Thursday, November 28, 2013

On The A - Line

Just when I thought it was safe to get out of bed - I should have taken a second look. The other morning I woke up feeling better than I had in quite some time. However, within minutes of getting up, I was laying on the floor nauseous and exhausted. I lay there a while thinking with a little rest, it would be easier to get up and finish getting dressed for my appointment with my Oncologist.

I did manage to get up, but when I stood up, the nausea turned very quickly to actively throwing up. I did make it to the car, pan in hand. My wife began the drive into Houston's Medical Center. By the time we got into town, my pan was full. By the time we got to the parking garage at MD Anderson, I found I could not get out of the car. My wife retrieved a wheel chair. I struggled out of the car and into the chair.

Having given up my pan, we stopped at the desk for a barf bag. Throwing up into it, I noticed for the first time the "coffee grounds" look of what I was throwing up. I knew what was happening, and I knew it wasn't good. I was throwing up blood.

When we got to the Doctor's office, I could no longer sit up. Instead, I stretched out on a sofa. They called me a minute or two later, but I didn't have the strength to get up, and I could only communicate  somewhat incoherently. My wife filled them in on what she knew of what was happening. Shortly after they got me into the Doctor's office, all hell broke loose. I was now throwing up bright red blood and  coughing it up as well. It was also coming out of my nose. Someone was asking me if I could stay in the wheelchair long enough to get to the ER. I agreed, I could, but I would have agreed to any thing at that point. All I really wanted to do was lay down to sleep and be left alone.

Before I knew what was happening, I was in the ER being prepared for the insertion of two Arterial
Lines. I'd never had an arterial line inserted while conscious before, but I had helped insert them and I knew they were hellishly painful, but what was I to do. It was either let them establish the lines or die. I was so overwhelmingly tired I might have chosen to die, but no one gave me that choice. I had bled out half of my volume of blood. There really were no choices.

The doctor began to insert the long needle deep into my right wrist and dig around for the artery. Even in my weakened condition, it was all I could do to stay still. The pain was almost unbearable. With the arterial line in my wrist, stitched to my skin to hold in place and patent, they began immediately to infuse blood while a second larger bore arterial line was established in my groin. The pain was intense as the physician struggled to get the line just the way he wanted it and then stitch it to me so it would not move. That done, they began to run more blood into me at a fast clip.

Within a very short time, my body began to change from a very pale white to pink. I was still foggy, but I knew I was going to live. There was no pain from the hemorrhage or the surgery, but my wrist, my groin and my penis ached from the assault of the catheters which had been inserted. My arms looked like I had been in a fight with  a couple of cats. There were needle stick marks up and down them from where they had tried to find veins that would tolerate a catheter and, of course, the venous catheters that marked their ultimately successful stick. In another few minutes I was transported to ICU where I was to remain for 4 days without food and without water except for the IV bags which were constantly flowing their contents into my arms. More often than not, ICU patients are not fully conscious. It is a blessing, a blessing I did not have. Believe me, there is no allowance for one's dignity in ICU. Neither is there any time to sleep. Nurses and technicians are in and out in and out. Monitors are sounding their shrill warnings almost constantly. It is impossible to get comfortable with the tubes running in and out of ones body. The slightest movement is likely to cause a tube to crimp, and the monitors began their obnoxious warnings.

After five days, I was released to home with warnings to take things slow and easy. There was no need to warn me. I didn't have the energy to cuss a cat!

I'm feeling better today for the first time, but my energy level is still low. There'll be no family
Thanksgiving for me. My immune system is too low to be around a bunch of people, especially the little kids. But now that I'm getting better, I'm glad they ignored my pleas to leave me alone. Life is not what I wish it were anymore, but there are still so many blessings to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving day and every day.

As a part of taking it easy for a while, I'm not sure when the next pictures will be posted, or the next blog written, but I hope you won't forget me. Check back every few days to see what's new.

I hope you won't just celebrate Thanksgiving watching the Cowboys game. I love football, but there is more to life. Take time to actually name a few of your blessings and be thankful for them. Life is really short, and it hangs on a very thin string.


Jack Scott

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Sincere Salute to All Who Served

For Our Tomorrows 

The sun is setting on a Veteran's Day which was absolutely beautiful here in Texas. That we might enjoy it, thousands upon thousands of American soldiers through the centuries have given the ultimate gift, their lives.

As the proud father of a career military man who has worn the uniform for over two decades, I know well, the sacrifices our military men and women make every day. They make up less than 1% of Americans, and we trust them to have our backs 100% of the time for very little in return. 

Why do they do it? Even as the father of one of them, I simply do not know. The best I can make of it, they simply feel called. Like the 3 year old in the lyrics of the famous song, "The Wall," my own son was playing war when he was only three. Think of all the war zones you've heard about in the News over the last 20 years. My son and the sons and daughters of a host of Americans have been in every one of them. And in a very personal and intimate way, those who love them have been there too. 

Americans have become war weary. We have not forgotten that to whom much is given, much is required. We have not forgotten that Americans, for generations, have stepped into conflicts that were not their conflicts, but nevertheless, conflicts, in which, we felt duty bound to take a side. Things have not always turned out well in these conflicts where we've offered a helping hand. But we can be proud we've never tried to build an empire and more often than not, our national enemies have eventually become our allies and friends. 

Today our enemies are not nations, but radical religious zealots who prey upon the uneducated, the poor and the ignorant to make them their human weapons of mass destruction, promising them unlimited rewards in paradise of which the zealots themselves are not yet ready to partake. 

Though we are a nation who has sacrificially earned our present condition of war weariness, we will have no choice but to continue the fight against the radicals, those who try to exalt themselves on the bloody bodies of their people, the purveyors of false religions, and those who are nothing more than everyday tyrants. 

Fortunately, scientific achievement takes exponential leaps forward. We are on the brink of a sea change in the technology of warfare. Fewer and fewer Americans will have to be physically present in war zones in order to achieve our goals. Our technology will keep our military men and women out of harm's way. I know people are already complaining about the rise of drones and the collateral damage they often cause. Those people have simply forgotten the real definition of collateral damage which was a brutal reality of World War II. The reality is, the collateral damage of World War II was one of the reasons the ward did not drag on for 15 years or so like our present wars do. While no collateral damage should always the goal for Americans, if there is to be collateral damage it should be upon our enemies and those who support their tactics or turn a blind eye to them.

So, as night closes in on this Vetran's Day. Let us each say a prayer or simply take a moment to say, "Thanks," to those who have born the battle. Let us remember that we will always need those few special people who love America enough to die for it and to gladly serve it. 

Jack Scott

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hanging Tough - I Think

It's been a while since I posted anything that doesn't pertain to football. Frankly, I have been pleasantly surprised at how many readers those two posts have attracted. After last Sunday's Texans loss to the Colts, I'm considering whether NFL Football is entertainment or self torture. 

Anyway, I wanted to let all of you I'm working on a non-football post. Not sure when I'll have it out. I've been working on it for a couple of weeks and making only slow progress.

I've always heard about chemo brain. Now I know what it is all to well. I've always been one who could just pick up a pencil, and the words would come. The chemo has ended that. I have to drag the words out of my brain. Beyond that I'm wearing out my spell checker. 

I often become confused too over little things. I've had my share of confusion during my life but not over little things that we all have to deal with every day. Add to that the constant fatigue, and I'm moving pretty slow these days. However, I refuse to give up; so I'll get something substantial posted fairly soon.

Thanks to all of you for your patience and your support.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott