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.”

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3 thoughts on “Week Four Wrap-Up

  1. I can remember Patches and Rainy Night in Georgia were on the jute box at the Dog-n-Suds back in the day. Great stuff. Get well my friend.

    Scott

  2. The pics are a riot!

  3. “Rainy Night in Georgia” and “Patches”?! Dude, I started crying from the memory of those songs. It sounds like that “Best of R&B” was more “B” than “R”.

    BTW, I bought clippers years ago because my limited hair-style options just doesn’t seem worth $15 every 4 or 5 weeks (read cheap, as if that had to be stated). When I first got them, trying to trim the back while looking at the back of my head holding a mirror reflectng the mirror on the wall, it turned out just like your picture!

    “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;  he will rejoice over you with gladness;  he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”- Zephaniah 3:17

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