Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How I Met Teri - Part 3 - Gonna Take it Out

As soon as they released I drove strait out of there. I knew I had some quick changes to make. It was time to stop messing around with stupid things. From the way they all looked at me, from the medical staff to other patients, I knew this just might be it. One of the first things I did was make it a priority to spend time with my family and closet friends.

To me, there's nothing more important than family, and I'd never spent enough time being with them before. When I was in my twenties I was too focused on my own brand of crazy, and married to my first wife to boot. My thirties where my "bachelor years," and that's all I need say about that. Thinking the clock was ticking I could no longer waste time.

It was also comforting beyond explaining, especially after they told me it looked like I had aggressive stomach cancer. Instead of scheduling a biopsy, they set up to carve into me and take the whole thing out. I had less than four weeks until surgery from the time they found it. I was told that, worst case, I'd be dead in around 6 months. Also, that in removing it, they may have to take out my entire stomach. So, even if it's not cancer I could end up not being able to eat ever again. I appreciated the blunt worst case appraisal. I allowed me to prepare myself.

I will never, ever be able to repay all the love and support I received from friends, family and even strangers. There are too many to name individually, but if any of you read this, thank you.

How I Met Teri - Part 2 - A Fel Wind Blows

So how did my shooting a crazy, late winter jaunt into the world of indoor arena bull riding lead me to marrying this amazing woman? Let me see if I can explain something about myself as I illustrate how one lead to the other.

The Monday after that shoot I went back to work at the museum, like I had for going on 15 years. That's not quit accurate, buy this time I was well underway in trying to find a viable avenue out. I wanted to be a shooter, and I carried my Canon 10D everywhere I went. I'd also made friends with a proshooter, who seemed interested in giving me pointers and advice. We'd even begun to talk about long range business goals. Of course, I also had a major dose of the excitement I usually get when I'm on the cusp of a new direction. In the past, it's been know to cause headaches.

So anyway, two weeks passed and I'd begun to feel very ill. More than usual, but being stubborn I kept pushing on. I'd spend at day working at the museum, then at night spend as much time as possible shooting, exploring. I didn't want to admit I was really feeling down. Then, at the end of those two weeks, I hit a wall.

As I sat in my office I realized I couldn't breath. Seems I'd caught bronchitis from breathing in all those wonderful bluish hazed manure clouds. I called my doctor and they instructed me to call an ambulance. Ambulance? What drama, I don't think so.

I decided I was going to walk. The hospital was only a few blocks away. Unfortunately, I'd neglected to consider it was also uphill. A walk that usually takes all of 10 minutes, if that, took me 45!

So they admit right away when they saw I couldn't breath at all. Security also took my camera, which was in my hand as usual. A short time later an intern is telling me I had bronchitis but he wanted to run a CAT Scan, as routine.

Not long afterward, as I sat in a room with two other folks, I spotted my intern. He was in tow of another, older man and looked worried. Looking into the eyes of the older Doctor I knew it was going to be bad news. After asking me a number of questions, and lots of poking around my chest he said something that changed my life.

"Mr. Lutz, the CAT Scan has revealed a massive tumor the size of a softball under your ribs. I don't want to alarm you, but we're keeping you over night."

When the doctor actually went to get my camera from security I knew he saw a dead man walking. The other two patients, who'd been constantly bitching and moaning before I was told this, were so quiet I couldn't hear them breath. I remember calling my mother...

The only bed they could find me for the night was in the liver transplant ward. After some medication, I could breath again and I was feeling a lot better. I couldn't sleep of course, I never even undressed from my street clothes. I just walked around and around, talking to patients, all of whom were so ill. One poor soul was in for his second tranplant. They'd all ask me what I was doing there. After saying they'd found a mass in my chest, these so very ill people would give me that look. The one that says, "damn, you've had it."

I watched the sun rise over Oakland, Pittsburgh. A section of the city I'd spent nearly 20 years of my life existing. The storms from the previous night, which I'd watched to intently, had blown away. I didn't panic, I just waited until they released me so I could go home.