Category Archives: medical news

Blog performs priceless function

You know already that I love this gig of writing a blog, so much so that I have just crossed the 700-day mark.

Seven hundred consecutive days of posting a commentary on High Plains Blogger! I consider that a big … deal, if you get my drift.

I get a particular question from time to time, which goes like this: How are you able to write so frequently? My answer is that I do not know or why that it happens. I am prone to respond simply that “It’s what I do and it’s who I am.”

I’m not boasting about it. I merely want to call attention to this streak because, in a manner that many of you will understand, it has served as a form of therapy for me since I experienced the worst day of my life.

Feb. 3 came and went. The day began with my dear bride struggling to regain consciousness after suffering a grand mal seizure about six days earlier. The day ended with a phone call from the hospital telling me Kathy Anne had “just passed.” The glioblastoma lesion in her brain took her from us and it shattered many hearts.

I have sought in the months since then to tell the story of my personal journey through this darkness. My family and I are going through it together, but as a form of therapy, writing about this passage has given me strength. It helps clear my head … along with the road trips I have been able to take with my trusted companion, Toby the Puppy.

I likely would have continued this streak without the tragedy that befell us but since we have been dealt this hand, I am continuing to play it for as long as it is reasonable.

I want to thank you for reading it and sharing it when the spirit moves you.

Seven hundred consecutive days of blogging means a great deal to me. It happens to mean even more as I am able to continue to use this forum as a guide path that leads me toward the light.

COVID not gone!

Some distressing news came in the other day when I learned that a longtime friend and former colleague died of complications from COVID-19.

It served as a gigantic reminder that the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million Americans is still around.  It still is harming us. We must be mindful of its presence. We should take all necessary precautions once we are aware of any possible exposure to the killer virus.

Kenton Brooks was just 67 years of age. He was still working, as far as I know, in the business of daily journalism. He had contracted the virus while working and living in Muskogee, Okla. His symptoms deteriorated rapidly and he was rushed to ICU in Tulsa, where he passed away.

He is far from the first friend I have lost to this disease. I hope he is the last one, at least for a good while.

I have heard all along that we likely never will be rid completely of the virus, that it won’t be eradicated. Indeed, I have heard in recent days about a possible spike in cases in the country, caused in large part by Americans getting out more and perhaps ignoring the precautions they had taken to avoid being stricken.

I have been reawakened to the need to take care of myself. Social distancing is back on my to-do list of precautions, along with frequent hand-washing/sanitizing; and, yes, I am going to keep masks handy in case the need should arise for me to wear one.

I also admit to being a bit nonchalant about the disease. My friend’s passing has cured me of it.

Why now, RFK Jr.?

Many things get past this old codger, one of them being the Democratic Party presidential candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

I’ll stipulate once more that RFK Jr. was given the name of my first political hero, his father. His campaign for the White House, though, is based on conspiracies that, to my mind, do not exist.

Moreover, he expresses deep personal affection for President Biden, who enjoys the overwhelming support of RFK Jr.’s family.

He says the mandated COVID-19 vaccines were an overreach by the government, which he said should never have required us to be vaccinated against a virus that killed about 1 million Americans.

Hmm. Wow! What do you suppose the death toll would have been had the Biden administration not ordered the vaccines? My hunch: a whole lot more than those who perished.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will not be elected president. Not this year. Not any year. Never. He sounds like a goofball nut case seeking to make a name for himself. Imagine that if you will … a man with arguably one of the most revered political names of the past century seeking even more attention.

I’m still trying to wrap my arms around this guy’s candidacy.

For now, I am left merely to shake my noggin in astonishment.

Where is Fauci Squad?

The congressional Republican hit squad made a grim prediction on the eve of the 2022 midterm election.

They would, if they regained control of the House of Representatives, launch an immediate investigation into all the wrongs committed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the one-time coronavirus guru hired first by Donald Trump and then kept by Joe Biden to lead the nation out of the pandemic crisis.

They accused Fauci of lying, of covering up the cause of the pandemic, of spreading confusion. They were going to get to the bottom of it all right then and there … they said with passion.

What the hell?

Fauci has retired. He’s spending more time with his wife, his children and grandchildren. He is out of the limelight. For my money, the man deserves a medal. Hell, he ought to get several medals for putting up with the ration of horseh** he got for four years during the Trump years and during the time he served the Biden administration.

Oh, wait. I almost forgot. The Republican congressional caucus has been sniffing around Hunter Biden’s laptop, looking for crimes that they say he committed. Then we find out that an informant who reportedly was friendly with the GOP caucus is an arms dealer who worked for China … and who now is on the lam.

As for Fauci, the GOP continues to be distracted by other phony probes to spend any time looking into so-called wrongdoing by a dedicated infectious disease physician.

From my perch in the cheap seats, Anthony Fauci is a hero who saved millions of American lives. The GOP chumps looking for dirt to throw at him continually disgrace the government they have pledged to serve.

SCOTUS strikes blow for restraint

The U.S. Supreme Court, the panel with that conservative supermajority, has done what many of us didn’t expect from it.

The court stemmed a judicial rampage launched by a lower court judge in Amarillo, who ruled that a tried-and-proven pill used by women to end pregnancies no longer is suitable.

The SCOTUS allowed the use of the pill approved 20-plus years ago by the Food and Drug Administration for several more weeks while appeals play out.

Two justices voted in the minority: Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. There might have been more, but only those two let their dissents be known.

The federal judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, tossed judicial restraint out the window with his ruling against the drug. It is an ironic ruling, given conservative judges’ inherent dislike for what they call “judicial activism.”

The case now will go to the Fifth U.S. Circuit of Appeals, considered the most conservative appellate court in the federal system. I am going to hold out a glimmer of hope that the Fifth Circuit will follow the lead established by the Supreme Court and keep the drug in use.

