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Well, we’ve been in the hospital for 2 weeks and 4 days and we’ve hit a bit of a speed bump. He’s had about 10 radiation treatments and 2 rounds of chemo. He’s handling both as good as can be expected with very little nausea but a lot of weakness. His blood counts have all been, again, as good as can be expected. There is still no real change with the blockage of his left lung but after speaking with the doctor in charge of his radiation, it was kind of to be expected. His first few treatments of radiation were of a high dosage and he said that if that didn’t make the tumor shrink, which it hadn’t, that the now lower doses of radiation would take a few weeks to affect any change.

The “speed bump” as I put it occurred Tuesday night. His heart rate suddenly jumped to 177 and his oxygen level was down to 82 despite receiving oxygen. This definitely got the nurses to scurrying.  While he was more or less aware during all of this, having them bring in the crash cart and stick the shock pads on him wasn’t a sight I want to see again. Luckily they never had to use it. He was transferred to ICU where they were able to get his hr and O2 level somewhat stabilized.  His hr was staying around 135, which is better than the 180 he topped out at but still too high. They switched his medicine and as of Wednesday night, it was staying a below 100.

As for what caused it, not really sure. The cardiologist said the it was more than likely just a cocktail of the coughing, cancer, chemo, radiation, etc. About 40 minutes prior to this happening, he did get choked swallowing, ironically, the smallest pill he takes. He just coughed for a bit then was fine. My opinion is that was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back and brought it all on. According to the cardiologist, the EKG they gave him during the episode showed that the top chamber of his heart was beating at 300 bpm while the bottom chamber was just beating intermittently. They have put the radiation treatments on hold until he gets released from ICU. We don’t have any time frame for that but his night nurse did say that she didn’t see any reason for him to still be in there in the condition he’s in so maybe he can go back to a normal floor soon.

He’s still in good spirits and occasionally an ass, which is a good sign. I’ve passed on all the well wishes, prayers, and offers of help with whatever we need. He is greatly appreciative and there really isn’t any words I can use that would do justice to how much I appreciate it all. He’s been surprised at the amount of friendship, caring, and support he’s received and probably even more surprised at the amount I’ve gotten. Apparently he finds it a mystery as to why people like me. Saying stuff like that shows he’s still got the fight.

Dad . . . .

If you’ve come here from my Facebook page feel free to ignore the rest of the drivel on this site. I just felt this was the easiest place to put up the information since Facebook posts have limited amount of space.

Mid-January, Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had a small tumor in the bronchus tube of his left lung. While awaiting for his doctors to get off their slow ass and figure what they are going to do, the tumor suddenly had a growth spurt and blocked off his left lung from getting any air. That caused him to contract pneumonia and ultimately made the lung collapse. He’s been in St. Bernard’s since Feb. 6. After contemplating a few different options, both his chemo and radiation doctors decided for him to have radiation treatments on the outside of his body, front and back where the tumor is located followed by weekly chemo treatments to give the radiation a boost. The hope is to at least reduce the tumor just enough to allow the lung to refill with air so he can be released to go home. Once he’s released, he can then get a PET scan so we can stage the cancer and start a treatment plan. The biggest concern at the moment isn’t the cancer but the blocked lung. If it can’t be opened up in time, it could die and have to be removed. Since Dad is 76 and only has about 25% capacity in his “good” lung, that would mean being tied to a breathing machine for the rest of his life.

As of today, we had a small glimmer of hope as the nurse from the chemo doctor thought she heard movement in his left lung but an x-ray and a listen from the pulmonary doctor showed no change. But he did add that he felt it was still too early to have expected anything to have changed so I guess that’s a not a bad omen. He has had four rounds of radiation treatments with no visible ill affects. He had his first round of chemo Fri and seems to maybe have missed out on getting sick. He is a lot more tired today than he’s been since we’ve been here and has no appetite but, knock on wood, isn’t sick.

I apologize for being slow to tell people. I just wanted to wait until we were sure what we were dealing with and then things kind of just accelerated. For those of you that know and expressed sympathy and support, means more than you can know. To anyone else who happens to stop by and offer their good thoughts, prayers, and the like, thank you to all of you as well. We can use all that we can get. I promise to be more forthcoming with updates.

Just last Friday night, while sitting in a bar with friends, I made the astute connection between hurricanes in the gulf and the cooling of temperatures here. Think it was something along the sophisticated lines of “Fuck them. They can tread water as long as it brings me cooler weather.” I also seemed to be shouting a lot about going to a tittie bar but that’s probably not relevant to this story. Anyway, ask and you shall receive. Evidently karma can be a bit of a bitch at times, and a hurricane named Ike left us a little present.

