Thursday, October 04, 2007

What a summer...

I think this has been the most grueling eight months of my life. But it doesn't matter as it came with a happy ending. My wife had a right side heart cath last week and they officially told us that she was misdiagnosed. Obviously, I do have some mixed feelings about that but it would be a whole separate post.

Her pressures are normal and that means no pulmonary hypertension. Her new cardiologist went back and looked at all of the pieces in this long event....all of the echocardiograms, lung scans, exam reports, CICU histories, x-rays, etc. and is certain that she had a massive pulmonary embolism. He called it a "shower" embolism. Apparently, a large clot can sometimes break apart into many small clots and become lodged in the avioli capillaries in the lungs preventing the exchange of oxygen to a large portion of the lung. The fact that she survived, in large part, was the cause of the mis diagnosis. This is usually a fatal event so the assumption based on the remaining data was that she had PPH.

The greatest news is that she is well on her way to being well and this whole long event should not have any real impact on her life. The "damage" to her heart that they were seeing on the first echo they performed was actually an effect created by the very high pressure being created by the emboli. The new cardiologist does not feel that there is any permanent damage. So, great news all around.

Now I have to figure out how to let go of my fear of losing her. If she is in another room and gets quite, I almost have a panic attack. If I hear a noise that sounds like unusual breathing, same effect. The other night, my Dachshund was trying to hork something up and I almost broke my leg getting down the hall because I thought it was Lisa having difficulty breathing. I don't think I will ever forget seeing and hearing her like that last May.

Monday, May 28, 2007


I'm sorry that my post have been few and far between! As you know from my previous post, I have been spending a lot of time taking care of my wife. She is actually doing remarkably well right now. She is scheduled to have the skin grafts done on her lower leg this week on Thursday and then has an appointment with the infection specialist doc. If she is given the "all clear", we can move on to the heart cath and treatment for the PPH. In spite of everything that is going on with her, she feels great. In fact, we went house shopping today.

As to my geocaching, it seems like every time I have a chance to go, it is either raining or Lisa is not feeling well. Team ARC is just dying to get out and cache a little so I am sure we will hit it soon. The same goes for my photography. I just haven't had much free time.

The one thing I have had a chance to do is some shooting. I upgraded my CCW to a Springfield XD 45C a little over a month ago and the gun shop threw in an annual membership to their indoor range. It is close to work so I am trying to get by once a week at lunch to get accustomed to my new pistol. I had never really considered carrying a .45 for concealed carry, but this compact model works very well and is easily concealed in an IWB holster. I know that firearms are a controversial topic, especially, in this day and age. I am glad I live in a state and a country that recognizes my personal right to protect myself and my family, though. To me, it is a personal decision and I don't think any less of anyone who chooses not to do so. I have had my CCL (concealed carry license) for about 11 years now and never had an incident and hope that I never do but it is comforting to know that I can protect myself if the need arises. On a similar note, my wife has decided to obtain her CCL as well. I've had many years of experience and training so I will help with her training, but she will also receive professional defensive training catering to females. She will do well as she is already a better shot than I. It has been interesting watching her transform over the 17 years that we have been married. When we first met, she was very anti-gun/anti-hunting. We were a bit of an odd couple in that sense as I grew up hunting and have always been a 2nd amendment advocate. Through the years, she has grown to understand hunting for food purposes and owning guns for self protection. She is quite a shooter now, as well, and enjoys shooting my firearms enough that she has asked for her own gun. Unfortunately, I haven't had to say much to convince her that there is a need for self protection, society has done that. Seeing bad things happen to good people everyday on the news is pretty convincing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Wife, My Life....

Normally, the spring would be my peak geocaching and photography time. This spring has not been very fruitful in either area for me. Much more important matters have had my attention this spring. My wife has been ill for quite some time now. She has encountered various issues over the past several years and we were never able to pinpoint the problem. This spring has been especially rough for her. She has spent about five weeks out of the last seven hospitalized for various reasons. Most recently, she began having severe difficulty breathing one day while I was at work. She called me in a panic because she could not get her breath. My wife is usually very healthy. She is 44 years old, active, and eats very healthy so these issues have been a bit of a mystery. With this latest incident, I rushed home after calling 911 to find them loading her into the ambulance. She was in pretty rough shape. For some reason, they decided to do an echocardiogram at the hospital. To make a long story short, we found the problem that had been eluding us.

