Update 06/17/2013

Que pasa?

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post.  I promise I’m not ignoring anyone or refusing to post… its just that there is really not a whole lot to report.

During my last post, I reported that I was still feeling some dizziness when I stand up, which is a result from a drop in blood pressure.  The question is/was… why the drop in blood pressure?  Well, we think we have figured it out.

Usually…. whenever a patient exhibits those symptoms, it is a result of dehydration.  I’ve been drinking over three liters a day (over 90 oz) of water.  Some of it has been because I get very dry mouthed, and will forever, but I’ve been pounding the water because the doctors have told me that I am dehydrated.  One of the results of this is that during the night, welllll… lets just say that I don’t get a full nights sleep.  Getting up 3 or 4 times a night gets old.

Anyway, in the meantime, I have been weaning myself off the methadone.  I had been taking 2 pills a day.  For two weeks, I cut back to one a day and now I’m taking one every 2-3 days.  Amazingly, my dizziness is dissipating as well.  If one were to look under “methadone side effects” (as the missus did), one of the first one it mentions is… “may experience a drop in blood pressure”.  Well imagine that.  Maybe this was something the doctors would have told me?

I went to see my chemo Dr this past week.  It had been about 5 weeks since I had seen him.  He is the one that prescribed methadone to me.  I had told him about the dizziness during my last visit and he joked that it might be “old age”.  When I told him that the dizziness has been going away coinciding with the reduction in methadone usage, he said….. “well I thought you knew that.”  Great.

Anyway… quick update on my Dr visit…

WEIGHT… 153 lbs.  They told me it is not like losing weight like you are on a diet and immediately gain it all back.  If my appetite returns to what it was pre-cancer, then I can expect to gain my weight back in 6 months to a year.  Wow.  Thought it would be sooner than that.  I guess I need to go out and buy some more skinny clothes.  I would guess that about 3/4 of the clothes in my closet do not fit.  I know… 1st world problems….right?

FATIGUE – still an issue and again was told that it would be 6-12 months before I’m back to as much of my old self as possible.  I’ve been going to the gym and that has been depressing.  Only able to do about 1/4 to 1/3 of time or weight of what I did pre-cancer.  As I was complaining about this to my Doctor…. remember… he is the smart aleck one…. he listened to me bitch and moan for a little while and when I was done… he said… “Mr. Finley… you just battled cancer and survived.  Do you know how many people can’t say that?  You are able to go to the gym and work out and you will get stronger and better, it’s just going to take some time.  I would suggest you quit focusing on what you can’t do now and focus more on what you will be able to do in the future because you survived cancer.”

Ummm… yes sir.  Message received.

Then he said I didn’t need to see him anymore.  (I’m not sure if its because there was no need or if he was just fed up with me.)

So current status?  Between 150-155 lbs.  I don’t want to gain the 35 lbs I lost back but maybe about 20.  Hair will eventually fill in (I h0pe).  Fatigue will eventually go away (I hope) and the other stuff I will just learn to deal with, because the doctor is right… I’ve become fixated on whats not right or “normal” compared to my life pre-cancer instead of being grateful that I survived this ordeal with only minor issues and have received many, many, many prayers and good thoughts from all of you along the way.  So basically… I need to take a big ole drink of shut the “heck” up.

There is a movie line I am reminded of…. (for those that know me… this is no surprise.  Just about everything reminds me of a movie line.)  It is from the movie “Shawshank Redemption”.  (HIGHLY recommend if you’ve never seen it.)  Anyway.. the line in the movie is…. “Get busy living or get busy dying.”  Basically, I need to move on with my life.  My body is not the same as it was.. and it may never be…. but you know what?  I’m alive and still have my warped brain intact.  Physically, I will continue to push forward, knowing that I may never reach the goals I have set for myself, but it won’t stop me from moving forward.

OK… enough of that.  Next on the agenda is a PET scan in early July.  This is the 3-4 hour in-depth scan for cancer that I will go through every 4 months or so.  Also on the agenda is the removal of my Port.  That is the thing they inserted into my chest for shots and infusions.  Since I won’t be getting those with the same frequency as I have been, they will schedule a procedure to remove that soon.  Other than those things, its just living my life.  There won’t be much to report.  I’m not sure what to do with this blog.  It has been a great way to keep everyone informed and it has been therapeutic for me to use to express myself.  I still enjoy doing that.  I may keep this up just to tell stories.  I’ll let you know.

One last thing before we get to the unrelated story…  there is no way I can ever express to all of you how grateful I have been for the prayers and well-wishes I have received.  People I don’t even know have been praying for me and it has been a humbling experience.  Thank you all so much.  I am truly blessed.

UNRELATED STORY

As you know, I like to finish these posts with an unrelated story.  I’ve tried to keep them PG-13 and for the most part, believe I have succeeded.  However, while I still have many, many stories in my memory… I’m starting to run out of the PG-13 ones.  I might have to start a different blog to share the others.  I’ll let you know.

