Home Life

As much as I have moaned and complained about my knee, it might seem as if there was no up side to life lately. The truth is kinda the opposite of that. There really are some good parts going on right now.

Living the EMS lifestyle means long hours away from home and family. When you throw in the time spent traveling to and from, teaching and special events and then top that off with running 30-40 miles a week life can get pretty hectic sometimes. Not that I’m complaining about it, this is the life I chose and the one I love. Still, it has been nice to slow down and enjoy a different pace.

I have not missed a play that Daniel’s been on the field this season in football (and the Warrior’s are kicking some tail, undefeated so far), binge watched TV series and even went to school with Sophia, chauffeured Ladonna to work and become more involved with the men’s group at church.

As much as I miss running and miss work, the upcoming return will mean missing this time I’ve been blessed with.

35 Years Later

Happy Anniversary to me! It just occurred to me that as my birthday looms yet again there is another date fast approaching, my EMS Anniversary. On about the same day, 35 years ago, I joined the Lee County Junior Rescue Squad, Pennington Gap Unit in Virginia. 30 years ago I worked my first shift for a small private ambulance service and was paid for the first time for providing medical care. For the last several years I have had the joy of serving with some of the best in the world at Sullivan County EMS and teaching with the Southwest Virginia Paramedic Program.

Somehow I’ve managed to beat the odds. National statistics show that EMS is such a hard life that the average paramedic lasts just 5 years. Along the way I have changed from the youngest, least experienced person to the ancient one in a blink of an eye. There have been so many changes in the profession and so many hardships and so many people.  I can’t wait to see what the next 35 years hold!

 

Versed Is My Friend!

Ok, so I think that I am free of the effects of medication enough to write a blog. Evidently earlier today I texted a Deputy Chief at work “Versed is my friend” which might indicate that I am not in the best of conditions.

The staff at the surgery center next to Fort Sander’s Regional in Knoxville was very nice, very professional. After a brief wait it was back to the pre-op and answering questions, changing into a very stylish gown and sitting with Ladonna as various docs and nurses wandered through. I do remember having a nice discussion with the Anesthesiologist about different types of airways, especially supraglottic types such as the LMA and King. I found it refreshing that he wanted to talk about it “with a medical professional that has a different perspective on the issues.”

Dr. Jaquith came by and spoke with us about the surgery to come and then the nurse said she was going to give me a little bit of Versed, not enough to do much. Ladonna said within a few seconds I was thick tongued and then there is no memory beyond that. I really must be a cheap date! I somewhat remember waking up in recovery and the good doctor saying something about he would explain it to my wife. I very clearly remember him asking me to move my toes and saying that it was good they still worked…  Wow, I am glad they are still attached, somehow I didn’t think about that until now but maybe I’m confusing realities, I have been watching a show about Mt. Everest?

Now for the report, mainly from Ladonna…

The piece of stuff free floating must have been sucked up almost immediately as he never truly visualized it. The lateral meniscus must have healed as he thought it would because it was intact as was the ACL. The PCL showed some wear and tear but was intact. The medial meniscus tear was clipped out and some good news there was that he was able to leave some. There is a divot on the lateral side of my femur, most likely where the floating piece came from. All of the surfaces show a pretty good amount of osteoarthritis, perhaps the worst news of all. Then again, it wasn’t like I didn’t know that I had arthritis before this.

A very special thank you to my family and friends and my running buddy Lilyan for their thoughts and prayers for today. And my beautiful Ladonna, for taking care of me and all that you do, you are my blessing. Now to see if I can clear this Versed Fog and in a week or so time for the rehab to began.

Doctor’s Report

Ok, I finally made it to see an orthopedic surgeon about the knee. So here it is in a nut shell. The medial meniscus has what’s called a bucket handle tear (see picture) that has also flipped upside down. This is one possible reason for the popping, locking, swelling and bruising. The second finding Continue reading Doctor’s Report

The Lazy Crazy Tri

I am starting to realize more and more what I have put my wife and family through the last few years. This was day 33 since my knee injury and FINALLY I had an MRI to determine what the actual injury is. This evening was supposed to be when I did the Lazy Crazy Tri with Daniel. A first Tri for both of us. Now it was Daniel’s first and my chance to crew him with Ladonna.  Continue reading The Lazy Crazy Tri

Dogs with Diseases

While I am moaning about myself, there is some news that is more good than bad. Bentley is feeling much better and is showing some signs of his old self.

The long and short is he has the dog version of Addison’s Disease. His body no longer produces the hormones needed to deal with stress like it should. Because of this he has electrolyte imbalances and whenever he becomes stressed he can go into crisis mode. The great news is this is very treatable and he is already improving. The bad news is this is an ongoing process and he will require medication daily throughout his life and will need to go to the vet often for blood work.

Still, just seeing the very loving dog we adore coming back to us lifts our spirits.

There Goes The Streak

Well there it goes, the streak is over! Last year was my 6th straight Crazy 8’s and this year was to be my 7th. That was before that fateful click in my knee a couple of weeks ago.

Still not certain what it was. The ER Doc said it was “classic meniscus”. The comp Doc thinks it’s more of a “stretching of the inside ligament”. Either way I held out hope that I would manage to find a way to get over it in time to make the race. Today knocked those hopes out. No work, no kneeling, no stooping, no lifting, pulling or carrying anything over 10 pounds until at least July 12th. Strangely the doctor is still refusing the MRI that the ER said was needed and the knee is still swelling, locking, bruising.