My wife was diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH). She has now been in the hospital for six days and spent the last 3 in CICU. She has significant damage to her heart and her pulmonary pressure is 100mm or five time what it should be. They have ran a multitude of test and scans and cannot figure out why she has this. Unfortunately, in some cases, they do not discover the cause. It just is what it is. Our options are pretty limited at this point. There are things they can do to lower the pressure and slow down the damage. If they can get her pressure below 70mm, she would be eligible for a heart-lung transplant but lowering it 30 points is asking a lot. The average survival is 2.8 years but they say her damage is pretty advanced already. Mostly, I am just in shock and kind of numb. We've been married 17 years and I sure expected many more to come. Since I have MS and have never been the most healthy person, I never even considered the possibility that I might outlive her. I do know that this is not a death sentence and that we can have a positive outcome, though. It is just that as test after test and time goes by, the odds are not in our favor. My wife is a fighter and she is keeping a very positive attitude. She is strong and willful. If any one can get through this, it is her.

It is ironic that just a couple of months ago, I expressed my fears here on this blog of some day losing my father. Two months later, I'm now facing this. Kinda depressing!! I've always been a pretty spiritual person with a strong belief in prayer. I find great comfort there now. I probably won't be doing a lot of caching in the near future as my focus will solely be on my wife for now. I spend a great deal of time at the hospital as I miss her terribly when I'm not there. They are taking great care of her but I can't help but worry when I am away from her.

In the mean time, find a cache for me.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gilsson Antennas

I was reading on the forums about external antennas and someone recommended Gilsson. On a lark, I went to their website and ended up buying and external active antenna for my Lowrance H2Oc because they cost next to nothing ($19.95 or so). I ordered on Sunday and it arrived in my mailbox on Wednesday. I was quite excited and immediately hooked up the antenna and walked outside. I turned on the H2Oc and about the time I got the standard "Do no use for official navigation" warning, I got my "position acquired" notification. I'm talking seconds within turning on the unit!! I have been playing with the antenna for the last 24 hours and though I have been using GPS since 1998, I can't believe that it took me this long to acquire an external antenna! I have used pretty much every brand of available GPS (Magellan, Garmin, Lowrance) through the years and I cannot stress enough how much of a difference that these external antennas make. Lock ons are nearly instantaneous and EPE is narrowed greatly. I don't think I will ever be without one beyond today. I also can highly recommend Gilsson as they deliver quickly and seem to have a great product. I was alway very happy with my Lowrance products, but this inexpensive add-on has really added the icing to the cake.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lowrance H2Oc

As you know, I am a huge Lowrance fan. I've been using their products since I owned a GlobalMap 100. I have been aching for a color unit for some time now and just didn't have the a good reason to spend the extra cash. Well, I still don't have a good reason, but I found the extra cash and got one anyway! I visited Bass Pro today and picked up a Lowrance H2Oc. Having owned a regular H2O before, I feel right at home with this unit. I am impressed with how much better the screen appears. One of my arguments against getting a color unit was that there was no increased functionality. After playing with the H2Oc today, I have discovered I was wrong. Simply put, with grayscale, all the roads, streams, trails, contours to some degree, and boundaries look the a black line. To read the map on a non-color unit takes some patience and mistakes are likely if you rush. With the color unit, everything has it own color and is much easier to interpret at a glance. I'm glad I decided to take the plunge.

In the mean time, I put my iFinder Pro and some various computer components on eBay to cover the cost. I should actually come out ahead money wise if every thing sells for at least my starting bids. Now, If I can just get my wife home from the hospital and healed up, maybe I can go caching! Who knows, maybe a cache on the way home from the hospital tomorrow?

