Tag Archives: Health

Like a Verdict

My wife, Janet, had surgery two weeks ago to remove a kidney tumor. The doctor said it’s an 85% chance of being malignant.

The last two weeks have been fast, and slow, lightening quick, yet forever.

Yesterday was the surgery follow up appointment, complete with the pathology report. It was also Janet’s birthday.

Strange, really. You find out about continued life, one way or the other, on a day designated to celebrate life.

The doctor came in quickly, and asked Janet how she was doing.  He sat down.  I asked to record the doctor on my phone so we could listen and rehash as much as we needed to later.

He agreed. I pushed the record button. He asked if I was ready, and took a deep breath…

Continue reading Like a Verdict

5 Course Meal Celebration

Last Friday I took my wife Janet out on the town! A five-course dinner date! I know! Right!?

But we live in the oldest town in Texas, and there’s not a great deal of five star restaurants in Nacogdoches, Texas. So we created our own “fine dining” experience in a mobile, drive around way.

I wrote down twenty restaurants and fast food joints up and down our hometown main drag. Each place was cut to its own little strip, and I put them all in a styrofoam cup that had all 5 courses scribbled on the outside. Janet blindly reached in the cup and pulled the first slip for the first course.

It was Subway. Janet objected. She said Subway had the most expensive drinks in town, so she wanted to go somewhere else. Eventually, she acquiesced, and we ordered one large half and half tea, two straws.

The second course was Bottle Cap Alley for appetizers. A quarter mile drive and we were there, but they didn’t have many choices. Basically, we settled for fried onion rings. Besides, the next course was vegetables, so we could get something healthy then.

The third course drawn, however, was another fast food place, Taco Bueno! My five-course meal deal idea was falling apart.

We had to be creative, but guacamole with fried chips was as close as we could get to vegetables.

The fourth draw for the main course drew a groan from both of us, and then the laughter. Dominos Pizza!

While they made the extra thin crust vegetable pizza, we munched on the chips, guacamole and onion rings. After that, the pizza tasted like saltine crackers with onions and tomato sauce on it.

There’s a bloated, clog up your arteries with grease feeling that was kicking in, but we were committed to a 5 course meal…

Dessert! Should’ve started there! A quick draw from the cup and it was Whataburger, the Texas standard for fast food burgers. It was a no brainer choice!

But ice cream and milkshakes don’t mix with lactose intolerance, and the scrumptious home style cinnamon rolls were 580 calories a piece! We settled on apple pies that were only 200 calories each. Did I mention they were fried?

It was fun though, and totally random! We’ll do it again, but not tonight.

Tonight Janet will be in the hospital.

We’re in Houston. At this very moment, Janet is in surgery to remove cancer from a kidney. She was diagnosed three weeks ago.

I’m scribbling to redirect my emotions, blind my thoughts, dull the heightened awareness that the future has changed.

How much, and to what extent it’s changed, we won’t know until the pathology report comes in next week.

If all goes well, this will be a one and done surgery.

If it goes really, really well, next Friday we’ll be celebrating the 15% chance that the cancer is benign.

That’ll be worth a five course meal for sure!

Breathe, Just Breathe

I don’t have coronavirus. I can only imagine how it feels, but I do know what lung issues feel like.

It’s not the first rodeo. I’m susceptible.  Asthma as a kid, multiple respiratory infections over a life time, two cases of pneumonia, and almost annual cases of bronchitis make an unwanted, dreaded knowledge base of experience.

It starts as a tickle.  A little irritation, like a little bug gently trots across the trachea.

The tickle soon turns into an avalanche of dry heaves as the lungs begin to tell the tale of problems to be.

The next day the tickle becomes a rattle in the chest.  Each breath may, depending on unknown factors with unpredictable causes, create a series of chest convulsions straining to cough out an internal, hidden enemy lurking in the lungs. Continue reading Breathe, Just Breathe

Corona Church

Life has temporarily changed. Pandemic. The world’s partially shut down because of the Chinese coronavirus.

Like this: we went to church Sunday, online!  We logged in on my iPad to watch Facebook live!  And no one else can see you.  If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have brushed my teeth or clipped my nails!

The first minutes are great, the kid’s part!  I understand that part, kind of a milk of the Word thing, ya know?

So I’m slurping on my spiritual glass of Borden’s watching the children’s minister when all the sudden a little angry face icon 😡 floats up the side of the screen!  That’s rude! It’s the kid’s part of the service for crying out loud!

Then there was another angry face, and another! It was terrible! I felt a self-righteous indignation!

But then I realized I was holding the IPad with my right hand at the bottom with my thumb on the angry face.  Every time I moved, my thumb pushed an angry face! Continue reading Corona Church

A Heartbeat Away

Between almost awake and half asleep, my brain registers discomfort.  Oh no! An earache!  I had so many earaches as a kid and hate ‘em. Just hate ‘em!

