bush’s Chief of Staff wasn’t in the car yet and apparently Pres Bush said to leave him. The Chief of Staff had to ride with the media. I don’t think he was late anymore.
So I digress…..here we are waiting on Pres Clinton to arrive when VP Gore’s plane comes in first. VP Gore was on time. So he lands and about 10 minutes later, almost an hour late, Pres Clinton’s plane lands. Now we are already an hour behind schedule when they decide to talk. So VP Gore gets on Pres Clinton’s plane and they talk and talk and talk. I don’t know why but I’m getting antsy because we are so late when the Secret Service Agent tells me to relax, they are used to it.
After waiting approximately 90 minutes, the Agent is speaking into his earpiece and I hear him say, “WHAT???” He storms off and after a few minutes he comes back and says, “LETS GO!” So I get in the car and crank it up and we are getting ready to go when Pres Clinton AND VP Gore get off the plane and THEY BOTH GET INTO THE SAME LIMO. The one right behind me! Let me spell that out for you again…..THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BOTH GET INTO THE SAME LIMOUSINE …..IN DALLAS, TEXAS.
The lead Secret Service Agent slams his notebook on my dashboard and gets in the car and is cussing up a storm. He is muttering….”No, don’t listen to me…I’ve only been doing this crap for 20 years… I don’t know anything about security…. I’m sure its fine for the President and Vice President to ride in the same car… in the only city where a President has been killed…I’m sure that is fine…..”
He turns to me and says, “No offense”. And I am trying not to laugh and say…”None taken.” Then as we are going down the North Dallas Tollway, he looks up at an overpass and says, “We are one rocket launcher away from Newt Gingrich being President right now!”
Well obviously, nothing of consequence happened but there are plenty of stories like that. If I get back on the Presidential kick, I’ll share some more.