Friday, March 02, 2007


This post will have nothing to do with geocaching or photography, so be forewarned. What is this post about? Just some musings about life in general. My life has been interesting the last few months. Well, probably not very interesting from an outside point of view, but from my point of view, it has been very interesting. Before I jump into that, I want to reflect a bit. I had the best childhood one could ask for, to be honest. My family was pretty well off and I never wanted for much. My parents were the best people in the world. They wanted nothing but the best for us and often we got just that. Mom was always there for us and dad was never far away. I cherish every minute of every memory I have of my childhood. Yeah, there were times that I thought I had it bad, but they were fleeting and easily forgotten. I could go on and on about the good stuff but instead, I will just hit the highlights. I love every minute of every memory related to hunting with my dad when I was growing up. I learned so much about life out there in the field with my father. I remember the first time I fired my single shot H&R 20 ga. shotgun at a cactus on a hunt for dove. The things my dad taught me out there over the years will always be with me. I remember that day on the side of the mesa outside of Sweetwater Texas as he so quietly talked me through my first shot at a doe. I remember holding back tears as I walked up on my first kill just minutes later. I was overcome with pride yet saddened. It was such a beautiful animal and I cannot deny the guilt I felt for having killed it but at the same time, I think I took a big step towards manhood that day as I knew I had put food on the table. In that instance, I also developed a respect for life that will never die. I believe in hunting. I support hunting. I will always be a hunter, just as my dad will always be a hunter. However, as I age, I find little desire within myself to kill anything. For food, yes, I will hunt. However, there is no pleasure in the kill. Pride? Yes, I do feel pride in providing...but no pleasure. I think that it should be that way. I think my dad taught me right. I know people that derive pleasure from the kill. I can't not believe that there is not something inherently wrong with them. I grew up learning how to provide for my family and I treasure that experience. I spent so many years hunting with my father and there is no way to ever express my gratitude for what he gave me out there in the field. There are just not words that would ever convey what those memories mean to me. But there is more....

I practically grew up on motorcycles. Again, memories so grand that I can never repay my father for what he did. I will never forget the trips on the back of his motorcycle to New Mexico and Colorado. I do not have a clue why I was so fortunate to be chosen to ride behind him on those trips. I spend untold miles looking at desert, mountains, and plains with my thumbs looped threw my dad's belt loops while we cruised down the road on a Honda Goldwing. I will never know what I did to deserve this privilege but I will never forget those trips. I also grew up with my own motorcycles. From my first Honda 50cc bike to my Yamaha YZ250, I never wanted for excitement. I spent untold hours blasting across the fields of West Texas on those motorcycles. Even when we traveled, my dad would load my CR125, or whatever I was riding at the time, onto a trailer and take it with us. There are no words to describe the feeling of jetting across a field on a CR125 at speeds that take your breath away. I truly was the luckiest child ever.

Even as I became a man, my parents were there for me. I wanted to be a Paramedic. My parents had to have been taken aback by this one, yet they never wavered in supporting me. I know they must have wanted me to go to college, but at the early age of 18, they let me go to paramedic school. I actually started working as an EMT in Pampa Texas while I was still in high school. Shorty thereafter, I was in paramedic school. I turned 19 and became a paramedic in the same month. Before I was 20, I would be an operations manager for an EMS service. I grew up way to quick. There are images burned into my soul that will go to my grave with me. Anything horrible that can happen to the human body, I saw. I was only 18 the first time I held in my hands a human head following an accidental decapitation. A man who's head was ran over by a Suburban, a woman shot in the chest with a shotgun, fingers ripped from a hand, gunshot wounds to every possible body part, a 12 year old girl dying in my arms....all before I was 20. In eight years as a paramedic, I would see everything horrible that could happen to anybody and have three failed marriages. Somehow, I was able to remain sane and my parent's love and support was never ending. In eight short years, I would work as a paramedic in Pampa, Ft. Worth, Arlington, Amarillo, and in Lubbock (my home town) as a flight medic.