The throbbing’s the worst. Each heartbeat bangs on the ear drum.  No matter how you twist or turn, you literally feel, and hear, every beat of the heart.  Like a marching band, the regular beat on the drum creates a disconcerting percussion concert.

It’s fingernails down the blackboard!

I try to go back to sleep, but things on the “to do” list start cluttering the mind.  Too tired to get up, too conscious to sleep, several hours of nothingness tick away in the dark with only my thoughts and the striking of the ear drum with each beat of the heart.

In a way, it’s fascinating.  The never seen heart constantly pumps life in rhythm.  The body, soul and spirit, it rises, and falls, in a life dance with the ever present heartbeat on the ear drum. Continue reading A Heartbeat Away

HEART OF HOPE (2) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

“Daddy, they called! They have a heart!!”

(Read Part 1 here)

A new heart!  Renewed hope!!  A chance for Shelby to live a full life!!  It’s exactly what we hoped and prayed for!

But wait!  Wait…

For one to live, someone doesn’t.

Somewhere, a family’s tears flow. Someplace, loved ones grieve. Somebody is hurting, mourning a tragic loss.

Their hope, it’s gone.

Yet, in the deepest of deep grief, they share. They share life through their loss.

To someone else, some unknown person to them … to Shelby … they pass along a heart, the very beat of life. Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (2) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

HEART OF HOPE (1) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

Phone rings.  3:42 AM.  Never a good call at that time.

I listen, shocked.  Adrenaline rushes.  My fingers tremble on my shirt buttons.

Twelve minutes later in the ER, several people explain that Shelby, my 20 year old daughter, has an enlarged heart that’s only working at 15% capacity.

I can’t get to her.  People everywhere, beside her, in the way. I can’t reach her, and she’s slipping away.

It’s almost ten minutes before I can bend over to see her in the bed, pale.  So pale.  Shallow breathing.  Hands and fingers, blue and cold.

I speak softly, fully understanding I may not ever get to again. “Hey Sweetheart.”

Her eyelids flutter before opening her blue eyes that are there, but slipping.

I see the recognition as she whispers, “Daddy, I don’t want to die.” Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (1) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

Dad, Does Insurance Cover an Ambulance

I didn’t recognize the number and almost didn’t answer. “Hello.”

It was my third son, Todd, who has an adventurous spirit.  “Hey, Dad. Whatchu up to?”

“Just watching a soccer game on TV. I thought you were in San Antonio playing in the college club soccer tournament this weekend?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Y’all doing alright?”

“Yes sir. Won the first one, lost the second, and tied right now.”

Todd pressed on. “Hey, does insurance cover ambulance rides?”

“Yeah. Why do you ask?”

“I was talking to some guys and I didn’t know.”

“Yeah, any time there’s an accident, it’s covered.” I was getting confused. “Where are you?”

“I’m at our game.”

“Are you finished, or about to start?,”

“No, the game’s going on now.”

“Well Todd, why aren’t you playing?”

“I was, but I was making a steal and slid to clear the ball out of bounds.  The guy from the other team fell on me and when he did, there was a loud pop in my neck.”

“Oh man!! Are you hurt?  Need to go to the doctor?”

Todd matter of factly said, “These guys think I do.”

“What guys?”

“The paramedics.” Continue reading Dad, Does Insurance Cover an Ambulance

You Come From Good Stock

Three months ago. Saturday. 8:04 AM. Work rings. Never good. Answer phone.

“Dee’s mom called. His wife is a nurse and woke up and heard him gurgling. She called 9-1-1 and started CPR. They don’t know how long he was without oxygen. He’s at the ER now, but non-responsive.”

My heart sunk. We’d worked together 23 years. Dee’s a quality guy. I knew then I’d never see him again, not the same.  At minimal, brain damage from oxygen deprivation would forever change him.

~~Something awakened Dee’s wife, Alanda, at 6:15 AM.  She heard Dee gurgling from fluid filling his lungs. She flipped on the light, called 9-1-1 and started CPR.

Alanda saved Dee’s life. He’d crossed death’s doorway, but at the threshold, Alanda grabbed the tip of his little toe toenail and began pulling him back.

Five minutes later paramedics arrived. They took over CPR and used an AED.

One electrical shock to the heart. Two. Continue reading You Come From Good Stock

Life Changes

One of the most consistent things in life is that it changes.

Change constantly swirls around the atmosphere of life in the spiritual, emotional and physical spheres.

Change allows sunshine, and rain, to fall below.

It’s not all bad, not all good.

It is, however, inevitable.

Yet change, maybe just for me, is usually difficult and often seems unkind, unremitting. Continue reading Life Changes