In other words, no Crazy 8’s this year…

Click

So there I was, just doing what I had done probably thousands of times over the years, carrying a stretcher down steps. Technically I had just carried the patient firmly secured to the stretcher down the steps, I was standing of Terra Firma but still had the stretcher supported in the air. I turned ever so slightly to glance behind me and then it happened.

A very soft click. So soft that maybe it wasn’t a sound, maybe it was just a feeling. There wasn’t any pain, no burning, no numbness. Just an easy slide sideways of the joint with that little click. My knee wouldn’t bend, it wouldn’t move, nothing. “I’ve just dislocated my knee!” I screamed in my head. Nausea… where did that come from? I had to try hard not to vomit while just standing there, holding a couple of hundred pounds in the air and deciding what to do next. I managed to sit the stretcher down gently and push it by me and then asked someone else to get the end I had.

The wave of nausea washed over me again and sweat popped up on my head. I reached down and palpated my knee, ready to feel the cap turned to the side. No, it was intact, exactly where it was supposed to be. The femur felt good as did the tibia. Why wouldn’t it bend? I worked the lower leg side to side with my hands and then it was free. Strange but working just fine. I walked to the ambulance and was met with a white hot stab to the inside of the joint with each step. “Just get to the truck, take care of the patient, nothing is wrong”,  yep, I was lying to myself on that last part.

There it was again, the knee locked up a second time. Still, no real pain yet, at least as long as I wasn’t walking. A little shaking and it was working again. Deep aching followed that, and a strange grinding with movement. At least the nausea was gone.

The ER said it was “classic meniscus”. That was a few days ago. Now I am sitting at home, already going crazy, while I wait to see the doctor. The ache is still there along with a very strange sudden cramping of various parts of my calf, thigh and even foot which seems to have no rhyme or reason to it. I hope the ER was right, a quick fix surgery and back to life. No sitting around, bored to death, waiting endlessly for something to happen.

Finish Strong

Today at church Pastor James brought up a very good point, the way that one finishes is much more important than the way one starts. He pointed out the lives of two people who a few years ago were both thought of as great but the way that they finished showed that one  was false greatness while one was truly great.

Almost every American and many others around the world know the stories of two Williams. The first

one was born in Philadelphia in 1937. He served in the US Navy and then went to college before becoming a comedian. Eventually he made it to T.V. He earned Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, Presidential Medals and 15 honorary doctorates. But then the wall came crashing down. Bill Cosby will not be remembered as a great man but as a sexual predator.

US comedian Bill Cosby leaves December 30, 2015 the Court House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania after arraignment on charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was arraigned over an incident that took place in 2004 — the first criminal charge filed against the actor after dozens of women claimed abuse.AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

The second one was born in North Carolina in 1918. After high school he went to Bible college and then got a degree in anthropology.  He became a pastor for a short while of a small church before becoming an evangelist. During his life he spoke in 185 countries on 6 continents, was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the US and Apartheid in South Africa, spiritual advisor to every President from Wilson to Obama and spoke his message to BILLIONS around the world. It is estimated that he spoke to over 2.5 billion worldwide in one single broadcast in 1996.  He also received many honorary degrees and awards from the United States such as the Presidential Medal of Honor, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, as well as medals from many other countries. On February 28 and March 1, 2018, Billy Graham became the fourth private citizen in United States history to lie in honor at the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C. One William was a finisher, the other was not.

Rev. Billy Graham

Which brings us to weight issues. Almost any lesson learned about life can be carried over but for today let’s talk about finishing. Like most people that deal with weight problems I had started to diet more times than I can remember. Almost always I was successful for a short period of time but then I would stumble and fall. I was following the Bill Cosby path. I would try hard, start in the right direction and do enough that everyone could see what I was doing and comment on it. But eventually I would cheat.

The thing about the cheating is it was hurting me but I would hide it at first from everyone so they would continue to say things about me so I would feel good. In the end the truth came out, the weight would start to trickle then rush back on.

When I decided to try again a few years ago I had a different mindset. It wasn’t about looks, it was about survival. If I didn’t do something I couldn’t do my job, I knew that I was rushing head long into an early grave. I had to change. After the weight started rolling off I started running but it is still not easy, I still struggle and fall. The difference is I’m on the Billy Graham plan now. I know the way isn’t easy, I know I will have to fight this for the rest of my life. But I am going to finish strong! I want to be able to quote the book that Dr. Graham followed his whole life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Thank you Pastor James for reminding me of the importance of that passage.

My Poor (Almost) Running Buddy

If you have read many of my blogs you may remember me writing about Bentley. If not, here is the short version. Bentley is our very handsome collie. I had hopes that he would be a great running buddy but he ate his first harness and tends to sprint and stop a lot. When he was trying though, he was great.

A few weeks ago we noticed that he was acting strange, shaking his head and scratching his ears and such. A trip to the vet showed a pretty nasty ear infection, bad news but not terrible. A few days later and he was nauseated and vomiting and just not doing well. A couple more vet visits and he was starting to perk up. Then earlier this week he got really sick. Last night he laid between Ladonna and me, covered with blankets and shivering. We even got a heating pad out for him.

Today he was back at the vet again. Not the news we were hoping for at all. He has most of the signs of Addison’s Disease: lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration and shaking. He has lost 5 pounds in two weeks. For me, that would probably be a good thing but for a 58 pound dog, that’s bad. While we wait on test results poor Bentley had to get antibiotics, steroids and IV fluids tonight at home. Now he is laying here, curled up on the couch beside me under a blanket.