This particular story is true….you can look it up if you don’t believe me. My dad used to comment that “you never let the truth get in the way of a good story” and I agree… but this is factual.

If you are a primate, you don’t want to live in Dallas.

Back in 2000, while I was still with the Dallas Police Department and on the SWAT Team, the SWAT team received a call on a Sunday from the Dallas Zoo asking for help.  It seems that the Zoo was preparing to open a chimpanzee exhibit the following Monday featuring “Judy” a 13 year old chimpanzee.  While they were getting stuff prepared, Judy escaped.  At first, they thought they had her contained within the zoo but eventually realized that the had escaped the confines of the zoo and they needed help locating her.  Typical of the police department, they didn’t want to pull patrol officers off the street so they called the SWAT team for this duty.  So the guys drive to the zoo neighborhood and are given assigned areas to search for this chimp and are told that if they locate Judy, to call one of the zoo vets with the tranquilizer gun.  So the SWAT guys are walking around the neighborhoods when they hear a commotion and sure enough, Judy is on top of a house.  The neighbors start to gather and bring their kids out to see Judy.  Judy sees the crowd and having been in captivity for a long time, knows the value of a crowd and starts putting on a show.  She starts walking back and forth across the roof, hitting her chest.  The crowd gets larger, especially with kids.  They are thrilled to see Judy and Judy is thrilled to see them.  The SWAT guys notify the zoo  officials and they say they will be right there.  By now, the crowd has gathered to about 40-50 people, half of them kids, when the zoo official arrives.  He gets close to the house, sights in his tranquilizer gun and pulls the trigger.  He is a good shot and the dart hits Judy right where he aimed.  Unfortunately, it freaks Judy out and she immediately jumps from the roof to the nearest item…. which happens to be electrical wires.  Judy lands on the wires and is immediately electrocuted.  I say immediate… it probably kills her immediately.. but Judy’s body remains on the wires and continues to get electrocuted….. big buzzing sound… sparks shooting out of her body… burning flesh…. BBBBZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…. all for the kids to see.  Parents begin hollering… kids are crying and screaming.. and there is nothing anyone can do.  Judy’s corpse remains on the wires for over 30 seconds continuing to fry.  Eventually, this smoldering mass falls to the ground… again.. in front of the kids.

The next day.. the newspaper headlines read… “Dallas SWAT Team Kills Zoo Chimpanzee”.  The SWAT guys had nothing to do with it.. but you know how the media is.

So that is enough for one story.. and a pretty good one… but it doesn’t end there.

With this chimpanzee escaping, a zoo official begins wondering… what would happen if a larger, more dangerous animal escaped?  The Dallas Zoo had no plan for that so this guy begins working on one.  He goes through all the necessary procedures they need to do but when it comes to how to stop the animal, he is drawing a blank.  So he decides to call the experts in killing… that’s right… the Dallas SWAT Team.  He eventually gets in contact with my Sergeant, Sgt. Newton, who is also in charge of the Dallas SWAT snipers.  As you know, the snipers are equipped with high caliber rifles that are effective from long distance.  Sgt Newton has a brief conversation with the zoo official and tells him he would love to help but is too busy, thank you very much.  The zoo official is determined so he calls his boss, who calls the Chief of Police, who calls the Deputy Chief over Special Operations, who calls Sgt Newton and tells Newton to help out in any way he can.  Meanwhile, we are eating this up and giving Sgt Newton grief.  Calling him Marlin Perkins (from old Mutual of Omaha shows) and just making his life miserable. Eventually, Newton calls the zoo official back.   During this conversation the zoo official tells Sgt Newton of his plan.  He is naming it… “Plan Alpha”.  He describes Plan Alpha to Sgt Newton and gets to the stopping of the animals part.  He wants Sgt Newton to teach his zoo people how to operate and utilize sniper rifles.  By now, Sgt Newton has had enough of this and tells the zoo official that, yes, he would love to help, but gosh darn it, it takes years and years of practice to become proficient enough to use a sniper rifle and plus the zoo people aren’t legally authorized to use a sniper rifle so wish he could help but he can’t… bye bye.  Again, we are hooting and hollering over this and making up as many jokes as you can imagine.  Newton thinks this is over but the zoo official is one determined SOB.  He calls Newton back and said that he has revised his plan and now the Dallas SWAT team is responsible for shooting any escaped animal.  Newton is ready for this and tells him that yes, legally that would work but gosh darn it, the Dallas SWAT team is just not prepared to do that because their rifles are made to shoot humans not animals.  The SWAT rifles just don’t have the stopping power to kill a large animal.  When the zoo official asked what kind of rifle they need, Newton told him the Winchester .458 magnum.  These are the rifles people use to shoot elephants and rhinos.  Newton is chuckling to himself knowing that there is no way the City of Dallas would consider buying such a rifle for the SWAT team.  Again, Newton tells the zoo guy.. so sorry I couldn’t help.  Good luck.. bye bye.  We congratulate Newton.

