Monday, May 30, 2011

Giving Bad News Really Sucks

I was a Lt. on our Rescue Squad and I still remember having to tell a family member "I'm sorry, there is nothing more we can do at this point". Whether it was an elderly person that we had administered C.P.R. to or a loved one killed in a MVA, it was never easy. Then there were calls that involved members of our own Department. The Capt. of the Squad's son was killed in a motorcycle crash and trying to keep her away from the scene was a very difficult, if not impossible, thing to do. It even happened to me. My brother was driving home one night and slid off the road and ended up upside down in a small creek. Upon arriving on the scene, I immediately recognized the car and I was held back by fellow Firefighters and EMS members. When the “thumbs up” was given I finally was allowed to see him. Luckily he only suffered a broken nose and bumps and bruises. Even though at the time, wearing a seat belt had not been hammered into our heads by TV, radio or print ads, he was. I was a believer after one month in the FD after seeing the carnage of people being ejected, crushed or having to be cut out with the Jaws of Life. From that day on I always buckled up and also made my passengers.

Today I will be making the hardest phone call in my life. I am going to tell my Mom I have cancer. You are probably saying "Wait a minute, you were diagnosed in November and have been going through chemo, why now?" Let me explain. My Dad died a little over two years ago from cancer and it has taken my Mom till now to where I think she can handle the news (I hope and pray). At the beginning I also had a blood clot in my right leg so I was able to play it of with that. Also in talking to my Brother and my Aunt, (who is almost like a sister), we all thought it was for the best. Mom was still grieving the loss of my Dad and we felt that the news would push her over the edge. Honestly, I am scared shitless. I know she is going to be pissed off that she is just now finding out. But after getting positive news about my lymph nodes getting smaller and seeing my brother and his wife after they came for a quick visit, it's time. They have seen me, I am not dying and they can also help explain my situation. Yes, I have lost a lot of weight going from a 38" waist to now a 32. Like I mentioned it is not due to the chemo but changing my eating habits and exercising. O.k. is 08:30 here in Texas and 09:30 in Florida; I am making the call, wish me luck. I will be back to let you know how it all turns out.

Well, that did not go as bad as it could have. I believe she now understands our concerns and now knows that I will keep her completely informed. What a relief and I am glad that is over.

On another note, today is Memorial Day and I would like to thank all that served and also those that we have lost due to their service in the Military. Thank You. I would also like to include Firefighters, Police and EMS...Thank You...Take Care, Be Safe and Never Forget

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Minor Setback, Prayers and Thanks

Since starting this blog a little over a month ago I have been on a physical and emotional roller coaster. There were the highs of becoming a grandfather again with the birth of my second granddaughter. My son advancing to the interview stage in his quest to become a meber of the Austin Fire Dept. Finding out that my chemo is working and my lymph nodes are getting smaller was a day I won't soon forget. Also opening up to more of my friends through the use of social media and getting such an overwhelming response world wide has been a high point and a few more were mentioned in earlier posts. Then there were the lows...being hospitalized for what I thought was pnuemonia and then having a thoracotomy done due to an infection near my lung. Then my son got the news that he and his fellow applicants must go through their interviews again because of some idiots indiscretion. Here is a link to that news: . Then there was yesterday. I got up at the crack of dawn to have my coffee and oatmeal, shower and head off to another round of chemo. Well that wasn't to be. Over the weekend I noticed that my gum was tender and was starting to hurt. I started to gargle with salt water and mouthwash in hopes that that would alleve it. By Monday morning there was more pain and my cheek was swollen, not a good sign. I went to the clinic and started the process of getting ready for chemo. First the co-pay, the blood draw and then off for infusion. Upon arrival to the infusion room the nurse on duty noticed my cheek and held off hooking me up to my pre-meds till I saw my Oncologist. My weight was taken along with my B.P. and temp. all was good so far. I waited for the Dr. and finally he came in. He was happy with my vitals and blood work, as all the other numbers were good. He also listened to my breathing and informed me the xrays that were taken last friday looked good along with the scars from my surgery.  Then there was the issue of my swollen cheek. He looked at my teeth and felt my cheek and stated that I had an infection in a salivary gland and that an antibiotic was in order and that my chemo needed to be postponed a week. He then told me that due to my weakened immune system, this was not uncommon. Damn my luck, time to make lemonade from this lemon. I was a little nervous as my brother and his wife were coming to visit over the Memorial Day Weekend. I was not sure how I was going to feel after getting my chemo, sometimes it has left me weak and with my ribs still sore I was afraid I was going to ruin their visit. With that issue gone I was feeling better about their visit. I am looking foward to seeing them as it had been over two years since I last saw them and that was at my Dad's funeral. So a weekend of mexican food, BBQ and checking out Austin await me!!

Now on to the prayers... On Sunday the city of Joplin was devestated by a horrific series of tornadoes. I was glued to my computer watching  the terror unfold in front of me live. I had never seen that type of destruction before in my life and evidently niether had the reporter from the Weather Channel. His name is Mike Bettes and he was going from car to car, house to house talking to the locals that were looking for neighbors or loved ones. You could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice, this was taking a toll on him. I commend him for a job well done during such trying times.Nobody realized at the time how wide spread the damage was. As I watched more and listened to  the live scanner feed I knew this was not going to be good as it was starting to get dark. At the time of this posting the death total was at 116 and expected to rise. Along with the window of  opportunity for finding survivors was beginning to close, came the news that more severe weather was expected throughout Tuesday. My heartfelt prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones, the survivors that now have nothing and the rescue workers that have worked non stop around the clock trying to find survivors and dealing with what is left of a fractured city.

And finally the thanks.... I want to thank all of you that have read my blog and have shared your personal stories of losses and victories with me due to different reasons. I also want to thank a friend that is in the hospital as we speak and said that by reading my blog, it was helping him get through his time of need. That is the purpose of this blog. Not for me to "piss and moan" about my issues but to try and let others know that they can over come adversity by having a positive attitude and being thankful for the positive things that are there amongst the negative. Once again I ask that you pass this on to anyone you think it will help. God Bless, Take Care, Be Safe and Never Forget. As a side note please keep our friends in the FDNY whose stations are slated to close in your prayers and hope that the City sees the error of their ways. Thanks...more to come in the near future...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Being Open and Sharing

Last night I heard another member on TheBravest.Com talking about needing a procedure and having to see a "cancer" Dr. At this point I knew I had to step in. I have been reluctant to share my own experiences with my fellow Brothers and Sisters for fear I would be "treated" different. I have been blessed as I mentioned to find out that my chemotherapy is working and I know that I will beat this disease.There were a few members that I have gotten closer to that I have confided in during my ordeal. By and large the general membership had no idea, I was still the same person I always was and they had no clue. I do not want to hear "poor Tex, I am so sorry to hear that". I know I am winning and also know that I have the support and prayers of everyone on the site. Well the cat is out of the bag and my only wish is that my blog will offer some hope to those that are dealing with cancer or other ailments. There are alot of us on there that have been beaten up due to job related injuries, getting older or just being dealt a bad hand. We are there for each other as a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen. Firefighters are not the best at opening up, sharing their feelings or asking for help, trust me I know this all to well. Like I said I hope all that read this will know that things can and will get better no matter what you are dealing with. Also, I ask that you pass this on to someone that has gotten depressed or seems to have given up hope.I hope each and everyone of you takes the time to be thankful for the good you do have in your life whether it is your family, friends or a special person. Thank you for your time in reading this and Take Care, Be Safe and....Never Forget.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Bad, The Good and the Blessed

This past few weeks have been a roller coaster. The Bad: A week ago I came to the E.R. due to a cough and general weakness. Well, after being checked, I had a fever of 103.5. After further testing I was diagnosed with a slight case of pneumonia. A scan was order and a small amount of fluid was found near my lung. A Thoracentisis  was ordered. The Radiologist had a hard time extracting the fluid as it was quite "thick". In a few hours a Cardio Thoracic surgeon will be using a robotic device to remove the fluid and scraping the external lung wall. Since all tests are not back, we are not sure if this is related to my lymphoma or not. This leads to The Good. My Oncologist has been one of the multiple Drs. that have been following my case. Since I have received a few scans, my Oncologist has noticed a decrease in the size of my lymph nodes. The Chemo seems to be working. Once again, along with the bad, some good news has shown through. Now as far as being Blessed. My Daughter and her Husband have presented me with my second "Yellow Rose of Texas". Both Mom and baby are doing well. My Son and Daughter in law, who have my first Granddaughter have let me know another grandbaby is due in December. In addition my Son interviewed with the Austin Fire Dept. Life is Good

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