I ended up meeting the love of my life in those final years as a paramedic. She knew that my life long dream was to be a pilot. One day as I was reading "Flying" magazine, she told me to quit dreaming and just do it. My life was about to take a drastic change in course. Within a couple of months, I was excepted into one of the most prestigious flight schools in the nations. Again, my parents were there to support my decision. I must admit, they were quite reluctant on this one, though. To make a long story short, I ended up with my Commercial/Instrument rating but within months of graduating, I became quite ill. I didn't know what was going on at the time, but I was later diagnosed with MS...Multiple Sclerosis. Needless to say, it was the end of my flying career. I have been asked if I regret my decision to go to flight school because of the negative outcome. I can emphatically say "No!". I grew up near an Airforce base and I had always dreamed of being a pilot. I achieved that dream and spent hundreds of hours in the air. Even though I will never fly alone again, I am a pilot and always will be. What I learned in school goes far beyond just flying an aircraft. I will carry those lessons throughout my life.

That brings me to today. When I was in flight school, I went to work for the American Red Cross as a phlebotomist (since I had a paramedic background). I have been there over 14 years now. Through years of hard work, I have worked my way up to manager of donor services for Oklahoma and have a wonderful office next to my boss, the CEO. Recently, she decided to create a Director position over several departments. Today, I submitted my application. I honestly do not have a clue if I will get the job. I still feel honored just to have the job I am in now. In just a few days, I will be 41 years old. My interview is set for the day after my 41st birthday. I have talked to my dad about my fears and hopes concerning my current situation and as with the rest of my life, he is there for me. What will I do when he is gone? I cannot even imagine that time, but I know it will come some day. It came so early for him. His father, my grandfather, was gone when my dad was in his 30's. How did my dad make it? I wonder if I can. He has been there for me since day one. How is it possible that I can survive without him? I cannot imagine life without either of my parents. My life is so rich because I have had them in my life. I hope I do not have to miss them for a very long time.

Edit: Fixed some spelling errors. I was quite tired when I wrote this so I apologize if I rambled a bit. I'm not sure why it was important to me to write this the other night but I am glad I did. I love what I do for a living but it has been very stressful as of late and I think because of that stress, a lot of things have been pushed to the surface. Work for me is a mission of sorts. I deeply believe in the Red Cross mission and I am passionate about our work. When things are not going perfect, it becomes personal if you feel strongly about something.

I can't say enough how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family. I wrote a great deal about my father, but I have as many wonderful memories about my mother, two brothers, and my wife. I am sure that I have many wonderful memories waiting to be made, as well. I am very fortunate.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ice Caching....

Not...I'm having withdrawals from not caching for almost a month.Between work and the weather, I haven't been able to get any caching done. We have been in the process of a very slow thaw since the last ice storm. The good news is that it is almost all melted and the ground is beginning to dry out a bit. The bad news is that it is supposed to snow for the next two days.'d think we were up north! Ah well, it will get better soon enough I suppose.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot. I did renew my membership the other day. I have another year of pocket querys now! I can't believe I have been a member (paying and non-paying) for going on 7 years now. I never stick with a hobby that long. I have a short attention span when it comes to hobbies, generally.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Lunch Cache

I had to run an errand at lunch today. I had a package that needed to be dropped off at the post office and it seemed to be as good of a time as any. I was a bit dismayed when I pulled into the parking lot as the place was packed. There was not a single parking spot open. I knew that the line would be terrible and I had a finite amount of time to get back to work. In light of that, I just drove on through. As I was preparing to get back on the street, I noticed a geocache on my GPS that was just a couple of blocks away. At least, I would get to have some fun on my lunch hour!! I headed to the cache and found it was located in a park that was completely empty. I parked the car and pulled the cache up on my Blackberry. It was called "Pipe Down". I figured that the name ought to make finding the cache simple. I was right! Of course, the hider, BasicPoke, always has dead-on coordinates and that helps greatly. Unfortunately, this was not a planned outing so I had nothing to trade. Mental note to self: Leave trade items in car. It was a very nice cache that was well done. I signed the log and headed back to work.

I think I need to do more lunch caches. It was a nice break and even though I was out there in the weeds in a suit and tie, it was a lot of fun. I definitely returned to work with a better attitude!