Matthew Kacsmaryk, meanwhile, has breathed life into the upcoming political battle that well could determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress in 2024 … and whether they can reclaim the White House as well.

Public opinion is not on the GOP’s side in this brewing battle for reproductive rights.

Congressman: top-tier boor

Ronny Jackson has a bottomless pit from which he draws his boorishness and his uncanny ability to make an utter ass of himself.

The two-term congressman from the Texas Panhandle — a former White House physician to two presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — says President Biden’s doc is engaging in a “cover-up” of Biden’s actual health.

Jackson said — yet once again — that Biden must take a cognitive exam to prove he is mentally fit to run the nation. President Biden recently underwent a physical exam and was deemed fit and able to govern.

That ain’t good enough for the Republican fire-breather, Jackson. He continues to diagnose the president from a great distance, having never seen his medical history or providing a shred of evidence to back up the defamatory comments he makes about the commander in chief.

I just wish Ronny Jackson would shut his pie hole. That won’t happen. I just have to get this demand off my chest.

I also want to admonish my former Texas Panhandle neighbors and friends — many of whom voted for this dipsh** — for the mistake they made in sending him to Congress.

No one is alone

Those who have been following my recent journey through a medical challenge, through anxiety and now through grief will understand what I am about to write on this blog post.

It is that the passing of my dear bride, Kathy Anne, to cancer has shattered my heart into a million pieces. Maybe more. The diagnosis of malignant brain cancer came on Dec. 26 and her struggle ended just this past Friday.

We had reason to hope for a positive outcome. Then it became, well, tragic.

What I am learning through my grief is something that I have known intellectually for as long as I have been able to process such things. Which is that I am far from the only person who has lost someone so dear to me to a merciless killer such as cancer.

We started our life together more than 51 years ago. We chose each other to be our partners in life through every peak and valley that our life would confront. We aren’t the first couple to make that pledge. We won’t be the last.

I have to remind myself of that undeniable fact as I grapple with my own grief. I have to tell myself — and I have been doing so frequently in the past 48 or so hours — that I am truly not alone in this struggle.

As near as I can tell, that means this level of grief and sorrow has been with humankind since the very beginning … of time.

My word of advice, therefore, to others who will endure the heartache I am feeling at this moment is that you, too, should keep in mind that if others can get through this unbearable pain, then so can you.

My pain endures, but so will I eventually find the light at the end of this dark journey.

Love is overpowering

I feel a compelling need at this moment to extend a heartfelt thank you to those who have reached out to my bride and me in this most challenging time in our life.

My goodness, the outreach has come from many quarters, some of them I didn’t expect. Just today, a neighbor approached my son and me as we were walking toward our home in Princeton. She asked, “Where is your wife? I have missed seeing her.” I told her what you already know, that she is in the hospital recovering from a setback she suffered the other morning when she was stricken by a seizure.

My neighbor started crying while offering her prayers.

We continue to look forward to her beginning her treatment for cancer, which will come when the top-notch medical staff at Medical City/McKinney gets her seizures “under control.”

The love my family and I are feeling has been overpowering and, of course, so very welcome. It is coming from former colleagues of mine and of my wife, people I know only through some vague social media connection, from actual friends of both my bride and me and from total strangers.

This outreach helps buttress my belief in the general goodness of humanity.

As for those who have reached out and who have extended their hope for a positive outcome — which my family and I embrace — I hope they see this brief blog post and know my thanks to them comes from my overflowing heart.

My gratitude extends far beyond any measure.

Recovery isn’t always smooth

Well, today my wife and I received a stunning lesson about life and the journey one must take to full recovery.

It is that the journey is full of unpleasant surprises. One of them arrived this morning with full force. We were told it was possible that it could happen and today it did: my wife suffered a seizure that rendered her incapacitated.

She is back in the hospital. Back in the intensive care unit among those who cared for her in late December after she underwent surgery to remove a tumor from her brain. She is being treated by the best medical team I have ever witnessed.

We see this is as a bump in the road. Radiation and chemotherapy await. First, though, she must regain the strength she already had gotten back after her surgery. Knowing this woman as well as I do, I am convinced that her constitution will compel her to regain that strength.

Our journey will continue.

Reconnecting is so rewarding

We returned to a place we called home for more than two decades and — if you’ll pardon the cliche — had the time of our lives reconnecting with some dear friends we continue to miss.

Our visit to Amarillo’s primary mission was to wish our son a happy birthday. We were able to do so. But along the way, as he was working during the day, we caught up with a man who helped pastor us on our faith journey and then visited with a dear friend of my bride and her husband.

Oh, and then — at dinner — we reconnected with another good friend who happens to have become friends with our son.

Not bad … you know?

To be clear, we have many more friends in the Amarillo we were unable to see. Our time back was too brief to visit everyone we know and love. We had to scurry back to our home in Princeton, where treatment for my bride’s medical challenge awaits.

That is what we have done.

This quick-hit trip back to the High Plains, though, will be one for the books.

My wife and her dear friend had lost contact in recent times. They hugged and reminisced about the old days; my wife got her pal caught up on her current medical challenge. As we have heard throughout this trying episode, my bride has found her way onto many prayer lists.

Our pastor friend has been in his current job for 33 years. He is good at what he does, which is that he serves as “outreach” pastor at the church we attended in downtown Amarillo during the time we lived there. He, too, has become a dear friend over that time and we were able to catch up with his bustling family’s activities.

The doctor who insisted that my wife make this trip — even if it would interfere with her cancer treatment — appears to have been spot on … that she would get as much out of this journey from the Metroplex to the High Plains as any treatment she would receive.

He is correct. The reconnection had a restorative value that I will be hard-pressed to define.