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…….
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.
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….
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”.
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….
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.