Two weeks later, the zoo official calls Newton back.  GREAT NEWS…. the zoo official has used the zoo budget to buy four! of these rifles for the SWAT Team.  When can they start?

This is too much for all of us.  Other members of the department are stopping by the office asking when the safari is…. safari pictures are posted on the walls..   pictures of elephants and cheetahs are reproduced with a target site over them… everyone is having a great time with this.  Meanwhile, Newton is a defeated man so he assigns these four elephant guns to four of his snipers and they get trained on them, waiting for the “Plan Alpha” call that will never happen.

However, a few years later, in 2004… yep … you guessed it… a large animal escapes its enclosure.  And its just not any large animal… its a 350 lb lowland gorilla named Jabari.  Jabari gets out of his cage, hurts a zoo person and swoops down on the main walkway and knocks some lady aside and takes a bite out of a kid.  Word goes out and the zoo official, probably not without a little bit of smugness, initiates “Plan Alpha”.  The call goes out to the SWAT team… officers respond Code 3 (Lights and sirens) and the snipers are called and told to bring their elephant guns.  The zoo is evacuated and somewhere inside, lurks Jabari.

The first SWAT guys on scene gear up and are sent inside to locate Jabari and wait for the snipers as well as the zoo official with the tranquilizer gun.  Everyone is on their way, just locate and wait.

So these three SWAT guys start walking through the deserted zoo and eventually end up near the scene of the attack on the kid.  They see a kids shoe and blood on the ground.  They hold their position, listening for any noise.  About 75 yards away, one of them sees bushes moving.  Jabari steps out of the bushes and begins looking at the SWAT guys.  They get on the radio and report but don’t move as Jabari stares at them.  Jabari takes a step forward and to the side, and without taking its eyes off the SWAT guys, rips up a bench set in concrete and throws it about 30 feet…. basically saying…. “This is what I can do..what do you have?”  My buddy there told me he looked down at his 9mm sub-machine gun and thought to himself… that is only going to piss him off.

During this stare-down, behind the SWAT officers one of the snipers is running toward them and rounds the corner and asks… “What do we have?” when his actions apparently startle Jabari and Jabari begins leaping towards them.  Originally the distance between them was 75 yards and in a little over one second, Jabari has covered over 1/3 that distance and is coming fast.  The sniper skids to a halt and without time to get into a prone, sitting or kneeling position, raises the rifle to his cheek and gets off one shot when Jabari is about 40 yards away, on a dead run.  The shot hits Jabari in the shoulder.  Jabari stops, lets out a bellow and begins charging again.  The sniper gets off a second shot, this time, a little more accurate.  Jabari stops, takes about two steps and falls to his death, all within 25-30 yards of the SWAT guys.  Of course, 10 seconds later, the zoo vet with the tranquilizer gun arrives and begins screaming at the SWAT guys,…. “You didn’t have to kill him!”

That night… and I am not making this up… grieving citizens of Dallas held a candlelight vigil for Jabari and the next days headlines read, “Dallas SWAT Kills Zoo Favorite”.

That was almost 10 years ago.  Lots of people have come and gone.  Sgt Newton is retired… the zoo official is retired.. I believe all the SWAT guys that were present that day have moved on.. but I believe Plan Alpha is still in place and new snipers are now proficient on the elephant guns.

So be warned if you are a primate… there is just no monkeying around in Dallas.

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5 thoughts on “Update 06/17/2013

  1. Hey buddy, you kicked cancer’s butt. Crow a little and accept your new physique. Besides, skinny jeans are in. Well, for hipsters and metrosexuals at least.

  2. The doctor’s advice has merit and, in a twisted, sideways way of thinking, is biblical (see below)…AND knowing he was about to release you may have added to his extra bravado! The reports so far sound as good as you could hope for at this stage…keep the faith, “Mr. Finley”.

    “Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIRV)

    I love you, brother!

  3. Dear Michael:

    Congratulations! Have fun with the colonoscopy. I have had one and they are cake, however the prep for the colonoscopy is a little daunting to say the least. I just got a port placed yesterday. I gave up on the PICC lines they hurt me every time and I was a difficult stick/placement. Chemo later this week. I will be praying for you brother. Your oncologist is a very busy person and what a blessing it is for you that he does not have time for you anymore. They only release you when you don’t need them. Keep the faith… you are on the road to a life renewed with a new outlook on everything you see. I am so happy that you are getting better. I keep you in my prayers.

    Mark Spinney

  4. Hello my friend!
    So glad things are going well ! Talk to your mon a few days ago I have been a little under the weather doing much better just had to have a little brain serugy things are good continue to upgrade my prayers and love I send always! Grana’

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