Monthly Archives: March 2015


Avalon Autumn Sunrise

Avalon Autumn Sunrise

Stubborn, independent, self-made, hard-working, giving, successful, go-getter, caring, kind, stubborn, single-minded; these words may be used to describe a successful person, especially in this day and age. Note there’s nothing about money mentioned. I don’t feel financial wealth to be a standard to be successful, but that’s just me. All of these qualities I am happy to strive for, and they help me feel worthwhile. In my book, if you work hard, don’t take much for granted, take your lumps as they come, because they will come, play hard, and be a good person, then you are successful. Yet I’ve found this success can get in the way of another important aspect of life: receiving.

I love people. I love serving people, and I loved my work. With the FD, I worked with the finest people on the planet, for some of the most amazing, poor, sick and inspiring people on the planet. I loved running calls, loved my partners on the Rescue, and loved trying to help those in need in truly unimaginable situations. Just when I thought I’d seen it all, the next shift showed me something new. Sure, there were terribly violent and wickedly persecuting incidents, but there were also uplifting ones to balance out the pain. As a harbor patrol officer, I was able to serve on the water (a bit selfish, I admit), and it was a gift to me to be able to do so in such an ever-changing environment. I felt honored to be allowed to take part in someone’s most life-challenging and intimate moments, some tragic, some happy. I tried to respect that part of my job, and at times it was difficult. Trying to understand the reasons for certain occurrences was mind-boggling and I finally learned to stop trying. But I never gave up trying to be present for those involved. A lot of that wasn’t taught in paramedic school or covered in continuing education, and I think it’s a difficult thing to teach. Everyone has their own way of seeing things, but I feel it’s something for rescue workers to always keep in mind. It’s another way of serving, of giving. I think I was good at it.

Now, things are very hard for me because I find myself in the position of taking. Not taking, per se, but of receiving. I’ve learned that’s a very difficult thing for me to do. For those of you out there who’ve been trying to give, I’m trying. It’s quite a challenge for me, being one of those stubborn and independent people I wrote about earlier. And it’s so difficult to receive gracefully! I want to honor those who have given and are giving, and due to my flippin’ ego, I find it almost impossible to drop the facade and just allow it to happen. I see myself fighting it. I consciously try to recall how special it made me feel to give to others, to serve others, to help my family and friends, and it was life-sustaining. I had a purpose on this planet to give, to serve. And those I served received. I need to give more by receiving. I honor you, thank you, and am so grateful for you, for your gifts. Better yet, you give in so many different ways, and that’s such a wonderful surprise. You listen, you laugh (the best!), you sand, paint and varnish, you cook, you drive, you paddle, you persist. For all of this and more, thank you.

I’ve searched to find the right words to convey all of this, and it’s quite a challenge. Sometimes the words flow, but this time there’s no flowing. I’m trying, and I want you to know I’ll keep trying. Please know I am so grateful for all of you, I am humbled by you, am honored by you, and I honor you. Best of all, I love you. Maybe it’s that simple?

I love you.

The Black and White of It All…

Chest CT Scan taken 01/08/15.

Chest CT Scan taken 01/08/15.

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all are making it through what trials and tribulations you have at the moment. Those of you in the East, South, Midwest and Southeast are freezing your keisters off right now, and I’m so sorry about that. I know you are tired of the cold and snow. Those of you in the West, Southwest or Baja are roasting in a drought right now, and I’m sorry about that, too. May we all make the best out of where we are…

Me? I’m giving it my best shot. Above, you see a picture of something, and what the heck is that something? Now, don’t be looking any other place than in the middle of this picture, because the rest is private, and I’m really shy and get embarrassed easily. I said, don’t look there!!!! Okay, so here’s the explanation. What you’re looking at is a CT scan of my lungs taken January 8, 2015. At that time, I was still thankfully hauling around a portable O2 machine, wasn’t walking far (maybe 20 yards), and was speaking in one word sentences. All that means is I was still pretty short of breath. The big black area on the right in the scan is my left lung. My left lung is looking pretty good, and I’m pretty thankful for that. There’s a nice black “O” in the middle of the scan, and that’s my trachea, or windpipe. To the left of that is a big white area. That’s bad. That’s big ol’ icky tumor, with a tiny bit of black in the left lower area. That’s the only area of that lung getting any air, or, it’s the top of my liver. I never said I was a pro at reading CTs, but no wonder I was short of breath!

This is the point I started the clinical trial at City of Hope with Dr. Karen Reckamp and the pulmonary oncology team. I took three pills a day of the super secret medicine for a week, then increased the dose to six pills a day. There were a few speed bumps along the way such as a bunch of blood clots and then some chest pain, but who said it’d be easy? Following is a view of the scan taken March 2, 2015.

Chest CT taken 03/02/2015.

Chest CT taken 03/02/2015.

See the difference? The area where my right lung should be is black, not white! We like black, black is good, black means air. It’s not as big as the left lung, on the right, but if you’d been sleeping at the switch for the last six months, you’d be smaller, too. This scan helps to explain the chest pain I’ve been having. I’ve felt a band encircling my lower chest and tightening, especially when I tried to take a deeper breath. It would increase when I moved in certain ways, coughed, tried to laugh, and take deep breaths. The chest surgeons explained this pain as textbook, as this is the way my lungs are telling me they want to work, they’re waking up. In their words, “Pain is good.” Leave it to a surgeon! Seriously, having an explanation is all I need to work through it and understand why it’s happening. I may never be able to get the right as “black” as the left as something called atelectasis has set in. This means I’ve lost some elasticity to my lung, the ability to inflate and deflate. This is caused by a disease process, and/or pulmonary inactivity. Some of it I may be able to stretch out, but much of it I may not. I am not complaining. I am ecstatic with the amount of air I’m able to move now, and am working to increase that amount as much as I can daily. This lets me begin getting some exercise, to get out and enjoy my new surroundings, actually go for a hike. Or a paddle.

I am so very grateful.

I’m planning on riding this wave for as long as it’ll break, enjoying the smooth, aquaeous beauty for as long as I can. Maybe even do a few headstands while I’m at it!

Take care, Everyone, and hang in through the rest of the winter. Spring is coming soon! Remember I love you all, and keep doing good things…