Thanks

At the bright and bushy-tailed time of 5:45 am, I heard a slight thump on the roof to go along with the howling wind I’d been hearing for a couple of hours. Thinking I was going to have to climb up on the roof during Hurricane Bubba to remove a large limb from the top of my house, I went outside to discover what you see in the picture above.  I immediately jumped into save-the-house mode which consisted of me walking around with my hands to my head saying “Fuck, fuck, fuck” over and over.

I then remember that we had a chainsaw in our storage building and I raced off to save the day.  A lightening quick 15 minutes later, I finally got the saw started and attacked the huge chunk of tree ensconced in the house.  In a matter of mere minutes, I had a fire log sized piece cutoff and the chainsaw perfectly stuck.  Apparently catching nearly all the episodes of Axe Men on the History Channel doesn’t make you proficient with a roaring chainsaw.   I was then joined by a neighbor from down the street who was wondering who the hell was running a chain saw at less than 6 am.  In the dark.  During a windstorm.   I was glad he was there so we could both stand witness to my stupidity.

Not knowing what else to do, I called 911 and asked for the fire department.  They made a quick response, looked at the house, asked if we had gas or were all electric, scratched their 3 collective heads, and split.  Next came a phone call to a tree trimmer who arrived, scratched his head, and left.  I finally called a friend of my Father’s who is a contractor to please come and take a look.  He showed up about 30 minutes later, looked, scratched his head, and said he’d take care of it.  Which he did after a couple of hours.  Somehow it was deemed highly necessary that I should man some chainsaws again.  I was more triumphant this time but lumberjakin’ ain’t easy.

Despite the attempted snark above, it was honestly a scary event.  My Father was out of town for the weekend, which in the beginning was a hassle.  You see, as The Ex recently pointed out, I’m fairly worthless.  That’s pretty much a paraphrase but that was her sentiment, which probably isn’t too far off.  I had no idea what to do, who to call, etc.  I just wanted to try to save the house.  It was an honorable thought but in retrospect, I could have done more damage than good.  But the scariest part of all this is that the parts of the tree crashed the ceiling of my Father’s bedroom.

Think that picture kind of speaks for itself but if it doesn’t, here is another view.

Just in case you can’t tell, that’s his bed in those two pictures.  The big pile of brown stuff in the second picture is insulation, which was piled high enough to completely bury him.  I’m not saying he would have been killed had he been sleeping there, but he would have been seriously injured.   It was a definite miracle that we was gone and that no one got hurt during the storm or during the clean up.

The contractor, with the help of myself and the neighbor, did a good job of getting the tree parts off the house.  It took a couple of chainsaws, a tractor, and a trip to the visibly rickety-assed roof for me to get it done but we did it.  This is the aftermath of the aftermath:

Both the insurance agent and an adjuster have both been by to asses the damage and I think everything will be ok.  The adjuster did not seem bent on low balling us and the agent seemed to genuinely concerned for our well being despite our just recently becoming customers of his.   Dad gets to sleep on the couch for unknown amount of time but the rest of the house is good and inhabitable.  I’m sure that one or both of us will take the adjuster’s offer of a hotel room once reconstruction starts, which should be within the week.

I would like to thank my neighbor (name withheld because I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be affiliated with some of the fine, upstanding discourse that takes place on this blog) for coming to help someone he had never met.  Also longtime friend Dolph who not only left preparations for his baby girl’s first birthday party to come help, he even offered to call in to work Monday to come and help shore up the house (to which I told him hell no).  And finally, to Gann for checking on me and offering me a couch to crash on if needed.  I may just take him up on that couch, and some of you others, you all just don’t know it yet.

And just so your information, it is currently an oh-so-cool 56 degrees with clear skies.  The stars look kind of pretty through the ceiling hole.

I know, it’s been a minute since my last post.  I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate, biggest of which is my laziness.  Here a few things, one of which didn’t happen on Tuesday, that have me thinking, irritated, or really irritatedly thinking:

How the fuck is it one of the biggest upsets in history when a team beats, by three points, a team that it had lost to by . . . um, three points, six damn weeks ago?

Don’t even get me started on the idiocy that is the primary process (or for that matter the electoral) but why the hell is it a big surprise when a Baptist preacher wins a caucus and four primaries in states that are severely religious and, lets be honest, a bit backwards?  And before you start bitching, I happen to live in one ‘o them “backward” states and often visit another neighboring one.  I know what I speak type.

My gosh . . . when a tornado hits a shopping mall in a quiet, peaceful city, people start looting the stores and then shooting at each other to re-loot their loot.  Crazy.  Must be caused by all those strip clubs.  And yes, I am still bitter.

Haven’t had a post in a good while.  Along with my usual laziness, there have been some health issues with my mother.  I’ll expand on those later when I get the mood to write about it.

Thursday, I made the drive to Memphis to see The Smashing Pumpkins with Gann.  I’m not sure who’s infinite wisdom it was to schedule a concert in an outdoor arena for the end of October, but his ‘”wisdom” needs to be revoked.  I know it’s the South, but the weather gets awful moody this time of year.   It was not only a bit chilly, but contained a little dampness as well.

Despite the shit weather, overall, the show was good.  The opening band was something called Explosions In the Sky.  Shoe-gazing instrumental rock that wasn’t my cup o’ tea.  It was like listening to one half-hour long song.  More accurately, with the exception of the heavy middle, it sounded like hearing the same little snippet of a song for 30 minutes.  I swear one guitar player played the same four notes the entire time.  Vocals consisted of one the guitarists stating the band’s name and giving their home as “Texas, U.S.A.” and then a “Thank You” at the end.  I wonder why they even bothered purchasing a microphone?  He could of just walked out and waved his “hello/goodbye”.  If we cared about it, we could have made the Texas inference from its state flag that was hanging of an amp.  Gann liked it a lot better than I did.  He said it would be cool to have playing in the background.  He was right, it would be cool for back ground music.  Just not for sitting outside along the banks of the muddy Mississippi in the cold with the threat of precipitation tapping me on the shoulder.

The Pumpkins rocked.  I went in a little skeptical since Billy Corgan had a past reputation of being a bit pissy.  He made a couple of comments on the cold but was in good spirits.  The stage show was cool and they were pretty tight as a band.  About a quarter way in was when the rain started but it never got more than a steady sprinkle.  Enough to make me put on the rain jacket I brought but not enough to be a pain.  My only complaint was that they didn’t play enough of the old stuff for my taste.  The new album is good but it would have been nice to hear some Gish or more from Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie.  All in all, it was great to see a band from the good old days still pull it together live.

9/11/07 . . . .

Below is a letter-to-the-editor that I wrote on the day following the events of September 11, 2001:

Just as it must have been after Pearl Harbor, our nation finds itself, perhaps irrevocably, changed.  I awoke Wednesday to air that, despite the 1186 miles between here and New York, no longer smells, feels, or even tastes the same.  And just as in 1941, our nation again stands at a crossroad, one that surely leads to war.  I have read Kurt Vonnegut, seen such movies as Platoon and Saving Private Ryan, and I have seen all episodes of M.A.S.H., all of which conclude war is horrific, devastating, and ruinous.  Simply, to quote General Sherman, “War is Hell.”  And it should be declared today.

Our Nation, the ideas and principles at its very core, as well as its people both as a whole nation and as individuals, has been attacked.  It’s an attack that should be returned ten-fold.  It has been reported that authorities are 99% sure that the man behind these tragic events is Osama bin Laden.  Excluding Tuesday’s attacks, Bin Laden is a man personally responsible for the death of and injury to at least 7000 people across the world since 1993.  The only punishment to follow these transgressions were a couple of indictments and trials and some missile attacks on various camps and facilities.  All basically amounting to the slapping of a pestering child’s hand.  It is time to stop slapping and start eradicating.

We must seek out and destroy terrorism, starting with Bin Laden, Afghanistan, and any nation that has helped or harbored him in any way.  America needs make a strong and decisive example to prevent this from occurring again.  We may be the only remaining super-power but years of pacifism and facile retaliation have revealed the cracks in our armor.  These times call for full-scale war, not just the impotent tossing of missiles.  If America does not take a stand now, we can expect more acts of terrorism in more ingenious ways and with even higher death tolls.  In the words of Senator John McCain, “God may have mercy on you, but we won’t.”

Six years later, I still stand by that sentiment.  My information may have been hastily gathered and may/may not be totally accurate, but I feel the point I was trying to make is a valid one.  And sadly, a forgotten one.  I hoped that in the wake of 9/11 that this nation would pull itself up by its bootstraps as it did in the months and years following the attack on Pearl Harbor but that wasn’t meant to be.  Our country is too caught up in ugly celebrity moments and the hot-missing-blonde-of-the-week to notice all the coming together we did that September day is gone.  9/11 is now a day for the networks to trot out the tear jerking specials for sweeps, the President to whip up a couple of percentage points for his approval rating, and now class action lawsuits.  I think that says all it needs to about America when even in the face of a tremendous tragedy, we can still be litigious.

I got the football pool sheet filled out with definite winners, my team in both fantasy football leagues built for a championship, and I’ve got 50 wings ready to be grilled to caribbean jerk perfection.  Let the geekness begin . . . .

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